IndyCar Series: RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300
Topics: RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300
April 26, 2009
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations today.
We're joined now by today's race winner, Scott Dixon. Scott, tell us about your race out there today.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think, as some of those guys just touched on, I think a lot of us were expecting the race to be a lot more difficult as far as the wind conditions in turns three and four, maybe more cautions. Our team meeting, we were definitely talking about a lot of cautions, making sure we saved fuel, things like that.
You know, all in all for me it was a pretty smooth race. We had a great car at the start. We jumped straight to second. Probably 10 laps in, I think we got Graham, who slid up the track a little bit in turn three and four. We kind of got out front, just started saving fuel. The Target car was pretty good all day. We had a little bit of a fumble in the pits, which dropped us back to third at one point. Made it quite difficult to get past Briscoe. We were definitely trimmed I think to win, as they say. The car was maybe not as good as it should have been in traffic, but luckily enough we were saving enough fuel and were able to catch that caution and it catapulted us to the front.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. As has been pointed out by you, you started as the defending champion, your season has not been to your liking, but now you're in eighth place in the points going into Indianapolis. It really catapulted you up. Leading the most laps also helped. You have to have a lot of confidence going into Indianapolis.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, definitely. I think road courses and street courses, to be straight up, are my favorite races. To have pretty much two DNFs at the last two has been very frustrating. It's been fantastic for the team and definitely Dario getting the win at Long Beach. But on our side, it's been very frustrating. It hurts you in many areas. It's the spot on pit lane as far as pits go. If you're doing well, like today, the time we're trying to come out of the pits, we have a lot of other slower cars trying to come in. That can cause accidents.
Definitely very happy that the win has catapulted us to fourth place in the championship. That's definitely exciting. It's still very tight and we're still within a shot to win this championship. We're definitely looking strong going into Indy.
Q. When you look at a calendar, a lot of times a month seem it is like a long time. In the racing world, with the big race you have coming up, it's not. What kinds of things do you have to focus on, work on, to get done, to be ready to compete at Indy?
SCOTT DIXON: I think as far as the season goes going in, I think myself and probably a lot of people on the team set two major goals. At the top of the list is to win Indy, and the second is to win a championship. Purely because Indy comes quite early in the season, you can still chase for a championship later on in the year.
You've got to come out of the box fighting, you've got to be strong, you've got to be consistent. I think that shows with T.K. taking the points lead. He's been in the top five I think every race we've gone to, but still hasn't won. Consistency's definitely the key. We were consistent last year. I think we only had maybe one or two kind of bad races.
But you got to come out with your A game. Unfortunately, a little bit of bad luck and circumstances for us this year we haven't really done that, so we definitely need to step it up. I'm definitely excited going into Indy, the month of May. Going back as defending champion obviously for the first time ever is going to be a lot of fun.
Q. Dan Wheldon said last week that this race is were the big hitters step up to the plate that will be playing a major role at Indy. Is that what you saw today?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, Indy's a tough race. Many of the years you've got guys that possibly you don't think can win it. It turns out that way. I think you have to look at the big teams. You have to look at Target, Penske and AGR, and obviously add Dan to that because Panther has finished extremely well there for the last many years. It's unfortunate, I didn't see Dan finish too well today. I know he's a great competitor, extremely fast. I think you will see the big teams that put in the development, the aerodynamic stuff, maybe come through.
Q. With all the uncertainty with the weather, did you go into the race thinking it was a hundred-lap sprint or it was going to make it the 200 laps?
SCOTT DIXON: No, I thought it was going -- either it was going to rain really early or it was going to go the full distance. I think after the first or second stop, I think after the first stop, we had a little bit of moisture there. But that was about it.
No, I went into the race totally concentrating on doing 200 laps. I know in the team meeting they were talking about halfway mark, what we would do strategy-wise for that. But I was definitely fighting to go for the 200 laps.
Q. Coming out of here with a win was the best possible scenario. How important was it to get some kind of solid top three or four result here to kick start your season?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, we needed something. You know, even a sniff of something. Because so far all we've had is a sniff of the tail end of the field. That's frustrating. I was starting to look back on 2004, how that was a dismal season as well as we won a championship.
I know the team can do it. We just need to get everything right. That's what makes this championship so tough to win, is that you've got so many great competitors. You've got big teams, fantastic drivers. It's getting tougher each year, as some of the transition teams are catching up as well.
This is a big boost for my confidence, the team's confidence, and a lot of momentum going into the month of May, which is our biggest race.
Q. You said many times you prefer street and road racing to ovals, yet you've been very successful on ovals, become very proficient. What do you attribute that to?
SCOTT DIXON: It's a lot of things. I know my engineer enjoys the oval racing a little bit more than the road course racing. But it's about getting everything right. You know, the big transition for me, especially for mile-and-a-half circuits, to be quite frank, was working with Dan Wheldon. He taught me a lot. He was very critical on car setup and areas that you needed to work on, which maybe before that, you know, I still enjoyed doing the short tracks, and we had a lot of success on the short tracks, but mile-and-a-half's maybe we didn't have the best outcome.
The last three years I spent with Dan was definitely a big credit to him.
Q. What was the mood on the team? Was there a mood of desperation that this could be a season going awry here?
SCOTT DIXON: We had a lot of success with the same group of guys. In the back of your mind you're still confident, you know can you do it. You still have thoughts looming in the back of your head of, you know, bad seasons that we've had. There were definitely a lot of long faces coming out of Long Beach. I know a lot of them were excited about coming to Kansas, the first oval of the season.
But, you know, even Saturday night we had a lot more work to do on our car just because of some things that we needed to change. You know, you could tell, some people are maybe not as nice to each other as they should be. You can't beat an attitude when you've been winning races. I think it's definitely going to be a turn, and a fantastic turn at the time we need it going into the Speedway.
Q. (Question regarding current performance.)
SCOTT DIXON: Coming back to the season, having the terrible start we had, was something that we weren't used to I guess in many ways and something that we were going to try to shake quickly. Coming into Kansas, I've been telling a lot of people, a lot of people have been telling me, this place kind of owes me one. We've had successful cars here. Last year I think we led just about every lap until the last pit stop and got caught out on a yellow, cycled all the way back to 15th, and got back up to third. It's right at the time that we need it that Kansas gives us a sort of a payback. More importantly, as I said before, going into the 500, it's huge for the team.
Q. I work for the company that sponsors this race. They're very excited about it. One of the things we talked about was the fact that the drivers have been so responsive. Can you talk about the responsibility you feel in these tough economic times to give a payback to the sponsors.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it's quite simple. It's an easy formula. If you don't have a sponsor, you're not racing. We don't get paid. Nobody gets paid, nobody can come to racing. Sponsors are key, right up there with fans. Without fans and sponsors, you know, racing is nonexistent.
We're lucky to have on the Ganassi side a fantastic sponsor with Target. Obviously, Kansas a fantastic sponsor with Roadrunner and Time Warner. It's very important in these tough times. Already I know we've been spending a lot more time with Target, trying to promote them as much as possible. You've got to work a lot harder to sort of bounce back out.
But without their support, you know, it's not going to happen.
Q. How about talking about racing with Graham early. Up there for a little bit, then you schooled him when you passed him for the lead.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, I think Graham had a great start. Obviously the car was fairly decent. I don't know what happened there. I think his car started to go off a little bit. We were kind of just starting to get into a rhythm. We started to lean back the fuel. He had a bit of an issue going into turn three. I was able to pass him coming out of four.
You know, cars feel great when you're up front. I had a little bit of that today when I was following Briscoe. You seem to burn the tires off a little bit more when you're behind somebody, don't last as long. It's kind of a spiral effect. Sometimes you start backing up. Traffic can be a bit of a pain sometimes unless you have a car that can get through it.
Q. Could you tell me what's the most fun that you have during green flag laps.
SCOTT DIXON: Well, you know, obviously the most fun is coming to the checkered flag, if you have a great run on the green flags...
The most exciting stuff is when you have a great car and you can fight your way through traffic.
Q. Nothing like butterflies when you pass for the lead?
SCOTT DIXON: No, you know, the whole time you're just totally concentrating. You're trying to get to the next corner the quickest and passes a many people as possible. So the butterfly effects are normally before the race, and that's from straight up being nervous, being a competitive person, I think just wanting to do well. That's the only time you really get that stuff.
There's nothing better than having a great car and getting to the finish first by all means. That's what we're here for.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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