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June 3, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Tell us about your day, Dario.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We had a bit too much understeer at the start with the Canadian Club car. We fought that. We expected a slower-paced race, more stop and start, more heavy traffic. Subsequently, when we did get in those positions, restarts and heavy traffic, the cars got backed up, my car was very good.
The downside was, it wasn't quite quick enough on its own and we fought the understeer. But we just tried to improve it all day each and every stop.
The car by the end there wasn't bad. You know, just made up the places I could. As I say, I passed Dan. I think the craziest part of the race was seeing Hornish's rear wing start to fall off. I got on the radio, I said I think his rear wing is falling off there. Then he came in the pits, came back out right in front.
But it's been a hell of a week, and to finish second to Tony I think really was a great end to the day. He drove a fantastic race to come back from where he did. I'm really proud for the team to get a 1-2 today. Typical, exciting, crazy Milwaukee Mile race.
THE MODERATOR: Unofficially you are now the points leader by three points over Dan Wheldon. After your week that you mentioned, it's been pretty crazy, can you breathe here for a moment now?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'll breathe on Tuesday. Got to go to New York tonight to do some stuff there.
But to get the points lead is good. I knew that pass meant a lot when I was passing Dan there. I kind of worked out in my head he was obviously way up there, Dixon was still behind me, it was going to be close. Just pushed for every place we could today.
It's such a good place to race here. It's so much fun to go around this track and race, and today proved no different.
THE MODERATOR: You seem a little frustrated. Are you frustrated, a little tired?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm a little tired. I'm not frustrated. I think we got the most out of our car that we could today. Our team, I think we all did a great job, as I say. And if I'm going to finish second, who better to finish second to than Tony. And I really do think he deserved it today.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Danica and Wheldon made contact. What did you see in that incident?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I got held up behind Dan. Got a slight run on him. But Danica got around both of us and passed us both. I then pulled down the inside. I think she got maybe held up slightly trying to pass Dan. As Brian Barnhart says, the third man in should be the first man out, so I started to back out of it. I was trying to get out of situation at that point. Then I started to see Danica spin across the front of me. I was looking at Danica and the inside curb, not at what was going on between her and Dan, so I really have no idea.
Q. Were you surprised to see the same component fail on both Penske cars? Do you think that's where they're looking for an advantage?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Definitely unusual, isn't it? When was the last time you saw a rear wing fail? I had no idea that Helio's had failed, and I thought Sam's was due to him brushing the wall in two. I guess when they both failed, I don't know. Maybe ask Tim Cindric that question. I don't know (laughter).
Q. Last week you won the biggest race in the world. Are you rejuvenated?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I've been rejuvenated all year. That's why I came back this year. Towards the end of last season I was getting so much motivation by being frustrated and the season that we had. I came back this year, from the first race, the first test, ready to do the job.
The cars this year I think have helped because the cars have been faster. Do I think I did a different job last year? No. But I think we've had better luck and I think we have had a lot faster cars so I think that's the difference you're seeing.
Q. What made the difference in this race? You kept moving steadily forward all day.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think the difference, our car, we were working on it, it was getting better and better. And the longer runs the car was towards the end, people were going loose and our car was at its best. Unfortunately we did lose a couple of spots in the pits, probably because of making those adjustments to improve the car.
But I just think every time a restart was there, we could attack a bit more. The car was best either at the end of a run or on the restart. We just took advantage of everything we could today.
Q. On the cool-down lap, you pulled up beside your teammate Tony Kanaan. What did you say to him?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: As much as I could do with a head restraint. I just applauded him because I think he did a hell of a job, really a first-class job today.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Dario.
We bring now up to the microphone eighth-finishing Danica Patrick. Danica, the story here is the run-in with Dan Wheldon. Why don't you, from your seat, tell us about it.
DANICA PATRICK: Well, something happened in three and four, and Dario and Dan got slowed up for some reason. I went down the inside and got a really good run on him, went past Dario, pulled all the way up alongside Dan, drove down into the corner, all the way up alongside of him.
I look in my mirror last second, Dario pulls to the inside, and it looks like he's maybe a quarter car width up on me something, maybe a half at the most. I mean, I can't stay looking in my mirror all the way through the corner, so at that point in time I have to assume it's three in. And that's actually what I heard in my ear, was three-wide going into the corner.
At that point I held my line on the way in, which is what you have to do when you're three-wide. And Dan just turned down into the corner because, as he told me, you can't get caught up in the marbles, which to me means that you got passed. He turned down into me and spun me sideways and luckily I caught it, kept going, managed to go from, I don't know what position that was for, but, you know, last row to fourth, then back down to last again, up to eighth. So it was a tough day.
But that incident from my perspective was that, is that Dan got passed and he didn't want to let off.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned started in the back row 17th. What happened yesterday?
DANICA PATRICK: You know, yesterday we really -- we didn't practice qualifying very much at all. We got a sticker run in. You know, we went low fuel with a set of stickers every time, but we didn't count the laps. They kind of said, you got enough laps to do whatever you want. We just didn't really focus really hard on qualifying.
I think if we would have had the car we had in the first session, we'd have still been fine. But unfortunately at the last part of the day, before qualifying, the car just went terribly off and there was no grip, there was no side bite in the car. You couldn't feel any grip any more. And I thought, well, maybe it's a bad set of tires or maybe it's just the setup or maybe something like that. Went into qualifying, the same thing.
Q. How did you hang on through that, after the contact with Dan when you were sideways in pit exit?
DANICA PATRICK: I actually think the grass is probably the one thing that helped me because it got so far sideways that it seemed like it was, you know, completely sideways in the corner. And then I hit the grass and the front end kept sliding probably a little bit faster than the rear-end since it was on the grass. Managed to get it straight.
I kind of felt really proud of myself, like I had a Tony Kanaan at Indy in turn four kind of save, which we all admired. I always put pride into any sort of car-handling maneuver that's like TK's. I know I wasn't going quite as fast as maybe they were at Indy, but just hard lock to the right (laughter).
Q. How difficult was the car to drive after?
DANICA PATRICK: Unfortunately, we had to stop and change the steering rod, it was pulling so very hard to the left. It was quite bent from what I could see inside the cockpit when they took it off. And then once they put it back on, I'm sure it's not down to the millimeter like they do it when it's on the flat patch and they're measuring everything exactly. So it wasn't I don't think a hundred percent perfect when it was put back on, but it was still pretty good and it was drivable. But it seemed to pull a little bit to the left.
THE MODERATOR: Prior to the incident with Dan, did you feel as though had you a car to win?
DANICA PATRICK: I think I had a car to win. I don't know how quick the leaders were. But obviously if I was up to fourth, coming from the back, I was obviously doing some sort of good times each and every lap or else I wouldn't be able to pull up that far.
And I took very good care of my tires so they were good through the whole stint. And then unfortunately after that we took some front wing out and the car was running with quite a bit of understeer in the second stint. Then we got it back to the third stint. We put some front wing back in it.
But I had worked so hard to get by a couple of cars, Carpenter and some other people, that I was charging really deep into the corner and just turning really hard and getting understeer just to try to get by them, so unfortunately I damaged the right front in the process and I wasn't really able to correct it inside the cockpit without making it loose, which is even worse on an oval.
Q. What was the conversation on pit road with Dan?
DANICA PATRICK: I just came up to him, I looked at him, put my arm around him, started walking, and I said, What happened? What was that for? Did you not see me? Why didn't you back off? And he didn't say anything.
I said, I was clearly inside of you, because I heard him saying in an interview that I wasn't all the way up alongside of him. So I'm not sure what is lost in translation there, but I was completely alongside of him. I've made many more passes happen with being less far up on someone.
And then he said, Well, you can't get caught out in the marbles. I said, Well, then that's a pass, Dan. I got by you, you need to let off and you didn't, you turned into me. That was about it. And I told him, you know, if you don't think that I'm going to remember this, I don't know why you're being like this, but if you don't think I'm going to remember, you're crazy.
Q. You talked to Dario as well. Did you get more clarification as to exactly what happened?
DANICA PATRICK: No, Dario did have a good view and he was also, like he said up here talking to you guys, he said he was the third man in so he's got to be the first one out. By the sounds of it, that is kind of what he did. All I heard -- what he said was that he did try to get out of it. I don't know how -- I don't know at what point he became the first man out. But when I went into the corner, I heard three-wide. At three-wide, which is what all of our spotters should have been saying in or ears, inside you're three-wide, you're in the middle three-wide, or you're on the outside three-wide now. You should all know that you have to hold your line. And at that point that is exactly what I did, I held my line. I turned into the corner. But there wasn't going to be a lot of room. This is not a three-wide track. This is barely a two-wide track for cars in the corner, unless they were going a little bit slower.
So at that point in time it would have seemed to me like Dan lost position.
Q. After the conversation with Dan, apparently there was some physical contact, what was it exactly?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, there's going to be I'm sure some sort of camera that will have it on film, unlike me inside of a vehicle. But I just grabbed his arm and that's it. I grabbed his arm and kind of pushed off. But, you know, it was nothing violent, nothing violent.
Q. Are you able to take consolation for the fact that you were the star of the field, running through the field a couple of times?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, that is nice. But at the end of the day, I have no idea how many eighth-place starts I have, but I have a significant amount. It's frustrating to have a day like that and it not materialize. When you have a good car, you really hope that you can make the most of it and have good results because there are going to be days that you don't have a good car. So that is nice. It was at times not the easiest car to drive, so it is good to know that.
I think we're making strides. You know, I think my driving is being better and more, you know, confident out there. You know, yes, that if one thing is there is a nice thing to walk away from.
Q. Normally the girls don't excel at the short tracks. You have here. Why is that?
DANICA PATRICK: I know one thing about the short tracks, is that they take a lot of car control. I mean, you have to be intuitive with the car. You have to be patient with the car. You have to not take more than what it can give you. But at the same time you have to keep getting to that limit. Also it's quite physical.
I could have sworn my guys added castor instead of taking it out for the race, it was so heavy in the steering. But, you know, I work very hard to become strong, and I think that that pays off in the short ovals because it's constant. I'm going to put my body in a pool of ice tonight. But I feel all right at the end of the race here, so I think those are the two reasons. You know, you have to be smart with the car, patient, good car control.
Q. Just a week till Texas one-and-a-half mile oval. Do you think you and the team are going to be competitive there and show improvement?
DANICA PATRICK: I think they have shown improvement already. I thought that we showed well in the mile-and-a-half's so far. What have we had so far? In Motegi we were good, Kansas, Homestead. I thought we did all right. I think getting every car up there, I mean, at times I think we've kind of missed it, but I put a little bit of it down to the fact it's a new engineer and everything, just him being confident in giving me a car that might be a little bit neutral or something.
And also Indy. I mean, Indy is not a place they've necessarily been the fastest. They have had good cars in the race for sure, but definitely not the fastest in qualifying. I think we all being in the top 11 on the first day was a major sign of the progression that's been made. So I think we're all a little bit interested to see how it goes down in Texas. And if our speed is there, I have no doubt that we'll have good-handling cars for the race and be able to push forward, but I anticipate to have a fast car. I think that if you can go fast at Indy, then, you know, I mean, that's the place you have to have ultimate speed. So I'm optimistic.
THE MODERATOR: Danica, thank you for your time.
Tony, ninth career win, second of the season, second consecutive win at Milwaukee. Your race really changed just prior to lap 100 on that round of pit stops. Came in a little earlier than everybody else, had to go to the back of the line. What happened there?
TONY KANAAN: We were running out of fuel and I was going to come in that lap. The yellow, they closed the pits. I was going to run out of fuel on the track, so I had to come in for a splash, then back in again, then back in again.
I wasn't very happy, but I think over the years I've been learning that things for me never come that easy. I never gave up. Especially after last weekend, I said, Oh, I've been here before, so let's go, let's do it again (laughter). I looked around to see if it was not going to rain at that point. Lap 100, lap 113 last week, so I'm like, Whoa.
It was an adventure, but we had a good car. So I said, well, let's not panic, let's move forward. That's what we did.
THE MODERATOR: The rough breaks you had at Indy are well-documented. Rough breaks here. Had to go to the back. You're the benefactor of some of the breaks today. Does that redeem it a little bit for you?
TONY KANAAN: Well, that shows how racing is, you know. Last weekend, I was on that shoe. This weekend I think was Helio. He had a dominant car, had a problem with the rear wing. I would say that's why you can't get upset, which I did not. If you guys saw me after the race in Indy, I was very happy for Dario. That's the way it is. So I kept my head together. I kept thinking positive about everything and I still have a championship to go after.
Indy was not going to -- I didn't want Indy to affect that. I think we turned the situation around.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Were you shocked when you saw Helio's wing come down, and when you saw that Sam had the same problem, what did you think, maybe they were up to something?
TONY KANAAN: Well (laughter). I think the facts prove what happened, but I'm not here to point fingers at everybody. I didn't even know they had a wing problem until I made it to Victory Lane. I saw Helio spinning and crash. All you do is not spin on the straightaway. I knew something happened.
And Sam I just -- I mean, I restarted. I drove as fast as I could for three laps. I look in my mirrors. I'm like, there's nobody behind me. When I saw he's coming out of the pits, I thought he had a contact with somebody. So I did not know about the rear wing problems they had up until I got the interview in Victory Circle.
I'm not going to make any comments on the rear wing. I think things happen. It's not up to me to go investigate that.
THE MODERATOR: Your cool-down lap, you really slowed down. You were the last one in pit lane. Was it just kind of a sigh of relief?
TONY KANAAN: I was slowing down because I wanted to salute the fans that came to watch us. I think it was a great crowd. You know, when you're looking at the fans and waving at them, probability to hit somebody on the track would be big, and I didn't want to do that. So I slowed down, I went around the outside, I wanted to look at them and thank them for coming. That's why.
I was talking on the radio a lot with my guys. I was distracted, just really chatting.
Q. Not washing your suit the entire race weekend seems to work. Same situation last year.
TONY KANAAN: Do I smell? That's a brand-new suit. I have Milwaukee 2007 (laughter). No, I changed suits today.
Q. You did?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I did. See, all my superstitions go to the trash every time I change something. It's just in your head really (laughter).
Q. After you had to move to the back of the pack, did you feel like you had a car that could come all the way up to the front? Were you handling traffic fairly well?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, but I knew it was going to be tough. When you go back there, obviously the first four or five cars maybe have been struggling all weekend, it's easier to pass, but then you get up to the top five guys and it starts to get tough.
I knew it was going to be a long day. At that point when you're driving the car, you're not -- I do not panic, I do not think anything. I said, Well, I got to pass 11 cars now. Am I going to be able to do that? I don't know, but I'm going to try as much as I can and we'll see. That's what happened.
I restarted. I set up a couple guys. I passed them. And then after that things came my way. I knew I had a good car. But when you put yourself back there, again, I go back to last weekend, anything can happen. I was just trying to stay out of trouble.
Q. Some of the other stories, leader crashes, your teammate has a run-in, and a pit road run-in after the race with your old teammate, are you concerned about the other story lines?
TONY KANAAN: I'm not racing to be famous. I'm not racing to go make the news. The prize money check is mine. The trophy's mine. 50 points in the bank. I'm going for the championship. So to be honest with you, if they want to make the front page of USA Today, be my guest, I don't care. If I need to go fight, one day I might if I feel I need some attention, just get out of the car and beat the hell out of somebody, we'll make front page for sure (laughter).
Q. In the four years this race has been run here at the Mile, you have finished fourth, fourth, first and first. A pretty good track result here at the Milwaukee Mile. If you could, explain why you get around this place so good, why you like it so much.
TONY KANAAN: It's funny because if you go back in history, '98, '99, I started last in this place, never made it to lap 50. Then I heard from somebody that, you know, I think mile ovals is not your type of track. That got to my head and I got better or it was just the circumstances.
I love this place. Obviously it is a driver's track. I have a very good team that gives me a very good mile oval track car. If you guys look at the record as a team, we've done very well on those type of tracks. So it's a combination of both. And I would say let's try to keep the record.
Q. Late in the race you might have been the only driver that was able to go down on the black asphalt and make some passes. Were you hoping that was going to come to you? Was that how good the car was working? Was it out of necessity?
TONY KANAAN: That's how I won the race here last year. I planned all weekend long to have my car working both lanes basically. And if you look, everybody was running high. How you going to pass somebody on such a difficult track if they run your line? Got to run another line to have the downforce to be able to pass people.
I didn't want to show them everything at the beginning of the race so I wasn't going there as much as I should because I want to set them up for the end. Once I got mad because I was back there, I said, my plans have got to change. I started going down a little earlier than I wanted.
I set the car up for that. That's how I think I made all those passes.
Q. You said yesterday you thought your car was too pushy to be good today.
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, and apparently my engineer listened to me because I was loose for the first two stints. We balanced the car. I have a lot of things that I can do inside the car, he could done with the tire pressures. We brought the car back after we dropped to 11th. Then after that, it was a very balanced car. It was the way I wanted it. I think the track came up a little bit, too, grip-wise. For me it came my way for sure towards the end of the race.
Q. Lap 90 when you came back in, what caused that?
TONY KANAAN: We were going to come in to refuel. It went yellow. I was going to run out of fuel on the track so I had to come in to do a splash. I do a splash. We came in. Somehow we missed three gallons. I don't know what happened. I had to come back in again.
Yeah, I wasn't a very happy camper at that point. I forget people monitor our radios. So sure somebody was listening. They could tell I wasn't a very happy guy with my team. I said, Guys, we need to get our stuff together. I didn't say that, but you can imagine what I said. And they said, Don't worry, we will. Next time I come in, I miss my mark, I hit the bump and I almost run my guy over. They do the stop. For sure payback comes. Tony, you got to do your stuff together, too, man.
I agree. So we came with the agreement that the last stop would be a good one, and it was.
Q. Given that you and Dario have been so good this year, the expectations for Marco were so high, do the two of you as seasoned veteran drivers try to find a way to help him get some of his confidence back? He crashed the last three races.
TONY KANAAN: He crashed two. He parked one.
Q. Crashed here, crashed at Indy, crashed at Japan.
TONY KANAAN: Okay (laughter). Never fight with a journalist. My bad. I was thinking about Kansas.
Well, as a team leaders, if you want to call me and Dario that, it's a big responsibility for me and him. I mean, not just Marco, but Danica as well. I think she was driving a great race. It's tough. I mean, it's a lot of pressure on those two, which I said that many times. I mean, this year I just feel lonely. I mean, they get all the attention. They get all the expectations. And that sometimes it's tough. It's tough for a guy like me and Dario, that we're old men, to get the pressure. Can you imagine for a 20-year-old kid that his name is Andretti, he won a race his first year, his teammates are up at the front all day. He's been going through a phase that I think is not only his fault, but it happens. It happens to anybody, especially to the young drivers.
I've been working really hard to help him out. We've been spending a lot of time together. I can name many examples to him, and I show him races that I've done bad, I made mistakes, show bad results like last weekend. A car that is dominant, you go out and you finish 12th.
The difference between a mature guy and a young guy, I would say it's not to get affect by that because once you put negative thoughts into your mind, that's tough, and I've been there. I remember, Zanardi used to tell me the same thing. I thought he was a crazy Italian guy trying to tell me things, what the hell. And it's true. I'm trying really hard to show him that it will go away. He has the talent. He just needs to think about what he needs to do to make it better.
It's not just up to him, though, I have to say. A coincidence of a lot of facts that made things happen. Yes, he's driving the car, he crashed. If we going to get into details right now, it's going to be tough because there's a lot of other things that happened a couple of times for him to crash. But, you know, one of them today I think it was totally his fault. But it happens. We make mistakes, and that's life. You cannot get affect by that because you jeopardizing the next result.
The easiest thing to do right now is to give up. The easiest thing to do right now is open the newspaper and read all of we say about him. I said, don't worry about that. Don't read that stuff. Just let's go away. He's going to Miami with me this week. Up until the Formula One weekend, we're going to be together. I'll just try to do what Zanardi did to me and just kind of show him that, look, forget about it. I mean, move on.
Q. What did Dario have to say to you today when he saw you in Victory Lane? You were gracious with Dario last week at Indy.
TONY KANAAN: He came to the podium and said, I told you, because he told me you're going to win this thing today before the race starts. I said, What are you doing, giving to me already because you won the 500? He said, No, trust me, I'll be there. And he was.
Between me and him, it's such a special relationship as friends, that that doesn't matter. I mean, you guys saw me last weekend. I've never cried when I won, and he made me cry when he won. I wasn't crying because I lost the race.
He was happy. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw he was second, I knew he was leading the championship. We're doing what we were supposed to do. As a team, we're working really well together, the two of us. Now we need to bring the other two guys up the way we have. The more help we get up in the front, the easier it's going to be for us to win this championship.
His words was, If there is a payback, I think you got yours. I said, Yeah, the difference is it's a $1 million check versus $100,000.
Q. With your success here at the Milwaukee Mile, two short tracks coming, Richmond and Iowa, what one is the most difficult?
TONY KANAAN: It's tough. I think all of them have their similarities, but their differences as well. This is a non-bank track. Richmond is a bank track. Iowa as well.
I would say the next two are very similar. This one is on its own. But history-wise we have had good cars in Richmond. I tested in Iowa. I did a tire test. The car felt pretty good. I'm confident.
I think if I look further in the championship right now, we have Texas, which I've done very well, then we going to go to the short ovals, some road courses, some street courses. The future looks bright. It's going to be up to us to get the job done.
Q. After your tire test in Iowa, you got out of the car and said that this was a tough track, takes a lot of stamina. Talk about that.
TONY KANAAN: It's very physical. I got out of the car, I was tired. We'll see. That's why I work out as much as I do. If I'm getting tired, I'm pretty sure a lot of people will, too. That makes me feel better.
It's very physical, as typical mile oval or short oval tracks. That one definitely, we're going to see a difference, who is really working out lately or not.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, thank you very much for your time. Congratulations.
TONY KANAAN: Thank you.
End of FastScripts