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IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Japan 300

IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300

Buddy Rice
Scott Sharp
April 30, 2005


THE MODERATOR: Joined by our second and third place finishers in today's Indy Japan 300. Scott, if you want to get us started, tell us about your day.

SCOTT SHARP: Very good day obviously for the Delphi team. You know, we've been very competitive this year, but in two of three races we've gotten knocked out by other cars. Put us a little behind in the points. I really wanted to come into -- this starts a stretch of races that I really like and I think the team's really strong at. It's great to get second place here.

THE MODERATOR: Buddy, how about your day?

BUDDY RICE: Quite eventful, I'd say. I think I made about 10 or 12 pit stops, had a drive-through penalty, had a flat tire, and came out on the podium. I think it was a pretty eventful day. Good for Rahal Letterman. We had a little bit of a rocky way to start the season off. Mechanical at the season opener. A self-inflicted one in the second round when we crashed, then the third one, electronic. It's definitely been an eventful year. Coming into Japan, we had a strong car last year. Both my teammates qualified well. The cars were good. I think the Panoz/Honda combination is the combination to have, especially with these big tracks, heading into Indy. I'm definitely looking forward to the big stretch. Like Scott said, I think it's going to work really well for not only myself but I think the combinations that are sitting here. I think there's a lot to gain out of this for us. At least we got some fine points right now and it's going to start putting us back in this championship race hopefully here.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for our drivers.

Q. Scott, how close were you as far as fuel was concerned?

SCOTT SHARP: We were pretty close. You know, on that last restart, I had some problems, a couple of cars, trying to get by them. It put me back a bit. I think we had to use fuel to try to catch the group again. I saw the fuel meter kicking down, and I would drive by and look up at the scoring pylon. I knew how many laps were left. I was adding it in my head. It wasn't going to happen (laughter). I kept asking what they wanted me to do. Fernandez team is historically very, very good in fuel mileage strategy. It paid off. We ran out of fuel crossing the start/finish line.

Q. Do you think Tomas would have made it to the checkered?

BUDDY RICE: He didn't. He stopped.

SCOTT SHARP: He didn't make it.

Q. When you were driving, were you concerned he would make it, he would actually get there?

BUDDY RICE: I think we were all more or less concerned about ourselves. We weren't even sure any of us were going to make it. I know in the last year I think I made two or three stops for fuel to make sure we were going to make it all the way to the end. Like Scott said, I was watching the fuel meter, as well. I was like, "This is going to be close." I know we made a whole bunch of stops. I was just waiting for people to start falling off in the last eight to five laps. His teammate Matsura came up on me pretty hard, I knew he was obviously planning on stopping, running that hard, so I didn't put up a fight. I just think everybody was so concerned about saving their fuel, it's just -- I don't think anybody was worried about anybody else at that point because we were all strung out.

SCOTT SHARP: Our guys had a pretty good feeling that Scheckter and Hornish were not going to make it. They radioed that to me. They just didn't know what was going to happen to Kanaan and Wheldon. One pitted, the other one won, so.

Q. Today had been one of the most yellowed races in the history here in Motegi. What do you think was the reason why we had yellow on the first lap, then soon it was cleared, another lap?

BUDDY RICE: It's hard to say exactly. I didn't see what happened on the first incident. The biggest thing, the competition is getting so tight, everybody is running so close. They're making and taking riskier moves to make passes right now. That's just what's happening. They're starting to lock wheels. Everybody is starting to push and shove a little more than you've seen in the past. All the teams are so good, and the way the IRL rules are structured, everyone is so close on speed, so you have to get a little forceful every once in a while. This track kind of opens the door for that a little bit more because of the differences on each end of the track.

Q. Now that Danica just joined us, how was it racing against Danica, Scott and Buddy?

SCOTT SHARP: I thought Danica did a really good job. I just told her she was a lot racier than I thought she was going to be. She did a great job at the start to slide into first place there, it was good. It was good. We duked it out a lot with each other. She did a good job.

BUDDY RICE: Obviously, with her being my teammate, I've seen her from the test obviously last year, and obviously as she's moved up through the races and stuff. Like I said before, she has the talent to be here, she has the credentials. She's showed it, she's proved it in the other formulas. Just going to take a little bit of a learning curve. Obviously she made a major leap this weekend in qualifying. Did an excellent job, led the race. Did a good job. With where we're at and everything, she was a few spots behind from most of the race until the end. It's just kind of the way everything shook out. I think she's done an excellent job. She'll obviously keep getting more and more experience. She'll constantly get faster and faster as she learns how to get her car tuned up for what she needs. She's obviously shown she can get the job done.

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