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April 10, 2010

Marco Andretti

Helio Castroneves

Mike Conway

Scott Dixon

Will Power

Takuma Sato


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by today's Firestone Fast Six qualifiers for tomorrow's inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. We have Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Mike Conway, Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, and Marco Andretti.
Before we begin the Q&A, Will Power has been in all three Firestone Fast Six sessions this season, and this pole is his fourth career IZOD IndyCar Series pole. The front row spot for Mike Conway is a career best qualifying position. His previous best is last season with six. This is Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti's second consecutive appearance in the Firestone Fast Six this season. Scott Dixon has extended his record of Top 10 starts to 35. And this is Takuma Sato's first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six. His first time behind the wheel of an IndyCar was this past February when we tested here with Barber.
So starting with Marco, if you could talk about today's qualifying session and the Firestone Fast Six?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, it went all right. I think we made kind of the right decisions for each compound of tires and stuff like that. Because there is a bit of a balance change for us, so really it's just about hitting it right.
You've got to do everything right. Nowadays it's so close even to make it to the top six. Fortunately, we were able to do that. We were looking good in the second qualifying, but we kind of ran out of Reds there in the end, and that was it.
THE MODERATOR: Takuma, your thoughts on your first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six?
TAKUMA SATO: First of all, it's a fantastic day for me and the team to go through the Q3 and Firestone Top Six. We're very pleased about it. It was the first time I was in an IndyCar was in February, and to come back here with a more comfortable and understanding the car better and the circuit.
So yesterday the car improved every session, which was very good, and very good progress day. Bit difficult without any practice to qualify straight in, but difficult for everybody. So it's kind of a question of how much you can put in different set-ups from yesterday.
Car working good enough to pushing myself 100%. And it kind of just experience just go through the black tire first time in qualifier because you always use red tires to make sure you go through Q1 and Q2. But this time the first time I tried to use the black tire in Q1. And then changing to the red, to Q1, Q2.
It was a good feeling. Just getting more confident, and more comfortable. And finally made into Q 3 which was great. Obviously, then I didn't know obviously what to do in terms of the tires, so we used the red. And in the end, to be six is a great day for me. And I'm really looking forward to starting in the third row tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: How important is it to qualify up front here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's always important to qualify upfront, no matter what place. But certainly here it seems to be a very challenging place. Running behind the other guys, you can see the fast corners that we have here which is pretty exciting. But when you're behind the guy, it's kind of like an oval. It's turning there, and it makes it a little bit difficult to hold on but it's going to be the same for everyone.
But the strategy seems to be it's going to be a lot actually different than some of the other races. The fuel window here seems to be huge. So you might see a lot of guys tomorrow trying different things. But certainly today was a great day for Team Penske.
We'll continue doing very, very well. But for the No. 3 guys, we are stepping up every race, so hopefully tomorrow will be a good day for us.
THE MODERATOR: Back-to-back wins, another pole, talk about the momentum you have right now?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it's certainly going well within the team. You know, this is going to be a tough race. Because, like Helio said, there is pretty big fuel windows, and I think you're going to see people go off strategy. But to me track position is really important.
So I just hope it's a pretty straightforward race. But that never seems to be the case in IndyCar. Looking forward to the race tomorrow. Starting in the best position, and see if we can try for three in a row. If not, get some good points.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, as mentioned earlier this is a career best starting position for you. Talk about your thoughts being on the front row for tomorrow's race
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, obviously happy to be on the front row. We advanced to the first one on the black and that made life a bit easier for the rest of qualifying.
Good job to the team. They've been working hard all weekend to improve the car, and we seemed to get a better balance today once qualifying started. All in all happy. And as the guys said, track position here is really important. So we'll try to gain a little better position.
So PT's good, and we're looking forward to the race tomorrow. It will be tough to beat tomorrow, but we'll push hard and try.
THE MODERATOR: Finally, Scott, your thoughts on qualifying today?
SCOTT DIXON: It was a so-so day for us. Last night's session was much better, and the car started to work fairly decent. But today just consistency was a big issue for us to try to get a whole lap together and just a lack of grip, you know, throughout the whole session.
As the session went on and it got hotter, we actually just kept slowing down. So surprised we made it into the Fast Six with just how the car is handling. But we'll take another stab at it tonight and hopefully try and make a few changes for the warm-up, and get some consistency back in the car, especially for the race tomorrow.
But I think tomorrow strategy-wise it's going to be interesting. There are going to be a lot of people trying a few different things. And to trying to pass on the track is going to be very difficult. So if there are a few people on out of sequence at the end, it could make it for a really exciting race.

Q. At some point there's going to come a point where you're battling (No microphone).
SCOTT DIXON: Well, you've got to take a pass, but you have to make sure you don't take somebody out or yourself out. So the track does seem to produce a little bit of challenge on that direction.
But I think everybody here is a professional well enough to make the judgment. Hopefully we want to do that. We want to finish the race and collect points.
SCOTT DIXON: Obviously, at some point you're going to get frustrated unless you get out of sequence, and unless you can pass. With the flow on the circuit, it's really difficult to get a run on someone when you're behind them because you rely so much on the air. But we'll see.
Maybe if there is a big difference on what people pick to start the race, that might change a few things early on. But I don't think too many people have run the race long enough to see what they're going to do.

Q. (No microphone).
DRIVER: Yeah, the other rubber, if that's what you mean. That's definitely, I noticed in that first session the car was very tough to drive, or you just have less grip. So the two rubbers aren't compatible, and I think that's going to mix things up. But after one stint, it will be back to the rubber and pretty grippy.

Q. (No microphone).
SCOTT DIXON: We're racing on blacks and reds. But the track got hotter. So you know what I mean, I haven't really changed what I was driving. We got the car right. Everything's going well. You know what I mean? Every now and then you have a qualifying like that.

Q. (No microphone).
MIKE CONWAY: Making the car's comfortable for us to drive. The difference is, and the thing I've personally been pushing for in the off-season is you listen to your drivers a bit more than what the computer tells them.
But I think it's been working. You know, we need to be comfortable to be able to push, you know. And that's something, basically all we worked on in the off-season is really just upping our road course and street course game. So hopefully that will help us in points. Obviously we've had a terrible start, but hopefully we can start to march forward.

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