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July 19, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Tony, a little bit of an overview of your run.
TONY KANAAN: We had a lot of understeer in the car. We tried to improve. We had a problem with the throttle cable. One of the wires came loose. My idle was at 6,000 rpm. That doesn't make it easy to stop the car on the hard braking. We managed that, to put a lap together.
Pretty pleased. I think despite the circumstances, we made it to the fast top six again. We'll see what's going to happen tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: As we await our top two, questions for any of the four that are up here right now.
Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: We just made a change to the setup, I guess, overnight. I don't know if it was on purpose or accidental. It wasn't right. So we put that right for this afternoon.
It just means we're a couple of steps behind. We haven't tested at this track. We haven't tested on a road circuit yet. We're on a pretty steep learning curve, just trying to tune the car every time we go out. Once we get into qualifying, you don't dare take too big a risk or too big a change, but you still want to develop the car some.
It's quite a fine tightrope you have to walk.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us now is our second fastest qualifier, Ryan Briscoe. This is the first time two Penske cars are on the front row since Kentucky of '06. In that one, Helio was on the pole, and Sam was second. Sam went on to win the race. Tell us a little bit about your run in the Firestone Fast Six.
RYAN BRISCOE: It was good. It was close fought, hard fought as usual. You got to work so hard to get into the fast six, then hang it out there.
I thought we had a really good day. The car was handling well, just not quite quick enough. But it was so close. You can definitely see our Team Penske cars are very strong here.
THE MODERATOR: We can go ahead and ask questions of the top five.
Q. (Question regarding toughness of qualifying.)
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it's pretty demanding. It's physical. Also when you're basically doing two qualifying attempts in the first session, and one or two in the second, then one in the third, you're giving it 10, 11 10ths every single corner. Some guys like to hold their breath. Some guys tense up. You tense every muscle in your body, it wears you out pretty quick.
Around this place, you're using everything you can to get the car to not rotate too much on the way in, but rotate in the middle of the corner. You're just playing with the pedals trying to get it all to work for you.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, I the think the difference from the race, the biggest thing is in the race, if you can't overtake somebody, you might be faster, but if you can't overtake, you just kind of save fuel, so you're not charging half as much as we are in qualifying. Plus the new rubber is so much more grip than when the tires wear out. It does get heavier when we fill it up though, but we'll see.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, do you want to answer that one?
SCOTT DIXON: I'm good, thanks.
Q. (Question regarding the importance of being in the front.)
TONY KANAAN: I think we all agree that track position was going to be a challenge, and it's a big key for the race, for sure. I don't see how we can, with the lap times we did, how we're going to try to pass each other in a fair, square situation. It's going to go down, again, to pit stops, strategy, all those kind of things.
For sure, track position, it's really important.
Q. (Question regarding qualifying format.)
RYAN BRISCOE: I think that's a good question for the fans maybe. The important thing is that we put on a good show. I think whatever you give us, we'll go out there and do our best, see what we can get. This is for sure the most challenging qualifying format I ever experienced.
TONY KANAAN: We're always going to have an opinion about what's best for us. But, like Ryan said, if it's good for the fans, if the fans are happy, we'll go out there and we'll kill ourselves with qualifying attempts. We ended up qualifying without a breath, not even time to debrief with my engineers. So give me five minutes.
Particularly myself, I like the old format. I like the single-lap qualifying a lot because either you're in or you're out. If you make a mistake, you're out. That makes it more exciting for us.
But I think with 26 cars, you do a single-lap qualifying, I think the people would be pretty bored about it. My opinion was obviously what I like. Right now if the fans are happy, I'm happy.
THE MODERATOR: He is the winner of the Peak Pole Award with our Firestone Fast Six qualifying, moving his way in here, none other than Helio Castroneves. Second in points right now. This is his first earned pole of the year, having gotten one on points earlier this year.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I got Nashville, my friend.
THE MODERATOR: You got Nashville, as well.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I got two pole positions, Nashville and here, and one in Japan.
THE MODERATOR: I feel so bad now. Helio, great run out there. Track record holder here. We know that. Not a track record today. Tell us a little bit about your run through that Firestone Fast Six.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, I don't know about you guys, but it was extremely close between those six guys. I don't know, I wasn't checking the time because I didn't want to check. I was just wanting to keep driving. No question, everybody was really, really close. When you're talking about thousandths of seconds, it's very difficult to describe out there speed-wise and things like that.
Again, it was a great job. It was a tough run. Obviously, this type of qualifying creates a great toughness. You never know one set of tires might be better than the other. In our situation, we knew we had a very good car and we keep just tweaking a little bit, not changing much, but just a little bit every stop that we did. That was the key, to be honest, to find a good lap. Finally in the end it was just perfect.
I was very, very happy for the team. I mean, even this morning, I said to Roger, We have a great chance to put both cars in the front row. We're looking very strong. No question, it is.
I'm happy that I didn't lie to my boss (laughter). But he's happy. We're happy. We're going to enjoy this moment, no question about it. But tomorrow, it's a new day and we're going to have to work very hard to get our first win or at least another win for the team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Helio.
Q. (Question regarding Team Penske always qualifying well.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, we always try to find the details. In this place, to be honest, details makes a big difference when you're talking about I call it the Mickey Mouse section, because it's a bunch of turns. Definitely it's very key to find a good line and to find a good balance on the car for here. Sometimes you compromise that. The straight line is becoming worse. You never know what you're going to do.
Again, here for sure we were able to find that good balance for both cars. But I have to say, it was a very close battle for the top six. It wasn't something people are talking about that we have an advantage or something. I guess experience helped, as well. And I'm glad that I have that experience.
Q. How important is it to be up front on this track?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question. I remember my older teammate, Mr. De Ferran, he started on the pole position. That's another reason for me to start on the pole position, otherwise he would give me a hard time. He sat on the pole position here in the past. I ended up actually capturing the win.
It's one of those things, it's so difficult to pass because the air and turbulence here affects the car in preparation for you to overtake someone, that some guys on second place, third, fourth, they start saving fuel and try to make their lap go a little bit farther on the lap. Because when the guy come out, no question he's going to be in front of you because of the cold tires.
So, again, it's one of those things that's gonna be the key. The key is gonna be the right time to pit, saving of fuel, but not being overtake. That's why I'm saying, sometimes starting on the front it might risk the win. But, hey, we're going to take a chance tomorrow and hopefully we can make that happen.
Q. Will you drag race with Ryan into the first turn?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Definitely we don't want any problem at all between both cars. We want to make sure we go as clean as possible the first lap, and the rest of the race will sort it out itself. I'm sure we're going to be talking.
I had the situation before in the past with Gil. I guarantee we're going to have many more situations like this with Ryan. We're definitely going to sort it out and make sure we give space to each other first to complete the first turn, first and second, then the rest we're going to go for it.
Q. If you lead...
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, when I lead (laughter).
Q. When you lead, do you worry about fuel, being the leader, over the long-term of the race? Is that a concern?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes, it is. I won two races on fuel strategy against my teammate Gil. I'm sure Ryan is going to try to do the same thing what I did in the past. Scott did exactly the same thing last year. He ended up winning the race. So it is unfortunately a situation that we got to do it.
I might be playing that same strategy again tomorrow, being in the front, see what happen with the back. But no question about it, we have our strategy. Lay it out and see Plan B, C or D, if it works.
Q. Trying to run down Scott in the points, do you feel a certain momentum here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's great. It's tough when his team make a mistake, or even himself make a mistake, end up winning the race. Definitely you're like, Dang, this guy definitely has some luck.
But hopefully that luck is running out and now it's time for us -- it turns a little bit. But we're not counting with that. We know the talent of Team Ganassi and also Scott. We're not going to plan on waiting for something for them to happen. Obviously we gonna try to execute.
We have two chances to win this race, myself and Ryan. And we're gonna try to do that, hopefully take more points from Scott and getting close on the championship.
Q. Is Scott almost the type of guy you can't intimidate, play mind games with?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You're absolutely right. Scott, that's why they call him the Ice Man, I guess. Like I said, we're not focused on Scott right now. We're focused on what we need to do to win this race.
The biggest guy, the biggest competitor right now is our teammate, Ryan. Sure, he's going to try to win as well because you want to be back on the championship as well, at least in the top five. He's gonna try everything, as well, to win. So hopefully it will be like a private fight out there. I know it's not the case, looking at the times for the top six. But we're going to try everything we can to keep up front and finish up front.
Q. As consistent as you've been this year, I'm sure you're disappointed not having a win. Are you surprised you haven't had a win?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Probably "surprised" is the right word, and "disappointed" or "frustrated" is not because we're knocking on the door. That dang door is not opening at all, but we try. We need to find that key. Well, for now we going to try to at least break that door, and hopefully tomorrow will be the day.
Q. (Question regarding qualifying format.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly is very hard for the second session, the second group, to keep going because basically we don't rest at all. I mean, as soon as I jump in the car, which was noon I guess, I just left the car at qualifying finish. Unfortunately, it's a little bit of toughness because when you qualifying basically every lap, you need to be fresh and you need to be ready. Plus here, because the track is getting better and better every lap you're going out there, it's a tremendous force you carry on the steering wheel.
It is the same for everyone, you know. But it's one of the those things. Obviously last year it was more fun when you have one lap because you got to put one lap together and then 10 minutes. You got to do what you got to do.
But it's one of those things. Definitely the four laps on the qualifying, the ovals, for me already being very clear I don't like them. But, again, we're trying everything. We'll try to change. Hopefully we're going to come in a better scenario for in the future.
Q. (Question regarding qualifying format.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I would go back the same way it was last year, one lap. Probably add at least two more cars for qualifying. Instead of six, it would be eight. Top eight on the final. Because we got to face it, if a guy is in the top 10, he definitely -- if he deserves it, he might not be on the pole position, but he might be there. So you kind of separate a little bit, not jeopardizing the other position or something like that. But I would say one lap like used to be last year, and then 10 minutes eight or 10 guys, or 15 minutes eight or 10 guys going for it. That would be my idea.
But every time I say something, they don't think I am right, so who cares (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Helio, thank you very much.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you guys.
End of FastScripts