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IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 300

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Firestone Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 300

Dario Franchitti
Chip Ganassi
Mike Hull
October 10, 2009


HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA

THE MODERATOR: Now for today's official fun fact. Today, October 10, 10/10, the 10 car won the championship, and it was Target Chip Ganassi's 10th win of the season.
We're now joined by championship team owner Chip Ganassi. Chip, I was just telling the crowd here today, October 10, 10/10, the 10 car won the championship, and it's the team's 10th win of the year, so 10s across the board. I don't know if there's any casinos around here, or anything we can have a little bit of fun with, but talk about today.
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, it was an interesting race right from the getgo from my point of view. I don't know if you remember the start, but Scott and Dario were side by side for the first ten laps or whatever. And I don't know what those guys said before, but there was tire degradation going on. They were great tires to go through what we put them through, but the speeds were falling off considerably after a while, and it sort of brought Ryan and -- at the time, Ed kind of brought them back into the race there at the beginning.
And then it kind of spread out. I was really surprised at the different downforce levels everybody was running because you saw the Newman/Haas cars, they went to the back pretty quick, and some other people -- it was interesting that what was happening is we started to lap cars pretty quick, and I thought, boy, we're going to lap a lot of cars here.
You know, it was interesting that we were lapping the cars the way we were. The next thing you look up, we're lapping guys like Kanaan, Marco. Danica had an issue in the pits. They lapped Helio.
Next thing you know, the three guys were on the lead lap themselves. At that point you start to think about different strategies, about what you can do and what the risk is. It's not a big risk if you go down a lap with three guys on the lead lap. You don't fall that far back.
It was an interesting race. Obviously at the same time you were waiting for a yellow, not thinking that, my gosh, can this thing go the whole way without a yellow.
But having said that, you think about that at the first pit stop, you think about it a little bit more at the second pit stop, you think about it a hell of a lot at the third pit stop, and the last ten laps you just can't believe it, how this thing worked out.
We were lucky that Ryan stopped on early on as he did, so that sort of -- I think he stopped at about 43 or 44, 46 -- yeah, 46. 45? It was early; I know that. And we thought, oh, my gosh, those guys are going to need some yellow.
And then Dixon was in two laps later, I think, on the first one.
So that starts to play out some different things. Obviously you're not wed to anything at that part of the race, but still it makes for some interesting thought.
THE MODERATOR: How about the season as a whole?
CHIP GANASSI: I mean, it's interesting, people ask me questions about the season. I sort of missed the middle half of the season because I was down for a while.
But when I look back at the season, I don't know, obviously we started out in the beginning of the season wanting to win the championship, and I walked into the race meeting today, I said, look, we're where we want to be, we're one-two in the championship. If you don't enjoy this kind of business today, you're not going to enjoy it.
So when you look back at the season, I mean, I'm the luckiest owner in the paddock. I've got two great drivers; I've got a great sponsor in Target, a great partner if you will, just everything goes together, and especially in these times.
We challenged our team this year to do things on a more tighter basis maybe with -- I don't think anybody would be surprised that the purse strings were a little tighter this year around the race game than they were in the past, and we challenged -- Mike Hull and I challenged the team to work on a little tighter budget, and the guys all came through and did it. And it didn't affect the performance.
So when I look back on the season, that's kind of what I see. You can talk about 10 wins, and it's great to be a part of that.
But more importantly, I look at it on a longer-term basis, and I know that our team was challenged at the beginning of the season to perform with maybe not the tools that I've been able to give them in the past to perform with, and they still came through.

Q. Chip, would you discuss your decision last year and what timing there was to bring Dario back here? How much did the bad luck and the bad results from NASCAR have to do with you wanting to get him back in a car here?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I remember we were in Detroit whenever that race was, Labor Day weekend. It was in Detroit Labor Day weekend. And Dario was there. I knew he was going to be there watching his brother race.
We were in the beginnings of a -- we were in the beginnings of the financial crisis then. This business is always the first one to pick up those trends, and the last one to let them go.
And sure enough, we were on the front end of that, not being able to find sponsorship for him in NASCAR, and it was a heart breaker. We had to make a lot of tough decisions, and there were a lot of great employees that I had to -- when we dropped the car there, there were a lot of people that I had to look in the eye and tell them we didn't have jobs for them, and that's a difficult thing to do.
This championship rests on their shoulders, okay, as well as the team members that are here. But I mean, the seat became available there around Labor Day weekend, and he was in Detroit. And I said, hey, if you want the seat, it's yours, just let me know in a couple hours. (Laughter.)

Q. Before Dario gets in here, just talk about him as a champion. This is probably more impressive than the last one, just given the comeback, and his place in history a little bit.
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I think so. You know, I've always said there are a lot of guys that can win races, but there aren't nearly as many that can win championships. That's the kind of guy Dario is. I mean, he sneaks up on you, and a lot of people think he's not really -- you can look back on this season, and I think if you look at his lap chart about where he runs in the races, he's kind of always back there in third, fourth, and at times -- but then for some reason at the checkered flag, he's always up there where the points are for some reason, where the big points are. He's that kind of guy.
It takes quite a driver to have the ability to maintain his composure during a race like today and how the race played out. That's strictly a level of maturity and a level of confidence in yourself and being a champion before and knowing what it takes to be a champion. That's how you win races like he did today.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, do you want to chime in on Dario and his performance this season?
MIKE HULL: Yeah, I'd say a couple of different things. I don't know which order I should say them in.
First of all, what happened in Detroit was absolutely awesome for us. We had the unfortunate news in that week that Dan Wheldon had decided he didn't want to drive for us this season, and we fully anticipated that he was going to sign a contract and drive our car. And we didn't find out until Wednesday night, Chip called me on the phone and said, "You're not going to believe what I'm going to tell you; you'd better sit down." I said the same thing we always do, find the best available talent we can and continue on with where we're going.
When Dario came to watch Marino drive at Detroit, he and I were sitting down on the back step of the trailer after the first practice session, and he said -- man, if I had to drive against the Dixon I see today versus the Dixon that I drove against last year, I'd have my hands full. I'd really like to be his teammate. And I said, really? He said, yeah.
I said, okay, what about that NASCAR thing? And he said, well, if I could be on a proper IndyCar team, that would be the best place in the world for me to drive. And he said but there isn't a drive available. I said, oh, okay. So I called Chip after the conversation, and Chip said, invite him to dinner tonight and let's make a deal tonight. So on a cocktail napkin we made a deal. Chip's right, we gave him two hours to sign at the end of the cocktail napkin. It was less than an 8 by 10 piece of paper that we actually made the deal on, and those are the best deals you make in racing, and it certainly turned out to be that deal.
In terms of Dario, what's unique about where we are today with Chip Ganassi Racing versus where we've been with other drivers in open wheel racing since I've worked for Chip, and that's been a few years now, we've had really talented guys drive our cars, very talented. And that is an enormous difference.
But the difference that we have today, and I believe the reason that we won today, is because we have two drivers who have accomplished very similar things in their careers, and that puts the pressure in a different area, for their drive, their drive style and where they're trying to go. They both won the Indy 500, they've both won championships, they've both won races around the world. Their open-wheel experience is very similar one to the other. So there's no pressure there to win again, and sometimes that's a bad thing because it creates complacency. But in these two guys, they absolutely rejoice in what the other guy does, and that's very unique.
We'll be at a meeting with the two drivers and the engineers and some of the managers, and in years past with talented guys, there would be that one percent inside the vest that wouldn't be given up, literally. We'd see it on the racetrack.
But with these two guys, it's 101 percent. They never have held back from each other. And that's the reason that we've done what we've done this year. A couple of people told me today, well, this is your championship to lose, and my feeling about it was actually the opposite; this was our championship to win, because we've had everything that it took. There were two strategies employed on the racetrack today, and I thought it was rather ironic that the guy that I look after on a normal basis on a timing stand who's known for harboring fuel in his car had to race for it, and the guy that races for it saved fuel. But it just played out that way, and each of them are so engrained in the other one, they understood how the other person races and they took full advantage of it. So that's what I'd say.

Q. For Chip and Mike, to be sitting here today and celebrating Dario's championship, when you think back to when you signed him on that napkin, your expectations then, what were you really thinking about him, what he could do after everything happened with the NASCAR side and his injury and really just getting back into possibly a different series?
And the second question is how has Dario -- how did Dario kind of transform himself this time around that made the difference today?
CHIP GANASSI: Let me answer that. There was a guy we used to have around the team. He was a mentor to Mike and myself, a guy by the name of Morris Nunn, and Morris, when you needed a driver, Morris said -- he said, you've always got to take the best guy that's available. Morris, wherever you are out there tonight, playing golf somewhere, thank you, because that's what we did. That's where he and I learned that.
No matter what, you've always got to take the best guy that's available, because if you do it for some other reason, you're going to get in trouble eventually. That's what we did.
So that was probably the -- when you have an open seat and you've got the best guys available out there and you take a run at him and say, hey, we want you to drive a car for this amount of money, and this is what we want, can you do it, yes or no? And you know right there what's going to set the tone. If he says yes, it'll set the tone. If he says, well, let me think about it for three days, it's kind of like, well, the guy doesn't really want it, you know.
Mike can attest to this a little bit. That kind of sets the tone right there, sets the tone right on that day. That sets the tone with these guys. If they're interested in driving for you, they'll tell you. Dario said, look, I really want to do this. I remember him saying, I want to do this, but I've got to think about it for a little bit. Can I think about it for a little bit?
So I think you're thinking about -- you are thinking about doing well. If you don't think of putting your team together to go and win something, whether it's races or championships, if you don't put a team together to do that, I don't know what you're doing in this business, so you've obviously got to be thinking about that in the back of your mind, thinking this is why I want to do this, because I want to win. You don't put it together to lose.
You know, I can't really say I was thinking about winning a championship. I thought, well, it would be great if we could win the championship with him. But we knew that if he was going to win a championship, he had another guy that was in a pretty good car that he was going to have to beat. We knew that guy pretty well, too; he was on our team.
So you know -- does that answer your question?

Q. Congratulations. Mike, this has got to be a little -- the guy that you're calling the shots for for the second time to Dario, the fuel thing kind of turns out not working for him --
MIKE HULL: He wasn't going to run out of fuel this time.

Q. Basically, just looking at it from Scott's effort all year, he gave it a pretty good shot, and him and Briscoe had a hell of a race up there at the front. Just your thoughts on Scott's effort.
MIKE HULL: Scott Dixon, I could write a book on Scott Dixon. I think maybe some day when I'm sitting on a beach somewhere, I'll do that.
Scott Dixon grows every day. He's not a steady guy; he's a growth expert. He studies what his teammate does, he studies what the team itself does, he studies what has happened to him on the racetrack, he studies that the data that is provided, fine line data from other competitors. He works on a daily basis to be a better race car driver.
And now with a teammate like we have in Dario, it's very unique because they aren't the same, but they read each other very well. So it's a pleasure to have Scott Dixon, and I've been fortunate enough to be with Scott, I don't know, since 2003. And we've grown together in the process. We've made each other better. We've been equally ecstatic about results on given days and equally disappointed in results on given days.
You know, what the race was over, I said to Scott, go job, but you know what, it would have been better off to have a moment of silence because I know how much he wanted to win today, and it had nothing to do with racing against Ryan Briscoe. He had just -- he had set himself in motion to win the championship, and that's what we do every day.
Chip Ganassi Racing is all about what you saw today; it's about two groups of people operating as one. Scott Dixon epitomizes that for us.

Q. Chip, I started thinking back to another driver that you took back, and he left Formula 1. You brought him here, put him in a car and he won a race. I think it was here, was it not, Michael Andretti?
CHIP GANASSI: He won in Australia.

Q. Was it here that he came back --
CHIP GANASSI: It was Australia.
That's the thing, I've been lucky over the years to work with so many great drivers. Michael is certainly one of them. We did a book of 100 wins last year when we got to the 100 mark, and I wrote a personal note and I sent a book to every one of the drivers that were in it, and Michael was the first one -- Michael's was the first one I penned.
You know, that was an important win for our team in many respects, not the least of which it did set the tone for a long time to come, you know, as to what the team was capable of and what the strategy was and the way we operate the team. I remember it just sort of validated how we operated the team in 1994 there.

Q. Chip, did you mention coming in that you guys would be 170 points up on the rest of the field? Those cars just crushed everybody this year. Did you think that was how it was going to play out, or were you expecting more competition from the AGRs and Newman/Haases of the world?
CHIP GANASSI: I don't know, Mike is probably better to answer that than me, but every year you go into the off-season, or when you start thinking about the following racing season, you think, okay, well, we have to do this, this and this because those other guys are doing that, that and that. And it does get harder every year because it -- it gets harder every year because people sort of know your modus operandi, if you will. That's a big word for me.
So each year it gets harder in that respect. I mean, obviously there are some teams out there we think we have a handle on, but you know, look down at Penske and Andretti and Newman/Haas, and these are all capable organizations.
THE MODERATOR: Chip, Mike, thank you very much.
We are now joined by two-time IndyCar Series champion, Dario Franchitti. You've got to have a little bit of fun with this. You are the oldest champion in Indy racing history. Why don't you talk about your day out there.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think it obviously started yesterday when we managed to qualify on the pole and take the front row for team Target. That was just a great effort by the team. My guys -- we weren't that quick in practice, and my guys, Chris Simmons and Brad Goldberg and the boys on the engineering side, together took an estimated, a guess, on what we would need to do the qualifying, and that was spot on.
But our reset was also a little bit of a guess on our side of the car, because we weren't that good in practice. You could see that Scott and Ryan were quicker because the car was a little out of bounds. So pretty early on I decided my only option was going to be -- I couldn't stay with them, so I was going to have to start thinking about saving fuel. Luckily, Chip and the boys in the stand were having the same thought. The first stint we pitted, and we made an adjustment. It was a small adjustment.
From then on the car was great, and the track came to us a little cooler, but we were already four seconds back. So from pretty much from that point on we were save fuel, save fuel, yeah, that's a good lap speed. And I was thinking, well, that's as quick as I can go, so it was a good lap speed. I was trying some different stuff.
In traffic it was pretty tough. We seemed to be lapping a lot of cars, and it was very difficult with the heat and everything, the temperature, the cars were sliding around a lot, having to stretch our equipment, so was able to do that. And because it really played into our strategy, I would have loved to gone an extra one and chase those guys down, but that wasn't our plan. Luckily having two cars in the championship fight, with Scott and myself, we managed to split strategy. And for me, my one worked out.

Q. How about the whole season as a whole as you reflect back on your year, come back to IndyCar racing?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I didn't think I'd win five races and a championship in my first year back. I knew driving for team Target, I'd have good equipment, just a question of could I get back into it and compete at a level that I had already, because Scott is a better driver than he was in '07, and Ryan came in every single week, as well as other people who made appearances and won races, but it just seemed that Scott and Ryan every week were tough competition.
From that second win at Long Beach, the winner in the second race at Long Beach, I knew we could get it done. If there was any regrets, I guess it was at Indy. We felt Scott and I had winning cars and we didn't execute, so it took us some weeks to make up for that.

Q. I noticed you struggled with traffic for a while, but you got behind Mutoh for a little while, then that's when that big gap kind of opened up. Is that when you decided, now I've got to save fuel?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, that was frustrating. Indy drivers talk about holding their line, and that wasn't the case there. I got pretty badly chopped in both directions, and that allowed the other guys to disappear, but you kind of get used to that. And then the rear half of the car was not good. We managed to get it better, and it was good in traffic on the position where I wanted. Unfortunately by that point, we were a fair ways back but ultimately that allowed us to do what we did.

Q. After the Nationwide race at Talladega in April, you had to just kind of sit there and go, what next, in your stockbroker's suits. Was there a point at all during the summer where you really kind of wondered what you would be doing this year before Chip offered you the IndyCar ride?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Absolutely. Chip had come a couple of times and said something like, hey, we could do an IndyCar deal, and that was that.
And then we had that secret phone call when he called me one morning. He told me that we were closing the team down because he couldn't continue to pay out of pocket. It was going to bring the whole team down, and that was a pretty tough call for him to make. A lot of people lost their jobs at a bad time.
I wondered what was going to happen. I had some offers to do some sports car stuff. From about May onwards, I had kind of been getting this hankering on for the speedway. When I had my broken ankle I kind of worked around it, and it got me thinking about coming back. I'm the kind of person when I do something, I immerse myself in it and I've immersed myself in NASCAR.
So Chip and I had been talking about various options for this year. I went to Detroit to watch my brother race and to talk with Chip about my options.
Mike Hull and I were sitting down in the back of the transport. I don't know if Mike told you this -- he told you? Then you know the story.
The most bizarre thing, we agreed to the deal, two minutes, 30 minutes, and then we argued for about eight hours on this stupid point. And Chip went to dinner and Mike and I sorted it out with my manager. That was pretty much it.
I said already, I've got to thank Chip and those boys. He sat me down and grilled me pretty hard in Detroit: Why do I want to come back to IndyCar? Was I up for the challenge and ready to do it again and give 100 percent? I'm just glad they invited me back to come and play. I really enjoyed it. I wanted to be part of the unified series, the places we get to race at and the people I get to race against and the cars I get to drive. It's pretty cool.

Q. Along those same thought lines, what persuaded you to go to NASCAR in the very first place? You're sitting on top of this world; what made you go over there?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was sitting in this situation, this was a little before this in '07, and I always asked myself, am I ready for next year, what do I want to do next year. And there was no answer to that one. I asked myself, what do I want to do. Normally it's like, yep, keep going. I was like, I'm not really sure I'm going to have the motivation to do this again. So I looked around for something else.
What a strange thing because Chip was wanting somebody for one of his cars, and ultimately it didn't work out. But then again, it ultimately brought us to this point, so it's pretty cool.

Q. Along those same lines, you had it pretty tough there; the start of the season did not go as you would have envisioned it, and I don't know, that was maybe one of the roughest times in your career. Does that make this championship any more emotional? Does it make this one anything extra having gone from that to this in that time frame?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It has a certain sweetness, absolutely, to have gone through that. I've been very lucky in my career, involved with great teams, great sponsors, and our team has always operated with equipment that could allow me to win.
We all went to NASCAR, and we did pretty well in Cup. But '08 was a tough season. This is something that's happened to my friends a lot, had teams lose drivers because of lack of sponsorship, and it was the first thing that happened to me, and it was a good lesson. It was a good lesson, just kind of what the other side of the fence looks like.

Q. A couple things, Dario. One, you spoke about this being 2009, 10 years after 1999, and what it means to you. Can you expound on that? And also, could you expound on working with the first year Chief Engineer like Chris Simmons, who is a former driver?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We'll talk about Chris first. Chris and I have known each other since I first signed up for the team. If you ask Chris, I stole his ride. The fact that he's given me good cars all year, I've got to thank him for that.
I've generally had engineers that were a little bit older than me. To have one roughly the same age is a new experience, and he is a relatively inexperienced team engineer. But he did just a fabulous job all year, along with the whole engineering staff at Target. Target worked very well, and all the guys on the team, as well, and all these guys I've known for years, what great guys.
Again, I've been lucky to have good engineers over the years, really good engineers that taught me a lot, and I was able to bring some of that knowledge this year. So yeah, I couldn't be happier with the job he has done, and the whole engineering side has done a fabulous job. The success that these guys have, there's a reason that Target wins so much.
On to Greg. You know, ten years ago, we were with team Target, and it came down to Fontana. I don't really think about that as far as oh, my God, I lost the championship this day. It was ten years ago and a couple of weeks. I think about Greg Moore all the time. But especially -- when I go to Fontana and then come here I always think about it. He won his last race here. We had the party to end all parties after that one. That was quite something.
I really don't know what to say. We lost a great guy that day. It's tough to talk about it quite a lot. You sit and think, if he was here today we'd be finishing second.

Q. This is your second IndyCar championship. Could you kind of compare this, how important this was to you to win this? And of course you're very competitive, but how does this compare to your first championship?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think Chip prefers this one. How does it compare is tough. It hasn't really sunk in yet. In '07 there was a lot of satisfaction in getting that one done. And now to come back from where we were a year ago. I think that's what makes it sweeter is we've got everybody together, and you've got a more balanced schedule, as well.
That gives me really a lot of satisfaction, having to beat guys like -- look down the list. Look at the drivers we're competing against, Ryan and certainly Scott at the top of that. To beat those guys and to beat Scott on team equipment -- you beat Scott Dixon, you've had a great day. But you've got to push like hell to get one over on him.

Q. Chip was talking about the team drivers that -- I might be paraphrasing, hold back that 1 percent. He said that you and Scott did not do that. How do you not do it, I mean, when the stakes are so high? Did you ever race for a team where you either did hold back or did what other people do?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What do you mean?

Q. What I understood what he said is they did not share everything, that was my understanding. Hold back information from your team. That 1 percent, how hard is it to go over that hump, and then did you ever race for a team where you thought people did hold back?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's a trust issue, and it's something you develop, and I was lucky enough with Paul Tracy to develop that. The first guy I developed it with was Brian Snider. He said, we want to beat each other, but in order to beat each other we have to work together, and we ended up being great friends. I was lucky enough with Paul, with Michael. Michael took a little time, but we got there. And then it became part of the plan with Tony, Brian, Dan, Marco, Danica, all those guys.
At first Scott was maybe just a touch guarded, but it was a full set of information going back and forth to the point we'd actually talk about certain corners, if you drive the car here, you can do this, it goes through really quick, help around the corner. There's one track, I don't remember which one it was, and we were joking that we could have a car with two seats and two steering wheels because he was very good through the first and not very good through the second and I was crap through the first part and great through the second. We work very, very well together.

Q. You mentioned that a couple years ago you were kind of wondering if you had kind of lost a step, and I was wondering if -- there was a couple crashes just before you went to NASCAR, I don't know if you want to talk about it, but the media kind of was wondering if that had some effect on you and if that was part of your decision to go to NASCAR.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: My decision was motivation, nothing to do with the crashes. And anybody that took the trouble to ask me that question, I told them that. It had nothing to do with those crashes. I just didn't want to do it. But that wasn't the case.

Q. Just talk about Briscoe and Dixon. Those two guys today did everything they could possibly do to win this and at some point had an uh-oh moment and realized that you were smarter or the team put yourselves in that position. Do you have empathy for what they were going through realizing that they ran really a tremendous race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think those guys did a great job. It was crucial because I think if we would have been more balanced in that first stint I would have been right up there with them. But again, I think they did everything right, and I think we did everything right today, we just had different strategies going on. We got some luck, too. You've got to have luck to win a championship, and you can look back and look at every race we've done this year, the ones I've thrown away through bad luck or mistakes by myself, the team, whatever, we've all done it. It's a whole season's worth of points get you to this situation.

Q. To be sitting up there now, you'd think maybe the whole NASCAR thing, maybe I shouldn't have done it, maybe I should have just stayed right where I was, and I mean, even though you said it was worth taking a stab, but coming back to this series, how did you have to adapt to it coming back, and when you think about the NASCAR experience and that not working out, what was your thinking about, okay, I know I could come back to the IndyCar Series, but how do I strike it up? How do I adapt to what I left behind, if that makes sense.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I wouldn't change anything, and I've said that all along. I wouldn't change the decisions I made. I got to go do something completely different, have a bit of a holiday and realize what I was missing and come back and come back with the best team in the paddock.
I learned things as a driver. I got out -- to drive in stock car, I got out of my comfort zone, and I learned a lot of new things, and there's things that I can apply to IndyCar. That's made me a better driver, I think.
I'm absolutely where I should be. I should be in IndyCars. That is what I grew up to do, race in the IndyCar Series. I wouldn't change my decision I made.

Q. Who did you want to win this championship more for, yourself or for your team?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, we win and lose as a team. I know it's a bit trite, but we win and lose as a team. In the garage after Indy, you see the look on those guys' face, to get it done for the whole Target team, because we're one team. To get that done and to finish one-two in the championship, it certainly makes it very sweet.
I love being part of a team, I really -- people think sometimes this is an individual sport, but this is a team sport, and I love being part of a team. When a team is working well, it's a great thing. It's a cool thing to be a part of.

Q. At the end of the race, it probably became very apparent to you that you were going to have fuel and those guys were going to have to pit again. Would you have guessed that this race was going to go caution free, however, and what were you thinking those last ten laps? Were you just kind of expecting any time now it was going to come out or just your emotions there at the end when you knew they were going to have to pit but yet there hadn't been a caution and that was kind of crazy.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was hoping there wouldn't be a caution. I knew pretty much from the start of that last stint, we knew the position everybody was in. I was just hoping there wasn't going to be that caution. If it had been in the last five laps, we would have finished under yellow, because those crashes, it takes quite a while to clean them up. I'm glad it finished under green. What was the record? Was that record speed today? It must have been.
THE MODERATOR: Second. California in '03 was 207.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Was that caution-free?
THE MODERATOR: One.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's got a history if you look at the caution summaries we do at our strategy meetings, there's not a lot of cautions. And with the tricky conditions I think it was surprising because the cars were sliding a lot, and our cars were handling better than most, and I was catching it sometimes off of 2 and 4, big slides at the corners, and I could see that other people were doing the same. They would have done a good job of hanging on to them today.

Q. Two years ago you had a deal with Scott that no matter who won you guys were going to meet for a drink. He was bummed out; he stood you up. Tonight he says he's not going to stand you up. How important is this going to be to share it with your teammates who came so close to winning a championship?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Ryan is coming out, too. He assured us he's coming out, too. We had a deal, look, no matter who wins it, we'll go and have a beer tonight. TK is coming out, too. There's always a rumor that TK is paying. TK is not paying?
He pays all the time; he's his own worst enemy. TK is always the first man to reach for his credit card.
It's very important to celebrate it with Scott. We have this attitude as a team, and I'll go back to Tony, it's an attitude that him and I had, too; some days you're going to be better than me, some days what you choose is going to work out better, and we've had that attitude all season, and we've pushed each other on. It's always in a positive, forward-looking manner.
It's like, good job, man. I'm going to have to go home and think about it and come back stronger, and we've done that all season. He's a great teammate, and I love working with him, and hopefully we can do it again next year.
THE MODERATOR: I think your post-race obligations lasted longer than the race itself. Congratulations, and we'll see you tomorrow night.



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