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Indy Pro Series: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Indy Pro Series: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Jonathan Klein
Alex Lloyd
Hideki Mutoh
March 31, 2007


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our sixth-place finisher, Bobby Wilson. We invert the top six on the doubleheader weekends. Bobby will be on the pole for tomorrow's race.
Bobby tell us about your run out there today.
BOBBY WILSON: I'd have to say it's been quite a day. Qualifying second legitimately, then having it taken away due to an infraction which really shouldn't have happened, it's a little upsetting. Put me back to 13th on the grid, then my car wouldn't fire.
I had to start from the rear. They had thrown the green flag before I even caught up. To finish sixth today is bittersweet. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Bobby.

Q. Bobby, you had a lot of contact out there. Can you take us through getting back to the front?
BOBBY WILSON: Yeah, you know, it's just a tight course. You have to make and take every opportunity that comes up. You know, a lot of drivers drive with blinders on and don't realize there's faster traffic coming. I had one incident with another driver, and it's not the only incident I've ever had with him. Kind of payback, I guess (laughter).
It's like a bullring. It's street racing. It's a street fight. It's going to happen. You just have to make it work.

Q. Take us through what happened in the last corner. If I recall, you were running eighth, then all of a sudden you finished sixth.
BOBBY WILSON: I could see I think Mr. Cunningham was slowing up a bit. It looked like his car might have been going away. The black car, who I believe to be Pecorari, was running pretty good. I knew there was going to be some action up there on the last lap somewhere.
I think Wade went a little wide. Pecorari went underneath. They touched wheels or something. I shot the gap and cruised to sixth.

Q. That worked out very well for you because you will start on the pole. Obviously it's going to be easier, but are you expecting some of those guys to be coming back after you?
BOBBY WILSON: No. I have a really good car.
THE MODERATOR: Bobby, we appreciate your time.
BOBBY WILSON: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by our second- and third-place finishers. In third place was Jonathan Klein. Jonathan, talk a little bit about your day out there.
JONATHAN KLEIN: Well, after qualifying, we were not too pleased because we had a really hard time finding clean laps. So we started eighth, not really where I wanted to start. Kind of took advantage of other people's mistakes, just kept my nose clean the whole race, kept working my way up towards the front. Once I got there, I stayed there.
Unfortunately, didn't have the speed to run down Lloyd and Mutoh. We do what we could. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
THE MODERATOR: Our second-place finisher, Hideki Mutoh, started fourth, made the run up to second, after a third-place finish last week in Miami.
Hideki, talk about your day.
HIDEKI MUTOH: Yeah, I think could run quite well. I got the fastest laps well. Car was really good. A little bit disappointing couldn't catch Alex, but still I have tomorrow, so...
THE MODERATOR: Questions for either driver.

Q. Jonathan, it was pretty combative up front. Were you surprised about that?
JONATHAN KLEIN: No. I knew this year easily is hands-down the deepest field the Indy Pro Series has ever seen. Last year was my rookie year. Last year was to date the most competitive season. This year I think it's exponentially more difficult.
But, you know, I'm just happy that it's a new team I'm driving for. It's only their second race, and it's my first race back since the 2006 season. I think it's a pretty strong start.
Yeah, excited for tomorrow.

Q. You're starting in the middle. Do you think you can make those next couple spots up?
JONATHAN KLEIN: Yeah, I think I'm in a good spot for tomorrow. I'm up on the second row. I'm on the inside. I think that's a pretty stout starting spot. I think obviously first and second are the only ones better. I think as long as I keep my nose clean tomorrow, focus on finishing the race, making no mistakes, we'll have another good result.

Q. Hideki, can you tell us more about your first American street race.
HIDEKI MUTOH: Yeah, I have many experience in road course. I was no worry about to drive street course. So I like it, you know. Many people there. Very fun to drive.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much.
HIDEKI MUTOH: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by race winner Alex Lloyd, his fourth career victory, second victory of the season. He's the seventh driver in Indy Pro Series history to win back-to-back races
Alex, tell us about your day out there today.
ALEX LLOYD: It was a tough day, it really was. Had a lot of ups and downs in the race. I think our car was very good on long stints. On the short stints between the yellow period, it was really tricky.
My biggest problem I think was on the restart. Yeah, I didn't get a very good restart on the second one, I think it was. We were going into turn one with Jay Howard right behind me. He took it to himself to I think try and knock me wide. I just held onto it. It was very close. That was really the biggest problem of the race.
I thought at that point we probably would have come off. Luckily held onto it. From that point on, I took it a little bit easy for a few laps to make sure the tires were okay, to look after them a little bit. Then at the end, put the hammer down with about 10 to go to try and pull a bit if a gap and give myself a cushion for the last couple of laps. It worked out really well.
To be honest, the whole team, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Lucas Oil, have done a brilliant job all weekend - the last two weekends really. It's been a perfect couple of races for us. We have a difficult one tomorrow because obviously we're going to be starting sixth. If we can keep out of trouble, we'll be going for the win again.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Alex.

Q. You had gone very far to the inside. Did you think Jay was going to stay behind you the whole time? He could have easily probably pulled out and tried the outside pass.
ALEX LLOYD: Yeah, I mean, the rule in Indy Pro Series is if you pick your line as the lead car, you pick your line and stay on it. I decided on that restart I was going to take the inside line. For that reason, Jay knew that I was going to stay on the inside. So I would have thought he'd have gone for the outside and tried to get around me.
It felt a little bit like being in go-karts, to be honest. I guess because he's not in the hunt for the championship, only doing these first three races, you know, he decided that he wanted to try and knock me wide and try and take me out really, which was unfortunate, because I don't think races should be like that.
But at the same time it backfired as these things normally do. I think he lost positions through the move. We kept our position. It worked out great for me. So no problem. We kept in the lead. No problems with the car. I'm very happy it all worked out good.

Q. When is the last time you went flag to flag?
ALEX LLOYD: I don't know. I can't remember. I have done it. I'm trying to think if I have in the Indy Pro Series. No, not in the Indy Pro Series. It was in Formula 3000 the year before that, the year before I came over.

Q. Do you find yourself looking in the rearview mirror the whole time, wondering where everybody else is?
ALEX LLOYD: You've got to a little bit. The trickiest thing is the restarts because that bunches everyone back up. When you get into a rhythm, you know, you're comfortable with where your car's at balance-wise. You can control it a little bit. The difficult thing is when it's a restart, you've got to try and get a good one. If you don't get a good one, like I didn't do, you can have problems, like almost happened to me on the second restart.
But you've got to not concentrate too much on the cars behind. You've obviously got to keep an eye on them. When they're not right with you, you have to focus on your own job and just treat it like any other session because if you start thinking too much into what's going on behind you, your mind can wander. Especially when you're out front with a couple-second gap, your mind can wander. That's the worst thing that can happen.
You've just got to keep focused, and we managed to do that today.

Q. You're going to be starting next to Jay Howard, is that right, tomorrow?
ALEX LLOYD: I think he'll be second on the grid. I'll be sixth.

Q. Starting sixth, can you now pass the cars you need to to win tomorrow?
ALEX LLOYD: We can do. It's going to be a tough race. I mean, Infineon last year, which is probably the hardest track we go on to overtake, we managed it from fifth. So we've got a little bit more work to do this time. The competition is very strong at the front, it really is. It's not going to be easy. In comparison to last year, I think the field is greatly improved, especially on the road courses.
It's going to be a very tough race. Realistically we've got to keep out of trouble. I've got to keep my head about me. Sometimes you can get caught up in these things through no fault of your own. A few people today I'm sure were driving a good race and just had some bad luck.
So we can do a good job, we'll be going for the win for sure. We'll try and keep out of trouble. I think we've got a quick enough car to go for the win. It will be an exciting race for sure.

Q. Can you talk about starting off the season first two races, two wins? Can't really do much better than that. Speak to that.
ALEX LLOYD: Yeah, I mean, it's been perfect. It's what we wanted when we came in. I knew it was going to be possible. But even when you know things are possible, it doesn't always work out that way. In motor racing quite often things don't go to plan. But we've had a great couple of weeks. We've got another race tomorrow and I've got my mind focused on that because this two-week period isn't over yet. We've still got some work to do.
But so far so good. Actually had my first pole in the Indy Pro Series today which I felt was sort of long overdue really. I think I was second on every road course up until today. So I was extremely happy to get that pole. Of course, to come away with the win is great. It's been a great start to the season.
But, you know, we're not getting ahead of ourselves. We got a lot of work to do. We're just taking each race as it comes, try to win as many races as we can. If we can do that, come away with a handful of race wins, by the end of the season we should be looking very good.

Q. Did you have any view of what happened with Keebler on the start?
ALEX LLOYD: I had no idea. I saw in my mirror he was spinning, but I had no idea what happened. I was in my own little tussle with Jay. Was down the inside. I think he tried to go down the outside and out-braked himself a little bit, which got me back. I had a big lead really as I came out of the first complex. I couldn't see what was going on, so I'm not sure.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, we appreciate your time.
ALEX LLOYD: Thanks very much.

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