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September 8, 2007
MODERATOR: We'll start off here with Sam Hornish on the outside pole. Sam, if you would talk about your run out there this afternoon.
SAM HORNISH: Obviously not as good as we'd like it to be. In practice we felt we had a pretty good opportunity to win the pole. But probably a little bit lofty with our expectations for what we thought we could run as far as speed. Gears were a little bit too long and just couldn't get the RPMs up to where they needed to be able to set the fast time.
Hopefully we'll get that all set right for tomorrow and make good decisions. The guys have given me awesome pit spots all year long and keep the driver under control all day. I think we'll have a good opportunity to go out there and try to win the race.
MODERATOR: Questions for Sam?
Q. Sam, last year you were in the midst of the championship battle and you've been there a few times. But does it feel a little odd? I'm sure it's a little disappointing not to be part of that this year.
SAM HORNISH: It is a little bit disappointing. But as far as myself and the team goes, we've had a terrible year. I mean we've either been in the wrong place at the wrong time, like getting taken out of the race, three, four races that's happened to us. Then we go to the next race and try to overcompensate or the team does and then we make a mistake because we tried too hard. Then we have two bad races in a row instead of just having one.
So it's been a tough year. But definitely there's been some high points and there's been a lot of lows. So I feel really kind of good about coming in the race. Because last year there was so much about the championship. Any one of four guys could still win.
You needed to run well, but you didn't want to get up there and mix it up with some other guys. We're really kind of patient didn't get to show what we really had. I thought we had a car that was capable of winning the race and then ended up didn't get an opportunity to push it at the end because we didn't need to.
Tomorrow, though, we come into this race with kind of, not all or nothing, but we can feel free to go out there and push it and try to win the race and not have to worry about kind of holding back and seeing where we're going to finish in the points.
Q. Sam, this morning's all-car practice session was pretty wild. Can you tell us what you forecast the race to be like?
SAM HORNISH: I tried to stay out of most of that this morning. But I think that there's a lot of guys that are waiting, trying to wait for other cars, trying to get some traffic to run in. I think you saw that there's quite a bit of disparity between the top six cars and the rest of the pack.
So I think that you'll see a couple cars probably run away with it a little bit. But I think that as close as it's been right there at the top, I think Dario, Tony, myself, Helio and Scott and Dan, I think that you're going to see a heck of a race between those six cars and might be a couple others that pop up in there, too.
Q. Sam, does it feel odd to have a race for a championship come down to the wire and you not be part of it?
SAM HORNISH: I don't know, it's kind of a good feeling to not have to worry about the championship tomorrow. But it's a bad feeling that we're not in it. But we've kind of been looking at that for about the past five races that we probably weren't going to be there. So that's how it is. And what can you do?
Q. (Question about injury)
SAM HORNISH: I tore a tendon last week at Detroit in the race. Got hit by another car and bent my thumb backwards. Mobilize it for about eight weeks and hopefully I don't have to have surgery. That will be good.
Q. Will that affect your Cup plans for later in the year?
SAM HORNISH: I don't think so. I mean you'll probably see me like this until the end of the season. And I think that the big thing was the road course at Detroit was tough. We went back out and ran the last 45 laps with everything all banged up and were able to get through that. So I don't figure that's going to be too big of a deal for sure.
MODERATOR: Sam, we appreciate your time. Thank you.
We'll get started with second place in championship points, Scott Dixon; third place, Tony Kanaan. Scott, talk about your day out there and your sixth place start out there.
SCOTT DIXON: Day seemed pretty good. The car felt comfortable. Definitely in traffic, we've been pretty happy. Qualifying, all we wanted to do was start near the front. We were a little ways back, which we were a little shocked by, I think. But we're still -- I think the top six are so close. I think it's 14th of a mile an hour. So it's going to be a tough race tomorrow.
Unfortunately, we're on the wrong end of the 14. So we'll do our best to move up the front and see how it goes. But all in all I think we're pretty happy today.
MODERATOR: T.K., from your side, how was your run out there today?
TONY KANAAN: I think we have a pretty good car. We worked really on the race setup. Both sessions, we kind of split it between me and Dario, a little bit. Some of the stuff he was trying to find the speed. I was trying to find the grip for the race, and we came up with a pretty good combination.
So we feel confident for tomorrow. But like Scott says, we worked, worked, worked and when you looked at it, probably ate a little more than I did and that's why he's there.
So it's going to be a tough race, I think. The six of us, I think, we're going to be -- for you guys it's going to be fun. For us it's going to be breathtaking. But so far so good. I think it's going to be a long day.
Q. Tony, it seems that you and Dario are fairly close on a four-car team and it seems like you can help each other out more than maybe the other two drivers. Is it because they have a different driving style or is it all the same? Or do you think there's a little difference there?
TONY KANAAN: I wish we would have had that figured out. Because, of course, we do drive different. I think me and Dario, maybe what the advantage that we have, probably a little bit more experience; we can put up with things than the kids. They're still learning from it.
And I think it's part of the learning process. But it's been a little weird, because me and Dario, seems like we did not struggle in the mile and a half oval and I'm not saying they struggle but they've been slower than us.
And we try to help them out and figure out what's going on. But really I don't know. I don't know what to tell you. It's been a big difference, actually. And we addressed that -- trust me, we addressed that. Michael addressed that, too. So we're trying to fix that for next year.
Q. This 22-car field is the biggest field of the year other than Indy. There are some drivers that are much slower than you guys. Are you concerned that the slower cars, some of the people out there might be a problem tomorrow and could be a factor in the championship?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, I don't think there will be. Chicago, this circuit has a lot of grip. You have plenty of options, with at least three lanes quite solid and maybe a fourth if you're coming up on really slow cars.
I think the only way they would get in the way if it was two or three wide and you couldn't get by with anybody. I don't think that's going to happen. I think it will be pretty spread out between those guys at the back.
I hope it doesn't affect anything like that of the outcome. But, to be honest, I think it's not going to be a big problem.
TONY KANAAN: I agree with Scott. I think there could be a factor gap between the guys running together, but I don't think it will affect the championship result because of it.
So, in a way, I think I'm glad we proved that we're growing the series. More and more cars. People are coming in. So in a way it's good.
Although they still have to pick up the pace, because people who do one or two races a year, it's not fair to them. But I don't think it will play any effect on it.
Q. General question for all three. In particular Scott, because you went through this last year. Given the fact that Detroit and street event like that isn't inclined to have a lot of on track passing for the lead, but this track has traditionally had some exciting finishes. Is it good, do you all feel individually the championship comes down to this particular racetrack and this style of racetrack?
SCOTT DIXON: I think all three of us probably least like it. I think for the fans it's good. But I'd rather be somewhere else, to be honest.
TONY KANAAN: I agree with Scott.
SCOTT DIXON: I'd rather be on Watkins Glen.
Wonder why. I think our experience and what we've all done, I think we'd expect, we'd prefer to be on the road course. But as Scott said, for the fans, this is a great place for it to end. Again, for the fans watching the race it's phenomenal. This track puts on good shows. But it's not one of my personal favorites.
TONY KANAAN: I agree. I think whatever we want never happens anyway, because I think the three of us, we would have won the championship maybe two races ago. And this way I think it definitely makes the championship very exciting. Although it takes it out of our hands a little more because you can't make a huge difference in a track like this like we're comparing to a road or street course. But it is what it is. That's the championship.
That's the way they brought it out. If we have got here to fight for the championship, that means we didn't do a good job beating each other. So it's up to us to decide at the track that we have.
MODERATOR: Dario, if you could walk us through your day and your pole run out there, if you would.
Q. Scott, how reassuring is it to have Dan there next to you and how can you work that into your plan to try to win the championship?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't think it's going to come into it much. I think it's going to be a pretty shootout between all of us. All of us want to win. I think Dan, after the last few races that he's had, I think he definitely wants to get back on the map and I'm sure he's going to be super aggressive. So I'll be looking out for him.
Dario, you might want to, too. Some experience with that one. It's going to be -- it will be nice to have the same colors up there. But to be honest, I don't think it's going to be a big part of how it's going to play out.
MODERATOR: Anything else for Scott or T.K.? Thank you very much.
Dario, where we left off, if you would talk about your day out there.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, my day started off very well. First run already I knew the Canadian Club car was very fast, which is something I haven't had here at Chicago before. And it's a big part of running up front here, just getting a good car, very good balance in the car. But the speed was there as well.
We were able to tweak the car through the first and second sessions just to get a good balance, got good balance in traffic, good balance on our own.
So that was up until qualifying. We ran quite a bit quicker in practice, in qualifying, than we ran in qualifying itself. And I saw that number, I was quite shocked. I thought did I do something wrong or has the track slowed down. It looked like the track it slowed down quite a bit.
So I'm really happy to be starting this race from pole and hopefully we can keep it up front tomorrow.
Q. Dario, what kind of a threat or what sort of a threat do you rate Scott Dixon as?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: He's been a big threat for a long time. He's one of those guys, you can never count him out. Never count him out. The usual suspects, the ones you see up front week in week out, you can't count them out. Scott, Dan, my teammates, Tony, Marco, Danica, the Penske guys.
I made the mistake of counting Tony out this year at one point. I thought it was a two-horse race for the championship. Tony didn't say anything to me, he just went out and won a bunch of races and put himself in the championship fight. And I don't count them out. And Scott is as tough as anybody out there.
Q. Will there be any team tactics used by you guys tomorrow?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know about team tactics. We'll certainly help each other out there if we can. We've done it on big tracks quite a lot, to the point I thought it was one of the reason that Dan drove into the side of me in Michigan, he was getting frustrated. But as far as we'll use our teammates to go forward, I think. We won't use our teammates in a negative way.
Q. That's really just part of the sport, isn't it?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Absolutely. You see teammates work together very well, especially in IndyCar Series. I think we've seen it with pretty much all the teams.
Q. Dario, winning the pole, you were fast out there early; and did you expect to stay there, or did you think somebody was going to knock you out? You were there a long time.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it was flashbacks to Indy a little bit. Sitting there watching everybody take a pot at the Speedway. I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure had we got the most out of the track the way it was, or had the track slowed down or had we made a mistake. It proved to be that the track had slowed down.
So qualifying is such, it's a small part of what goes into tomorrow. It's nice to start up front, have a clear track. And the trick is to stay there through all the craziness out there, all the passing and all the pit stops and all that stuff. So we've got to work hard on keeping the car out there tomorrow.
Q. For lack of a better term, the last three, four weeks have been crazy for you. How have you been able to push that craziness aside and remain focused on what you have to do?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I guess practice, Bruce. I've been doing this a long time. 24 years, I guess, 23 years I've been racing. And you learn to put things out of your mind and go on with the job. It's been crazy with -- just look back from Michigan onwards. You get on with it. And each week you try to do a better job.
Q. What do you think about Japan Hideki driver?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think Hideki raced in the UK against my brother. So my brother knew him from then. I think he did a very good job in the IPS series this year. I watched him closely. I haven't been on the track with him so far. But his pace looks very good. I think he's got a good future.
Q. What do you think your feeling is going to be tomorrow after the race whether you win or lose the championship; do you think you'll feel relief that this thing is finally over with?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think my feelings will depend on the result. If I win it, there will be relief. If I don't win it, I'll wish there was another three or four races.
It really -- it comes down to this, doesn't it?
MODERATOR: Dario, thank you.
End of FastScripts