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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

Dario Franchitti
August 23, 2009


SONOMA, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Congratulations.
We have been joined by race winner Dario Franchitti. This is Dario's first win at Infineon Raceway and his fourth win of the season, the 12th of his IndyCar Series career, and 22nd of his open-wheel career. Pretty exciting day for you. Tell us a little bit about it.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What can I tell you? The pole position yesterday really set up today. It allowed us to go and control the race. It was important to get a good start. We seemed to be good on starts and restarts today. The Target car was very good on red tires. Kind of controlled the pace from the front. Saved a lot of fuel. It was kind of a decision of do you push hard and try and build a gap or do you save fuel and just kind of control. We decided to save fuel and control the pace.
The Firestone reds were pretty much as good on the last lap as the first. Managed to go one lap longer than Ryan, and that allowed us to gain a gap on that first stop. That transferred into the second stop as well. That gave us an advantage. Car wasn't so good on the black tires. But back on the reds again, we actually used a set of used Firestone reds the last 20 laps. The car was great. Just controlling the pace. The Target boys in the pits did a great job.
Basic strategy. There were no yellows at the wrong time. We had windows, and we used them as long as we could each time. It was a great day. I guess it wasn't too eventful for everybody. I was just trying to be inch perfect, not make any mistakes, keep everybody in the rearview mirror.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. In a race like this, how much are you relying on your spotters to see what's behind you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: My spotter, Scott, really on starts and restarts he tells me what's going on. If I'm passing someone, someone is passing me, coming out of the pits, he would say Briscoe is at the start/finish line, give me some idea. If you want to find out where Ryan was, it wasn't too difficult. Look in the mirror. There was that big red and white car.
I was just driving my own race, though, not getting too caught up in what was going on behind me, again, not trying to make a mistake.

Q. In '07 you pretty much kind of were in first place for much of the season when you won your championship. Same with Scott last year. This year nobody seems to want to hang onto the points lead. Is this the most bizarre points race you've seen?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think everybody wants to. We just can't seem to string it together. It's so difficult with the competition level. Scott had a braking issue yesterday in qualifying that really hampered him. That put him back to 10th on the grid. We saw what the result of that was, getting caught up in that first-lap problem.
But without that, I'm sure Scott would have been right there. So it's just so competitive that you can't afford mistakes. We've all made them this year. At some point we've all made mistakes. Actually we've all had bad luck as well. When you get the chance, you got to score the points.

Q. With Briscoe in your mirrors most of the time, was there any point in the race where you thought you overbraked, he might get past you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The only time was when the 23 car was cruising around in turn eight. The speed differential was such, a flat chicane there, the speed differential must have been 40 miles an hour. So I had to back off and time the pass so Ryan wouldn't get a run on me. If I'd have gone steaming up there, he would have got running past me. That was the one real worrying point, was that.
I guess at the end of the second run, just before the second pit stop, somebody dropped a bunch of stuff down in turn nine, made it quite difficult to brake and to stop there. I had a couple of moments there where I almost outbraked myself. Apart from that, it was okay.

Q. A lot of incidents, stuff on the track. Was that the only problem you had with dirt and so forth on the track?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, that was the only problem. The track was very dusty offline. So when I went offline to pass the 23, it was quite difficult. One of the problems, northern California, gorgeous weather, there's not much grass, gets quite dusty. The wind blows it on the track. A lot of people drive off as well. We saw, it makes the track very, very slippery. That was a bit of a problem. It's a problem in the carrousel a couple of times, as well.
Luckily I wasn't at 1010, so I didn't encounter too many problems with it.

Q. With 12 to go with that wing, no one called a yellow. You were dodging to get away from that.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The first lap I was. After we've all been through it once, we all know where it is. I was actually using it as a clicking point after that (laughter). After that, it was fine. Yeah, no, I thought that was okay.

Q. You said qualifying was demanding physically. How do you feel now?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It wasn't that physical of a race. Ryan and I were talking on the podium. In years past, it was a lot more physical. But it really wasn't so difficult today. I really wasn't feeling it was that tough in the car. That was good. But definitely this is a physical track. But today wasn't quite as bad.
I think the more road and street courses the IndyCar Series has as well, we build that race fitness. Doesn't matter how much we train in the gym, there's no substitute for getting out there and doing laps in conditions like this. Next year we're going to do even more road and street courses. That's cool.

Q. If my memory is correct, you haven't raced at Chicagoland since you won the title there in '07. What is it going to be like going back there?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I definitely have good memories from there. And Scott after last year. We're going to have to go there. The Target team is going to have to do a better job than we did at Kentucky. We didn't have good cars at Kentucky. We'll need to work on that. And we are working on it.
We'll see what happens. I'm looking forward at this point. I'm not really looking back to what happened then. My focus is definitely these last three races. I drove the Nationwide car there at night last year. It's a cool place to race at night. So looking forward to that.

Q. We asked Ryan and Mike the same question. I expect your answer will be a little different. Is this track almost too hard to pass on?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it is a bit. There's maybe something to be done with turn seven, making it even tighter using the really tight thing, maybe a Long Beach-type hairpin or something, more runoff in turn 11 so we could use the proper last hairpin. But we'd have to have some runoff. 70 miles an hour with no runoff, which is not acceptable. That would definitely produce some overtaking, I think.
It would be nice to do something for that. When you see the stands, they were pretty full today. A really good crowd. We want to put on the best show possible. I mean, obviously today was perfect for me.

Q. Last year you had your NASCAR experiment. You've come back and been right in the fray in the championship hunt, right back where you were in '07. Is there anything different in your overall approach?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think so. No, just doing it the same way I always did. Yeah, you know, I think to be sitting here at this point with four wins, thinking about the ones we gave away, rather than thinking, Oh, my God, we got four wins. Thinking Indy we were good, Kansas we were good, Richmond. So thinking about having that mindset, it shows where we are as a team and where my mind is, as well.
You know, it's been a great year so as far. Having a teammate like Scott, just every week, man, if you're just a little bit off, he's making you look foolish. He definitely keeps me honest.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you. Thanks, everybody.

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