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June 19, 2010

Martin Plowman

Sebastian Saavedra

J.K. Vernay


THE MODERATOR: We are joined this evening by our podium finishers from today's "AvoidTheStork.com 100," Martin Plowman, with AFS Andretti Autosport. This is a career best for Martin; previously his was fourth at Barber. We're also joined by J.K. Vernay. He retains the points lead, and this is J.K.'s fourth podium finish of the season. Starting with you, Martin, can you talk about tonight's race? Sounds like the last 10 laps were crazy.
MARTIN PLOWMAN: Yeah, I spent the last 30 or 40 laps chasing Sebastian down, and I felt like I had the car -- after that first restart, let the car get away a little bit, and I was constantly fighting to get the balance back with my in-car controls, and it was like the whole race ebbed and flowed. And he would pull away, and I would catch up, and after that we easily had the edge over third place behind, until the last yellow flag.
At that point I was maintaining the gap, and I could see J.K. pulling in half a car length every lap, and I didn't need that yellow flag there. I made a good start, and I felt like I was managing the car and trying to keep J.K. behind me, because I didn't have it to match Sebastian for the win. But in the last two laps, when he came into terrible traffic, I thought maybe this could be my day, and unfortunately it wasn't to be, but the car was solid all day, and I want to say a big thank you to the AFS crew for giving me a car. On the podium but still chasin' that first win.
THE MODERATOR: For J.K., this is your first short oval race. Your thought about this evening's event?
J.K. VERNAY: It's my first podium, so I can be happy about the race of today, and it was fast, but after this race I know they will be quick on the oval and I know I have a good car. The team did a great job again. Last year they finished 1, 2, 3 so we were sure to have a good car this weekend, which we did and yeah, after I tried to -- I took a good start, and I overtook Martin in corner 1 but maybe too much on the throttle and he was able to stay out in the second lane, so just a rookie mistake. I'm still a novice on the oval, and I have a lot to learn. It's my second oval, so for sure I cannot be perfect and I have a lot to learn.
Yeah, it's a good weekend for the championship, and I don't know where the others finished, but I finished 13th at Indy, and now I can earn points on them, and we have to be focused like that to the end of the championship. The goal is to fight for the title and to win the championship, so for sure we cannot win every race; we have to be focused and be smart until the end of the year. The team did a great job since the beginning of the year, and I'm sure that they will continue like that. So it's good; I'm happy.

Q. There has been a lot of talk about the bumps between one and two. How did you approach them? I heard several drivers talking about different ways to set the car up and approach the bumps so that you get the least amount of jump. If you hit it wrong the car would pop up. How did you guys handle the bumps?
MARTIN PLOWMAN: That's correct. In practice when there wasn't a lot of grip on the track, it was a nightmare. I couldn't even hold it flat, and every time I went in there I was holding my breath and just praying I would come out on the other side of it. We made some changes to make the car more adherent to the bumps for qualifying, but we still had to be conscious to keep the speed on the car because to make the car soft on the bumps tends to slow the car down, so being aggressive on one side and trying to make the car better in turns one and two.
Qualifying was the first time I went flat out in one and two and I went to the bathroom to check my underwear to make sure -- it's pretty scary. Indy is a place you have to treat with a lot of respect, but it's flat and you have a very good car and the qualifying outcome is dependent upon how quick your car is and how free it is. And this one you have to go in there hard and be ready to catch it.
J.K. VERNAY: It was my first time here so I had to learn the track and also the bump! I was flat for qualifying also because they told me, okay, you have to be flat if you want to be in front, so I did that and I was flat. At the end of the race I was flat nearly all the time, so just a question of confidence in the car, first, and after to know the track better.
MARTIN PLOWMAN: There was a point after the race, there was more grip and more rubber going down, and I think it was easier to get flat toward the end of the race for sure and it was going slower toward the ends, obviously, but I was thinking how are we going to get flat out around here?

Q. To the bump, is it just adding to the excitement? Or are you talking about a fear factor? Is it something you want to see smoothed out? How do you view that bump?
MARTIN PLOWMAN: Every driver would love to have his job made easier for sure. If it was flat, it would be easier for everybody so the gap between everybody would be much closer and I think the racing would be tighter and harder for us, so it's kind of -- it's better the devil you know. It's harder for us to drive around it, to drive around the problem, but then you will see a bigger gap between the drivers.
J.K. VERNAY: You can repeat the question.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.K. VERNAY: It can be, depends if you have a good car or not. Obviously you have to find a good set-up and work well with it in general, because you cannot have the car on the bump, but also after you need the good line, and it's not easy. You have to try different line to find the best way to take the bump
but, yeah, like we said, at the end of the race we were confident because we did so many laps that we know where we have to turn, when we have to turn and everything, and it's no big deal at the end.

Q. J.K., for you this is your second oval; your first was the Speedway which most drivers coming from road racing say it resembles a road course because of the way the turns are. Now you come to a short oval. How do you like this racing on ovals?
J.K. VERNAY: Honestly I start to prefer the ovals than on the short track. It's fun because you can overtake normally a lot. This race was not the case, but if you go on the outside you have a great feeling and, yeah, it's just a question of -- you just have to learn to listen to your team, the advice they can give you and after it's not so difficult. You just listen what your engineer said, and if you are also on a good team with a good car, it helps.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much and congratulations on tonight's finish. Now we have Sebastian Saavedra here with us. He won the Firestone Indy Lights "AvoidTheStork.com 100" race here tonight. Sebastian, it's your first win in 2010 here and it's your third career start. Take me through your race tonight. You started on the pole and ran strong all night.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: It was beautiful. I couldn't have asked for anything better because our car was great all week long. I think the crew for Bryan Herta Autosport, they were incredible and as we expected the car was going to be there, and halfway through the race on the second restart I was -- we knew exactly what was going to happen, and we just pull the speed, our pace was consistent, and that's what we were looking for.
We made some adjustments inside the cockpit as the temperature was getting down here in Iowa, and I'm glad. Last year we had some bad luck here in Iowa, and this year everything came true and I'm happy about it.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned the temperature. You guys had practice and qualifying today. How does that play into tonight's race with basically finishing under the stars?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: It's true, and more than anything our session yesterday being cancelled changed our ideas of what was going to happen. Because this afternoon, or this morning, the temperature was quite high, so we knew we were not expecting that for the race. So it was pretty much going blindfolded, but it was not only me; it was the complete field of the Indy Lights Series, but I got to say the Firestones held completely during the complete race, and I'm glad everything came down the way it did.

Q. Sebastian, can you walk us through the last few laps as you were catching traffic there?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: Crazy! Those last 10, 15 laps when my guy was telling me we had 15 laps to go and we had 20 car lengths to Martin Plowman, and suddenly I saw the back cars in front of me, I was just trying to be smart, trying to do the right choice, and I thought the right choice was to slow it down, the pace, and just keep it easy during the last 10 laps, actually. But Martin and J.K. Vernay were fast, and they caught me quite easily, so I needed to take the position to pass the guy in front of me, and it was something that really put us into a lot of pressure. My car was really good by its own, but in traffic we were having a bit of trouble, but that's what we were expecting, and we pulled it through and we were able to get the three to four car lengths ahead of Martin at the end, and it was for sure something that we'll never forget.

Q. You seem to handle the track rather easily, but the bumps in one and two have caused everybody problems. What was your attack when you came into one and two knowing that -- because when you get the camera shot you can see the cars jump.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: It's true, the bump is there, and it's not only for you but for everyone. From the field if you are able to take advantage of that bump you're going to have an advantage from them. That's what we did. I worked throughout that bump to feel as comfortable as possible. You never feel comfortable on a bump at this speed, but as you try to predict what the car is going to do, and I have great guys behind me, Bryan and Roberto, who have been around this place, and they have taught me what is the feeling that I must feel, and the car was fading away quite fast in the first I would say 50 laps, which we tried to work inside the cockpit, and that was great, but that bump never gets easy. Each lap you try to take it the same way, but it's never going to be the same way, and you're just open to expecting whatever happens.

Q. Can you compare -- you said this is beautiful. Last year you started third and ended up 15th. Was it a mechanical issue? What caused the problems last year that made this a night and day feeling at the end?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: It was, it was quite unlucky, I was second, if I'm not wrong, last year, yeah, I was second and Andretti had the front row, but we had a mechanical failure where my suspension broke on the initial lap, so I lost 20 laps to fix everything, and I had this really sour taste in my mouth coming to here because I knew we had a great car and we had the chance to pretty much do the same as we did today.
So I came here to say I was not going to sleep on my hands, and we did an incredible job and very happy for the Bryan Herta team. We pulled this off and we'll try to keep this momentum going into the next races.

Q. This is your second year of Firestone Indy Lights. This year with Bryan you've got to run the Indianapolis Motor Speedway twice, in both cars. Do you feel this series prepared you for the Indycar? Did you take anything from that? Because you've run the Speedway; was there anything with you when you got in the big car?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: Everything. I came from Europe not knowing anything about ovals, and coming into this series has taught me everything I need to know, and doing the big jump, because it is a big jump from the Indy Lights to the Indycar, and it is the way you should do it. But everything is happening at the same pace, so it's the perfect school to go up into the Indycar Series, and I'm thankful for all the teachings he has given me, and it has helped me not only as a driver but as a person.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Sebastian.

End of FastScripts

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