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IZOD IndyCar Series: The Milwaukee 225

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  The Milwaukee 225

IZOD IndyCar Series: The Milwaukee 225

Graham Rahal
Oriol Servia
June 19, 2011


WEST ALLIS, WISCONSIN

THE MODERATOR: We are joined today by Oriol Servia of Newman Haas Racing. This is Oriol's season-best finish of third place. His previous best 2011 finish was fifth at Barber in Sao Paulo. He previously finished second at Milwaukee in 2003.
Today's finish moves you into third in points. So you seemed very solid running the bottom of the track. If you can talk about today's race and the momentum behind the No. 2 team right now in the championship points.
ORIOL SERVIA: Thank you, Tracy. Wow. Yeah, actually you mentioned a key point, probably around lap 20, I figured out that running low was better for my car, and that's when I started to pull away from the guys behind me and catching the guys in front of me.
And it's interesting because on our own, during testing and qualifying, I'm sure you saw that the fast lap was on the high line. But either because it rained or just my car was working better I was running low the whole race and I think it was honestly apart from good restarts, running low, was the key to being up front now.

Q. Inaudible.
ORIOL SERVIA: I had many. It's just the nature of double-file restarts. It's a start on high energy, because at the start you always knee you have the full race ahead, so though you take risks, it's kind of stupid to crash at the start, right? But after you have a restart after the last pit stop, you know that you can win a lot by risking, and everybody knows that.
The energy at the track is a lot higher and everybody is trying their best, and just when you are behind a few rows of cars, you just have no downforce, and the car is light around; and even if people want to stay on their lane, they just move to the other lane because the car is light.
So it just becomes an accordion effect, and it is tough, but it is a lot of fun. So I had a couple of moments with Graham, a couple of moments with Power in the last restart, and before that, you know, there's a long list, starting with Viso at the very beginning of the race when we were coming into the pits, I think he was worried about me instead of worrying about the guys in front and started to play games, and the guys in front were far away, and I can't pleased with that you about we passed him on that pit stop.

Q. Talk about what this run means.
ORIOL SERVIA: I'm glad you bring it up. It's amazing, James finished sixth. He started 15th. When I had my pit stop and I went back to 12th, he was already up to 8 and he finished sixth, I think it great. It just shows that the teams always perform well here, and we must be the most solid team out there with third and sixth I would think today. So that says a lot about the team and the work done.
THE MODERATOR: Now we have also been joined by Graham Rahal of the Racing Central Chip Ganassi Racing. This is his third podium finish of the season. Can you talk about making up ten spots to finish second today?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah it was a great day for the Service Central team. I think everybody was a little down after qualifying 12th. I think we thought our qualifying pace would be a little bit better than that, but the guys kept their heads up and we moved forward, and passed a lot of cars there.
I thought passing was going to be pretty tricky and rare today, but to be honest, it was a lot of good opportunities, and the low line started to come in there, and certainly my car was quick down there, so I was able to get by a lot of guys.
You know, at the end of the day, my guys did a great job in the pits, kind of maintaining position, and we just moved forward. If we lost any spots, we got them back and I thought the double-file restarts were great. I gained at least one position, maybe two, per restart, and that was hugely beneficial to me.
And certainly, at the end there, I thought I was going to have a chance at Dario, but he just had a little too much. I just couldn't quite keep up. But at the end of the day, it feels fantastic to have our third podium, keep knocking on the door and eventually we are going to win one; eventually, we'll see.

Q. Do you feel like the last month, month and a half, you're racing as well as you ever have?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah, I think -- I hope that we would compete well here. But Texas is a place that I never really cared for that much. It always made me extremely nervous to race there, and we raced there. We competed. We were right up front and should have had two Top-10 finishes there; if the fuel pump had not broken. Before that, you look at Brazil, you look at Indy, both of those were on the podium. I think our team is starting to gel, hopefully get a little momentum behind us, hopefully going to get back on to a road course and carry this back on to Iowa.
I feel like I'm driving as well as I ever have, and you know, right now we need to. We are in a heavy points chase here. And we need to make up some points and obviously today was a really good day for. That now we have to set our sights on Mr. Servia here and see what we can do.

Q. What's going to put you over the top?
GRAHAM RAHAL: To be honest, qualifying up front. For some reason, qualifying is our weak link. You know, when I was at Newman/Haas in 2009, qualifying was our strength, and here it's been a role reversal. I mean we have raced up front pretty well everywhere, but to have to pass at Indy, you know, 27 cars, or to have to pass even just ten here, it's challenging.
And to put ourselves in that position week-in and week-out is tough. Now, if we could start up front, we could run up front, do their strategy and play their game, then I think we can compete with them. But we've got to work on our qualifying and we've got to start right with them.

Q. You mentioned Texas, you did a great job at Texas, but what are your thoughts about two races?
GRAHAM RAHAL: I like the doubleheader. Only thing is I think the races need to be longer because I don't think it ever had a chance to play out. A too-lap race is still going to go buy in an hour and ten minutes or maybe less.
I think that would be good. Because the way they had it, it was one real stop and splash, and if you had some -- really, we didn't have any yellow, but you never had a chance to kind of play out. Once the leaders took off, they were gone. And I think I would have liked to have seen, you know, maybe the races being a little bit longer.
But the double-header doesn't bother me and I thought the format was fine. And you know, it was -- for me it was good racing at Texas because it wasn't three-wide for, you know, 200 and however many laps we used to do. It was kind of nice to be more under train and race with a couple of guys at a time and be able to move forward.

Q. Did you get shuffled back there on one of your pit stops?
ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, we wanted to make it exciting today. (Laughter) we dropped from I think fourth to 12th, and I was like, man. Because I really thought I had the podium there.
The car felt great up front but whenever you go to the back, you know, you're going to be on dirty air and you can get in trouble. But just at the moment, t z told me, all right, you are halfway through the race.
And I thought, okay, we started ten, and you know, 120 laps, we are able to go up to third, we can do it again.
I adjusted -- the line in front of me, I had Will Power and Scott Dixon which usually are not the easiest guys to pass, but at the restart I was able to pass them both, and then I thought, okay, we can do this. And it's just -- every restart, the last restart I think I passed a lot of cars and it was just -- the car was obviously making it easier for me.

Q. As a Newman/Haas alumni, how do you feel about the resurgence of that team?
GRAHAM RAHAL: It's great. I spent many years there, and it's a fantastic team. Truthfully, some of the best guys around here are on that team. Still keep in touch with some of them. To see them do well, particularly, obviously, Oriol and I were teammates at the end of 2009 for a few races, so it's great to see him doing so well, and obviously he deserves to be here full-time, and as does the team.
And so, you know, it's nice to see them running up front where they belong and where they have always been -- just behind me, that's where I like it, though. (Laughter)?

Q. How realistic is it for you --
ORIOL SERVIA: I think to catch those two guys, we need to start winning races. It's not about being consistent, being in the Top-5 and being on the podium. Those guys are on the top teams and they win every weekend. The only way to catch them even if they have bad weekend; it's to win races.
I think on my end, we are really getting close to that point, but we haven't yet, win one. So until we do that, we cannot really think seriously about challenging for the championship I think.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I think Oriol is spot on. You look at us, we had some of the best points-paying days you can v and yet we still lost points to one of them. You've got to win. They have got to have bad days.
But I think as a team on the Service Central side, our goal is to compete for the Top-5 in points anyway at the end of the year. That's where our sights are set right now and to think we are going to win a championship in our first year is not realistic, especially against teams of the quality of the Target Chip Ganassi guys and Penske and so on. We just have to fight to be the best now. They have pulled off quite a lead so just got to keep working to beat everybody else?

Q. Do any of the drivers reach out to you --
GRAHAM RAHAL: I've never had anybody ask me, you know, any tips to be honest.
So you know, I mean, obviously if they did, I would be more than happy to help, because I was always fortunate that, you know, especially a place like, this I could always lean on Dad, who is in the back of the room there, and get a lot of advice. And to be honest, I was lucky in my early days that I had Bourdais and Justin Wilson and this guy right here as teammates to learn from and really pick up on what they were doing.
And obviously continuing on now with Scott and Dario. So I still -- I've been doing this, this is my fourth year in IndyCar and I still -- there's still a lot to learn. So I would more than welcome them to come up and ask, but I've certainly never heard a thing.

Q. Inaudible.
ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, I think it was surprising in a way, at a place like Indy, we were able to surprise those guys. I expect, you know, less dominance of those teams in places like here, on a street or road track where you have everything perfect, a perfect weekend, you can maybe get them versus.
I was really, really surprised that we kicked them out of the front know on our case, especially somebody like Roger Penske who cares so much about the 500, as we all know. So it just gives us hope that if we keep doing our job, we are going to be there.
But I think what shows is that if true the winter, we can get the right budget and start working on the new car, as soon as they do, and with the same money, we can definitely be up there with them. We have the right brains in our teams that they can figure out things as much as they do, and you know, it's feasible.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I guess we are part of one of the big ones.
I mean, I think, you know, the thing for us to keep in mind on our side of it is our hopes and our expectations are always to go and compete with the Target team. I mean, obviously Penske, but the Target team which is directly related to us. But at the same time, if you look at it realistically, we took the liberty of cars in January and we built our teams from it there, and so we have got to manage our expectations.
And certainly, to run right up front with them, feels great. But, you know, when you're a part of a team like that, you realize why they win so often. It's so impressive, and you know, we are learning as much as we can week-in and week-out, and we are getting better. We are getting stronger. And it's just a matter of time until we can really, you know, compete with them.

Q. Inaudible.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I love it here. I love this track. It's so challenging. You look at a race like today, it can bite you, so easily. So you're on edge, all the time, to go fast. You're pushing so hard, and that's what I love about it. It's really in the driver's hands and I think that's a lot of fun.
ORIOL SERVIA: I kind of took a hit off all tracks. So for me, it's just great to go back to Milwaukee. I think Milwaukee is part of IndyCar history and should be part of IndyCar future. It's a great track, very challenge. We love -- I think you ask any driver out there, we all love one-mile ovals, low-banked, like Indy, and it's a great city. So I really hope it's there to stay for the long run.

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