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IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Toronto

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Indy Toronto

IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Toronto

Dario Franchitti
July 12, 2009


THE MODERATOR: Guys, looks like that is it. Appreciate your time. Enjoy your off weekend.
We're joined by race winner Dario Franchitti, his third victory of the season, the sixth for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Dario, walk us through your day.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Uhm, yeah, the start went very well for us. You know, I was able to check out to a lead I was pretty happy with, was just controlling the pace from there, not pushing too hard. Then we had some yellows. The guys said, Right, we want you to go here. I went for a number of laps and really struggled the last five laps I was on track with the grip. The rear tires went away, the reds. Had amazing grip through the first half of the stint. But then I was asking a bit much of them towards the end there. We pitted early. Made a mistake in pit road, lost some seconds there.
I came out behind I guess a couple of slower cars, you know. I passed a couple of them. I got stuck behind one. I couldn't pass. Miss a corner, make a move, they'd chop you. So that was reasonably frustrating. But I couldn't make a move and risk taking the wing off or something because then I'd have no chance of winning the race.
So that was a tough point in the race, to just keep pushing as hard as I could. Then I don't know what happened, if the guys saw it was going to go yellow. A third of the way down pit lane, it went yellow. Had a great second pit stop. We headed out. I think I was heading second. Paul Tracy and I were really close, someone tracked me in the pits. I guess the timing showed I was ahead, so they put me ahead of Paul. I was behind Helio. I pressured him. He looked like he was in trouble, so I was able to pass him.
From that point on, it was really about controlling the pace, getting out in the restarts, getting a good restart, controlling the pace from there.
The track seemed to get a lot faster towards the end. I did my fastest lap on my second to last lap, and I wasn't pushing hard. I thought, I don't want to push any harder, because if I do my fastest lap on the last lap of the race, I'll get in trouble from the guys pushing too hard. As usual, the Target guys gave me great cars. Scott and I and the engineering guys worked hard on the cars Friday and Saturday. We had an awesome car in qualifying yesterday. The Target team just keep doing a great job for me.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it for questions.

Q. Did it feel a bit like déjà vu with yourself, Tracy, Castroneves with 20 laps to go?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I remember '98 when I had a massive lead and made a mistake pushing too hard. I lost the brakes going into one, but had I not been pushing so hard in '98, I wouldn't have had the problem. When P.T. and I were up there, I was hoping he would get by and we would have finished 1-2 because we did that 10 years ago as teammates. Did a good job today, but unfortunately ended in the barriers.
He's coming back at Edmonton. Hopefully we'll see him full-time again because it's great to have him back in the series.

Q. When P.T. got into it with Helio out there and they both got taken out, Helio was kind of a guy who is a title contender, now he's kind of dropped back a little bit because of that. Just talk about how instances like that are really land mines for a title and how you've been able to avoid them.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, everybody makes mistakes. Everybody also gets caught up in other people's problems. Last week in Watkins Glen, I got caught up trying to avoid two cars crashing in the bus stop and it put me in the gravel, destroyed my race. These things happen when you're at a race. It's about risk, how much risk do you want to take. There were a couple instances today I felt if I'd have taken a bigger risk, there was a good chance I was going to end up with a bent racecar. So I wasn't prepared to take that because we've got to finish, we've got to keep finishing.

Q. You took a pretty good thump in practice at the Glen last weekend. Any effects from that this week? Again, a lot of guys got a little wild there today. You didn't. Talk about the discipline that's required, what you might have seen from some of those incidents in general.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I had no effects from the Glen. I got bitten by a tick a couple weeks ago. Got an infection from that. Kind of fighting that off. That's been a pain. I've been on some pretty strong antibiotics. Apart from that, I'm fine. In fact, we're testing tomorrow at Mid-Ohio. I'm glad I'm not too physically tired after today.
With this place, I felt today when I got into a rhythm, the start of Saturday morning I felt I got into a rhythm with the track, and it really flowed from there. But very changeable conditions with temperature and also on restarts, building temperature in the tires and stuff, it was very, very tricky on cold tires on the concrete patches. Probably as tricky as I remember it here. I think the concrete patches instead of rubbering in, they almost shine up and become like ice. But it's part of the challenge of Toronto.

Q. Your second pit stop, were you not expecting to be called in?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, in a situation like that, they call -- when they say pit, you pit. The strategy is a constantly changing thing depending what other people do, what's happening on the track as well. Those guys manage it. They just tell me what to do. I try and do it to the best of my ability.

Q. You and Scott are getting along pretty good as teammates. Points race is very close now. I'm wondering how will that affect things coming up.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think there's a better thing than to be fighting for the championship than with your teammate. It's cool. You're in the same equipment. One week Scott is going to be better than me, I'm going to be better than him, and we'll go out there and we'll have fun and we'll go racing and we'll try and beat each other.
You know, everybody on Team Target is happy about it. Him and I are having a good time. Long may it continue.

Q. Are the cautions more indicative of the type of course Toronto is or the driving style?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think a bit of both. There was some very aggressive stuff going on. But it's a very, very challenging course here. I think it's easy to get frustrated here, too.

Q. You mentioned something about obviously seeing that Helio was in trouble when you were behind him. Can you talk about what you could see was not so good with his car.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: He just looked like he didn't have any grip. Looked like he was struggling. Whether that was my car building tire temperature better than his, I don't know. He was trying to brake late. He was just sliding about all over the place. He was definitely pushing hard.
In '98 the reason I went straight on was because I hit a bump and lost the brakes. As I said before, had I not been pushing as hard, I had like a 10-second plus lead, I would have got in trouble. But you learn these things with experience.

Q. Can you tell me what happened, it seemed like you came into pits when something was happening, a local yellow, and I think you finished your pit stop, exited, then full course yellow. When you came out of the pits, I don't know if Paul Tracy passed you as you were coming out of the pits, but I know race control asked him to get behind you.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: As I pitted, it went full course yellow, when I was about a third of the way down pit lane for my second stop, which I think that helped us get back up towards the front.
We came out of the pits, must have got (indiscernible) there from the cars on the track. According to electronic data, I was ahead. As I understand it, the guys on the pole timing stand were arguing about it and they hadn't told Paul about it. As soon as they told Paul, Paul let me through there into the position. That definitely helped.
THE MODERATOR: Both the electronic timing scoring and the video replay proved the point with Dario's position over P.T.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: When P.T. actually wrecked, he was getting out of his car, I went by, he gave me kind of a 'get on with it' signal. That was a bit of motivation, nice to see.

Q. (No microphone.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: My first thought was, from a selfish point of view, I didn't want a yellow because my car was getting better with every lap and I was managing to stretch the gap. You never like to see your friend, you never like to see P.T. in that position. I was hoping he was going to get a good result today. But, you know, he did a great job at Edmonton last year. That's next on the schedule. So expect him to be all fireworks there.

Q. (Question regarding the tick bite.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Actually, the seat belt on my hip rubbed the skin off, I was running in the forest, I got back and there was a tick there. That was it. Got an infection. Went to IRL medical. They gave me some rather large antibiotics (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Dario, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much. Enjoy your off weekend.

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