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June 9, 2007
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
THE MODERATOR: This is Tony's third second-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, his third Top-5 of the season, you avoided a major wreck out there and closed in on Sam. Talk about your run tonight.
TONY KANAAN: It was a good run. I had huge brake problems. I had no brakes at all. I could barely come into the pits, missed my marks a couple of times and lost a lot of time in the pits.
And that accident, I'm not going to brag about it. I have no idea how I went through. It felt kind of like "Days of Thunder"; kind of closed my eyes and went full throttle and went through. I think sometimes you've got to be lucky.
We had a decent car. It wasn't fastest car out there; I don't think we really had a car to finish second. We capitalized on people's misfortunes. And I don't think I had it for Sam, although I tried.
Great results for the team. If you look back a year ago, we were really struggling on this type of track. So I have to really say thank you to my team owners to give us the tools and the money to develop the cars and the engineer that is did a great job.
So with that, we should, you know, move forward and see what's going to happen from now on.
Q. If Danica had a better car, can somebody help push you by?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, we saw that happening before. I think Danica did a hell of a job helping me to keep it close to Sam, but unfortunately while knowing Sam, he was giving me a lot of room up until two laps to go, which is perfectly fine because I said on the radio I was going to work with him "because you don't want anyone else to try to catch us."
Two laps to go, his car became a little wide, which is perfectly fine. He didn't do anything that is not in the rules, and then Danica started to understeer because we started to run too wide -- apparently too wide, and with that I could not get close to Sam and she could not get close to me.
Q. On the accident, you addressed it a little bit, but when something like that happens, is it just happening so quick that you really can't adjust on it, or what do you try and do as a driver?
TONY KANAAN: Well, you're coming up to a car that's probably going, what, 40 miles an hour, you come up at 200 miles an hour. Although we have good brakes on the car, the distance that you cover, it's so fast. You're never going to stop.
So basically you just keep looking and looking and see where he's going to go, one guy is on the wall, one guy is spinning and one is coming on top of me; "Where should I go? Where should I go?" Once you choose one lane, that's where you've got to be, no matter what. I think I chose the right one.
Q. Over the last green flag run, when did you realize you just didn't have enough for Sam? You did give a couple of looks at the outside you said until the final two laps; was it early on that you figured out you couldn't get him?
TONY KANAAN: From probably lap one, I figure out that he was pretty strong when he got in the lead. So at one point he took off, and I could not catch him. So at the end there, obviously when he had one car running alone, I caught him because I was drafting him.
But I knew. I knew I could not pass him. You know, my plan was to keep putting the pressure on him and maybe, you know, he would understeer on the last lap or something and Danica was going to help me from behind. But pretty much, I never gave up as you guys can see, but I knew it was going to be very hard.
Q. I know that you've kind of been in the middle of things there with your friend and with your teammate, but seems that she kind of responded to the pressure pretty well tonight with her career-best finish; what do you think of the job that she did?
TONY KANAAN: You can ask her. I think she's very happy. But I think she did a hell of a job. She did what we're supposed to do. We planned to work together and as our teammate, I think she did no different than what Dario did with me a few years ago -- and here she is. (Danica enters room). She can answer you that.
She drove a hell of a race and helped me out a lot. I said to her in the beginning of the race, I said: Look, we are going to get mad at each other at one point in the race just because there is nowhere to go. And for sure, I was all over the place; at one point she was all over the place; but everybody was all over the place.
Toward the end there when I was catching Sam, I kept looking in my mirrors, and you never pray for somebody to catch you, but at this point I was. When I saw her coming up, I said, "Whoa, here we go." And I didn't want to say anything on the radio because then someone was going to tell Sam what I was going to do. But Sam has raced on the outside many times. So I think he knew exactly what I was trying to do.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Danica Patrick, finished third, career-best finish, first Top-5 of the season and led her first lap of the year this evening. Danica, talk about tonight.
DANICA PATRICK: I led tonight? Hmmm. I didn't know that. Gosh, you would think somebody would tell me that to get me all excited, right?
It was a good day overall. I thought that as a team we were really strong. Tony did a great job. Dario did a great job. It was just, problem was, it's just hard to pass around here. You saw it with Sam leading a lot of the race. You run around the bottom there and unless you've got -- unless you've got probably an understeering problem, you're probably going to hang on right there.
Overall it was a good weekend. We worked hard on the car and we took a bit of a gamble on the direction to go for the race, but we, you know -- it was okay. I had a lot of understeer in the first two stints of race. So we fixed it for the end and just didn't have quite enough to help Tony and scoot by Sam.
Q. After the week you had, you respond pretty well to the pressure of controversy; can you talk about how satisfying it is for you to come out and do a hell of a job?
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, this is a recurring thing, isn't it, a story and all of a sudden I have a season-best to go off of.
TONY KANAAN: You should get mad more often I guess.
DANICA PATRICK: Just think how mad I'll be when you shave my head. They are going to push me around now -- no, it was really a matter of time. I think, you know, we've had fast cars throughout the season, and it was a matter of getting more on the same page with my engineer and just having everything come together.
We just didn't have very much time before the season started to really mesh together and know exactly -- you know, he basically couldn't read my mind at the start of the season. (Laughing).
But we are getting better and I'm getting more comfortable overall, and I think like I said in a couple of interviews over the last couple of races, I really feel like the traffic part of the job and passing cars has improved. And heck, are you kidding me, I'm taking notes from Tony; he's like the king of it.
Q. You're used to the spotlight and media people, but what sort of distraction factor was this?
DANICA PATRICK: I can't honestly say it's a distraction really. I didn't do that much more than I normally do. It wasn't like we were trying to feed this. We weren't doing -- we weren't setting up hour-long SMTs to get the message out that there was some sort of a rumble -- rumble in Texas here.
It just ran its course. You know, as far as Dan and I, we handled it like drivers and like people on the track that need to respect each other, and it was everything on the outside that seemed very -- very exciting or something like that.
Like I said -- it's fun, though. I like it when we get something going on in the series and people are paying attention. When I turn on SportsCenter or ESPN and see a whole bunch of stuff on our race coming up that day or that night, that's good. That's the stuff we need. So I get a kick out of it,.
Q. Tony, you said that your car is almost all the way there. How much farther, ten percent, five percent, two percent?
TONY KANAAN: It depends on the track, because if you look at Kansas, we were up there. Homestead, we were so far away. Look at Dan in those two races, and he came here, he was as strong. So, it's hard to judge. I can't tell you that we're definitely there. Now it's going to be up to us and the other teams who is going to get it right on it weekend, and who is not going to get so right.
I don't think we are behind. I think although we haven't won a mile-and-a-half race yet -- well, I won Japan, but that's a different type of racetrack. I would say we've been there.
So I would say one out of five maybe, five percent.
Q. I saw the two of you on pit road right after the race, and I think Dario was over there, too, you guys were having a little conference; would you share with us what you guys were talking about?
TONY KANAAN: Congratulating each other. We know how hard we worked to get up where we are. I mean, Danica has just joined us this year, but last year we had such a hard time getting the cars to work on these type of places.
I think she put a hell of an effort to fit in with us. And like she said -- she's giving me the credit, but I think -- I told her, what I said to her, "It's coming." She knows exactly what I talked about. We all know it and we can't wait to shave her head.
DANICA PATRICK: I said tonight after today, maybe it's a good idea, it's awfully hot. I love the way it feels; I walked up to Dario and rubbed the bristles -- I tried to say that so nobody would take that wrong.
Q. I'm curious, does it ever feel like a burden to you to always be in the spotlight and to always be the person people talks about in the series as far as the mainstream goes?
TONY KANAAN: No. Honestly, like I said, I have fun with it and I don't let it get in the way of what needs to be done on the track. I would be lying if I didn't tell you it felt good that people knew who I was or people cheered for me or people talked about me on TV. That's a nice thing. That's a good thing.
And I know inside that I will always give everything I have, always. And so no matter what anybody can say or think, it will never make me feel bad about what I did, because I'm always giving everything I have. So if it's not enough for you, then sorry. But I can always walk away knowing that I've always done everything.
Q. In the last eight laps there, at one point you really closed up on Tony, and I was wondering -- and then you faded back. Did your car go away that quickly or did you just decide -- inaudible.
DANICA PATRICK: Oh, heck no, I was pushing. But I was also trying to put myself in a position where I could get up behind Tony and get up behind him and try and pass Sam. When you're trying to do that, the car is not comfortable, you know. It's moving around a lot; it was understeering; I was going wide.
So I was doing the best I could to stay up there, but it's easier when you have clean air to catch. I was doing like low 213s catching him; I was flying.
But then once you catch him, you're dictated by the leader's pace then, because it's such a long way around to go around the outside of him. We knew it would be tough to pass. But no, I was not backing off or having a problem. It was just purely a repercussion of traffic and the air and what it does to the car.
Q. When you were talking about Wheldon cutting down on the corners, were you immediately behind him or were you seeing him further ahead?
DANICA PATRICK: No, that was me behind him. I was right up behind him and we would go into the corner and I would try and go high and he would come up mid-corner and then he would come down on the exit; and when I would go low -- he was just kind of all over the place. I can understand if he's trying to get clean air for himself, but the tough thing is that when I was on the bottom especially, he would go up mid-corner and then cut down really hard right at the exit.
So I'm still loaded and turning, and he's chopped straight in front of me and that just takes the air away. So nobody else is doing that today to me, so that was out of the ordinary. I said earlier, whether that was Dan or whether that was even my own teammate, I would have said, "Hey, can you tell him to be careful because that's not right to do." So that was the problem.
Q. The schedule has few off-weekends, I'm sure you would like to have a race next weekend to continue the momentum and surely it's your off weekend what do you think about that?
DANICA PATRICK: It's long overdue. I haven't been home for five weeks, since the beginning of May at Indy. I think a weekend away is always a nice thing to have, especially with the new schedule we've got. I'm looking forward to it. It will be nice. It will be relaxing. I'll be ready to push again in Iowa.
Q. We're going to the short tracks; are you guys ready for almost armed combat in Iowa and Richmond?
TONY KANAAN: If I go back to Milwaukee, yeah -- I think so. We did test at Iowa. I felt pretty good. We were going to test in Richmond because we have, you know, the IPS car with Jamie who is going to do a few laps for us next week and Dario is going to test. I think we're ready. If we win both of those races, I don't know, but I have to say that looking further in the calendar, short ovals, street and road courses I guess makes me very happy. So I'm confident but that doesn't mean anything except I think our chances are pretty high.
Q. What happened when you tried to get in front?
TONY KANAAN: Well, I told my spotter and I told Sam's spotter that I was going to work for the same time frame for Danica to come up and I saw her coming up and I started to run a little wide so she could catch us a little quicker. Then after that, I kind of try a couple different lines and I asked Sam and I asked my spotter to tell Sam if he could move up just a little bit because I was going to keep the bottom. And I did; he moved up for me.
We did another ten laps like that and five laps to go he started to move down, so I started to move up. That's when I started to put Danica in trouble as well. I was just trying.
Then four to go, I went wide to see if I was going to have the momentum out of four; then I went wide and one to see if I was going to get the momentum out of one; and then I pretty much figured that I was not going to pass him.
But I was still going to try. On the last lap, he kind of moved up just a little more. I had to move up a little further up, and the high line, it is slower. Especially when a guy has such a fast car like that; it was the other way around, he could have passed me on the outside.
When we are running a ten-second difference on lap time, if you go by speed it looks a lot bigger so, you know you're not going to pass him. I was basically trying everything I could to get him to make a mistake but basically it was over by then.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined in Victory Theatre by winner of the Bombardier Learjet 550k, Sam Hornish, Junior. This is Sam's first win of the season, first three-time IndyCar series winner at Texas, and this is his 19th career win, a record of any driver in the IndyCar Series.
Sam, a lot of excitement tonight. Talk about your run tonight.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: We had a great car tonight. Did everything that we wanted it to do. Fortunately we were only back in traffic one time. We only had to work our way up to the pack once and the car did exactly what we needed to do. Got right up behind Wheldon. I thought we had enough to get around him but wanted to try and conserve fuel, and the team has done an outstanding job in the pits all season long and they just keep getting better and better.
The two green flag pit stops that we had toward the end of the race there were just phenomenal. We were able to go from just being a little bit over a half-second ahead to being almost nine seconds ahead. Really, a great job was done by those guys.
Really feels good to be in the winner's circle after starting off the season, not necessarily didn't have any bad luck; we just couldn't get things to go our way. So I've said all season, we're right there. We're right on the edge; if we can get things to go our way.
Tonight the car was so good. We just needed things to not go against us. I'm just really happy with the job the guys have done.
Q. Have we got to the point yet -- the leaders are the slowest out of the three cars, yet it's very hard to pass the leader in this type of configuration. Are we still a bit of away from where we can see shootouts like we used to see?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Definitely I thought that the car that was capable of -- that was going to be hard for me to really get around was Kanaan. I could get beside him. I could almost get high him, but I couldn't get the job done. And I didn't want to keep forcing it, because basically I was running side-by-side and letting everybody else catch back up. I didn't want to get the whole pack going and take a chance and get taken out of the race.
I think if we would have been back there a little bit, maybe we have been able to get one of those high finishes, but I don't know -- I don't know, Tony was pretty strong. But we had a great car and the gears that my engineer picked out were dead-on. They were exactly what they needed to be. You know, even as they went down they got better.
Q. Middle of the race, when you were outside of Wheldon, it looked like you were practicing for a finish; is that what you're thinking about at the time?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: You'd like to know if you could do it or not. Like I said, I could get beside him and beat him to the line, but I only wanted to give him a couple of laps to try to get around him. I didn't want him to not be able to get back in behind him. I wanted to try and knew I could get it there at the line if I timed it right.
So the big thing for me was just to kind of fall back in behind him and try to save a little bit of fuel, because they went a little further did than I on the first run. I wanted to try to get a little bit closer to being back on their fuel strategy.
Q. Your next victory will be No. 20, and that may not sound like a lot, but you're still the all-time victory leader in the series. Talk about what it will be like to get into that plateau.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: It will be pretty big. For a while there last year, I thought that I might have an opportunity to get there before I got the 100 and to make it 20 percent, but unfortunately we didn't do that. It's been unbelievable. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would have won one Indy car race, rather than 19 of them, I would have told you were crazy; and that one of them would be the 500.
I have to every day really be thankful that I've been given so much. A lot of times I don't feel that I deserve it, but for whatever reason, I feel that I've been very blessed and look forward to the next race, because I know there's that next opportunity. And getting No. 20 would be great. Especially going to a new track or going to a place like Richmond where we've had so much success there in the past. It would be great to get it pretty soon.
Q. You led 159 laps tonight, and at one point from about 150 on, you started building the lead to four, five, seven seconds; what happened to the three-wide racing you had planned for tonight; you decided to abandon that idea?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, I didn't want to see too much of it unless I was trying to get around people. And I made it three-wide a couple of times as I was coming up through the pack. It was just for whatever reason, in the past I think that you saw guys that didn't necessarily know how the game was going to be played. They felt they needed to be two-wide the whole time running side-by-side and not a lot of room was given there in the past.
Now people are waiting a little bit more towards the end of race to make that final charge and to know that it needs to be side-by-side -- the thing was that everything got stretched out through the green flag pit stops, which is no fault of anybody's, other than the fact that it's just how things go.
I think that if you would have seen Wheldon, Dixon, Helio, Kanaan and Dario and myself all up there at the end of the race, definitely the last ten laps would have been interesting. I think that you would have saw a lot of two- and three-wide racing. It just didn't play out that way tonight.
Q. The way it played out, are you glad that this race has been lengthened, or can you share just your thoughts on did the extra laps really have an effect on you physically? Are you more tired? Is there anything along those lines with the extra time in the race?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I was pretty upset at lap 200 when the yellow came out and I knew that Tony was going to have a shot to catch back up to me when we had a nine-second lead and I was under yellow and I would have won. I was like, "Man, this is all I need now is a tire to go down or something to happen." You get into the lead and the car has been so good all night long that you're kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop and something bad to happen.
Obviously, you know, if I would have been in second at lap 200, I would have been glad that we had that opportunity. I think that it's always -- it's really a credit to the Texas Motor Speedway and what they do here. They are doing everything they can to be able to put on a good show for the fans. I think seeing it under green was a lot better than seeing it under yellow, which is what would have happened tonight.
Q. There was a lot of focus on Dan and Danica, she responded great by finishing third; what did you think of her efforts?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I think definitely it's her best finish so far. What can you say about it? Dan ran well all night. I don't know; I didn't see what happens with those guys, but I know it was something that I probably will see later on in the week.
You know, what can you say about it? I don't think that it was probably either one of the driver's -- that they had to go out and beat the other one. You know, I think that especially I haven't seen the Milwaukee incident, so I didn't know who was in the right and who was in the wrong. I hope that I never lose my head and push anybody or anything like that.
It's pretty tough sometimes because you're trying to control your emotions. Everybody wants you to be so emotional and happy when you win and to be doing jumping jacks and backflips and all kinds of things like that, but they don't want to see the bad emotions really. Sponsors don't like to see that and fans don't really like to see that at all because we're supposed to be representatives of our sport and we're supposed to be role models.
It's pretty tough because you have a lot of emotion in it, and a lot of times for me, my emotions are drained at the end of race; all I want to do is take a nap. Some guys do other things. I think that the biggest thing is that, you know, you move on. Because if you run enough of these races, I've run 100-plus races, and I probably had some kind of a problem with everybody that I raced against at one point in time or another and they probably all had a problem with me, as well.
The point is is that that you can't be thinking about that all the time. Because something somebody did to you five years ago and you're going to run them off the track five years later; it doesn't make any sense. You just have to kind of move on and say, you know what, that's what it was. We're all emotional. We're all out here to try and win. Sometimes we're going to make mistakes. It's a continual thing and you can kind of carry it out.
Q. In the last green flag segment there from lap 206 on, were you aware that besides Tony, Danica was there, and that they might be able to do something together, or were you just basically worried about --
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, I knew that Kanaan was there and the third car in the line there, especially Tony didn't seem like he could really keep it right down right there behind me. So instead of basically having a one-car draft, you're bursting twice as big of a hole in the air; so it really allowed her to catch up and run some good times.
So I think that the big thing about it was that TK was the first guy that was there that was the threatening one. And the thing I needed to make sure was not to lose my head and not to let him run on me and not be trying to throw a big block on him and let somebody else get in there. That's the thing that you see a lot of times is people get so worried about the car that is right behind them that they make a mistake, and not only do they lose one spot, but they lose several.
Q. So what did you think when you saw Checker (ph) standing on the racetrack there during that caution?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: On the racetrack?
Q. Did you see him walk out?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Uh-uh.
Q. He walked and through his glove at Marco.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: At Marco? (Laughter) I didn't see it, so I can't really -- we've all wanted to throw something at somebody at some point in time. Whether you do it or not -- like I said before, everybody is pretty emotional. And those two guys are probably, you know, from what I've seen, probably about the best of friends as you can be and be drivers and not on the same team.
So I think that just shows you how -- I don't like using the word emotional, but how emotional it is. You're putting your all into it; you're doing everything you can; you're going 220 miles an hour at the same time.
So it is -- it's like you're putting everything out on the line out there, and you have somebody that you think is going to do something and does something else, so a lot of times you don't think it's going to happen.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Sam.
End of FastScripts