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September 7, 2008

Helio Castroneves

Hideki Mutoh


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the 2008 Bombardier IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year, Hideki Mutoh. The third driver in Andretti Green Racing history to win the league's Rookie-of-the-Year honor.
Hideki, talk about winning your Rookie-of-the-Year award year, your season, and how it was.
HIDEKI MUTOH: Yeah, at the beginning of the season my target was winning Rookie-of-the-Year. So now I got it. But I had a very tough day today, so I feel still not happy. Maybe tomorrow morning when I wake up I will realize I'm Rookie-of-the-Year. So wait till tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Hideki.

Q. In your rookie year, although you did run one race last year, was the series a little more difficult than what you anticipated or was it about what you expected?
HIDEKI MUTOH: Well, good Champ Car drivers joined this year, so I know it's going to be tough to win rookie championship. You know, people have a huge experience in Champ Car. So, yeah, I think I'm very proud of this Rookie-of-the-Year.
THE MODERATOR: Hideki, thank you for your time.
HIDEKI MUTOH: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, our race winner, second in the championship points. Certainly did it with a lot of style today.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: For sure I won the race. I want to make sure (laughter). Every time I sit here, I got to stand in the back. No, please.
THE MODERATOR: You did get the trophy, didn't you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: So far, all the celebration, yes.
THE MODERATOR: I don't see A.J. Foyt around, so...
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I didn't say that, by the way (laughter). Although A.J. said I was a bad boy. Hey, A.J., I'm learning with the best.
No, let me tell you one thing. Kind of like speechless, to be honest. You know, for everything what happened, you know, through the whole season, having such a hard time, obviously we've been very consistent. I mean, if it would have been normal circumstances, I have to say we'd be the champion today. Unfortunately Team Ganassi and Scott Dixon, they had a little bit better luck and they end up winning the championship.
But first I want to thank the fans, especially on the low side that we had, the low point. They gave me a lot of support. Thousands and thousands of emails to give me strength and keep positive attitude, especially towards to the end.
I want to thank the entire Team Penske. They did a helluva job, from Sonoma, having those problems. Ryan, being on the team, he was a great help today. Without him, for sure there was no question I would not win this race. I did what I could. He really helped me out. So I'm definitely happy to have a teammate kind of like him.
And third, you know, thanks to my family, as well, to keep me trying to say the right things when the blood is boiling. But I kind of learned a lot. This year, it was a fantastic season for us. I just have to say that it was an incredible race. I was trying everything we could, TC and I try to keep cool, everything we could to lead the most laps without going crazy, and we did it. We did it.
In the end, Scott did a helluva job playing us well, just staying back there. It was great to win like on the last minute or last inches, I would say.
With that, it was an awesome season. I have nothing that I would have done different. I would have done exactly the same thing. Hopefully next year we start like that and finish just a little bit better in the championship.
THE MODERATOR: There's the proof.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's the proof, which is great. I believe it. When I looked, I thought I won. That was very close, guys. Darn it, whew.
THE MODERATOR: I've got clarification on the margin of victory. 0033, the second closest in league history. We apologize jumping the gun earlier. Closest is 0024.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Close enough for me (laughter).

Q. Why don't you talk us through that trip from 28th to 1st.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was good. You know, at the beginning I was just trying to make sure I keep cool. I didn't want to have any problems. Looking to the files from last year, lap 35 is when the first yellow happened. I'm not sure what lap it was this race. I knew everybody would stay cool.
Found some good partners out there. Found some good people that, you know, were able to work with me. Again, every time you have to save fuel, it's the worst scenario. Cindric was telling me to save fuel, save fuel. I'm like, Look, I need to go to the front because I don't want to lose that pack. We were able to save fuel, do what we were able to do. When the pit stop comes, actually I think I was in the first 10 when we came in the first pit stops. When we came out, still in the top 10. Just trying to play cool.
Finally when I got behind Danica, I'm not sure what the position was, I was just like, again, I think Tony was leading, I'm just going to stay here. Still too many laps to go.
All of a sudden they really -- Wheldon had a problem, I believe, and all of a sudden I was able to pass those guys. Same thing again, I ended up passing Dixon. So everything was happening very smooth. No wild, no out of control.
When we got to the lead, it was like, Okay, now we just have to stay here. So through that whole situation, I kept cool. I was pretty under control. I was not having any issues at all. We touched the car a little bit not in the pit stop but at least inside the cockpit. Other than that, it was an exciting run.

Q. Do you get any peace of mind out of the fact that the 10 points from the penalty last week did not come into play here in the end?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, like I said, you know, I turned a page. Even if you would finish 10 points with the situation, there was nothing we could have done. It's the same thing what happened when we had a flat tire in Iowa. Same thing happened when we run out of fuel in Kentucky.
So, you know, you have to approach with that scenario. So for me, like I said, I turned a page. I move on. That's why I was able to do the race that I did.

Q. You'd have to almost say this might be as gratifying a win as you've had, given how far you came back, given what happened yesterday and last week. Would you go that far, even though Indy 500 is bigger, but the pride.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: The amount of work. Let me put it this way: every race, it's hard work. This particularly I'm very happy and satisfied because I did learn with my teammate Sam, you know, those moves, watching what he's done in the past. Today probably was my first race that I won in this kind of conditions.
But I have to remember, as well, I had a great teammate pushing me and made that happen, as well. You're right, coming from the back, we proved that we kept the three Cs together: calm, cool, collected. That's what we did. Our plan, we execute. Just unfortunately Ganassi and Scott, they were right there. We did our part.

Q. You've been racing against Scott since 2001, since the CART days. Can you make a comment on Scott as a competitor or rival.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I respect Scott, among other drivers as well. But I respect him as an incredible racecar driver, you know. The guy not only can be well and run well on the road course, but also on the ovals. Despite for his character of being a little bit cold and quiet, you know, he has always been fair, you know, with everyone. I don't think there is any problem. I don't have any problem with nobody, but I don't think he has any problem with anybody either.
Like I said many times when we finish races, you know, I feel that he respect me, and I feel with the same way, with a lot of respect. That's why towards the end of the race you're able to run side by side, inches, wheel to wheel, without worry that he's gonna play dirty or something like that.
That was definitely a comfortable zone I think for both of us. I'm glad that we were able to do what we did.

Q. It seemed there at the end when Dixon was on the inside down by the line and you were trying to go on the outside into turn one, seemed like he kind of crept up a little bit and had to go higher. Is that the case or did he stay low?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He was trying to do everything to keep me behind, you know. But I have to say I saw some stuff back there that was worse than what he did. I was just trying to make sure that I keep out of trouble.
Plus six or five laps to go, you know, you're going to go for it. Everybody's trying everything they can. I was able to go on the last lap and pull alongside and said, Okay, now, we got to do what we got to do. It was a lot of fun.

Q. Was the finish today with what was at stake similar to when you raced Sam for the title in '02?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, definitely it was similar experience. I think Sam need to finish third in that point, I needed to win the race. He ended up winning second. So it was a little closer situation.
But, you know, every season it's something different. Every season is something special. Finishing with the amount of results that we did, and definitely next year's going to be even more competitive because all the drivers, all the teams, they gonna have experience.
So for me right now I'm still trying to sink in what happened out there. Just upset that I did not climb the fence (laughter).

Q. On those last two aborted restarts, you really seemed to have Scott's measure on those restarts. Was it frustrating for you to see those yellow flags come out knowing the third time through you didn't have quite as much for Scott at that point?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, I wasn't quite understanding. I thought Scott was a little bit slow paced. He kept weaving a little bit, warming his tires. I understand you not allowed to do that. I was just trying to stay, you know, away from him, that he would slow down and would clip my nose, if I would hit him, spin out, you know, it would be like a big mess. So I was just trying to stay a little bit away from him, as close as possible, to make sure nothing would go wrong. They kept saying, I have to be nose to tail. I'm like, No problem, whatever you guys say. Just tell me. Don't go ahead and make something.
In the end, he did a good start. I'm not sure, it was four or five laps to go, I was just trying to measure and find out what would be the best place to pull alongside and go for it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Helio.

End of FastScripts

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