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April 22, 2006

Helio Castroneves

Tim Cindric

Tony Kanaan

Dan Wheldon


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by third place finisher Tony Kanaan. Back-to-back third place finishes for Tony, his fifth straight top 10 finish.
Tony, if you would, tell us about your day.
TONY KANAAN: Well, it was an okay day for us. We had a flat tire. Toward the end, I had to pit a lot earlier. The car was okay. I think I was going to be competitive, but we got a set down when we got the flat tire and I had to pit earlier. Third place is not bad for us today.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony.
Q. When you cut the tire down and had to pit so early, were you concerned it was going to take you out of contention and was there any concern at all about that being too long of a stint on fuel?
TONY KANAAN: At that point I was definitely concerned that it was going to jeopardize my chances to win the race. The second question was if I was concerned if my stint was going to be too long?
Q. Run out of fuel.
TONY KANAAN: I knew I got out of sequence, so basically if we didn't have another yellow, I was going to have to pit an extra time. So I was definitely concerned. But the history of this track, we always have a yellow. I was hoping to have one and it not be me.
Yeah, my main concern was it took me out of contention to win the race.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tony.
We're now joined by our second place finisher, Dan Wheldon. Dan won at Homestead earlier this year, 16th in our last race at St. Petersburg, and obviously today's second place finish after two straight years of a first place finish, Dan, tell us about your day.
DAN WHELDON: It was kind of up and down really. I was obviously very determined to try and win my third race for Honda at Motegi. I'm very happy that Honda won, but I think they had that coming into the race.
I think Helio had a lot of speed. There were points during the race where I felt I was as quick if not maybe a touch quicker, but just not quite as consistent. I think, again, the event that Honda have at this facility is absolutely fantastic and they should be credited because there were a lot of fans there.
I think it was a pretty exciting race, although the leader ran off to it with some extent. There was a lot of jostling for position, just back further slightly.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dan.
Q. At the end, did you have any problem not being able to catch up with Helio? Did you have handling problems or was it the track conditions changing?
DAN WHELDON: No, the first part of that run, I think before the yellow, I was very competitive. I managed to pass Tony and Dario and close right up on Scott and Helio. But that last stint, I just was a little bit too loose to be able to run the times Helio was doing.
Obviously, with a situation behind me where it was pretty clear, I just brought the car home second rather than try and be a hero and put it in the fence.
Q. In the middle of the race, you were getting very close on Helio at one point. Maybe fans and everybody were expecting your third consecutive win here. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out. Really, the fans enjoyed the race here today. How do you look forward for the Indy next race, another race for you to defend?
DAN WHELDON: I'm glad he's awake. Often when he interviews me, he falls asleep (laughter). Must have been an exciting race.
No, there was definitely times, like I say, that I felt I was certainly as quick as Helio if not quicker. At the beginning when he got in traffic, I was able to actually get by him and create a little bit of a gap. But my pace just wasn't consistent, and that's what cost me.
Indianapolis, I think we'll be very strong. It's a great race for me. With Andretti Green Racing last year, I was able to win it. I'd love to be able to win it again for Chip Ganassi. We'll just keep working hard. Helio's got a little bit of momentum, kind of the same momentum I had in 2005. But he certainly can be stopped and we'll do our best to stop it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Dan. We're joined by Helio Castroneves and by Penske Racing president Tim Cindric.
Helio, tell us about your run out there today.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, basically the race was flawless. We had a super car, team did a hell of a job all weekend long. I was basically make sure I don't commit any mistakes. Car felt great, a little difficult in the beginning, the new tires kind of loose. After that, after the tires come in, my car was very fast.
I was just made sure I keep away from the guys. I noticed that the car -- every time I kept going fast and saving more fuel, we were actually going faster than anyone. Basically, I did what we supposed to do, what I came here to do. I'm very happy. Let's enjoy the moment.
THE MODERATOR: Tim, from your perspective in the pits, would you talk about today?
TIM CINDRIC: First thing I'd like to say is that Helio drove a great race for us. We got caught in lap traffic there at the beginning, which is really the only time we lost the lead. Our pit crew put us out first again. We put ourself in a position to win today.
This race is usually a fuel mileage race. Helio was able to save fuel and stay out front. Even without the Giaffone yellow there, we were going to be good to go to the end.
We had a lot of things going for us. He drove a great race. I think it's the first time he's won two races in a row. We're out to win three in a row, for sure.
Q. At Homestead you led for a long time, then Scott ran you down, you were second. Was that in your mind at all today? Did it influence the pace you set in the last stages of the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I didn't last long enough that I wish, like Sam did in Homestead. He led probably 130, 140 laps. You're right, towards the end I was leading the race.
But, no, I wasn't concerned. It's a different track. There was nothing to do. Homestead, I did what I could do to win the race, and he did a hell of a job to make a move in the end and win the race.
That was in the past. I wasn't even thinking about. I was just make sure I have a very good restart and supposed to do what I supposed to do, bring it home.
Q. You just beat Dan. He's been a Honda specialist here in Motegi. You just took over now. Are you much more confident now with the Honda engine? Are you able to win three consecutive, four consecutive races? When Dan was getting very close to you, were you not concerned that he'd come much closer?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'll go with the second one. The second one, I was saving fuel. That's probably why he was getting close. Suddenly he start catching me. I was saving a lot of fuel, by the way. That's why I believe they catch me. But I wasn't worried about those guys. To be honest, I was worried more about the track, to make a move, when I decide to pass them, I think I had the timing right.
With Honda we have a good success in 2000 when the team was champion with Gil de Ferran. 2001 again with Gil. I won my first race -- actually, 2000 I won my first race. But we continued winning races with Honda.
Again, with Toyota we worked extremely hard in the past two years. Honda obviously was dominating. Now that Honda is the major supplier, it's nice to be back again for the family. We very happy to be with them again. I think it's a combination which work in the past and is paying off this year.
Q. Do you think you're ready to get the series championship now, being much more competitive?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's just beginning, but we're looking good.
Q. When could you recognize that you be the winner in Motegi? When were you confident you would win the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Obviously, the car got out of the plane, we went out, the car seemed to be very, very good. As soon as we look in the times compared to the other guys, we noticed we had a gap. But we always work together, between Sam and I, to make sure we can get the best result. Sometimes fit me, sometimes fits him. But the way it happens, I think both cars were right there. I felt very comfortable.
Always when I go to a racetrack, I feel I'm going to win. Unfortunately, sometimes things are outside of my control that stop that.
Q. You've been to Motegi so many times. For some reason you were not lucky enough to climb the fence. How do you feel now?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Just proves that you can never give up. You always have to keep positive.
Q. This weekend you were particularly strong. You obviously have a great season going. Emotionally how much does that help you now going to Indianapolis with this kind of momentum?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's too early to get emotional, to be honest. It's only third race of the season. I've been in this team, the guys know me, I know them. Just a matter of finally everything gets going towards to our direction.
Obviously, next race is Indy, which is for us part of the championship, but it's not. Whatever you need to take to win the race, you're going to go for it, not thinking about points or things like that. Right now I just would say it's a combination with a lot of hard work from everyone back in the shop and here. It's finally coming together.
Q. Mr. Cindric, Sam was not -- do you think the accident and his being on the (indiscernible) car influence that he was not able to come to the top?
TIM CINDRIC: No, I don't think so. I think there was just a little something we missed all weekend, even with the primary car. We pride ourselves in trying to be prepared with all four cars.
I think if that were the reason, maybe we weren't doing our job correctly. I feel we came as prepared as we could. Some days you get it right, some days you don't.
Q. What do you think of the fans here in Japan for the Indiana race and for you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Incredible. They seem to enjoy the racing. They seem to come back every year. They seem to come and enjoying the drivers and obviously the race.
I just -- not only myself, but everyone always enjoys to come over here. Every year I learn a little Japanese word, which I cannot tell right now (laughter). It's always fun. I like it.
Q. How good was the car today out of a hundred percent? Out of all three races you've done so far, how good is it?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's a tough question. But definitely today we had a very strong car to lead basically the entire race and be strong, be driving the way we were driving. I would say today we're not close to a hundred percent because you want to lead all laps, but we were right up there (laughter).
Q. How do you look forward to Indy?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Everybody on our team is really looking forward. The task we need always seem to be very strong. Again, we have a long month to work, everyone. We're going to continue think like that and hopefully the result pay off the way it's paying off right now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. See you in Indy.

End of FastScripts...

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