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October 2, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the 2010 Rookie of the Year, Alex Lloyd, of Dale Coyne Racing. Alex is the 2007 Firestone Indy Lights champion. His best finish this season was 4th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Alex, you've been working since 2008 to run a full season here at the IZod IndyCar Series. And now to do it and earn Rookie of the Year honors has to be rewarding.
ALEX LLOYD: It's 2007 with the lost time that I ran a full season up until this year. And you look now at 2010, that was three years ago.
And it's tough. It was a tough couple of years. And you spend two years out of a car, practically, other than running the Indy 500, and this race last year, so three races in two years, it was tough. And certainly coming back at the beginning of the year, you have a lot of rust that you've got to knock off.
Everyone talks about a little bit of rust, couple of months, had two years to knock off. So with that you have your ups and downs. But it was great that I got the opportunity from Dale and Gale Coyne and Boy Scouts of America. That was a big thing for me, and really a life line, because, like I said, two years out of the sport, it's hard to get back in sometimes with three years out.
So we came into this year, or I did, with two big goals. One was a good run at Indy 500. Biggest race in the world. Having raced there two years before, and I knew hopefully my experience would help there and we could have a good run. Second was Rookie of the Year, and we got that today. Certainly there's some points in the year that was disappointing and we didn't get what we hoped out of it.
But that's a rookie campaign for you. And it's working with new guys. Obviously last year the team lost just that and Bill Pappas, their engineer and driver, so we're working with a lot of new people, new engineering, everything like that, and a new driver.
So it was -- you've got to blend together and get everything working right. And we did that. And we had some good races this year, some very good races, and we've had some races that could have been very good. Chicago, we had a gear box problem. We've had a couple of things on the ovals the last few races that have really cost us some top 10 finishes. And that's been frustrating.
But we've kept ourselves going and kept focusing the last few races on Rookie of the Year. That's come up. That's certainly a great thing for myself and the whole team.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Alex?
Q. Take us through, again, the turning point of the season. I know Indy was a big part of it. What made that special, just the practice time?
ALEX LLOYD: Yeah, I think partly. We started off the year. And we really struggled. I mean, we struggled much more than we expected to. We came to Kansas, and we struggled at Kansas.
We sat together by the truck after that race, we said: This year it's going to be tough to qualify for Indianapolis, let alone race at the front. So we've really got to use the two weeks we have at that point after Kansas before the start of Indy to try to work out a few things with the car and make it a little faster and then use the testing.
Because when you're a small team, there's no testing during the year, effectively. So you're racing against guys with huge budgets and wind tunnel programs and all these kind of things.
When you're a little guy, it's very tough. Indy, here you've got two weeks of practice to try and catch that up a little bit. And that's invaluable. It was certainly one of our things that we thought we have to capitalize on that. And we played Indy very conservative in terms of qualifying.
We stayed in race prep basically the whole month. And we sacrificed qualifying for that. But it really paid off by having a great race car in the race.
That was the turning point for us. We came into that month, and all of a sudden, from the very first lap at Indy, the car, we could tell immediately that the car was quicker and we made some good improvements.
And then from then, obviously, we followed it up with a great race at Texas. And some good ups and downs, some good races since then and also some downs. Certainly areas we need to work on.
And the benefit, obviously, the road courses were a bit of an Achilles heel for us. But the last couple of races at Mid-Ohio and 10th place at Sonoma, we were getting there during the weekend. We were starting to figure things out.
That was the encouraging thing. Obviously you like to figure it out sooner, and you like to be there from the very first race, but when it's a rookie campaign, you guys, all working together, sometimes that just doesn't happen without a lot of testing. It wasn't too many years ago where rookies have done a Full season's worth of testing before the first race. Now it's not like that.
When you've got a lot of rookies like myself, Simona, and Bertrand and stuff, and we're in the small teams, we need that testing. We don't have the budget of the Ganassis and Penskes. So it makes it tough. But it's rewarding when you can come away with some good results.
Q. Just how rewarding is it considering all the hills and valleys?
ALEX LLOYD: It's very rewarding. Like I said, it was a big goal going in. And there's been some points in the year. Obviously I think, honestly I think we've been on the team pulling our hair out, trying to figure out what on earth is going on. And we sit down and we figure things out. That's been the good thing. We've seen improvements. If we haven't started off the weekend right, we've ended it right.
And that was a pretty clear indication today. We started off yesterday in the practice session, and we were nowhere. We really, really struggled. At the beginning of the race, God, we dropped to 25th in the first 10. We were absolutely nowhere. But we kept digging at it. We kept working. We kept trying to figure out -- the guys did a great job in the pits in terms of tweaking the car to get it faster, and then we end up finishing 12th and we move ourselves forward, and we have a pretty good race car at the end.
And that's been the way this race played out. It's been the way our whole season has played out. Some weekends -- we started it competitive, Texas, from the very first lap, and we ended up having, obviously, a very strong week there. On others, we started off struggling and maybe we haven't quite found it by the race.
Sometimes we have found it. It's been up and down, but it's a rookie campaign. For me, two years out of the sport, effectively, new engine, working with new engineers this year and not the engineers the team had last year.
So it's to be expected. You have your ups and downs, but that's what you have to deal with. And the trick is to keep pushing through. And I think if we can hopefully try and do this again next year, then that would be -- we can learn from all those ups and downs and the things we've learned this year, and I think we could have a very strong campaign to try and put it into the top 10 in the points, which would be obviously a good achievement for all of us.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We are now joined by Will Power, who finished 2nd in the championship points battle. Power finishes the season with five wins, eight poles and 11 top 5 finishes. This is his second full season of IZod IndyCar Series competition. In his first season, he finished 12th in the championship points standings.
Will, no matter what, you have to look back at this year as really a remarkable comeback from where you were one year ago today.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, last year, watching this race in a back brace. So, yeah, it's been the best year of my career in motorsports. Obviously very disappointed at the outcome.
But I had come to the realization at, what lap it was, 120 or something, that Dario had led the most laps. We didn't really have the car to win.
So I had -- I was pushing it as hard as I could. And I was trying to get around a couple of back markers. And they were running different lines. And it took a bit of my air away and I ended up in the gray.
I was struggling to run anywhere but the top line well anyway. Yeah, you know, like I predicted at the beginning of the season, it was the guy and team who made the least amount of mistakes that would win the championship. But I think next year I'll come back very strong.
THE MODERATOR: How much confidence does that give you going into next year, knowing you're a championship contender?
WILL POWER: I think the confidence on the ovals, I've really learned an unbelievable amount this year. And I knew going into this year that was going to be the weak point. No question.
But now I feel I'm on par with the other guys. Absolutely. And I know next year it will be a tough fight. I think that as a team we've learned a lot this year as well. So, yeah, I actually have to thank Verizon. They really stepped up to give me this opportunity this year, and I think with the results we had, it made them very enthusiastic about the series and about our team, and hope for continued support.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. You said it was a team that made the least mistakes. But just kind of the unfortunateness of it. You drift into the wall, because of what happens around you. And Dario avoids Milka. I mean, it just changes so much on things that have nothing to do with mistakes, really.
WILL POWER: Yeah. Yeah, I don't mean -- it's not that -- when I say "the team," I mean the driver/team, the driver and team. I don't mean just the team that makes the least amount of mistakes.
I made my mistakes this year. We win and lose as a team. But, yeah, some of the things are out of your control. And Dario is pretty good at dodging those.
Q. If I could follow up with something. You said you'll come back next year, and right now there's all that promise of things to come, and yet we know from experience that there's no guarantees, Briscoe last year didn't have the season coming back. Missing the chance -- I mean you may not -- there just aren't many in life.
WILL POWER: That's right. You start on -- if you're always there knocking on the door, you always put yourself in the position to be in the contention.
So I'm going to be very determined next year, definitely not going to -- I want to come back and have as strong a season. Definitely stronger on the ovals, I know that for a fact.
Q. Can you talk about how the car felt early in the race? And also kind of what your feeling is, seems like Dario and Scott kind of got -- Ganassi runaways for a little bit?
WILL POWER: Early in the race, the car responded very difficult. And it wasn't until after that first stop that I realized I'm going to have to always run the high line, this is going to be it for me because the car wasn't good enough to run down lower.
And, yeah, once I worked that out reasonably quick, I don't think it was as quick as the Ganassi guys, but they seemed to have something more. It was just so tough to close the gap to them. So, yeah. I forgot what your question was. But did that answer it?
Q. I know you probably are going to say earlier in the race, but when do you start focusing on next year and put this behind you or do you even look back and review it at all?
WILL POWER: You definitely look back and review the year and work out where you can be stronger. Every time I leave a track, I think, man, if I -- I always come back to the track next year knowing where I've got to pick up time. And I usually do.
That happens every year for me. So I seem to get quicker and quicker every time I go back to a track just from track knowledge. So I never stop thinking about motorsports. I never stop talking about it. I love it. And I'll come back and be very strong next year.
Q. Exactly at what point in the evening did you know the championship was lost? Was it while you were sitting there working on the car or --
WILL POWER: Yeah, basically when, you know, when you bust up against a wall, you know it's over and done with. Especially when I felt the car sort of grabbing a little. We were in a bit of strife, unless something untoward happened to Dario.
Q. You lost the championship by just five points. Is there one point in this past year that you wish you could have done all over again for those five points?
WILL POWER: Yeah, there's a couple of scenarios that could have worked out. But Chicagoland definitely was something that was very strong and running at the front all day. So obviously it didn't end exactly right. But we had a equipment failure, what can you do.
Q. At one point before that after your pit stop you were asked how did you like the car and you said the car was just fine. How did the car feel at that point? And were you kind of biding your time back there to wait to make your aggressive moves?
WILL POWER: Is that the first spin? The second spin? The car was fine to run that high line. It was fine. Obviously on restarts, cars kept going underneath me, those running around the top and slowly get them all back.
So, yes, nothing we could do with the car we had. I realized early on that it wasn't quite as strong as the Ganassi guys, so I tried to find the quickest and best way around the track.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We're now joined by Danica Patrick, who finished 2nd tonight. Danica, heck of a race you had with Tony Kanaan. Talk about it.
DANICA PATRICK: Thanks. First off, obviously, with Will walking out, it's fresh in my mind. You know, he did a hell of a job this year. He kicked ass on the road courses for sure. He really did.
He was a sleeper for the championship. But he did a great job. So he shouldn't be disappointed with himself. And obviously Dario did a great job, too. He came back in the championship throughout the year and did what he needed to do and did what an experienced driver does. You know, they finish races and get points.
And he's got the experience on the ovals. So, you know, it's unfortunate that that ended in the way that it did because you weren't able to see that dueling finish for the championship.
But leading to that, hopefully Tony and I put on a good show for the end at least. It was definitely a bit of a workout there. It was a hard 19 laps, is what we went green with.
And I had a strong car. It was a little bit -- we had a lot of stuff to start the race off. We cranked the front wing in it. And they were able to bring it to life.
And it was a good car. So it was back to what I remembered in practice. So everybody on the Godaddy crew did a good job. They kept their heads down all year. I know it wasn't the greatest year. But I know I'm rambling on with stuff that sounds so formatted for a driver to say, but it's the time to say it. And thanks to Tony for making it exciting at the end.
It was a good race, and I think it was just a wind gust down the straightaway. I don't know, I think it was just wind.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. I like how you put that. You said at Texas that was the best oval race of your career. Do you revise that after tonight?
DANICA PATRICK: Good question. I think the end of that race was definitely my best oval racing, probably. It was fast and keep your foot in it and ride out the washouts and be calculated at the same time.
So you had to keep your foot in it, but you had to be smart as well. So Texas was a good race from a top-to-bottom perspective. We were strong all weekend in the race.
We ran in the top 5 the whole time. And I really managed my car well in Texas. But that was probably -- I also managed my car those last 19 laps, and I think that's what also attributed to me being able to pass them at the end, too, was I went low a few times down in 3 and 4 early on in the last 19 laps.
And I could keep it down there fine, but I just didn't have the run-off. It didn't have the oomph off the corner because you didn't exit the corner with the momentum from the wider radius. So I said, all right, we're just going to go up high for a while. Then we went high, and we went higher and then we went higher.
So finally, by the end, I think that he might have been scrubbing some speed by sliding from trying to hold it down low. So I was able to capitalize on that and get underneath them.
Q. If you could just speak to what -- this is the way you want to go out, I'm assuming, and kind of carry things over. But this has got to be good for your confidence and a real up for the season.
DANICA PATRICK: Thanks. It's been a tough year. I mean, it's been very frustrating. It seems like it's a second or a 20th this year for me.
So it's very frustrating. But we kept focused. And, you know, we revised things as we went to them. We said this isn't working for us; what do we need to do to improve?
And we adapted as well. So it's what you need to do as a team. And my engineers kept their -- my mechanics kept their confidence in me. And they did a fantastic job. These last two races at Motegi and here were a nice way to end the season.
Q. Tony said he apologized, because I think you guys brushed wheels a little bit. Do you remember that incident at all?
DANICA PATRICK: It was wind, remember? Yes, I remember very vividly. I mean, he pushed up wide out of 4. And I came down low. And I had the momentum. And I got underneath him. And his left front wheel, I looked, was right behind my right front wheel. So I was a little ahead of him. He said his spotter didn't call inside until he was into the side of me.
So, I mean, it is what it is. I ended up getting by him and beating him. So I guess at the end of the day it doesn't really matter. But I kept thinking that our boss, Mike, was sitting in pit lane biting his nails like crazy, hoping his cars weren't going into the wall. Because he was definitely swerving over to intimidate me and moving me up the track.
It kind of reminded me of like Briscoe and Carpenter's finish at Kentucky last year, or I think maybe the year before that it was Helio and Dixon or somebody like that here at Homestead. I think it was the season opener a couple of years where it was just lap after lap, side by side.
And the fans get what they want here. And I'm disappointed it's not on the schedule for next year. We keep losing my favorite tracks. So bummer, dude.
That quote is going to come off so bad in the newspaper. It's going to come off like I'm an idiot. Please don't make me seem like that. Please follow that quote with the rest of the quote.
Q. TK is a guy you have the utmost respect for, but he's also probably one of the most intimidating guys out there. So really what was that like racing him?
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah. We've had our times together this year, at Indy and Texas and Iowa, and we've definitely had our times. And it was not a great year for teammates getting along and being buddy-buddy.
And he definitely raced me hard here tonight. But the point is that I beat him and that's really all that matters.
Q. I'm not asking you if you're angry, but you sure would have had a right to be there in the last several laps.
DANICA PATRICK: You know, I mean, yeah, he raced me really hard. You guys could see it on TV. You guys can have your own opinions as to what you think happened.
Like I said, I ended up getting by, so it was okay in the end. But I also -- I also didn't get the chance to chase Dixon down either.
So he was holding the low line for a while. And for a while we were being pretty consistent. I went low early on, and he kind of came down low, and as the run was going on, we were getting higher and higher on the track, especially around 3 and 4.
So I was exploring the space, for sure, higher than I had been all night. But, you know, it's the end of the race and that's what you're doing. So, you know, it kind of reminds me of what happened with Marco and I at Texas last year, when Marco was really mad that I was taking his space away going up high.
And that was, again, that was like the last sort of 20 lap range. So this was a little different because it was the end of the season, and I know we're in his hometown. So we didn't crash. And that's good. And that can always happen when you're floating around out there at 220.
So we didn't. And he was smiling at the end and he apologized for coming in at the side of me on the front straight. So I'll take that for what it is. And that we raced really hard and we both finished the race with almost no scratches.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We are now joined by tonight's race winner, Scott Dixon. Scott, yesterday you were asked what were you racing for tonight and you said 3rd against Helio, and you did it. Talk about tonight's race.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was obviously, I think, the main goal for the team was to get the championship. And straight out of the box it seemed to go as planned. Dario had a stronger night. To be honest, I don't have to help him very much. Sat behind him when I could. TK was pretty aggressive there in that first spin.
And I was kind of like, well, I'm going to let you go and have at it. So didn't get involved with that too much. And kind of just cruised around. We worked on the car for long runs in traffic.
A little bit loose to start with on the high line, and we seemed to fix that. And kind of just waiting for the opportunity.
I think towards the end, you know with so much yellow, another stop to go into obviously being a fuel race, which was very hard to monitor. Some people had pitted. We hadn't. We'd already been through two gallons just sitting under yellow, and yet you knew it was going to be about 50 laps to go.
So that was definitely the tough part. But obviously once the yellows came again, we had a couple of fumbled restarts which definitely helped us as well with mileage.
It was a clear run. It saved the push-to-pass. I think we had 13 to 15 of the things left. And obviously pushed in towards the end and the car was pretty well hooked up and away it went. So nice way to finish the year.
We had definitely a rough year. Lots of missed opportunities and felt strange coming down to the last race and not really racing for a championship.
So it was the best we could get out of it for the last race, and obviously with the team winning, it was a huge day. So everybody's pretty excited and pretty happy.
THE MODERATOR: Now a really important question. Dario going into the pool tomorrow night? Are you plotting it already?
SCOTT DIXON: That was TK's deal last year, when he kind of like somehow got me involved in it when we threw him in the pool. I think it will be fair to throw him in again, he's just getting greedy now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Speaking of greedy, Dario with three titles, getting greedy here. Talk about his place and kind of this generation of IndyCar.
SCOTT DIXON: He's definitely a fierce competitor. And he's been fantastic to have at the team. And I obviously learned a lot off him. I don't know. I think the whole team, when they haven't or didn't have great days coming out, they just grabbed the opportunity of going off strategy or having a great pit stop to pull it through. Look at Chicago, it was a perfect example of that.
So that side has been working together fantastically and it's good to see. When we couldn't pull our weight, obviously he was there to do it. And obviously winning the 500 and the championship in the same year, which makes lots of people happy. So it's been definitely a turn for him. Obviously leaving in 2008 and then coming back and getting two championships in a row, it's definitely nothing to sneeze at. So Tiger will definitely be on his back next year.
Q. Three victories, three in the points, what does that say when it's a disappointing season about the standard you guys have set?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was disappointing. Right from the get-go I made a lot of mistakes. The team as a whole made a lot of mistakes. There's so many, especially coming down to the last few races, we just couldn't hit it. It was terrible.
That's the problem, when you're used to such a high level, I think the past four or five years I've had a chance at the last race to win a championship and this year not coming into it is definitely a shock.
And we didn't perform. We can see in many areas where we just didn't get it right. So that's the strong part of obviously fielding two cars and two competitive cars, if your side can't do it, the other will do it. For me, straight up disappointing year. Third in the points is still great. But it's not where we're used to, and at least we finished it on a high.
Q. You've seen so much of Dario over your career. You joined a little bit late in his career. Would you say he's just getting better with age?
SCOTT DIXON: You would have to say that. You know, I think he's definitely come on. They say that kind of about triathletes, your mid-30s are kind of your peak. He's getting close to 40. So he's stretching the window.
And I think it's good for a lot of us guys that have been around for a while. Because it at least gives the team owners some hope that we can still continue to do it.
But, yeah, I think the determining factor for a lot of people when they get to that age, if they have the will to do it, and you know whether they want to get up and train and do those things and make it worthwhile. And Dario, still you can see the fire. And you can see that he's an extremely competitive person. Right now you'd have to say that he's at his peak?
Q. When you were both in kart and you were the young kid in kart, the youngest winner in kart history, what did you think of Dario? What kind of dynamic did you have with him back then?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, I didn't really know those guys. They were kind of the high rollers, and I was just the kid coming in and checking it all out. Dario and I definitely hung out later in the year of 2002. Australia was always a good trip to have a few drinks after the race and catch up with people, learn what they're all about.
That's when I definitely made friends with Dario. And we've raced together ever since. I wouldn't say we're immensely tight. We're definitely great friends now and have a great relationship and work probably the best I've ever worked with a teammate before. So it's definitely come a long ways. But it was a lot different from the early days.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We are now joined by Chip Ganassi and Mike Hull. I know you're on deadline, we'll cut to the chase with questions here. Chip, this is your third consecutive championship and your second straight with Dario. What is it about Dario that just makes him always a perennial championship contender?
CHIP GANASSI: With his experience, obviously in this series, he knows how to -- he knows what it takes to win a championship from the first race. And that's a big advantage.
And he's good at all the types of circuits we go to. Obviously he's been to most of them, if not all of them. So it's a big help in that area.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, again, with the three consecutive championships, what is it this team keeps doing to put these drivers in this position?
MIKE HULL: Well, it's a hard question to answer concisely. We just work as a group of people to be better every day. If you had to say it in one sentence, it's simply that.
We work hard with both Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti to be a team of one, and we learn from what we do right and we learn from what we do wrong, and we realize that change is probably the most important things in our lives in order to stay ahead of the competition. And there are people that come in front of us both in Dario cases as race drivers, as well as team owners, team organizations that have set the example and the standard for where Chip Ganassi Racing really needs to go.
So we work really, really hard to achieve things like we just achieved tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Chip, you've been in racing a long time. This year you won the Daytona 500, Indy 500, Indy Championship, and many races. Would you say this is your best year of your career as a team owner?
CHIP GANASSI: Absolutely, yeah. I've said it many times. I'm blessed with who I get to work with, and I'm honored to represent the companies we represent.
And that's who provides the foundation that our team stands on, is our great group of sponsors and partners. And to have the group of guys that we have in Indianapolis and in Charlotte for that matter, that to have consistency and to build consistency and to build, build history together, you get rewarded with events like this evening.
Q. Chip, what kind of guidance or instructions did you give Scott Dixon before this race, or did you feel it necessary to even give him any?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I told him he had to finish between Dario and Will Power. He didn't listen to me. No, I mean, obviously there were many, many scenarios playing out as the evening went on there. And I didn't have to tell Scott anything, to tell you the truth.
He's a professional. He knows what he has to do and knows what it takes, knows how important it is to win the championship. And he's a wily veteran himself. He knows when I'm coming to him, he just smiles at me and says, "Don't even say it, I know."
Q. Chip and Mike, what one thing do you gentlemen do to create that championship-winning culture across not only this series but Grand-Am Rolex, Daytona 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, what is the one thing you do to create that championship-winning culture?
CHIP GANASSI: Mike is the one that does it, so I'll defer to him.
MIKE HULL: Great question. I think what we do as a group, we manage expectation extremely well. And that's hard to find in an organization. And I think over time we've built that up. We've been fortunate, Chip certainly touched on it, we have a great group of sponsors for three racing organizations that are really one. They all work as one.
We have an organization in Concord, North Carolina. We have an organization in Indianapolis that runs the Rolex sports car team as well as the IndyCar team. And we've been fortunate and blessed to have the resource from strong sponsors. So then we become accountable to manage that.
And over time, with the experience gained from all of that, we've learned to nurture the guys along and move them through the system. And they now sell the product for us, that they work really hard on our cars and make it happen for us.
Q. With that kind of confidence, does that mean that if they make like kind of a (inaudible) to you and say okay guys you go get them the next time?
MIKE HULL: It would depend just, like anything else in life, it depends on the severity of what happens. But we study what we do. We study what our people do in our shops, in the buildings, that don't travel. We study what our people do when they come to the racetrack, both over the pit wall as well as behind.
And we move forward all the time. We try to be better every day. We try to win every day. And if we can add all those wins on a seven-day basis together then the biggest day for us this week has been Saturday night, then it culminates like it did this evening for us.
Q. Chip, you said yesterday you thought the pressure was on the 12 to perform. Was the goal to go out and put that pressure on them, and did you feel that maybe contributed to what happened to the 12?
CHIP GANASSI: You know, I don't know. We would have rather raced them on the track and won that way. It was unfortunate what happened. So, I don't know, something broke on his car, I guess. I don't know. I mean, obviously that's a great team and my hat's off to that organization for the run they gave for this year.
Obviously it was a narrow points margin at the end. And as I said before, you know, you could take any one of the Penske drivers and put them in our cars and vice versa. I'm sure the performance would be the same.
They're a group of great drivers, all of them. And unfortunately there's only one winner. And I wish we would have raced them on the track here.
Q. (Question off microphone)
CHIP GANASSI: You know, there were a culmination of events when that happened. We were on a strategy at that time looking for some yellow, I know. And then the yellow came. And believe me it was not a perfect night for the 10 car. I wouldn't call it a perfect night. But we did what we had to do. But, sure, when you don't win, it's not a perfect night.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We are now joined by our 2010 IZod IndyCar Series champion, a three-time champion, Dario Franchitti. Congratulations.
One of the themes this year really has been the level of competition that we're at in the series. Does that make the third time around sweeter?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's very difficult to kind of compare the three, after the 500, to compare each of those. I do believe the competition level in the series is going up. For whatever reason, we at Team Target both Scott and myself maybe didn't have the speed advantage we had last year. In some cases we have to work harder to finish in the top 5 at races.
So to come away with a championship after a season like that is very satisfying. And we look back to Iowa and think to that gear box, that took a lot of points away, and from then on it was a real struggle.
But nobody on the Target team gave up. We did our best every single week. We find ourselves here again tonight. It was pretty cool. Great to be out there enjoying that feeling and that moment with my family, my friends, my teammates, it doesn't get any better than that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. (Lost audio)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I really felt maybe we along with Scott and probably Tony were the three cars that were going to fight out tonight. And I knew Scott was very much working with me and Tony was going to do everything he could to help me out.
But I knew that it came to the situation we're going to fight it out for the win, those guys were going to be pushing very, very hard, obviously particularly Tony because he's driving for another team. You could see we were racing very, very hard tonight.
And I didn't want to kind of win it doing what we did there, which was actually at the points race after Will had his problem but the guys were just extra cautious, didn't want me running out of fuel. Took an extra pit stop. Put me back in the pack and amongst all the madness.
So we had a car that we knew could run up front all night. But when then they told me after that those last 30 laps you've got to finish 10th here. You're 9th and I passed one guy and now you're 8th.
So there was no -- it would have been nice to find our way back up front again but we wanted to win the big prize tonight.
Q. Talk about your immediate reaction to the news that Will had had his problem?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: My immediate reaction was, okay, how bad is it? What's this going to mean? Then I immediately put it out of my head; you can't think about that. Leading up to this race, I'm not going to think about what he's doing. I immediately put that out of my head.
The guys came out eventually and said he's behind the wall. And then I came back on the radio, I said, "Is he still behind the wall?" They said yep. That gave me some idea of what was going on. Shortly after that they told me what position I had to finish.
And then again I was more trying to keep out of trouble. The 18 car spun and hit the wall, I don't know, two feet in front of me. That was a little too close for comfort.
That was getting back into the track, we couldn't afford to run out of fuel, had to make a splash on the green at the end. It wasn't a gamble worth taking.
Q. You kind of touched on it there, but you mentioned being put back in the madness, can you just talk about the split second thought going through your mind when that notorious 18 car lost it right in front of you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I just thought -- well, the immediate thought was, "Oh shit." I tried to pull the car down off the wall. I heard the noise when the car hit the wall. It was a big old hit.
My plan there was waiting for them to get in single file a bit and start working my way forward if I could. Because they were four-wide, wheel-banging, all kinds of crazy stuff. It was an interesting view out there. It was much more fun up front.
Q. Some young guy in Scotland is going to look up to you like you looked up to Jimmie Clark now with three IndyCar titles and two Indianapolis 500 titles. That's a pretty big piece of hardware to carry around, sir. What are your thoughts about that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Good haul, isn't it? I don't know. Look back to the start of 2007, I hadn't won a championship. Won a lot of races not a championship or Indy 500. Now we find ourselves with two 500s and three championships.
I'm just going to enjoy it. I think I'm just going to let it sink in, enjoy it. And if you ask me that question maybe starting next year I'll give you a better answer. But I'm very proud of the achievement. And it's an absolute honor to get to drive for the Target team.
And the equipment they give me. And that feeling of success is great.
Q. Can you talk about the fine line between you missing Milka and Will sliding into the wall? You almost have parallel seasons in different respects. But one thing goes differently in the race.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think I was listing at that point because I was aware there was craziness in front of me. I was nowhere near the limit which allowed me to avoid the accident. That was I think maybe the difference. Absolutely, Will has been a terrific competitor all season. It's his first season back from the back injury. And he did a great job all season long and was a great competitor.
And him and Team Penske are going to come back stronger we at Team Target will have to push harder if we want to beat him next year. He's a very good driver.
Q. Mike said the other day on a teleconference when Will got that big lead over the summer that, not to the drivers specifically, but on the team there was a lot of freaking out, I think was the phrase he used. Was there any sense of -- did you always think you were going to get to this point? Was there ever any sense of that's 60 points is too much or whatever it is?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: At no point did I freak out. I was very aware that I might not win the championship. But there was no point in freaking out about that. If it was the situation we found ourselves in. That was it. I just looked at it as an obstacle and see if we could catch him again. If we couldn't, he would win the championship. But we gave it our best effort. And we saw the results.
I think everybody in the team, they just buckled down, every single person. I'll tell you tonight it was a lot easier out here when you've got Scott Dixon backing it up than it is racing against him for a championship. A lot more comfortable. Because he's tough out there.
Q. Chip visited us yesterday early afternoon and talked to some of the media about how his team was laid back and the drivers were laid back. Could you talk a little bit about how much pressure you're under? It doesn't seem to bother you. That's the impression I get?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm going to state the pressure I'm under is self-imposed. I'm under pressure because I want to win and I want to be successful. And I want to do a good job for my team. So that's where the pressure comes from.
And I can see that every person on the team puts himself under the same pressure to succeed. Including Chip. He takes it very personally when he doesn't win. So that's maybe some of the reasons that we find ourselves in these situations. I don't know.
Q. Along those same lines, I know you've been asked this throughout the year but you've added yet another thing for them. The chances of one team being able to do all that has been done this year ever again, unless it's y'all again, is pretty rare. If you could just put it into perspective again what all of this means. You've added yet another thing?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think it's something to ask Chip. We enjoy the success of the NASCAR team and the Grand-Am team. But certainly the NASCAR team, we're not day to day part of that, but we enjoy the success very much, take pride in that. The guys in the Indianapolis shop take pride and the guys in the Indycar team take pride in the Grand-Am success and also the NASCAR success. I think it's vice versa.
But the one guy that's there at both races back and forth is Chip. And I think he really -- he just had an incredible year. And, again, it goes back to a lot of hard work from Chip putting the right people in the right places. And it's really good to see. But it's going to be tough to repeat this.
We'll definitely try and obviously Roger's probably the only other guy who's got the spread over the whole series to do something like this.
Q. Obviously it's a great night for the Franchitti boys with Marino taking 4th overall and best-in-class at the Petit. When you get together, is there a little bit of sibling rivalry related to that since you trumped his ace tonight?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I didn't trump anything. Marino has done a phenomenal job all season. He did Sebring where he qualified the car on pole. Went to Laguna where they won, and they were doing a good job at LeMans.
And tonight they won with David and the whole team I've done some work with and they're great people. Marino has absolutely taken full advantage of that situation.
This is his second year in a row that he's won that class and been in the winning team at Petit LeMans. So he's doing his own thing. We don't have any rivalry. We don't kind of work that way.
It's kind of the same thing with our little cousin, Paul, if he gets to F1, probably the second happiest guy in the world, apart from his dad.
I just don't see it that way. I'm so proud of my little brother and the job that he's done and how hard he's fought for every single thing that he's done. And tonight yet again he and his teammates, Simon and David, came through, and the whole team won the championship.
So I couldn't be happier. I watched as much of the race as I could in the bus today. And then I had to go and focus and get with my own stuff. But I've got it on Tivo so I'll go back and watch it later.
Q. If you could -- by doing what you've done winning two Indy 500s, winning three IndyCar championships, you've established yourself in very elite company in the history of the sport. And when you think about it in those terms, which I'm sure you don't think about it in those terms, but what do you think when you hear that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: As I said before, Bruce, I'm very proud of those achievements. But when I -- like today -- was it this morning? Yesterday morning, I took a picture. A.J. and I took a picture with the A.J. Foyt trophy. I said, "Oh, my God, it's A.J. Foyt." We were sitting, talking away like old buddies. I'm thinking,
"It's A.J. Foyt."
Then Mario, I know him from my years driving with Mike. Mario's a buddy of mine. But I'm thinking it's Mario, Rick Mears. These guys are legends of the sport. And these guys are special.
Q. (Question off microphone)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's not the sort of thing I think you'd say about yourself. As I said before, I'm really proud of the results. I want to keep going.
Q. (Question off microphone)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We'll soon find out. I don't know. I think back to tonight and I think back to Japan, and I think Japan was possibly, was one of the most aggressive and trouble-free races, mistake-free races I've ever driven, probably in the top five races I've ever driven in my life.
Then that day absolute best. If I can keep operating at that level, who knows. Allow me to continue that. I'm just loving it.
Q. You've been thrown in a pool. You've had a pie in your face.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: God, I forgot about that.
Q. What's in store for you tomorrow?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm glad to see that my watch is still waterproof. I'm going to be this smart I'll wear old clothes to start the night off and bring a change of clothes with me, because I guarantee that Kanaan, Dixon, et al., all my friends will throw me in the pool. So as long that's all they do and they don't tie me to a rogue boat and set me adrift in the Atlantic Ocean we'll be all right.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.
End of FastScripts