IZOD IndyCar Series: Cafés do Brasil Indy 300
Topics: Cafés do Brasil Indy 300
October 1, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started here today at the post qualifying press conference. We are joined by Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing who will start second here tomorrow. Scott is a two-time winner at this track and won the race in 2003, his first start here.
Scott, I think you know everyone is kind of wondering were there any team orders when you went out there with Dario on the pole?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know what you're talking about (laughing). I think, obviously, today Team Target wanted the front row, and more importantly for Dario to get the pole and gained a little bit with that extra point. As it turned out, it worked out perfectly.
But Dario was definitely extremely quick. He found more speed than what he had in practice, and we kind of just plateaued, so all in all it was what we needed to achieve.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. I know you want to win all the time. But with Dario racing for the championship, what are you racing for tomorrow night?
SCOTT DIXON: Third. You know, just slipped back, obviously, in the points. Helio jumped up there, so my main goal is to try to get back up to third in the points.
You know, still going to go out there and run my race. If I can win the race, that's going to be the main goal. You know, it's one of those things until you see how the race goes, see how quick and competitive both Dario and Will are, whether that changes the strategy if we do something off the wall to try to win the race from another direction, there's not anybody else doing that as well. It's kind of one of those things that you know we're going to know.
I think it's going to be a fierce race at the front between five or six cars. And even in practice, you can tell that some cars are definitely better earlier on in the run and some are better later on.
So, you know, last year was a totally different race for the green flag all the way through to the checkered, which has never been done before. So nobody really expected that. I think this year it could probably be a little bit different.
Q. Having been in Dario's shoes before, how important is it having a teammate starting on that front row with you when you're going for a championship and a win like that?
SCOTT DIXON: I think it's, you know, whenever you race your teammate, you definitely give them a little more room. You race with them maybe a little more cleanly. With you the other factor is we have two Penskes right behind us, and they'll be trying to stir it up as much as possible right off the bat.
So we always race clean, and we'll definitely do that tomorrow. And if I can push Dario along, obviously there are two more points that will definitely make it a lot more interesting if you gain three points on Will. So that will be the main goal if we can do something like that.
Q. You guys have come on, obviously, really strong on a lot of the ovals. Clearly, you guys have the same, I like to think, skill set as the Penske guys. Has it been frustrating this season knowing that there have been some racetracks that Target just hasn't had the lockdown on where you guys haven't been able to put the package together and stay up with Will and everyone else?
SCOTT DIXON: I think this year we definitely 2009 and 2008 had dominant cars on the mile and a halves. And I think this year we definitely lost our way a little bit, mostly on the air side of things, I think. It's night-and-day difference.
Kansas was probably the only race where the cars were typically what they were like or used to be. Then after that we haven't really had the speed or consistency throughout the car. Dario won Chicago, but I think that was a pure strategy win right there, otherwise we were kind of top six or seven at best.
It's nice to know that the team is definitely refocused. And we made up a lot of gains, I think, at the test here on Monday, which has been a big advantage.
But obviously, all the Penske cars were here as well. So it's nice to see that we have some of our speed back for qualifying, although the race is a totally different story.
Q. Is it a different feeling coming into this race with the points lead as opposed to the guy that's being the one that's hunted or doing the hunting? Is there a different feeling? Last year you came in here, I think you were first. Is it a different feeling than when you were trying to chase somebody down?
SCOTT DIXON: Well, this year for me is a totally different feeling, because I'm not even in it. It's more relaxing for sure. You can focus on different areas.
I don't know, you know, a lot of times you just have to treat each race as a different race. If you overemphasize on silly areas, it only causes you to make mistakes. I think everybody that comes into a championship battle tries to keep a clear mind and obviously let it go. As long as you do your best and you come out after the race feeling you gave it your all, that's what you can really do.
Look at last year with the strategy, you never would have thought it went from green to checker on one go. You just can't help that. So, it may be some advantage with Dario, obviously, being through this scenario many times throughout his career. You know, I'm sure Will has been through this scenario in junior categories. So there's a bit more of a spotlight on it. When it comes down to it, it's just another mile-and-a-half, three-mile race.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Will Power of Verizon Team Penske who will start third in tomorrow's race. Will, you had the opportunity to test here on Monday, how much has that helped you today?
WILL POWER: Yeah, that certainly helped me. It helped with a lot, especially me, because I haven't been here, you know. I needed to get some experience on this track. Obviously didn't help us in qualifying there.
But, yeah, I think the key for us is really focus on the race tomorrow. Make sure to blow through it and don't lose too many laps.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing our pole sitter. This is Dario's second pole this season. He started the season winning the pole in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He'll wrap up the season now winning his second pole here at Homestead. Dario won the race last year from the pole and clinched the championship.
Dario, the big question, talk about the bonus point that you got today?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, they were talking about $10,000. I said I'd give the $10,000 back for another bonus point if I could get it right now. That's very important. We said this week that will's got a fairly serious advantage there. And the easiest way to do it, to take a bit out of the question, is to qualify pole with the most laps and win the race.
That's going to be very, very difficult to do, but we've done the first step of that today. So we'll just keep pushing tonight in practice and get ready for tomorrow night's race, because I think it's going to be -- what do they say -- a barn burner.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. If both of you could talk a little bit about what you would like your strategy to be? I know that it will all change once the race starts. But going into the race you kind of have a game plan on what you want to do. If you could talk about what you'd like to see done the first half of the race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm not going to tell you my strategy, Bruce, come on. It would be nice to lead the whole race, but we'll see what happens. There are so many unknowns; it's just impossible to predict those things, I think.
WILL POWER: Yeah, lead from start to finish would be nice. But, yeah, like Dario said, certainly it's going to be an interesting race, so...
Q. Could you have imagined a scenario a year ago where you'd be disappointed to qualify third for an oval race?
WILL POWER: Could I imagine that scenario? Well, yeah, I mean, if you drive for Penske, yes. Because, you know, given all the equipment, you start to win, starts to get poles. When you're put in that position, it is disappointing when you don't execute.
Q. Do you feel like the pressure's on Will and not you? Chip was up here earlier saying he felt that it was on the 12 team to win it, and that you guys are chilling back there in a sense?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Maybe Chip's relaxed. There's always a certain amount of pressure. I put pressure on myself. I want to win the championship. I really don't know what Will's going through. I don't know what his mindset is and how much pressure he's going through.
I always know I'll go out there and do the same job I try to do every single week, and that's all I can really do. So I don't put anymore pressure on my self than I did last week or I did in Indianapolis or the first race of the season. I just do the same job that I've been doing.
It's kind of boring, I know. But it's been successful for me.
Q. If you do win tomorrow night it will be your third championship. There are not many drivers that have three. You're not that old, but do you start to think about a place in history where a guy that wins three titles, multiple Indy 500's, where that went?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Let's talk about that tomorrow night if it comes to pass.
Q. Scott kind of alluded to this. But how many times in your career have you kind of gone into a championship and been in this scenario where it came down to the last race whether it was growing up or whatever? How many times?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: One time before in junior racing. I've never been in this situation in a high profile series like this. Yeah, this is kind of new to me. But, again, it's like every weekend, you got to go there to win the race. Try to keep all the B.S. out and just move forward.
Q. You've had quite an experience, and I'm going to ask Will. Are you relishing and savoring all the anxiety and tension that comes with being in the points championship, because it is part of what goes along with it, or is it something that's like you want things to kind of slow down a little bit?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I can't say I'm really anxious or anything like that. I'm just focused on what I'm doing. I don't think anyone really relishes anxiety. That's terrible.
Q. Has your approach to winning a championship changed at all since 1999?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think my approach has changed. I think because I've been doing it longer, I've really become a bit calmer in the car, which has allowed me sometimes to get just the best out of what I got, rather than trying to go one better and ending up in the stands.
I've definitely learned stuff over the years, no doubt. The trick is to keep the speed while having that kind of mindset as well, you I think.
Q. Dario, and will, this is setting up to be the title fight of the century. You guys have been spending a lot of time together the last couple of days, and you're both trying to stop the other. Will he has something that you desperately want and you've worked your whole life for. Dario you're trying to pad the numbers. You guys are sitting next to each other. I can't imagine two heavyweight fighters doing that. How does that affect you knowing that the guy that's right next to you is really trying to stop you from getting something that you really, really want?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's a situation I think you get used to in racing. In IndyCar Racing when you're sitting there with your teammates. I was sitting with Tony Kanaan, who I consider my best friend, and we're sitting in meetings telling each other the secrets of the car and how to go fast. You know he wants to go out there and kick your ass, and I very well want to do the same thing to him. It's something you get used to.
You know, we get along well. We're going to save it for when we go out on the track and what we do on the track.
WILL POWER: I think it's something you have to get used to. I know if you're racing here, it's very tough to be friends with someone you compete so fiercely with. But I think when you get to this level, you're getting paid.
We're all professionals and you sort of keep it on the track. I think you just learn that, and you get along with everyone.
Q. Tomorrow will you race to win the race or race each other to win the championship? What is your priority?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: My priority is obviously the championship. Probably the best way to do that is to win the race. So, again, I'm not going to be points racing tomorrow because I don't see that working out for me.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it's all about a championship. If that means winning the race, if Dario happens to have led the most laps, at that point I'll be doing everything I can to win it. Maybe take some more calculated risks.
Q. Over the last several races since we've gone into the last oval section. Clearly, you had a lot of momentum through the road course section and everybody knew scrutiny was going to be on you for the last several races. While you've driven some of the best racing you've done this season in the last several races, it's still not been good enough to keep Dario at bay through all of this. You're a guy who focuses well on the car. Has this been a major distraction for you in order to stay focused on doing what you're doing, having to deal with the PR aspect of, no, I'm doing my job? Has it been tough for you?
WILL POWER: No. PR, I've been doing since I came over here. The PR thing doesn't distract me at all. It's no problem. If that's what your question was.
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