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IndyCar Series: 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

IndyCar Series: 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Scott Dixon
Dario Franchitti
Raphael Matos
Will Power
E.J. Viso
Justin Wilson
April 18, 2009


TIM HARMS: This is the second consecutive race we've done the Firestone Fast Six. And for the second consecutive race five teams were represented in the Firestone Fast Six segment of our qualifying segment. And this is the first time that Viso and Matos have participated in the Firestone Fast Six.
But we'll start at the far end with Scott. Scott, if you would, talk about your run out there today.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was pretty decent. I think we were good in the first qualifying session. Car was pretty consistent. Second one we kind of put in our time and then pounded around on the Reds, which I think we wasted. By the time we got to the last qualifying, they were worn out, and we didn't have any options because of the flat spot of the other one. So we didn't quite have enough grip to try to go for the pole and get amongst the other guys.
But all in all, fairly good day. Both Ganassi cars in the top six. Dario did a great job there, and congrats to them.
TIM HARMS: Will, you're on the pole. This is the third time we've done the Firestone Fast Six, and that the pole winner moved from the sixth position up to first. So, if you would, talk about your runs out there today?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was obvious in the first session that you had to use Reds to get through. So, you know, it was a matter of saving your Reds a little bit and saving your energy for the final round there, and that's sort of what I did. I saved my big lap for the end.
Yeah, just a great job for all the team. You know, we had to swap everything over on this car, and all new crew and engineer and everything. Yeah, everyone's done a good job, so we're looking to have a strong race tomorrow, and hopefully move up in the championship.
TIM HARMS: Raphael, your first time participating in the Firestone Fast Six. Talk about your run out there today?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, it was pretty good. I'm extremely happy with the team. First of all, I would like to thank all the service men, especially from Air Force and Marines. I'm very proud to be carrying their name on my car, and, you know, they fight for our freedom, and I really appreciate it.
I also want to thank our sponsors McAfee and Monster.com for the support. And everyone that's been supporting our program this year, and also my team. They put a great effort, especially after St. Pete, after a huge crash, the car is completely destroyed, and he they worked very hard this past week putting the car back together. And the car was perfect all week long.
You know, great effort for everyone. The car ran really well. You know, I think pretty much we're in the same boat of everybody here. We're trying to save the Reds as much as we could.
Actually in the Fast Six session, we were in between going with the Blacks. Last minute we decided to go ahead and use the Reds, and I totally believed that that was the right decision, because, you know, the Reds were definitely quicker.
So, a great effort for everyone on the team, and I'm extremely, extremely happy to be here today. Hopefully we'll have a strong run tomorrow and finish and collect great points.
TIM HARMS: E.J., talk about your run out there today?
E.J. VISO: Yeah, we've been running in the Top 5 consistently since the championship started. And St. Pete was tough for us. We had a problem in the race, but, well, we knew that this was going to be the one for us. We've been working very hard.
It's tough to be just a one-car team. You have nobody to compare data with. But my team has done a great job, and I feel very proud of running with them in my second season. This is a season that's going to bring a lot to us.
Well, Long Beach is one of my favorite tracks, and I'm extremely happy to be in the top, in the Fast Six on this track. And especially being one of the most difficult to overtake. It's going to payoff starting tomorrow in the front. So I'm very excited, thank you.
TIM HARMS: Dario, I think you have the longest history here in Long Beach. Talk about your return to Long Beach?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What do you mean by that (laughing)?
TIM HARMS: You've got a few races on your resume here (laughing).
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm going to say I've been here since before dixon. But '97 was my first time here.
SCOTT DIXON: I was just born.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. (Laughing), yeah, yeah. No, it's great to be back in Long Beach. The buzz around the event is tremendous. You know, we went out for dinner last night, and the place is just full of people. It's what makes street racing great is this kind of atmosphere. I think to be back in Long Beach, it's great to see it.
As far as my day, the target guys did a great job of rebuilding the car after I got you a little bit brave this morning in turn 6 over there, and I ripped the right front off the car. So they did a good job.
The car was good, particularly on the red tires, the balance was fabulous. It was just a case of trying to put a lap together. One of my best laps I ran out of fuel on turn 9, and the last lap was also a good lap, and I made a slight mistake.
So still pretty happy with second, but you know, you always want to be on the pole.
TIM HARMS: Justin, how about you?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I think we've had a good day considering yesterday was driven a little bit. So I'm really pleased with everything the team's done to turn the balance of the car around and allow us to get to the Fast Six.
The Z-line Designs car has been working well all day today. I thought we had a chance to pole, but I guess I went too hard in the middle section of qualifying, because I just couldn't repeat that kind of time. The back of the car was sliding around a little bit.
So slightly disappointed with it, but all in all we're pretty happy with the job the team's done. They've worked hard and changed everything over to our new color scheme, so they've had a busy week. I'm very proud of everything they've done. Hopefully we can get on the podium again tomorrow.
TIM HARMS: Questions from the media.

Q. Will, I know that through this whole thing that started yesterday you've been very gracious, you haven't had anything negative to say about losing your full-time ride. But do you look at this getting the pole today perhaps as poetic justice?
WILL POWER: I just look at it as hard work, you know. I just kept my focus all weekend. I knew coming into it that there was chance that Helio will be back, and Penske Racing told me exactly what the deal was and always kept me up to date. So it was no surprise to me. I knew what I was going up for.
It was a great job for the team to transfer everything over and make the car basically the same.

Q. We talked about tires the other day. What did you finally qualify on?
WILL POWER: The Reds. Definitely the Reds are definitely better. I don't think you would have had a chance if you used Black.

Q. And you qualified in practically an unknown car. How confident were you when you went out in that car?
WILL POWER: After practice we had a few bugs there to iron out, actually. But it ended up being just as good, and you know, full credit to the team.

Q. Could you just take us through what you had to do with your new team? You had a meeting and what steps do you take when you switch a car or switch a team on on Saturday?
WILL POWER: There are a lot of things, all the pedals and getting the padding and everything right and this morning, getting the brakes. There were a few little details that we had to go through. But, yeah, once Helio was acquitted, we were all at a meeting, and suddenly, Bam, there was another team on the other side of the truck. The black car.
So it all came together really quickly and very well organized. So that was very good, very good.

Q. Did you have a little discussion in talking to new people? They never talked to you, you never talked to them?
WILL POWER: Yeah, on Friday I had the engineers I was using today. Nigel, and he was sitting in the debriefs, so we sort of started to have a relationship at the beginning of the weekend, and just went from there.

Q. Talk about the sense of satisfaction of being able to set up two cars that were pretty fast. Including one where you just had less than a day to get this one up to speed, and then a follow-up for Rafa.
WILL POWER: Yeah, basically, I got the 3 car in pretty good shape on on Friday. It was just a matter of transferring everything over. Honestly, I hardly made any adjustments on the Verizon Wireless car. They set it up really nice.

Q. For Raphael and E.J., this is a tremendous opportunity for both of you. You both drive for single-car teams. Here you are near the front of the field. Just talk about what this does for the team, and your outlook going into tomorrow?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, for sure it's quite difficult being a one-car team. It's hard not having anyone to compare data and share information. But we can also concentrate a little bit more on my car, and that gives us a little bit of advantage on that side.
You know, for us it's been an extremely steep learning curve. This is my first year in IndyCar, and the first full season for Luczo Dragon Racing, and everything we learned in the preseason, we carried to St. Pete. And everything we learned from St. Pete we carried on here.
We're just making big steps right now, and I believe we're getting that sweet spot with the car and just making minor adjustments. We're getting there.
Now it's just a matter of being consistent up there. I think we'll be able to fight for finishes and victories.
E.J. VISO: This little achievement we've had so far this weekend is going to boost everybody's confidence on the team. We're a one-car team, and it's pretty tough for us. As I said before, we have nobody to compare anything with, and it takes a little bit of more time to develop the car.
But this weekend we've done great. The guys have done a very good job over the winter. It's going to be a good one. We all have a good feeling, and things are coming together.

Q. How hard was it to come here with no real testing and no real money to keep pace with the development of the other teams that are able to put forth and put another strong, strong result so far in qualifying?
E.J. VISO: Well, I think the key is being in another season with the team. It's just learning from last year, the engineer knows my way of driving, what I'm looking for the car. I know what he wants to bring, and it's team work.
Just little comments and just trying to know each other. Tomorrow's going to be a tough race because the strategy means a lot in these long races, and especially on the street courses. So, yeah, it's tough.

Q. You had been emotional about your friend Helio's acquittal and very happy about that. Describe your emotions, please, today when you saw him here at the track and back in the car and opportunity to race against your friend again?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, Helio, I respect him very much as a driver. I know him since the first year I moved here to the United States. As soon as I saw him today here at the track I gave him a big hug. Nobody deserves to be in that situation. I think he went through a lot of stuff. He's very competitive. He's very, you know, he's achieved a lot in his rookie year.
And I'm just very happy for all the IndyCar fans and especially for the Brazilian fans. We have another top driver in the series. I'm sure we're going to have a lot of fun fighting for a position. I'm looking to have many fights with him.

Q. Somebody may have mentioned this before. How much more difference between the Reds and the Blacks this week than at St. Pete?
WILL POWER: Quite a big difference, actually. Probably .7. I think St. Pete was really .4. But it's a much, much softer tire, so it's going to be very interesting to race to see how long it lasts.

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