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IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Toronto

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Indy Toronto

IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Toronto

Dario Franchitti
July 10, 2011


THE MODERATOR: Welcome, Dario. Very happy that you've won the 25th IndyCar race on the Streets of Toronto, your third here in Toronto, fourth of the season, 30th win of your career. That's what I am told. You must have many thoughts racing through your mind. What are your initial thoughts?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It was a wild one, wasn't it? That was an absolute wild one. At the start -- in chronological order, I guess, at the start I could see -- I was running third, actually running fourth at one point, and I got past coming out of a restart and was running back in third, and I could see that Scott was really just kind of playing with Will. He could make some really good gains just in one lap, and he was obviously just kind of holding but he couldn't get enough to get past, but he was biding his time.
And then we started to catch traffic. I don't know who it was, but my guys -- we caught the traffic through turn 7, and my guys just called me in the pits straightaway. We got back out, and I understand from Scott they got held up pretty badly by the traffic. Regardless of had it had been a yellow or not, I would have probably been ahead of Scott and Will because of the comment guys made on the stand. It was obviously a good call, but I got ahead of those guys and they got shuffled further back because the yellow then came out.
We got somewhat held up, and I made the wrong choice on one of the restarts there and Justin got past, and then Will got past, as well, and then obviously the bit I'm sure you're all interested in with the contact with Will.
On the restart I got a good run down the back straight, and I was on Will's gearbox, and I actually just happened to just lift a little bit to avoid running into the back of him, and he pulled out and I went down the inside, and I started to brake -- I thought, well, this is as late as I possibly can go in here, and Will went a bit deeper. I thought, fair play. The result of that was that he missed the apex of the corner and he ran wide. So I was, I think, in more control of my car, so I went down the inside there and got about third of the way alongside.
As I had done before that day and as I did a lot subsequently both on the inside and outside, we started to run round the corner side by side. Will started to crowd me there, and unfortunately at that point as he was crowding, the wall comes out, and so I couldn't go any further to the right because there was a wall there, and Will was crowding me in. So I was trying to get out of it, and I couldn't, and I'd say that is my -- that was my part in the accident. I couldn't get out of it quickly enough to avoid hill hitting him, but I think Will has equal blame in that in the fact that he came down across like I wasn't there when it was clear that we could run through that corner side by side, and a lot of people, including myself, did so all day.
So from that point, I didn't want the incident to happen. I don't like to race like that. I don't like to have contact, especially with the guy you're racing, as closely as Will and I race together.
And then what happened? Um, we managed some subsequent restarts. The hardest part of the day was actually getting lined up for the restarts because of the marbles in turns 10 and 11. I managed to make some passes on the restarts and got up to second behind Graham, and Graham couldn't go to the left through turn 10 because of the marbles, and I couldn't go through turn 11 on his outside, so we couldn't actually form up for a double-wide restart. I tried it and I almost stuck the thing in the fence.
So that was a bit interesting. We eventually managed to get it done, managed to pass Graham on the restart. That was another yellow, another yellow, and we had some pretty good close side-by-side racing, him and I, through turn 1 down the front straight and through turn 1.
And then I saw Scott coming, and I thought Scott was the car to beat all weekend, so I saw him coming, I thought, ooh, this is going to be tough. I was able to hold Scott off and actually pull away a bit and control the pace. The car really came to life those last couple laps once we got rid of the marbles from all the restarts.
Great to win here in Toronto.

Q. Will's exact quote was, "I always race him clean and he always races me dirty."
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, I think that's a slight exaggeration. We've had contact once, which was today, and as I say -- I watched on TV. I obviously was involved in it from the car. I subsequently watched it on TV, and I think it's a racing incident at best. I don't think I'm known throughout the paddock as a driver who races people dirty. You guys can check up on that. I don't think I am.
We had a situation in St. Pete this year in turn 2 when I drove around his outside in turn 1 and passed him in turn 2, and there was nothing dirty about it. It was an aggressive move, but absolutely nothing dirty. There was no contact.
So I'm not really sure what Will is talking about in that. I will say in his defense, had that happened to me today, I would have been steamed when I got out of the car, too, particularly if I'd have crashed late in the race. I don't know how he ended up on the tires there, but I would have been steamed, too. I understand his anger, but hopefully when he watches the replay on television he'll realize it was a racing incident.

Q. Sixth win in Canada, unbelievable record. Is there anything you can attribute that to?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was telling the guys on TV, I won my first pole here back in 1997. I'm not sure how old James Hinchcliffe was in 1997. Actually he was 11. I saw his thing the other day.
I don't know. From the first time I came here, I loved being in Canada, and I think some of that -- whether it was Toronto, Vancouver or going up to Montreal, I think a lot of that had to do with Greg because spending him with him and his family I really got to know the Canadian people, and as you all know he was my best friend, and I think that's some of the reason I love coming to Canada, and I do some of my best work here.
Whenever I come up here, I always think of him, and it puts a smile on my face.

Q. Opening the gap in the points, how important is that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The points thing is going to ebb and flow all throughout the year. Scott looks really strong right now. You know, he was -- look at his drive in Iowa. He's just lacked some luck this year. Indy he was in a position to win, as well. He's been in position to win a lot of races this year, and today again he was very strong, so look for Scott to come on strongly. And Will, we know the level that he operates at, too. And then there's another 10 or 15 people that can win any race right now; 20 cars within nine tenths yesterday. It's tough out there.
So that points lead can be gone like that. So I just don't even think about it. I'm thinking about going to Edmonton and doing my very best and seeing what we can do.

Q. Also on TV they indicated that you were going to get a penalty, but yet the race directors never really issued --
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know. What I heard from -- I'm trying to think who told me that, basically Al Jr. reviewed the situation on the replay and said, no, there's no penalty. That was a 50/50 deal. I won't put words in his mouth. You should definitely talk to Al, but they looked at it and said, no, there's no penalty there. It's their decision. If there had been a penalty, what can you do. But the amount of contact that was going on out there today, there was a lot of it. And as I say, I saw multiple people, and I ran multiple times side by side through that corner with people all day, both inside and outside, so there was no need for contact.

Q. Following up on that, how lucky do you have to be to win this race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think you have to have a certain amount of luck to win any race. It's one of the ingredients. It's one of the millions of things that has to go right in order to win any race. It's part of it. There's so many stages. Every single person in an organization has to do their job right, and you have to have that certain bit of luck, too.

Q. There were a lot of incidents in this race, which is always the case. Were the teams a little bit more aggressive than it has been usually? What was it about this race? Was it the Kanaan crash early that set the tone or was it just normal racing?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, I don't know why. I think maybe one reason, and I'm just spitballing, is that it's just so close right now, to get that advantage is so difficult that maybe people are taking bigger risks. I know in my position I didn't want to take any risks.
The other thing I could say, we've talked about in turn 3 in particular the line that you take down the straight before turn 3 kind of hugs inside to avoid the bumps and then pulls out at the last minute, and I think that is maybe some of it, but ultimately I think it comes down to aggression and people trying a little bit harder. I don't know why.
On the restarts I will say that there was a lot of marbles, and the guys tried to clean them, and they wouldn't come up, and that made it really slippery on the restarts. I mean, sometimes like ice. We were trying to clean the tires off, so I think sometimes people just overestimated the grip that was available.

Q. I don't mean to belabor the frustration that Will has, but does it bother you that he crossed the line? Using the word dirty is a different level of criticism than a lot of things he could have said. Does that impact how you feel about it and your relationship with him?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think, like I said, I would have been upset, too, and hopefully when he cools down he'll reassess that. But if he doesn't, I can't -- I have no control over what Will thinks or what he chooses to say. I'm going to continue to race the same way that I've raced certainly since I've been in America. I'm going to keep doing that. Yeah, I'll do that, but I'll do the stuff I can control, and if Will chooses to -- if we chat about it and he chooses to calm down a little, then okay, and if he doesn't, then there's nothing I can do about it.

Q. You keep saying that it's so close, it's so close, and yet you are sitting there with more wins than anyone else.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think I'm doing something okay, too. That's a combination, isn't it? It's a combination of doing everything right. You sometimes get those breaks. As I say, I think my guys on the timing stand called that -- they called that strategy by coming in before the -- when Will and Scott were getting held up, that was a part of it, you know, and the thing was maybe they've added in restarts and all that kind of stuff, and the job I did, and the guys in the pit lane. We all have to do our job in order to be sitting here.
If I don't do a good job we're not going to win. If the car is not up to it, we're not going to win, if the strategy, if the pit stops are bad, so all those ingredients. And then as we said earlier, there's that little bit of luck you've got to have, too.

Q. Can you relax a little bit now that you have a big lead?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Hell no. By the time we leave Edmonton that lead could be gone, no doubt. That's just the way this works. I'm not even thinking about the points lead. The number is immaterial until that last race. That's when it counts. I mean, even at that point, I go out each week and try and do my very best.
There was times today I didn't know if I was going to finish first or tenth, but I was just trying to do the best I could out there. Same with the whole Target team. To get one-two for us was a big deal today. We said it out there, Target are coming to Canada in 2013, you heard that thing today, so to kind of launch that with a one-two is pretty special.

Q. Do you mentally prepare for this race any differently than others because you know it's combative?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, all the tracks can be combative. We've seen it pretty much everywhere. No, I prepare for them all the same.

Q. Dixon was particularly upset with your teammate Graham Rahal. That last battle, the last stage, do you have any issues with him?
Scott is pretty straight up. Scott is very straight up, let me rephrase that. He's not the kind of guy to say something if it didn't happen, and I didn't see what happened there. I had my hands full trying to fend off Graham on those restarts. If Scott is pissed about it, there must be a bloody good reason.
I don't know why he called him a wanker or what. I mean, it's the nature of this place with all the marbles on the tires, with the bumps and everything and the braking zones and different surfaces, you just have to miss by literally inches and you're going to slide and miss the corner, and if you -- if someone is in front of you there's nothing you can do about it sometimes. That's when that caution sometimes pays off.

Q. You drove NASCAR at Bristol; you drove here today. Compare and contrast.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I had brakes today. When I drove the Sprint Cup in Bristol, after 100 laps the hind joint in the brakes failed, so I had no brakes for 400 laps, which was really entertaining. But then the second Nationwide race was a lot more fun when we led a bunch of laps.
I actually enjoyed Bristol. It was one of the -- it was definitely a highlight of racing over there, but it doesn't compare to running here. This to me is one of the most challenging places we race.

Q. But to a fan of NASCAR, obviously they would have lapped this one up.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think any person that likes racing would have lapped this one up. As I said, each restart, trying to make it -- you're trying to make it through there. Yeah, this was -- I think this was a good one.

Q. One of the things that Scott said earlier, you and Scott talk over what's going on with what the Target team -- that you don't really go to Graham and talk with over with him, and that doesn't sound like Chip to me.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: But we're not a team. We have Target team. There are two cars in the Target team. There is another team which has Graham and Charlie in it, and they have access to all our data and all the technical stuff that we have.

Q. But you don't sit down and talk it over?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, we have enough to do keeping the two cars on the Target team straight, and Scott and I have a really good thing going, and the whole engineering group in the Target team has that whole rhythm going, do you know what I mean, bouncing ideas. We sit at a desk about that big bouncing ideas off each other.
I told Scott a trick on the restart here, and then I see him rolling up alongside me at one point, and I thought, damn, I wish I hasn't have told him that. But that's the relationship we have. Scott is like, hey, have you tried this here, and we work on the cars together. Charlie and Graham have the advantage of they can look at our setup sheets, they know what we're doing. Charlie comes around quite a lot and asks what we're up to. But there's all those -- they have access to the data. They can look at all that stuff. I don't think they're in too bad a position I would say.

Q. Just to be extra clear on this penalty issue, Scott said that (indiscernible).
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, they didn't say that, and I believe -- obviously there was some discussion about it, and as I say, it was relayed to me after the race that Al and I believe it was Tony Cotman looked at the video and decided, no, there wasn't a penalty, and so that was it.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, on behalf of everyone involved, thank you very much.

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