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IndyCar Series: Meijer Indy 300

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Meijer Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Meijer Indy 300

Ed Carpenter
Tony Kanaan
August 1, 2009


SPARTA, KENTUCKY

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our third-place finisher, Tony Kanaan. Tell us about the show out there tonight.
TONY KANAAN: It was a great race. I think we were all concerned about the package. Back a couple months ago we went tire testing. We worked with the league to have a little bit more downforce, and with Honda to have the press to pass. We got it. We got what we wanted.
I still think we need a couple changes to be the way it was in the past. But we went for the finish; we got it. I got to thank the league for the effort, Firestone and Honda.
We'll see. We're moving to the right direction for sure in the superspeedways.
THE MODERATOR: Photo finish, but still only the 11th closest in IndyCar history.
TONY KANAAN: But we didn't have one yet this year. I finished third, but I'm kind of happy right now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Obviously the hands didn't seem to be much of an issue tonight. When did the pain and tenderness start to go away?
TONY KANAAN: Well, actually, I have to apologize to everybody. When we wrapped my hands back in the hospital in Edmonton, I didn't see it, because they were taking care of my face that was burnt. The hands actually were pretty good the next day. My chin, a little bit on my nose - surprise - and my eyelashes and eyebrow, those were the ones that actually really got kind of burned.
It wasn't an issue. I have to say it looked a lot worse than it was. Glad that it's okay, that we're done with that. You know, happy to be back here.

Q. How much did the 'push to overtake' help and how much did the aero change help?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I would say the 'press to pass' helped, but you have to have the right gear to do it. It will only give you 200 extra revs after 10-3, which is our maximum revs. If you have too tall of a gear, which is my case. I use it on the restarts, some of the laps. But that's the way it is.
I think the aero package really helped. That's a bigger change than actually the 'press to pass'. It's only five horsepower. As a driver, you're telling us to press a button when you see a light. You're expecting your neck to pull backwards. That's not going to happen. I think the 'press to pass' button is what brought the race back to what it was.
THE MODERATOR: Also joined by Ed Carpenter, second-place finish. Career-best finish. Ed, you put on quite a show for us the last 10 laps or so.
ED CARPENTER: I was trying. I was giving it all I got for my team. They did a great job in the pits keeping us up there. I was trying to hold up my end of the bargain. Really close. Really happy for second. Career best. But hurts to be that close to a win and not get it.

Q. Tony, how important was it for you to bounce back after the fire last week at Edmonton?
TONY KANAAN: I mean, I've been bouncing back for quite a while, since Indy. Actually, been bouncing a lot, hitting the walls (laughter).
You know, I just kept my head up. I mean, I had some bad moments back home. I can tell the people who are close to me, I've been very miserable myself. But it was really important. I have to say the guys put a lot of effort. We came up here, and it's hard to keep everybody up when you have four weekends in a row, the guys are working back-to-back. We're demolishing cars, burning cars, burning people. Everybody gets kind of down.
I tried to keep my spirits up and help my guys. You know, today I just went there and drove. I think the last two months I realized was not fun, and it has to be fun. I tried to have fun this weekend. I think a positive attitude helped a lot. So, you know, I came this weekend with the mindset that it had to be fun again, otherwise there was no point for me to keep doing this. Guess I'm having fun again.

Q. Ed, tell us where you're at with the 'push to pass'? How much did you have left? Did you use it too early?
ED CARPENTER: I used the last one on the last lap. From that standpoint, I timed it pretty good. I think at the start of that last stint when I was in front, I think I had 15 left at that point. I'd only used five. You know, I wasn't using it on the starts. I was just saving it, especially once we got up front, trying to save it late in the race. Late in the race, when I was running with Ryan, I was pretty much using it every lap.
I was pushing it. I was just pushing it in that 10-second window that it wouldn't work, waiting for it to come back on.

Q. At any moment when you crossed the finish line, was there excitement of being in a finish for a race victory or was it the sinking feeling of the other guy got it?
ED CARPENTER: I think I would have been happier with second if he was 15 car lengths in front of me, ran away with it. It's a little harder to swallow when you're that close. It's the most laps I've led in any single race. I'm definitely happy for my family, our team, and all our sponsors with this result. But, you know, it's not every day that a non-Penske, Ganassi, AGR team gets that close to winning on one of these tracks.
Wish we could have finished it off.

Q. How important was it to put on a good show tonight?
TONY KANAAN: Well, the eyes are on us. When you have a good series, everybody's expecting us to do well. So I think was really important. The league did their job. We did our job. You know, that's it. The people, they were probably expecting us to fail. They're probably not very happy right now, and we're all happy.
ED CARPENTER: Tonight it worked. The day that the bulletin came out that they made the aero changes, because personally I think the aero changes, like T.K. kind of said, the aero changes are really what made the racing better tonight. The day the bulletin came out, I sent a message to Brian thanking him. It is something we had talked about. He had been talking to quite a few drivers, getting feedback.
No one really knew if it was going to make the racing better. Tonight it did. Happy about that.
I mean, you know, I think Firestone brought a really good tire here, too. There weren't marbles. The high lines stayed clean. We were able to use multiple lanes and had the grip to take advantage of it.
Hope the fans enjoyed it because there were definitely some races this year where we didn't deliver the goods.

Q. On the last lap, Ed, as you came off four, did you give any thought to maybe trying to push it just a little harder, push him up higher just a little bit?
ED CARPENTER: I think if we would have pushed each other much more, we were going to hit, and Tony would have won. I would rather finish second than crash someone trying to win a race.
I'd been trying everything. If I would have tried to run him up the track any more, I don't think Ryan would have given any more away and we would have ran into each other. I try to race as clean as I can. It doesn't do you any good racing people dirty. Like I said, I'd rather finish second racing clean than win a race racing dirty.

Q. Ed, it was the same guy who ruined Vision Racing's Cinderella story at St. Pete. Then he wins the race tonight.
ED CARPENTER: I hadn't thought about that. Ryan was coming from the back at that point. It's the same result, but a little different. I mean, Ryan almost had him, and here he just nipped me at the end. Wish Will was in that car or something.

Q. Ed, I don't know what it was like for you in the seat, but 50 feet up on a lift watching, it was exciting. Was it fun for you running side-by-side lap after lap after lap? You ran very clean.
ED CARPENTER: Yeah, very. Definitely the most fun I've had in a long time. This year hasn't been a very good year for our team. It's been a rough couple months for our family.
Tonight definitely makes everything feel better. I was trying to stay calm. After the last pit stop, when we cycled through in the lead after those pit stops, that's when I really realized how close we were and what a good shot we were going to have at winning a race.
Like I said, we gave it all we had. The guys in the pits did everything they possibly could have done, had great pit stops all night. Just came up one spot short.

Q. Ed, when did you realize you had a rocket ship tonight?
ED CARPENTER: I think I passed five or six cars on the first lap. Had a pretty good idea pretty early that I had a good car.

Q. Ed, the 'push to pass', not having it, would that have changed the result at all? Would you have changed something with it on that last lap?
ED CARPENTER: You know, I think it definitely doesn't hurt the racing. I don't know how much it would have changed the result because I'm sure if Ryan had any left, he was using it there at the end, too. It's not enough of a power gain, like T.K. said, that it's throwing your head back in the seat, it gives you enough power just to drive right by somebody.
But it all adds up. If there's a little bit in that, between the aero changes they made. The good thing is the series listened to the fans, they listened to the drivers, and they made some changes to make the racing better. It was hard for me to watch. Been watching all the Versus races when I get home. Done an awesome job, putting so much effort into it. There were races where we just didn't put on a good show. It's hard for them to even make it entertaining.
I just want to thank the league again for stepping out there on a limb and making changes, and it worked.

Q. Was there any agony going through your thoughts those last five laps? It looked like he was getting a better run off of four than what you were.
ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I mean, he was beating me to the line just about every time off four. I think I may have beat him just one time. I knew I was fighting an uphill battle at that point. When I saw him get around T.K., I knew it was going to be very hard to win.
But, you know, all you can do is just give it all you got, and that's what we did tonight.

Q. I think you mentioned something about the tires, Ed. I don't know if Firestone changed anything in terms of marbles, like what we've seen at the other six ovals this season. It was green-flag racing just about the entire race. There was no trucks blowing anything off. Talk a little bit about that.
ED CARPENTER: You know, I mean, Firestone does a great job all the time. We're very fortunate not to have to deal with issues what other series and other manufacturers have had to deal with. There are times where one tire's better than the other. It's not like we run the same tire every track. It's a moving target. They're constantly trying to make the tires better. Everything Firestone does, they try to make the tires better. They're like everybody else, they're not perfect. Sometimes if the conditions change, if it gets too hot, it changes how the tire is supposed to work.
I think overall I couldn't be happier with Firestone. I love racing on their tires.

Q. Tony, in Edmonton at the pit stop when you felt the liquid come on you, you knew immediately what it was. You shut your helmet visor, got out of there. How did you think of that so quickly when all of a sudden you feel liquid hit you?
TONY KANAAN: We caused a big fire. I think I'm getting old. I've been around for too long. I've been through everything. When I saw the splash, I knew it wasn't water, and I knew it was a lot, because it got on my lap and actually made me cold for a split after second. I said, I better drive away before I burn everybody here. I think that was the best thing I've done.
I was hoping there was just fire on the side pod so I could actually drive out and stop somewhere safe. At the time, I don't know, I think racecar drivers got to think quick. I don't know why. Honestly I stopped breathing, because I didn't want to breathe that thing. I closed my eyes. I tried to get out actually. But at that point I knew the Penske guys were coming after me and the Ganassi boys and the Panther boys.
It was really one thing went terribly wrong, five things went really right at the end. So basically from one disaster, but right after that everything that had to happen actually on the good way, it did.
It was frightening, but we survived.

Q. Ed, can you remember the last time you went 10 laps side-by-side with somebody for a win?
ED CARPENTER: That's the first time I've done it for a win in this series anyway. The last time I was running side-by-side like that for a win was when I was running in Indy Lights. That was back in 2003.
Just happy we were able to do that tonight. The changes were made on the cars, and we were able to put on a good race and run side-by-side. I'm really glad I was a part of the finish at the front.

Q. Looking at the in-car shots, it looked like you were doing a lot of sawing on that steering wheel. Did the aero changes make it easier, more over the edge, or make it more difficult to get going quicker?
ED CARPENTER: You know, obviously I had a really good-handling car tonight. To me it made it better. I think the wickers they took off the rear wing, that really reduced the amount of turbulence off the car in front of you and made it a lot easier to use the draft of the car in front of you and get a run.
I think personally that's probably the most important change they made. I had a good car. But that's the most comfortable that I've felt in traffic in quite some time.
TONY KANAAN: Same. I mean, obviously we had to work hard. But one good thing about the package was before, when we were following each other actually, you kind of go into the corner behind somebody, if you kind of had a little bit of understeer, once you clear that car, we had a huge moment of oversteer. Yeah, exactly, the back would turn on you. I think Ed is right. Taking those wickers out of the rear wing definitely helped. We had a better racing because, then we could race a lot more, a lot closer together.
I mean, I like it. I think everybody respect each other out there. We can't forget, I mean, we talked about the tires and everything, but I got to thank the guys from this racetrack as well. I mean, they did a helluva job grinding it. We had weather issues we couldn't fix. They worked all night. We slept here at the racetrack. Sounded like it was in an airplane. That dryer was on for a long time. The track had a lot to do with it, as well.

Q. Practice was very limited this weekend. Did that have any impact on the race?
TONY KANAAN: I don't know. You can look at both ways. The least you go out, the least changes you make. It's less room for mistakes.
Obviously I would say it would benefit the good teams, the teams like the bigger teams. But as Ed proved right now, they're coming up and they're growing every race.
So I don't know. I would say I was okay with the hour and a half. We always want more, but sometimes having more actually doesn't mean that you're gonna get better.

Q. Ed, you're probably not surprised if you were going to have a breakout moment, it was going to come at Kentucky. In the past you've driven well here. What is it about this that suits your driving style?
ED CARPENTER: It's just a racy track, very wide, generally the top groove is always good here. Like Tony said, this year especially, you know, it was definitely a smoother racetrack than it was last year. The second groove was a lot easier to negotiate. I don't know, it's just a fun racetrack. I've been finishing better here every single year. Can't wait to come back next year.
THE MODERATOR: Ed, T.K., thank you very much.



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