IZOD IndyCar Series: Kentucky Indy 300
Topics: Kentucky Indy 300
October 2, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's post race press conference. We're pleased to be joined by Scott Dixon, who finished third today, but more importantly takes home the A.J. Foyt Oval Trophy. Scott finished in the top five in five of his nine races here at Kentucky Speedway and finished in the top five in the past six races.
Congratulations on a podium finish. Talk about today's race, getting that oval championship.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, first of all, it's a big honor to obviously win the A.J. Foyt oval award. The guy's a legend, a character as I'm sure everybody knows. But well happy with that.
Today was a bit of a different story. We just seemed to struggle a lot with speed, especially getting up to speed. The car for the first three or four laps after a restart just kind of sat there and did nothing. It was kind of frustrating. I'm not sure if we missed on the restart gears or something there. Just seemed to get hosed by everybody, took three or four laps to get back to where we kind of were.
All in all a great day for the team, a big points swing in the championship. I'm out of it now which is sad for us. Obviously we'll try and help and push Dario as much as possible at Vegas.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. I know you just said you're out of it. After what happened with Will Power today, to have such a dominant car, somebody take him out in the pits, what do you think is going through his mind? Dario has that invincible air to him going into the last race for a championship.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, unfortunately it's racing. I thought there was another race to go (laughter). I'm sure Will, as you commented, is probably frustrated, had a lot of choice words and maybe even talked (indiscernible).
That's the way it goes sometimes. That's racing. You can't work those equations into what goes on. Obviously pit choice comes from qualifying from the previous events. That affected them big-time.
But, you know, positive for us Dario is obviously leading the championship now, which is good, I think by a fairly decent margin, 18 points, which is always a nice cushion going into Vegas. We'll see what happens. I think Vegas is going to be a crazy race, 30 or 34 cars or something. You definitely have to keep your nose clean. We can always see a different points swing come towards the end.
THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by Dario Franchitti. Dario has regained the points lead headed into the final race of the season.
Talk about getting that points lead back.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I said it on the Versus thing, it just shows how quickly things change. You never give up. Until it's mathematically impossible, you haven't lost it or you haven't won it. Just kept our head down and did our job.
The first stint we made some good places up, then had a good in-lap, good pit stop, good out-lap, got in the lead. That was a pretty nice surprise actually coming out in the lead there.
From then on I was kind of able to stay on the ball, trying to keep the guys behind me. That worked well right till the end. They told me he was a little quicker and I had to use overtakes just to keep him alongside so he couldn't actually pass me and clear me and get in front of me. I used my overtakes doing that. He had one more coming to the flag. That was it.
He drove a hell of a race, totally deserved it.
Good points day for us. Target guys were awesome in the pits, which is usual. We don't give up. I got an email this morning, I think Scott and I both got it, from Michael and Barry, said, Go out and do your best today, because that's what we always do. That's what we did.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions.
Q. Scott, I know you're disappointed you didn't win, but what does it mean for the series to have a popular underdog team like Ed and Sarah win today?
SCOTT DIXON: I think it's cool. Ed obviously has been knocking on the door for, what, the last two or three years. He's always been very competitive here. Good on the mile-and-a-half's. Kentucky seems to be his track where they do well.
To see it not a low-funded team, but a much less budget than some of the other teams out there, to actually go out and win the race says a lot. I'm sure there's very few people in that building, and it's good to see. I'm extremely happy for Ed. It's kind of cool for him to obviously win so close to his home being in Indianapolis, obviously a lot of his friends and family here. Obviously for Sarah as a team owner, they just welcomed a little girl into the world as well.
I'm just extremely happy for them. It shows you that the little teams with a bit of (indiscernible) can bring it through.
Q. Scott, I'm not going to embarrass Dario by asking this question, but the fellow over at NASCAR that has won all the titles the last five years, when you think of what Dario has done during the same span, that's pretty damn impressive. Put in perspective what he's done with all these championships in that time period.
SCOTT DIXON: Well, let's not make his head any bigger (laughter).
No, it just shows you, Dario obviously coming back from his excursion, he must have learnt a lot in NASCAR, because he came back and obviously was very good.
But, you know, it just shows, he's obviously winning races, he's very consistent. It's like he has little angel wings or something because even on a bad day they seem to pull it through. That's what it's all about. Championships, you've got to have consistency, you have to dominate some races. He's had a bit of bad luck just like all of us throughout this year. But it's cool to be a part of.
Obviously we work extremely well together. It's very rewarding for myself, too, to know this team is in a great situation to obviously get four championships in these very few years.
Q. Is that as impressive as what Johnson has done in NASCAR?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah. You know, Dario is getting a little older. He's making sure that he makes the most of it. But, yeah, I think it's the same. The competition level here is extremely tough. You got to be on your game. I don't know if we call him little or big Jimmie, he's got a lot more hair than Jimmie. So, yeah, it's extremely rewarding, but obviously very cool for Dario. It's definitely a hot streak. Obviously I'm going to try to do my best coming up to Vegas.
Q. Scott, what was it like for you to be right behind Dario and Ed those last five laps watching them battle back and forth? Dario, what was going through your mind those last five laps?
SCOTT DIXON: Well, for me, I didn't really see a whole lot of it. I had my hands full. My car was definitely not as quick as the front two guys, especially getting up to speed we struggled a bit. The only thing I was frustrated with was I couldn't get to the bottom. I couldn't get to try to help him, push Dario along. As soon as I got to the bottom, which I tried a couple of times, it would push up and I'd get swamped from the guys behind.
It's exciting. Until it comes to the last lap, you're not sure who is going to win it. I actually thought Dario won it. Yeah, it's cool. Again, that's cool for Ed.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: At the end, literally from the green flag of that last restart, Ed was starting to come alongside. I was just trying to work with the controls in the car. It's the smallest things that make the differences in these tracks, the smallest amount of difference in the way you drive a corner. I was just trying to figure out the fastest way around with the conditions the way they were.
Ed was alongside. I got the okay to use the overtakes. We were okay on fuel. They told me I had one overtake for every lap. I don't know if they miscounted or I used one twice in each lap. I needed to use them to keep Ed alongside. Had I not used them, I think he would have cleared me and it would have been over anyway. I didn't have any overtakes left.
It was close. But, again, I thought Ed drove a great race. Was clean. Nothing crazy. We just came up a little bit short.
Q. Dario, how important is it to leave here with the points lead?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's certainly nicer than the position we were in last week, no doubt about it. As I said at the start of the conference here, it can change in a second. So we'll just go next week with an open mind and see what comes of it.
Q. From all appearances, the last 25 laps were precise. No bobbles, nothing. But it wasn't perfect enough. How can you reconcile that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, I think with the speed we had in the car, I didn't make any mistakes there. But it comes down to the fact that I think Ed's car was a little quicker and Ed didn't make any mistakes either. That's what this sport's all about, that's what IndyCar is about.
Yeah, that's what happens sometimes. You sit here thinking, It would be nice. Congratulations to him and the Sarah Fisher team. We got to go to Vegas next week and try to get the job done.
Q. Did either of you have any issues with pit-out or pit-in with the reconfiguration with the track?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It was a little slippery on pit-out. I think the reason we didn't have an issue is because nobody stopped there. The problem with the pit-out now, it gives you no options. If somebody runs out of fuel or spins, it blocks it completely. What do you do? Do you sit and wait for the yellow to come out or drive up onto the track at 100 miles an hour when somebody is passing you at 210? It can create a roadblock there, and very dangerous roadblock. That's the problem we have with it.
The IndyCar guys went to the guys at Kentucky Speedway after our test last week, they repaved it, which was a huge help. Thank you to the people at Kentucky Speedway and Brian Barnhart for coming down and making sure it was done.
Q. Dario, bearing in mind what happened to Will today, there's going to be 34 cars in Vegas, the pit stalls are going to be minuscule, is that a particular worry?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I mean, anytime you go on pit road, that possibility exists. Sometimes there's mistakes made. Sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. I don't actually know what happened to Will. We qualified badly yesterday. Because of that, we were going to be mid pack. I don't think the boxes are too small. I think they're 38 feet, two feet shorter than today's. That will be all right.
Q. Dario, at what point did you become aware that Will had an issue? Once you find out that he does, does it change how you're racing at all?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It changed my mood in the car a little bit, I can tell you that, but it didn't change how I raced.
Q. Change strategy?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. Maybe changed the strategy on the stand. You'll have to ask Chip and Chris that one. I think at that point we were leading. I see this car up ahead, starting to catch it. I'm thinking, Damn, that looks like the 12. A little closer, It is the 12. When I got within about five car lengths, the yellow came out. By that point, I knew he was in trouble.
I don't need to know what's happening with Will or any of the other guys because I'm just focused on doing my job.
Q. Your championship run is certainly impressive. While not saying you compare yourself to Jimmie Johnson or anyone else like that, where do you view it in the grand scheme of things?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I suppose that's something to think about when I retire and not really yet. I'm not thinking about what's happened before. I think if you get too distracted thinking, Oh, man, three championships, whatever, you're losing focus. So I'm just thinking about Vegas next week now, what I have to do there to get number four. When eventually I retire, I'll think about things in that wider picture.
I will say what Jimmie has done has been so impressive. He's a pal of mine. In some ways he doesn't get the recognition and the respect he deserves because I think, like most forms of racing now, the competition level is higher than it's ever been. There's more people that can win. He just keeps getting it done. Him and his team, really, really impressive. The cool thing is he hasn't changed one bit.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, Scott, congratulations on a great race. Best of luck in two weeks in Las Vegas.
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