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June 20, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We have Helio Castroneves, a runner up in the Iowa corn Indy 250, presented by Pioneer, 2010, second podium finish of the year. Helio had a win earlier in the season. Penske 0 for 4 at Iowa Speedway, but you're getting close and you gave 'em a heck of a run. Tell us about your race and the last 10 laps in particular.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think the rain was 10 laps too long; should have come earlier. The start of the race, certainly we changed a lot, credit to my guys, phenomenal job setting up the car, certainly from qualifying to race today we change a lot, but when I say they "change a lot," it was a lot of changes inside the car. So I went with a little bit of knowing the track wind changed a little bit; yesterday it turned 1 and today it was going to turn 4, and it made the car very loose, extremely loose, and I was like, man, how am I going to drive this car?
And they're like, use your adjustments in the car. I was already gone and keep telling the guys "I am not going to have a chance" but, again, we pit, that was the first pit, we keep the screaming outside, and I got hit by Tony, and inside I got hit by Dixon and I'm like, okay, I don't have any other place to go here.
With that hit it upset my steering position so probably knocked a little bit of the toe out, and the steering was more turned to the right so every time I went into the corner it makes a little bit of a "not pleasant" feeling. So took me a while for me to adjust to that position, and finally we made some adjustments on the car, we made them in the pits; it was clean.
The guys were able to put me right in the front, and when they did that, the clean air was so much better. Certainly the car at that point, the track and the car was perfect, and I was just going cruising, flat out, no problem and the tires were really wearing out, the left front, and unfortunately our set-up -- we did everything we can to run in the traffic, but unfortunately the left front was just gone.
About 10 laps to go, Tony was able to get a run inside, there was nothing I could do. I mean, nothing. The car was completely no front at all, and -- in fact, it wasn't him that was going faster, it was me actually slowing down. So I basically lost two, three tenths, every lap, and probably if E.J. would have been close there I would have probably ended up losing that one because the tires was completely gone. I wish it had been 10 laps shorter but well deserved for Tony, Andretti Autosport had a great car, and second place is good for the championship.
THE MODERATOR: Indeed. E. J. Viso joins us. He drives the KV Racing Technology car, and this is E.J.'s career best finish. His previous finish best was 4th place at St. Petersburg in 2008, and this third place racing matches the team's best -- previous best Izod IndyCar Series finish.
Your driver, Mario Moraes finished third for the team last year in 2009 in Chicagoland, so this equals that good finish.
Looks like things are looking up for KV Racing Technology, E.J. tell us about early on in the race. You kept getting the car better and better throughout the course of the race and here you are in a podium finish.
E.J. VISO: Definitely a long race and just being on the podium is very, very rewarding. I think it's tough to explain all that we did inside that cockpit having the car in so many positions in the race. When we started the race it's early, we have push, then by the last part of this thing, the car is loose, and we just go through all these things that we need to survive, the lanes getting a lot smaller every time and just slow traffic and all the speed stops right, stay out of trouble and keep the pace, and that's what I did.
A lot of commitment, probably took 16 cars, so that's pretty good job I think, the guys in the pits did a great job, great pit stops, and that's what it takes.
THE MODERATOR: The push-to-pass competition option that you have, how much did that affect your performance today? How much do you utilize it and were you able to strategically employ it to get into position?
E.J. VISO: Definitely it's a tool that we have and we can attack or defend ourselves, and definitely we use those buttons, those pushes, and we all want to keep them for the end so basically at the end we're all hitting the green button, so that's what we did. Helio, I think maybe a couple of other laps, I was lucky enough to overtake him, perhaps, as he mentioned, and I need to congratulate the team.
KV Racing has so much potential.
We have problems earlier in year, problems with the engine, St. Petersburg we was leading the race, and a bolt broke in the gear box, then we had some other issues, and in Texas running top 4 and brush the wall in one of them, and then in Texas an issue in the last thing, and finally here we are at the podium, and it's a position that we as a team, we need to be optimistic because we have the tools and good engineers on the team, and I think we are a good bunch of drivers that we're pushing each other out there.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, the incident that happened in the pits with Scott Dixon, yourself and Tony Kanaan, very difficult to see because of the angle. What happened?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think a lot of things happening, obviously the track is short so that means when people coming by it turns a little left, like to cut a little bit of the corner. That's probably what Tony was doing.
Now, I have to get out because Scott is actually inside, so I'm having to go out kind of like wide position, otherwise I'm going to be in trouble. So Tony is coming 60 miles an hour, I'm avoiding Dixon, so it was a close call, not much that anybody can do, and it did happen a second time, but Tony was a little more to the right, I know, so I was able to lead without any issue.
But when you have tight pits like that and guys trying to get out of the way, it certainly creates a potential for situations like that. In my case I was leaving the pits, I wasn't seen seeing Tony, hearing on the radio outside, but I can see the guy inside and I'm like, somebody got to help me out, and I think with that, the damage wasn't substantial, like I said, it was only offsetting the steering position, and but thank God we were able to keep going and adjust the car and finish second.
Q. Helio, can you talk about, now that Tony Kanaan has won first race in three years, where you see him next?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly Andretti Autosport won two races this year; that shows the team is getting better and better, and I guess that's great for the championship. That's fantastic. It creates more guys to compete, so it's not only between Penske and Ganassi, and like in the past years they have good drivers and good mechanics, and they've been there once, so I think it's great for him, and great for the series.
Q. Helio, you had a period a couple of years ago where you didn't win a race for a while and now Tony has ended a long winless streak. Can you talk about what Tony may have been going through and how it feels when a driver breaks through?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You cannot put this in your head. You have to put yourself in situations to win races. I finished second, what, 8 or 9 times in 2008, if you remember that? But we never lost faith; we kept going and pushing. Certainly this year with the equipment and the potential that the team has been showing, like I had with Ryan Hunter-Reay winning the race, and now him and Marco finishing good results, Danica, as well, that shows that the team has improved, and you cannot miss an opportunity like he didn't miss the opportunity today.
So he did a great job, and we just need to keep it up and make sure to collect more points. Anybody know what happened to Dario?
THE MODERATOR: Gearbox.
Q. Helio, your use of the push-to-passing, especially when you were alongside with Dario, how much of a factor did you feel it had in the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly Tony and him I think check out, you know, during one point of the race. It was me, you, and I don't know who else, Sato or somebody else -- Scott, that's right. So certainly we were using the push-to-pass or saving it for the right time I guess, special to the end. I can see the cars in that, probably third, fourth, fifth, it was similar.
But I have to say, once you got a clear air for me, my car made good adjustments in the last pit stop and that helped to put me in front. So I went for the -- to try and pass Dario, I used my push-to-pass to pass Dario, and we certainly need that tool to make moves, and I think it was very good, shows a lot of excitement, and it's great for ovals to hit something like that. It's not easy, we all right there surviving, you know, but in the end I believe it was a good race.
Q. Helio, obviously you and Tony go way, way back. Is it kind of an extra bittersweet moment in a race to get beat by him?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, like I said, I was disappointed with 10 laps to go, doesn't matter who ends up beating you, it's 10 laps to go. But you're right, having Tony there for the championship and for all the circumstances, if you start adding up, it was a positive, positive finish. You know, with that situation, Dario not finishing -- or I don't know if he finish or in which position, but certainly I know I'm 25 points behind, so make the championship a little bit tight. That's what we're looking for.
E.J. VISO: It's bringing more competition.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, you don't want to let anybody pull away, so it's a little variety, and certainly 10 laps to go, man! (Chuckles.)
THE MODERATOR: That is a bitter pill.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I have a question: How old is your car, man? It's pretty strong.
E.J. VISO: Definitely started everything with the car being a bit loose, then the push come, and then going back to loose, but I think we as a team we did a great development, Takuma was flying. I think he made a rookie mistake, but he got the car to be up here with us.
Q. E.J., with the luck that KV has had this year, and after you get into the race and Moraes has his incident on the first lap, and Sato has his incident, does your mind-set as a driver change in the middle of the race knowing the luck you guys have had to go through this year?
E.J. VISO: I don't think so. I mean, it cannot affect me because that's -- we all race car drivers. I think one of the characteristics we need is you need to be strong minded. And things like that can carry you away, but it didn't. Just made me work harder and stay out of trouble even more because I know they had already two crashes so I was even being more careful, but my mindset was there and I was even more focused as I saw my two teammates out of the race. And I wanted to bring something to the team and to the sponsors because we definitely had a pretty good car this weekend and it was the only way of doing it.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much for taking the time. Ladies and gentlemen, Tony Kanaan has joined us as the winner of the Iowa Corn Indy 250, presented by Pioneer.
Tony, I said you had to get better and you proved me right there. This is Tony's first win since Richmond of 2008, which was the other short track under a mile. He just hasn't had very good luck here at Iowa Speedway. He's always fast and something happens, usually caught up in turn 2 somewhere. Today it was nearly flawless. Tony drives for Andretti Autosport, 7-11 Slurpee. This is the second win for Andretti Autosport this year, Ryan Hunter-Reay won in Long Beach earlier this year.
This is Tony's 14th Izod IndyCar win, which is impressive. The first question is the obvious one: The length of the streak of not entering victory lane, how good does it feel to drive that car through the crowds and into Pizza Ranch victory lane?
TONY KANAAN: The pizza tasted really good.
THE MODERATOR: Just like the milk, right?
TONY KANAAN: Well, let's not go there. I mean, it feels awesome. I think a win is always a win. A win on Father's Day, my son hadn't seen me win a race yet. He wasn't here, but I'm pretty sure he was watching on TV back in Brazil. He's 2 years and 8 months, so he hadn't seen me win a race yet, so I'm happy and obviously it feels good to be in victory circle for sure.
THE MODERATOR: You were competitive from the get-go, started deeper in the field than you would have liked but you were able to move up effectively, obviously using some of those push-to-passes, and when you got into the battle with Dario, it was the battle of all time; it had the fans on their feet.
TONY KANAAN: We had a good car. I made a mistake in qualifying, shot myself in the foot because if you guys look at the two first sessions in the morning yesterday, we were pretty strong. Last night -- I got to thank my two teammates, Ryan and Marco -- they came to the truck and they gave me a talk, which I usually do that to them, which I was impressed by that.
They said, man, come on we have a good car, and we thought about doing the set-up together, and we did. Marco was more aggressive and it didn't work for him, but Ryan was right there and, you know, when you win from 15th, and you pass every single car on the racetrack, it's definitely a winning car. I knew I had one, and the boys did a great job in the pit stop, and the battle with Dario was awesome, I was smiling the whole time, I'm not kidding; we were having fun. It was -- at that point I'm sure he was laughing, too, we were just like, enjoying the moment, and I hope the fans enjoyed it, and with Helio, too.
He brought me back so many memories. It's been 25 years that we've been racing against each other. You know, it was pretty good. I was trying not to hit him because we got to fly back home together. It was going to be an awkward flight if I did.
THE MODERATOR: Two guys having a race on a Sunday afternoon in Iowa. They got a charge out of watching you guys race and it was fun for everybody, obviously, including the two of you.
TONY KANAAN: For sure. And I want to thank the fans, the Iowa Corn Growers as well for putting this event together. I said we need more short ovals, because this is the way to race and you guys saw it and we proved that. I was excited about the race not because we won, but even seeing the guys in the front when I wasn't in the front racing that hard, and I think the fans enjoyed it, and I think they're going to keep coming back if we keep racing like this.
Q. You're 45 out of the lead. Talk about how this victory can catapult you on a championship drive.
TONY KANAAN: We got to keep doing it. I mean, you know, it's a long way to go, but when I said all along this year that we were better than last year, a lot of people twisted their noses and didn't believe it, but we are. We got to keep working on it and we have now a few road and street courses coming up, which we were really strong in, and we're there.
I think we got to keep digging, and we still not up there yet, we're still not at the place that I want us to be as far as a team, but all we can do, get our heads together and keep working on it.
Q. Tony, given yesterday and how difficult qualifying was and talking to those guys, what was it like in between? You're getting ready to go to bed knowing what had happened here before and to come out and have this kind of a perfect day, I wonder what went through your mind?
TONY KANAAN: You should ask my girlfriend how bad of a mood I was in last night! (Chuckles.) It was a tough day yesterday. I think with my experience and the things that I've been through, my career and my racing career and my personal life, I kind of -- every time something happens that I have to overcome I think I'm better at it. Probably better managing the damage than actually managing a good situation. I went to bed in a really bad mood, right, babe? And I woke up okay.
I was quiet and concentrated and once I jump in the car, I had to concentrate to make the right changes for the race and be smart not to get caught in any accidents and not to crash in turn 2 like I did the last three years, and once I put my helmet on I said I got to move to the front and do the best I can.
Q. Tony, were you surprised at all how racy the track was today? It ran like a super speedway; you guys seemed to be able to run practically anywhere on the track, and with all the talk about the bump outside of turn 1, it seems like you guys were doing it with impunity.
TONY KANAAN: I wasn't surprised. I got a good idea after the first two sessions yesterday how the race was going to go. The bump? It's a bump, guys, it's always going to be there and it's something that -- it belongs to the track; I wouldn't change that.
It adds to the race, like we have the push-to-pass, Iowa has the bump (Chuckles.) And we'll leave the bump there, you know? And I think in a smooth oval like this with the banking the way it is, it's something that adds to the race because either you avoid it or you got to work through it. The bump itself -- I should be mad because I hit that bump and crashed three years in a row because of that, but I think it's something that needs to be there. If it doesn't get any worse, it should be there.
Q. Tony, is there something poetic -- you stop and think you have had worse luck here than any driver of the series and now you win today by 4 seconds. Have you stopped to think about all that?
TONY KANAAN: I had three years to think about why I didn't finish, and you know when I came here people kept reminding me of that, that I led every time, a lot of laps and never won. I remember the first year I led, crashed, by the time I got on my plane and got home I watched Dario win the race from home, so that was not good. I don't let those things affect me.
After you race for so many years, every track has some history and somebody is going to bring something up that happened to you. I go to Indy every year, and it's the same thing, I been there, led many times and never won, always in a position, and this was the same thing. I just think that those are just facts. Those are just things that we can go look at the facts and we can change that. Like I said, I never finish, and when I finish, I finish first, so now we have a different story.
THE MODERATOR: I guess the old saying in order to finish first, you first have to finish is true.
TONY KANAAN: Exactly.
Q. Tony, you talked about when you were here earlier that you were going to get a World Cup update, and --
TONY KANAAN: I didn't have time to ask but my assistant, Kiko said Brazil won earlier, 3-0, and I wasn't thinking about that, I didn't have time this time. I think the Brazilians, we don't need a lot of reasons -- we need a small reason to party, now we have plenty of reason; we had two on the podium, we won the game, must be a holiday at home tomorrow for sure.
Q. How about the first pit stop. Looked like it got crowded down there, kind of looked like your dirt race at Eldora a couple of weeks ago.
TONY KANAAN: Actually I'm thinking I might want to race in the dirt next week because it brought me a lot of luck! It got crazy, and on a tight track like this and such a difficult race with a lot of passing, but it's hard to follow the car.
Everybody try to make it on the stop, and when you have all the stops in the yellow flag and everybody comes in together, it's always going to be drama. Me and Helio almost touched, Ryan, my teammate, took my front tire with him and my crew chief was looking around, and I'm sitting in the pits with three tires and the other was gone, and those things happen in the race.
That is the characteristic of the short ovals. The pits are narrow and with the competition the way it is nowadays, everybody trying to gain everything they can everywhere.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts