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May 31, 2015

Sebastien Bourdais

Graham Rahal

Takuma Sato


THE MODERATOR:  We're pleased to be joined by our third-place finisher, Graham Rahal. 
Graham, obviously a very good result for you coming off the heels of a tough result yesterday.  Tell us about your race. 
GRAHAM RAHAL:  Yeah, it was a really good day today.  Pretty pleased with everything.  I was very disappointed in the penalty.  I don't think it was deserved.  Based on what the rules are, you're allowed to move before the person behind you does.  Right after I got the wheel spin, I moved to the far right.  That's allowed.  But apparently it's not today.  So, you know, unfortunately we had to give up that position to Sato. 
At the end, very proud of this team, keep working hard.  I think we're up to fourth in points now, right behind Dixon, right ahead of Helio.  We really gapped on everybody that has been around us or behind us, I think Newgarden and Marco, and closed up to all three in front. 
Happy with how it all went.  I wish yesterday was a little better, but this definitely eases the pain.  I think this is our third podium in the last four weekends, third in the last five races.  Feels really good. 
THE MODERATOR:  Not only is this a doubleheader weekend, the only one of the season, but also the rain conditions made an extra challenge for this race weekend.  How did your team handle that? 
GRAHAM RAHAL:  Yeah, the guys did an excellent job.  I mean, it was like ice out there.  Concrete in the rain is typically the most slippery conditions that you can ever face. 
The new pavement was actually pretty grippy, but the old stuff was extremely slippery.  So, you know, you're driving around like you're on ice. 
I had a couple good runs there.  I thought my car was actually pretty good in the rain.  But the visibility, I was having a lot of issues with fogging inside of my visor.  For 10 or 12 laps, I was having to lay back just to be able to see.  That was pretty tough. 
But through all those things, through the adversity, to finish here feels good.  Like I said, I'm just proud of my guys because they're making my life a lot easier this year.  They're doing a great job in the pits, keep fighting hard.  We're up there with the big boys now.  Got to make sure we're good at everything. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions. 

Q.  When you get a penalty like that, are you just screaming, you'd like to go in front of a panel quick and explain?  Did you have anything there at the end for Takuma?
GRAHAM RAHAL:  I did.  But I was out of overtakes.  I had a hell of a run on Takuma.  I was out of overtakes, and he had a couple.  I was kind of toast in that regard. 
I was hoping it was going to go green in the end because I don't think Bourdais would have made it.  I don't know if Takuma would have either.  We were easily good on fuel.  I was excited to kind of duel it out with them. 
On the penalty side of things, obviously it's extremely frustrating.  I look at the incident yesterday, all the avoidable contact that happened there.  I got penalized for the same thing in St. Pete, and here nobody gets anything.  It's just very frustrating. 
I think we need to keep reviewing that, obviously work on it.  But there's just nothing you can do.  When you're in the car, you have to fight as hard as you can. 
I knew it would be hard here to get back by him.  But I'm pleased to be here on the podium. 

Q.  Would you like to see race control kind of let you race a little bit more?  All these penalties are starting to look like watching an NFL game. 
GRAHAM RAHAL:  I'd like to see three drivers in race control, three retired drivers that know what's going on.  I mean, it's no disrespect to who's there.  I think they've done a fair job with what they've been given.  I know it's not easy.  I know that for sure. 
Unfortunately for me, I always have an in-car camera, so it's easier to call me than most anybody else. 
I think you need to go find three retired guys that have been through this, been through the wringer, Paul Tracy, guys like that, that know exactly the ins-and-outs of this.  They can make a fair call every time. 

Q.  Honda went 1-2 yesterday.  Today they went 2 through 9.  Even though it's a rain-affected race, do you see improvement coming from Honda? 
GRAHAM RAHAL:  We need to keep improving.  I'm proud of the guys and all the efforts they're doing.  But rain is the ultimate equalizer. 
I can tell you from being behind Helio, he was pretty fast in a straight line.  Got a little work to do.  But, you know, at the end of the day these guys keep working very hard and I'm very proud of them because they've been getting blasted by everybody.  Honda hasn't quit.  They keep working hard. 
It's great to see. 

Q.  On the Honda thing, even when it was dry, I didn't see a vast difference between the Hondas and the Chevrolets.  Is it partially the nature of this circuit being so tight? 
GRAHAM RAHAL:  Yeah, possibly.  But, you know, I look at it like this.  Everybody's been hard on Honda this year, all that sort of thing.  But we've had a hell of a year.  Yeah, we're leading the charge for them.  But, you know, our team and the way that everything's working for us right now is working pretty darn well. 
I still think we can win races like we are, and we're going to keep working hard, you know, to get that win for them.  But, yeah, this doesn't have long straights, so maybe that helps a little bit, equalize things.  But when it comes race day and you have to put 70 laps together versus just one, I think that's where we can make up a little bit of the gap. 
The Honda has been good for me this year on the tires and everything else.  Like I said, we've had three podiums.  Some people think, Well, maybe if he had a Chevy he would have won one or two by now. 
Who's to say that?  That's not necessarily true.  What we've had, we've done a pretty good job with.  I'm proud to be associated with them. 

Q.  How much does this make up for yesterday?
GRAHAM RAHAL:  Well, it helps a lot.  I mean, yesterday was brutal.  That's the nice thing about this doubleheader.  We reversed our roles from last year.  Last year had a good first day, bad second.  At least this time, you know, I'm leaving here going to get on an airplane on a good note.

Q.  You're still hanging in there pretty good in the top five heading to Texas.  Honda never really got a chance to show how fast they could be with the superspeedway kit. 
GRAHAM RAHAL:  The superspeedway kit changes next week.  The rear wing and stuff is different than what we ran, and obviously the pods are going to be blocked off.  There's a lot of other stuff. 
We're not really sure where we stand there yet.  All I know is we had a great run of it at the 500.  We're going to keep working hard there.  I know they are. 
We're fourth in points now, just one or two ahead of Helio, seven or eight behind Dixon.  Just going to keep fighting. 
We can hang with these guys.  We just got to keep working hard and we'll be there. 

Q.  This is easily your most consistent season. 
GRAHAM RAHAL:  We're only halfway done, man.  Got a lot of work to do. 
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Graham.
We welcome Takuma Sato.  You're known as someone who is good in the rain here.  Did that play to your advantage towards the end of the race? 
TAKUMA SATO:  I think so.  First I would like to say thank you to A.J. Foyt Racing.  The team make a fantastic job over the weekend, give me great car. 
Myself as well, I'm really pleased to be back in here on the podium.  Yes, it was long and exciting.  To be honest, it was crazy race for two days. 
Yesterday we showed a good performance.  At the start of the race, I think we were competitive.  This morning I was a little bit disappointed when we had to cancel the qualify.  Obviously safety come first. 
We started the middle of the pack.  Today's rain was a little difficult.  All the lines, it was a little greasy and difficult to overtake.  But I think we made a good strategy.  Back on the top groove, that was a really good move from the team. 
THE MODERATOR:  How do you and your team regroup mentally with all the changes happening throughout the weekend? 
TAKUMA SATO:  I think the team's preparation is just looking at all the conditions, the qualifying.  It all depends.  They really calm.  The engineers is really confident in what we can do. 
We had such a tough last season, obviously the good result to bring home is the first priority.  Yesterday we showed a good performance.  The opportunity is there, we know. 
But for us driver, it's a little tough with the conditions changing, not be able to doing qualifying, starting from the back of the grid. 
But I think it was good.  I mean, here I really enjoy the Detroit bumps.  Exciting track.  Appreciate the fans came out with the conditions.  But I think today we done a good job. 
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Takuma. 

Q.  You had six 'push to passes' left at the start with the red flag.  What happened when you tried to chase down Sebastien?
TAKUMA SATO:  Obviously that time, it's six laps to go.  I had six left.  So it was a really good position to do it. 
It's come down to the time race.  There was only three laps to go.  I had only one left. 
It's a shame, yes.  It was real close.  But I think we done most of what we could today, come back from the middle of the pack to finishing strong.  Obviously I wanted to win the race, but I think Sebastien restart was a little tricky.  That really caught out Montoya, too.  We should do steady acceleration from last corner.  We all had to brake, which is not really what we talk about for the briefing. 
I leave it to IndyCar's call for the regulations.  But nevertheless, Seb did a good job of holding off.  I try to go for the win for the rest of the season, of course. 

Q.  (No microphone.)
TAKUMA SATO:  Yes, he did. 

Q.  What was your view of the Graham Rahal block?
TAKUMA SATO:  Well, I had to back off.  I had to back off.  It caught me surprise.  He obviously have a little moment coming off the corner.  He knew he lost some momentum.  He knew I was coming.  I was alongside him.  But I was pointing, heading to the wall.  I had to back off. 
Yeah, IndyCar put out the penalty.  I think that was okay. 

Q.  Both races were affected by the rain.  Honda swept the top two yesterday.  Do you see improvement coming from Honda?
TAKUMA SATO:  I think it was a pretty good weekend for Honda.  We had to change the front wing due to safety reason.  People are saying it's getting lighter front wing, but we lost a lot of downforce.  How many elements we lost? 
I think from that point of view, they work really hard to try to maintain the same performance.  As a package, I think they did a good job.  They did a really good job for that.  I think we saw the Honda (indiscernible) was less from that point of view. 
Yes, like you said, yesterday was great day for Honda.  Today Graham and I both two cars on the podium.  I think we gain a chunk of the good points. 
I think we have to say this is very rare, as the conditions change so much.  But we keep on pushing, like Graham said.  Hopefully the second half of the season, we compete as hard as we could. 

Q.  You actually bring a lot of fans here.  How are things going in Japan as far as people following your racing?
TAKUMA SATO:  From Japan? 

Q.  Yes. 
TAKUMA SATO:  Yes, I have to say big thank you.  They doing live broadcasting.  I don't know what time is it, probably 5 a.m. in the morning.  Really exciting.  I had great support. 
So many fans actually fly into Detroit.  That's great for IndyCar.  Great for the sport.  I really appreciate for the fans, not only for Japan, but also come from internationally. 
Here in Detroit, we see so many fans really enjoy the race.  I'm really proud of this association, very pleased for A.J. Foyt Racing.  We had a scary winter this season.  Finally A.J. Foyt come back last May.  His second, third attempt for the race.  Now we present him a good result.  Hopefully we have more to come. 

Q.  In consideration of the dual, the one-time doubleheader, the weather conditions, are there any type of suggestions you may consider to the powers that be to enhance, rule changes, this race a little bit more for future races?
TAKUMA SATO:  Not necessarily.  I think like Graham said, I think the doubleheader, it's tough for the organization, as well as from the team point of view for the preparation. 
But I think it's great event.  You could have two great races.  You have a chance to recover.  That was the chance for us yesterday.  We were disappointed.  We had a great opportunity.  We had a good performance but didn't deliver the great result yesterday.  The weather played difficulty as well. 
We can't complain for the week.  We do everything we could.  In terms for the safety, they protect us as well. 
Pure driver point of view, I personally wanted qualifying today.  I had confidence.  It didn't happen, fine.  We accept it and we try to made a good show. 
I think, like you said, all the drivers is really trying hard, pushing to the limit 100%.  You can see such a bumpy street course, challenging.  You can go sideways.  But they driving like crazy. 
You would be appreciate as a fan to enjoy as well as we have great fun as well.  As a team, you know, we make the car fast.  We have great support from the fans and sponsors.  I think where we are today is really happy moment.  I don't have any complaining in terms of rule change or anything. 

Q.  When you were getting started in Formula One, Sebastien was winning all these Champ Car Series titles.  You even had a chance to compete against him in Formula One.  What is it like now to see him regain some victories at this stage of his career?  He was a big international name 10 years ago. 
TAKUMA SATO:  Absolutely.  It's great see back and forth in American racing and European racing.  Obviously, Formula One has so much other environment.  It's difficult from outside for just drivers.  Formula One seems to be pinnacle for auto racing world. 
Montoya was same case, Rubens a couple years ago.  Sebastien come to the series, come to Formula One, did fantastic job, and now we competing again together. 
I think it's nice that IndyCar produce such opportunity.  It doesn't have to be a top team to win the race.  Of course, even today we saw some dominance from the one big team.  But I think IndyCar, you can win from the back of the grid, even single-car team. 
I think the opportunity is there.  That's fantastic.  And for us, well, I don't know, I try to make this sport as exciting as possible.  That's the aim.  Hopefully we can do that as long as possible. 

Q.  On the last couple laps, seemed like Bourdais was able to pull out on you.  Were you able to keep up with him?
TAKUMA SATO:  To be honest, it was difficult.  The restart was a great chance.  Once get into the rhythm, I think he had a really fast car today, so he really - how can I say - has got a winner. 
I tried to catch him, try to overtake him.  I had one chance on the back straight to come to white flag.  Into turn seven it's tricky.  Offline was still (indiscernible) today.  If completely dry, I would commit to go side-by-side.  But it was too risky.  Obviously he did the holding line really well. 
I really disagree on his restart manipulation technique.  Obviously other than that, he's done everything he could.  He's the real winner today.  Shame, but I try next time. 

Q.  First time all season where there's been no Penske or Ganassi in the top two.  How much do you think it's the conditions and how much is it the other teams closing the gap?
TAKUMA SATO:  Definitely the weather and conditions gave us the opportunity to compete with them.  If it's steady, dry conditions, it might be difficult to beat them. 
But as you've seen yesterday, I overtook three Penskes simply because the weather help me out.  Also weather caught me out in the end for me. 
But it was great opportunity.  If the weather come, tricky conditions, it's equalize for everyone.  Perhaps some guys doing a good job.  That's the result today.  No Penske, Ganassi on the podium. 
They're the big teams, tough to beat.  But I think, as I said, nothing is impossible.  This is part of this great sport to give opportunity.  I really love it. 
THE MODERATOR:  Takuma, congratulations.  We'll see you next weekend. 
TAKUMA SATO:  Thank you. 
THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by the winner of today's race, Sebastien Bourdais. 
Sebastien, obviously a great day for you to be back on top, as you were last year in Toronto most recently.  What was the day like for you?  How were you able to fight your way up to the top in tricky conditions? 
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  You know, it's a very tricky race.  Obviously after the debacle we had to go through yesterday, you obviously witnessed what happened.  We put wets on way too early, we came back for dries, then it rained again.  Pretty much everything went wrong.  It's like, Hmm, how do we bounce off of that? 
We were ready to go this morning.  Obviously got rained out in qualifying.  Didn't have the best starting spot.  But, you know, felt pretty comfortable that we could have a good day. 
I was feeling pretty racy at the beginning.  Picked up a couple positions in the rain.  Car was very solid.  I had a lot of confidence.  Then there was all that middle stage of the race where it was very slippery.  Started to rain again.  Felt like I was just going to stuff it every corner.  So I just really tried to stay off the walls and make no mistakes. 
It kind of worked out.  We still came out of the pits in front of Helio, whoever we were racing with.  I'm kind of losing track of everything here. 
At that point the yellow came out.  Boy, everybody is laying out slicks.  Man, there's no way.  Never going to work.  It looked like it was way too slippery.  It was really just a groove on both tires to stay in between.  It felt like it was just going to be chaos out there. 
At the restart I kind of nailed it.  Juan was really pushy.  Then the yellow came right after again.  There was a succession of yellows after yellow.  At one point we had to make a call whether we were going to stay out and gamble that all the yellows were going to keep going.  It sure looked like it was going to be that way. 
When the conditions are that tricky, you're restarting, everybody is trying to make moves, there is only one dry line, it's calling for more yellows. 
At that stage a lot of guys stuck it out with us, were on the same strategy.  It was either we were going to win it or we were going to finish probably, you know, top five, maybe a bit worse than that, but not really far.  It felt like the right thing to do. 
The guys did a great, you know, pit stop all day.  I had pretty good restarts every time and made sure I was not going to leave the door open and give the positions away. 
You know, couldn't be any happier really.  It's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride with all the weather coming through.  Last year obviously was probably our weakest race of the season, so we didn't know what we were going to get. 
The car was really strong as it needed to be.  It feels pretty sweet to be up there. 
THE MODERATOR:  Questions. 

Q.  I don't mean any disrespect by this, but between you and Juan, this has been a great resurgence from the older guys that came from CART and Champ Car.  What is it like to experience success at this stage of your career?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  Yeah, no, you're right.  I'm 36 years old.  I'm not a youngster anymore.  I'm more in the T.K., Juan and Helio group than the young guns.  Probably have quite a few more years behind me than in front of me. 
But yeah, I mean, you look at the championship standings right now, you see all the guys, the experienced guys, as quick as ever, running right up there, making very few mistakes. 
It's a great feeling.  I think the reason why we're here is we love racing, we love these cars, we love the series, the tracks we race on.  It's just a lot of fun. 
I'll keep on racing this kind of series for as long as I get paid to do so. 

Q.  You and Juan were huge names in CART.  Now here you are. 
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  Yeah, obviously Juan had the opportunity to get back in a championship-winning team.  We're more of an underdog, especially on the ovals.  We don't quite have the resources to investigate as much as they do.  They have four cars and they get it right more often than not. 
For us, that's why it's so sweet.  When we get it right like we did last year, we qualify on pole, run up front, win the race.  Or today we passed them on the track, give them a real run for their money.  They're not happy about it.  We like to create the upset.  I like the challenge.  I'll keep on doing it as much as I can. 

Q.  You roll out there after the red flag.  What is on your mind about the restart that's coming?  Takuma said he thought you kind of hesitated there a little bit, which threw everybody off.  What is on your mind knowing it's a timed race at that point?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  Well, seeing what he did to Juan, yeah, I became pretty creative at the restart.  I wasn't going to give it up.  I think there's going to be a lot of talk about what happened on these restarts, guys pulling out way before the green flag, which you're not supposed to.  We've been talking about it for a long time and we'll be talking about it till we get it right. 
Juan should not have left the position, and he did.  They didn't do anything about it.  For me it's wrong.  We need to fix that.  The more we let it happen, the more it encourages people to do things at the back, burn the restarts, create what's going on. 
If guys are getting penalized every time they move out of the lane or pass people before the green flag gets thrown, nobody can do it.  If you don't get penalized, everyone is given a shot. 

Q.  What was going through your mind on the restart?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  No matter what happens, they're not going by.  That was pretty straightforward.  Go big or go home (laughter). 

Q.  It sounded like you were on the fence of whether you had enough fuel or not.  When did you stop worrying about that?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  Yeah, I mean, when the red flag came out, before I knew it was going to be a time race, I was really pissed.  Obviously, that yellow was our go home yellow.  When they red flagged the race, it was going to go green straight after.  Had it not been a timed race, we probably would have run out of fuel.  We didn't have five laps of fuel in the car. 
I kind of dragged my feet a little bit on the last caution lap just to make sure that fourth lap was not going to be.  Then the team told me, Yeah, you're good to go.  After that, we were against the fence for sure.  I think on the dash, there was .12 gallons when I crossed the start/finish line coming back around after the checkered flag. 
Yeah, we might have been able to do that in lap green, but maybe not.  So it depends on the fuel.  I can't be quite sure of that. 

Q.  What was the primary thought going through your head during the last few minutes of the race?  Was it how much fuel you had left, pole position or something different?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  No, obviously there was no concern of saving fuel.  Before the green flag lap, they told me I was good to go.  I had two 'push to pass' left.  I knew Takuma was going to be very aggressive.  He always is when he's running no matter where he's at in the field. 
For sure, if he's going for the win, I think he has on his dash, No attack, no chance.  So you know what you're going up against. 
He's going to really race you hard.  I was trying to make sure he wasn't going to be in a position to attack or make a move.  I really just hit my marks and braked as late as I could, rolled as much speed. 
The Firestone reds were the big help in that.  We were debating whether to put the blacks or the reds.  The reds were definitely the way to go because it seemed like it was just going to be restart after restart scenario.  Always superior in these cool temperatures at restarts. 
I didn't have to do any tire warming or anything, burning fuel, to get some heat in the tires.  I was capable of going straight at the green without burning fuel to put heat in the tires.  That was crucial because obviously if I had to do the last lap of yellow burning rubber off to try to get some heat, we never would have made it. 
After all these restarts, I felt pretty comfortable at what the car could do on cold tires, how much speed I could roll, particularly in the first chicane, the one and two complex.  That was the critical place every time, to get a good run off of two.  The car seemed to be really competitive doing that.  Then these last couple of laps, once I pulled a little gap on Takuma, it was just about making no mistakes and staying pretty cool in the car. 

Q.  When the red flag came out, were you sitting there going, Yes?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  No, I was absolutely livid.  As I said, had it not been a timed race, we would not have made it.  We needed the full length of the yellow to save the extra lap to make it. 
No, I was pretty pissed. 

Q.  As it turned out, it was three laps or four. 
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  It became a timed race.  Five laps or five and a half minutes.  If we had done two laps on the yellow, we were good.  Because we went straight to green, if it wasn't a timed race, we were done.  I had to get the call and confirmation that it was going to be a timed race, and that we were good on fuel.  So for about five minutes I was going bonkers in the car because I thought we lost the race. 

Q.  You competed against him in Formula One.  When you see the 14 in your side view mirrors, do you feel secure or a little nervous?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  I think we all know Takuma.  He's obviously a very hard and very big fighter.  Yeah, I mean, the last couple times I passed him and he came behind me, he hit us both times.  It was one of those where it's like, All right, let's try to make sure we pull enough of a gap so none of that can happen. 
You can only control what you're doing.  I was kind of hoping he would keep it together. 
THE MODERATOR:  Sebastien, congratulations.  Good luck next weekend. 
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  Thank you very much. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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