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August 2, 2015

Simon Pagenaud

Graham Rahal

Justin Wilson


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference. We are pleased to be joined by our second- and third-place finishers.
Justin Wilson, finishing second today. With the late addition to your schedule for the year into the Verizon IndyCar Series, getting to work with a great team like Andretti Autosport, how great is it getting on podium with them?
JUSTIN WILSON: It's great. After a couple difficult results, I felt we've been quick in either the practice or the qualifying sessions, and things didn't play out. Milwaukee we were quick in the race, and things didn't work out.
Here we were a little bit off the pace to start the weekend. We just got faster, faster and faster. We peaked at the right time.
Got to thank everybody at Andretti Autosport. They made a lot of setup changes this weekend and worked hard. The guys at Honda have worked hard as well. Really pleased for the team and Honda.
I was just pushing as hard as I could. I wanted to pass Graham, but I knew I couldn't turn in unless I was clear.
SIMON PAGENAUD: You could have tried a bit harder (laughter).
JUSTIN WILSON: At the same time in the back of my mind, Graham is going for the championship. He's the lead Honda guy. That's definitely playing in your mind. You're on the outside trying to make an outside pass. It's like, Okay, I got to make sure I got this.
He brakes so late, I can't believe he actually made that stick. Speaking to him, he doesn't believe it either. It's just impressive how much grip was out there today and how late you could brake into some of these corners.
THE MODERATOR: Joined also by Simon Pagenaud.
Interesting week for you and Team Penske in general. What were your impressions of the race?
SIMON PAGENAUD: It's been a pretty rough weekend for us. I just want to take my hat off to my guys and Team Chevy. We had a little issue on Friday and Saturday morning. They fixed it. Obviously they put a new engine in, which worked out really well. We were right back on pace this morning.
You know, it's incredible. I mean, we had the worst qualifying of the year, but we actually have a podium at the end. It's funny how it works.
We qualified well all season long, couldn't really finish it. This time we did. Really good strategy from the team. A little bit of luck doesn't hurt. We haven't had much this year.
At the back of my mind, it's a bit of a disappointing day for the team in general. Obviously we want one Penske car to win the championship. We all have that in the back of our mind. But Graham was incredible today.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was different after qualifying to the race. We were on a slightly different setup to the other three cars. They were all kind of on a similar setup. I'm just trying to forge a few new paths, see what we can learn setup-wise.
The practice sessions are more like test sessions. We're trying big changes out to see what happens, see if we can find new paths to go down.
You know, this weekend it seemed like it wasn't working. We were a couple of steps behind. We were making changes. Made a couple more changes from warmup to the race. Just went off my history, a little bit of information the team had, said, Let's try this, see if it works.
The car was great. Really pleased with the way the car handled. You know, it was working well. I just didn't have the pace to match Graham. He was in another league.
Once he got in the race and he realized he could win, there was no stopping him, he was so fast.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I saw Graham jump I think in turn four. He went to the right, so I went to the outside. As I went up into five, he stuck to the outside. We've done that move the other way round earlier in the race, and I lost out. I knew there was a good chance he was going to lose out.
We got down to turn six. Juan braked early. I was just trying to box in Graham and get ahead of Graham. I went for it. You know, it's great racing those guys because you know they're going to push it hard, but they're not just going to stick a wheel in because they've lost the corner. Some guys, they lose a corner, they stick a wheel in your rear tire and try to spin you out, which is not a lot of fun.
But they were total professionals. In that situation I came out ahead. So it was good fun racing.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: I watched it on the video. It was close. I braked so late, I couldn't start to bend it in. I was threshold braking. I couldn't physically bend it in to take the line away from him.
I also know, I've been in that situation where a guy on the outside starts turning in from the brake point. The guy on the inside is also braking as late as he can. You know, you're just going to crash. I thought if I could get to pretty much the apex and still be ahead, I'll roll around the outside, leave a car width for the apex, I'll be fine.
Graham made it pretty clear he was braking late.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: We know what our strategy was. We were just focused on that. That was a case of running as fast as possible all the time. A little bit of fuel saving here and there to make the mileage. But it was like qualifying.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I was aware what's going on. That's one thing, it's important to know your surroundings. So went to push a little extra. I was aware what was going on. Obviously the yellow with Karam helped us in our strategy tremendously. The team on our side did a great job on strategy today.

Q. (No microphone.)
SIMON PAGENAUD: I was on pit lane when the yellow came out already. So that was a planned pit stop. Then I was like, Oh, hey. A little bit of luck, yes. So I took it, you know.
JUSTIN WILSON: I was glad I didn't catch Sage because he spun right ahead of me when he caused that yellow. I saw him go in, drop two wheels in the dirt, I had to hesitate, he is spinning back across the track. You lose a second or so.
So Simon coming out of the pits. This is going to be close. Just beat him to the blend line.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: I wish I knew. I mean, when I was watching on the sofa at home, you could see the same trend. You get here and it's hard to work out.
It seems like the Chevys are super fast in qualifying, then they get to the race and they lose a little bit of performance maybe.
I don't know. But we seem to do the same speed, you know, pretty much every session that we do. We're still trying to understand it.

Q. (No microphone.)
SIMON PAGENAUD: No. I think it's actually great for the sport. It's actually fantastic for the sport. I'd rather see a Penske car winning, to be honest. But this is fantastic. This is what we want. This is what the fans want. We want competition.
When you see races like today, I think it's exciting. It's an entertainment. So pretty good day.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: As soon as I saw Sage spin, I knew Graham must be within five or ten seconds of the pits, the chance I was going to make it in. So, yeah, I knew exactly what was going to happen, I just pushed as hard as I could the rest of that lap. But the gap was too big.
You know, I tried everything I could today. I got ahead in that one shuffle on that restart and pulled away. But, you know, the clean air definitely helps you. When you get ahead, you can pull away. It's much easier.
But, you know, I gave it everything I had today.

Q. (No microphone.)
SIMON PAGENAUD: To run in traffic? Yeah, all we're trying to do, what we tried to do in our strategy, is just get out of traffic. There's nothing you can do when you're behind someone. There's no front. All of a sudden the rear snaps.
So even when I was behind Justin at the end, I had a little bit more pace, when I was far away from Justin, as soon as I would get a little closer, I couldn't handle the car anymore.
You're just stuck there in that bubble and you can't really get to the guy. It's certainly a lot more difficult than it used to be.

Q. (No microphone.)
SIMON PAGENAUD: Good question. I think, you know, obviously we can bounce back. We've been really strong. Our strength at Team Penske is the superspeedways. Going into Pocono, obviously Montoya won last year. That should be a pretty similar setup to Indy. We feel pretty confident going into Pocono that our cars should be hopefully in domination mode again so we can have a shot at it. See if we can place all four cars up there.
At this point all we can do is hope we're competitive enough to win races so he has enough points going into Sonoma.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
We are joined by our race winner, Graham Rahal. Obviously your home race, the race you wanted to win pretty much for your entire career, how rewarding is it to get the W today?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Of all the races, and the 500, this would be the one to me that means the most, the one I'd want to win the most.
To be in this position, to get a W here in central Ohio, with the Buckeye helmet, having Joey Galloway here, all the hometown fans, friends, family. My mom is here, she's never seen me win before in IndyCar. My dad was here. My sisters and brothers. Just literally my whole family. A very special day for us. I think the only person we're missing is Courtney. Sounds like she didn't have a great day, so hopefully this brings a smile to her face.
This is special to me. This means more than any of the others obviously. Only three in IndyCar, but anything that I've ever accomplished before, Daytona 24, included, this is the best thing for me.
THE MODERATOR: You were leading for most of the race. You make a decision to pit. You notice Sage spun on course.
GRAHAM RAHAL: My buddy (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: What are your thoughts when you saw that?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I had no clue who it was, where it was. But what happened was that whole stint I was being held up by Montoya and Newgarden. I knew my car was a lot quicker. I said to my guys, they told me Wilson had came in, I said, We've got to come in, we got to cover, because we can't lose to Wilson. But if we go hard, I know we can beat them.
I was expecting them to peel in the pits with me that lap because two lapped cars had just come out in front of us, were holding all of us up. They didn't. Don't know why, but they didn't.
I already peeled off. I get inside the pylons, I'm coming right inside of Bourdais' pit. Dad, who is actually spotting in four, said, There might be a yellow, might be a yellow. It's phenomenal. I knew exactly what would happen.
So go last 24, 25 laps that we led there were pretty intense, I can tell you that. But if you ever want a race against anybody in that situation, Justin Wilson is by far the most fair guy out there, race you clean. A lot of fun.
I was nervous that last restart because we didn't have 'push to pass' and he did. Obviously he got fully around me pretty much, but still gave me room. I just slid down underneath him there and took off.
I knew if I got out front, I felt very confident that nobody could catch me. But the trick is getting out front. Luckily it just worked out.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: Sounds like a good number to me. You know, today was a big day, huge day. When I saw Montoya ahead of me the first last 30 laps, You got to be kidding. This is the last thing I need. I knew all the other guys I was contending with were behind me, but he was the one I needed to beat.
Like I said, you know how this racing is, when it's your day, it's your day. Hinchcliffe at NOLA earlier this year. When it's going to go your way, it's going to go your way.
Luckily today that yellow fell at the perfect time. What can we say? We were running the top three, had a fast car all day, but it just put the icing on the cake and made our jobs a little bit easier for us.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: You know, it's one of those things that I feel very confident I would have won a lot more races earlier in my career if I had the maturity and the race craft that I do now.
I mean, I drove for some good teams and I had some quick cars, particularly 2009 with Newman/Haas, it was a great program. I think if I had known what the heck I was doing then, we probably would have won some races.
But, you know, seven years that taught me a lot, taught me to be a lot more thankful for the opportunities that have come throughout my career. Now it's my time to try to go win a championship for myself, for Steak 'n Shake, for this team, for Honda. Today was a huge day for Honda too, being in our backyard. And Yamata San, I feel like he's like my good luck charm. He's come to two races and I won both of them. I feel like he's going to have to come to the rest.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: No, I was just driving into turn two. I said, I know where the restart cones are, but you got to do what you think is right. Don't overthink this, just go. I got out of turn two for a split second and boom.
Even without 'push to pass', him with it, he was going to be able to drive up next to me. Even if I got a major jump on him, he still would have been able to get there. I knew they had to protect the inside, just try to beat him to the apex. If I could, I would be fine.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: No, that one's going to be nice race worn, sitting on my shelf the rest of its life. That's a special one for me.
But, you know, my guys all had leafs on their helmets, Buckeye leafs on their helmets. They had five for the five podiums this year, but they're going to get a sixth here at the end of the day.
I think that's going to stick. I think that's something we can keep doing, give them some pride, keep everybody working hard. I think we have a series-high six podiums this season. By far the most in my career. So this is pretty special.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I knew it was going to be close. The key in that corner is to stay on the inside half. If you go to the outside half, it's not like there's no road there, because obviously there is, but it tends to get pretty dirty, the road kind of falls away from you.
I know if I brake really hard in the apex, kind of just slide in there, it would grab sort of mid corner and it did.
The marbles today actually got quite bad. On the restarts it was pretty hard to get your front tires to clear up. I was trying behind the pace car to move as much as I could. I think coming to the last restart, I got a piece of debris, like some big white piece of paper, chip bag, on my left front. I couldn't get it to go away. That's why I was swerving into turn two. I was trying to get this thing to come off and it wouldn't. I knew if I could just get in there hard, he'd give me room. And he did.
You know, it was, like I said, if you could be racing against anybody in that position, he'd be the guy.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: No, well, I said that behind Newgarden, but I think he was on 'push to pass' both times. I feel like we were comparable to everybody else. I got behind him, I was on two lap tires, he was on cold. He kept pulling me, but it turns out he was on 'push to pass' both times and I couldn't. I got a little bit too happy on 'push to passes' at the start. The other thing I did is I pushed one to try to pass Montoya and it went yellow right as I pushed it. So I lost that one. I had to be pretty cautious from there on out.
I knew I had the pace of those two. What I meant, speed, it wasn't car speed. I mean, I was quick. I knew that. Like I said before, I needed to try to get out in the clear. That was a long kind of stint following them because the only thing I could see visibly when he came out of the keyhole, I could see them kind of closing up coming in. At the end of the stint we sort of picked up our pace a little bit, I could see them falling slowly away.
I knew Dixon wasn't far behind. Trust me, we were all trying to push to see if we could stay ahead.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: Just with Sage, the yellow. When it went yellow, I was in the pits. I knew if I could beat Wilson to the blend line that I would be effectively the leader.
Once I got in the lead, I mean, Wilson had been behind me most of the race. I knew he didn't have quite as much speed as me. I felt confident if he was behind me, we should just keep him there.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: Actually from qualifying we made zero changes. Car was good in qualifying. I just got blocked. It's true. I said it after, and it was true. I wasn't lying.
I mean, the car was good. I was surprised we ended up seventh honestly, because that lap, the five-nine I did in qualifying was on my first flyer. The tires aren't even in temp-wise yet. That's why I was so frustrated after qualifying.
I knew of all the tracks I'd been to all year, I felt very confident we'd be in the top six, not top six, but advance to the Fast 12. That's why I was so ticked.
But the other side of that thing, starting 13th, I had two new sets of red tires, had a used set of reds, only had four laps, it worked out okay.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: I dreamt of this for a long, long, long time. In fact, I had a dream Friday night that I won. I guess sometimes dreams do come true. I don't know what else to say.
Today was our day. It worked out. You know, this place, you know, with the Truemans, Jim getting dad his start really in racing, you know, my grandfather used to race here many, many, many years ago. I guess my dad said his first race he saw here was '63, I can't remember, but I thought he said '63. So this place is near and dear to us as a family.
Coming here for so many years, have been on the podium with dad before, saying, Gentlemen start your engines, it's just like the ties to this are amazing. That's why it's so cool to have my whole family here and be able to do something like this. Pretty special day for us.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: You know, I've had a lot of confidence in my pit crew this year. They've done an excellent job. I had a lot of confidence in the fuel mileage of the Honda, which played a big role in this race, because we were able to pit so early, the windows were so big for us.
This morning we ended up 11th in warmup, but I never even got a lap. I was on super old tires. I wanted to go to new just to see how long it would take for them to come in running hard. But I knew the car was good this morning.
So I kind of felt like a top three, top five was realistic. To win is a different thing. But, like I said, when it's your day sometimes it's your day. We put ourselves in the right places, we made the right strategy calls.
You know, Lady Luck or my buddy Sage, whatever way you want to look at it, it worked perfect, honestly. It couldn't have been any better, literally could not, so... Funny how things come full circle sometimes.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: This morning I was.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: You know, I feel very confident in this organization. You know, I really, really do. I feel like the people that we have are second to none. And what we do with the resources that we have is pretty tremendous.
And so, honestly, to be nine points back, I feel pretty good. Because I do think we can be better than Montoya at Sonoma. Pocono, he won last year, so we're going to have to make sure we do a good job. Then again, the last big oval we won.
It's hard to say, but I do think we're in a pretty good spot now. 42 points, I am not going to lie to you, really sounded like a lot this morning. I really thought it was a lot. So this was a nice surprise here only nine.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: I do because I don't stress about, When am I going to win? When am I going to win? Finally got that off, so now I have to focus on making sure I don't put a wheel wrong. If I don't put a wheel wrong, I think we're going to have pretty good day, even if a good day means eighth or fifth or whatever. That's my job.
I think I used to put so much pressure on myself just to win, I probably made some mistakes, 2011, '12, that I shouldn't have. But now I feel like it's kind of behind me. Everybody always told me after I won my first, the second one would be a lot harder, then they would get easier from there. Hopefully that comes true.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah, behind Montoya and Newgarden, I was saving a lot. But I wasn't having to have to try that hard. Like I said, the fuel efficiency of this engine is tremendous. I wasn't really having to work that hard to get that number, which is why I assume they didn't pit on the lap Sage caused the yellow. They probably couldn't make it. Whereas for us, it was easy. I knew that. That's why I said, Let's just pit.
But I knew once Justin was behind me, he was behind me the whole first stint, so I saw kind of his pace, where he was at. And I felt pretty confident that he wouldn't be able to quite keep up with us.
And the other thing that felt good was what I keep saying, I knew he wasn't going to do anything stupid. Certain guys, if they were in that position, I'd be pretty nervous. But he was one of those guys I knew he's going to take care of me. He's going to race, he's going to try to win, I knew that, but he wasn't going to go put me in the gravel or something. So it just worked out right.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: It's big. I mean, it's big. Those guys, I feel like they're the good luck charm. Steak 'n Shake came on this year, and I don't know, things just started to click.
You know, like particularly here, this race, having that sponsor is pretty cool for me because I used to go Steak 'N Shake over here all the time when I was a kid with all my buddies, in my teen years, causing a lot of trouble. So it's pretty cool to kind of come full circle.
We'd like them to continue for next year. We really want to build this team and continue. I don't have a contract with this team, but I don't plan on going anywhere. I mean, I feel like who's better? You know, that's kind of where I'm at.
I hope that we can just continue to build. Like I said, today, for myself, for Honda, this is both of our home track, this is pretty awesome. The crowd was amazing today.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: No, I couldn't hear them, but I could see them. I could see them all going crazy. That was pretty cool.
Under the yellow, when I got cycled to the lead, people were standing up on the fence. I saw them all going crazy. I was like, This is awesome. Who knows if you're ever going to see that day, but it's pretty cool.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: We'd like to. We'd like to, for sure. I mean, there's good guys out there that are available. We'd like to. I mean, it all comes obviously down to sponsorship dollars.
But I'd love to have a teammate in here. I think our focus this year was to get our program in a place where it was really clicking on all cylinders. Once we did that, then we could look again at expanding.
Last time we expanded, I don't think we were quite ready to do that. I think this time we're in a pretty good place, so I'd like to.

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: No. I mean, we're in a good spot right now. I think if we can race him down, we'll race him down. If we can't, there's absolutely no shame in finishing second in points. We got to keep that in mind.

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