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IndyCar Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  SunTrust Indy Challenge

IndyCar Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge

Dario Franchitti
Graham Rahal
June 27, 2009


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

THE MODERATOR: We have with us Graham Rahal. He finished 3rd this evening. And Dario Franchitti, who finished 2nd.
Graham, we'll start with you. You started 5th this evening making just your second start here at Richmond; 18th last year. Obviously a big improvement. Talk about tonight's race.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I mean, it really speaks volumes for what the McDonald team can do. I think to start this weekend we certainly were no place we wanted to be. The car didn't feel very good.
At the end of practice, one, we had a lot of work to do. And my engineer and Martin and I and the entire team just kept plugging away and for us to get this result.
I mean, I should say to come home second to the Target team is like a victory for us. And especially with the troubles that some others had, obviously far fewer troubles this year than last.
But still for us, the guys did a great job in the pits. And to be standing on the podium finally on an oval, it feels pretty good. And to kind of give us momentum into the next couple of road courses where we feel we should be one of the favorites; it's a good improvement.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, you started from the pole this evening, finished second after the win in Iowa last week. You take over the series points lead. Also your thoughts about tonight's race.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it was obviously disappointing not to have won. But in the track position race, Scott and I think we were very equal in performance tonight. He was out front. Unfortunately, my mistake was trying to use too much fuel to pass I think it was Mutoh.
And ultimately I was trying to put some gap between Scott and I at that point in the race, trying to put some cars between us. And ultimately that hurt us, because we had to pit when the pits were closed on that yellow. Literally had come off the track just about to go into the pit lane and the yellow came out, so pit lane was closed. So we just made a round.
And that was really all there was. Once Scott got ahead, we did our best. And we were pushing like hell to pass him, but we couldn't get it done. And the guys in the pits tried their best as well. And they almost got it.
But when you're up against the Target guys, it's the same with the cars, the cars are equal, the guys are equal in the pits. It's hard to find an advantage. That was it.
But points lead's pretty good. I think we're one, two in the points now, Scott and I. Looking forward to that and to the week after.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Dario, in '07, Iowa and Richmond was what catapulted you on your way to the championship. Iowa, you win at Iowa; you finish second here. Now you're the points leader. Do you think that this could be a situation where history repeats itself?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'd like to think so. But it's going to be a tough race this season. We're going to have to try and win every race, because Scott's going to be there. The Penske guys are going to be there. I think Graham's going to be there.
The AGR car is going to be there. And especially on the road course, a bunch of other people. So it's going to be pretty exciting. But we've just got to each week get the maximum we can.

Q. Dario, do you still feel like -- how much does this win give you as far as momentum is concerned, especially how you, in July, have got three road and street courses coming up, just especially that pivotal stretch of races, how is that as far as momentum for you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think to be leading the points is nice. The stretch of results we've had is nice. But it can turn in an instant. We've just got to take each week as it comes, each week as a whole new thing. Nothing carries over. So I think the team is very experienced, which helps. So we'll just keep on it.

Q. Dario, you were apologizing after the race to the fans. Do you think this was kind of like a fuel efficiency race, that it looked like you were able to -- you were trying to make a run at the end but just didn't?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I apologized to the fans because they came out to see good racing and traditionally the IndyCar Series put on fantastic races, especially at Richmond. I didn't feel tonight was that.
It was a track position race. And to a degree it became a fuel mileage race. As I say, I think Scott and I had very, very equal cars, but nobody could pass.
I don't know what Graham's thoughts are, but from the people at the very front, whether it was Scott or myself, we were hanging on all night, pushing it as hard as possible. I know I was pushing as hard as I could to pass him and look at how much oversteer he had coming out of the corners. He was pushing.
The guys who were trying to lap were pushing. Everybody's pushing. It's not that we're just cruising around, but we cannot get close enough to make those passes. And we need to look at that and fix it.
Do you agree with that?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah. Definitely felt similar to me.

Q. Dario, would you be advocating more downforce as a way to kind of clean that up a little bit? Or a lot less?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We have run the zero package before with good results. Whether it's just the track is getting older or what, I don't know, or it's a new compound tire, I don't know what the deal is.
Because we've got the same ingredients we had two years ago and three years ago when we put on great shows. So we can do it. We just gotta figure out what's missing and I don't know the answer to that.

Q. Dario, along that same line, I know you were here. I think you won here two years ago. Is it just, do you think that the teams have all caught up and equalized, because this was -- it's not just this track. It's Texas. It's Iowa. There's been a lot similar results.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know. I don't know. I don't think it's because things have equalized because there were some people out there tonight with horrible handling cars. We couldn't get around them.
At the start of the run, we'd run 16.8, then dropped to 17.0, as the things equalized. And you catch traffic and you'll be running 18.0s and 18.2 on a normal lap. 18.2 on a bad lap. It's not that the cars tonight were close in performance. I just don't know.

Q. For both of you to answer this: I know IndyCar Series officials have pointed out that Kentucky is where they want to have stuff figured out and fixed. But I know Mike Hull on your team said last week they need to kind of fix it now. How big of a challenge is it when they get back to the ovals that something like this be figured out and fixed?
GRAHAM RAHAL: I don't know. I mean, obviously this is really our first -- last year we were in the series but we pretty much just ran around on the ovals. But this is our first year being somewhat competitive. The further to the top you get, the tougher it gets. As Dario said, tonight just didn't seem -- I passed maybe two guys the entire race.
And certainly guys behind me at times who were quicker and couldn't get by. The way to fix it, that's obviously not for me to figure out. I think that Kentucky last year for us was a close race. So you could go there and it would be a better race anyway, I think.
What is it that fixes it? I honestly can't really tell you because I haven't been in it long enough to know what the cars felt like two years ago here. I know what it felt like last year, and it was a handful for me anyway. So this year we're finally competitive.
But from my perspective, it seems like everybody's gotten so close, it's so competitive now, that that makes it tough. But then, again, as Dario says, there are guys certainly struggling out there a lot more tonight than I was. And it was tough to get by.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I guess the frustrating thing tonight is as far as driving the car, my car was one of the better ones out there and it was a handful. I don't think anybody had an easy night. And unfortunately the fans can't see that. It doesn't translate into the show tonight.
But everybody was out there hanging on. When you're out there pulling five Gs mid-corner, you get a big blow to snap over, steer and leave black lanes coming out of the corner, you're trying hard. And everybody was doing that tonight. So it's just a shame that that doesn't kind of -- people outside the car can't really tell that that's going on in there.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.



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