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September 10, 2006
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our second place finisher in today's race, Scott Dixon. Overall Scott finishes in fourth place in the championship points standings with 416, 15 behind Sam and Dan's 475.
Scott, if you would, talk about your race out there today.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was pretty good. I think both the Target cars were very fast today. I think we had a bit more speed than the others. Mine in the early part was probably not as quick as Dan's, but midway through it definitely sped up, I could lean back, save a bit more fuel trying to give me bit more option at the end. How the yellow fell didn't change anything.
Good day all in all. We have another 1-2 victory, 50th for the team in IndyCar racing. Just a lot of fun. It was getting pretty close towards the end, pretty tight. I think we touched a couple times. It was good.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by fourth place finisher in today's race, Helio Castroneves. He finishes third in the championship points standing with 473, two behind Sam and Dan's 475. Helio had four wins in 2006.
Helio, if you would, talk about your day out there today.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Wow, I mean, start by thanking Marlboro Team Penske to give me a great car, you know. Probably wasn't better than Sam, but no question whole season long -- one race doesn't mean that much. It was just great to be in this organization. I hope I contribute as well for the championship. Happy to be part of this organization.
Now the race. Congrats to Sam, as well. I say, he's one of the best ovals I ever met. He likes to drive the limit. He deserve it. Well done to him.
Now for my race. Wow, let me tell you, it was something out there. I still don't understand about the speed limit violation. I still think it wasn't me, but I'm sure there was a lot of computer, a lot of things that can say that point was me. If I was penalized, I'm sure someone should as well because I was following exactly with a lot of people.
Other than that, we just trying to go through traffic. There was one guy was really make very hard. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about it. And then thank God the yellow came. We try everything we could. We try to be safe. Unfortunately, got touch, again by a lap-down car. It was just enough to, you know, make the end of the day.
But it was a great championship. Both teams, Ganassi and Marlboro Team Penske, did a hell of a job, especially after two years. They just proved the work paid off.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for either one of our drivers.
Q. Helio, where was the contact and who was it?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That was my friend Ed Carpenter. We were very lucky to not had a huge accident. It was turn two. It was right on turn two, exit turn two. But we were able to hold the car and, thank God, nothing happened.
Q. Is that what caused you to drop back?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No. That was already probably 10 laps to go, 5 laps to go. We had probably two seconds back behind the other guys. The other guy was Tony. It was really frustrating to see someone not in the chase of the championship screw somebody up. It was very frustrating.
But, you know what, it's a race. Next year we have more fun.
Q. (No microphone.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, at the beginning of the race, I was trying to pass Tony. He obviously want to run side by side. Obviously, as you know, both teams, Ganassi and Penske, they were faster. Our cars were better. So it would be easier to pull everybody if I would be in the front.
Anyway, when the yellow came, finally I able to make a move. The end of the day when we go back again, we got to each other. Again, things getting a little bit out of control.
But that's what happen when you just one-point lead. You have to take chance. At the end of the day, it was fine.
Q. Did the pit violation cause problems with your day there?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly it didn't help. For the most part of the race, we were actually chase those guys here. I can see they were running 214 and a half, I was running 213.2, 213.5 because I have nobody. The yellow put us right up there with the guys. There was only 25 laps to go. You can see there was other guys in the middle in the mix. That's when one movement that we went high, people start shoving in, stop you. That was very frustrating.
I wouldn't say that was the cause because we are able to catch those guys back, but made a little harder, made me work a little harder.
Q. If you could have one race back to do over again, which would it be?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: For me it would be Milwaukee. Definitely that race was very frustrating, the way it end up. No question, I would like to go back there and recuperate my points. Finish the race, at least.
SCOTT DIXON: I think there's lots. I think all of us have plenty. That's how a championship plays out. You can't pin it on one. You know, there's probably two or three in my head I could say straightaway.
That's what makes champions and teams. That's making the least amount of mistakes and being fast. I'm not going to put it on one.
Q. Helio, did it feel throughout the race drivers couldn't get away from each other?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it did. It was funny, even was having a misfortune, you know. If it wasn't me, it was Scott. If it wasn't Scott, it was Wheldon. If it wasn't Wheldon, it was Sam. That's why it came out to be so close to each other.
Now I believe next year everybody's going to go in saying that every point counts, every point is important, try to make less mistakes.
Q. Helio, the penalty withstanding, not being up there side by side with Sam, what effect did that have on you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: If the race would not have yellow, probably would affect big time. But that yellow help me to catch up, even that I have a lot of cars in front of me. I was able to pass everyone. Some of them actually were able to help me out.
I would say just made the race more interesting and probably made me work really hard. But I don't think affect on the result in the end the championship. We just unfortunately did not have the fastest car between the top four guys. Probably that's the way finish the race.
Q. Scott, was it frustrating seeing the 6 behind you, knowing there was no separation, not much more you could do?
SCOTT DIXON: I think we figured that it was either going to be the 3 or 6 car sitting there all day. There was nothing we could do about it. We knew the four cars were going to be a lot faster than the rest. I think the four cars were the only cars on the lead lap.
Yeah, it is frustrating, but I could picture that in my head two weeks ago. I don't think it was a surprise. Just, you know, somewhat frustrating knowing you couldn't do much about it.
Q. Scott, talk about your year. Obviously you did everything you could with all the wins as a team combined.
SCOTT DIXON: I think the team has done a superb job bouncing back. We had two really tough years. I don't think any of the cars from top 10 in points last year and maybe barely the year before. It's been great for Target. It's been great for Chip, all the mechanics, because they do put in so much hard work. To be able to pay that off again I think with wins and being fast, we had a couple of 1-2's this year, including today. It's been tremendous.
I'm surprised in many ways we did catch up so quickly changing chassis because there is a lot of work, aerodynamics, things like that, trying to find speed. The team did that very well. I think we can carry the momentum to next year. Everything's looking pretty rosy at the moment.
Q. Scott, when you and Dan were running side by side, you were battling each other or was that a way to block Sam out of the equation, make it difficult?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, I think Sam was smart enough not to really race with us. He could see we were probably a little quicker. He could tear up us on, but once he was leading, he was a little slower. Dan and myself went side by side earlier on in the race, then I kind of sat back for a little bit. We tried to go side by side at the end. We did for a little bit. I think Dan kind of got sick of it and tried to squeeze me a few times.
You know, we ended up touching I think a couple of times. But that's racing. Coming down to the last five laps, I probably of would have done the same thing.
Q. Helio, talk about the difference in Sam from when you were runner-up to him in 2002 to what you've seen in him this year.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, no question, the only three-time champion. You can see he improve a lot. I would say he improve a lot in patient. You remember when he used to make those crazy moves and end up not finishing the race? I always said when he finally find his groove and end up calming down a little bit, he would be a guy to beat. Definitely today he just proved that - not only winning the champion but the Indy 500. I have to admit, even outside the race, socializing a little bit. You guys probably actually notice that he probably a little more -- talk a little more instead of just yes, no. I guess he definitely mature a lot, not only in the race car, the way he drive, but also in life.
So definitely he's a different person.
Q. Helio, about five laps to go, you lost three positions. Can you tell us what happened there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't know. Actually Tony was trying to race me. He keeps on the bottom. I'm trying, I'm trying pass him. I'm trying to signal. Listen, gimme a break. You're not going to do anything, you just make us slow. Every time we were side by side, it was like two, three miles slower. My car definitely was faster. Except those three guys, my car was probably the second fastest. It would be easier for me to pull the field for that second group instead of just battling.
I don't know what he was thinking. That made us lose a lot of position, a lot of time. That's what the two second happen. That's what it is. We just couldn't catch those guys back.
Q. Did you think you had a chance to catch Sam before that incident happened?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Absolutely. I was like, thank God, finally that yellow came and I'm able to catch up with those guys. Again, 25 laps to go, I was just trying to just stay there with them until obviously was both Ganassi guys in front of us, Sam and I side by side. Just trying to pull somebody, push somebody, trying to break away from the field.
It was very hard. To a point you brought more guys into the battle, and that's when things started getting hairy. My car all of a sudden started pushing when I was on the bottom. I decided not to take much chance.
Right after that, I knew I was able to catch them back. But instead those guys decided to just give a break. Especially Tony keep like, I'm going to race you till the end.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much. Congratulations on your season.
We are joined by race winner Dan Wheldon. Your finish today, you finished in a dead heat with Sam in the championship points standings with Sam edging you out in the tiebreaker. If you would, talk about your race out there today.
DAN WHELDON: Aggressive. No, I obviously had one goal. You know, certainly in the last few races I've let a few results slip. It was about making a point for next year and doing everything in my power to be able to win the championship.
I think obviously Target Chip Ganassi Racing gave me a very good car, as they have done all season. I don't know exactly how many laps I've led all season, if it's more than Sam. But we've certainly led our fair share. You got to give credit to the boys for that.
I think a lot of people have got to be impressed with the equality of the Honda engines. The reliability and the fact that the top four protagonists were all separated by hundredths at some point was pretty impressive.
It's a good way to end the season. To tell you the truth, halfway through the race I was thinking about stuff to improve for 2007.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dan.
Q. Was there frustration as you were leading the race and still see that 6 car so close behind you?
DAN WHELDON: Not really because, I mean, it seems that he's been around me the whole season, so I didn't expect him to disappear. I know Scott was pushing hard. When Scott dropped back to third, I wasn't sure what might happen.
It's been, as the year has progressed, a four-way fight. You could see today just in the two weeks that we've had, both teams have worked very, very hard for this championship showdown. You could see the distance we put between all the other cars out there.
I got to give credit to Roger Penske's organization and Sam Hornish. They've given away less points than we have.
Q. Talk about the change in dynamics you went through this year from the transition from Andretti Green to Target Chip Ganassi
DAN WHELDON: I think I underestimated it to some degree. I came off such a high. Even 2004 was a pretty good season, too. I didn't think the transition to a different team would take as long to get up to speed as we perhaps did. I think perhaps the G Force even made that harder.
It's always very difficult. I was very comfortable with my engineer at Andretti Green Racing. I think he was able just to look at me and sometimes tell what the car was doing. It was really that close of a relationship.
Obviously with Andy Brown at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, he in my opinion is the best engineer from an intelligence standpoint, a common sense standpoint, a race engineer. You can be clever and stuff like that. But at the track, on the spot, you've got to be able to make decisions. It's just getting him to understand when I say the car is understeering three out of five on my scale, he's got to interpret that three. Just getting that between the two of us took a little longer than I thought.
I think the team is very strong. I can definitely see why they've been so dominant in the past. Their attention to detail, not only the people that come on the road but the shop-based guys, is incredible.
I can honestly see it being a four-way fight again. I hope for Kanaan's sake that the Green guys can improve. I'm sure they will. He's a talent that deserves to be running right up the front right now.
Q. (No microphone.)
DAN WHELDON: What is it going to say in the record books? I finished second.
Q. Talk about improving for next year. Is it just a matter -- as you dominated this year, is it just a matter of improving on those races where you didn't run well?
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I think it's just about having a little bit more consistency. Obviously, the short ovals was a problem for us. In 2005, it was an area where we made up big points on the competition. We actually lost this year. We certainly are going to work hard on that.
I think in all honesty Scott and I need to work together a little bit better. I mean, the relationship TK and I had at Green was fantastic. I think that helped us on track as well, separate ourselves from the rest.
I think there's some areas that we can improve out there. I think in all the areas we're going to need to improve because obviously Roger now has the taste of one championship. You know he's going to want many more. So is Sam.
Q. Was there a comfort level with you and Scott running up front all day today, knowing there was an opportunity particularly if Sam got caught up in traffic?
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I mean, there was a little bit of comfort. At the same time, you know, if it wasn't a championship race, Sam was taking it pretty easy out there. Any time I kind of showed him a wheel, he moved, which he doesn't normally do. That was kind of comforting.
I knew Scott wanted to win the race desperately. It was a case if something did happen, I still needed to win the race. Scott was going to challenge me hard.
He was very quick all day. I think that bodes well for next year that we were so quick today. We've got to make sure that we prepare strongly for next season.
Q. A lot of people felt it was a gamble leaving Andretti Green to go to Chip Ganassi. Talk about that.
DAN WHELDON: I think in all honesty the people that are saying that don't know the facts. As a racing driver, it's my job to know exactly what's going on in different teams when your contract is up with the team you're currently running.
It's sad, but in this business you can easily be forgotten. If your equipment is not up to par, you're not able to perform, people forget. Kanaan is incredibly talented, but people haven't been talking about him this year. To be quite frank, they should be because what he's done with that car has been fantastic.
But it's about making sure that you don't get yourself into that situation. I may look sometimes as though I joke around a little bit, this and that. But I want to be in this business for a very long time. When I make my decisions, I make sure I have as much information that's factual as I possibly can, and I make my decision on that.
I think the people that said that about me, they didn't check their facts or they didn't have any foresight.
Q. Obviously you went out there to try to lead the most laps today to pick up the maximum amount of points. Was there a secondary or backup plan today?
DAN WHELDON: No, I mean, at one point at the start of the race Chip said, Okay, you need to stay in line. I said, Absolutely not, I'm going for the three points. That was the only strategy I had, to be honest. I kind of may have been a little bit bold. I told the team that if I was going to lose this championship, I was going to go out fighting.
I don't think the team even questioned me because I think they could tell at weekend I had one job to do and I was going to do it, was to lead the most laps. I didn't even think from that standpoint. But with the way the points system works not trying to win the race.
Q. Early in the race you and Scott were pretty much tire to tire. Should one of you have dropped back early on? What was the strategy there?
DAN WHELDON: Scott had the same strategy as me. He wanted to lead the most laps, win the race. I didn't want him to. I wanted to do it. I had to do everything I can to cross that line first.
But I knew on the outside that I could possibly do that. What was also good about running side by side with Scott, the reason I ran very close, is it makes the air very, very dirty for someone trying to follow, and that's obviously Sam. I was hoping to bunch the race up a little bit and see if rather than separate the field we could get some people up there that perhaps wouldn't have been if we had run in line.
Q. Was it in any way disappointing there were not more cars fighting for the win, thus getting you some space between Sam and Helio?
DAN WHELDON: I mean, it's disappointing. At the same time you come to realize what the expectations are going into the weekend. I think you could tell from the practice times it was going to be a four-way battle. It was just a case if anything went wrong. Sometimes at this track when first and second do run side by side, it really can stack everybody up. That was part the reason I did that, to try and help my chances.
It's not going to happen the whole race. There's no way that can happen all race. I honestly thought how the race panned out would be what happened.
Q. Can you pin to one moment or event this season that you think made the difference in terms of the championship?
DAN WHELDON: The most disappointing moment for me is the Indianapolis 500. That's the beat all and end all to me in all honesty. Every other race is not in my eyes a championship race, it's a race that you want to win. To lose that when I had such a dominant car was heart-wrenching.
What's frustrating about this season, and it kills me, is the amount of points we lost. When you say that question, I can talk about my incident with Sam at St. Pete. I can talk about the puncture at Indy. I can talk about driving through my pit at Kentucky, dropping a wheel nut at Texas, putting in 10 laps too little fuel at Richmond. There's tons.
To think that we were as close as we were makes it frustrating. At the same time, if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. We didn't deserve to win because we made too many mistakes.
Q. Obviously a lot of good things had to happen for you to win the points championship today. At what point in the race today did you sort of realize it wasn't going to happen?
DAN WHELDON: I think when the first four of us put everybody a lap down. I think that was a pretty clear indication I was going to struggle.
I'm guilty of it, I said this weekend it wouldn't really matter if I was second, third or fourth in the championship. I think a few laps from the end, I'm thinking, Maybe a second would be better than the third, and obviously the race win would make that happen. It was my next target because obviously with everybody a lap down, it was just going to be very difficult.
THE MODERATOR: Dan, thank you very much. Congratulations on your season.
DAN WHELDON: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we're joined by 2006 IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish and his team owner Roger Penske. Sam, his third series championship, the only multi-champion in IndyCar Series history.
Sam, if you would, talk about the day, talk about it all.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, I mean, it's just really been an unbelievable year for us. We came into this season and we've had some ups and downs. But, you know, obviously the highlight of the year was winning the Indianapolis 500. That's the highlight of my career. It really catapulted us back into the points championship, the hunt. Then we just kind of continued on from there. We had some problems here and there, but kind of kept our composure about ourselves. Things worked out well.
As far as today goes, we just went out there, tried to be as smart as we possibly could, stay with the leaders, make sure that we didn't make any mistakes. The pit crew gave me awesome stops, just the way they had all season long. I tried to be smart out there and not get involved in any situations. The two Ganassi cars were hitting each other. I didn't think I needed to stick my nose in there. I didn't want to be part of an accident.
The way it turned out, we did everything we needed to do to win the championship. I can't think of how next year could be any better, but hopefully it is.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by team president Tim Cindric.
Roger, from your perspective, reflect on the day and the season.
ROGER PENSKE: I think the season, really to think we won the championship, you know, starting out this year after a couple of soft years, I'd have to say that we were disappointed the last two years. Certainly with a level playing field, with all of us with similar equipment, engines, it turned out to be a great season.
The number of wins for each one of the drivers, the poles, promising Sam we'd try to get him in the winner's circle at Indy, we hadn't done a very good job the first two years. I think his perseverance, using his head at Indy this year, we were able to get the right strategy to win it. It was an unbelievable race.
Today, as Tim and I talked about, probably was a little more problematic because we had two drivers within one point of each other. We really, as you saw at the end, had to run third in order to win the championship. With two of our guys fighting each other, you never really know what can happen. We had two races, one being the race for the race, the other one for the championship.
It was a great day. I take my hat off to Sam for being patient out there.
THE MODERATOR: Tim, how about you, from your perspective, talk about the day out there.
TIM CINDRIC: It was one of those where you just didn't know what was going to happen at the end. I guess we said we were at the 10 yardline, we needed to make sure we got the thing in the end zone. Sam did a great job being patient all day. Obviously the speeding penalty with Helio put him back to where in some ways it might have been a blessing for the first three-quarters of the race because we didn't have to watch the two Marlboro cars fight each other. That's not to say I didn't want him up there. He got up to that point. At that point your just hoping one of them does and let them sort it out.
It was a good day for us at the end of the day for sure.
Q. Sam, your other two championships, how hard was it to be patient today, knowing you're going to clinch this thing without having to necessarily win the race?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I went into 2001, we won by coming here and just finishing high enough to put the rest of the people out of contention, went to the next race and were able to just kind of relax with it. In 2002, came into it only 12 points ahead, but knowing that as long as we finished second we would be okay. Obviously we want to win. You don't unfortunately want to tie, have it come down to race wins. Sometimes you have to take it however you can get it.
This season, as I said before, has been up and down. A lot of great ups. We're just glad we hit the end of the season on the up note.
Q. Roger, the word of the day really both for Sam and the season is 'patience'. Helio came in here and said the difference between Sam when he came to the team and now is his ability to be patient. Is that the difference? How would you assess that aspect of his development?
ROGER PENSKE: There's no question Sam proved to everyone in the racing community, not in '06, '04, '05 when he started with us, that he was a great driver. Good consulting, good partnership with Rick. We talked a little bit today. We said if you can lead the race, fine. If you can't, let's get there till the end. I think Tim said it all, when we didn't have to race each other, it's important.
This race is won on the last laps. You could even see there might have been a slipup where the 9 and 10 got together there, we might have had a chance to win it there at the end. To me, certainly patience is the virtue that Sam has been developing. He's just a smart race driver. Some days, you won't get there by waiting, you have to fight your way to the front. To me, he's done a terrific job. We have a great crew of people. Helio has done a great job. These guys have worked together. Sometimes it's tight, but other times I think they've really shown camaraderie between the two. We continue to develop a great team. We're really looking forward to coming back next year. It was fun racing Chip all year. He's got two great drivers and a very, very competitive team.
Today, I don't know if you saw it, our pit crew was probably at their best. They worked all week. We talked about it two weeks ago. We said, You guys have to work every single day to get better and better. I think today, Sam, wouldn't you say, it was the best? The last stop, it was a great feeling.
Q. Is it in any way rewarding to have won titles with two separate teams?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: It's especially rewarding. The first two came in my first two seasons at Panther Racing. In some ways I didn't appreciate it probably as much as what I appreciate this one because I didn't have the three hard years in between trying to figure out -- beating my head against the wall on how to win the championship again. This one is special because to be able to come here, to do something I feel the team hired me to do, to come in and win the championship. They had won races, won the 500. I came to the team to win the 500. I feel they wanted me in part because they felt I could give them the championship.
I hope that we're even and we'll start at zero and we'll try to win some more championships and win some more 500s.
Q. Sam, three series championships now and an Indy 500. What's left for you to prove or achieve in the IndyCar Series?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I mean, I'm still three 500s behind Rick Mears, AJ Foyt, big Al. I've got a little bit more to do there (laughter).
I look forward to the next season. I could have said that at the end of the first two championships, what I had to look forward to, yeah, winning Indy. I feel as you accomplish that next thing, you try to distance yourself even more. I was in a situation this season where I was the only two-time champion. It came down to the end where it was a possibility that two guys could have matched me with that.
You just kind of keep moving forward and I keep stockpiling or pile up as many records as you possibly can. There's always something new around the corner. I guess the next thing on the list of things that I want to do outside of winning Indy again is figure out how to win a road course race.
Q. All this talk about patience. Maybe you were going to take a run at Wheldon and Dixon. That was about the time they touched. Sam, when you saw that, did you kind of say something to yourself? Roger, did you say anything to him at that point?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I did say something to myself. I'm trying to figure out how not to lose my momentum because I didn't want to fall back from them so I didn't have to go around Scott when they touched. It kind of started, I think Wheldon got together with AJ Foyt IV on the restart on like lap 18. I thought, this is going to be a real long race if these guys keep this up. I was just trying to be smart back there, let them figure it out, be at the right place if they did get together, figure out how to not hit them as I went by.
It was a tough race. Roger was on the radio trying to instill in me being patient. I think actually part of the patience isn't really anything that I've necessarily picked up, it's having Roger on the radio to keep me calm at certain points. Also any time I've kind of went against what he was saying, it ended up as a bad thing. I just tried to follow his lead. It usually turns out pretty good.
ROGER PENSKE: I think Sam said what he was going to do during the race, we were going to try to pace ourself at the beginning. If we could lead, we would lead, but not at any cost. And running side by side, as you saw, the Ganassi cars. The good news is we stayed in line and almost lapped the whole field with 50 or 60 to go. I think Tim and I felt the same way, when our cars were out there, we were running, we weren't racing each other, letting the 9 and 10 do the work. At the end I told Sam about 25 to go, You have to finish second or third. That's all you have to do. Then when he got by Dixon, I said, Let's not get into a shoving match here. Finishing third, you got the championship. He was a couple seconds ahead of Helio. It looked like he wasn't going to get a challenge, so there was no reason to get into a battle.
The win wasn't what we came here for. We came here to win the championship.
Q. Sam, you talked about some things you want to do. One thing that was talked about was a Busch and ARCA program. Roger, could you fill us in on that program?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Everything is kind of tentative for now. You kind of want to go and see what you're capable of sometimes. My opinion of it is when you have a limited schedule or the schedule is condensed down, we have a very limited amount of testing we're able to do, it's something that I have time to go out there and do and see if it is something I'd like to do. It gives me more seat time. There's possibilities to go test there. I would not only get more time on the ovals but maybe a little bit of time on road courses.
It would be nice to sometimes try to do a couple one-off races here and there and see if I can even be competitive. But you have to have that practice first before you can go and just jump in and expect to do anything.
ROGER PENSKE: There's been lots of discussion. I think we've been open with everyone. Obviously first thing was Sam had to win the Indy 500. We had to get through the season. The championship obviously is what we were hoping for either Helio or Sam.
I think what we were thinking, we have the equipment, is there a chance for Sam to run some ARCA race? I called Rusty, he took a couple of scars for Steve that have been pretty fast. I said, I want a couple of those cars back in case Sam is going to run an ARCA race.
I think in the future it will be good for him to run a few of those races. But we're fully committed to a full Indy schedule next year. I don't want anybody to get confused. If we can fill it in with some ARCA or Busch races because I think in Sam's case, our case, the thing to do is to get someone through that experience level. Hamlin ran that way. Some of the other guys that have been successful. Certainly Ryan did. I think it's important that we have the chance for Sam to understand what the pressure is of many, many weekends, is it something he really wants to do.
Q. Roger, a lot of us have made a story line the fact that you've won championships in every series, but hadn't won in the IRL. How important is it to you to have gotten an IRL title rounding out all your accomplishments as a team owner?
ROGER PENSKE: When we came over to the IRL, our goal was to win a championship. The guy sitting on my right is the one that beat us the first two years, kind of beat us like a drum. So the opportunity to get him on the team and then to deliver it here is pretty special.
Obviously Helio winning the Indy 500 twice for us when we come over to IRL was very, very important for the team.
I think this is another one for the record books. But we got to do it next year. It's not easy. The competition out there, you could see it today, I've never seen better racing. That many laps of green, wide open, I think it's a credit to what we have here. Hopefully we can continue to build it to be a bigger and better series.
Q. Roger, do you want to know what you have to do to win a race here? Is that something that's set in the back of your mind?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, you want to win at every track. Certainly Chicago is a great market. We use racing as a common thread in our business. The more we can be successful in big markets like this, it's important. It's certainly important to the team.
Today was a little different strategy. I think that Sam has won here. Today is maybe the time we need to have patience. But we'd love to win a race here at Chicago.
Q. 12 titles in open-wheel, back to '77 USAC. How much more difficult is it to win a title now?
ROGER PENSKE: It's hard to say. Back then we probably thought it was pretty tough. The level of competition, I think you can see it out there. You make one mistake, there's 10 or 11 cars that can win. The competitive pressures are unbelievable, as we see it. It only takes two or three cars to make it a competition. You have to beat those same people every day.
It's hard to go back and say. I think today, the technology, everyone sharing it from an engine perspective, the chassis, the rules are fairly closed in a box, where in the old days you could have a real advantage over someone, whether you were running a V8 versus a four cylinder with an (indiscernible), eagle with a wing on it, someone else didn't. There was probably more differentiation. You might have had a better advantage. Certainly like when we came in in '94 with the Mercedes engines, those are days you don't have any more.
Q. Helio was in here and talked about towards the end of the race he kind of had a little bit of a problem with Tony. From your standpoint, how costly was that for him?
TIM CINDRIC: Certainly lost his momentum. He was obviously frustrated that he didn't have a chance to mix it up there at the end. I'm sure that might put a little strain on their perceived friendship, the way that all came out.
It's racing. I'm sure he'll put it behind him like he always does. It's one of those things where it's difficult not to have both of these guys win the thing.
I guess one thing I'd like to say, for the team and what we went through this year, to leave Reading, we started this year, this is a pretty special place for everybody that's been there for so long, to leave there with an Indy 500 win and a championship, we wanted to chose the doors down with a party, not a flood. At least we can leave there as champions on both accounts.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much. Congratulations.
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