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July 26, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our third place finisher Scott Dixon, his eighth top five of the season, seventh in a row. Scott is the defending race winner here and with his finish today now moves into the championship points lead with 380; Dario Franchitti second at 377; Ryan Briscoe third at 366.
Scott, talk about your day out there.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, not too bad. I think definitely the Target Car #9 was quick, probably on new tires. The later parts of the stint we really struggled to hold onto the grip of the car, in the last sort of ten laps. So it made it definitely a long day and a very physical day to try and hold onto it.
I think strategy-wise we were fairly decent. I got out ahead of the two Penskes on the first stop, and unfortunately I cooked it a bit going into Turn 11 which allowed Briscoe to get by at that point.
From there on it was just a lot of lap traffic. Lap traffic was very annoying today. Lots of guys that just shouldn't have been racing with us, and they made it very tough. We had Marco Tagliani was just appalling for me. I don't know why they do it. But I guess in some ways it made the racing a little bit more exciting. There was lots of dodge going on.
And in the end that's how we lost the position to Helio. We got kind of caught up with the 14 and the 20 car that were fighting for position, and he got a run on us into Turn 11, and that was it.
Good points day for us, pretty happy, and unfortunately we would have liked to have won, but Will Power definitely had a fantastic weekend, and he should be very proud of that.
Q. Can you just comment on the idea that you went all but one lap on green today?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was physical. I think some of the guys probably not so much because they might have had slightly better cars. Will seemed to be pretty fresh after the race. I think he was kind of cruising for the most part at the last stint for sure.
The only thing that I was really sore with were my feet, which I'm not really sure why, but pushing on the pedals, I might have to ask for a softer brake pad or something to ease the pain on that.
Apart from that, it's just holding on. The grip level wasn't super high, which I thought would have come into play a little bit more towards the end of the race. But physically I don't know if we've ever had pretty much a green flag race, and man, it was tough. I'm glad I work out.
THE MODERATOR: That was the fewest caution laps in an IndyCar Series race history, one lap.
Q. You mentioned Marco Tagliani. Did you mean Marco Andretti or Alex Tagliani, or did you mean both when you were talking about lap cars?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, both, there was lots of them. I think a few of the others actually had more of a problem with Marco, which actually helped me. They had eight seconds. I was able to close that gap when they were stuck behind him. It's just frustrating when you see even Marco racing Will into a corner into Turn 1 and kind of putting a block on. You know, it's -- it just doesn't need to be done. I don't think I would do it to anybody, and maybe it shouldn't be done that way before, ever.
And Tagliani I think really hurt my race, especially in the middle stint there. I was running fairly well until I got stuck behind him, and it took him probably eight or ten laps to let me by. It's a wide track, but really there's only one line where the grip is. If you get off line it's very slippery, and we just didn't really have the chance to try and dive under some of these guys and try to pass.
It's racing. It's part of it, and what goes around comes around, and there might be a day where they need some help, and they're not going to get it.
Q. I think the last four weeks, the championship has gone back and forth, back and forth. Can you talk a little bit about your pressure and battling your teammate, and mentally how difficult is that?
SCOTT DIXON: I think still at this point, what do we have, six races to go after today. It's still very early days. We've gone back and forth. I haven't really started thinking about it.
For me I just wanting to be leading the championship at Homestead. It's good for pit position sometimes throughout the season and may come into play at some of these races that are coming up. You've just got to make sure that you're consistent, don't fall out of the chase or out of the championship part of it with two races to go.
I don't think it's played too much on the mind of the team or myself or Dario to be honest. Every race if you treat it like a single race you're trying to do the best and you're trying to win it. We got caught up in trying to drive for points last year, and we definitely lost a big margin that we had. You've just got to concentrate on getting the best points you can each race.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, we appreciate your time.
In the meantime we've been joined by second place finisher Helio Castroneves, also a second place here in Edmonton last year, this is his fifth top five in '09 and his best road or street finish of '09. Helio, you came limping in here. Tell us about your day.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it was very good. I mean, no question, I got a little cramp. It happens to me in 06, I don't know why, maybe the position of the seat or something like that. But I didn't drink water the whole race because I was so focused. And certainly it's a physical track. But I think it was more because of lack of water.
But again, I started really good. Scott and I were kind of battling in the beginning of the race, as well, but then smooth sailing trying to conserve fuel. It's one of those things that you do. I mean, obviously one, two, three, was right there pretty much in control, until the pit stops, I believe, and when the pit stops came we were able to make a move on Ryan on the pit stops and kept going kind of like that direction, trying to -- until Will caught traffic, and we all got stuck there.
I had a couple of times that I couldn't, but if you think you're going to pass, that's not a good idea. You've got to make sure, because if you think, that means you're going to crash. So I didn't want to, especially my teammate. That's one of those things that you've got to get in perspective, and again, because we're held up on the track, if we decide to pit early, Will ended up getting the best of all because he made a little gap, and I ended up losing the position not only for Ryan but also for Scott, end up fourth place.
Then I don't know what happened with Ryan. He ended up having wide a little bit in turn 13 and we were able to make a move and then just keep pushing Scott. Just pushing, push, I didn't want to finish behind him again like last year.
But unfortunately it's very difficult to pass unless somebody makes a mistake, and when I noticed the track was coming, I think this is going to be my opportunity. He chose the outside lane, I'm like, hmm, that's the door open. I made a move, and it was clean and nice, and after that we were just trying to chase Will. But the tires started going away pretty fast and nothing we could do anymore.
Q. It was mentioned before you came in here that this was one lap away from being the first IndyCar race in history that went green to green all the way through the race. Your thoughts on that.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, one thing is good job for every driver, respecting each other. You know, taking the pace and things line that. You know, someone able to give up a little bit, give space, and that's what happens. You have a green flag and everybody is smooth all over the place.
And second it's just to see that it's very competitive out there. It's difficult to pass unless you're sure, unless you're really sure that you're going to make a move. And I think it's a credit for the series. It's been very close, and we continue working to make it more exciting.
I thought it was pedal to the metal most of the race, even if you controlled a little bit the fuel. It's still kind of very mental and strategy involved, as well, but certainly you've got to keep pushing. You could not just ride the car.
Q. There's been a couple drivers already commenting about the traffic and how unhappy they were about people ahead of them and saying what goes around comes around. What are your thoughts on that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I've been in that situation before. You know, I've been in lap traffic before. You're trying to hold as much as you can if a yellow comes and things like that.
It's difficult to comment. I think ovals are a little bit different than the road course. Once your weekend is bad, it's going to be very difficult that they're going to improve in one day, especially on the race weekend, especially on the race day.
But you know, it's tough. It's tough because the track, the way it's laid out, it's a very downforce dependent, and for you to be behind a guy to make a move, you've got to be something different.
Again, even if the guys sometimes is half a second slow, it's still very difficult to make a move.
But you're right, what goes around comes around, and sometimes people don't think like that. But that's what happens in racing. That's always going to be like that in racing. That's never going to change.
Q. Can you just briefly talk about Will's team; the crew is bouncing between stock cars and IndyCar. You're around them. Can you comment on how well they've been working?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, those guys, some of them worked with me in IndyCar; you have a couple of guys that worked in the Porsche series, the AMS series, the Grand-Am. You have such an incredible group, and even though it is a group that is not involved with IndyCar full-time, they are. They've been there once. They've won races with different drivers even before me and things like that.
The way that the team operates, especially Penske, they don't bring anybody that isn't experienced just to bring in like to fill a spot. They're very professional people, and they just prove, pit stops, everything like that, everything was spot-on. Even though they say the car is not sometimes the same, they make like exactly the same as us. And that's the good thing about it.
Roger, if he would be probably other series, he would be like lift off, letting by and things like that. And here it's a fair game. If you have a good car, you're a fast guy, you go for it.
I think it's a great organization, shows again that it's a great group of cars, and with three cars they're able to show they're still competitive.
Q. Yesterday you mentioned you were having a lot of fun here. Did that continue into today, and can I get you to talk about the whole weekend?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Absolutely. This place is fun. It's fun because for so many things. The layout of the track, it's very challenging, very fast, very physical. But when you have a good car, it's a lot of fun, especially the section 2, 3, 4, 5. It's like one gear just lift off coming in.
So everybody enjoys it when you're aggressive and things like getting right there. And the race wasn't very different, especially when you have moments that you can push. And when you push, you'll see the results showing. It's not like someplace that you just push and not going anywhere.
I don't know, I just felt it was awesome. It was really smooth.
And again, as I said before, for you to make a pass and things like that, it's hard because of the downforce, so much high speed corners. You have corners, we have four fifth gear corners just to show that we're going extremely fast. For us, the drivers like fast corners. We're in an airport, so we've got to fly low.
Q. You talked a little bit already about passing Scott Dixon, and I heard on the IMS radio network that they were going to nominate you for the Firestone Tire Terrific Move of the Race. But I think you passed two cars at the same time, wasn't it the 20 car? It looked like you were going to set up the 20 car, but then you managed to somehow get Scott, as well.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, I'm not sure it wasn't in practice. I know during the race I went to pass somebody, and actually Ryan Briscoe did that move to me, and I'm like, whoa, okay. So he caught my by surprise. I'm like, okay, no problem, I was having traffic in front of me.
And somehow I decided to -- it happened last year, something like that, very similar situation with other guys, and I'm like, this is an opportunity, because last year I was behind Scott for the remaining 20 laps, and unfortunately we never got traffic, I couldn't make a move.
That was the only chance for me to steal the second place from him, help my teammate obviously on the championship, as well, and keep going, trying to go for the win. Certainly we had a car, we have three strong cars this race weekend, and one of those could end up winning the race. I knew there was no order, so I'm like, I've got to go really close to Will to make sure I can make something happen again.
But unfortunately towards the end it was just -- I think four laps to go, I started sliding a little bit wide, and I'm like, okay, I'm getting a little bit away of my head here. Just got to be conservative. And it turned out to be great.
Q. We saw yesterday in qualifying I think almost everybody either spun or went off the track, and today it didn't really happen that much. Can you talk a little bit about that, what changed, or were the drivers being a little bit more cautious because of the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly they were being more cautious. To finish well, you have got to finish. In qualifying things are different. You've got to push, you've got to try. Sometimes the cars are not the way you want it. You've got to realize, okay, this is what I have and that's it.
But certainly people behave better, and I guess the track was getting better, as well. So they kept the same rhythm even though at the beginning of the weekend it was hard. Certainly when the whole two hours, however many hours was the race, it certainly helped everyone not make mistakes I would assume.
Q. The Team Penske crews came over the wall and extinguished the cockpit fire of Tony Kanaan. Can you just talk about the kind of pride you have --
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Is Tony okay?
Q. He's got a few burns on his thumbs, but he's pretty good.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I just heard when we were coming over here. I mean, this is a community I would call it. Everybody here has been for a whole season long. Everybody knows each other. Some of the people sometimes switch teams or places, but it's still friends with others.
In a situation like that when somebody is in danger, you've got to help. And I understand my guys, Ryan's guys, I don't know whose guys they were, but you've got to help. I'm glad that if he burned only the hands, hopefully he will be okay to drive in Kentucky.
Q. There's so much domination by Penske and Ganassi in this circuit right now. Sometimes it can be difficult to break through that. Other teams are struggling obviously to find an answer for you guys, and occasionally it affects the race, and this one there wasn't much doubt from the beginning that Penske was going to take this away. Because you don't make very many mistakes, what will it take for somebody to break through?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, it's a lot of effort. I understand it's a lot of effort for the entire teams. My opinion is this car has been since 2003, small details end up to be big difference, and I think that's what happened. When everybody has the same, you start looking for really details.
There was a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is small teams can catch on time and can get a good setup, can make it happen.
The bad thing is when obviously one of those teams finds a small detail, it's going to make a big difference in the racetrack.
So it's a balance right now, a balance with so many things, testing, limits testing, they give you like two days event sometimes, and things like that. It just shows that it brings the field tight.
It's sad, it comes out in the end with great strategy, good drivers and good equipment. So if you put everything together, certainly it makes a big difference.
Plus you've got to understand, the team put a lot of effort, a lot of investment, changing every bit. If you find some bolt that it looks funny, they don't use that one, they replace that. So that makes a big difference.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, thank you very much. We'll see you next week.
Our race winner Will Power, his first win in the IndyCar Series, the fourth of his North America open-wheel career. His previous best was a second. That was in Long Beach. In five races this year, he has finished no worse than sixth.
Will, your previous best finish here prior was a sixth. So take us through your day out there.
WILL POWER: Well, it was an unusual day to remain green the whole time, and that's what we needed, pitted where we are. If we pit under yellow, we have a good chance of when we're leaving, the last car is coming in.
It was a great day. We had a really good car. It was very fast. In that first stint we pulled a big lead while saving fuel, and yeah, man, very good day. Very good weekend to get pole position and the race win, so very happy.
Q. Do you think you're passing your audition to get a full-time ride with this team?
WILL POWER: I'm not sure what more I can do, my friend. (Laughter.)
I haven't been thinking forward, I've just been doing each day at a time. That's one reason I'm enjoying my racing this year. In the last three years I've always been stressing about not having a ride the next year. This year I don't have a full-time ride but I'm enjoying my racing more than ever.
I think the situation and atmosphere within the team also contributes to that. You know, I've got two really good teammates. We all get on real well, and it's just -- these guys look after you. It's just a fantastic place to be driving.
Q. You went 94 laps cruising. Everything was going perfectly, and then the yellow comes out and you spend the last lap behind the pace car. How long did that feel for you to get that win?
WILL POWER: That last stint felt like it went forever. I remember John Erickson saying, "25 to go," and it just dragged on. I'm like, Come on, man, this thing has got to finish soon.
I guess when you're leading, you just want it to be over with. But yeah, it was good. I knew I had a big gap, so I wasn't too stressed. I was saving a bit of fuel to be on the safe side. Yeah, very good day.
I knew whenever we had clear track we'd be quicker than everyone.
Q. The lap traffic seemed to affect everybody toward the end of the race, held you up a little bit. What did you think overall?
WILL POWER: Yes, in the middle there Marco Andretti was very aggressive. I was trying to lap him, and he blocked me and chopped me. Yeah, I don't know what he was doing, but once I realized he wasn't going to make it easy, I just went to fuel save, and I lost the seven-second lead that I had. But that's racing.
Q. Just talk about the crew you've got. They don't know where they're going to be from one week to the other, but it sounds like you do.
WILL POWER: Yeah, they're a great group of guys. I love working with these guys. Every time we're together we're having success, you know. Man, I would love to be with those guys in a full-time manner next year. But that's a long way away.
We've never talked about it. I've just got to keep my head down and do a good job, and hopefully next year I can end up in a full-time ride somewhere.
Q. Obviously in the pole, the strategy I'm assuming is get to the front and stay there. Was there any point during the race where you were concerned, really concerned, by anybody behind you?
WILL POWER: Yeah, when I was getting held up, I really thought, Man, this is going to be tough. I've got to hold these guys off behind me, and I can't pass the two cars that are in front of me. Yeah, that was the only time in the race that I was concerned, because I wasn't sure how much those guys would save, and if they went a lap longer, chances are they would get around me.
When I pitted that time from behind Danica, I pushed on my out lap. My first three laps were really the hardest I've pushed all race to ensure that I had a handy lead.
Q. Was there anything you could compare and contrast your victory here to a couple years ago?
WILL POWER: I didn't win here. I was on pole. The last two years I've had mechanical failures. In 2007 I was leading and the steering rack broke. Last year the car broke on the first probably seven, eight laps. So I came back to finish the job.
Q. We talked yesterday about your fitness, and you said that the track fitness is something you just can't train for, and now you went 94 laps green. How do you feel, and was that a tough time for you?
WILL POWER: No, I had plenty of energy all the way through. I think my fitness, I'm very fit off the track, do a lot of every exercise in the gym, on the bike, running, everything, swimming. So my fitness -- I think the part of being able to pull away a bit, I didn't fatigue, I just kept trucking on. I felt really good.
Q. Your part-time crew that's bouncing back and forth, do you think the regular full-time guys are going to owe them dinner now or are you going to have bragging rights with the full-time guys?
WILL POWER: I think so. Everyone works so well within this team, anyone they put on your car is a good guy, because Penske Racing keep people for a long time, and they're all good people. So it's not -- by no means just a weekend crew. These guys are very good.
Q. Can you talk about what happened with the Penske crews coming over the wall to extinguish the fire with Tony? I'm not even sure you know what happened there.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I was out on the track. (Laughter.) I tried to look over but I was going so fast I couldn't see it.
Q. And the other thing is can you give us a clue about when you might race again?
WILL POWER: Next weekend, Kentucky.
Q. For sure?
WILL POWER: Yeah.
Q. Do you know the rest of the year?
WILL POWER: Yeah, Sonoma and Homestead.
Q. Were you at all concerned about the possibility of a full caution during this race that might come right in the pit window, because you did not have a very favorable pit location?
WILL POWER: Exactly. That's what I was saying at the beginning, I was concerned of that. I was really hoping it would stay green when the pit window was open, and that's what happened, because exactly that reason. If you're leading and you come in and you're way back where we are, chances are there will be some cars coming from the tail end as you're leaving.
That's exactly what happened to me at Surfers when we had a bad pit station, I got hit, and it ruined my day.
Q. I've got to ask you, in Toronto, I don't think you were the most comfortable walking around with a yellow race suit but you've done pretty well for two races.
WILL POWER: I love it. It might look a little bit bright, but if I'm ever around and there's someone unloading a Penske Truck rental truck, I walk around in this suit all day at home, I just walk up and say, "Need a hand?" They usually say, "Get out of here, Mate." Stand-up comedy is not my thing.
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