IZOD IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500 Pole Day
Topics: Indianapolis 500 Pole Day
May 22, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We have the gentlemen who have just gone through the process of a unique new qualifying session. Solidified their position early in the day, so they knew going in no worse than the third row, which is a good result. Probably differential feelings among some of them. Nonetheless, we have a lot of people here. We'll open it up to questions right off the bat.
Q. What did you think of the shootout format today?
ED CARPENTER: I watched most of it. When Helio did his first lap, I thought that was pretty cool. The fans seemed to like it. It seemed a little louder out there than the past couple pole days. From that standpoint, I think it was good. It wasn't near as intense for me as it was for some of the other guys. They probably didn't like it so much.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I'm kind of in the same boat. I think we were pretty happy to be in the top nine. Once we went out, we did our run, got a call said, that's enough. That was pretty much it. We got to watch it.
At the end, it was interesting. I was trying to figure out why everybody kept running. Didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.
As Ed said, I thought the turnout today was pretty good. Thought the fans seemed pretty into it at the end there, so we'll see.
SCOTT DIXON: It was tough. I lost count of how many attempts I did. I think I did three of them, all of them against my will. The car, we've been struggling with all day. It was tough to try to milk any more speed out of the car. To be honest, it didn't really make any difference. I think we were just trying to make somebody rode on behind us so we could protect ourselves.
It put on a great show. They should have let Helio go last. The time he put up straight out of the box there was pretty massive. I didn't like to see that when I was sitting right behind him.
Tough day. But fantastic for the fans. As much people I've seen here on qualifying day and I think that's what counts. Hopefully all the cars running on the track at the end is what brought everybody out, the promotional stuff. For me, it was fun to be a part of.
ALEX TAGLIANI: Pretty much similar to Scottie. When we went out the first time, we were a little bit loose. I wish we didn't have to go out again.
I think it's interesting, if you are very close and you're battling point two miles an hour, your car is right there, I think that's what makes it interesting for the fans. That's what it was all about today.
The turnout was great. Sometimes what's not fun for the drivers is fun for the fans. I think it's a good decision.
Q. Alex, you lost a row? Is that deflating or given everything...
ALEX TAGLIANI: For us, just to have the opportunity to battle with Ganassi and Penske, it's quite an honor. I'm proud of the team, what they've been doing this week.
It's not easy to keep the car on the track, like when you're trying so hard.
We had a couple of chances even there to do a 226.5 average. That's where we were. Same as Scottie. When I saw Helio, we knew we didn't have that speed. I kind of like had an idea a little bit that somebody was going to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the top nine qualifying. That's what happens.
But I think it's almost normal. We're not there yet. It's our first Indy 500 as a group. For what they accomplished this week, I think I'm very proud of the team.
Q. Scott, did you ever think you'd ever see a day where a guy who is already on the pole would go back on the track?
SCOTT DIXON: I think, you know, we could see that probably coming. There was a bit of discussion going on towards the end. The polesitter wasn't meant to be able to defend himself in the last five minutes, which he did.
I think he was just trying -- obviously, he didn't go for the speeds he was shooting for earlier. I think quite comfortably he had it all day. It was just the speed the guy had. Helio did a fantastic job. To break a 228 today, I was just happy to break a 226 at the end. I don't know what they're doing, but they're doing it right. I'm sure maybe Ryan is kind of asking what they're doing as well.
Maybe you can tell me later (laughter).
Q. Graham, personally are you amazed you're sitting in the top nine? What is your feeling on today? You only ran once, correct?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah. We ran once. We are a little surprised, to be honest. For us, we only decided to do this two weeks ago. The cars were still blue from last year, kind of sitting in the corner of the shop.
I think, you know, for our guys to bolt something together, to come out here, think we feel pretty good about where we are. The race seems to be pretty good.
To be honest, we didn't work on qualifying stuff too much. I think that makes us even more proud because for us really, the first time we tried anything in qualifying was yesterday afternoon, we did one run, then came into today.
I mean, I'm really proud of the guys. It was a last-minute deal. We knew these guys had competitive cars here in the past. They won the race before, all those things.
I think it is pretty impressive for us to sit in this position. As Tag said, to run with guys like Ganassi, Penske, Newman/Haas who has done a lot of development in the off-season, I think it's pretty impressive.
Q. Hideki, what did you think of the last hour and a half? What were the issues with your lap times?
HIDEKI MUTOH: I think we tried too big. We were looking for like a top five. I mean, I just couldn't put four laps together. I mean, I had one good lap, and next lap getting slower and slower.
So, just as I said, I couldn't put enough together.
Q. Ryan, were you privy to the conversations between Cedric and Roger at the end when they made that decision to bring Helio out?
RYAN BRISCOE: No. I was just sitting in my car ready to go.
Q. Alex, Graham and Ed. You guys broke into the Fast 9. Just that in itself, how big a boost is that for you guys heading into next week?
ALEX TAGLIANI: Now the work starts. You have a long race, a lot of things happen. You each have a consistent car. I think there's more unpredictable things that could happen in the race.
I think for us, looking at it about this week, it's amazing. No glitch, no mistakes. A little bit more intensity in the garage. The guys are under pressure a lot pushing back and forth, back and forth.
The way they are conducting themselves, it's actually amazing for being our first effort here at Indy together.
In regards of the race, I don't know. I mean, we have some more work to do on the car and hopefully we'll be able to battle with these guys again.
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah, I mean, I think Scott Roembke's line when we first showed up here was, If you want to be a fast guy, run with the fast guys. For us to start up there, it's extremely important. To be able to run with the guys that you know are going to be in contention at the end of this, it's a good starting spot for us.
As Tag just said, the biggest thing is now the real work begins. Qualifying is special, it's important, all that type of stuff. But we know over 500 miles, anything can happen. So we'll see what happens.
ED CARPENTER: Definitely happy to be in the top nine. I felt like coming in, the Panther cars had good speed. Dan was really fast at Kansas. It wasn't like we didn't think we were going to have a chance at the top nine. From 8th to 15th, it was pretty tight the past couple days. You didn't really know where everything was going to come together until today.
Today was a lot different day than the other days with the sun shining and the track temperature being up.
You know, happy. It's my career-best start. Like Graham said, being up in the first three rows, I think it opens things up for the race a little bit better. You're definitely in the lead pack running with the guys you need to race with for the win.
Q. Alex, I understand you're running on a pretty tight budget. Did you have any concerns about putting it on the line a couple times? Did you have any worries having to get that close to the edge more than once and not wreck?
ALEX TAGLIANI: Pretty much all week I think we were doing what the car was capable of doing. I think, you know, a couple times we were using all the road. But, you know, you feel it. I think the car gives you signs. As a driver, if you disregard the sign that the car gives you and you try too much, that's when you put yourself in trouble.
Today, you know, obviously the track changed. We didn't practice in the afternoon. We got caught a little bit with the track conditions. Our first run was quite loose. But, you know, we were looking at what our car was capable of doing and we were trying to maximize that. That's why we did three runs. Like Hideki said, we couldn't really put four good laps. Our best was 226.3 instead of 226.5.
The guys did a good job. If you drive with what you have, you don't try to exceed it, it's pretty safe. But sometimes you think about the money and the budget you have. So far we're in the budget.
Q. Scott, you're a veteran here, won here. If you could change one thing about this format right now, what would you change for next year?
SCOTT DIXON: My starting position (laughter).
I don't know. I don't know if you'd change anything really. I think it was a good show. It was definitely what everybody expected. It was tough work for everybody. I think the teams are trying to make the right decision, the driver is trying to keep everything on the track. I think it was a good combination. Thank God the weather was playing nice today because it's been pretty terrible for much of the month of May. The forecasts have been terrible as well.
No, I think it was good. I don't know what else to change.
Q. Graham and Ed, did you look at today as a way to prove a point of what you are capable of doing, maybe even to potential sponsors?
ED CARPENTER: I mean, I'm here to try to win the Indy 500, first and foremost. I'm not here to try to get a ride for the rest of the year or make a statement to anybody. We have a sponsor this year. I want to win the race for them and me. I think that's priority number one. As drivers, you believe in yourself and you know what you're capable of. I learned a long time ago to not worry about what everyone else thinks about me. That is what it is. I'm here to try to win the Indy 500.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I think it's probably somewhat similar to Ed. Where we kind of sit right now is we got to make the best of the situation that we've been put in. So for me, I think it's not necessarily trying to prove yourself, but I think that the most important thing is for us, for this team, for myself, for our sponsor, who knows what can come of anything. So we just need to focus on right here, right now, make the best of it, and we'll see what happens.
As far as beyond Indy, who knows.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, thank you.
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