IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union
Topics: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union
April 9, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with today's post qualifying press conference featuring our Firestone Fast Six drivers. We are joined by Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske; Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing; and Helio Castroneves, Team Penske, our defending race winner here; Justin Wilson of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing; and Oriol Servia of Newman/Haas Racing.
We'll start with you, Oriol. Qualifying sixth here, your second time since joining the IZOD IndyCar Series that you've made the Firestone Fast Six. Your first time racing here at Barber. Talk about the confidence this position gives you going into the race tomorrow?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, it's always a lot better to be in the Fast Six, not only because you're in the first two rows, but it just feels great. It's the most frustrating thing, like in St. Petersburg, when you're mentally prepared to go three rounds in qualifying and you're knocked out in the first one. You feel like I've only started. So it feels great to at least have a chance to go for the pole at the end.
We made a huge improvement. We still don't have it to make the Penske guys nervous, but we're getting there. So I'm very happy for Newman/Haas and all the work over the winter and all the uncertainty, Carl and Bernie just stuck with me, and stuck with us.
Now we have a great teammate with James, and a great sponsor with Telemundo so things are starting to roll. I have to give them huge thanks for getting us here.
THE MODERATOR: Justin, if you could, talk about the challenges of qualifying today, especially out there in turn 16?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I think we had a pretty good day. We started out I think 11th and 12th. But Dreyer & Reinbold worked really hard. The set-up really came together and this morning the car felt pretty good. We made a couple more changes in qualifying, and it's right there.
I'm really pleased to make it into the Fast Six, just like Oriol said. It's kind of a relief to be starting up here more than anything else. I'm pleased with that.
In the Fast Six, I got a little carried away going into the second to last corner and lost the rear. But I had already set my quickest time by then, so I wasn't too concerned. I knew the grip level for me was down a little bit, and I had done pretty much all I could do.
So I was just happy to continue and like I said, just be here.
Hopefully, we'll have a good day tomorrow in the Charter car.
THE MODERATOR: I have to ask, how's the wrist?
JUSTIN WILSON: It's okay. Ryan and I were joking about it. I think the two cripples were here first. So we are joking about that.
It's uncomfortable. It's definitely throbbing a little bit now. But when it comes down time to qualifying, you've just got to get on with it.
Yeah, the race is going to be tough, especially with Oriol breathing down my neck. Yeah, the feeling gets pretty heavy. Even today I'm feeling it in my right side.
So, hopefully, get some good rest. Got a nice long break before the race, and we can keep this Spaniard behind me.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, last year here at Barber, you started ninth and finished sixth. This year, on the front row, so things are looking better.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, definitely. I'm loving the Penske Truck Rental car. It looks great and it's feeling great. We unloaded with a very good car, and we've tuned it a little bit, but we haven't had to make any big stabs at it. It's just been a very solid car.
Really good preparation from Team Penske from the off-season testing. Yeah, it's just been at the front every session and just chipping away at it. So I'm feeling comfortable, solid. I wish we would have gotten the pole, but we got the front row, and that's a great place to be.
This is where, for a few of us, our championship starts here, and I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, you'll start fourth tomorrow. Is that what it's going to take starting there with your teammates on the front row to help you defend this one?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, certainly we struggled a little bit. When we came to the task, we seemed to be pretty comfortable. But somehow the track changed with probably the other series. We seemed to be most in the group between 12 and 6. The number three group seemed to be most affected on that.
We were able to recover on the qualifying, to be honest. We were able to put some good laps together. But in the end of the day, it's great to be -- just adding to what Ryan was saying -- certainly our championship is starting as well.
The pressure is good in this place to start in the front, now that we have the double file restart. We want to make sure that -- I want to make sure that I complete the first lap and then go from there.
At the end of the day, great team effort for the entire Team Penske. I'm glad I'm in a new car with AAA Insurance, and hopefully we'll get our car to victory lane.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, this is a track that really required a lot of grip. Can you talk about the conditions out there today in your qualifying round?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, today was tough. Actually, our car was pretty good all except for the session that it counted, so that was a little frustrating. We missed on the balance a little bit, and it was just extremely loose once we went for a second run on the red tires and we missed it there.
I couldn't get into the corners and carry the speed and get off. Little frustrating, but I think we had the quickest time for qualifying, with obviously in the wrong session.
I'm pretty happy with the car. Both Target cars, at least Dario and the Clorox car should be good tomorrow. I think they're having a few issues there, but all in all, not a bad day.
Q. Helio, can you talk about starting the championship season tomorrow? (No Microphone).
HELIO CASTRONEVES: We know this championship is all about points and a lot of small points make a big difference in the end. I have to say that we're starting in a big hole, but we can't give up on those things.
Normally in a season, you have one or two races that you're able to give yourself something, a problem and a mistake or something like that, and we already gave it away in the first race. So now we turn the page. We can't keep focus on what happened in the past.
Right now we're in a good place in that all three cars seem to be fast here. And we need to collect as many points as possible and move on.
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