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IndyCar Series: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

IndyCar Series: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Ryan Briscoe
Mike Conway
August 23, 2009


SONOMA, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: We have been joined in the interview room by second-place finisher, Ryan Briscoe. This is Ryan's seventh second-place finish of the year, but it does give him the points lead by four points. Tell us a little bit about how your race went today.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, it was tough. You know, I couldn't do anything behind Dario. It was really difficult. I was really surprised. My strategy going into the race was I'll stay on his rear wing, save fuel, go a lap further than him, and beat him because I was going a lap further. And he went a lap further than me. It kind of surprised me.
So I think we need to look at maybe what we can do differently at this track, whether it's gear ratios, that's my first guess, something. I thought I was getting pretty good fuel mileage. He just went further. I think that was key today. Behind him, I was pressuring him, doing what I could, but he wouldn't budge, he wouldn't make mistakes. When he started having a bit of trouble on the black tires, I was having trouble on the black tires as well. We both had our issues at the same time of the race.
Maybe if we'd have done a slightly different tire strategy or something. Yeah, it was just tough. We just sort of followed him all day, tried to stay as close as I could, pressure him into a mistake. But second place, it was just one of those days.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. You said you couldn't tell if he made any bobbles. Any one time where you were thinking maybe you had a chance on him? Did you use all your 'push to pass'?
RYAN BRISCOE: No, I didn't use it all. There were a couple of times. Obviously when you catch lap traffic, that's usually the best opportunity to try to make a move. But he was pretty smart about it, set up his moves on the lap traffic to where I didn't have an opportunity to pass him as well.
He did a good job there. You know, as I said, he had a couple lockups on the black tires. But at the same time I was struggling, too, couldn't make any advantage. Wasn't an opportunity where I could really make a difference.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by our third-place finisher, Mike Conway. This is Mike's career-best finish and his first podium finish. Mike, tell us how your race went today.
MIKE CONWAY: Thank you. Started off a bit rocky. Into the first corner, I was gaining a few positions on the left-hand side, then got a hit from behind. Punched my rear tire. It was a tough race, to come all the way from the back. But the car was working well. Just a shame we didn't get it right in qualifying. We have just changed a few things overnight, got it right in warmup. Yeah, it was just working well all the race. Big thank you to all the Dreyer & Reinbold guys.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions.

Q. Ryan, it's very hard to pass in this race. Is it too hard to pass?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean, it's hard. It's not an easy track, but it's very hard to pass. I don't know, if you got a good car. I saw my car was fifth on the last restart and ended up third. It can be done. I think on any track, when the competition is so close, it's really hard to make the difference.
But it is for sure one of the harder tracks. Just lacking a very long straightaway where you can get beside somebody.

Q. Ryan, is it almost kind of mind-boggling in some ways that nobody can hold onto the points lead for more than a race?
RYAN BRISCOE: It's incredible. What is it 13 lead changes in 14 races. I don't know. I've never heard of anything like it before. Hopefully I can change that now (laughter).

Q. If you have the lead after Motegi, you're going to have two or three weeks to think about it. Are you almost going to be scared going into Homestead having the points lead?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean, maybe, if we keep this up. You don't want to be leading going into the last race. I mean, I don't look at it that way. I'm going to try to hang onto the lead, do what I can. It's just been circumstance where the results have been turning around every time. We can't hang onto it.
But I like the next three races. I think we're going to be very competitive. The car's been good at all the mile-and-a-half ovals this year. I really love the track in Japan. I haven't had the best success there yet, but I really enjoy the circuit. I'm looking forward to going there.
We just got to stay focused. It's going to be tough these last three drawn out as they are. Going to be a time to really stay focused.

Q. Mike, because of your background, you had to feel like this is the type of course you were going to get your career best on. Does this track remind you of any of the courses you've raced on throughout your career?
MIKE CONWAY: It's where I had my first IndyCar test a year ago. Probably one of the circuits I got the most mileage on here in America. Yeah, I mean, I do like these types of circuits. All the road courses, street courses, I like. It's where I've come from, my background obviously.
Yeah, the result came this weekend. I think some results should have come before that, but just some bad luck and my mistakes as well, which have stopped that.
The ovals coming up, I still look forward to them. I do like the challenge of them. Yeah, a bit harder to get the speed on them sometimes.
It's quite unique with the amount of elevation changes you have. I've not been to Laguna Seca. That's got some corkscrew things, elevation changes. I've not been there. But, yeah, it's quite unique.

Q. Ryan, the radio broadcast had a comment, when you and Helio were chasing Dario, wonder if there's team orders. Obviously there weren't any team orders at lap 22 or so.
RYAN BRISCOE: I'm not sure. I wasn't expecting Helio to make a bonsai move, that's for sure. But I wasn't just going to sit back. I'm sure if I was just going to start rolling into corners, he'd drive around me.
At one point I saw he missed his braking into the hairpin. Make sure he doesn't run up the back of me. But, no, I think he's smart. I don't know what happened at the end. I saw he pitted a lap before me. I saw him in my mirrors. I saw he wasn't. I'm not sure what happened before he ended up off the track.

Q. First stop you all changed tires. Helio was quite quick. He caught you. Did that give you any kind of a pause for concern being so quick?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, a little bit. I believe he was on the option tire at the time. You know, apart from the pressure, really gave us a good indication that that was the tire we needed to go to to finish the race on. It was clear at that point how much quicker the red tire was. It was hard. Both Dario and I were sort of hanging on at the end of that stint on the harder tire. It was pretty slippery. But it's just a tough place to pass on. Even though Helio was quite a lot quicker and caught us up, it never really looked like he could be right there in the braking zone.

Q. Mike, have you gotten frustrated in the season? You've been quick almost all the time. Something happens generally not your fault. Finally get a result where you should have been four or five times this year.
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, a little bit. It's hard when you don't get the results. Each weekend is a new weekend. I just keep pushing and focusing on that weekend. It's great to finally get the result. Great to get my first podium. You know, the team hasn't had a podium since you when you were at Watkins Glen. Great result for them. Yeah, just happy that we got it now, and it's the last road course of the year, great way to finish it.

Q. Mike, the first turn of the race, all the stuff was going on, you were probably right in the middle of it. What was your view of it and how did you feel about it?
MIKE CONWAY: Everyone kept kind of choking up on the inside. I went to the outside into two. I was kind of gaining positions. I think someone hit the back of Hideki because he slowed down on the inside. Looked like I was going to get around him. I just got hit from behind. I don't know who it was. Whoever was behind me at that point just nailed me from behind.
It was annoying. Luckily we got back through the field.

Q. Ryan, with the championship at stake, the three tracks coming up are somewhat different, I would think Chicagoland is going to be like Kentucky, maybe very exciting, would you compare that to the way Motegi and Homestead compare?
RYAN BRISCOE: Well, they're all unique circuits in their own. Chicago is obviously going to be Texas, Kentucky style race. Lots of two, three-wide. You can find yourself between first and 10th in a heartbeat. It's going to be tough racing. Especially with the aero changes we saw come onboard in Kentucky, it's going to be allow everybody to be very aggressive and run nose-to-tail very closely. It was already like that last year, so even more so this year I'm predicting.
Motegi is a unique one-and-a-half-mile oval circuit, just very open one and two corners, closed three and four. It's a great track. You never know what the weather is going to be like, cold, hot.
And Homestead, you know, we've run there a lot. We ended up quickest in the open test this year down there. It's a tricky circuit. Also there it depends a lot on the temperature of the circuit as to how slick it gets. Often very windy, as well.
Each circuit has its own challenges, I think, and we'll just take them one at a time.

Q. Mike, did you find you used the 'push to pass' more offensively or defensively?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I used it more when I was trying to overtake people. I only used it once when I think Oriol got close to me one time coming out of turn 11. That was probably the only time I used it defensively. The rest was trying to overtake people and move forward.
It doesn't make a huge difference, but it definitely makes enough for you to get that little bit of an edge, to get your nose up the inside.

Q. You said you didn't use all of your 'push to pass'. Do you have any idea how many you had left?
RYAN BRISCOE: Probably got seven or eight left. I was sort of waiting for the right opportunities. Then we had the yellow at the end of the race, which sort of took away a few laps of usage there.
But I used it a bit at the end. As Mike said, it doesn't do a whole lot. You want to use it maybe when you can make a pass or something. It's just I didn't find myself 15 times today getting right there where it was going to make enough of a difference to make a move.

Q. Mike, the question was asked of Ryan earlier. You made quite a few passes in this race. What do you think about this course? Is it too difficult to pass?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I mean, as Ryan said, most courses it can be hard everywhere because everyone is so close, the competition is so high. People rarely make mistakes. When they do, you can capitalize on them. But you have to wait for a mistake. You could be waiting all day and not get one.
You know, there are some places if you're a lot faster than someone, then you can really force a move. But, you know, you really rely on people to make mistakes. That's like any circuit really. It's tough anywhere. It's been tough all year. You can make it. Sometimes you have to risk a little bit. But, you know, that's racing, I suppose.

Q. Mike, you mentioned the next three races are ovals, which you haven't had a lot of experience on. Do you enjoy racing ovals as well?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I'm comfortable with the car on the ovals. I think I need to find a little bit more speed on the mile-and-a-half's, which is the next few that are coming up. Might be tough for us the rest of the year. The team is working hard to try to find some more speed in the car and trying some different setup things. Hopefully we can finish the year good.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Congratulations.



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