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August 28, 2010

Marco Andretti

Dario Franchitti

Dan Wheldon


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our third place finisher, Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport. Marco, tonight matched a season best finish. You finished third at Indianapolis and Texas earlier this year. Crazy race tonight. Talk about it.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, Chicago always is crazy. It had to be decent for the fans, although I think we strung it out a little bit. Every restart we were pretty bunched up, three, four wide at some point. I had somebody -- we were four wide, and I had somebody -- I was like the third one up. I had somebody outside, and I touched him. That's how close we were running together. But that always makes it interesting.
The Venom car, we stayed towards the front most of the day. We lost a bit of track position in the last pit stop. We need to analyze that. But we were debating on not taking tires, which in hindsight appeared to be the call.

Q. It looked like your car could run anywhere. People were saying you were the car to beat.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I had a really good car, and I really just worked on the race setup all weekend, and I was pretty optimistic coming into the race. We just lost track position, and if a Penske or Ganassi is flat-out on the white line and you have to run longer distance, you're not going to pass him.
THE MODERATOR: If you could, too, talk about the kind of confidence this finish gives you going into the final races that are on 1.5-mile ovals.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, it's been a trying past few weekends on the road courses. You know, as a team we really know what we need to work on in the off-season, so it feels good to be back on the ovals and back in contention where we can kind of taste it again is a good feeling. Hopefully this carries -- we can take some momentum to finish on a high note.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by Dan Wheldon, who finished second tonight. Dan also matched a season-best finish. He finished second at Indianapolis and he is a two-time winner here at Chicagoland. Thoughts about tonight's race?
DAN WHELDON: I hope it was as entertaining for the fans as it was for the drivers. It was pretty hairy at times. I thought the team did a very good job. We had an issue in the first start, but with the car that we had, it was pretty quick. But it was very, very good in traffic. The yellow certainly helped, but then once we were able to kind of mix it with the guys, we were able to get to the front and stay there.
But I thought it was an excellent job by the National Guard Panther Racing team. It was an enjoyable race to be part of, and I've got to say a thank you, though, to Ed Carpenter, too. It's great to have a teammate. Teammates are great when you work well together, and I think certainly myself and Ed and the Fuzzy's Vodka car worked very well. Whenever we seem to drive together as teammates, I think it certainly helps improve the performance of the team, and I don't feel so lonely on the racetrack, so that's a good thing.
But it was a fun nice. I hope I didn't upset Team Penske too much by working so well with Dario, and it wasn't a case of that's the team that I've driven for before, and obviously Dario is a good friend. It was one of those situations where I felt he was a professional, the most -- one of the most predictable -- I have to say Marco was very predictable out there, too. There were a lot of unpredictable people, and it was difficult to drive with Will. He was not giving me any room at all. I thought it was the best thing for myself and the team to have the chance at winning but also staying right up front and working well together.

Q. It appeared from our broadcast station up in Turn 3, it looked like everybody was running really clean. You ran side by side, Marco was running three wide, as well, and it looked like everybody was running pretty clean tonight.
DAN WHELDON: I thought so. I mean, you have to at these speeds. You know, you don't want people to give you a ton of room. You can virtually touch wheels, but it's stepping over the line and being unpredictable, which is not good.
You know, I'm not going to hold back. I think Ryan Hunter-Reay and Moraes were unprofessional, and they could have hurt somebody to tell you the truth. But there was people like Dario, Marco, I think the people that you see up front regularly that are the ones that everybody can race around.

Q. As a two-time winner here and with the schedule in doubt, this race may not be held here next year. How much would you miss this racetrack?
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I think it would be a shame. It always produces the racing that I think the fans like to see. I think for the most part, it was -- this was a show, which is what's important, but it's also fun to drive. I think the series obviously has to be very diverse to attract and appease everybody, and this is always a good event.
But unfortunately as a driver this is totally out of your control, so it's one of those things that you try and enjoy the positives of all the different tracks that you go to, and the ones that you perhaps are not going to go to anymore, you perhaps remember the fond memories that you had there.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, being selfish, we don't back cars at places like this, so yeah, I would hate to see it go. Here we are on the podium. I have to really enjoy it when we can make it here. We roll off pretty strong in places like this, so I'd hate to leave it.

Q. Marco, it seems like this is a track where a lot of people like to stay on the white line, and you were just right up there on the top groove. What is it about the top of the racetrack that suits your style?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, you know, actually fortunately when the car works up there -- you know, if it didn't work up there I'm not sure if I would have been able to come from 7th because we lost a few in the pits, and obviously some guys didn't take tires. So you know, we had to come from 7th, and I normally set my car up to run there because if you're one of the few that can run up there, it's normally clean air and you can just stay flat-out. If somebody is running on the white line, you can't pass them, so that's the only way to pass them.
DAN WHELDON: They call him "Rim Rider Marco." He'd be good in NASCAR, right?

Q. When Will Power ran out of fuel toward the end of the race he really dropped back dramatically and it looked like it stacked a lot of guys up that were running in that pack of yours. Did that cause you -- was that kind of a hairy moment there?
DAN WHELDON: No, not really. I didn't even notice. I just felt some room on the outside, which was kind of nice, towards the end.

Q. Dan, this is kind of an unusual race for you in that the victories that you've had here before have been pre-Push-to-Pass and towards the end of the race they were trying to keep you off the Push-to-Pass. Did that make it difficult for you in the finish, and how do you feel about having that versus winning here without it?
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I think it adds an element to the series, and it's something that we can certainly utilize as drivers to our advantage and what have you.
You know, I tried to do what I did to Helio in 2006 at Homestead to Dario, and I probably just dropped back a little bit too much to really get the run that I should have. I probably mistimed it by 40 or 50 feet. So that was my bad.
But I certainly utilized the two Push-to-Passes that I had left on the back stretch to start the white flag lap, and then as soon as that ran out, I hit it again. I just left it a bit too late. Like I said, I was about 40 or 50 feet wrong on my decision.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Dan, Marco, on the podium finish.
We are now joined by our race winner, Dario Franchitti. A few notes on Dario's win before we begin today's press conference. This is Dario's third victory of the season. He previously won at Indianapolis and mid-Ohio. This is also his second victory at Chicagoland, previously winning here in 2007. Today's win moves Dario within 23 points of Will Power in the Championship. He also takes the lead in the A.J. Foyt Oval Championship with today's win. This is Dario's 26th IndyCar victory, tying him with Roger Ward at 11th on the all-time winners list. By the way, next up on the list, Johnny Rutherford.
Dario, great race tonight. If you could talk about the call to take fuel only at the last pit stop.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Absolutely. It was a difficult night for the Breathe Right car. It was okay, we just weren't very fast. You know, I went from 2nd and a couple cars passed me, and then I was kind of searching around to see where the car was comfortable and in doing so got passed by quite a lot of people, and I managed to make some time up and get back up a bit and then got shuffled back, and I think we probably had a 5th place car.
And then with that last stop, it turns out it was Chris Simmons that made the call not to take the tires and give us track position. We saw how some of the other cars earlier in the race had been able to -- cars that were out of sequence had been running pretty close to the back all day had been able to stay up front. So they did that call, and they called off tires very late into the pit stop. I think I was three pits away when they called off the tires.
And my fueler Robby did a great job of getting the fuel in there, and I got out pretty quick.
And then from the restart I had a message saying that Dan is going to work with you if you give him some space where he needed space on a certain part of the track, and so Dan was great and just pushed me along a little bit, just -- and that was helping him, too. We worked very well, managed to stay inch perfect for those last 25 laps, used the overtake for the last seven, I think, and that was it. So great turnaround from about halfway through the race.

Q. Dario, you're only back 23 points now three races to go, so you've got to feel like you can grab this thing now.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, I think we saw tonight, we see how quickly these things can change, especially on these one-and-a-half-mile tracks. We're just going to keep going. It would have been easy to give up halfway through the race there when we were running in sort of 10th or whatever, and that's how you get it done, and I'm lucky to be part of Team Target. I've been on the receiving end of getting beaten from them sometimes when they managed to pull things out of seemingly nowhere, so it was nice to be on the end of actually winning the thing tonight.
It's far from over on both sides. Will did a good job tonight, and I guess there was a mistake on the amount of fuel put in. Yeah, it's going to be interesting these last three.

Q. Did you think as you were moving back and forth that everyone was driving fairly clean? It appeared from where we were it wasn't that bad, but then there was a couple of people that said it wasn't as good as I thought it was.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, quantify bad. That's the trouble with this style of racing sometimes. Sometimes it's either how brave or how stupid you want to be. And there were some very nice moves made out there, and there was some bloody stupid moves made out there, and there was also just some misunderstandings out there. Sometimes it's not what you do or the person next to you, it's the person three up or something, or the back markers. The back markers were not being very helpful at all, the usual suspects. I shouldn't really be surprised with one of them for sure.
When you're three wide and you come across a car doing 20 miles an hour less than you, it certainly gets your attention. When you're three wide and three rows deep, look out. Yeah, as I say, it was -- I'm just glad everybody got out of here in one piece tonight.

Q. This win might not have been as dramatic for you as the one in '07 where you got it on the last lap and won the whole thing, but this race may not be here next year; they may go somewhere else to deal with the contract, and there isn't one yet. Would you miss Chicagoland or races of this type?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm not a big fan of -- not the track; there's nothing wrong with this track. It just doesn't -- I don't like the style of racing our cars put on here. There's nothing wrong with the track at all; great track, great fans. But yeah, I much prefer more if it's in the driver's hands.
But at the same time, this track has been bloody good to me, there's no doubt about it. And tonight, again, this one feels really special for some reason, just because we pulled it out from nowhere. It feels pretty good.

Q. Do you feel about this style of racing kind of the way some of the NASCAR guys feel about restrictor plates? Do you have any experience with that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I guess it is like restrictor plate racing. That's probably a good analogy, you know, on various tracks. You know, a lot of the one-and-a-half-mile tracks now become more handling tracks; Homestead, for instance. But with the nature and the big banking of this surface, this track and this surface produces good grip. But it produces that -- I was going to say two wide, but there was times it was three and four wide tonight. It puts on a great show. The fans, I think, really love it. I'd just like a bit more control, I guess, to be in the driver's hands.

Q. Do you like the short tracks like at Iowa and when you ran at Richmond? Do you like those short -- and the Milwaukee Mile? Do you like those better?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Oh, yeah, I'm a big fan of the short track. Iowa has been a great track. It drives almost like a Superspeedway, though. The more it ages, the more it drives like a short track, places like Milwaukee, Richmond, Loudon next year is going to be great, Phoenix, as well. Again, I don't think there's any bad tracks, it's just our cars are not suited to some tracks. It's just an unfortunate fact of life. The cars are maybe too quick. The tracks weren't designed with our cars in mind maybe.

Q. If you could just kind of forecast the next three races, because --
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. What do you want me to say? Come on.

Q. Going back to how you've done at Kentucky and Motegi and how you've done at Homestead.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know, it's so difficult. Yeah, it's going to be a fight. I think it's going to be a fight to the wire. The Penske team are very, very strong. Will is doing a good job. He's learning quickly. You know, we're well aware of what the Target Team can do and how great they are. Trust me, I'll be pedaling as hard as I can.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Thank you so much.

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