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IndyCar Series: Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio

IndyCar Series: Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio

Ryan Briscoe
Dario Franchitti
August 9, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our third-place finisher, Dario Franchitti. Dario, tell us about the run out there today. Looked like it was kind of hot.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it was pretty hot. I was just asking in the elevator whether it was as hot outside of the car as it was in. It was baking in there.
Made a good start. Managed to get past three cars, I think. I think we ended up third or fourth. Was able to stay there for a while. At that point the car was pretty good on the reds actually. Not too bad. The reds went a lot further than I thought they would. They were really consistent. So that was working pretty well.
Went on the blacks, and I wasn't really happy with the balance on my car at all. Same problem we struggled with in Edmonton, the road courses. We've got it figured out on the street courses; just don't have it figured out on the road courses yet for my driving style. Obviously Scott has it figured out. But his driving style is almost 180 from mine.
The strategy I think was pretty good. Went as long as we could on fuel. Graham passed me on a restart. I made a mistake. He got back around me. We were going much longer on fuel so it wasn't an issue. Then towards the end we came out of the last pit stop, Ryan and I were kind of synchronized pit stops there. Heading out, I could see he had the reds on. I pushed as hard as I could. He took off for a while, and I started to gain only him as his tires went off. I was trying to find a way by, but I couldn't do it. So that was it. That was my day.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by our second-place finisher, Ryan Briscoe. Talk about your run out there today.
RYAN BRISCOE: It was okay. We just didn't have the speed really. That was it. Struggling a little bit with the balance. I just couldn't attack the corner as aggressively as I would like. If I went in deep, I'd get loose on the entry, understeer through the middle. A lot of hard work out there.
Justin got by me early on, I was just holding off Scott. I could see he was fast 'cause a couple of times I put in a fast lap time and he would still be right there. He just wouldn't back off. I knew he was gonna be very fast out there today. He got us in the pit stops. He went a lap further in the first stint. Then, you know, we were just sort of running our own race.
That middle stint was really good. Felt like at the end of it I was a bit quicker than Justin. Then don't know what happened to him. But as Dario explained, we sort of came out together at the end of that last pit stop. I had the reds. I thought they were going to be the better choice. I thought they were going to hang on till the end of the race with 20 laps to go. They were dynamite out of the pits. First sort of four laps were really good. Like a light switch, I blistered the right front tire. The lap time dropped off about a second. I was pretty scared, still had 15 laps to go or something. I thought this is going to be terrible if it keep dropping off.
I was able to maintain a decent lap time. It stayed consistent. Not as fast as the black tire, but it was consistent enough where I could hold off Dario and use the 'push to pass' button down the back straight, keep him behind me where the passing zones were, defend that second spot.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Ryan, pretty unusual in this series to finish second but have no sight of the guy that wins the race. 29 seconds ahead. How unusual is that? How dominant was Dixon today?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, no doubt he was strong. I heard him saying he could just put the car anywhere. He just had one of those cars. I think a bit like, you know, the car I had here last year, I had one of those days last year. I could do anything with it, be aggressive and the car would stick.
I think it's one of those tracks. You can find that setup where the car's really good, it's very fast. But if you're off a little bit, it's daunting. There are some fast corners, there are some curbs. If it's not right, you pay for it. It was just one of those days.

Q. Ryan, during the last stage of the race, Dario came closer. How difficult was it to stay focused on your race and did you become very nervous?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean, my only concern was my tire really. I knew I could sort of hold a lap time. You know, I had the button to press sort the down into the most likely braking zone, turn four. I knew if I would stay constant, didn't make mistakes, I would be able to hold off Dario. That's all I focused on.

Q. Dario, a day of perspective with Dixon moving past Hornish for the IRL era. You also have a nice battle for active drivers, Helio, you, and Dixon, all with close on career wins in IndyCar racing history. Dixon kind of gets overshadowed for some reason. Soon may break out of that. Talk about how great he's been over this stretch.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, no doubt. I think both got 21. How many has Helio got?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Helio's got 22? Damn, pretty good (laughter).
Yeah, Dixie, he's been on it. Today was a great performance by him. Really, really impressive. We tested here a couple weeks ago. I was trying some of the stuff on the car that I know makes it quick around here. Scott would try it. He would go, Oh, yeah, I like that. I'm thinking, Damn. I'm struggling with my one (laughter).
But Ryan said it best. When you get to this place and you get in a rhythm with that car, you can do exactly what you want with it, you do a performance like Scott did today, it was dominant and very impressive. Yeah, he's tough to beat as my teammate.

Q. Is there a sense there's a new leader in the clubhouse, that this is going down to the wire? How daunting is that to know that this points race may go down to the wire?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I figured it was going to go down to the wire from the first race. I didn't know whether I'd be part of that fight. I figured it was going to go down to the wire.
You got to expect that. It looks almost like a three-horse race now. I think Helio dropped some points again today. For me personally, we have to start finishing in front of Ryan and Scott, otherwise it's getting more and more difficult every week. We've got to do that.
But you can only do your best every week. The whole team is doing their best. We just, as I said earlier, need to figure out these road courses with the Target team for my driving style and that will definitely give us a leg up, I think.

Q. You raced against both Scott and Sam. What are their similarities, what are their differences?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Very different drivers. For me Scott, I've watched him get better in all the different disciplines. He can win on any type of track. And Sam is a fantastic oval driver, but really struggled on the road courses. But he was getting better before he left for NASCAR. But he really struggled.
So I think that's the big difference between the two. They're both great drivers.

Q. Ryan, can you talk about the points race with four to go, where you see it, particularly with the races left.
THE MODERATOR: It's a 20-point differential between first and third. Third closest in league history with four races left.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean, that says it all. It's tough. What is it, 13 changes of the championship lead this year. It's quite incredible.
So, you know, it's probably going to be like that to the end. I'm really excited to be in the championship. First time for me in the IndyCar Series. It's been a fantastic year. I feel as though I'm still learning. It's just been a great experience. Huge opportunity from Team Penske and everything.
So I'm excited. Like the next four tracks we're going to. It's gonna be exciting.

Q. Dario, you keep talking about the difference in driving style between you and Scott. How different are you and in what areas?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's a top secret thing (laughter).
Scottie likes a bit of oversteer. He doesn't mind the back of the car sliding around quite a lot. I like the back of the car to be quite secure, where Scottie is happy with it dancing around. The more oversteer, the better for him, I think.

Q. Dario, we can see the cloud that's over you. I know you've been frustrated on the natural terrain courses. Going into Infineon, what is the situation going to be in the shop this week as you prepare for this race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Scott is testing Sonoma on Thursday. I did a lot of the early season testing. This time it's Scott's turn to test Sonoma. I'm going to go over and watch and try to get him to try some things that might benefit me a little bit if I twist his arm.
But we know what we got to fix. We just got to put our finger on exactly what it is and how we go about it and that will be it.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, Ryan, we appreciate your time. Thank you.
RYAN BRISCOE: Thank you.

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