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June 11, 2005
THE MODERATOR: We have Danica Patrick here, finished 13th. Danica, give us impressions of your first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
DANICA PATRICK: It's easy enough going around there by yourself. But you put a bunch of other cars out there, you know, it's a different element. Like I've said all along all year, the car moves around a lot, and you have to understand and have a grasp for what's going to happen. I'm still not used to it and I'm still not sure always what it's going to do. The practices yesterday I did more running in front of people that couldn't get by me, but running in front of them. I didn't do very much running behind people. So, you know, my car was kind of, you know, oversteering when we filled up with fuel. You know, you'd get into a run and understeer behind people. You know, it was changing all the time. It wasn't until I found a good balance with the weight jacker and the bars inside the car to make the car not want to overstep in the rear when I was going around the outside of people and not understeer when I was underneath them. So, you know, it's just figuring it out. I'm still figuring stuff out, I promise.
THE MODERATOR: Questions from the media.
Q. You don't sound disappointed with your finish at all. Can you reflect a little bit on the fact the place that you got?
DANICA PATRICK: I don't sound disappointed? Yeah, I'm disappointed. Of course, I am. But I'm also not -- you know, I'm not an idiot. I know it takes time to learn things. You know, that's why I got three shiny yellow lines on my car. You know, sometimes it doesn't appear like I do, and other times it does. It's going to show again this year, I promise. You know, while I'm racing against these guys that are so good, it's going to happen. It's going to take time to be ready for all situations.
THE MODERATOR: Sam, second-place run. Almost had it in the end. The margin of victory was .0534's of a second, 10th closest in IRL history. Texas has four of the top 10. Talk about the closing laps, what you were hoping to get done.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I can pretty much summarize the whole 200 laps with what happened the last four laps. It was a lot about I didn't have a strong enough car to go out there and run on my own. So what I had to do was find someone that the car worked well behind and had a fast race car. The fastest person I could find and the best place my car handled was behind the 4 car. I told them about 15 laps into the race, I said, "Whatever it takes, I'll be with you all night long. I'll push you." What you can do here, as you've seen in the past, you can get up there if you have a faster car, you can edge them out right at the end. But what is really hard to do is get that pass completed. What you need is somebody behind you pushing, helping you draft along and get by there. So I said, "I'll push you by anybody, I'll stay with you. I know you guys are the fastest cars out here." I guess, you know, outside of seeing myself or Helio win, most of the guys I can bear finishing behind. But I'm a little bit disappointed I couldn't time it right there at the end. But the big problem was that Tony and Scott were right there, and I feel if I would have tried to make my move earlier, they might have been able to sneak back up there and I might have shuffled back. So I figured, you got to realize risk versus reward. What I was able to do was to be able to go out there and maybe get a chance at snookering them right at the end, but it didn't work out for us. And I'm really happy with the way the Marlboro Team Penske crew put a good car underneath me. We had awesome pit stops. WE came out ahead by half a straightaway almost everybody that we pitted near. So I'm really excited about the way that goes and really looking forward to Richmond.
THE MODERATOR: Further questions for Danica.
Q. Danica, do you feel like maybe tonight you became a little less super human and that maybe after just a tough decent run tonight, maybe some of the hoopla will settle down and let you settle into a racing season?
DANICA PATRICK: I've never been super human; I never will be. I am what you write. There's just been so much stuff written lately and so much stuff going on... You know, whether the hoopla, as you call it, is there or not, I can still race the car. For me, it doesn't matter either way. I don't let the media define whether or not I'm doing well or not. So, you know, it's a little bit of a reflection. Obviously, I know it's what's happened. But, you know, tonight I promise I had a hard race, and I raced hard. It's a tough one. You know, sometimes, like I've said before, sometimes when you're running, you know, mid to back area, it's harder than running up front. You know, I tried. I'm going to try again and probably fail in other areas again. There's going to be successes along the way, too, like there's been, and that's it.
Q. Is there too much hype? Is there too much hype or is the hype for real?
DANICA PATRICK: I think that's up for opinion for whoever. I don't know. What do I think? Like I said, I don't -- I don't let it get to me. So, you know, I can't control how much is written. I can't control what is written. So, you know, that's up to journalists. You know, to a certain extent, some of the stuff I've done has been great for a rookie, and some of the stuff that I have done has just been what a rookie does. So whether you think that makes me bad or something because I have a race that's worse than the one before, you know, that's up for discussion between whoever that is. But like I said, I'm not super human and I'll never be. These guys are incredible race car drivers out there, and I have a lot to learn and I'll never stop learning.
Q. You talked about running from behind. You went from 3 to 11 or 12 quickly. Was that part of the strategy at all?
DANICA PATRICK: Part of the strategy?
Q. They said earlier on ESPN maybe you wanted to get back and get a feel for the race in the first 10 or 15 laps.
DANICA PATRICK: No, no, no. It's never a plan to go backwards. You always want to go forward. I was just saying before to someone else that the car wasn't very happy in traffic. You know, I was getting understeer behind people when I was behind them, and I would go high to go around somebody. You know, the rear would step out when I was by myself. I just had a car that I really couldn't dial in quickly enough just with the experience I've had. Eventually I did, you know, and I was able to go through the last couple of pit stops without even having to adjust the car. So I got it down, but it just took a little while. No, it wasn't planned.
Q. Do you view it as a step back in your development or a step forward and a learning experience?
DANICA PATRICK: Every day is a step forward and every race is a step forward. I don't think that anything has happened this weekend that's been negative. You know, we showed we had a fast car and we can dial it in. I qualified third. You know, I finished -- the last couple races were good, but this one was just a little bit different. You know, I had plenty of time to learn the Indy. I think it just shows I just need some time to learn.
THE MODERATOR: Danica, thank you very much. Questions for Sam.
Q. On the last lap, you really closed on Tomas down the backstretch. Looked like you had enough momentum to pull off an outside pass. Looked like you were really closing quickly.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I think with the right timing, I would have been able to get it. But I really couldn't afford to practice it to try anything different because of the fact that two other cars were right there with us. Had I had, you know, two or three laps to maybe try to get it timed a little bit better, I think it would have worked out better. But as it worked out, I didn't have enough (indiscernible).
Q. Sam, you talked about hooking up with the 4 car. Was that a deal made with your spotters, the team, or just worked out that way?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: You know, I got a good start, got by the 16 and the 2 car very quickly, was able to get right in behind the 4 car. The car worked really well right up there. I figured, you know, he seems fast. We were kind of getting a little bit of a gap on some people once in a while. I figured, this is a good place to be. So I radioed up to the spotters and said, "Hey, tell the 4 car spotter I'll stay with him wherever he goes, granted that it is on the racetrack." I feel they had a good car, and I knew that if I could stay with them that I would finish well, just as long as they were still running (indiscernible), I figured we could run with anybody. But the car was better there.
Q. When you were running with your teammate Castroneves, y'all were real close, looked like you were going to touch a little bit. What was that like going through the turns and on the straightaway?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: You know, I made that deal to stick with the 4 car. On one of the restarts, he didn't get going quite as quickly as he could. That is when Helio got up there and jumped and got ahead of me. I figured I needed to stay right in there. My car didn't handle that great behind Helio's. For whatever reason, it just wasn't working, it wasn't handling quite as good. So I figured I was going to try to get around him, and I couldn't get it done on the outside so I was going to try on the inside. As you know, we only have one rule in the Penske team, and that's we don't take each other out. You get as close as you need to, but you have to make the decision whether or not, you know, what to do when it comes down to it. He was just -- he couldn't really -- wasn't holding his line. He just kind of -- seemed like his car didn't handle real well behind the 4 car. His car was moving around. Every time he'd move up a little bit, I tried to stick my nose in there. I couldn't get it done. I knew with the right pit stops and whatnot, I thought we could get ahead of him.
Q. Here you finish second. All the questions go to the girl who finishes 13th. I know you've taken a lot of questions like that. What is that like?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: You know, I don't really care that she takes the questions. That's one thing. But I think, you know, you guys -- we all have races that don't work out well for us. Sometimes you build things up to be, you know, too much. You know, this is a tough race. I'm soaked from head to toe with sweat. I've done everything, hit the wall, done about everything you can do at Texas Motor Speedway. It's a tough racetrack. Everybody can say what they want to, it's a day of drafting, you've just got to sit and wait. You're fighting every lap that you are out there and it's a learning experience. So I think that, you know, just because it was a bad day, you shouldn't turn around and say, "Does this mean that you can't do it any more?" You know, I got those questions all the time, you know, when I first started. "Well, you won a championship, can you do it again? Well, you didn't win that race. What's your problem?" It's tough to be out there. Every race treats you differently. Sometimes you have good races; sometimes you have bad races. And I've said it a million times: Racing is a lot about luck. You know, I go to Indy and I felt like I had a great race. I made one judgment call, one error in my judgment, and put the car, you know, two inches too high than what it should have been and it didn't turn any more, went straight into the wall. Other people -- you know, she had her problems. But she did have the luck on her side, and it is a lot about luck. There were so many times, went out there, ran at tonight, the way we ran with the green flag pit stops, we could have come in the pits, yellow flag could have come out, we're a lap down to Tony and those guys and our race it over. You've got to have the luck. I felt like I was lucky tonight. I put my car in the right position, made the right decisions. But if I didn't start telling the 4 car Tomas Scheckter at lap 15, "I'll work with you all night long and be wherever you need to go," I don't think he would have worked with me on the last 10 laps like he did. He went around the outside of Tony, I got up there, started pushing him. When we got there, he could have went down right in front of Tony, I could have been odd man out, and went back in fifth position. Instead, he stayed up there where he was at till I got by Tony. We both moved down. You know, that's where we were, first and second. He knew I was going to try to give him a run on the last lap. You know, there's a lot to be made. I don't need to talk all the time and all that stuff. So I guess sometimes it's good for the attention to go somewhere other than me. But I also find it hard to sit here, and I know how I felt at certain points in time. Sit up here, yeah, it was a good race at Indy. She finished here. She didn't go out and put it in the wall. That's a good start right there, just to be able to run all the laps.
Q. There was a lot of contact during the race. Did you have contact with Kanaan?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I don't know. I don't think so. Plus there's so much buffeting. You get all the wind, the way the cars are moving around, the roughness of the track, you get a lot of, you know, jarring action. So sometimes you don't feel it. In 2002, Helio and I were running for the championship, we bumped three times, and I only knew of one. You know, there's a lot of incidental contacts. You go through the corners, the car moves around. Yeah, you don't like to be doing that. But I don't think I touched anybody tonight, I'm pretty sure I didn't. But I'd have to look at the camera. You would have a spotlight on my car the whole time for me to tell you, no, I absolutely didn't touch anybody or anything like that.
THE MODERATOR: Sam, congratulations. Great show for the fans tonight.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by Tomas Scheckter and also one of the co-owners of Panther Racing Doug Boles. Let's recap some of the accomplishments for the weekend. For Panther Racing, this is their fifth IndyCar Series Indy Racing League victory at Texas Motor Speedway. The race is the 10th closest in IRL history, .0534ths of a second. Four of the Top 10 closest finishes in IRL history have been right here at Texas. For Tomas, you have now led more laps at Texas Motor Speedway than any other driver. Your sixth career IRL pole and third at Texas. It's been a weekend of success all the way through. Just kind of recap it and wrap it all up.
TOMAS SCHECKTER: It has been tough before this. We definitely had a lot of downs. Indy was one. We were running good there. Before Motegi, we were also running good. You begin to doubt everything. The team put it together. They came back from Indy, worked very, very hard. A comeback with a pole and then obviously a victory is unbelievable. It's great for Chevy. It's great for the whole team morale. I think this will really lift us up so we can start doing this more often.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about from the management team and all, you stuck with Tomas, stuck with Chevrolet, now there's some results. How satisfying is that?
DOUG BOLES: It's very satisfying. I'll first admit I think there at the end of the race, we've had enough history with Sam Hornish before. Sam likes to beat up on the high side. Watching him behind us the last 10 laps I know made everybody nervous because we know how Good Sam is at this place. We were wondering what's going to happen. Chevrolet has done a great job for us. Really if you go back to last year when we came to this event, ever since we were in the car here in the fall, Chevrolet has given us something better the next time we run it, whether it's been in a test or a race, and they continue to give us better stuff, which has been getting us back to the front. Pretty excited about that. Obviously to do this in Texas, which is Pennzoil's hometown, down the road in Houston, that's important for us to do that for our sponsors.
THE MODERATOR: Recap the last few laps. What was your ultimate goal?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Pushed me up in front. I got a lot of horsepower from Chevy, but I got some extra from Sam. And then towards the end, I was behind him. We both like to run high. I think Scott Sharp -- it was Tony, Scott Sharp and then Sam. I was trying high a little bit and really wasn't making any ground. I dove to the inside and managed to get by Sam. Then Sam helped me by Scott and then he helped me by Tony. It just made my life a little easier.
THE MODERATOR: Let's go ahead and go to some questions.
Q. Doug, obviously you get that horrible luck for a lot of races. Did it ever cross to mind maybe you needed to change the driver? You stuck with Tomas.
DOUG BOLES: No, that really hadn't crossed our mind. We went through last year where we all had bad luck. Tomas had some bad luck. But Tomas has been fast everywhere we've gone. So I think the thing we felt was most important was to try to stay together, stick through this year and see if we couldn't get our luck to turn around a little bit. Some of the problems we had were self-inflicted, other problems were just, you know, dumb luck that we couldn't do much about. But really the driver replacement piece was never something that we considered. The thing we did at Indianapolis with putting Buddy Lazier in a third car, I think we brought him on just to get somebody else to give us some input on the cars and what's going on to help out both the Tomases. And I think that helped us here a little bit, as well.
Q. Tomas, on Thursday night, you were very hard on yourself, saying that you needed to win races; winning poles wasn't enough. Do you feel this is the first step in maybe turning around the perception of who Tomas Scheckter is as a racer?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: I think so, for sure. This is what I really needed. I think the whole team needed it. I needed it for my morale. Again, I have to thank the team for sticking with me. A couple of stages where I wasn't believing in myself. John and Doug and everybody in the team stuck behind me, you know, allowed me to get my confidence back up to get us to this stage. I think certainly after this, we're definitely going to take a different attitude going into races. Hopefully we're a threat at every race after this.
DOUG BOLES: I add to that. I think we all noticed from the outside almost a monumental change in Tomas' thought process at Japan. Japan, Tomas I think decided he was just going to sit back and ride and see what happened. You think about the end of last year, he made unbelievable passes to get to the front really from Michigan on. At Japan, he just kind of sat back, ran fifth to seventh the whole way. All of a sudden at the end of the race, he was in second place. I think after the race he said to John Barnes, "I just figured something out, I don't have to make those crazy passes till the end. I have a chance to win this." Indianapolis was the same thing. He was sitting, waiting to go. On the radio with his guys today he said, "Is it time to go yet, guys? Is it time to go?" He's gotten a lot more patient the last three races. That's just going to mean a lot more victories for the 4 car.
Q. You seem in the last two years to really have matured as a driver. How do you do that? You've always been quick.
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Well, I mean, I would think I would have liked to have matured a little bit quicker, especially how many races that have slipped away - a lot of times through not my fault. But, you know, I think whether it would have helped me win more races or not, I'm not positive now. But for sure when you're at the end of the race, you're still mentally very strong. If you push very much from the beginning, you know, you sort of get to the end of that race, you're mentally starting to tire, where it's almost like an athlete. I just sort of relax and stay in tow. When I need to go, I went. I knew from the beginning we had a good car. I told the guys, "Let's just be easy. Let's get in and out the pits, no pressure. As long as you get me out in the top five, I can get to the front." And that's what they did all night long.
Q. It was clear pretty much from the outset that you had the car to beat. Given a lot of the crazy things that have happened to you in your career, did you find yourself thinking at all during the course of the race that you wonder what could go wrong tonight?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: No. I had a very positive attitude. I was very calm for this race. And I actually said before, it almost sort of doesn't feel like a race. Maybe, you know, I knew it was the time. I knew that we had everything. So I knew to a point that even if we had to drop back to the back of the field, we would get through. And I think that gave me a lot of confidence. You know, I just sort of, you know, took it easy coming in and out the pits, you know, really let the car do the work.
Q. When you look at the drivers who were up front, how this race played out, did it reestablish that this is a series of veteran drivers and that veteran experience is going to show through over some maybe hotshot rookies that are getting a lot of attention?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Well, those hotshot rookies are filling a lot of the seats, and people are switching on a lot of TVs. I think the main thing is that those people that switch on the TVs, they appreciate the racing we're putting out and they stay long-term fans of the IRL. But, you know, sometimes these rookies got a little bit to learn. I'm sure it's not a flash in the pan and they're going to be around for a long time, as well.
DOUG BOLES: I guess I'd echo that. I think everybody in the series is a top flight race car driver. You look at our rookie, our other Tomas. He had a top five car today, and unfortunately we had an electrical issue that caused us to lose six laps. He's ran with that front group the last hundred laps and keep his nose clean and was able to drive around people when he wanted. And his maturity level at the end of the race about 15 laps to go, he said, "I'm going to drop back, stay out of this. I don't belong here. I'm six laps down." I think had he not had an electrical problem, you would have seen him running right behind the No. 4 car. I think the rookies deserve to be here and they probably deserve the attention they're getting.
Q. It seems that the high line wasn't as good as it normally is at this racetrack. Did you find that? Any idea why?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: Yeah, I think -- I thought the same thing. Sometimes when I went high, I really couldn't get enough speed, and that's why a lot of times where I made actually my moves when I was behind is going low. It was unbelievable that the car could still stick down low when we didn't do anything from the car from qualifying to race and it was still very, very good in traffic. I think those were the big things. You know, when I was behind Sam, I think I was fourth, the only reason why we could get ahead was that I could run down low. I'm not real clear why the high line was not as quick tonight.
Q. Do you paint the car yellow now or it stays silver?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: This car is quick yellow or silver. I don't mind. I've changed my shoe colors, my underwear colors enough to not bother about what color and what luck it is. I think the main thing we know is we've got a great car, we've got a good team. We've proved it to ourselves now we can do it. Now it's just a case of doing it week in and week out.
DOUG BOLES: The car will be yellow at Richmond and it will turn platinum again for Nashville and Kansas. After that, we haven't made a decision what will happen.
Q. Considering the attention this race got, do you believe a Tomas Scheckter victory now gives this series another star that they can hang their hat on?
DOUG BOLES: This is John Barnes. He's actually been in the hospital. We had one of our guys get run over. John, why don't you come take my spot here, you can answer this question better.
JOHN BARNES: We feel like every race we go to, we can win. And we feel like Tomas is, you know -- if you ask anyone that watches races week in and week out, they'll tell you he's the most exciting guy to watch. So if they're not fans of his already, they damn sure will be soon.
DOUG BOLES: Told you you'd do a better job.
Q. Tomas, did the cowboy hat fit you? Are you going to wear it around Indianapolis?
TOMAS SCHECKTER: I'm not sure about that. But maybe those guns were pretty cool. I just want to say again, I want to thank this whole team, Panther, they believed in me, Pennzoil, Chevrolet. It's really great to be here and I want to carry this momentum and win a lot of races for these guys.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. You have the Foyt Rutherford Trophy, named after a couple Texans who have done well at the race. Congratulations on your run tonight.
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