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IndyCar Series: Rexall Edmonton Indy

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Rexall Edmonton Indy

IndyCar Series: Rexall Edmonton Indy

Helio Castroneves
July 26, 2009


THE MODERATOR: Scott, we appreciate your time.
In the meantime we've been joined by second place finisher Helio Castroneves, also a second place here in Edmonton last year, this is his fifth top five in '09 and his best road or street finish of '09. Helio, you came limping in here. Tell us about your day.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it was very good. I mean, no question, I got a little cramp. It happens to me in 06, I don't know why, maybe the position of the seat or something like that. But I didn't drink water the whole race because I was so focused. And certainly it's a physical track. But I think it was more because of lack of water.
But again, I started really good. Scott and I were kind of battling in the beginning of the race, as well, but then smooth sailing trying to conserve fuel. It's one of those things that you do. I mean, obviously one, two, three, was right there pretty much in control, until the pit stops, I believe, and when the pit stops came we were able to make a move on Ryan on the pit stops and kept going kind of like that direction, trying to -- until Will caught traffic, and we all got stuck there.
I had a couple of times that I couldn't, but if you think you're going to pass, that's not a good idea. You've got to make sure, because if you think, that means you're going to crash. So I didn't want to, especially my teammate. That's one of those things that you've got to get in perspective, and again, because we're held up on the track, if we decide to pit early, Will ended up getting the best of all because he made a little gap, and I ended up losing the position not only for Ryan but also for Scott, end up fourth place.
Then I don't know what happened with Ryan. He ended up having wide a little bit in turn 13 and we were able to make a move and then just keep pushing Scott. Just pushing, push, I didn't want to finish behind him again like last year.
But unfortunately it's very difficult to pass unless somebody makes a mistake, and when I noticed the track was coming, I think this is going to be my opportunity. He chose the outside lane, I'm like, hmm, that's the door open. I made a move, and it was clean and nice, and after that we were just trying to chase Will. But the tires started going away pretty fast and nothing we could do anymore.

Q. It was mentioned before you came in here that this was one lap away from being the first IndyCar race in history that went green to green all the way through the race. Your thoughts on that.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, one thing is good job for every driver, respecting each other. You know, taking the pace and things line that. You know, someone able to give up a little bit, give space, and that's what happens. You have a green flag and everybody is smooth all over the place.
And second it's just to see that it's very competitive out there. It's difficult to pass unless you're sure, unless you're really sure that you're going to make a move. And I think it's a credit for the series. It's been very close, and we continue working to make it more exciting.
I thought it was pedal to the metal most of the race, even if you controlled a little bit the fuel. It's still kind of very mental and strategy involved, as well, but certainly you've got to keep pushing. You could not just ride the car.

Q. There's been a couple drivers already commenting about the traffic and how unhappy they were about people ahead of them and saying what goes around comes around. What are your thoughts on that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I've been in that situation before. You know, I've been in lap traffic before. You're trying to hold as much as you can if a yellow comes and things like that.
It's difficult to comment. I think ovals are a little bit different than the road course. Once your weekend is bad, it's going to be very difficult that they're going to improve in one day, especially on the race weekend, especially on the race day.
But you know, it's tough. It's tough because the track, the way it's laid out, it's a very downforce dependent, and for you to be behind a guy to make a move, you've got to be something different.
Again, even if the guys sometimes is half a second slow, it's still very difficult to make a move.
But you're right, what goes around comes around, and sometimes people don't think like that. But that's what happens in racing. That's always going to be like that in racing. That's never going to change.

Q. Can you just briefly talk about Will's team; the crew is bouncing between stock cars and IndyCar. You're around them. Can you comment on how well they've been working?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, those guys, some of them worked with me in IndyCar; you have a couple of guys that worked in the Porsche series, the AMS series, the Grand-Am. You have such an incredible group, and even though it is a group that is not involved with IndyCar full-time, they are. They've been there once. They've won races with different drivers even before me and things like that.
The way that the team operates, especially Penske, they don't bring anybody that isn't experienced just to bring in like to fill a spot. They're very professional people, and they just prove, pit stops, everything like that, everything was spot-on. Even though they say the car is not sometimes the same, they make like exactly the same as us. And that's the good thing about it.
Roger, if he would be probably other series, he would be like lift off, letting by and things like that. And here it's a fair game. If you have a good car, you're a fast guy, you go for it.
I think it's a great organization, shows again that it's a great group of cars, and with three cars they're able to show they're still competitive.

Q. Yesterday you mentioned you were having a lot of fun here. Did that continue into today, and can I get you to talk about the whole weekend?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Absolutely. This place is fun. It's fun because for so many things. The layout of the track, it's very challenging, very fast, very physical. But when you have a good car, it's a lot of fun, especially the section 2, 3, 4, 5. It's like one gear just lift off coming in.
So everybody enjoys it when you're aggressive and things like getting right there. And the race wasn't very different, especially when you have moments that you can push. And when you push, you'll see the results showing. It's not like someplace that you just push and not going anywhere.
I don't know, I just felt it was awesome. It was really smooth.
And again, as I said before, for you to make a pass and things like that, it's hard because of the downforce, so much high speed corners. You have corners, we have four fifth gear corners just to show that we're going extremely fast. For us, the drivers like fast corners. We're in an airport, so we've got to fly low.

Q. You talked a little bit already about passing Scott Dixon, and I heard on the IMS radio network that they were going to nominate you for the Firestone Tire Terrific Move of the Race. But I think you passed two cars at the same time, wasn't it the 20 car? It looked like you were going to set up the 20 car, but then you managed to somehow get Scott, as well.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, I'm not sure it wasn't in practice. I know during the race I went to pass somebody, and actually Ryan Briscoe did that move to me, and I'm like, whoa, okay. So he caught my by surprise. I'm like, okay, no problem, I was having traffic in front of me.
And somehow I decided to -- it happened last year, something like that, very similar situation with other guys, and I'm like, this is an opportunity, because last year I was behind Scott for the remaining 20 laps, and unfortunately we never got traffic, I couldn't make a move.
That was the only chance for me to steal the second place from him, help my teammate obviously on the championship, as well, and keep going, trying to go for the win. Certainly we had a car, we have three strong cars this race weekend, and one of those could end up winning the race. I knew there was no order, so I'm like, I've got to go really close to Will to make sure I can make something happen again.
But unfortunately towards the end it was just -- I think four laps to go, I started sliding a little bit wide, and I'm like, okay, I'm getting a little bit away of my head here. Just got to be conservative. And it turned out to be great.

Q. We saw yesterday in qualifying I think almost everybody either spun or went off the track, and today it didn't really happen that much. Can you talk a little bit about that, what changed, or were the drivers being a little bit more cautious because of the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly they were being more cautious. To finish well, you have got to finish. In qualifying things are different. You've got to push, you've got to try. Sometimes the cars are not the way you want it. You've got to realize, okay, this is what I have and that's it.
But certainly people behave better, and I guess the track was getting better, as well. So they kept the same rhythm even though at the beginning of the weekend it was hard. Certainly when the whole two hours, however many hours was the race, it certainly helped everyone not make mistakes I would assume.

Q. The Team Penske crews came over the wall and extinguished the cockpit fire of Tony Kanaan. Can you just talk about the kind of pride you have --

Q. He's got a few burns on his thumbs, but he's pretty good.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I just heard when we were coming over here. I mean, this is a community I would call it. Everybody here has been for a whole season long. Everybody knows each other. Some of the people sometimes switch teams or places, but it's still friends with others.
In a situation like that when somebody is in danger, you've got to help. And I understand my guys, Ryan's guys, I don't know whose guys they were, but you've got to help. I'm glad that if he burned only the hands, hopefully he will be okay to drive in Kentucky.

Q. There's so much domination by Penske and Ganassi in this circuit right now. Sometimes it can be difficult to break through that. Other teams are struggling obviously to find an answer for you guys, and occasionally it affects the race, and this one there wasn't much doubt from the beginning that Penske was going to take this away. Because you don't make very many mistakes, what will it take for somebody to break through?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, it's a lot of effort. I understand it's a lot of effort for the entire teams. My opinion is this car has been since 2003, small details end up to be big difference, and I think that's what happened. When everybody has the same, you start looking for really details.
There was a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is small teams can catch on time and can get a good setup, can make it happen.
The bad thing is when obviously one of those teams finds a small detail, it's going to make a big difference in the racetrack.
So it's a balance right now, a balance with so many things, testing, limits testing, they give you like two days event sometimes, and things like that. It just shows that it brings the field tight.
It's sad, it comes out in the end with great strategy, good drivers and good equipment. So if you put everything together, certainly it makes a big difference.
Plus you've got to understand, the team put a lot of effort, a lot of investment, changing every bit. If you find some bolt that it looks funny, they don't use that one, they replace that. So that makes a big difference.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, thank you very much. We'll see you next week.

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