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April 29, 2007

Milka Duno

Dario Franchitti

Dan Wheldon


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our second-place finisher, Dario Franchitti. His best finish since a second place in Infineon in 2006. Dario has finished in the top 10 in all four races this year.
Dario, talk about your day out there.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it was a good day. Started off, it was very, very tricky conditions on the track with the high wind and the rubber from the truck race yesterday. The Firestones don't mate very well with that rubber, so the track was really, really slippery for the first stint. Those first laps were pretty difficult just hanging on to the car.
Then we -- as the run went on, we started making up places. Then we had -- I think Tony had a problem. We made some places up because of that. I think we were running third. We had a miscue in the pits. We came in. The pits had just closed for the yellow so they made us do another pit stop.
I think our day, could sort of summarize, the car was a bit tricky to drive at the start of every stint, but by the end it was very quick. Unfortunately every time it was a yellow, seemed you'd have Dan and Dixon up front, then a bunch of lapped cars, then me and the Penskes. Those lapped cars weren't making it very easy.
But all in all, pretty happy. The pace of the Andretti Green cars has definitely improved. It's a good momentum builder into Indianapolis. The Canadian Club car looks good

Q. Dario, Dan told ESPN he doesn't feel like he's the favorite to win at Indy next month. Considering he's won two of the first four races, he's led 485 laps, do you think he's being falsely modest?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Dan's not really known for his false modesty (laughter).
I don't know. Definitely Indianapolis is a different type of track than these one-and-a-half-miles. The regulations for sure are different. Run as little downforce as we want. I'm hoping we're going to be a little bit stronger when it comes to that race with Andretti Green cars, all five of us at that race.
I think Dan's definitely one of the favorites.

Q. Last year Andretti Green struggled quite a bit. They were off the mark. What have you done over the winter to pick up the pace to be back up near the front?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, we did, we struggled a lot last year, all four cars. We've just worked hard. The owners gave the engineers a good development budget to go and find the speed. And with a formula such as we run in IndyCar, everyone in Dallaras, Hondas, Firestones, it's all the small things you got to find. These guys have been working hard over the winter and continue to do so because we feel the opposition, particularly Ganassi and Penske, they're moving that bar up higher and higher. We've definitely made inroads into that, but we still got a little bit further to go.

Q. By lap 40, were you aware that you were basically the AGR flag carrier? There was a lot of talk before the race, teammates, two red cars. You were really out there alone. Could you talk about that a little bit.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I was. It was disappointing because I think Tony was very strong today. I felt it was disappointing for him, what happened in the pits. But, no, everybody played nice today. Sometimes you get teammates doing things to help. Especially I think Hornish was a lap down, and he -- when running with him, he was behaving very well, not trying anything crazy to hold me up or anything.
I don't think it hindered me today, being out there on my own. It would have been nice to have TK up there, but it wasn't to be.

Q. Were Wheldon and Dixon that good?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I definitely felt I struggled a bit the first stint simply because I had to get through traffic, where I think they had a clear run at it. And, as I said, my car got better as the stint went on. By the time my car was up to what I felt was a good balance, was running quickly, they were gone. That was a continuing theme all day with, again, the restarts, with them being up front and me having to fight through X number of back markers that seemed to start going quite a bit quicker when you come up to lap them. It's interesting like that. I guess if they drove like that all race, they wouldn't be a lap down, right?
THE MODERATOR: Dario, thank you very much.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thanks, guys. See you in Indy.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Milka Duno, 14th place finish in her IndyCar Series debut. Milka, if you would, talk to us a little bit about your day out there for your IndyCar Series debut.
MILKA DUNO: It's a great experience. It's very tough race. At the beginning I have crazy understeer in my car. Is where I lose position because it was so difficult that I behind the other cars, different line. It was crazy, crazy car at the beginning.
But after my engineer made a fantastic job and we made two pit stop, we made two correction in the car. The car was so good, it was the moment when I started to recover and run with the highest speeds that the car give me.
Pancho, my coach driver, my spotter, was helping me the most. One time that the car was good, all time was push, Milka, push Milka, flat all the time. I appreciate most the job of all my team, of Peter, all my guys, John, Simon, all my guys and my team, because they make fantastic job. We start late in the program, but they made great thing for be ready for this race.

Q. I'm sure you've thought about this day for quite a while. Was there anything going through it that surprised you?
MILKA DUNO: At the beginning was big surprise because in qualifying we have a very good car, but we were alone. When I was in traffic, the car was no good. I was be surprised because I can't drive the car. Was so crazy understeer. I try to keep the car on the track and avoid anything that can happen. I tell to my guys, I have crazy understeer. I move the bar, but I still have so much understeer.
I keep the car on the track just for don't lose more time. And the moment that we made the pit stop, we made some change in the car. After the car was fantastic, I start to recover.

Q. In the TV coverage of the race, they were talking about the kind of feedback you were getting from your crew. They said you got a lot of support. What kinds of things were they saying to you to help you get through your first race on an oval track?
MILKA DUNO: In racing, in the team, you have to have so good communication with your engineer. You have to give the right information, he can make the right adjustment. Is the way to improve quick and to do everything in the good way in the short time we have in practice.
I am working with (indiscernible) since last year. We have excellent communication, very good relation. With all my guys also in my team. Immediately when I give the correct feedback about what happen in the car, he know me, and he know what is happening in the car, and he know what kind of adjustment made and make the car better all the time.

Q. Did you have any close calls today?
MILKA DUNO: Close what?

Q. Any situations where you thought it was probably a situation you didn't want to be in?
MILKA DUNO: In this sport, you must be a little crazy, no? Drive flat all the time. You take the risk, no? We careful, but you take the risk, be behind the other car, drive down when the cars are going to pass you outside, or inside when you want to pass another car. You have to be just like, I don't know, a little -- very cool. You're so concentrate, you're focus on the thing that you are doing, try to don't make a mistake, no? Is so risky what we were doing. Oval is so high speed, over 205, 208 all the time. We have to take care, no?

Q. Would you say this is a perfect weekend?
MILKA DUNO: It's a good weekend. It's a good weekend because, see what happen at the beginning of the race. I was with a car I can't drive. After, once I find that the car was good when we made a change, you see my running was so consistent, high speed, passing cars, trying to keep with the rest. Was a good day to learn so much. This day I learn so much. I learn in a quick way, a fast and tough way.

Q. You've come from sports cars where you don't run quite this fast. Did your car get upset more here with the dirty air than it would be in a Grand-Am car?
MILKA DUNO: It's different kind of car. I adjust to the things you have to do. Now I adjust to the car. I learn for racing oval with the rest of the car. It's just a process. It's just adjusting to a new things. But it's not a big thing. It's difficult, but it's something that you can do, no? With the practice, you get everything.

Q. Could you talk about the significance of being part of history, one of three female drivers in this race today. Do you feel the IndyCar Series is maybe more open to racers regardless of gender than maybe some of the other racing organizations?
MILKA DUNO: I think it's very attractive when in a male sport there are women. But you have to be good. If you are not good, nobody take care of you. You not here making interviews if I drive bad, no?
It's something you have more attention because it's a woman in a male sport. But at the same time we have more pressure, no? Because everybody is looking what the women are doing. Nobody see how many cars are behind the woman, they only see what the women are doing, no? It's normal pressure. It's normal situation.

Q. You improved four or five miles per hour from the start to the finish of the race. You know how much of a gap there is between where you are right now and the top 10. What are you going to do over the next month to try to get up there in that field?
MILKA DUNO: First of all, our car have not all the aerodynamic elements we need. We are waiting from England new aerodynamic element that made our car could be fast. We were running with the car. The car give to me the maximum the car can give. The speed that we got is the maximum speed we can get with the car we have now. My engineer is fantastic. He say once we have the rest of the implements that we need, we get the extra miles.

Q. Now that you've had this race, what is your observation? You talked about the Indy 500.
MILKA DUNO: Another tough moment, sure. Is going to be difficult. Everything is new. I'm learning in the fast way because I have to learn in the fast way. I start late in the championship. But it's the opportunity I have. I must take with all the responsibility, all the situation I have. I must learn the fast way. I'm sure Indianapolis is going to be a very tough race, too.

Q. Is there a particular lesson you learned today in your first race that you can take to Indy?
MILKA DUNO: I don't know Indy. I know it's really fast track. But I learned so much in this race. It's 200 laps with traffic, high speed. I learn a lot. Sure, in Indy I still learning, I still learning, all this year. Never you finish to learn, the process to learn. Every day you are learning something new. Especially in race, you can't predict anything. You have different situation, different things. One car is go out. You have to react and see what happen. If you have too much traffic, if you have a bad car, if you have a good car, depend. Everything is a process and help me to learn.

Q. Do you wish you had another race or two going into Indy?
MILKA DUNO: I'm going to have 10 race this year. The next one is Indy.

Q. Do you wish you had another one before you got to Indy?
MILKA DUNO: No, the next one is Indy. Now we go to Indy. I don't understand, sorry.
THE MODERATOR: Would you prefer to have another race before you got to Indy?
MILKA DUNO: Is no sense in I prefer. Is the situation I have. The next race is Indy. I can do nothing more. We have some practice. Always we want to practice and have more race and more practice. But we have a schedule. The next one is the next one.
THE MODERATOR: You're going to Kentucky next week for some practice.

Q. With the 90-degree corners there, it seems that road racers have figured Indy out fairly well. Might that help you a little bit?
MILKA DUNO: You talk about Indianapolis?

Q. Yes.
MILKA DUNO: I can't tell you so much because I don't know the track. Once I know the track, I explain you what is happening with this track and another track.

Q. How do you feel like the car handled today? What was your impressions of the track?
MILKA DUNO: It's like I told you at the beginning, no, the car was crazy car, so big, big crazy understeer at the beginning. It was so difficult to drive. I was lifting in turn one, turn three and four. There was no way to drive your car. Once the engineer made the adjustment, the car was fantastic. It was so good. It's the moment when I start to recover. Because I was able to drive behind another cars in traffic, outside, inside. It was fantastic car for race.

Q. At the end of that race, did you start to get a little tired? How are you physically at the end of the race? Do you feel you could go 500 miles?
MILKA DUNO: One thing that happened, I was racing in a tough championship also with the Daytona Prototype. Drive with the Daytona Prototype is tough, so hot inside. You are racing for many laps, many hours. 24 Hours Daytona. I think I have good condition for this car.
I was feeling more tired when I drive the Prototype car than with this car. Even when I was not doing oval racing, the training I had before help me so much so I adjust so quick in this car. In this car maybe you have mentally even I think a little bit more tired than with the Prototype because is so focused and you have to be so precise in every corner, every lap, flat all the time. With a road course race or with a Prototype car, you can take the risk, maybe you have little mistake, you can correct. Here is so difficult. Your mind, it is going to be tired, no?

Q. On Friday Danica said the Indianapolis Speedway is a little more difficult than racing the mile-and-a-half oval tracks. What have you been told about Indy of how you're going to have to adjust to racing at Indy?
MILKA DUNO: I don't know. I really start to learn about Indianapolis next week when we be there, no? With Pancho, my coach driver, he's going to help me, explain me everything. I am in the process to learn everything in that new championship, new kind of race in oval. I am learning everything now. When I race in Indy, I will tell you later what is the difference everything. Now I don't know about Indy.
THE MODERATOR: All right, Milka, thank you very much. See you in Indianapolis next week.
MILKA DUNO: Thank you so much.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the race winner, Dan Wheldon. Seventh different winner here in Kansas in as many races that the IndyCar Series has run here. Dan led 177 of 200 laps today. He has led 484 of 700 laps to date this season. He becomes the points leader heading into Indianapolis.
Dan, why don't we start off with talking about your run out there today.
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, you know, it was fortunately a different race for Kansas. Kansas is normally a producer of very close finishes. I have to say I much prefer the widest margin of a Kansas race than the shortest because I've lost on one of those shortest.
But both Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars were very fast. You know, mine seemed particularly quick. I was a little worried going in because when I saw my lead just growing and growing, I was waiting for something bad to happen because, you know, that's unfortunately the way some of our races have gone.
But fortunately it turned out the way we wanted it to. We achieved the goal. It was unfortunate for Scott not to be second because, you know, he had a very good car also. But unfortunately I think circumstances just cost him that. Nonetheless, it's a great team effort.
THE MODERATOR: Dan, winning today going into the month of May having the points lead, talk about that a little bit and how important it is to have that momentum going into Indianapolis.
DAN WHELDON: The Indianapolis 500 I think, as everybody knows, is the be all and end all to me. That's the race that I'm desperate to win. I've had a taste of that milk before. It's an amazing thing. You think after winning it once, after you worked so hard to try and win that race, you'd be satisfied. But I think that taste of milk makes you even more determined to win again.
It's kind of frustrating really. We've got the championship lead, which is nice. But I think more importantly we scored another win, which is what I like doing the best.
In terms of creating momentum, I think you can create your own momentum because the month is so long. I think obviously, you know, Sam's had a disappointing - by his regards - start to the season. But I can guarantee you come race day at Indianapolis, he's going to be strong. You can create momentum.
But I think with what we've done so far this season, it puts everybody in a great mindset going into the month. You know, more importantly for what we've had going on with Motegi last weekend and now Kansas, it's put the guys in the workshop an awful lot. They've sacrificed time with their families. I think to give something back in terms of race wins is something that is a just reward for their families and not just the people on the team. As everybody knows, Mr. Ganassi is a hard taskmaster. He'll give you the goods to do the job, but he wants you to work hard. That's why he's a great guy to drive for.

Q. Dan, when you had the tire problems, how fortunate was it that the caution also came out?
DAN WHELDON: I think I got a little bit lucky with time in the stint that I picked up the puncture. I think I was about to pit in about two or three laps anyway. So from that standpoint it wasn't too bad. But, you know, it's a shame. It seems that I haven't had one of those races without any problems just yet. Maybe I'll get that at the Indianapolis 500. With a grueling 500 miles, I'm not sure that will be the case.
But, you know, with the car being so quick today, it does put you in a position where if you have a problem, you can react to it. Fortunately, we were able to do that.

Q. As Dario had pointed out Indy is a different type of track than this. Do you have to change your mindset at all going into this? Does the pit crew have to make any particular adjustments in the car for the change in track?
DAN WHELDON: What's unique about the IndyCar Series, what I think everybody loves about it, is the diversity. Certainly being from England, you tell everybody you drive on the ovals, I think they think every one is very similar. But they're very, very different. And the level of competition in the series right now is to the point where the car is very much on edge at each different track, so therefore requires something particular to be good around each individual track.
I think the biggest thing with Indianapolis, you know, it's very high pressure. You have to control yourself emotionally to be able to not let things fluster you because, you know, it can be a detriment to your month.
But, you know, what I think is great about a lot of the races leading into the Indianapolis 500 is our crowd attendance and the buzz. I mean, there's been a lot of buzz. Without being too rude, you hear a lot of bullshit in the press about how many fans are in the grandstands. Well, let me tell you today, if anybody's got a camera, that place was jam-packed. I know Mr. Ganassi was desperate to try to get Scott and I into our car. The problem was, we were signing for so many people, we couldn't get to them.
I think that's great. You know, we're going to a place where the Super Bowl -- it's the home of the Super Bowl champions. Hopefully we can overshadow them with a great race. Not to take anything away from the Colts because I like the Colts and Peyton Manning, too.

Q. With the fast start to your season, also your victory today, can you talk about your confidence with speedways like Texas and Chicagoland, similar to what we had today?
DAN WHELDON: Any time you're winning and leading laps, it's very positive for everybody involved. I can't say enough. There's so much pressure it seems this year because the competition is so close. People talked about going into the season that it would be between two teams. I think for all the drivers involved, they're very glad that that's not the case. A good friend of mine, who I happen to love racing, Tony Kanaan, is up there. That's good to see him happy again.
Any championship or any race that you're in, you want to beat as many people as you possibly can that are close to you because it's more rewarding that way. I think, you know, having just won a couple of races and led a lot of laps, that does give you great confidence. But at the same time you have to continue to work hard because the league's too competitive just to sit and rest on your laurels. You'll be swallowed up pretty fast.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAN WHELDON: A lot of people have asked me that. I think it's difficult to say who is the favorite going into Indianapolis. Do I think I'm going to be a contender? Absolutely. I was very strong there last year. Certainly throughout my career I've been very lucky to be in very competitive equipment to be good at Indianapolis because it is the race that I love.
But I honestly think you could pick 10 to 15 people. That's the thing about Indianapolis. I mean, it wouldn't be Indianapolis if it was just one of those races where three or four people to win. It's not. It's one where 10 or 15 could win, and possibly more.
I think I will be a contender. But I'm not sure you can say I'm the favorite. Hopefully you guys think I am because that's good. In my mindset, I'm a contender. I'm just going to try to do the best I can.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAN WHELDON: I think with the conditions today, and I think the competition level, you're really trying to push the envelope on setup. If you're a little bit out of that envelope, it can cost you dearly.
The temperature's always very hot here. The wind was kind of gusty. I think the seams in this racetrack have more of an effect on the car than normal. Because of that, they were difficult to drive. I had an -- I don't know if I had an in-car camera. It would be impressive to watch the loose moment I had in traffic on one particular lap.
That's what has been a little bit unusual for this race. But, you know, at the same time it's good to win and be quick. I don't think you can take any credit away from the boys for the job they did on both cars this weekend.

Q. Before the schedule changed this year, Motegi would have been the last race going into Indy. How much did it help getting that all out of your head in one week?
DAN WHELDON: Say that again.

Q. If the schedule hadn't changed where there was a race between Motegi and Indy, if you had the disappointments you had last week, you would have had that going into Indy. How important was that to get your head cleared of all that from last weekend?
DAN WHELDON: I think I'll be a lot nicer to deal with now. That's part of my personality. I mean, as an IndyCar driver, you're only going to be around for so long. I can't emphasize enough, I've been very fortunate to be in good teams. When you're in a competitive package, you don't like to let results slip. I know not just me but everybody in the team, it can wear you down.
So to put it right going into a grueling month is good. It's definitely very good. I can eat breakfast tomorrow morning and be happy rather than stabbing my fork into the table.

Q. Last year you and Sam battled, ended up tied in points, but you lost because of wins. You want to win everything by as much as possible. It's a team sport. Everybody can make a boo-boo. You have to really work hard to eliminate the tiny mistakes that cost you the championship.
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I think it's very important to do that. I think I underestimated last year the transition going from one pretty big team to another. We certainly had the capability of winning that championship, and we didn't. Over the winter you don't just sit back and think, It was a great season because we tied. That's certainly not what I would do. I'm highly critical of myself. In some of the areas where I feel I needed to improve, I tried. And in some areas where I feel the team needed to improve, we've worked hard on those.
Hopefully we're reaping the rewards of that. But there's still areas that we can improve on, and I think we're certainly going to try.

Q. You mentioned some of the close finishes here at Kansas Speedway. You've been at the wrong end of one of those. How satisfying was it to be able to break through today to get the win here?
DAN WHELDON: It's good. As an IndyCar driver, you want to try and win at all the different venues you race at. I came up a little short a couple of times here. It's nice to have this one in the books.
I think going into these first five races now, I've won at every track, is that correct?
THE MODERATOR: I believe that's correct.
DAN WHELDON: I like that. I'm very goal-driven. That's something I'm trying to work on. Like I've emphasized, now we can start thinking about Indy. I get excited about that. That's the one I'm desperate to try and win.

Q. You talked about the diversity of tracks in the IndyCar Series. How do you feel like the diversity of drivers has maybe helped the sport, Danica Patrick, drivers from Brazil, Milka Duno from Venezuela?
DAN WHELDON: I think it's good. It seems like the series right now is in the spotlight. A lot of people are talking about the different things, the new people that came to the series.
To be quite honest and frank, some people were skeptical about Milka Duno. I think she performed pretty well considering. But certainly up front I think you've got people from different countries, just different ladder systems leading into the IndyCar Series competing against one another.
I think when you think of myself, Dixon, Hornish, Castroneves, Tony, Dario, there's some very good drivers that could compete anywhere in the world. When you're racing against them, it's rewarding to win.
The Brazilian is good, though, let me tell you. No. 11 Brazilian can drive a race car.

Q. You talked about how hot it is usually here. Dario mentioned he liked racing here in April. What is your opinion on getting to race here earlier in the season?
DAN WHELDON: He likes it because he's from Scotland and it always rains in Scotland. He's probably more used to the temperature. I can't talk, I'm from England. I think I've adapted to the summers in Indiana. I spend a lot of time in Florida now. I'm kind of used to that.
I have to say it doesn't matter when you race at Kansas, it's always a good race. It's always very competitive. Perhaps might not have looked like that today. Everybody was pushing hard. There's always a great fan attendance. I think if this is the date they wanted it, it really doesn't matter because we always put on a good show. I think all the drivers like coming here.
THE MODERATOR: Dan, thank you very much.

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