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July 22, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our race runner-up, Dario Franchitti. Second straight week that Dario is runner-up to Scott Dixon. With five races remaining in the season, he's got a 24-point lead on Scott Dixon.
Dario, talk about your day out there.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, the start wasn't one of the best things I've ever seen. A ridiculous situation of the pace car blocking the outside lane as Helio started to accelerate. You know, JR didn't do anything wrong. Just had to get off. You know, so Helio got the jump and went ridiculously early. You know, we saw what happened down in turn one.
From that point it was tough. I saw all my teammates starting to spin. I braked very hard to avoid Tony. Dixon, a little bit further behind, was able to make a better move. Him and Manning got past. I stuck behind those guys the first stint. I guess everybody was kind of stuck behind Helio.
It was impossible to pass today, which was very frustrating. We were just trying to make things happen, trying to save some fuel. We tried at the end not to take tires.
I don't know, we were losing -- I don't think we we're ultimately quick enough, but we were losing it seemed to be a little bit of speed - well, a little bit of time somewhere in the pits. I don't know what we're doing wrong, but we've got to fix that.
THE MODERATOR: This is Dario's 11th straight race finishing fifth or better.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The problem we've got right now is we're looking for perfection. The guys in the 9 car, with Dixon's car, Scott himself, are doing a hell of a job. We need perfection. I'm being critical of myself and my guys, but we need that perfection in order to win the championship.
They did their best today. I pushed as hard as I possibly could. We did suffer from a little bit too much understeer as the race went on. We couldn't add the front wing because we were trying to make up places in the pits. We were really caught between a rock and a hard place.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dario.
Q. How tough was it to watch your three teammates struggle?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We talked about the start. It was tough to see that happen to them. I was also upset to lose places with the whole thing. As a team, it wasn't our best moment, put it that way.
Q. The last pit stop you didn't take tires. Were the tires holding up pretty well?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, the tires kind of lost a little bit of performance after 10 laps, then they were pretty consistent after that. We really thought we might gain some advantage by doing that. It didn't work out. I guess Scott had the same idea.
Q. You had a lead going into the pits at the end. Did you feel confident?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It takes so long to get down pit lane, 14, 15 seconds. As I say, I thought the fact we did three laps I think longer than Scott, each lap was a 68.0, which is as quick as we've gone all race, when he was getting back up to speed, we come out, we're still two or three seconds behind him. I'd love to know how that happened. I'll have to have a look.
Q. (No microphone.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I knew Scott -- I saw him pit right in front of me. I think Helio pitted first, then Scott. We did those three laps. They said, Okay, you're going to have to push like hell here. That's what I did. I had clean air. I turned my fastest laps of the race.
As I say, we got a good stop. I think it was a good stop. Got on the marks pretty damn quickly, got in pit lane, got out of pit lane, Scott was three seconds up the road. Again, I'd love to analyze it and find out where the time was lost.
Q. How does this play out for you for the rest of the season?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think at this point when you look at the guys fighting it out up front week in, week out, there's no weak spots for anybody. We've just got to get on with it and do the job.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, thank you.
Now joined by our third-place finisher Helio Castroneves. His third third place of the season and first top five in the last seven races.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Finally.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, talk about your day out there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Absolutely. I mean, well, whole weekend long we were struggling a little bit to find the setup. We can see that the speed we had was there, but not very consistent. It's kind of like up and down. As you guys heard me yesterday, we almost not qualified for the top six. I really put my heart and soul to do one lap. It was awesome.
But for the race, I knew it would be really tough, especially after the warmup, seeing the times that they were putting in, especially the Andretti Green cars.
You know, the only thing is was just to take it easy, play a very conservative race. Not only that, I won here twice. Not trying to do exactly the same what I did, but this time actually I was the guy to be hunted, instead of in the previous years I was the guy hunting. I was just trying to be smart. I think especially on the second pit stop, we were still leading the race compared to the other guys. But we got stuck in traffic a little bit.
Other than that, that's what we got. You can see the lap times of those guys, they were really pushing. I was pushing everything I could. But there was a limit. My car has always one limit I couldn't pass over otherwise it will be a big mistake. I managed to hold third place, which was very, very good for us, especially coming in for very tough results. I have to say I'm happy.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Helio.
Q. When you opened that gap over Tony, did you think you could win this?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Definitely with new tires, it gave a good rear grip, and I was like, Man, I'm going to get out of a keyhole here. I knew I had a very straight line. Probably we were running low downforce compared to the other guys, that's probably why we managed to go really good in straightaways. I was positive that was going to happen. But unfortunately Scott was making a lot of mistakes and kind of slowing down. Until I saw an opportunity, then I took a chance. He was clean, too, as well. We didn't have any trouble. We went for it.
From that point, man, we were pushing so hard. I can see Scott pushing me. It was fun. I have to say that was the best part of the race. We were having so much fun. You could see Scott pushing, Dario pushing Scott, the three of us. I was having a good time.
When two guys are in front of me, I don't know who they were, they said on the radio if I want to pit, it would be my call, to not get traffic. I kind of thought I could go one more lap. I mean, I have fuel for seven more laps. I didn't know if I would lose more time like I lost with Scott Sharp. I said, you know what, I'm going to pit this lap. When I pit, I get out of it. The lap time was still pretty good, but unfortunately here if you pit one lap early, it's kind of kill yourself.
Again, I think it was an exciting race for me in front. Turned out to be a good race.
Q. Take us through the start as you saw it.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: As soon as we did the keyhole, I started waiting for Danica, then I went for it. She kind of like fell back just half a car. Like I said, my car was really good in straightaway. Start pulling away. As soon as I brake really deep actually, that's why I thought I messed it up. When I look behind in the mirrors, I saw Tony and her. I think they tangle, I'm not sure. It was too fast. After that I just kept going. I saw the yellow. That's it. I didn't see much what happened.
You know, it was just two cars when I saw it, but not much. How did Danica finish?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good job.
Q. What was your plan at the start?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Like I said, I was waiting a little bit. When I looked last, looked like she was going, and I went. Like I said, my car seems to be really good on the straightaway. Obviously if I jump the start, Barnhart didn't think so, and I think he's the director, not her, so...
Q. With Dixon on a hot streak, at what point do you think Dario starts getting nervous?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question. Both actually are very experienced drivers. Both seems to be in a very good momentum, you know. I have to say right now, because of three straight wins for Scott, definitely he probably going to feel a little bit more comfortable.
But Andretti Green also has three other cars which when you thinking about championship, you want to do everything you can to secure that. I'm not saying anything negative. I'm saying everything positive. You have more chance, guys like Tony, Dario, Marco, even Danica, to be stealing points from Scott. That's why it's going to be an exciting championship, no question about it, as always in the IndyCar Series. We just want to make sure we win the next race and collect more points.
Q. What are you leaving here with?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I should ask you guys. I enjoy it so much. The crowd seemed to be enjoying. Even before the start, still people coming in. My point is, IRL, IndyCar Series, seems to be, you know, with the oval racing, we always talking about oval, this is the type of racing. But IndyCar Series, I mean, everybody really enjoy road course. Everywhere we going, street course, road course, it seems to getting a lot of attention, a lot of public, a lot of fans.
I have to say they definitely doing something right in that direction. Here, a tradition place, a place when I was a kid I used to watch it. We have to have this type of race. So far I enjoy it very much.
Q. With the mix of road courses, street courses, ovals, do you consider yourself probably the best all-around drivers in motor sport?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Absolutely, when you putting everything together. Ask if one of those Formula One guys want to race here. They always say, Oh, you guys are crazy. Well, that's what I'm talking about. We know what we're doing. We enjoy speed. We enjoy go fast. If it's not an oval, if it's a short oval, doesn't matter. Our cars are very fun to drive. That's why it's a tough race out there.
I say every year, if we add a little bit more challenge, short ovals, superspeedway, road course, street course, it just makes even more for everyone. Hey, it's fun.
THE MODERATOR: Appreciate your time, Helio.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you. Don't forget to sing happy birthday to Scott Dixon. I gave this weekend for him. It's his birthday. It's a present. Just kidding (laughter). Supposed to be a joke.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by race winner Scott Dixon. Scott has won three straight races, which ties a league record set by Kenny Brack in 1998, matched by Dan Wheldon in 2005. He currently trails Dario Franchitti by 24 points in the championship points standings. Most importantly, today is Scott's birthday. Happy birthday.
SCOTT DIXON: Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about your day out there.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was a tough day. I think the start of the day and the start of the race is what really made it better for us, I guess. We moved from sixth position to second. Took a few of the AGR guys out of the equation there. For us, racing for the championship with Dario, we thought they could play into how our outcome came, as well.
We saved fuel. I could tell Helio was doing the same thing. We just kept saving a bit more. Luckily, we got the extra lap. I think Penske was scouting us. I think they thought we were coming in that lap, but we went that one extra. That enabled us to jump them in the pits, make our day a little easier.
The third stint was just flat out. It was like qualifying laps one after another. It was very tough. I was trying to hold onto Helio. He jumped us in the pits with short filling on fuel. We were a little on our toes there because we weren't sure how they got past us. But as that stint played out, we worked out why.
All in all, it was a pretty good day. The car was fantastic. The Target guys in the pits definitely helped me out, made my day a lot easier. It's always good when you come out with a win, you can't complain too much.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: It was tough. The biggest problem for us today was there were so many strategies. We had to keep our eye on Helio, we had to keep our eye on T.K., who was way out of sync, and also Dario. Dario was the tough one at the end because he kept running, he kept going. I think they were all waiting for a yellow, which would have totally hurt us big time. So luckily there wasn't a caution in the last few laps which would have made it a lot easier for Dario.
Definitely trying to figure out where we stood, how fast I needed to go, and the team definitely stayed on top of me trying to lay down lap times. Mike did a terrific job of that. Until the last few laps, you weren't really sure what was going to happen. I think for the fans it was a great race if they could understand what was going on, because even I couldn't.
Today I have to say the amount of fans that were here today were unbelievable. The first pace laps, I got on the radio to the teams, the hills were packed, there were so many people here. It was great to see. It's great to be back here at Mid-Ohio.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: We didn't take tires. I think Dario didn't take tires. I think Helio might have. We double-stinted our last stint and took I think about four seconds of fuel.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: Coming into this weekend, I think after qualifying, I was like, you know, this might be the end of our streak with two, going for three. I know we sort of had a bit of luck on our side. Things have been rolling our way.
I'd have to say that our car was very competitive today. We'd been struggling all weekend, especially qualifying, just getting enough front grip. In hindsight, we ran the same qualifying car as we raced. I think it was a good race car. That's all it came down to.
But the team is definitely on a roll. Everybody is full of confidence. Things just seem to click a little easier. Your decisions come a bit quicker. I think that's definitely the key behind it. As I said to you I think earlier in the week, there's not one or two things that changed that make any difference for how we've picked up these wins, it's just everybody is working together a lot better.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it's been good. I think that's the unfortunate point. The last race we won, I brought up, I'd be a lot more comfortable if we were racing maybe my teammate or Sam for the championship with the amount of road courses left. Unfortunately, Dario is very fast on all of them. As you can see, he's been consistently on the podium when we've won. It's been very tough to try and close that gap.
I know what you're saying about a streak. It may come down to a mechanical. I hope it is a true race to the finish, not a silly accident or mechanical problem that one of us has.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: No, not really. I think I commented on that just before. I don't think there is any key things that has changed. You know, I know going into the start of the season, there was probably no spotlight on me or Dario. We were both kind of under the radio -- radar. A little too much champagne (laughter). But it's something that's definitely changed. I think Dan was definitely one of the highlighted guys, was off to a hot streak to start with, was definitely talked about a lot.
But I think, you know, it definitely changed after Indy for us and for Dario. We've sort of both been on a streak. But I'm sure if you ask him the same question, there's no one thing or two things or three things, it's just a bunch of small things that have changed.
But, you know, to be honest, you cannot be winning races and the confidence -- I think a lot of it is how the guys work together. When you're not doing well or one guy on the other side of the team is doing really well, people get a bit shitty, they don't do their work as well. It's a fact. I think my guys are pretty happy at the moment. I'll try and do my best to keep that going.
Q. Does it get frustrating that you win but there Dario is right there with you?
SCOTT DIXON: It's tough. There's no doubt about it. It's getting frustrating. I said the same thing to Chip and Mike. They came back straightaway, Well, at least he's not in front of us. That's the thing that we're doing. We're doing as much as we possibly can. We are applying as much pressure as possible. We're closing the gap. Three races ago we were 65 behind, now we're 24. If we keep going at that rate, it's going to be good.
The other thing, Dario has had such good consistency, I think he just about hasn't been outside of the top five in all the races this season. You know, the ones that he did struggle at, like St. Pete with his problems, and Texas, he still came away with a lot of points. Those days we had rough programs. I think we've had our bad luck. It would be nice to say we just have consistency coming. But it's very tough. As I said before, not to wish him any bad luck, but, man, some is due.
Q. Are you glad to have the off week?
SCOTT DIXON: I'm glad to have a week off. It's been a tough five in a row. Becoming NASCAR here. I think they had their second week off for the year. We get a lot more weekends off. It's good to see the compressed season. I think it keeps the fans interested in what we're doing. For the drivers, we love to drive. But I'm looking forward to this week off, relax a little bit, maybe do a bit of fishing, hang out with some friends.
Q. Where is the birthday party?
SCOTT DIXON: It's going to have to be back in Indianapolis tonight. I'm not sure. It's a pity it's Sunday and everything closes at midnight. Maybe back at the (indiscernible) house.
Q. You had a great '03 season, won the title. A couple bad seasons (indiscernible).
SCOTT DIXON: '04, '05 were tough seasons. '03 was probably a little unexpected. I fastly came onto the scene as a team, coming into the IndyCar Series, and winning races, and taking a championship. I think that was a problem because we built ourselves up so high, and the harder you fall after that. We definitely fell pretty hard in '04, '05. '06 was definitely a big year for us. We had even equipment with teams that were winning. Dan was a huge addition for our team, with the momentum he brought from winning the 500 and the championship in '05. I'd say the huge turn for us and for me was definitely last year and now it's sort of just redefining a little. We're making the car a little bit better for myself, just zoning in, I guess.
But last year was a big turn for our team.
Q. Take us through the start, what you saw.
SCOTT DIXON: I could tell with Helio being on pole that it was just about going to start the lap before the start. He always goes so early. I think he kind of screwed Danica there, to be honest, because the pace car pulled to the left and he went as soon as the pace car went. So she had nowhere to go. She had to wait an extra few seconds before the pace car actually pulled off. Our line was already strung out.
I guess in some ways it's good to go early because people don't get into each other. But the AGR guys, T.K. I think maybe got a little bit into Danica, spun himself, and that took care of Marco. Taking two of the AGR out on the first corner is not a good thing.
I stayed to the left of Dario, actually trying to go around the outside of him in four, because he blocked -- not blocked, he just used the inside line going into four, so I only had to go around the outside. Luckily he pushed me that way or maneuvered me that way, which gave us a clean track. Everybody just sort of fell off, flipped in front of us, gave us a clear track.
Q. Of the remaining five races, which do you look forward to most?
SCOTT DIXON: All of them, I guess. We have Michigan, Kentucky. Michigan's never been a favorite of my places. It's a tough race. You get a lot of people that come up with good cars and can factor in there. For that one I think we will have fast cars, but we just need to make it a clean one. Kentucky has been a good race for us. Last year we were quick. We ended up second I think. We just had a bad restart, and Sam won that race.
You know, the road courses for us at the moment has to be the lucky spots. We've got Detroit and Sonoma. Looking forward to those. It's going to be good to get back to Detroit. It's been a while. I think that track has changed a bit. You know, Sonoma, I think we have a bit of unfinished business. We had the pole, led a lot of laps there last year. We had a problem in the pits that took us out of winning it. I'd really like to win there this year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Scott.
SCOTT DIXON: Thank you.
End of FastScripts