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IZOD IndyCar Series: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

IZOD IndyCar Series: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Ryan Briscoe
Helio Castroneves
August 28, 2011


SONOMA, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by one of today's podium finishers, Ryan Briscoe, who is part of the Team Penske 1-2-3 podium sweep. This is the first time Team Penske has had a 1-2-3 finish since Nazareth in 1994. This is the eighth time Team Penske has had a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium in IndyCar competition. The last time a team has finished 1-2-3 in IndyCar Series competition was 2005 at St. Pete with Andretti Autosport.
Ryan, talk about a great race and a great finish for you and the team.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, no, the result is great. Uneventful race. Certainly not easy. It may have looked easy out there. The tires were a struggle. They were going off, which just made us have to conserve and drive the car around issues, move our adjustments in the cockpit to try to keep after it.
But all day long I felt like any lapped car that wanted to come out of the pits came out in front of me. I had Dario hounding me down all day long. I knew I had a little bit more speed than him but I just had lapped cars in front of me. A few of them were very inconsistent. Every now and then they would make a mistake, it would check me up, Dario would be right there.
We sort of got to a point in the race where my focus was just to hold off Dario and bring home this 1-2-3, especially on that last restart. There was no point in trying to risk anything to make a position. It's such a milestone for this team to get this 1-2-3. My focus was entirely on keeping the Ganassi cars behind me.
It's a huge result. We performed well all weekend long. We started 1-2-3, we finished that way. Everyone has been working so hard back at the race shop to do this. It's a long time coming. Two years we've been teammates and we've come close a few times. Probably should have had a 1-2-3 before now, but it feels great.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Helio Castroneves, he finished second. Helio, it has been a rollercoaster type of season. Talk about having another great race today, another second-place finish.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, no question it's been a rollercoaster season, you put it right on that. But this weekend was about the team doing a great job. Back home, definitely got our butt kicked in the past. I think they deserved this because they really put their heads together. Again, it was a great, great result.
It's very rare to have starting 1-2-3 and finishing 1-2-3. All of us working really well together. The results show up today.
For me, the race, it was great. I definitely knew Will was a little bit faster, especially from the warmup. I noticed what he was capable of. I knew he was trying to save as much fuel as possible. I was just trying to go a little bit different. But Cindric knows my tricks a lot, but I know his tricks, too. It was fun to try something different. John and Ron, my engineer, we tried something a little different. We pit a little bit early, took advantage of the tires. Unfortunately, the black tires was a little bit different than what I expected. But the reds were finally up for me, like used to be in the past. So I was very confident.
But Will saved enough 'push to pass' in the end so I couldn't do much. But, you know, there was only one chance on the restart. I really tried. But somehow it was very dirty outside and I almost couldn't come back to the racetrack. But in the end, great, great finish for the entire Team Penske. I'm very happy today.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Talk about the importance of keeping Dario back there in fourth place as far as Will's point of view. What you two did today may get him the championship.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, it might be. Right now for the team to win this championship, we need to keep Dario behind Will. Certainly Will winning, us between him and Dario, is a huge boost for the championship. Couldn't have been any better.
As I said, my big focus today was keeping him behind me, not so much doing anything stupid to try to pass Helio or Will on the restart. It was all about keeping that No. 10 behind us.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Pretty much in our case, you know, I was in a very fortunate situation. I saw Ryan there. My deal was just trying to push as much as I can with Will, see if we could make a gap between the rest of the guys. We quite did. But Will definitely didn't make any mistakes. His car was very good, very consistent.
I had one chance on one of the pit stops. I really try to pass him, but I didn't want to do anything stupid, especially in this position, in this stage of the championship. I would just go if I have a clear opportunity.
In the end today, this is the way we going to steal points from Dario, from Target Ganassi team, is finish ahead of them. If we have a chance to race fair and square, we will. But at this point we definitely want to bring this championship for Team Penske.

Q. In the last six races at Sonoma, the Penske team has had 12 top fives. What has made you so successful here at Sonoma?
RYAN BRISCOE: I mean, it's hard to pinpoint. I think we all love this track and we come here with great racecars. A lot of it's in preparation. But our setups have been different every year. You have to keep adjusting for the conditions, the tires are always different every year. We just keep working at it.
It's certainly a track that has suited our team and our driving styles.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Pretty much the same. A combination of a lot of things. I do feel that the last two races unfortunately we didn't have the result we quite wanted. We came here well-prepared. It paid off today.

Q. Will came here and did the testing last week for the team. How much did you end up straying from what Will came up with?
RYAN BRISCOE: Actually, the test was beneficial to us all. Will tested a few things which we all applied to our cars and basically used his baseline setups to go from.
We all sort of made variations of changes on the mechanical balance of our cars. But at this track, we're really able to help each other a lot. That's the case at a lot of circuits, not everywhere. But this was certainly one of those tracks where any information seemed to work across the board. We were able to help each other.
The other big part is how we push each other, just looking at speed tracings, cornering. I mean, having three cars, as competitive as we all are, we're pushing each other so hard, learning from each other, trying to get ourselves a step ahead of the rest.

Q. Actually some of us were in the room in Nazareth. It's taken a while since Penske went 1-2-3. That was a spectacular season that Team Penske had back then.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, I don't even know if Ryan was racing. I did remember watching that. Certainly for us it's quite an honor to be in this position coming back with three cars. Obviously, that year they had the push rod engine, which is quite a big advantage over the competitors. But today everybody has the same engine, same car, same tires.
So for us, as Ryan said, last year we came quite close. Year before, as well. 1-2-4, I guess. Finally we got to keep pushing ourselves like we doing.
It's quite an honor. I know Roger wants that, Cindric wants that. We actually want that. So finally we're able to make it. Hopefully we can make many more races like that. Just change a little bit the winner (laughter). Everyone has to have a chance.
In the end of the day, we're extremely happy with the outcome of the result.

Q. Helio, Ryan said that this was a fairly uneventful race. How concerned are you that a race like this, especially where it's difficult to pass, is not an exciting race for the fans to watch?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: The good news is people that come over here, I mean, it seems to be in California, they are really, really well-knowledged fans. They not only came here to see fast cars but also they understand a little bit about it. They have fun. It's a little bit different fans I would say that wants to see crashes and things like that.
This place is very technical. This place is very challenging. It's not about passing all the time. Especially people that came over here had an opportunity to drive or see this track many, many times.
So, yes, sometimes it's boring to watch. But, you know, it's difficult to keep the car on the track because there were so many variations and I do feel the fans we have here are much more knowledgeable in that aspect. So it doesn't become that boring.
In the end of the day, yes, it's a show. People want to see that. We could do something in the track, you know, the layout. Probably this hairpin here could be a little bit longer. That I'm sure would produce more opportunities of overtaking. We could do something like that. It's up to the track and also the league to make some adjustments for safety.
But other than that, I do feel this is a characteristic of this place. Again, we don't have bumpers and fenders like NASCAR so that they can push each other out. We're much more of a fragile car that if you touch, things go in pieces, and you end up finishing your race.
Hopefully in the years to come, we might adapt a little bit. But I don't think we should change anything. Right now it's working pretty good for us.

Q. Helio, you had a pretty extensive conversation with Tony before the race. Can you elaborate on the topic?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: How do you know that (laughter)? Man, I hope you don't have the football things like you can hear from far away.
Tony and I were just talking about how competitive the series is. Certainly it's a situation that we want to see, we're the experienced guys now, the way it used to be in the past. We do have more cars, but we're happy and hoping for next year the manufacturers coming in, kind of like a mix. Hopefully have more support from sponsors and things like that.
We were just talking about how it used to be in the past. He won here 2005. I won here in 2008. We were just exchanging kind of thoughts on that. But, you know, we're good friends. We're just trying to put our conversation in day to day, but nothing more than that. And about kids, too. We're fathers, so... Things like that.
He probably was reading lips out there, huh?
THE MODERATOR: Helio, we wanted to know if it was in English or Portuguese.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was in Portuguese, so I'm sure he didn't understand any of it (laughter).

Q. Would you like to do a round course here in the West Coast?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: The good news is next year we're going to be on the AAA racetrack, cha-ching, again. We're really excited to go back to Fontana. That's where you hold the track record basically. It's about 241. So, yes, it's nice to give the fans a little bit of diversity so the people can still enjoy fast speed.
I do believe it's going to be great for next year. California is going to hold three races in one season, which is pretty good. That means you guys welcome us here. So it's a good way to come back.

Q. Then Dancing With The Stars?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm really excited for this season. I still don't know who it is going to be. Even if I knew, I would not tell you guys. I'm sure I'm going to end up doing my ordinary stop there, seeing my friends, like becoming my favorite show. Still pushing for them to do an All-Star Dancing With The Stars champs. I would definitely go back there. Hopefully it will be at the end of the season.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan and Helio, best of luck in Baltimore.
RYAN BRISCOE: Thank you.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you.

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