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July 26, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post race press conference, our story of the day, fourth-place finisher, Paul Tracy. Paul, I am sure you're happy with today?
PAUL TRACY: I'm extremely, extremely excited. It's been a long time coming, getting back in a car. You know, I never dreamed in my career that the last final phase of my career would go like this. Obviously, I was under contract to Gerry Forsythe. When they decided not to go racing, that kind of left me hung out. You know, there really wasn't anything out there that interested me in driving.
Derrick Walker and I had been talking, you know, all the way through the summer from Long Beach about trying to put something together and finding sponsorship, working on things. You know, it kept going down dead-end roads.
I was on vacation with my wife and kids in San Diego. We were hanging out at the beach. Derrick said, I think we got something for Edmonton, are you available? I said, Yeah, but I've already made a commitment to go to Goodwood for four days. Then the deal came together while I was there, which was the week before last.
So I flew back early from England on an overnight flight straight to Indianapolis. We made a seat. I got to know the team. Four days later we were at the track.
I went home back to Las Vegas and trained like crazy in the hundred-degree heat for four days. I wasn't in the best shape of my life, like I said this weekend, but definitely was able to carry it through here and was strong all the way through the race.
I'm just really happy for the team, really happy for the sponsor. I think it shows that we deserve to be out here.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Paul, your best lap during the race was the eighth quickest. What do you think about it?
PAUL TRACY: Well, most of the race, I spent the whole race saving fuel, doing fuel mileage. The last stint I really had to do fuel mileage, couldn't really go quick at all.
But, you know, I just kind of -- I knew that I couldn't go at the pace that Helio and Dixon and those guys could go. But I could set the pace of the group that I was with, and that was the group from 3rd to 10th. They were all about the same. So really I was just running my race and pacing myself, you know, making it to the goal line.
The end, the last stint, I really had to make some fuel mileage for a while. Then they turned me loose for a little bit. At the very end they said, You got to slow down again. I was fortunate enough that Oriol had some type of problem or ran out of fuel right at the end and I got him. But that was just really lucky from that standpoint.
But I'll take it (laughter).
Q. I think it was probably after the restart on about lap 25 or 26 that Danica passed you.
PAUL TRACY: Well, she got by me in the pit lane. She had a faster pit stop than a bunch of us, which I was quite surprised. I don't know if she short filled it or not. I don't know where she was in line in terms of when she came in to pit, but she jumped ahead of probably five or six cars in the pit lane. I think it was Oriol got by her. She was running a good pace, and I had to make a move on her. And, you know, just really set her up in the infield and stuffed it down the inside of her and gave her no opportunity to turn into the corner.
Q. Which turn was that?
PAUL TRACY: Turn five.
Q. Can you talk about how much racing there was out there today. There was a lot of good racing out there today.
PAUL TRACY: There was a lot of good racing.
Q. The other part of that question, I mean, you had the same scene pretty much here you had your three years of Champ Car. How much pride do you take in that, the Canadian thing and everything?
PAUL TRACY: No, the racing was great today. There was action all the way through. You know, I was fighting with many different drivers, passed a lot of guys, made a lot of, you know, really daring passes in the infield. My car wasn't so strong in the faster corners where I could run up on guys in the fast corners. So I had to really make my moves in the infield. I did that on Justin. I did it to Hunter-Reay and Danica, Dan Wheldon. They were all done in the tight, twisty stuff, which is hard to get by.
But, you know, it's no secret that my whole career, the most important part of the season for me is always to run in the Canadian races. And right from the beginning of my career, winning the Toronto race in '93, to run well at home was always the focal point of my year.
You know, I think it would have been very, very difficult emotionally to not be a part of an IndyCar race and have to miss out on it. But, you know, I got this opportunity and we cashed in on it. So from that standpoint, I hope the -- the door was cracked open for us. I hope it's wide open for me and Derrick to be able to move forward and doing something long-term.
Q. Would you surprised if that didn't happen?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I'd be surprised if that didn't happen after how I showed this weekend (laughter). But, you know, nothing surprises me in motor racing. But a lot of people were saying -- you know, I had many journalists that I'm friends with say, Don't do this, it's going to be a bad deal. You're going to be set up to look bad. They're only using you to sell tickets.
You know, I spoke to Derrick on the phone. You know, he's trying to get back in the game. He said, Look, I'm going to give you the best, everything I got, to make us look good this weekend. So just believe in me.
That's why I took the chance on doing this. For me, it's difficult to hear people say, Well, Paul should just have to come out and pay his dues again, run around at the back, show that he can drive. I showed today what I can do if we got a proper deal.
I'm excited for Derrick and I'm excited for Tony's team. I think the equipment they've got, we've shown them what the level is, where they're at. So hopefully we can continue
Q. I understand you could hear the team on the radio, but you couldn't speak to them. Do you think a lot of the success you had today is because of your experience in situations like this?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I didn't get an opportunity to mouth off back to Derrick (laughter). You know, I had a couple of moments, but couldn't relay them back to him.
But, you know, we were able to communicate. He was very good on the radio. There was no confusion. When they realized they couldn't hear me, he said, Just give me some hand signals, do you need more or less tire pressure, stick your hand in the air if you need more, don't raise your hand if you don't. If you want a wing change, raise your hand or don't raise your hand.
We kind of did it I guess the way the guys like Mario, A.J. and those guys did it back in the '70s when there was no radio. From that standpoint, that was different.
But very well-organized, very well-run race. Just excited for Derrick's team that we were able to get the job done this weekend.
Q. You said last time you wanted to be in the right situation. Given all the hurdles, if you were a betting man, would you bet on yourself?
PAUL TRACY: I felt coming in that I could do a good job. This series has got the best of both groups, you know. You got the top guys in the IRL, which were really top guys at their time in CART. Helio and Dixon, they were frontrunners. You've got the top guys that were in Champ Car. So that doubles the level of top guys.
The last couple years for me have been frustrating, you know. We really struggled the last couple years. I came into this weekend and I learned that guys that were my crew guys and engineers from last year were making bets that I wouldn't crack the top 20, you know, because they felt it was me that was the problem at Forsythe. So that definitely gave me some extra motivation, to prove that, hey, I can still do this. I can run up front with these guys that are a lot younger than me.
I'm not ready to retire. I want to do a few more years of racing, try to help the series and help it grow in Canada. That's what I've stated all along since the merger. So hopefully I'll get the opportunity to do that.
Q. I was watching the morning session outside your pit. I think you came in about three or four times right in a row lap after lap doing full-time pit. Was that just to work with the team?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah. I mean, they do a different strategy in terms of how they call in and out. They use a board and pull it away to leave. We were scrubbing tires, too, because I don't really like to start on stickers and I don't like to run right out of the pits on stickers. So we were just taking the shine off the top of the tires. We were practicing coming in and out because it's been a little while since I've done it.
Q. Speaking of that, the pit stops today were really good.
PAUL TRACY: Everything was good. I was going down the fast lane two of the pit stops and guys came flying out right into the fast lane and I had to go in the grass to avoid getting run into. It could have been a disaster if there was a wall there. But I had to take to the grass to avoid getting run into the side.
But generally speaking, we gained positions in the pits or didn't lose any. So, you know, they did a great job. A couple guys were flying. I had a couple guys on my crew, you know, were from Forsythe. Most of the guys are all Derrick's guys from the Atlantic program.
Q. (No microphone.)
PAUL TRACY: No, they were guys they bet with that came over. We had a couple guys on the Forsythe team that were just weekend guys that flew in for the race weekend. One of them actually lives in Vegas. He's a fireman. He flew in to do this race for me.
Q. How much did you win for your team?
PAUL TRACY: It wasn't big bets. It was only 20 bucks. 500 bucks on another one. But, you know, it's just the point of it. If there was no confidence there now, there probably wasn't last year. So, you know, it's gratifying to me that this is probably one of the best races I've done in the last year or so. It feels good.
Q. Are you at all concerned about fatigue? You mentioned earlier how tough this race is, not having raced most of the season.
PAUL TRACY: I was a little bit. But, you know, I haven't been doing a lot of cardio in the last few months. I've been riding a little bit, a couple days a week, but not like every single day. I've been lifting more weights, you know, than doing cardio. So I was a little bit worried about my cardio for the race. But I think my strength was fine.
You know, obviously with more time to prepare I would have been more prepared, but I only had four days of really hard training cardio-wise to get ready for this race. Other than that, I was pretty happy with how I ran.
Q. Bryan Herta has been brought into Vision Racing to assist on road courses. How did he assist you this weekend?
PAUL TRACY: He really focused on Ed and A.J. I tried to help as much as I could with Ed and A.J. Obviously they had access to our data. So, you know, I think they found what the level of their cars are. And they improved drastically through the weekend. I think they've got a benchmark now.
THE MODERATOR: Paul, we appreciate your time.
PAUL TRACY: Thanks for all the support.
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our second-place finisher, Helio Castroneves. Helio's sixth second-place finish of the year. Helio, when you got out of the car, the radio interview, all you could do was laugh.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's right. Not much I can say. We tried everything. Definitely we showed that we had a fast car. I mean, the car was awesome. I was having so much fun driving out there. Definitely this track seems to be my style.
Again, it was really, really tough, physical. But, you know, since the beginning we try to do a little bit different because, I mean, we try not to be conservative. We try to go, pull away, see what happen. I mean, for us now, there is not much to lose. We got to win, trying to catch a lot of points between me and Scott.
But unfortunately leaving the pits out there, you know, it was really crowded, really tough for me to get out. Obviously he was able to beat me on that position. So I was just pushing as hard as I could, trying to pass him.
But when you're behind a guy, it's so difficult. Your front tires really start going away. Obviously, Cindric is telling me to save fuel and save fuel. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to let him go. I didn't want to -- I was trying to pass, but at the same time he was telling me to save fuel.
It was very difficult for me to do everything I wanted. And then they told me, Okay, it's going to be a time race. It's just a shame because we definitely had a fast car.
But, hey, nothing you can do about it. Move on. Second place definitely proves that we're still there.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Helio.
Q. Are you starting to think you're the most famous second-place guy in sport?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I spoke with my good friend, Mr. De Ferran. He said he finished probably eight times second place. So I have two more races to beat him or to match him. And he also finished second in the championship. I think it was 1998 or something like that.
You know, you can't make those things bother you. I mean, we trying. Certainly we trying. If it would be like lack of it, oh, my God, we don't have a fast car, throwing the dice out there. But this race we said, Let's go for it. Let's not be conservative or think like that. And we did.
It was just unfortunately so difficult to get out of the pits, and especially for me to go around, it makes it a little bit hard. But, you know, they're saving fuel. They don't have much to lose. Just only follow whatever I'm gonna do.
That yellow didn't happen. Obviously, would have been in fantastic shape. I probably would have won six races or something like that. All we got so far is second.
Q. You mentioned how much fun you're having out there on the track.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Oh, absolutely. That was awesome. I mean, I think it was everything. The car was good. The track was fun. I was going for it. There was no this BS of saving fuel until the end actually. I was conservative in the beginning. When I was saving fuel, there is types of saving fuel. One, I was saving (indiscernible). But the car was so quick, even with that, I was opening up a huge gap. And obviously, I mean, there was other ways that you like lift a little bit, short shift, things like that. It helps.
But I was just going. I was just having so much fun. The car was so good that for the first time they let me, like, keep going. The track was great. It suits me really good. I'm happy. I can't wait to come back here for next year.
Q. Your thoughts on Paul Tracy finishing in fourth place?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Wow, I just realized. I didn't know. He did an incredible job to finish fourth. I don't know if it was a strategy. I don't know how fast he was. But certainly it's a good result.
Paul, I mean, he's a talented driver. We all know that. And, I mean, hopefully he'll be able to find a ride because definitely he'll be entertaining here in the series doing everything. You know, he's definitely a very talented driver, a very tough driver. It would be great to have him in our series full-time.
Q. Can you tell us what happened on lap 79? Looked like you lost your brakes, what impact that had on the result.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was very weird. Actually my war was very consistent the whole time. I'm not sure if I was a little closer or that's the wind or something. Definitely when you're behind someone, your front tires is degrade a little bit more. You basically lose a little bit of downforce.
The car simply just took off. It was very weird. I was not prepared for that. I didn't brake deeper than before. I was doing exactly the same thing, and it just lock.
I was very fortunate to not go straight. It was really weird. To be honest, it was really, really weird. And after that, I just (indiscernible) my tires, and obviously he open up a huge lead. If I would have try something, it would just be like madness. He drove a very good race. I was pushing as hard as I could.
But, like I said, when you're in front, you have clean air, you're in good shape. It's the best position to be in. Trust me, if I would be in front all the time, it would be good. But it's his time. He did good. But it ain't over yet. Still four more races.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by race winner, Scott Dixon. With his win today he extends his points lead over second place Helio Castroneves by 65 points. This is Scott's fifth win of the season, which has happened two other times in league history. He's one shy of the league record, which is six wins, set in 2005 by Dan Wheldon, when he was a member of Andretti Green Racing.
Scott, tell us about your run out there.
SCOTT DIXON: It was a good day. I think from the start of the race, it was pretty clean. I sort of envisioned to probably make a move on Servia earlier on in the race. It just didn't pan out. He was definitely quite a bit slower I think in race conditions. As we came into the stop, I think we took on less fuel. The Target guys were also fantastic in the pits. That enabled us to get around him.
The Penske guys, Helio was definitely very quick all day. Out front, would have been pretty tough to beat. I think we had a comparable car when we were out front, we just probably wouldn't have been able to pass him on track. So, once again, we got behind Briscoe, saved a ton of fuel, combined with the guys in the pit stop, and we jumped them both.
You know, that was definitely the key move of the race, I think, and they definitely earned that for me. From there on, we had to save a bit of fuel all the way to the end. Think we just had a bit better car to save fuel than Helio did. He was pushing a little bit in some sections. But we were pretty happy and pretty consistent with the car.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Scott.
Q. I don't think the race went the entire distance of 95 laps. It was a timed race. Would you have had enough fuel, were you comfortable on your fuel, to make it to the end?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah. I think, you know, we were pretty confident. I'm not sure how many laps we ended up doing.
SCOTT DIXON: Whether we could have gone to 95, I'm not sure. I know I could have definitely done another couple of laps. But that would have been the same for everybody that was behind us except for guys that pitted later. I still had plenty at the end. But to do another four laps, I'm not quite certain that we could have done that.
Q. What do you think this does in terms of clinching the series championship? Could you give us an idea of any compassion for Helio with his second-place finishes.
SCOTT DIXON: That's racing, man. I've been in that situation before unfortunately. When it goes your way, it goes your way. But, you know, Helio drove a great race. I don't think you could fault him on anything he did. He was definitely very fast. I think in the end, our combination was just that little bit better, and that's how we won the race.
I think they may have had a small problem in his pit stop which messed that up. As far as the championship goes, we still want to go out there and win every race. We still got four races to go. 65-point lead, it's not that big really when you get 50 points for a win and maybe three for most laps led.
We've got a lot of work ahead of us. You know, he's got a big margin I think and certain circumstances to catch up if we're running at any race. Consistent finishes is going to be tough. We got to go out, if we can get another race win or another two, that would definitely put the nail in the coffin.
Q. At the end there, the last maybe 20 laps or so, he was pushing real hard.
SCOTT DIXON: I knew he was going to put pressure on. I knew he had the same fuel numbers as me or better. I knew if he made enough laps, trying to make a dive, maybe richen that fuel, get a run on me, it was definitely going to make him slower later. I made sure at certain parts of the track, say out of 12, out of 14, out of 10, places like that, I had enough of a run to make sure he couldn't make a big dive.
You know, that's kind of how it played out. I think I just sort of raced my race looking in the mirrors a little bit to see how he was comparing. And we were still getting big fuel numbers. We needed 3.35 I think, and we were getting 3.45, 3.50. You know, that was -- we sort of had a little bit in our pocket.
Q. How tough a race was it on the circuit, 95 laps here? Pretty grueling?
SCOTT DIXON: It is. Circuits like this, you just don't get a rest. Even on the straights here, they're bumpy. You're coming out of fast corners, you have maybe a couple of seconds before you've got to start thinking about braking. There's absolutely no time for rest. The physical side of it, you're sawing at that wheel pretty hard. It's one of the tougher races we've had this season. St. Pete used to be extremely tough. Detroit's tough as well.
But the grip and the speed of this circuit, you know, definitely takes its toll physically.
Q. Presumably you were still pretty relieved when you looked in your mirrors there about five or six laps to go and saw Helio was either not there or a very distant speck compared to what he had been.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think at that point I thought he maybe had to save a lot more fuel than we needed to. But, you know, talking to him after the race, I think he made a bit of a dive, got a bit offline, got some marbles on the tires, took him a little while to recover. The next radio transmission I heard was he's six seconds behind. A track like this, that's a lot, when you've only got four laps to go. That definitely made it pretty comfortable. I think you could probably see my lap times drop by about a second and I was sort of cruising at the end.
Q. How surprised were you that Paul Tracy ended up in fourth?
SCOTT DIXON: No, you know, as I said earlier today, he's a guy we need in the series. You know, he's a big name. He's fantastic to watch, especially a circuit like this. He's an animal.
It's a pleasure to be racing with him. I didn't really get to race with him today. But to come from 15th or 16th for a 4th position, I know at some point strategy plays into it a little bit, but you've still got to be quick to get there. Bloody good to see, man. Good to see.
Q. When Helio made his dive, you were kind of hung up behind Danica. Were you starting to think a lap car might make a difference or did you feel like you had it in hand?
SCOTT DIXON: I was hoping not. I don't even know Danica's situation in the race. But, you know, to have me sit behind her for three or four laps was kind of bizarre to me. I don't know what she was thinking. I don't know if she thought she was racing me for the lead or something. But that's the way it goes.
Q. You mentioned on the podium the situation that happened in Watkins Glen, gave yourself a mental kick in the butt over it, the team kind of got remotivated. How much is that on your mind?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, it was definitely on my mind a lot the week after. You had those flashbacks, for sure. I think it was a good piece of remotivation. You know, you then really understand that it's not that easy. You know, you definitely can't let your guard down. I think for me it definitely made me zero in again a little bit more and know that this is going to be a tough fight till the end.
So I think, you know, it's maybe a good thing, even though we lost a load of points.
Q. Helio said he was having so much fun out there. Was that the case with you?
SCOTT DIXON: It was fantastic, man. You know, the strategies, how they played out today, were crazy. You know, when you're racing and trying to make dives on people, you know, that are quite a ways back in the pack, people you didn't think you'd be racing, it was a lot of fun. You were racing there with Foyt, Moraes, T.K. was making dives, Rahal was making dives. It was all going on, man. I think at some point in turn 10, we were four or five wide going into 11.
I had a lot of fun. You know, the day was hectic right from the word 'go'. You know, it definitely was a fantastic race. As I said earlier, you know, the combination of all the fans and how enthusiastic they are, these are the races we need to come to.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, appreciate your time. Thank you.
SCOTT DIXON: Thank you.
End of FastScripts