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July 31, 2015

Sebastien Bourdais

Scott Dixon


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's Verizon IndyCar Series post practice press conference.
We're pleased to be joined by Scott Dixon.
Scott, no surprise topping the charts today. Five wins here, one pole. Seems like you pretty much picked up where you left off.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, I think typically the Target car or Ganassi cars on a whole are very quick here.
Yeah, today was a bit mixed. I think we went through a few different setup changes just to try to find our groove. We struggled a little bit there in getting time on the track in the middle of that session with a lot of reds, some broken-up time there. Just felt like we were out of sequence. When we'd go to run, the red would come out, and vice versa.
Today was okay. The car was pretty quick. A lot of traffic out there. Getting up to speed a lap or two is quite tough. Obviously it's hard with cars and traffic out there today.
But all in all, you know, it's Friday, so it doesn't mean a whole lot. Obviously we can carry some speed into tomorrow and try and start up as far as possible.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned the strength of your team here. The statistic is seven of the last eight wins have gone to Chip Ganassi Racing teams. Why do you think that is? What is it about you get to a track and your team is so dialed in, how does that even happen?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I don't know. It even dates back. I remember when I first drove the 44 car back here when I first joined Ganassi. I think I was at a test with Kenny Braak and Bruno. It was amazingly fast.
I think it's just a basic setup. You see Penske is very similar like that at Sonoma. Different places teams seem to have a bit of a trend. Even if the car changes, a lot of the mechanical loads and setups are very similar, even though they may look a bit different.
Yeah, if you could put your finger on what it was exactly, then you would try to replicate it everywhere. That's the difficult part to try and work out.
Basically they've always had a really good base setup here, and I think they've won 10 races here, we've won five. Obviously, you said the last seven of eight races, hopefully we keep that trend going.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Scott.

Q. Does what Andretti Autosports does at Iowa remind you of what you do here?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, they're obviously, you know, very successful. I think I saw that stat before the race. That was kind of crazy. They've won it in some different ways as far as strategy. I think T.K. got robbed last year. There were definitely some quick cars. But Hunter-Reay and all the guys, Andretti, have done a fantastic job at Iowa. I don't know what the stat is, but it's a lot of wins in a short time.

Q. With the new aero package, is the car behaving differently compared to last year?
SCOTT DIXON: I think the trend has generally been track conditions mean a lot obviously here, what rubber goes on the track. The sessions start out fairly slow until the rubber comes in.
You know, I think it's more tuneable for me. Chevy have done a very good job in getting the aero package in the right area, obviously getting the most out of it, doing a lot of research to make it roll off very strong.
But we'll see how it goes. The tunability is a lot better from the old car.
THE MODERATOR: Joined also by Sebastien Bourdais. Last year's pole winner here at Mid-Ohio.
Obviously a lot different conditions today than we saw in qualifying last year. What do you think we can expect from qualifying tomorrow?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I guess I don't know. We always seem to be pretty good with the Hydroxycut machine on black tires. Obviously when we put the Firestone option red tires, we'll be on the pace.
Definitely Penske has been the class of the field on these tires this year. That's really been what's been killing us relatively obviously. We've been pretty strong, but in order to try to contend for poles and wins on road courses, that's really what's been hampering us.
I don't know. I'm pretty happy with the Hydroxycut machine. Just went through quite a bit of things. It's obviously nice to have that (indiscernible) there where you have more time than usual and more tires, without thinking that you're ruining the chances in the weekend, working and doing things, doing more laps, so that was nice.
But, you know, it's the same old Mid-Ohio. It's very challenging. You got to really give it all out there. It's a lot of fun when the track grips up and the car is right. But, yeah, the gaps are small. It's going to be the same old big fight to make it to the Fast Six and for pole at the end. Hopefully we're in the mix and we can go play.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions.

Q. You're both driving Chevys. The aero kits, 0now the downforce is coming from the top of the car than the bottom. Is the tire different here this year? It seems like a lot of the drivers were struggling for grip out there.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No. I think obviously Chevy has done a great job. They've done so all year long. The performance of the aero package has been obviously quite exceptional.
But, no, every time the place is dry here, there's a lot of dust. As soon as you put a wheel off, the grip differential between online and offline is dramatic. If you don't give up, something bad's going to happen to you. I think a lot of guys just try to stay in it and try to go kind of (indiscernible) drift, but that didn't work out so good.
It's pretty unforgiving. If you miss the apex, you go a foot or two off the outside, it's pretty bad, so... I think that's mostly what it is. Every time we leave the pits, it's just a big cloud of dust that comes up. It's the nature of Mid-Ohio when it's pretty dry.

Q. How many laps does it take for the tires to come in, the blacks?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: On new tires, it's pretty quick. I guess the older they get, you lose rubber, so they don't hold the temperature as well. It takes more laps to bring the thing back up.
For us, at least for me this year, it's better than it was before, which is nice. It shows that we've made progress, and I think obviously the extra downforce is helping, as well.
It's pretty warm today, so...

Q. What are your reactions to Derrick Walker stepping down as president of competition and operations?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I mean, you know, obviously I've known Derrick for many years. I think he's been trying really hard in continuing to rebuild IndyCar and getting it back to the top.
I think we've seen growth. We've seen good things. The aero kits are fun to drive and everything.
We'll for sure miss him. I just wish him the best for whatever he's going to be doing next. It's going to be tough to replace him, that's for sure.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, similar. Just wish him obviously the best. It's hard, obviously. He was running a full-time team and trying to do this, which I can tell you is an extremely tough job.
So, yeah, I don't know what their thoughts are down the road, but definitely plenty of positives I think that's come from obviously Derrick in his time here. Unfortunately it's kind of short-lived. It's going to take a lot longer to get into that role.
Yeah, wish him all the best. I'm sure we're still going to see him around the paddock. I don't know what he's going to do next, though.

Q. Even with the aero kits supposed to provide more passing, more racing, is this still a track-position race, it's so important where you qualify?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, in general terms it is. We started 22nd last year. You know, obviously you can fall into gaps and situations. Hunter-Reay pretty much won our race last year with the strategy especially that we had.
Yeah, you know, I think there was a stat like the first three or four rows, it's definitely difficult. It's really tough to pass at this place. In and out laps are quite big. Strategy. What typically helps a lot is Firestone with the option tires is generally a pretty good thing.

Q. What are the magic lap numbers if you want to turn it into a two-stop race?
SCOTT DIXON: I haven't looked at the numbers yet.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it's 90 laps, right? You have to stretch it all the way, you have to make 30 laps, 30 laps, 30 laps, which is a lot of fuel saving. I think we tried that with less laps in '13 or something like that.
SCOTT DIXON: When Charlie won, he went to a four-stopper and everybody was on a three. He added a stop. In qualifying, you'll probably do 22 laps, pushing hard. You got to try to make 30 laps on the same amount, so... It's tough.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We tried in '12 when we did the train. Everybody was saving fuel. It was you, Will, Simon and I, I think. It was 80 laps back then or 85 laps. We were just like saving fuel the whole race.
Now if you don't have yellows at the right time, there's no chance. But it's just a tough one. Then once you box yourself in, if anybody gets out of sync, runs hard, like Charlie did in '13, then you're done because you've committed yourself. If you don't make it stick, you've given up all these positions. If you're too slow, you've given up positions anyways. It is pretty difficult.
It's kind of Milwaukee all over again. There's always the saving fuel and stretching the windows, or running hard and not having any other concerns. You got to make your decision.

Q. How much do you have to back off the pace?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. Last year, you were pretty good.
It all depends on how good your car is. For the most part, if your car is very well-balanced, like I'm sure Scott's was last year, you just get off the brake pedal and you let the car coast and do all the work so you don't lose that much time.
When the car is a bit off balance, then you end up losing a lot of time.

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