IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance
Topics: Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance
August 7, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We welcome today the second and third place finishers from today's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Dario has finished in the top three in his last four starts at Mid-Ohio, and he extends his points lead over Will Power to 62 points.
And we are joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosports. Today's finish matches his career best here at Mid-Ohio. He finished third in his debut here in 2003.
Ryan, two podiums in the past three races, it seems like the second half of the season looking up for you. If you can, talk about those closing laps.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Good afternoon, everybody. Yeah, just really happy to have a nice, solid weekend and a solid finish, finishing third. The Andretti Autosport DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop guys did such a good job in the pits and gave me a great car.
And it was definitely a struggle on these new Firestones. The new compound they brought certainly made it interesting. If that's what was intended, they did a good job of it, because, man, it was a handful the first five laps after a restart. It was like I was trying to crash every lap for five laps, six laps after the restart.
But yeah, Dario and I were about on the same pace trying to catch Scott but Scott was just gone. He had a great pace. Dario, I was quicker than him through some of the quicker corners, like 11 and 1, but he had me through every corner leading on to a passing zone.
So I really never had a legitimate shot to take a lunge. But it was a good day apart from the drink bottle not working in the car, which I think was part of my probation. (Laughter). It was good.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, for you another great finish today. If you can, talk about that final restart with Scott.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It was an interesting day from the first corner really, the first start. We went into turn one, pretty close together the first two rows and then Will got up into my left rear into turn five there and got me sideways but luckily I was able to keep it going.
And then the front three, were able to kind of pull away and gap everybody a bit on that initial stint and made some spots up on the first pit stop. Good job by the Target guys, they got me out. And that middle stint there was really -- we pitted so early, we were trying to extend that middle stint so it was a one-stop race from there and trying to go as quick as possible, but at the same time, safe some fuel. I was able to go a lap longer than Scott which I was quite surprised about, which beat him out, and then that set up for that restart.
And I got a good restart, maybe do too good because Scott pulled in behind and drafted me and before the braking zone, he was alongside. He did a great job on that restart as he did every lap today, this weekend. He's been on fire from the test, onwards, and from then on, I really was just trying to protect my position, because I knew that as hard as I could go, I wasn't going to catch Scott. I tried and I was still pulling away, and then I just started looking after -- I was on the Red tires, Ryan as on the Black and just started looking after those, and tried to manage the gap a little bit. And the last two or three laps, I started to drive away a little bit. But he was definitely keeping me honest there at the end.
And I agree; it was unbelievably difficult on the start and restarts to get the tires up to speed. And the balance as massively different. The cars were so over-steery for those first five laps, and had a couple of near misses myself; and everybody did. I mean, Scott was driving the thing sideways. I think probably that's as sideways as I've seen IndyCars driven in the dry. So all in all a great day for Team Target with a one, two. A good points day for us. I wanted to win the race badly, but Scott and his boys did a better job today.
Q. Just walk us through again him getting the draft on and you just how that played out in that one corner.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: As I say, I got the jump on the restart, and after the start/finish, Scott just pulled in and got the toe, which he's totally allowed to do. He did nothing wrong. He just did a really good job there, and drafted me and got a good run. And as I say, he was alongside before he even got the braking zone and the corner was his already. But then off he went.
You know, when he got alongside, I was then more interested in getting back in behind him and not letting Ryan and a bunch of the guys sort of freight train past me.
Q. At the end, there was quite a big gap -- very big to Scott. Do you have an explanation why he was just on this run, maybe set up-wise, his car was maybe better than yours?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Scott has been quicker this weekend, as I said, from the test, from practice, from qualifying. He's always had a little bit of an advantage there.
And once he got ahead, and got a gap of about two seconds, I tried to close the gap, but couldn't. So then I started to go into more of a defensive mode and just started to look after the tires and not push maybe as hard. I probably could have gone, I don't know, three or four tenths of a lap quicker, but then I didn't know what state the tires were going to be in at the end of the run; and that would have given Ryan a chance to come past.
So I was being a little more conservative then. But again, Scott, he's been, all weekend, very, very fast.
Q. You mentioned in your post-race that Will tried to spin you twice on the first lap, or that was the way you worded it, that he tried to spin you twice in. Powers post-race he said, quote, "I'm just racing, that's all." Do you have a rebuttal?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. I don't know, I haven't seen it, I don't know if he understeered up into me or what, but I think he got under me twice there. So, you know, he didn't spin us. I managed to keep the thing going straight. That's what happens when you're in those positions when you're so close together.
You know, I think I was definitely trying to make a run around the outside, and I think he was trying to stay on the inside and we had contact. So maybe knocked a toe out of alignment a little bit but apart from that no big deal.
Q. Talking about gaps, you opened the gap on him, too, though, after today; Will even more. And just he basically was saying that just seems like when luck is falling, it's falling your way this year. Do you sense that at all, a little bit of a charmed year?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think Will was unlucky today. I don't think he did anything wrong. He was unlucky. I think on the first lap he made a mistake, obviously, when he drove into me but I don't think he did anything wrong. It was bad luck.
But as I said to somebody else, I've done a lot of these races, and I've probably still lost more races from bad luck than I've won from good luck. These things have a habit of balancing out over the years. So I'll take the good luck as long as it keeps coming.
Q. He got out twice in the pit.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Like I say that's balanced out I would say throughout my career I would say.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our race winner, Scott Dixon. This is Scott's second win here at Mid-Ohio. His previous win was at only Homestead Miami Speedway in 2010. This is his 26th career win. The win ties Scott with Roger Ward for 12th on the all-time IndyCar win list. This is the fifth consecutive race at Mid-Ohio where Scott has led laps, and Scott is our sixth different race winner this season.
We'll just jump in with a question and continue, but Scott, as Dario said, this was certainly your weekend. You won the pole and you led the most laps so now you get the first win of the year, talk about your race.
SCOTT DIXON: It was definitely nice for a change, you know to, have a smooth weekend. I think throughout even practice and qualifying and things like that, the car was pretty close. We only had to make minor changes throughout.
I think a lot of us chased the track this weekend. It was very slippery, maybe the tire I think was a little harder this year, too, so it was very loose trying to get into the corner and a lot of people struggled with that. We worked that out on the test so had a made the transition a little bit better.
But just excited for the team. Dario has obviously been doing a hell of a job this year, four wins and leading by too many points. So you know for us to have a nice, smooth weekend with the pole and obviously going on to win the race was good for the 9 car side, and hopefully we can carry on a bit of a trend and try to get back into the points chase, even though it's a long ways away, but just excited for the team.
THE MODERATOR: And I apologize, I believe this is your third win here at Mid-Ohio, so sorry about that. We'll continue with that questions.
Q. Somewhere in the middle of race around James 40 or 50 James Hinchcliffe was front of you. You closed the gap but seems that you had no real possibility to overtake; did you try to find a chance to go around him? I think the problem solved itself when he came to the pits later on.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I asked the team obviously to see how many laps earlier James was going to have to pit. They said, "You've got the option to either try and pass him or just save fuel." And in that situation, Dario was trying to save fuel, as well. So we didn't have a whole lot of pressure, so there was no point in trying to push the fact that we needed to get past James.
He was running a great pace for me to save fuel. Obviously it was on older tires and things like that so the pace was not as quick once we got back out front into clean air. I can't say I really attempted to pass him. You know, a lot of guys definitely work on making sure their exit out of turn two is very good, and James, actually that was probably the best part of the track that he was all day. So if I had to push and try and pass him, it was going to be very tough.
Q. Ryan and the rest of you, now that you have the benefit of looking back over the entire weekend, were your struggles due to the new tire or all of the series you shared the track with?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's interesting, we have been talking about that, all of the drivers, and nobody has a real clue -- or nobody really knows what the deal is. Because a couple of years ago we came here, they had new patches down, right, and that was big; oh, the patches were horrible and we ended up going quicker than that everything and was fine.
Then the last couple of years, ALMS rubber goes down and we have to pick that rubber off the track with our Firestones and then we get into our groove and everything is fine.
This year, it's totally different. Since I've been coming here racing the big cars since 2003, this is it by far the trickiest the track has been. I think it's a combination of the new tire and something with the track. Did you guys hear about anything they did to the track? ALMS guys had traction and grip problems, also.
I guess something maybe with the track and treatment on the track. I'm not really sure. But, man, it was tough. Really, really loose on the starts. Like Dario said, it's the most sideways I've definitely driven a car since being in the wet.
Q. Question for all of you. This may be a moot point with the new car coming next year, but this is a great track for all you guys, you all love racing here, it's a real driver's track but just not a lot of opportunity to overtake. Is there anything that any of you feel could be done to help a little bit more passing going on during the event without changing the character of the track?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I don't know what you guys think about it, but I don't know, when I was in CART and Champ Car, I had a good time with the mandatory fuel windows and just going hellbent for the laps that we were green. And then you had to come in and pit. I don't know, it was just fun attacking and not having to save fuel.
But it's part of it; since there's been fuel in tanks and race cars, there's been fuel mileage racing. So I think that was some of it, because everybody up front was saving fuel all day for the most part, other than that last stint.
SCOTT DIXON: You know I think one of the best races of recent past for me was actually Sonoma last year, and that's where the Red tire just degraded rapidly. It was done within ten laps and there were chunks fall off. I think that's a good way. Obviously you see it in Formula 1, too, where they are having to do four or five pit stops, a ton of pit stops where they have to mandatorily get through those. And they are a chunk quicker, as well, for the period you do have them on. I think that's a great way to create time management. People can do a better job looking after their tires and move towards the front and vice versa.
So I think there's a number of ways. I think with the new car, obviously with the push-to-pass will probably get bigger with the boost and things like that, as well.
But for me I think the tires would be a good addition.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I think Firestone take great pride in the consistency of their tire, and they always have, and I think that's one reason we don't see a situation like we see in F1 because they just won't build a bad tire. They will build the best they can possibly build and the most consistent tire.
For me, places like here and Sonoma are very difficult to pass. I've talked to the new owners about some of the safety parts of the track; before Justin's accident, we talked about it. Talked to the IndyCar Series as early as January about that, and the owners were kind of asking some ideas of maybe changing the track down the road.
Only I would say in small places, not a complete re-design, but just maybe changing one corner or something. And I think that would promote passing here. It's just the one place, or two places, turn two, and turn four, you have very early and quite fast entries into both those corners and just means you can't get alongside to make a move.
Q. Where were they talking about making changes, Dario?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'll let them talk to you about that.
Q. Could you talk about that pass, and is that a pass you've done a lot in your career? Or when was last time and how good was it feeling?
SCOTT DIXON: Well, actually in my mind-set going to the green, I was trying to get a good jump with Dario and stay on the outside through four. And he took off like a bloody cannon. Yeah, it was a nice jump. (Smiling).
So then the only option I had to do was to slip back inside. And you know, Dario obviously moved back to the typical line, which is what you have to do, which left the inside open. So it was a perfect scenario for me; with the way the rules are, Dario can't really defend. So I was going to try slipping the car in there. He gave me plenty of room. That was that.
So as far as previous times, I don't even know to be honest. But you know, it felt nice and it felt fun (chuckling).
Q. Did you wave?
SCOTT DIXON: I didn't wave. (Smiling).
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, guys on a great race today, best of luck next weekend.
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