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July 15, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post race media interviews. We'll start with Danica Patrick, a third-place finish for Danica. Danica matches her career best, which she accomplished last month in Texas.
Danica, talk about your day out there.
DANICA PATRICK: I think overall our car was all right. It was fairly well-balanced. A little bit of understeer to start with. Then got better and better as the pit stops went on and we made adjustments.
For me the biggest problem was traffic, no cooperation there. There were a few people that were good out there, Buddy and Sarah and some of those other people. You have to accept when you're a lap down and when you're off the pace, you are. You need to let other people that are at the front have their race. For me, that's what held me up the most today, Carpenter was not cooperating. And we'll address that, there's no doubt about it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Danica.
Q. Talk about how hard it was to pass out there, not only with the lap traffic, but in general passing out there today.
DANICA PATRICK: Very much like last year. You know, early on you saw TK go high and hit the wall. That was probably lap No. 30. It was not very late in the race.
You know, the outside line was already too dirty and too mottled up to make any overtaking maneuver. So it only gets worse as the race goes on. As much as they sweep, it really just doesn't take away the problem because the low line gets rubbered in.
It was very difficult. Especially being a one-line track, you know, you lose your front wing, you lose front grip when you're straight behind somebody. So not only does it make it difficult take to purely overtake, but it makes it difficult to even get close.
Q. Talk about the difference in setting up the car at night versus day.
DANICA PATRICK: There are some things that we did from yesterday to today to improve the car - we hoped. But more than anything, you just kind of lose downforce from night to day really purely from cold to warm. Just have to make compensations in that area.
We made a couple adjustments, but nothing really huge. I don't know, it seemed to handle pretty well today - not perfect, but definitely I think comparatively to some other cars a little better.
Who knows, maybe we would have been out of shape last night. But I think we made the right changes for today. My engineer Martin made a good decision.
Q. Despite being stuck back in traffic, you worked your way up to third. What are your signs of optimism looking forward from there?
DANICA PATRICK: Thanks, you know, sometimes there's moments where you're just preoccupied with why you didn't win, you forget about what you did do. It's another good result for me. Having two thirds this year so far is an improvement from last year.
I think I have to look at that and realize that, you know, running up front consistently is going to come. I don't think it's as consistent as I want it to be yet. It's more like top six or seven instead of top three or four. So I think as soon as we get these results a few more times and get used to being up here, then we'll definitely be contending for the wins a lot more.
You know, trying to do what my buddy Dario is doing this year and win a whole bunch.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Danica.
We're now joined by our second-place finisher, Dario Franchitti. His third second-place result of the season. He also has three wins. He has a 34-point lead on second-place Scott Dixon. This is Dario's 10th straight race of results of fifth or better. Going back to the opening race, 11 races ago, Dario has finished in the top 10.
Dario, talk about your day out there on the track.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I just thought of a sound byte: Close, but no guitar. Quite good considering the bad mood I was in five minutes ago.
The day started very well. I was surprised so many fans came back. I've got to say thanks to them for coming back and supporting us in the heat today, and staying out there in the rain last night as well.
What can I say? Took off at the start. Canadian Club car felt good. Managed to pass Scott. Things were looking very good there. I mean, I got in traffic. First couple of cars, we did okay. Then they were sort of running three-wide in front of us. I got checked up. Dan and Scott got past. Dan was doing some blocking for a couple laps there, (indiscernible) a little bit.
At that point it's one of those decisions you make. I'm on the inside. I could have maybe tried to make an outside pass. But the marbles are so bad here at Nashville, we've seen many, many cars before end up in the wall. I couldn't afford to do that with the championship. I just had to back off a little bit. If I could have seen any gap to get by those guys staying wide open, I would have, but it just wasn't going to happen.
From then on, it was really just trying to, you know, make things happen on the out laps, in and out of the pits, trying to get close to Scott in traffic. We weren't good enough in traffic to able to. I was struggling with some lapped cars, even the ones that weren't making it difficult, and those were few and far between.
Not a bad day for the Canadian Club car. I'm looking forward to going to Mid-Ohio next week and seeing what we can do there.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Heard guys say it took a long time to get the marbles off your tires. Three or four or five laps to clean your tires up.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's a fair point. It did seem to take a long time, if you did get up in the marbles. I got up there a couple of times. There was actually marbles on the inside today at the corner as well. When I passed the official the first time, pretty near a lap down, I got marbles. I could feel it as soon as they picked up on the tire. I thought, oh, this is going to be interesting. The car just shot right up the track and I got more marbles on the tires.
I don't know, for whatever reason, it took a while if you did get up in the marbles to clean the tires back off.
Q. Could you tell a difference in the track surface after the rain?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, a little bit. Those first laps, you kind of want to go out and feel it out, but we didn't have that luxury. So I had to go wide open through one and two first lap because I had a chance to pass Dixon. Then you could feel the car maybe slide a little bit more than it does when the track rubbers in.
I think as the race went on, our car picked up more and more push, which showed that the track rubbered in. When I say we, I include myself in this, we probably didn't make the adjustments we should have of maybe in the pit stops. I've got to blame myself for that as much as anybody.
Q. Does leading the championship standings affect your strategy or driving style in some of these close races like this?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think leading maybe affected it. But the position that Scott and I are in, obviously being up at the front in the fight for the championship maybe changes it. Take Marco, for instance, who I believe can win week in, week out, has the pace and the talent to do that, and the car to do that. Right now he's just looking to win races. So there's a situation right now, earlier on I backed off rather than trying and make the big outside pass. Marco would have kept his foot on it or certainly Dan did, because Dan is not really in the fight for the championship right now. So there's certain times it changes your thinking.
But you can't allow it to change your thinking too much because you wouldn't do anything. I would say you'd be far too conservative. It's a very delicate balance.
Q. Take us through the pass the back straightaway when you went from first to third or when Dixon went third to first.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I got checked up by some back markers through one and two. I just lost momentum. Those guys -- I think Dan went around the outside and Scott went down the inside. That was it.
I have to say from that point on, Dan blocked pretty good for the next couple laps, which didn't endear him to me at all.
But that, again, was one of those points where you can make that decision. Had I not been in the fight for the championship, I would have probably stuck the thing out in the marbles and see if I could have made the big outside pass. I'd look pretty stupid to be in the position we're in with the car sitting in a smoking heap on the exit of turn two.
I think TK tried that move earlier in the race and he spun, and that was on my mind, too, because TK can hang on to a pretty loose car. If he can have a problem up there, I don't want to go up there either. Tony is in a different position than us right now because he's trying to close that gap to the championship so he has to take the gambles.
Q. So many top fives, every race you're up there, how are you able to do it race after race, week after week?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I mean, it starts with showing up with quick cars. You got to have fast cars. We proved last year we didn't have fast cars. As a team four of us were all struggling. This year we come up, we have fast cars first of all. The guys back in the shop, the Canadian Club crew are giving us the equipment to do it first of all.
The guys calling the strategy are making the right calls. I'm doing I think a good job behind the wheel, driving the wheels off whenever I can. We're getting that little bit of luck, as well, that intangible that sometimes can make the difference.
Q. You alluded to the fact that last year you guys were dragging an anchor. Over the winter, a lot happened. What did the ownership do to help you guys get back up front?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The ownership spent a bunch of money. That was the thing. We have the same engineering crew we've had for a long time, be it each car's engineer or Pete Gibbons heading up the engineering effort. The difference is, it doesn't matter how good they are, you can't expect them to make the cars faster without a development budget. Really I think at the end of '05 the team sat back a little bit and said we're okay, and we really got caught by surprise last year, so we didn't make the same mistake. They gave those engineers the money to go and develop the car. Those guys did their usual great job. That's been the difference.
Q. With Tony having problems today, the season winding down, is this a two-man battle for the championship? Is there still time for somebody else to get in?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: There's always the chance somebody can get in there. But it seems to be shaping up more and more between Scott and I right now. I don't know what the points are now.
THE MODERATOR: 34.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What between Scott and the next guy? Is it Tony?
THE MODERATOR: Tony is next.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I mean, Tony dropping points today, it's looking more and more like a two-horse race.
But the problem you've got is there's probably six or seven cars can win each race. You've got to beat those guys.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, thank you very much.
We're joined by race winner Scott Dixon. Second win of the season. Back-to-back wins in Watkins Glen and today in Nashville. Back to back wins here in Nashville the last two seasons.
Dario just left here and said, Close but no guitar. For you it's two guitars. Talk about your day.
SCOTT DIXON: That's a good way of putting it. He's quick. Yeah, no, it was a tough day. Probably to be honest, the start, the first part of the race, I didn't think we had a very good car. Loose on the first five laps of every stint. That showed at the start when I had to lift and Dario went right around the outside of me.
Dan seemed to be very fast on that first stint, and we seemed to back up. His car was pretty neutral, which enabled him to do that. Our car was understeering in the middle of the stint. As the day went on, I think the track got pretty loose and those guys backed up. I know Dan had some problems in the pits.
But all in all, it was an average day for us. I'd say our car just stayed very consistent. I knew what it was going to do. It was tough, as I said, on restarts. I think the key probably for us was going into the lead, that three-wide pass going into three, just having clean pits to enable us to stay clear of the rest of the guys.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. As the guy chasing for the points lead, do you feel any pressure or is that the way you'd prefer it at this point in the season?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, there is pressure because the two of us are starting to, you know, sort of get away a little bit. It's always nice to have a buffer. I think he's probably still up by 33 points or something, 34 points, which is still a healthy margin. If he keeps running second, it's going to take till the end of the season for us to try and pass him.
Dario is very consistent this year. He's been extremely fast on the road courses as well. You know, I like being in this position. We've kind of got nothing to lose now. We can just go as hard as we possibly can and try and go for race wins. That's what we struggled with at the first part of the season where maybe we were a little too reserved. We sort of came up with a run of second places. That's where it's hurt us. I think now we've got to go all out and try to get as many wins as possible.
Q. Dario said that affected his strategy, looking at the big picture, didn't want to make a mistake.
SCOTT DIXON: You can back off too much sometimes. I think it gets you in a bad situation. I think we were lucky that both our cars were decent today. We were fairly good in traffic. And probably towards the end there with the lapped cars between everybody, I think it sort of made the restart not as difficult. I was very cautious on my first three laps of every start, sort of lifting at both ends making sure I wasn't going to do anything stupid. I'm sure Dario was doing the same.
It's always race by race, you know, the circumstances of what situation you're going to be in. It could be totally different next weekend.
Q. With setting up your car originally to run at night, then run in the afternoon in the heat, how much change did you have to make to the car to adjust?
SCOTT DIXON: Not too much typically because luckily we run through the day when we've had the practice sessions, it's been around this time of day anyway. It's a little warmer today. Didn't have the cloud cover. The only thing we changed was probably more downforce.
On the first stint, the second stint, I was kind of kicking myself. The car had a lot of grip. A little too much drag in this car, it's going to be too slow. Are they going to speed up once the track rubbers in, get past us? I think as the day heated up, the track just got worse. We had enough grip to be good in traffic and keep it flat when we needed to.
Q. Can you talk about the pass to take the lead.
SCOTT DIXON: What I saw was a (indiscernible). I think going through one and two, everybody sort of just got bottled up there with some lap traffic. I had a good run. I sort of backed off a bit. I sort of anticipated, seeing it coming. I didn't think they were going to slow down that much, to be honest. I thought I maybe would have been able to get one of them. It so happened that they split one person, then I went on the inside of both of them three-wide going into three, which is not always a good situation.
But, you know, I trust Dario. He's a great competitor, a very fair guy to race with. I knew if I was on the inside of him, he was going to give me the room.
But then it's tough for the guy on the outside. Dan, he probably didn't even know I was there. Luckily he gave us the room that we needed. It was pretty hairy there for a few seconds.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. It was one of those moves where you're going in there and you're like, Shit, is this the thing to do, because it could have been pretty bad. Not just wreck your car, but maybe wreck yourself.
It is, you know, one of those things where, you know, I just stayed on it. I think I had the confidence of Dario. I knew he was in a situation where he might be thinking, I'm going to back off because I've got the lead in points. Yeah, that's exactly what I was thinking.
Q. Your teammate took some criticism of some blocking out there. Did you experience any other cars blocking?
SCOTT DIXON: I just spoke to a few reporters on that. To be honest, I thought a lot of guys out there were pretty kind to me today. I got a lot of room. I got stuck behind a couple people in some situations. I know I caught up with Tomas there and a train of about four people. He was trying to pass them as well.
I think everybody was good today. I know there were a lot of people complaining about lap traffic. To be honest, everybody was very good to me.
Q. Two wins in a row gives you a lot of momentum.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it's big. I was looking forward to this situation through the year, going to Watkins Glen and then having Nashville right up after it. Two races we won last year.
To come back and repeat at both of them is, you know, fantastic. I think it is good for our momentum. You could tell even after Watkins Glen, we rolled off the truck, the car was fast in every session. I think we led every session of the weekend. It's just what we need to do. You can see it in the guys, too. The pits stops are much smoother. It's like clockwork at the moment. We've got to try to carry that through to the end.
Q. You set several records in this race. First one to win it back to back, lead the most laps and win it. How does a team like this suddenly hit their stride and start going?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, it's hard to say. That question has come up a lot as well. Things just seem to roll. To be honest, things seem to come a little easier for me.
I think it is a confidence level. Coming into these two races that were back to back, we've proven ourselves here last year, so you do come into a race weekend with more confidence. That's really all I can put it down to.
Everything is just flying. Everybody is working together really well. When you win, everybody's happier. You don't have any bitching going on, there's no people feeling sorry for themselves, anything like that. Everything seems to roll. That's all I can put it down to.
The team is doing pretty much the same thing on both sides of the team, everybody's got equal equipment. Just seems that at the moment the moves that we're making are the right ones.
Q. I guess you're anxious to get to Mid-Ohio next weekend.
SCOTT DIXON: And so is Dario, I'm sure.
It's going to be tough. I would be a little happier if we were going into a situation and we were racing maybe Sam or Dan for the championship going into all these road courses, but it's Dario. I don't know, he probably still holds the lap record at Mid-Ohio from the CART days.
You know, it is good for us going in there confidence-wise, knowing it's a road course, then Michigan, and I think another road course maybe.
Our competition's going to be very tough at these places as well. You know, it's not going to be easy.
Q. How tough is it chasing Dario in the points race when he seems to be in the top five every race?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it's getting old. We've had two bad races so far this season. Not that I wish any bad luck on Dario, but we're due for a (indiscernible) one.
It is tough. But, you know, that's how championships are won. I'm sure Dario is trying as hard as he possibly can. Those guys are just super consistent. If they're not winning, they're either second or third. That's going to be very tough to beat.
Q. This year's schedule has very few off weeks. We have one in two weeks. Talk about momentum going into an off week as opposed to a week-to-week basis.
SCOTT DIXON: Yes, I guess it could work. I think it's good to have it through the stretch to be honest because then you're keeping the pressure on the guys. Off week, people can regroup, rest up a bit, think about different things. Coming back, a lot of people are always a little more determined I think once you've had a weekend off.
To get on it the start of a five-week stretch would have been nice, then just see if it snowballed a bit. I think everybody, you know, they're all out there, they're all very competitive. Maybe a little bit of mind games might help. I doubt it. Everybody's been in these situations before. They know exactly what's going on.
Q. Having not been on the track since Friday, would you like to see the league implement a special circumstance where you could go out on a warmup since you have not been on the track since Friday?
SCOTT DIXON: It's hard to say. It's good for us that they didn't do that because our cars were pretty good. It just gives the other guys a little more time to catch up. Depends on the situation.
To be honest, I think the league maybe need to bring back the warmup because, you know, you do get time to practice, but everybody gets lost in trying to go fast and qualify well, whereas the warmup is always concentrated. You go out full tanks, you run in groups, try to get the car good for the race. I think it's hurt the racing this year. That's my point of view.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, one last question. You walked out of here last year with a guitar in your hand, said you were going to take lessons. Now you have two guitars. Did you ever take those lessons?
SCOTT DIXON: Sad to say I didn't. As least now I have another one to play with. I'll try and learn a few chords, come back next year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
End of FastScripts