IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500
Topics: Indianapolis 500, Andretti Green Racing
May 27, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we greet the winner of the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500, Dario Franchitti, and Andretti Green Racing. Congratulations, gentlemen. An incredible day.
Dario, I can't imagine how many twists, turns, emotions, not only for you but your entire ownership team.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I would imagine at this point these guys have better stories than me, apart from Michael because he was busy today. These guys saw the whole picture, working all five cars, the ups and downs throughout the day.
What can I say? I'm in shock at this point, I must say. I'm definitely in shock. We started off the first stint of the race. I was really struggling with the car with understeer. Progressively we just worked on it, through each pit stop made it better. I was really happy with it. When the red flag came out, one of those bittersweet moments there. I'm looking, seeing Tony leading the thing and looking like he's going to win it. I'm thinking, I think my car is good enough here, but at the same point my best friend's leading this race, my other two teammates second and third. You know, it's looking like a pretty good day for us, isn't it, at that point?
The selfish side of me is thinking I hope we go back racing because I think we can do something. At the same point, if the result would have stayed after the red flag, I wouldn't be anywhere as happy as I am now, but it was probably going to be the second best result of the day.
And then after the red, we had a cut in the right rear tire. I guess we ran over some carbon from the last accident. We had to pit. That wasn't our intention, but we had to do it for safety, I guess. That put us on the strategy that won us the race. Pretty happy right now about that (laughter).
Then the last, when we got into the lead -- first of all, I had to fight my way back through the pack. That was exciting. Ended up not only behind the guys one the lead lap but behind the lap cars, too. The car was really good. Managed to get through the traffic pretty quickly, get back up into contention. Then the strategy, our roll of the dice proved to be the lucky one. We got in front, made a couple of good restarts, then the rain came.
This place, it's been a rollercoaster month and definitely a rollercoaster day. I just, as I said, am in shock right now.
THE MODERATOR: Michael, I'm going to go back to a conversation I had with you in the Milwaukee airport two years ago. You had just come off a race at Nashville where your car got into Victory Lane, but you had a couple of cars with some significant mechanical problems. At Milwaukee you had a great quality team finish, but your car did not get into Victory Lane. I asked you which scenario do you most prefer, all your cars basically having good quality finishes or having one guy get into Victory Lane with the other couple cars getting torn up. I remember your answer then. I'm curious about it now.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It's still all about winning, isn't it? That's why we have five cars out there. Hopefully one of 'em is going to be in the right position. And that's what happened.
At the first part of the race, we had three in a good position. In the end, we had one. Lucky that it was Dario. That's the way it works out for us. Like I said, we're all about the win. We want the wins. We're very happy today that Dario was able to get it. I'm so very happy for him personally. He deserves it. He's been such a big part of Andretti Green Racing since day one. He's helped build it to where it is today. I'm just so happy that he was able to get the benefits of that. I'm really happy for him.
THE MODERATOR: Kevin Savoree, I saw you nodding there. Obviously you had a glorious run at Andretti Green Racing a couple years ago. You found yourself in a fight-back position in 2006. Now it looks like your squad is back where you're the most comfortable and happy. Congratulations on a win at the Indianapolis 500.
KEVIN SAVOREE: Thanks very much. Again, I'm so proud of this organization. Last year here we just got our butt kicked. Through some strategy, we were almost there. Then, you know, as the season progressed, we just kept getting clobbered. We made a real commitment to development over the winter. I think it showed how much it paid off early in the month on pole day. But that's nothing like getting into Victory Circle.
Personally I'm so proud of Dario. He sat down with us after Fontana at the end of '05 and basically said, I'm going to give this one more year. He's always been that kind of guy, very honest with us. He's such a part of our family. Then he followed up last year. He said, I've got some more left in me. I think he showed that today. Very determined. Drove his butt off. You know, just couldn't be more proud of him.
THE MODERATOR: Kim, you've been through these wars many times. It's a strenuous month, difficult month. There's the emotional twists and turns. I'm looking at the face of a guy who has I think look of satisfaction. I can't tell whether it's satisfaction or relief as well.
KIM GREEN: All day today we had race cars in strong positions. Certainly we were doing a big rain dance at lap 113 hoping it would rain out at that point. Danica drove a great race. In the end, the rain probably got to us a bit earlier than we thought it. Everybody at AGR, all five drivers today, did an awesome job. It was a very fast-paced race at the start. We had very, very good race cars. I think the way it all played out, we sort of covered the bases. I was a little bit concerned we only had one up the front towards the end rather than three of them.
I know every one of other drivers is disappointed but extremely happy because this is a team that works together, strives to get perfect race cars, and strives to help each other out on the racetrack so they can work together on the team. I think you saw a lot of teamwork on the racetrack today, a lot of team strategy in the pits, a lot of team strategy during the red flag. In the end, all the hard work paid off.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Dario, on Thursday you described yourself and Scott Dixon as the invisible men. Now you both finish first and second. For being invisible, you certainly were seen quite clearly today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That didn't escape me. When we came down to what was going to be the last restart, I looked back and saw Dixon there. I thought, hmm, this should make people sit up and take notice.
We kind of flew under the radar all month - all year actually, I think. But this whole month, it's an interesting thing to go through, the whole Indy 500, because you put all your eggs in one basket. This thing only comes along once a year. It really hit me today after lap 113, when we thought the race was finished, that was it. We figured that was a chance gone for this year. You put so much into it. If you saw the way our team worked together, how hard the engineers worked back at the shop, the mechanics, to get these cars quick and make the difference between that last year, if you saw the way the five drivers worked together, the five sets of engineers, it's bloody impressive. I'm really, really proud to be a part of it.
Any one of the cars today could have won this race, and it came down to, you know, there was some luck involved. That's not to sort of diminish what we've achieved today. That's the job that this team did: they put five cars on the grid capable of winning. We put ourselves in right place and things worked out.
Q. Dario, how does it feel to have won this race burning a hundred percent renewable fuel in your tank and how well did it perform in your car?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I've had absolutely no problem with ethanol. I felt it worked really well. We were getting pretty good fuel mileage under the yellows today. I was quite happy for that. We knew the rain was coming. We were just hoping we had enough fuel to make it there, and we did.
Q. Dario, any kind of extra satisfaction or maybe a feeling, you talked about it being a rollercoaster month, to get a win after the way pole day finished up for you? I'm sure this kind of makes up for all of that.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I made a kind of a joke with TK actually. We were in the engineering office, sitting there. I turned to TK. He was looking stressed because he had to wait out to see if the track was going to dry. I turned around said, "It's your turn now." I won't tell you what his reply was (laughter).
As I said, it's not really sunk in yet. The two things that really give me the satisfaction of today's race were coming -- improving the car from where we started and then coming from the back through the field again. That felt good.
Q. Dario, who made the decision to fully fuel? Was it you, John Anderson? Were you feeling extra lucky after your dad got a hole-in-one this month?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's a good point. Michael did ask, had my dad used up all the family luck for the month. My dad got a hole-in-one last Wednesday at the Brickyard Crossing. First hole-in-one. We're pretty proud of him.
When we took the tires, we only had to put I think five gallons in the car because we pitted pretty soon before the red flag came out. It was a no-brainer to fully fuel the thing.
Q. Dario and Michael, can you spell out what you did during the lengthy rain delay to keep from being bored, stay focused, all that.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We talked about some -- we talked about strategy, how we would behave, how we would try and make sure that an AGR car finished in this position. We talked about that. We had some fun, as well, cracked a couple jokes. Just tried to ease the tension a bit. We all sat in engineering, put our feet up, hung out. It was good.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I was right there. Same thing.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Little bit of pasta. The guys at hospitality made us a nice bowl of pasta. It was very good.
Q. Any left-overs?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think so. It was a big bowl.
Q. Towards the end, Dario, was there a bit of anxiety hoping the rain would come, knowing the rain was on its way? I assume you knew it was on its way. Talk about the desire to be in this position when the rain finally hits.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The one comment that sticks in my mind was John Anderson saying on the radio, "The rain's eight blocks away." I'm like, "C'mon."
When you get in that position, we knew we had to pit one more time, we pretty much were sure everybody else had to pit one more time, too, it was going to come down to a dogfight. There's a lot of strong cars, especially, as I say, my teammates, the Ganassi guys, the Penske guys. So whatever happened, it came down to that dogfight, it was going to be hard. So I was hoping for the rain.
Q. Michael, what were your feelings to see your son going upside down and then at the same time your other driver winning the race? Had to be a range of emotions.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I didn't know he went upside down. I just knew he was involved in an accident. Right away, Barry was on the radio telling me, Marco is fine, Marco is fine. He's talking on the radio. Everything's cool. Then I was just wondering what happened.
Then obviously once I got the good news, then it was all about hoping and looking at the skies and hoping that it rained soon so we get the win with Dario, so...
Q. Michael, this is your last one. Are you at peace with the decision, how this has finished?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah. I mean, I was disappointed with today. I really thought there was going to be a lot more out of today. It was just a day that nothing worked. I think we had an okay car. It's just I got mixed up in the back and I could never get it to the front. Every time we tried a different strategy, something else would go wrong. It was just one of those days.
It's like it's just the way it happened. Obviously it wasn't meant to be, to win it as a driver. We won it as an owner. Two of the last three years isn't too bad. Like I said, when we won it in '05, maybe I'm just meant to be -- meant to win 15 of these things, huh (laughter)?
Q. Dario, you said at the end of the 2006 you thought you had a little bit more left in you. Sam Hanks famously retired from this race in Victory Lane in 1957. Do you think there's enough left in you and did this race give you a little more?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, when we sat down, the four of us actually sat down in California, we were just talking about the following year. I think we just won at Fontana, hadn't we? I was feeling good about things. I wasn't sure. I was just being honest. I wasn't sure how much more I wanted to do. Then when the fairly average year we had last year, my motivation came back stronger than ever.
I don't see me quitting any time soon. There's a good few years left now and a championship.
You know, one of the things that really helps is having a 20-year-old teammate. Seriously. To see life through -- TK and I are old married men now. To see things through Marco's eyes is pretty cool. I've had some great teammates in my life. Really had some fantastic teammates, but I don't think we'll ever have this situation again. It really is a privilege to be part of this team.
Q. Speaking of the team, Dario wanted the chance to get back out there at lap 113 when the rain came, but as a car owner, you have four in the top five, were you hoping that rain would just last a little bit longer?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, it was mixed emotions. We knew with my car, if everything was perfect, we only had to do two more stops and everybody else maybe had to do three. There was a shot we could do it there. But then on the other side, we were running one, two, three, and five at that point. It was a tough one. At that point it was just like we got to do what we got to do and hope and pray, you know, we end up with at least one of our cars up there. That's what happened.
Q. Dario, before you said it was extremely difficult to move through the pack. You did it after you had to change the tires. Any difficulty coming through?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it wasn't easy. There were some interesting moments. When a car goes into sort of a four-wheel slide at 220 miles an hour, it catches your attention. One lap it's pushing, the next lap it's loose, the next corner in fact. I was lucky in the fact that the Canadian Club guys gave me -- fixed the car throughout the race and gave me a great car all month to allow me to do that. I want to recognize the whole engineering staff, Andretti Green Racing, for giving us great cars, especially Allan McDonald and Dave Seiffert, my guys, my engineers, and also John Anderson for calling the race.
Every bump in the rollercoaster this month, they lived it with me. Just really proud - really, really proud of them.
Q. Dario, all through the month you and Tony, the whole team, worked very closely together as you said. You were very close on setup. You were saying before the race how much different you were going to have to go from Tony. How much different did you have to go and how much work did you have to do to really dial the car in as the race went on?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was very surprised how much work because the car seemed to work the last week of practice and also carb day in a range of conditions. We went out there today and had a huge push in the car. We had to work very hard to get rid of that. Big understeer. We really managed to do it. I was very impressed with the job the engineers did there. Split-second decisions. They made the right choices. They were talking to me, I was making adjustments in the car all the time. It was going in the right direction which really helped us because coming back through the pack at that point I thought I was going to have to pick off one car at a time here and see where we end up. It all worked out well.
Q. Dario, the look on your face in Victory Lane kind of defined of the word "disbelief." Can you take us through what went through your mind as you pulled off the helmet and were getting out of the car and teammate one by one coming up to you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I knew TK was going to kiss me. I knew that. That was a given (laughter). I was really happy to see Marco, see that he was okay. When I saw the accident, I saw the aftermath of the accident, I was on the radio, Is he okay? Is he okay? They said, Yeah, he's fine. Just to see him there was really a big relief.
I think the disbelief started, first thing, when the rain started. Oh, it's raining pretty hard here, guys. The downpour started. They came on the radio, Checker's next time by. I'm thinking it's going to be difficult even to get there because the car was (indiscernible)-planing it was so wet out there. Then across the finish line, it was just disbelief coming into the pits. I came in really slowly. First of all didn't want to crash the car on the inlap. The crowd stayed throughout the rain delay, got absolutely soaked. I just wanted to enjoy that moment, just have a little time to think.
Q. Dario, by my arithmetic 42 years ago a fellow by the name of Jim Clark won the race. Could you talk about being the whole Scottish aspect and following in that great tradition?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, that was one of the reasons I was so pissed I didn't win in '05. I was so upset because it was 40 years since Jimmy Clark had won it. Jackie Stewart came over, watched the race. My old boss, obviously one of my heroes. It was looking good for a while. It didn't turn out.
It all kind of made sense when I turned around and looked at the trophy. I saw some of the names on the trophy today. Then I was in awe, I really was, to see the great names that are on there, see some of the great guys that should be on there. It's a humbling experience, put it that way.
Q. Michael, talk about how quickly Marco had gotten up to the front at the start of the race. 20 laps in.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, I was really surprised. I looked up. I saw he was like P2 or whatever. I'm like, He's flying. I don't know. He was very happy with his car in traffic, I know that, at the beginning. We were talking. The red flag, he seemed pretty good about things. What happened after that, I really don't know. I didn't really get to talk to him too much. Something must have went away for him.
Q. Dario, Alex Lloyd won the Freedom 100 the other day. You're the second British driver to win in three years. Do you think will encourage more British drivers over here?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I hope so. I hope so is the answer to that. I've been over here now 10 years. Obviously Dan has made a hell of an impact here. Alex Lloyd is doing a good job. It's good to see. So the more the merrier definitely.
Q. When is the last time either of you won a race because of a flat tire?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It technically wasn't flat. It was a cut tire. I've lost one here because of that I think. Second year here -- the biggest problem is when there's a wreck, there's tiny shard of carbon lying around the track, and they're razor sharp. Before the safety crew can get a chance to clean them up, you try to avoid them. You end up driving over some of them sometimes. That's one of the side effects.
But, yeah, I wanted to keep using it but the Firestones guys are, "No."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Never happened for me (laughter).
Q. Dario, on the historical note, a few years ago you won the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in car 27. That was a special moment of its own. Maybe it's unfair, but can you compare the two historical/emotional wins?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It is the 27th of May, isn't it? That's pretty cool. It's difficult to compare wins. Each one's special. The Indy 500 is the pinnacle of my career at this point. It's massive. It's awesome.
Told you I wouldn't make much sense today (laughter).
Q. Dario, back to Jim Clark, he's kind of like a hero or something. Don't you have a Jim Clark room or something?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, we finished restoring or almost finished restoring an old house in Scotland. What are we going to do for all these bathrooms, bedrooms. We made one of the rooms Jim Clark room. I have all these Jim Clark memorabilia. Robin Miller gave me some fantastic Jim Clark pictures this morning. Thanks, Robin, they were awesome. We have a Jim Clark room in the house at home.
I think he's a hero for any Scottish driver, and really one of the best drivers in the world ever. Only time I ever went and picked out tile. I had to get the tile to match his helmet (laughter).
Q. It seems like you're the good guy of the sport. Everyone that has been interviewed after the race is telling about how really happy they were for you to get this win. What does that mean to you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's awesome. It's really nice. There's one thing, you go out on the track and you race each other very hard. A good friend of mine Greg taught us that. We'd go out, race each other as close and hard as we possibly could, then afterwards go and have some fun. We seem to manage that quite well in the paddock as a whole, but we certainly manage it within our team.
Yeah, it's a good atmosphere to go racing in.
Q. Dario, when you came over here, you came as a road racer. You raced sedans, had a reputation. Maybe you didn't quite get the respect as an oval racer. Does today put an end to that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know. I hope so (laughter). I mean, we've managed to win on every type of track now. Certainly the first year I struggled a little bit on the ovals, but then I got more and more comfortable.
I think the short ovals, we won at Milwaukee and stuff like that, but I really -- I enjoy the challenge of the short ovals, and this place is particularly difficult. But, yeah, not quite sure what to say about that one.
THE MODERATOR: One thing we should do is congratulate a championship team, an Indianapolis 500 winner, and a gentleman right here who is a champion by any measuring stick you ever want to use.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you.
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