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IZOD IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500 Pole Day

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indianapolis 500 Pole Day

IZOD IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500 Pole Day

Dario Franchitti
Will Power
May 22, 2010


THE MODERATOR: We have two guys on the front row that worked awfully hard in that last bit. Seemed pretty grueling. We'll open it up for questions right away for Will and Dario.

Q. Dario, you said you never worked that hard in your life. Describe what you put yourself through today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's tough to kind of go into, I guess. When they first changed the format, I don't know when that was, you were allowed to be multiple runs. I think I did three runs that day, whatever year that was. That was stressful. This was a whole different deal.
This morning we went out, we did a run. It wasn't bad. We felt we could get a little bit more with the conditions. Our conditions weren't at favorable as some of the other guys. We tried through the afternoon to go quicker and ended up almost sticking the thing in the fence a couple of times. We changed that plan. We just waited until the Fast 9.
We went out, laid a lap down. We knew we could make it better. Went again. That was our best run. Then we went again and we just overstepped the boundary. The car was not working right.
Each time you're out there, it's a tightrope. It's an absolute tightrope. You go into one, you're backing into one, the rear is stepping out, you're catching it, the whole thing goes into a four-wheel slide. It changes lap to lap, run to run. So you don't ever know what you're going to get. If you're that far offline, either too high or too low, it changes the balance of the car.
To do it once was kind of tough. To do it as many times as we did today, that was crazy.
But the fans looked happy. That was the reason for this new format. We got the Team Target car in the front row. We did everything we could today to get the pole, but we didn't quite have it.

Q. When Helio goes out in the beginning and lays down those numbers, those were pretty big numbers that nobody had seen this month.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Those were big numbers. I don't want to take anything away from the job that Helio and Will did. Hats off to those guys. They did a great job. When I saw those numbers, I thought, what do they have they we don't. Chip was in the car giving me a pep talk. We were going all out for it. We just didn't have it today.

Q. Dario, how did the communication process work on that? Do you say, I think I can squeeze another little bit out?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know how it works in Will's camp. In ours today, we know after the first run, I said, Look, we can definitely make this better. Let's do another one. Let's wait till later. They said, No, we're going now. Oh, God. In the back of my mind, I know what they're thinking. They're going to try to make me do three runs.
The second run, I thought that was pretty much it, guys, unless you can come up with something special. They said, No, we've got something that does this and that, have another go. Are you sure? They're like, Yeah, yeah.
I went out. By the second lap, I knew it wasn't quicker. It was just as exciting as the other ones had been, so I came in (laughter).

Q. In a nutshell, Dario, what did you think of this format? What would you tweak right now or change if you could?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think the one thing I would change is that kind of jostling for position in the lane. It's messy. The fans get confused what's going on. So I would change that.
Apart from that, I think it was good. You guys tell me. I thought it worked well, apart from that.
WILL POWER: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I'd pit and be straight back in line. So, yeah, I guess the fans enjoyed it. It would have been nice if Helio did that at the end, if we wanted to set us all up, the 'wow' factor.

Q. We asked Ryan if he was privy to any conversations between Roger and you and Helio. Did you have any conversations with Tim or anybody else during the day like, What are you doing? Do you want me to stay in?
WILL POWER: The conversation is, I'm not going to stop you from going out, but the risk is you'll be 25th if you crash, but it's your decision (laughter). I'm like, Oh, man.
Yeah, they were always trying to hold me back. Dario's guys were trying to push him out.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's the age thing (laughter).
WILL POWER: It is. It's experience. They push you out. I'm like, I'm ready to go. They're like, Well...

Q. We pretty much expected both of Target guys and all three of the Penske guys to be in the Fast 9. We also kind of figured there would be some Andretti guys there. Talk about some of the other guys that got into the Fast 9, guys like Alex and Graham Rahal and even Ed Carpenter.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think Tony would have been in the Fast 9. He unfortunately had that crash. That's the tightrope we all walk. You could see, he got a little loose, it touched. You could see the sparks, and it was gone. I was glad he didn't get hurt in that one.
But Tagliani, he's got my old engineer, who I know is bloody good. That whole team, that was pretty cool.
WILL POWER: Fantastic.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: They got quality people on that team. He and Alex did a hell of a job. It was nice to see those guys there.
It's nice to look back now and think that way. But during the day, you're not thinking. You're thinking, Right, I'm going to get these guys, beat them to the top of the pole. Now you can relax a bit. But it's good to see.

Q. I'm getting the impression from both of you guys that you got your money's worth out there today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think Chip got his money's worth today.
WILL POWER: You're correct. Actually, I was into it after a while. That third run, I'm just holding on. But the first of the four, because I went before 4:00, 3:30 or whatever, that was actually the hottest part of the day. Man, the car was real nasty. I remember Tim Cindric telling me, You're either going to move up or be 25th if you crash. I wanted to finish the lap, finish the run, not go down the ladder.
After I got into it, I think you start to really get, like Dario says, like walking a tightrope. You actually get the feel for it, how far you can let it go. But I have to admit, I was happy to get out at the end.

Q. When are you going to go to the hauler and look at the videotapes of your runs today?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think it ever looks as spectacular out of the car as it is in the car. The spectacular thing about these things is the rate of speed that they're covering. That doesn't show up so well on TV. But also in the car, those tiny movements you don't really see from the TV. We're in there.
It's like when you watch one of these things crash, unless you really have sat in one, like when Tony crashed, What the hell happened there? But you can see it in the car.
WILL POWER: That much movement, on that fine line, that goes to spin basically, so you don't get to see it. Tony working in that cockpit, you're on the weight jack, on the bars, changing as the run goes on.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I did get past zero on one today. I came in the pits pretty quick afterwards.

Q. If each of you could talk about Helio's performance.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Helio is very good here, we know that. Team Penske do a great job. It's always fun to compete against them. You know when you beat them you've accomplished something.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, he's a very good teammate to have. All his experience, he just knows this place so well. You know, I think it's a combination of him and Cindric and the engineer, they just know when to run and what to run at what time. You know, it's something I learned this year just working away. I sort of followed his lead. I mean, Helio, he knows how to put it on the line. The engineer knows what to put on.

Q. Will, nobody had anything for Helio today. You had that one, 227.5. Did you feel at any point maybe you had a chance of catching him on that?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think if I ran that setup earlier, when he ran that first when it was hotter, the air is a little thinner, it would have been quicker. It's so hard to tell. I know Helio went out at the end and was doing the same speed I was. You know, I just wonder.
But that's experience. Maybe I should have gone to that setup earlier, trimmed that much out earlier. But, you know, that's the only thing that I could think of that would have got me closer to his pace or maybe challenged him.

Q. Dario, this is a poor time to ask this after your tough day. With the rumors going around about a big bonus for the NASCAR race and this race, certainly you're one that comes to mind. What do you talk about when you think somebody's going to put up that kind of money and who might be interested in crossing over?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I kind of have mixed feelings about it. It's a great deal of money, there's no doubt, and it's a helluva challenge. Having driven both cars, and Charlotte is a difficult track, it will be very tough.
I think for guys in NASCAR, in Cup, to come up here and give them two weeks testing, the top guys would get reasonably close. Put them in a good car, one of our cars, they could get reasonably close. It's that tightrope we've been talking about, that would be the tough part, plus the experience. They're used to cars reacting a certain way. There are all kinds of things that would make it difficult for them. The same reason it would be difficult for us to go down there and do the difficult job. The cars are so different. Also the physical part, doing 1100 miles in one day. You would be some kind of hero and definitely earn it.
Also part of me thinks, I don't know, for me winning the Indy 500 is enough.
WILL POWER: If anyone ever pulls that off, wins two, man, they're the king - or the queen (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for coming in.
WILL POWER: Thank you.

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