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June 11, 2011

Scott Dixon

Dario Franchitti

Will Power


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with tonight's press conference. We're joined by Scott Dixon.
Talk about the second-place finishes here and really how you're able to maximize points to move up to third in the championship.
SCOTT DIXON: I guess all in all it was a good night for points. The results, obviously they could have been both one better. I think the first race we kind of had what we had. Dario was very quick in the Huggies car. With new tires on the last stint with only about 14 to go, it's very tough to try to pass a car that runs a shorter line. I tried to push him along and keep Will back. That was that for the first one. Pretty good result for the team, obviously, a 1-2.
Second race, you could see it sort of trickling down with the draw that it wasn't looking too good for ourselves. Obviously myself starting from 18th and Dario 28th, it's a huge deficit when the competitor for the championship starts third and with not too much competition in front of him.
It was a tough race. Thought we had enough for him towards the end there. I just burnt the rear tires off and was too loose and lost a bit of time going into that last pit stop and could never really get it back.
I don't know. I think they maybe need to make a few changes to the draw concept. I think the two races is cool, exciting for the fans. I think they possibly need to invert the field to make it more fair with the competitors chasing for a championship, especially when points are involved, or maybe give you bonus points for when you pass cars or something.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Were you surprised at the lack of yellows tonight?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I was. I think everybody is starting to get it. It's taken a little while. Everybody has been good at giving people room. There's a few crazies out there, but that's the name of the game.
But, yeah, I was surprised. Even the first crash I think was just kind of a small little thing that Charlie and Wade kind of got into it, which luckily it was a small crash. Obviously, the second race going from green to checkered, I can't say I was expecting that going into the race.

Q. With the break between the two races, did you notice any physical differences having that downtime that you might not have known in one full regular race distance?
SCOTT DIXON: Kind of cool. Brings you back to the days when you would race go-karts and you'd have possibly five races in the one day or four. It's kind of fun to know you had a good first race. Even if you had a bad one, at least you had a chance to go back out and put on the show for the fans, just go out there and try to prove a point.
I think it's a good concept. I think it could be tweaked a little. It's a little gimmicky for a championship points race, which I think that's what concerns a lot of people. It would be disappointing if the second race tonight determines maybe the difference in the championship points at the end, which would be frustrating.
But, you know, we got what we got. I think everybody put on a fantastic show. There was a lot of passing. Everybody kept it the right way out.

Q. Starting 18th, do you pretty much go into it hoping for a caution so you can make the double-file restarts to make up positions?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, there's a few different ways to look at that. I think for us, because our car was fairly good in traffic and over a longer distance, you almost want it to go green. Some of the other cars were struggling once they got to about lap 35 keeping it flat.
I think for us, it could have been either way, to be honest. I think we could have gained a few more spots maybe earlier on if there was a caution to jump back up there. Ultimately you find yourself racing the same people once you get to the end of the race anyway.

Q. If you're going to use this format of the blind draw, they don't call it an All-Star Race, they want a 30-driver field, why don't they call it a Million Dollar Shootout?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, it wasn't a basic advantage, obviously starting 15 spots ahead of me, 25 ahead of Dario, when you're racing for only points. Are you going to put a million bucks up?
If you're racing for a million bucks, that's totally different. That's a gimmick which maybe goes with the gimmick of what the second race is. But to race for championship points, good thing it was maybe only half points. But, still, Dario, I don't know what he lost to Will in the last race, must have been a good 10 points. It definitely adds up.

Q. Dario was upset about having won the race, then invert the start, but he pretty much did. The obvious advantage was Will starting up front, you starting from the back. Is it that exciting for the fans or would it be better to invert the start for the second race?
SCOTT DIXON: It would be a lot fairer. I don't know if you invert it off qualifying or if you invert it from the first race. Probably from the first race. But from a competitive standpoint, that's fair. When you're fighting for a championship, and the guy that you're fighting with starts all the way at the front, you're at the back, it's not very fair.
But we got what we got. That's kind of the way it goes. Obviously I think the fairest way would be to invert.

Q. On a brighter note, you're up to third in points, which you might not have expected a few weeks ago.
SCOTT DIXON: You said that right. Obviously it's taken us a little while to get back up there. We seemed to start the season the same way in the last few years.
Obviously I think we had an 80-point deficit at some point. We've gained a little bit on Will, a good 25 or 30 points on Dario. We're starting to move back up there. Those guys are consistent. They have great nights every night. They're with great teams. We're going to try to do our best and make up that big deficit.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, congratulations on two great finishes this evening and we'll see you in Milwaukee next weekend.
SCOTT DIXON: Thanks very much.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the race winner, Will Power.
Will, your first oval win. Talk about it.
WILL POWER: Yeah, obviously the first race was really good. We had a good car. Just I think in the pits there, might have been a little bit slow and lost a little bit of time to Dario, and Scott got me at the end.
The second race, obviously the draw definitely helps. We got out in front. But we had a really quick car. When Dixon caught me, I think I was able to pull a gap through the traffic there. Very good stop, very good in-and-out lap. Very solid day. Gained points overall. That was the objective. It was great to get my first oval win. Really happy.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Will.

Q. I know you've come close to winning oval races before, but what went through your mind when all of a sudden you had to take evasive action when Graham Rahal was on the backstretch?
WILL POWER: I wasn't sure whether he was coming out of the pits or he was actually pitting or what he was doing. I actually probably thought he was coming out of the pits, so I went to the inside, because I was pitting. There was a massive closing speed there. I'm glad he stayed straight.
That could have been pretty big had he gone the wrong way.

Q. We're heading into another stretch of consecutive ovals. How much confidence do you have now going into these next two?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, I had confidence even before we started. I mean, the last four races last year, we shouldn't have lost that many points. We were knocking on the door all the time there for a race win.
Now we just put it all together, no mistakes. I really think that we'll be running up front on all the ovals.

Q. Two races, and the second race went on a draw, which gave you a huge advantage. There's been some commentary that other drivers think it's a good idea, but they should invert the starts. Do you agree with that?
WILL POWER: Yes, I do. Think that was definitely unfair for Dario and Scott. Really for anyone who is a championship contender, for him to have to start in 28th and me start in 3rd is just not fair. It's simple as that. Otherwise it would have been a pretty fierce battle the whole race.
Maybe they should start where you finish the first race or something like that. I don't know. But, yes, that to me is not fair.

Q. Do you like this format, the idea of it, split the race in half?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was fine. And the draw thing was definitely a fun thing for the crowd. Obviously not if you happened to get a bad draw. It just makes it that much tougher. For Dixon to come up from 18th to 2nd was a very good drive.
Yeah, I mean, you said it.

Q. What did you think of the ability of Dixon, Andretti, Dario, all coming from 20th or lower and make it into the top 10? Would you have predicted that?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I would have I guess over those two stints. I mean, they're fast. Considering how quick, in the first race, we were running all together, how quickly we got through all that traffic, I guess it didn't surprise me.
Yeah, you know, but if they started where they finished, it would have been a very fierce battle all the way through. Yeah, you know, it's what it was. Everyone knew that coming in. I knew there would be a few drivers that would pick a bad draw. I thought I might be one of them (laughter).

Q. I know you have a lot of racing left. A lot of people seem to think by not winning on an oval last year it cost you the championship. If you're able to secure one this year, how important will this night be?
WILL POWER: Yeah, that is where we lost all our points. We lost all our points on the ovals. It was just an experience thing. The last four races I was fast. It was just never put together. We never put the whole weekend together. We just needed one of those ovals to go right to gain enough points. It's hard to say, but to win the championship, but we didn't. Dario did a better job. He won it.
THE MODERATOR: We've also been joined by Dario Franchitti.
Dario, talk about making up those 21 positions in a caution-free event.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The first thing is we should never have been in that position to start with. To have a championship in the IndyCar Series, drawing the grid out of a hat is a joke. Through no fault of our own, we started 25 places behind Will. Will, he took advantage of it tonight and did a great job.
Through no fault of myself or the Target team, we had a massive handicap. Great pit stops. I drove as hard as I could all night. We made up 21 places and then, through no fault of our own, lost a load of championship points.
There's enough variables out there. We don't need to be throwing dice to be deciding grid positions. That made me mad. I'm sitting there, okay, I won the first race, but at the same point my emotion right now has been pissed off about the hand we were dealt tonight.

Q. Do you think the series will be receptive to looking at this for next year or the desire for the fans will win out?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Will and I were talking about it. We had similar feelings before the race. If they inverted it, I would have started two places worse off. I would have been fine with that, because we all would have been in the same boat. Actually, the fans would have gotten a better show. Will, myself, Dixie, all those guys trying to get out to the front takes out the complete element of chance, which we don't need.
WILL POWER: I agree totally. I thought coming into this race, you know, you don't control your own destiny basically. It's just a draw. It was going to be very unfair for someone. It happened to be Dario.
Yeah, in a tightly fought championship, you just can't have that. If it comes down to five points at the end of the year, Dario will look back at this race and say, If I started where I should have, I would have had those five points.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: At the end of the day, it's a sport. It's entertainment, too. They have to balance the sport and entertainment aspect. Trust me, it would have been entertaining if we all started at the back. It's really not a good situation.

Q. With the exception of the draw, would you like to see more races done like this, split in half, invert the second race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I wouldn't. Qualifying for me is based on skill as much as the race is based on skill, from the team, the driver, all those things. I think one is maybe okay.
I'll tell you what the best thing would be. If we did this as kind of a standalone without championship implications, then it would be 'have at it'. If that's what you want to do, have at it, you can invert, draw out of a hat, do whatever the hell you want, put up a bunch of prize money. But this race tonight was a championship round. It's a shame. Again, it's a shame. To win here at Texas for the first time in front of a great crowd, I should be celebrating about that right now. On the one hand, that was good, but on the other hand, yeah...
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think it would have been a very good race if it was just the old format as well. Turned out to be a great battle. Traffic you had to get through. The lead was changing. I would not minded if it went back to the way it was.
This place is crazy enough that you don't really have to throw in two races to make it good racing.

Q. Were you surprised there was only one yellow on the night?
WILL POWER: I was expecting to see at least two people in the (indiscernible) fence.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm sure somebody lost a lot of money on that one. We didn't have one in the second race, which didn't help us coming from the back. But it went quickly, that second race, no yellow.
I think some of it's luck, for sure, because of some of the driving going on out there. A lot of the drivers did a good job of taking it to the limit but not beyond. There was a lot of good avoiding going on out there, too. I think all the drivers were put in a difficult position tonight. I think they all did a pretty good job.

Q. Were you counting on a yellow to help you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I was going as quickly as I could. I just had to pick 'em off when I could. When the guys are two wide in front of you going five miles an hour slower than I could go, Will was marching off in the distance, there was nothing I could about it. A yellow would have been good. But I wasn't counting on anything. I was just trying to make up any place I could whenever I could.

Q. Will, you seemed to celebrate almost as much when you drew the third spot.
WILL POWER: I thought there's only 18 and 28 left. The Ganassi boys are screwed. Yup, I thought that was great (laughter). I said, Which one is it going to be? I don't want to pick 28. That was lucky. It was lucky.

Q. Is that almost a race-winning pass right there on the stage?
WILL POWER: You could say that, yeah, to pick the right spot, of course. A short race. Like Dario said, he picked people off when he could and he ended up 7th. Yeah, it's the championship, a sport, shouldn't come down to a draw.

Q. Would more 'pushes to pass' have made a difference?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You can't use the 'push to pass' when there's guys side-by-side in front of you. No. I still had two or three 'pushes to pass' left coming out of the last pit stop there. I just couldn't use them. The track's blocked in front of you. There's nowhere to go. So no.
Dixon had a good idea. He reckoned you should give points for each pass you make.
WILL POWER: Yeah, not a bad idea.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Not bad for a Kiwi, huh?
WILL POWER: That would have been good for you.

Q. I know you're frustrated about the second race, Dario. If this were 150 laps, what would the difference have been?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I have no idea. If there hadn't been a yellow, no, we wouldn't have done another stop. The guys were so far ahead at that point, it wouldn't have made any difference.
When we were running around earlier, it was like the difference between 212.4, 212.6. You start inching away. You're not going to make up seconds unless there's some big catastrophe in traffic. I think I was 18 seconds behind, that's because of some laps sitting behind guys doing 206 miles an hour. That's the hand we were dealt, unfortunately.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, Will, congratulations on two great races. Thank you very much.

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