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May 1, 2010
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS
THE MODERATOR: We are joined today by our second- and third-place finishers, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan. Dario, your previous best finish here at Kansas was second. For Tony, this is your seventh top-five finish at Kansas.
Talk a little bit about your race today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Up to the first pit stop, I think Ryan, Scott and myself were pretty equal at that point. Scott made a mistake, got loose. I got past him. Then Scott got back past me. Towards the end of the stint, we managed to both get past Ryan.
After that, Scott and I were running 1-2 in formation. He was a little bit quicker than I was, certainly towards the end of the stint. My balance was very good. He was just quicker.
Went that way for quite a while. Tony and I, one of the restarts, we were very close as well. But then the yellow came out just as we finished pitting. That put just tons of cars between Scott and myself. In fact, Helio jumped us in that situation, too.
The one start, it didn't happen. On the final restart, it was tough. The back markers, again, same as Barber, the race for one and two and three laps down is more important for the lead lap race. Running side-by-side, running you up into the gray, giving you absolutely no room to have room at the front of the pack, that was very frustrating. I think Helio, Tony and myself were trying to make the best of it.
I managed to get past Helio. I could see Tony coming on pretty strong the last two laps. Through three and four, the car was oversteering. I kept it flat, managed to get the job done.
I think second was a fair result for our car today.
TONY KANAAN: We had not as quiet of a day as Dario did, but we had some cars to pass. We had a great start. After that, I just settle in. You know, people's cars started to go off. We had a pretty consistent car. Some great stops.
We definitely did not have the speed that Dario and Dixon had. On the second to last restart, I could tell we were in Dario's gearbox for four laps, and after that I couldn't see them anymore. I realized I had a car to finish in the top five, and I had to take advantage of the opportunities.
Helio got lucky with that yellow. So he gained a few positions on us so he stayed out. Like Dario said, very frustrating with the back markers, especially three laps to go. This time it worked to my benefit, but it's still not right. I don't think a back marker should set the finish for the top five guys, especially in a championship that is so hard.
But ovals like this, we always going to complain about somebody because it's such a hassle.
Great day for us. Great stops. I'm happy.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll take questions.
Q. Would either one of the you like to have the back markers completely out of the way or do you want them there to give you more space?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think it's up to the series to keep them in position and police them. If they continue to drive like that, then you're going to have to get them out of the way.
You know, in situations when I'm a lap down, I try and give the right-of-way to the lead-lap cars, especially three laps to go. Are they going to get the lap back, finish in the top five? I don't quite understand the thinking. It's almost a respect thing. It's not just about the more experienced guys in the series; it's whether they're rookies or whatever, the guys up front fighting for the race. You have to respect they had a better day, not interfere with that. We've seen two or three times this year where back markers have caused problems, big problems.
TONY KANAAN: I don't think it should be up for the lead. Pretty much when it's three laps to go, you know exactly where you are. You know the second, third and fourth place guys are directly behind you and you're not fighting with position in front of somebody because you just don't have anybody to fight for. Why you gonna fight us? That's the problem.
I think that's up to the drivers. I don't think Brian or the league can control that. I would not like to see them take them out of the way like that. What are you going to do? It's going to be a big mess, take extra laps, this and that.
Like Dario said, it's a matter of respect. I think it's half of the field that's been racing together for a long time and they know exactly what's going on. I will do it for him, he will do it for me. It's going to come back. Some guys I don't think understand that.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's not just the rookies. In a lot of cases, the rookies are great. It's the same people time after time, whether they're experienced or not.
TONY KANAAN: It's a matter of common sense, honestly. They know exactly what they're doing, which is even worse.
Q. Tony, this is the 14th straight oval race that either Target or Penske has won since you won at Richmond. Can you talk about the frustration of their dominance. Dario, can you talk about the confidence that you bring coming here.
TONY KANAAN: I don't think I'm frustrated. I'm just getting my head together with the team and work for it. That's what racing is. You get beat and you beat people. We beat everybody for four years in a row and we were laughing. We looked at each other, we're teammates, we know it's going to come, eventually it's going to happen. He's on the other side now.
I'm not frustrated. I don't have time to get frustrated. It's time to go back to work and make your car better. Complain is the easiest thing to do. I'm not that type. We got to get better one way or the other. How quick we gonna get better is going to be totally up to us.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think it comes down to hard work. Definitely it comes down to getting -- it's not just hard work, it's getting everything right. As Tony says, when I was at Andretti, there were times we got it all right, we were doing races. With the Target team, I guess with the Penske guys, too, it's about getting all the little things right. That's what we've seen.
I have to say, again, this weekend the balance of my car in the race was almost perfect. Not to mean I'm driving around, you know, just cruising. I'm catching slides, I'm working really hard. But the balance of the car was good.
These things are never easy to drive, I think especially if you want to go quickly in them. But it comes down to I think team effort and getting everything right.
Q. Tony, the race announcer mentioned Helio was starting to fade from his second position before Dario moved in front of him. When did you sense that Helio was starting to falter down the stretch and you could take him within the last couple laps?
TONY KANAAN: I didn't. Actually, we actually raced together half of the race. At that point we all had pitted. We all had good tires. Helio was kind of loose in traffic. I really didn't think much. I just positioned myself, first of all, to clear all the back markers, and then I said, Well, it's going to work two ways here, either somebody is going to block me and I'm going to rush to the back or I'm going to be smart enough that they're going to be blocked and I can catch them.
Helio got strung out on the outside, his car was loose up high. That's what happened. It took Dario a couple laps to pass him. As soon as I saw him passing him, I knew I could run on the bottom, follow him. Ran on the bottom, didn't give Helio the space to come down, and that was it for him.
Q. If both of you could address the dominance that Scott showed while he was out front.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Scott was good. At the start of the race, he was a little bit loose. But from that point on, he just had a little bit. As I said, it was probably point two, point three miles an hour advantage, maybe it went a little bit bigger as the run went on. But he was very good in traffic, too.
Great thing is, I can look at the setup, the way Scott did things today, hopefully the way he drove as well, and learn from it.
But, yeah, great job. The whole Target team, the 9 and 10 team, the 9 guys did a great job and Scott did a great job, too.
TONY KANAAN: Scott was just fast. I mean, I don't know what he had. I wish I would. Definitely I figured that out when we restarted. I thought that Dario had a very good car because he could drive up in his gearbox the whole way around. I knew I had nothing for both of them. Obviously Scott was leading, and was able to pull a little bit of a gap from Dario.
But I believe late in the race if the places were inverted, I don't think Scott would have got him either. Definitely he was fast and he did a great job. When it goes your way, it goes your way.
Q. Dario, you said when you took the lead, Scott made a mistake. What did he do?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: He just got very, very loose. He was trying to look outside Ryan. Ryan was leading at that point. He tried to go to the outside. He hit that bump in three. I saw the thing snap sideways. He had to get out of the power. That allowed me to pass him. Five laps later he got back past.
Q. The way it goes down when you're coming up on the lap cars, competition director talks to the spotters to get the drivers to move down knowing that the leaders are coming up on them. Does the league need to do a better job on getting that to the spotters and telling the drivers to tell them to move down and give them some room because the leaders are coming? Are you more concerned about the lapped cars at Indy with the groove being so narrow?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know what goes on with the series and how they police that during the race. I have to be clear here. It's not a case of getting the back markers out of the way. That's not what I'm talking about. It's the situation where the back markers run side-by-side in front of you, the race track is only two lanes wide. You can't go into a third lane. There isn't one there. Eventually they block the track. That's one situation.
The other situation, when you go down inside of them, they chop your nose out, they drive you up into the wall and the exit. That should not be tolerated for cars racing for position anyway, never mind cars that are two or three laps down. As Tony said, the spotters don't drive the cars. If the spotter says too late, you can lift. If you have understeer, you can lift. As I said before, it comes down to I think respect, respect for other drivers, yeah. It's very, very frustrating.
TONY KANAAN: If the spotter should drive the car, they should make more money than we do.
Q. (No microphone.)
TONY KANAAN: Then they shouldn't be here. Tunnel vision, you go home. Either you have full vision or you don't.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's where your spotter said, T.K. is on your outside. He's five back, on the outside. T.K. is looking. Okay, you know Tony is inside, don't cut across him. Tony is on the outside, I'm going to have to push here, otherwise I'm going to drive him into the fence. Some people seem incapable of that.
Q. The officials had to sweep the track around halfway during one of the yellows. Were there any issues from the track being dirty from the NASCAR truck rubber?
TONY KANAAN: No. As usual it took us probably the first stop to clean that rubber out. But the marbles, it's just because it was such a clean race, you know, we didn't have a lot of yellows, so it builds up. That's quite normal.
I think they didn't stop the race to sweep the track. They took advantage of a yellow. On the first yellow they didn't. I actually said something. They said, We'll do it on the next yellow. That was fine.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think the tires were great today. There were marbles there. We just needed to make sure we had two proper lanes to race with.
Q. Could both of you talk about the next race is the big one the year, what you learned today that might help there, car setup, first oval, how important this was to get back on an oval before Indy.
TONY KANAAN: I don't think it has nothing to do with Indy. Indy, it's a whole different game. You can run 10 different positions on the rear wing, a bunch of different things that you can do with the car that you can't do here.
The only good thing I would say, coming out of here with a podium, the whole team spirit is up. They will forget that as soon as we put the cars on the track May 15th.
I don't think we can learn anything.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Spoken like a veteran (laughter).
I think it's a good practice for Indy, to get back to the feel of driving the car on an oval, just getting back to driving the thing right on the ragged edge, the strange things we do to these cars to make them go fast on the ovals. Apart from that, yeah, there's not a lot you can transfer over.
Q. Tony, you were not very happy after qualifying yesterday. Beyond that, what change made your car that much better today?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What did you change, Tony?
TONY KANAAN: Nothing (laughter).
Yeah, I mean, I was not happy at all because we missed a couple things. We worked on race setup the whole time. We decided that. I agreed with the engineers. But I think we did a poor job in qualifying. We could have qualified a little bit better.
I don't think I would be in the top three, but I was hoping I was going to be between 9th and 12th. Being 17th, I was not happy.
Dario knows when I'm not happy what happens. I did miss the bullpen.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was waiting to go out, he was doing all this to the engineers.
TONY KANAAN: I had to go to my bus. But I kicked the table inside, got a black toe, broke the shower. I came back and I talked to my engineers. We figured a couple things out.
Obviously this is a track we've been doing very well, you know, so we went back to basics. I think we tried to catch those guys up, we have to experiment. Nowadays we don't test enough. Just said I was tired of experimenting. I wanted to go back what I had. That's what we did.
Q. Dario, do you think if you could have got by Scott late in the race, could you have held the lead, or was he that much faster?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: He was pretty quick today. Scott was very good. It was going to be tough to keep ahead of him. If I'd have got past him, I think the first trick would be getting past him, but to keep ahead of him would have been tough.
Yeah, he had just a little bit extra today. When I leave here, I'm going to go back to the truck and try to find out what it was.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Congratulations.
We're joined by race winner Scott Dixon. This is his second consecutive win here at Kansas Speedway, and he extends his number of wins to 22 in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Target Chip Ganassi has won four consecutive races at Kansas Speedway, with Dan Wheldon in 2007 and 2008, and now Scott.
Earlier this week, the Indy Racing League announced plans to crown an oval champion and a road champion as drivers pursue the overall IZOD IndyCar Series championship. Will Power leads the road championship. After today's first oval race of the season, Dixon leads the oval championship. Our overall leader points leader is Will Power. The top five in points are separated by 38.
Scott, tell us about your race.
SCOTT DIXON: It was a short weekend for everybody. Track time, there wasn't much of it. I think rolling off the truck was important. We made a few minor changes to the car for the race setup, just tried to make it more consistent over a long run. It definitely showed in the race today.
I had a few problems to start with just trying to be too loose. I tried to get by Briscoe, nearly spun in one, backed up to third spot behind Dario. Took me a while to adjust the car with some weight and the bars to get it to drive a little nicer on the high line. After about 10 laps, it kind of came to us.
I think Briscoe tried the high line where we had been quite good for most of the race. I thought I'd try the inside lane, and it worked out well for us to make the pass. I think from that point on, lap 30 or so, the car was just really fast, nice to drive, really consistent, great in traffic, could put on the low line or high line. Had a few hairy moments in traffic, less grip, older tires.
It was a huge day for us. Good for the points. 1-2 finish for team Target. The pit stops were impeccable today, as well.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Scott, we talked yesterday about your success here. The team's success, four in a row now here. Just talk about that confidence when you do unload here. The TV camera showed your wife with a penny. Is there something about a lucky penny?
SCOTT DIXON: I didn't see that. I don't know anything about that.
Back to the team part. You know, it's definitely been a really good track for us. It's a track where I think in the past we've done quite a few Firestone tire tests here. Not sure we did the last one. We've always rolled off the truck fairly well, made minor changes, and the cars got a little bit better. We just stayed consistent.
I think straight out grip-wise today for speed wasn't what you needed. It was a consistent car over the long runs. We could run a 210.3 at the start of the run of lap one and the same on the last lap before we came into pit.
Success here for us has been fantastic. I hope we can carry this momentum for another 30 days. It's totally different from the month of May. The Speedway is obviously a lot different. We got our work cut out for us. I could see the competition was pretty tight back there, a lot of passing and stuff going on. So I just hope we can carry the momentum over.
Q. It has been 2008 since a car other than Penske or Target has won on an oval. Can you talk about why you are so much ahead of the pack.
SCOTT DIXON: You know, I think obviously they've got a great bunch of people that work at these teams. I know there's a lot of development that's continuous, that the teams don't rest in the winter. I know our big deal this years with body fits, making the car as slick as possible in the air, which is a huge push for Indy. That's when we need it most.
It's not five big things. That's what our team keeps going on about. It's the same mentality that Penske has. It's 20 small things that make up those five big things.
They're forever working on the car and rubbing on the car to make sure there's not a little piece of tape or anything like that. It's definitely attention to detail that I believe that's gotten these teams to where they're at.
Q. Since you've been in this spot, how long do the smiles from today last, knowing you have May coming up?
SCOTT DIXON: Not very long. It's going to be head down, bum up. We're going to be working as hard as possible. Indy is such a different stroke from what we've been doing here. Next week is busy, Kentucky test on Tuesday and Friday test at Texas. We're in the car a bit heading into the month of May. Hopefully we can have a good start there.
But it's totally different. We'll be smiling, but we know we got a lot of work ahead of us.
Q. Can you talk about leading the last 150 laps. What goes through your mind when you're leading that long?
SCOTT DIXON: When you're leading that long, you're waiting for something to go wrong, whether it's the engine, you hear noises, or if you're going to have a tire go flat. In that scenario, it's going quite smoothly. It's not going easy, but it's going smoothly. You're waiting for maybe lap traffic.
Definitely at the end I was worried because we've been caught out so many times with the pit sequence. We pitted so late. There's going to be a yellow come out here shortly and it's going a catch us out. Sure enough, just as we pitted, it came out. It didn't affect us. If we'd gone one lap longer, the last 10 or 15 laps could have been a different story. Luckily enough it worked out for us. That's what is constantly going through your mind, is picking up on what is going to go wrong.
Q. Going back to those cautions, could you talk a little bit more about them and the restarts. Obviously you had a little bit of a cushion with some cars that weren't among the lead cars that helped you a little bit.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, the restarts for us were pretty relaxed because we had a good four, five cars between us to second place at that point, which is a nice place to be, 'cause some of those cars were going to be tough to pass to get to me. Obviously weren't as fast as we were.
The other thing was, we saved the 'push to pass', I think we had 18 left when we went back to green. It was actually huge. I was running 210.3, 210.0 out front the last four laps. I was hitting the button, I was almost at 212. A good difference to what we've typically had. If we were a little further back in the race, it could have been good for passing.
The restarts were pretty smooth up front for me. No major issues. I was quite surprised we had a caution after the first attempt of a restart towards the end.
Q. I'm not sure if toward the end of the race, before that last yellow, you pitted just before it, if you had a lap on the field. But when you were in the pits, I thought, Oh, no.
SCOTT DIXON: That's what runs through your mind, especially when you know your teammates pit, too. Are we playing it too smart but too on the edge? We've been caught out so many times during that. Obviously it's an advantage if you can pit at the last minute. The stop is a lot quicker, a lot less fuel has to go in the car, makes it a lot quicker for the end because you got better tires. That was the reason for it.
But, yeah, another lap could have killed us.
Q. Was it two years ago you really dominated, you pitted, the yellow came out, that put you back a lot farther?
SCOTT DIXON: Exactly.
Q. Do you think race control, it was a matter of them not getting the pace car out fast enough?
SCOTT DIXON: I'm not sure. I don't know what happened as far as sequence. I know the only time we would have been a lap ahead was because we were the last car to pit. But I think we had lapped up to seventh or sixth anyway. The first six cars had done a pretty good job of good speed.
But, yeah, I don't know. I know I came out just before Tagliani. I don't know where the rest of the cars were. Normally if you're in the pit and it goes yellow, it's almost working better for you because you're just going to pop out on the other side and they have to start slowing down for you. There were no major issues.
It hurt us here in 2007 or 2008, where we led pretty much the whole race, and on the last stop we cycled back to 10th. Same thing happened to Briscoe here last year. It's tough when you have 50-lap stints and it's a 200-lap race.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Scott.
SCOTT DIXON: Thank you.
End of FastScripts