IZOD IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500
Topics: Indianapolis 500
May 30, 2010
THE MODERATOR: It was a whacky day, but you had the dominant car all day long. In the end, it looked like justice. Tell us about it.
CHIP GANASSI: I was telling Dario, we were lucky had a good enough car he could stretch out his lead there by four or five seconds or whatever because we needed those four or five seconds at the end when we were having to save fuel. We were a little confused listening to some of the others about what mileage is. Everybody monitors everybody else's channels. We were a little confused by some of the numbers they were saying the other teams needed.
The other thing you have to keep in mind is, you know, we were in a situation where we got down to the last 10 laps of the race, okay, you had Castroneves, Wilson, those guys pitted, then you had the guys behind us. Now you get in a situation where they could get by you, not have enough fuel to finish the race, squirt by you, it goes yellow, now they suddenly have enough fuel to finish. You have to be prepared for all eventualities there. We had to play that game being the leader to keep those guys behind us but also stay in front of them to make it to the finish.
MIKE HULL: It was a great day. It's what race teams work to achieve, to win this race. This is the biggest race in the world. Today we had great race drivers and great race teams. I don't know what the head count is here because they never tell us, but I think they were treated to a great show. Obviously we think that at Chip Ganassi Racing.
What we had to employ today was everything we do as a race team. We had to employ setup, speed, strategy, and understanding fuel after different times during the race. That's what we do well as a team. We just try to be consistent in being able to do that.
Q. Chip, you always seem to hate talking about yourself. But please do this time. From qualifying, Shootout, you had a fierce competition going with Penske. You sent Dario out time and again to beat them. You give him a fantastic car for Carb Day all the way through today. There had to be times when you thought Helio was waiting to pounce. Then you have the end. Still with it all, Chip Ganassi from Pittsburgh becomes the first owner ever to win the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in the same year. Talk about yourself some this time.
CHIP GANASSI: You know I can't do that. I'm not good at that. You guys are good at that.
The good thing was at the start of the race, I don't want it to fall upon anybody, at the start of the race Dario asserted himself on the start. Yeah, there was that yellow pretty quick. But he got by Will going into one. He went around the outside. I saw him up like that on the outside of Will Power going into one, then he passed Helio coming off of two before it went yellow. That kind of set the stage. I think that was a very important kind of pumping his fist in staking his claim. Certainly you can't win the race on the start, but you can lose it.
I think that went a long way towards getting him up in the seat, knowing how his car was. Then as the race went on, we were able to pull out one second, two seconds. It was dominant up through 150 laps or whatever.
Between Scott and Dario, they led here before a bunch, and came up short. I think we led 175 laps a couple years ago.
MIKE HULL: We just didn't lead the right laps.
CHIP GANASSI: We led more laps than we led today and didn't win.
Then, you know, probably one of the deciding factors in the race was I think Roger short-pitted Helio there to try to catch a yellow. What it did was it actually took him out of sequence with us. I think he might have had a better finish had he not done that.
But it was a gamble they had to try to take to try to win. They came up about four or five laps short.
Q. What about Daytona and Indianapolis?
CHIP GANASSI: Obviously, you know, Jamie McMurray, Bass Pro Shops, won that race in February. Dario and Target won the race here today. I'm a lucky guy to be in this business and to be able to work with people that accomplish that.
I didn't drive either car. I didn't change any tires. I didn't put any fuel in the cars. I don't do any of that stuff. I have hundreds of people that do that kind of thing. I'm very, very lucky is what it comes down to. I'm very lucky.
Q. You put the teams together.
CHIP GANASSI: 25 damn years or more I've been working on it. I'm just the guy that gets my name on the door, the sign in the front. But it's a lot of hard work by a lot of people, a lot of people that never get the attention they should. A lot of decision making that you never know if you made the right decision or not. You never know. You're on the end of the diving board, I used to hear Roger say. You have no idea what a lonely world it is being a car owner these days. You're in the middle of sponsors in this environment. We have great sponsors. But you got sponsors on one side, drivers on the other side, your team on the other side of you. Everybody is always pushing hard to get those cars to the front.
All we work at at our teams are to win the next race. Someday we'll look back at the record books and say, Gee, that was a great race, a great year, a great win. But when it comes down to it, it's a sports business. It's every kid's dream.
Q. Chip, how much fuel was left?
CHIP GANASSI: 1.6 gallons.
Q. How far will that take you?
CHIP GANASSI: I have no idea.
Q. Was there going to be enough to get him to the end if it had remained under green-flag conditions? How fearful were you that Wheldon could have picked you off?
CHIP GANASSI: I don't think he could have picked us off, but I think he could have passed us. A lot of those guys are kicking themselves because they ended up with fuel left over at the end of the race. The worst thing you want to do is have some control over the fuel either with a switch or the 'push to pass' button. The worst thing you can do, and we've done it, is come up second in this race or third and have fuel in your tank that you didn't use, you could have used more of it.
But that's this race. I mean, that's what it's like when you go into the last three laps or two laps and there's a yellow, white flag and then there's a yellow.
Q. Mike, all through practice and qualifying you guys were struggling with Penske. They seemed to have better pure speed. Dario was able to run a strong speed and they couldn't quite come up to him. What can you tell us about how you were able to make that work in the race? Did you have to do a huge amount of work? Dario and Scott practiced a lot together.
MIKE HULL: In fairness to the Chip Ganassi Racing team, I think we worked all week to do what you saw today. We were fast during the week. We weren't always the fastest car. With what we concentrate on, which is today on fuel, working on race things, mechanical grip versus what the aero side of the car is, I think that was demonstrated very well today.
As a team, we worked hard with Dario and Scott to understand what we need to do for today. Then you wait for the atmospheric condition, the density of the air. You already have a mechanical setup, the suspension side, the dampening, then you work on the aero side to try to match that up. The worst thing you can do is put too much aero in a car on a day like today. You have to have enough aero to be able to run the laps when you're out front like Dario was today.
CHIP GANASSI: I know exactly what you're saying, because I felt the same way. It takes a guy like the guy on my right to keep everybody focused and calm and on plan about what we're doing. My hat is off to Mike for doing that during practice and qualifying, just keeping everybody calm, everybody focused on the task at hand. That's what's going on right now.
MIKE HULL: Imagine what would have happened here if next week in the middle of the week my neighbor, I talk to my neighbor, maybe I'm outside getting my mail, and he said, You work for Chip Ganassi. He said, That's right, you guys won the warmup. That's not what you come here to do. You come here to win the race (laughter).
CHIP GANASSI: Plus, I don't think he would have said that anyway.
MIKE HULL: You won the warmup. It's really important to win the race here and that's what we work on.
Q. Dario always has been an elite driver, but what he did today puts him in an elite category of drivers. Talk a little bit about how this kind of only elevates him.
CHIP GANASSI: I'll start with that.
The guy's a champion. He's been there, done that. He knows what it takes. From the first day of practice up until five minutes ago, he's the consummate professional. The last time I saw him, he's the guy you want in the car in that situation.
We show up here at the beginning of May. He and Scott and Mike and I had dinner one night. We just had a nice, calm dinner like I do every year with the drivers. The beginning of practice that week, the first or second night we get together. We just said, Look, everybody knows what we have to do, everybody knows what why we're here. We talked about it in Long Beach. We talked about it in Kansas. We talked about it that night at dinner. We're here to win the race. We know what we want to do. Let's get everybody moving in that direction to that one goal, which is the checkered flag here today first to finish.
MIKE HULL: Chip said it. What I think about Dario Franchitti, first of all, personally, Chip has afforded me a long time to do what I do with first-rate guys like Dario driving racecars for us. Then it's our job to get them across the finish line first, get them across the finish line as two teammates, because that's how we've done what we've done over the years.
What we have here is a guy, I know he just had his birthday, I don't know how old he is, we have a 20-year-old guy in a body of a guy that has a ton of experience. He comes to work every day like a 20-year-old. He wants to get the most out of the day. That matches our ethic because that's what our ethic is all about: Get the most out of the day. He just matches up so well for us. He's always trying to make us better.
We've had pairs of drivers over time that have been fantastic race drivers. You can't take away anything from them as pairs of guys. These two guys we have right now never, ever hide anything from the other driver. They never hold anything back. First time we've ever seen that at Chip Ganassi Racing. I hate to admit that, but it's true. Arty used to say, I always keep a little bit in my pocket. Dario puts what's in his pocket for Dixon and vice versa. I think that makes a big difference over time.
Q. Mike, before the game, when the cars are on the grid, I saw you had your team grouped around you like a huddle and you were Peyton Manning calling the play. What do you tell your team before you take off?
MIKE HULL: We talk about today. We talk about what's important for us today, what we're trying to achieve as a team. We try to put it in the present tense. We don't talk about winning the Indy 500, the last lap, where it's going to take us. We talk about, Let's get to the first stop together, let's do what it takes today, let's make this happen together just like we've practiced to do.
The greatest thing about our team is the fact that we've done this as a group together for quite a long time. When someone comes and someone goes, they fill a different place, they always make that job better. That's what creates the consistency and momentum we have as a team.
So, you know, I know that Tom Moore is on the sidelines for Peyton. It's great to have guys like that on the sidelines for us. Appreciate the comparison.
Q. Scott Dixon losing the wheel, was that the only mishap today of Ganassi?
CHIP GANASSI: On Dario's car we had a clean day.
Q. Scott Dixon, that was the only mistake?
CHIP GANASSI: Yes.
Q. How would you characterize Dario as a human being basically?
CHIP GANASSI: I don't know. I don't know. He's a great race driver, I know that. I've not hung out with him much outside of the racetrack, so I don't know how he is as a human being. Seems like a great guy. I don't know much else. He's a great guy. I've never characterized anybody as a human being. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be smart, I don't understand the question.
He's a great racing driver. He's a great person. I like hanging around him. I don't know much else about him.
Q. Chip, you made a decision after a very frustrating when he went to NASCAR to bring him back here. That was a tough year. Did you ever feel like there was no doubt in your mind he could come back and be what he was before, as he has now, or did you have concerns what happened that year was such a downer that it would affect him?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, you guys know me well enough to know, I'm not the kind of guy, if we make a mistake, okay, we make a mistake, we move on. If I thought Dario didn't know how to drive, he wouldn't be driving the car, no matter what happened in NASCAR. I knew he knew how to drive. I knew he was the best driver available when that seat became available, and I told him that.
I think I said, you know all know what I said to him, I told you. He was the best guy available to drive the car and still is, so... His NASCAR experience, that was like a semester at sea or something that we did. We did it and we're glad we did it but we're glad we're back home, too.
Q. Chip and Mike, there's a lot of major changes in the way the 500 worked out today. Would another change of 10 gallons more fuel been a help to you guys?
CHIP GANASSI: You can sit there and sharpshoot any race you want. I don't care if you're in NASCAR, IndyCars, Grand-Am, I don't care if you have a fuel switch or you don't. If you have X amount of fuel in your tank, and with that X amount of fuel you can go X amount of laps, just pick a number, you have fuel to go 20 laps, and there is a yellow with 22 to go, you can bet everybody is going to come in and fill up and save fuel till the finish.
I don't understand why you guys don't do a better job of explaining that to the fans. Everybody is like, We don't like fuel races. There's no way to stop fuel races no matter what you do. There's always going to be that case where there's a yellow right before the exact amount of laps that you need to get full to finish. Everybody keeps trying to put a switch in, take the switch out, have 'push to pass', all this stuff. It doesn't mean anything. There's always going to be a fuel race. I'm not saying every race is going to be a fuel race, but there's always that incident where there can be guys saving fuel to get to the finish. It's just that simple.
The only way you could legislate that is have everybody stop with 10 laps to go in the race and fill up and say fuel has nothing to do with it so the first part of the race means nothing. You're always going to have that no matter what you do. There's always going to be that instance. Does anybody not understand that? You're always going to have that case 'cause we never know when people are going to crash. You never know when. That's one of the things about sports, you don't know the outcome of it. You're always going to have that case.
10 gallons more fuel, yeah, would have helped us today, but maybe last week it wouldn't have.
MIKE HULL: At the point everybody pitted, 10 gallons of fuel wouldn't have made any difference. You still would have had to come back in. We have a 22-gallon cell. What you're say is should we have a 30-gallon fuel tank. If we had that, lap 60, we all would have made it to the end, yes. We came in over whatever it was, 63 or 64. You're not going to make it. It doesn't matter what clever strategy you employ. If you're full rich and running with your foot flat on the floor at lap 163 at the Indy 500, you're not going to make it.
Q. Mike, what happened on the pit stop where Dixon lost a wheel?
MIKE HULL: The tire changer put the tire on, had a problem with the wheel nut. He came away to get his other wheel nut - I'll try to get this right - came away to get his other wheel nut. When he did, he came all the way back and put the gun down. The guy that sends the car thought the wheel was on and done. So he goes to the air jack guy to drop the car, and he did, and the car left.
We work hard to prevent those things. Didn't like that it happened.
Q. Mike, the reason you guys are here is because of Dario's victory. I was equally impressed with how much you did to help Dixon recover. Talk about that. Chip, are you wishing back in January you were talking to the league about doing 20 million for Daytona and an Indy win?
MIKE HULL: Tony Kanaan proved today you can get from the back to the front. If you think about that, the extraordinary exhibition, if you want to call it that, what they did as a team to recover the way they did for race day, what Tony did in particular early in the race, and I'm with Dixon, I said to Dixon on the radio, when we were all the way at the back, Tony got to the front, you can get to the front. We worked together all day as a team to do that. We never gave up. That's what we do.
We thought we had Dixon in a position in fourth place there to where the three guys in front of us, if they'd have been green to the end, I think there might be a different guy sitting here.
I think it works out as a team. We work as a team, and that's how we work. It's just great to be here today.
Q. Chip, were you on your way to Charlotte tonight? If so, are you going to tell Juan Pablo to pick it up a step?
CHIP GANASSI: I think I'm going to go. Feeling pretty good about racing today. I have a new burst of energy. I think I'm going to go.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, congratulations. We detailed the fact you were dominant all day long, but everything got a little unusual. I'm sure you have all seen races where the dominant car did not win.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, last year springs to mind. You know there's a big puddle of oil under the car. I think we broke an oil cooler, seriously.
THE MODERATOR: You're the king of extreme weather.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. What can I tell you? We tried our best in qualifying, and we came up a little short. None of us were happy with that. We worked, Scott in particular on Bump Day worked very hard on the car. On cash Carb Day we did again. We left thinking the car was good. From the first lap today, yeah, it wasn't easy to drive, it was bouncing around in one as much as I've had a car move around here in the rear, but I couldn't fix that because it was in balance other corners. But it was fast. Everybody had a problem in traffic, but we seemed to get through.
It was all looking good right up until that whole yellow, then we had to save fuel, were we saving enough, was Tony going to catch us. Turned out he wasn't. Turns out we had plenty of fuel because of the slow-down lap. Came in to pit lane, did some burnouts, still had some fuel in it. There was enough.
Wasn't good for your heart, was it, Chip?
CHIP GANASSI: No.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Much easier to get on it and keep the foot down because the Target car was good. But great day. To win two of these things is pretty damn special.
Q. Dario, you're a student of motor racing. This puts you in an elite category, your hero Jim Clark won here 45 years ago today. What does that mean right now?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: They showed me a list of two-time winners. Those guys are legends. I said the other night, I'm just a driver, those guys are legends. I'm so lucky to be drive for Chip and Team Target, getting in good cars, especially having gone away after we won in '07. To be invited back was pretty cool. To have won a championship and an Indy 500, I didn't expect any of this. I said before, I expected to be retired by the time I was 35. This is all bonus and it's pretty cool.
Q. It looked to me that little bit of wing you added at the first stop changed your day. Watching the timing, you were half a second clear per lap. Reminded me a lot of Montoya. Did the car feel as solid as it looked?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know how other people's were to drive. My car was a handful, but it was a fast handful. When it's fast, you can hang on to it. When it's not quite like that, you have to start making adjustments. It was a handful particularly in one, but it was a handful doing 223s when other guys were doing 221s. Looked better after the tires. We made one change.
CHIP GANASSI: What happens is you get in a situation where he comes in, we say, How is your car? He says, It's dancing a little bit in of turn one, push off of two, three and four. We say, Okay, do we want to make a change to the car? We're looking at the speeds everybody is doing. Those guys are doing 220s. I'm saying, You have to make a decision. Do you want to take a chance on slowing your car down or leaving it alone?
That's what we're thinking about in the pits while he's saying what his car is doing.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I have a very narrow view of what's going on. This morning I went into the truck, we had a meeting. I asked Chris, Are you happy with the wings we're running? Scott and I split downforce levels. We didn't want to run exactly the same because we wanted to give ourselves a cover things a little more. He said he's happy. You don't want to do this? He's like, Nope. We added half a turn on the front wing. As I said, it was a handful, but it was a fast handful. My boy did his job today. He was great.
Q. Earlier this week we asked about the possibility of the $20 million bonus and all. You said at that time the 500, it's enough. Now that you have the 500 in your pocket, is it enough?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. Quite frankly, it's a lot of money, 20 million bucks. Hasn't been announced they're doing it yet. For me, this is enough. Physically, this is enough. That was a tough day out there. For me it's enough.
I think if you want to win either of these races, the Coke 600 or the Indianapolis 500, you have to specialize at it. Chip might change my mind at some point. He seems pretty happy at some point as the man that won the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in one year, that's pretty cool.
Q. Chip said early on, the first lap going into one, when you got around Power, you stuck it in there, it's sort of like you sat up in the seat. He felt it was like a moment of you realizing you had command of this race. Was there such a moment? Did that pass and move through one and two...
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I thought I had a good chance. I thought I had a fast car by the time I did the first stint because I knew how the car was running through the whole thing. At that point, I thought, We're in the fight here. That move at the start, though, I knew the car was capable of it. It's something I've done before here. When I got past Will, I thought, Fair enough. I was sitting on Helio's gearbox. I thought, Damn, this is good. Pulled on past him, the yellow came out. Restart, but different people, we were able to gap them on the restart and go.
Again, we made a lot of right choices in the car setup. All day from lap 1 to lap 200 I drove the thing as hard as I know how.
Q. We tried without success to get Chip to talk about himself. Being the first guy to win the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in the same year, you know firsthand what a different world NASCAR is. What does this accomplishment by Chip mean to you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I wish we would have had those cars in '08 (laughter). Mind you, might not have been sitting here, which would be a real shame. It all worked out perfectly. We said that at Long Beach last year, didn't we? Worked out perfectly. Got to have a holiday, come back, have some fun.
I think it says a lot about Chip, the people he employees. The mindset, whether it's here or down in Concord, it's the same mindset: we're here to win. All he wants to do is win. If you're not interested in that, if you take your eye off the ball, he lets you know. That's all he cares about. Mike is the same. We go racing, and we like to win. To be a part of a team like that just makes your job so easy as a driver. You're going to get beaten, absolutely. But you know everybody is on it all the time. That comes from the top down.
Q. Can you take us through your thought process the last five or six laps. How concerned were you with running out of fuel, getting caught by Wheldon?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was concerned about running out of fuel. I was concerned about Tony, that he pitted. The guys were like, Right, just get to the finish. Just see if you'll get to the finish. Dan is a ways back. He's coming on a bit, but he's a ways back. We have a good gap. I was managing the gap to Dan. That last lap, I saved a lot of fuel. But Dan was coming on. I think I lifted for the yellow pretty early there.
I was quite happy. My biggest worry was not that, it was running out of fuel. I just noticed, as well, British drivers 1-2-3, four of us in the top 10. That was pretty good.
Q. Two Indy 500 victories. Are you now on par with Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart or are you now above them?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I could win races, Indy 500s, for the rest of my life, till I'm 70 years old, and I still wouldn't be in the same vein as Jim Clark or Jackie Stewart. Those guys are absolute legends. I'm in awe of both of them.
Q. What did you think when you looked in your side view mirror and there was T.K. from 33rd to behind you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I thought, I knew it. I had a dream last night that T.K. and I were going to fight to the finish. But by that point I had those thoughts and it was down to business again. Right, get away from T.K. so he can't draft me and save more fuel. Manage that gap, try to hang on to those guys ahead of me to save as much fuel as I could. Then I kept looking and he was still sort of a similar distance. I thought, Man, if he's saving as much fuel as me, he's going to make this a difficult last five laps or so. Then he pitted, and that took a lot of pressure off. Until he pitted, I never took my eye off him because he can always surprise you. He didn't get the result that he deserved, but to have gone from last to second was cool. He will win one of these races one day, you watch.
Q. Last year you led a bunch of laps and at the end you got stuck in traffic. Today was it really your goal to get out in front and try to stay out in front? Also you talked about how difficult the car was to drive, difficult to match Penske. Did you have to make the car so it was totally on edge to be able to have that speed?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think in order to be quick here you have to be on edge. You seldom drive around here and think, This thing is quick and it's easy. Qualifying '07, that's maybe the one time.
As far as staying out front, Scott and I last year were able to lead a bunch of laps, then we had those problems in the second to last pit stop. It just shows you it's a team sport. Everybody, even the best, even Team Target and Team Penske make mistakes. Today my guys were perfect. That's what it took.
Chip told us this morning, didn't he, Make no mistakes, we're in the hunt here today, guys.
Q. When you have a situation like you had at the end, confusing race, is it hard to keep track of all that stuff, concentrate on all those goofy things?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's much easier when you're just running wide open, definitely. I say 'wide open,' as hard as it will go. But that's part of it. Strategy is part of racing, whether it's IndyCar racing, stock car racing, sports car racing, you have to find the best way to get to the finish line, right, Mike? Doesn't matter what it is, you have to find the best way, and we did that.
Q. You got around Helio right away. He dropped back. Toward the end there he was in third place and coming. Did you think he had been holding back and was on a real charge? Was he one, along with T.K., you were concerned with at the end?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: At that point I was kind of concerned about T.K. and I was doing the best I could at that time and that was it. There comes a point where you can only go as quickly as you can, you can only save as much fuel, all those sort of things. We managed it.
Q. What does it mean for you being a role model for Scottish kids because you are not only a great racing driver but a great ambassador?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you. That's a tough one to answer.
I think by the way maybe you live your life, that's all you can really do. Yeah, that's about it. It's very important, both at the track and out of the track, we look after the kids, the fans, the younger kids, because I remember going to racetracks and seeing my heroes. When they were nice to me, it was an unbelievable feeling. I think it's very important.
Q. In terms of emotion, feeling, can you compare this one to your win in '07?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think that would be like comparing my two dogs, our two dogs. You can't do it. They're both different. They're both pretty cool, yeah.
MIKE HULL: Need a third dog.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Need a third dog, exactly (laughter).
I have to say that feeling, when you drive into Victory Lane, you see some of my family, my dad was here, Ashley, some of my family from Nashville, my friends from Scotland, my team, it's cool, man. That's it right there. You get out and you get to drink the milk. That's what it's all about.
Q. Obviously a British 1-2-3 here. Same in the Turkish Grand Prix. What does it feel playing a part in British motorsport history?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It was great to see Lewis and Jensen fight hard but not take each other out. It was close.
I think we have to think about Mike Conway, as well. Any news on Mike Conway? There's a lot of British drivers here, a lot of quick British drivers. Great having four of us in the top 10 and a 1-2-3. I don't think that's been done before. I think we're doing something right in the UK. I think I'm a generation ahead of most of the other guys, but it's great to see them. Obviously in LMS, as well, F1, LeMans next week, a couple weeks' time. I think we've got some pretty good British drivers right now. I'm very proud of that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for coming in.
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