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IndyCar Series: 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

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

IndyCar Series: 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Helio Castroneves
April 19, 2009


LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: Was last night a normal night before race or did it feel different?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I will be honest. You know that butterfly going on in your stomach before the race? I didn't have it. I slept like a baby, I would say. I was tired from the practice. I think my mind finally was sinking in that I was in Long Beach, you know. I woke up really well rested and I said, wow. I slept with a smile on my face.
But the point is, it was awesome. It was just so great to be in the morning, and day by day I think it's going to be back slowly, but I'll be ready, I'll be in the rhythm.

Q. You said to the TV guys that your muscles were sore? Is that from yesterday or just from rustiness?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I think it was more my butt, so basically --

Q. Thanks for sharing.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm sorry. But if you know, you move a lot, you put a lot of pressure on the brakes and throttle to keep moving your feet quite a lot. You stay in one position, and you don't move at all the arms and this area.
It's kind of like a little cramp. It's typical when you have sore muscles. I actually was enjoying it. It was nice to have back these kind of sores, and the next as well. The G-force, all the normal things.
Remember, it was six months and I ran for an hour and a half, I believe, yesterday, and this place is very bumpy. -- so it was a good feeling, I have to say.

Q. You also said that your water broke, your water bottle broke?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes, actually you have the holes right here in the helmet, and somehow from inside it escaped. And I just felt about, it was about half of the race. I felt really cold in my chest. I'm like, I'm not sweating. What's going on here? Oh, that feels good.
And I realized, let me tell you, it's the worst thing, because anything to distract you in this place is very bad. I did face that challenge today, but it didn't bother me.
I wasn't very thirsty. I thought I would be really tired, really thirsty, but, hey, I'm back in the game and I'm happy about that.

Q. Helio, if you could contrast your happiness to be back in the car? Now think of what Will Power's going to have to be doing next Sunday when he has to get out of the car. Tim said they're going to plan A, so he's not going to be racing at Kansas. Can you just kind of maybe see as well as he's done as high as he is in the points, have a little empathy for him as a teammate?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't know what the plan is. I heard Roger and Cedric talking about it again, about Will Power, he proves he's a fantastic driver, and that's not going to change.
The way the circumstances came in, it was very difficult for everybody, including for him as well. I'm kind of like happy and not happy, you know. It's mixed feelings for both of us.
He's a good guy, but at the end of the day, I love racing, and I want to be back in racing. And now it was great for Team Penske. They found him a car, found him another ride, and he proved that he was fast.
So he did a fantastic job today. But I'm sure, I'm sure if there was something that Penske can do, they will do. From now on, I don't know. I'm just happy to be back in the No. 3 car.

Q. How did you find racing on the Reds and Blacks? And how did they help you with the strategy?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: When I started the race, it's good when you keep one tire, but it's not very good when you jump to a different tire and you've got to change. It's a lot of variables now. It's not so much like it used to be last year.
At least last year you had the same tires and everything. You know what your car's going to do every lap. Because the Red tire seems to have a little more grip and go off later on, it's hard to push too hard in the beginning, you might have trouble.
For me, I was more discussing about what the car was doing. It was the first time I was able to find it on the line here. It was good to every lap learn a little more about the track and get comfortable with the car, with the rim. But interesting scenario now. I think tomorrow or in the next few days -- isn't the oval the Red tires as well or not? The ovals?
THE MODERATOR: No, no.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: So next race in the Reds I'll probably understand a little bit. But today, it was a great learning process for me. I'm very glad that I was able to score some points.

Q. Do you find the fact that you found another line, what line did you find and how did it work for you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Remember, one and a half hours is a little bit hard after six months for you to understand everything. And I knew that would happen. But it was good to see other drivers doing that.
So at least I knew what my car could do. And the lines that were there were changing because of this scenario that I just told you.
It was very interesting, the car, the tires handling in some areas. But at the end of the day, I actually talked a lot today on the radio. Telling me how the car was handling on on on the next road course how we can fix some of those things. But that dang yellow, I'm still upset a little bit about it. It would have been a great finish. But 7th is still very good.

Q. It had to really make you feel good with the crowd reaction that you've got and people welcoming you back. You've spent a few months busy. Were you able to work out at all? Did you get a chance to get to a gym or have time to do any pretraining?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I remember Wednesday my trainer called me and he was like -- and I was avoiding him quite a lot. Not because I didn't want to, but my head basically wasn't very much in racing. I was just avoiding everything. Maybe that's the way I'm trying to be like, you know, positive.
But then on Wednesday he said, I'm going wherever you are, and I'm going to train you. And as soon as you finish he's like, man, you're ready. And with that, I'm like, okay, I know what I can do. My only problem was my head and he said he could fix it. And he did.
Came in yesterday, today, it was a great feeling to be back in the race rhythm. And it was awesome. A great feeling. And for the crowd again, it was fantastic.

Q. Since 2:00 o'clock Friday afternoon, has everything been a complete blur?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: A complete?

Q. Blur. It all happened so fast. Is it all just blurring?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think it will sink in when I go back home. The first reaction when Friday 2:00 o'clock I just said I don't even know the time, but I just want to get out of there. I just want to come here to Long Beach and see all my friends, colleagues, and you guys. Believe it or not, I want to really be talking here. And you know me, I like to talk.
So for six months, I was not able to talk. That was a lot of torture. I'm happy to be here talking to you guys.

Q. You've talked about wanting to put this whole idea behind you understandably. How long do you think that will take? Will you ever really be able to do that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't think I'll ever forget. I said that the other day. When I look that scar it's going to make me appreciate things I never appreciate in the past. I do believe I am a better person today. And I just want to continue racing. Thank you.



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