|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
June 30, 2007
MODERATOR: We're joined by Sam Hornish, Jr. Sam, obviously a strange start to the race, but take us through what happened at the beginning and how you sort of fought your way back through the night. Tell us about your race.
SAM HORNISH, JR: It was a frustrating night. We had a pretty good car, and I got a little bit of a decent jump on the start on the row in front of me, tried to pull down to go in front of the guys. As soon as I did, the back end came around. And not the start to the race that we wanted.
And all I can really say is I apologize to the guys who worked on my car. They do a great job and that was unfortunate. And first time I've done that.
So hopefully I'll never have to experience that again.
MODERATOR: You obviously saw what happened tonight with Dario when a guy has a car like that, what's your thought process there at that point when you see somebody dominating like that?
SAM HORNISH, JR: He was really tough to pass tonight. I think you saw that out there. He had a great car, ran well and I don't think he made a mistake all night. And obviously that's what you need to do around here.
And it was somewhat unfortunate. I don't know how many people you actually saw pass for position. I was up towards the front, just a shame we didn't get to qualify yesterday. Would have shaken things up a bit better. You take what luck you're given. That's not a statement saying he's not good. But a little bit of luck.
Q. (Off microphone) just how frustrating is it knowing your car is probably running the same speed as the leader?
SAM HORNISH, JR: It wasn't as frustrating as it was that last when I was trying to get him out on my last, and got blocked a little bit. And he held me down. Obviously being two laps down, trying as hard as you cannot to take the leader of the race out. I think that was pushing a little bit more than what was necessary.
But really good car. And that's the bad part about it, the first thing off the bat, spinning. We didn't notice that we broke the front wing, didn't have sufficient down force the first run. Once you were stuck back there, it didn't matter how much faster you were. You saw Franchitti, go up there, go up there lap cars and that's all the further he could go. Tough to pass out there tonight.
Q. And also halfway point of the season, obviously every point is important and you have to feel, kick yourself a little bit that you gave away a lot of points tonight to try to catch a guy that's already got a pretty good points lead?
SAM HORNISH, JR: No doubt about it. I was pushing my share to win the back -- I had the problem right off the bat and I was just, I don't know, I thought we had a good run. Halfway point of the season, that was a lot of points to give up. But I know it's not over yet.
We had the lead with four races to go last year, then an engine failure. We had it in Michigan and ended up losing the lead in the points. Got passed by not only the second and third but fourth place car in the points. I know the tide can swing and we have to keep working hard at it.
Q. (Question off microphone)?
SAM HORNISH, JR: The only thing that's really different, the car's engine, the driver, for the most part, are the same, track's the same. Unfortunately, the only thing different was the tires, and as I said, they got (indiscernible) and that's exactly what it was. Makes the car push a little more. You've got the car in front of you, the more push you got. In the turn you start the car off a little bit looser in the beginning of the race, the beginning of the run, so it pushed it out at the end.
Then you get a situation like I had with the car being loose and make a mistake early on.
Q. There was also the fact that there was no practice. It rained, whatever the track looked like when you practiced a day ago. Then there's two races out there. How does that change and make the setup a total crap shoot?
SAM HORNISH, JR: I don't think that the rain so much has changed the track as it did the fact that we (indiscernible) qualifying and the four teams, 15th on the grid. Started in the top six, that's how it goes sometimes. We understand that. But that's basically, the track we started with yesterday morning when we started, had no IndyCar rubber. And I wouldn't say it's a lot different. It's whether or not you can adjust your car back to that and realize what that's going to happen.
MODERATOR: Thanks, Sam.
MODERATOR: We're joined by second place finisher Scott Dixon, and Buddy Rice is also here. Scott, we'll start with your race. You won this race back in 2003 for the pole and similar fashion out there with Dario.
First of all, take us through your race; and you did have enough fuel to make it. So I'm sure you're kind of sad you got cautioned out there especially knowing Dario wasn't so sure himself.
SCOTT DIXON: I'm not even sure what the caution was for.
MODERATOR: There was some contact.
SCOTT DIXON: The race wasn't too bad. I think the car was pretty comfortable. One of the better cars I've had in recent years. The track was just a bit of an issue tonight. I think it was really hard to get out of these people, get through the marbles. So that was tough. We're a quick car.
Dario was definitely fast. I think it definitely helped. Our guys did a good job in the pit stop. All in all not a bad night.
MODERATOR: Let's go to Buddy Rice. Second straight top 5 for you coming off your fourth place win at Iowa last week. Take us through the race tonight.
BUDDY RICE: Iowa is a bit of a give me. Tonight was a legit one from the back. It's like Iowa, the wind tunnel. I think we would have been contending for, put us in (indiscernible). It's good for the team. We had good pit stops. Need a couple more pieces of the puzzle and follow it more consistently inside the top 10.
MODERATOR: Scott, with Dario coming in tonight leading the points, you were third coming in. Obviously you lost a little ground, not a whole lot. I think you're still satisfied with that.
SCOTT DIXON: We moved up in the points for second. Lost two more points, actually probably more than that, 12 points. Something like that. So that's not what we need.
I think we probably would have had a shot if it wasn't for Sam sort of trying to gain a lap back. It was a bit frustrating. And the fuel as you mentioned, Dario got back to the front and held his position.
So didn't make too much ground on anything.
Q. Was it harder to pass a lot more than previous races here; and if it was, what was the reason?
SCOTT DIXON: It's always tough to pass here. From what I could tell, definitely a lot of cars, it was really hard to get close to the car in front of you. The only difference I could see from recent years, the race cars were a lot closer and difficult to dive under. People were sitting back because of losing traction and coming off. (Indiscernible) we were running really bad. And it got stuck and stuck in position and (indiscernible) but the tires were good. Had good grip. Did a good job. There was so many marbles to risk it.
Q. Buddy, you guys have really been moving up of late. And you've had some (indiscernible) and stuff. What's the difference that put you guys in the front? You're looking good.
BUDDY RICE: Like I said, Iowa was a bit of a give me. My car wasn't fast at all. We stayed out of trouble. Pretty much stayed lucky in that whole deal. But here we came from, I think we started 12th or 13th and moving up. We've got a couple more pieces of the puzzle. Run consistent towards the front. I think a few more pieces and we'll be a lot better off.
It's taken a lot of work to get to the front. We need more sponsorship, help our R&D, pick up on some of other programs that we really want to start working on focusing on, take the run with these guys.
Rahal Letterman, and we're running up front, and vying for a championship. It takes a lot of work. We made some pretty big strides here so far. To make the next couple is going to take money and a few more pieces of the pie to be put together.
Q. Scott, what was the most difficult part of the track tonight? I know some were diving all the way through the corner. Was it coming off or getting in?
SCOTT DIXON: It was definitely difficult (indiscernible). They're struggling off of 4. I was pretty good. My car was good. Trying to run, it was difficult. We were struggling off of 4. But all night it was just a difference between (indiscernible).
Q. Did that help at all?
SCOTT DIXON: It's tough. With the series as it is now, you have five additional (indiscernible). It's very hard. Dario and I aren't that close on driving style. So to take the information from -- it's the same as the test in Milwaukee. You can take some of it, but not a lot. But whenever you line up the cars on the track, it definitely helps. In the past we've definitely struggled, ninth or tenth. Last year we've moved a long ways from last year.
Q. (Question about Sam Hornish)
SCOTT DIXON: Sam was trying to pass the leader two or three laps. I didn't see any confusion in that. It was frustrating because it was obvious that, basically to try to make a pass, when you're down for the lead, he just took that away.
MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
We're joined by our race winner, Dario Franchitti. Just a couple of statistics surrounding tonight's race with Dario. Of course, it's his third win of the season. The Indianapolis 500; he won last week in Iowa, and first time ever at Richmond International Raceway.
Second win of his career. First time you've gone back-to-back Indy competition. Set a couple of records: First track record, set a record for highest speed, 133.408 miles per hour. That's his average. Beat Sam Hornish's record from last year. Set a record for laps led, 241 laps, which is a track record and league record. Previously it was 240 in the first year of competition
Dario, you won this in a dominating fashion. But maybe a little hairy at the end. You weren't sure on fuel. Take us through your race.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We talked about it yesterday. We were going to have to guess, educated guess on setup for the race. We had to start a different way than Tony, Marco and Danika, because we weren't happy with the feel of the car.
We just weren't happy with the feel. We made adjustments tonight we made that -- we didn't know basically what we had. Kicked off with a start and drew the lead pretty quickly. I was pleasantly surprised by that. The car kept getting back to, cut through lap traffic and gained the gap on the guys behind.
We lost the lead in the first piece, small problem, but the restart, that's when I knew the car was exceptional we could pass Tony like that. I think it played into my strengths. I like to do a little, grip the track sometimes, really feel that when the car is there and drive it on the tires and the track.
So it was working well. I got into traffic a couple times. I could get by some people and others were a bit more difficult.
I didn't want to take any chances because we had such a good lead. And the last we wanted to save fuel. Pulled out on the restart, pulled a reasonable gap on the first couple of laps, resting on the straightaway to conserve fuel. That allowed Sam to get pretty close. Had Sam not been that close, we knew he could pull off some quick passes. So that was a bit of a thing. I was able to do that.
Then we had one more yellow. Pulled the gap again. So really a great job by the guys in the pits. Problem on the first pit stop. The second one was flawless. The car was great all night. And I'm happy.
MODERATOR: I think it was the first pit stop I believe they said on the broadcast that your team had called for a adjustment. Is that true, and can you walk us through your thought process?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was think of an adjustment. The track cooled down and the sun went down. We got a lead. Waited two laps, came in said we don't need it, just leave it the way it is. I guess that's what happens when you have a good car, you don't have to make any changes.
The biggest problem tonight was fighting the balance issues because it was loose, car's push a bit of a (indiscernible) had to drive within that all night. And that was the big challenge. We could make it at least jump on the gas to get it really loose off of 2 and 4. I could see some guys in front do that.
Q. How was traffic? You were very patient. How difficult were those cars to get by?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Traffic was difficult, because there was a lot of marbles tonight. And nobody wanted to go off light. And it seems we lost a lot of grip behind any car. When it did caution, I didn't want any of them to get past. And so that was the biggest thing. I didn't want to take those big risks and put my nose in somewhere and have it taken off.
But that was a big fact to the race, for sure.
Q. Dario, restarts: That last one had to worry you a bit. TK has been good on restarts. Marco has. Have there been secrets shared around the team about getting a good jump?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, Tony has always been an acknowledged master on restarts. I don't think I've been too shabby either. But the last two races have done some stuff for the car that allowed us to get even better starts. And that was one of the things, when I passed Tony on the restart, this car is good and that was a good restart because when you can pass Tony you know you've done something right.
Q. Dario, do you sometimes kind of think how far you've come in this series? In '03 you really rattled the series right at the beginning when you had your motorcycle accident. Now you're the hottest guy out here at the moment.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, I had to learn some stuff. We were talking about that with engineering. When I came here, really my first season, I was trying to set up the car more like a Champ car and that wasn't working.
So took me some time to get used to it and what I could get away with with these cars as far as setup wise. I had to change my driving style just slightly. But really no, I feel week in week out, the car, we had terrible luck. I won't talk about last year because as a team we never -- this year it's good that we're getting some luck.
Q. Since you've won the 500, you've been busy. Late night television in New York. I saw you this Wednesday in the studio for PTI. You've been all over the place. Has that been much of a distraction at all? Obviously doesn't seem to be.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I would definitely like some more time hanging out with (indiscernible) and a bit of a distraction. But as Scott Dixon puts it so well. You get paid for the PR stuff. You drive the car because you want to.
Q. When you start point racing, if you even start point racing, do you even think about that, being a little more on the conservative side?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was just asked that question. No.
Q. Are you going to start points racing?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, too early in the season to point race. I've just got to keep getting the maximum week in week out that I can. You take what you can get. And you can only do -- there's only so much you can do because you're going to be up front. If the car is not so good, you get the most you can out of it. Sometimes you can grab the car by the scruff of the neck and you get an extra place or two.
But it seems the way the series is, the way most series are, it's become more and more difficult.
Q. Dario, has the fact that you are now a 500 champion, you will be known forever more when everybody is introducing you as a 500 winner. Has that sunk in as something that you accomplished?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Like you said, I haven't had time for it to sink in. If I do think about it, I'll have some quiet moments. I'm very proud of that and to be in the company that I am with fellow winners.
And definitely the highlight of my career so far.
Q. Dario, Scott was kind of ticked at Sam that Sam didn't get out of the way and let them come after you. Have you thanked him and what did you think when you saw him behind you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I haven't thanked him yet. If Scott wants to look at the race that way, then we'll see Sam give me a pretty hard time for that. But it also was the end of the race. I don't think Sam was in any way trying to help me out. But it didn't hurt me towards the end there.
He didn't let -- I don't think he was quick enough.
Q. Were you surprised to see him up there battling like he was on the lead lap?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, not really. I think he was just trying to do his best. I'm sure he was upset that his -- that his car had gone two laps down. Looked pretty even following him. The start of the race, he went back towards the end. I'm sure he was out there doing nothing worse than anybody else that came up tonight.
Q. (Indiscernible) do you see it as a help or hurt your chances?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I think it's what I grew up doing. It's really my -- it's my passion to do road course racing, and I love it. But it doesn't necessarily mean I'll go out there and be up front.
There's so many good road course drivers in this series. We haven't won one yet. I need to get my act together. The team needs to do a good job, and we have a dominating package. This year we weren't as quick. So we have to do a job when it comes to those tracks, too.
MODERATOR: Thank you for your time. Great race.