March 2, 2003
MIKE HULL: I echo what Scott said about the team. The guys worked really hard to do what we did today. It's nice to be able to do that because obviously Sunday is what we're all about. Up until Sunday, we don't get paid. We're really excited about winning this race. We're really excited about being in this series. I know Chip the other day mentioned the fact he thought this was the most competitive open-wheel series, if not in the United States, in the world. We're happy to have been the best today.
MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Can you go through the last pit stop when you took the lead? Was there anything particularly special about it? Was it just a normal pit stop that happened to be quick enough?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. We got alongside Gil coming into the pits, which I think helped a little. Everything just went very smoothly. I think we didn't rush ourselves. I didn't come into the box too hot and overshoot, which is pretty easy to do when you're fighting for that position. I think everybody just did their job properly. Maybe not the fastest, but they were very consistent. That's what we needed.
MIKE HULL: Yeah, that's absolutely correct. By the time we got to that point in the race, obviously guys had rehearsed that, but there's always a lot of pressure there. Everybody on the team was very well-composed all day long. I guess we talked our way all the way through the end of the race on the radio. The guys on their intercom system talked themselves all the way through. As was mentioned earlier, we won two in a row now here with Target. Our team certainly has a lineage of winning races. We've got a great group of guys to help us do that.
Q. Scott, were you surprised to be up there?
SCOTT DIXON: Not at all (laughter).
Q. Come on.
SCOTT DIXON: After qualifying, I was a little disappointed. We missed a little I think on balance. We had a big understeer on four. We worked a lot on Friday on our race car. I knew we could run in traffic pretty well. Our cars were very good like off turn two and four. I knew we would be able to pass. But, honestly, I didn't think it was going to be this good. I think we just kept our cool all day, the car ran well, and this is what we came out with.
Q. Does it seem ironic that you win the first time out here on an oval? Do you feel like you're a reluctant defector?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. The problem is, these ovals I keep winning on, but I can't seem to win a road course (laughter). I've only seen them since '99. I don't know, this is what this series is all about. I don't know, I just want to keep doing it, if we can. I think this year it's just nice to stay with the team. They're a great team. The guys back at the shop, they've got to be thanked for sure. They've done a lot of hard work. We've been flat-out for weeks. It's just everybody's stuck together from last year, and we've got a great group. Everyone's working really well together.
Q. Scott, it's often said the first victory is the sweetest. That was a fuel strategy victory last time. This race you ran to win. Can you reflect on the two wins?
SCOTT DIXON: It was still a victory, come on (laughter)! It's always nice to win, especially coming from 12th and having to fight through the field. The greatest thing today is I really had fun. I haven't had fun on an oval for quite some time. You follow a car, last year and the year before. This year, it's great side-by-side stuff. This track might not produce the best racing for this series, but it's great for what's coming up down the line.
Q. When you came over to the IRL I'm sure you expected to be out there slugging it out with Sam Hornish, Jr. were you surprised he wasn't much of a factor today, Scott?
SCOTT DIXON: He was there early in the race. He actually beat us in the pit there once. I don't know. He is very good. He's been pretty dominant here. There's a lot of other great competitors out there, as well. We were mainly looking at Penske. I think the Toyota engine has been a big key to what we're doing. We don't have to worry too much with the engine side of things. Got a lot of horsepower, it's very reliable. It's been a huge help for us.
Q. Everyone seemed to be writing off the GForce chassis until today. Did you have any doubts?
MIKE HULL: I don't have any doubts about the guy sitting to my left. I don't have any doubts about the race team. I don't have any doubts about Toyota. I don't have any doubts about what we can get as a race team, period. Yeah, the GForce was a handful here, there's no question about that. But in fairness, those guys at the factory, the guys overseas for GForce, Dr. Panos himself, they support us a hundred percent, and we support them in turn. Chip Ganassi Racing is all about partnerships and teams. You know, we have 15 races to go. Those guys are humping really hard to have a good product for us for Phoenix, Motegi, Indy and so on. We've got a lot of confidence in what they're going to be able to produce for us. We think it would only be fair that at least we get to mix Indianapolis up 50/50 with the Dallara guys.
Q. Scott, at the end of the race you were coming up on a considerable amount of lap traffic. Were you ever concerned that was going to help Gil overtake you?
SCOTT DIXON: Gil was not so good in traffic, I noticed. He seemed to be good by himself toward the end of the race. We got into traffic, me and Helio closed in on him a lot. I would have to say those last five laps, we started to get pretty loose. I think I went out too hard on the tires to start with. I had to sort of gauge with I think it was the Panasonic car in front of us, gauge and get out of it early to make sure I could get a good run onto the straights every time, hopefully block Gil on the reentry. It seemed to work. I don't know, if we were by ourselves, it might have been a little bit different.
Q. As you were walking out here, Gil made a quick comment to you. Can you share with us what he said?
SCOTT DIXON: I can't say exactly what he said, but basically, "Where did you get that from?," The speed.
Q. Is the team as energized by these two drivers as it was in the days of Zanardi and Montoya?
MIKE HULL: I think we're as energized a team as we've ever been. We're more together today with our two drivers since we've been since we had Vasser and Zanardi. These two guys are most like those two guys, can work with the guys that work on the cars. When you can have that opportunity, you can accomplish a lot. We should probably say that Scheckter was as much a part of what we did today as what Scott Dixon was because there are not many GForce cars running, and all the information that we have, we have to pool. When we came here in January and when we came here in February for the open test, when we came back this weekend to test, we had two distinct test plans for every session, including all the way through the warm-up today. I think we've got a great group here, and these two guys are together with us, for sure.
Q. Scott, born in Australia, lived in New Zealand, started racing in Australia, made your name, now you're here. What nationality do you claim?
SCOTT DIXON: I think I have to go with a Kiwi, especially after the Americas Cup. Have to help them out a bit (laughter).
Q. Chip said the other day you're a New Zealander, not caught up in the Hollywood of it all. The question is, do you think you could get caught up in the Hollywood of it all if this sort of thing continues?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. I think I always stay pretty positive, but not get out of control like some others do. You know, I just want to win races. I might get as emotional as a lot of people, but I still feel very happy. You know, I just want to stay the same person.
Q. Have you heard from Chip yet?
SCOTT DIXON: Not yet. I'm sure he's coming.
Q. At what point did you say to yourself, "I can win this race"?
SCOTT DIXON: Once we got onto the Penske cars, you know, I saw that Gil was going to be the hardest. But Helio was struggling a little on that stint when we got him. I knew we could get him. But as soon as we got past him and then once we got -- we were chasing Gil for a little while, I knew we had a little more speed than him. But we were very close and were going to struggle to pass him. You know, the key was, as I said before, the guys in the pits.
Q. May be a new series for you, but there were an awful lot of guys in that race today that you raced against for the last two years. Does it almost seem like a continuation of CART?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, you walk through the paddock and it's pretty much the same. There's a lot of great guys out there. It's just a very strong competition over here now. I think if you want to go racing, this is the series you want to go racing because it's so tight.
Q. Where will this rate in New Zealand? Will it knock the Cup off the front pages?
SCOTT DIXON: I hope so. They didn't win, we won. It's pretty big news down there. That AmericaÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½s Cup brings a lot of money, and I don't, so...
Q. Mike, is the team pretty much the same with personnel as last year?
MIKE HULL: No. It's probably -- there's some of the guys that worked on Scott's car that were with him last year. I was on Kenny's car last year. Barry , who is the chief mechanic was on Jeff Ward's car. Julian Robertson was Kenny Brack's engineer last year and was with Jimmy Vasser before that. He's been with us for nine years. It's a mixture of guys. Obviously, they gelled pretty well together. It's a mixture of people.
Q. How about the guys over the wall?
MIKE HULL: Over the wall, a combination of the guys from Kenny Brack's team last year and Jeff Ward's IRL team. What we did last year in the IRL was a good thing for us to do. I think some of the people in this room as well as some others, I've read some articles recently that said Ganassi has defected to the IRL, they've come over to the IRL. You know what, we were here last year. At least we had a head start, good start. We've been lucky enough to win the biggest race they have. Now we've been lucky enough to win two more races in their series. It's good to have guys that we can put together that have experience already here.
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