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June 19, 2011
WEST ALLIS, WISCONSIN
THE MODERATOR: We are joined today by Oriol Servia of Newman Haas Racing. This is Oriol's season-best finish of third place. His previous best 2011 finish was fifth at Barber in Sao Paulo. He previously finished second at Milwaukee in 2003.
Today's finish moves you into third in points. So you seemed very solid running the bottom of the track. If you can talk about today's race and the momentum behind the No. 2 team right now in the championship points.
ORIOL SERVIA: Thank you, Tracy. Wow. Yeah, actually you mentioned a key point, probably around lap 20, I figured out that running low was better for my car, and that's when I started to pull away from the guys behind me and catching the guys in front of me.
And it's interesting because on our own, during testing and qualifying, I'm sure you saw that the fast lap was on the high line. But either because it rained or just my car was working better I was running low the whole race and I think it was honestly apart from good restarts, running low, was the key to being up front now.
ORIOL SERVIA: I had many. It's just the nature of double-file restarts. It's a start on high energy, because at the start you always knee you have the full race ahead, so though you take risks, it's kind of stupid to crash at the start, right? But after you have a restart after the last pit stop, you know that you can win a lot by risking, and everybody knows that.
The energy at the track is a lot higher and everybody is trying their best, and just when you are behind a few rows of cars, you just have no downforce, and the car is light around; and even if people want to stay on their lane, they just move to the other lane because the car is light.
So it just becomes an accordion effect, and it is tough, but it is a lot of fun. So I had a couple of moments with Graham, a couple of moments with Power in the last restart, and before that, you know, there's a long list, starting with Viso at the very beginning of the race when we were coming into the pits, I think he was worried about me instead of worrying about the guys in front and started to play games, and the guys in front were far away, and I can't pleased with that you about we passed him on that pit stop.
Q. Talk about what this run means.
ORIOL SERVIA: I'm glad you bring it up. It's amazing, James finished sixth. He started 15th. When I had my pit stop and I went back to 12th, he was already up to 8 and he finished sixth, I think it great. It just shows that the teams always perform well here, and we must be the most solid team out there with third and sixth I would think today. So that says a lot about the team and the work done.
THE MODERATOR: Now we have also been joined by Graham Rahal of the Racing Central Chip Ganassi Racing. This is his third podium finish of the season. Can you talk about making up ten spots to finish second today?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah it was a great day for the Service Central team. I think everybody was a little down after qualifying 12th. I think we thought our qualifying pace would be a little bit better than that, but the guys kept their heads up and we moved forward, and passed a lot of cars there.
I thought passing was going to be pretty tricky and rare today, but to be honest, it was a lot of good opportunities, and the low line started to come in there, and certainly my car was quick down there, so I was able to get by a lot of guys.
You know, at the end of the day, my guys did a great job in the pits, kind of maintaining position, and we just moved forward. If we lost any spots, we got them back and I thought the double-file restarts were great. I gained at least one position, maybe two, per restart, and that was hugely beneficial to me.
And certainly, at the end there, I thought I was going to have a chance at Dario, but he just had a little too much. I just couldn't quite keep up. But at the end of the day, it feels fantastic to have our third podium, keep knocking on the door and eventually we are going to win one; eventually, we'll see.
Q. Do you feel like the last month, month and a half, you're racing as well as you ever have?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah, I think -- I hope that we would compete well here. But Texas is a place that I never really cared for that much. It always made me extremely nervous to race there, and we raced there. We competed. We were right up front and should have had two Top-10 finishes there; if the fuel pump had not broken. Before that, you look at Brazil, you look at Indy, both of those were on the podium. I think our team is starting to gel, hopefully get a little momentum behind us, hopefully going to get back on to a road course and carry this back on to Iowa.
I feel like I'm driving as well as I ever have, and you know, right now we need to. We are in a heavy points chase here. And we need to make up some points and obviously today was a really good day for. That now we have to set our sights on Mr. Servia here and see what we can do.
Q. What's going to put you over the top?
GRAHAM RAHAL: To be honest, qualifying up front. For some reason, qualifying is our weak link. You know, when I was at Newman/Haas in 2009, qualifying was our strength, and here it's been a role reversal. I mean we have raced up front pretty well everywhere, but to have to pass at Indy, you know, 27 cars, or to have to pass even just ten here, it's challenging.
And to put ourselves in that position week-in and week-out is tough. Now, if we could start up front, we could run up front, do their strategy and play their game, then I think we can compete with them. But we've got to work on our qualifying and we've got to start right with them.
Q. You mentioned Texas, you did a great job at Texas, but what are your thoughts about two races?
GRAHAM RAHAL: I like the doubleheader. Only thing is I think the races need to be longer because I don't think it ever had a chance to play out. A too-lap race is still going to go buy in an hour and ten minutes or maybe less.
I think that would be good. Because the way they had it, it was one real stop and splash, and if you had some -- really, we didn't have any yellow, but you never had a chance to kind of play out. Once the leaders took off, they were gone. And I think I would have liked to have seen, you know, maybe the races being a little bit longer.
But the double-header doesn't bother me and I thought the format was fine. And you know, it was -- for me it was good racing at Texas because it wasn't three-wide for, you know, 200 and however many laps we used to do. It was kind of nice to be more under train and race with a couple of guys at a time and be able to move forward.
Q. Did you get shuffled back there on one of your pit stops?
ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, we wanted to make it exciting today. (Laughter) we dropped from I think fourth to 12th, and I was like, man. Because I really thought I had the podium there.
The car felt great up front but whenever you go to the back, you know, you're going to be on dirty air and you can get in trouble. But just at the moment, t z told me, all right, you are halfway through the race.
And I thought, okay, we started ten, and you know, 120 laps, we are able to go up to third, we can do it again.
I adjusted -- the line in front of me, I had Will Power and Scott Dixon which usually are not the easiest guys to pass, but at the restart I was able to pass them both, and then I thought, okay, we can do this. And it's just -- every restart, the last restart I think I passed a lot of cars and it was just -- the car was obviously making it easier for me.
Q. As a Newman/Haas alumni, how do you feel about the resurgence of that team?
GRAHAM RAHAL: It's great. I spent many years there, and it's a fantastic team. Truthfully, some of the best guys around here are on that team. Still keep in touch with some of them. To see them do well, particularly, obviously, Oriol and I were teammates at the end of 2009 for a few races, so it's great to see him doing so well, and obviously he deserves to be here full-time, and as does the team.
And so, you know, it's nice to see them running up front where they belong and where they have always been -- just behind me, that's where I like it, though. (Laughter)?
Q. How realistic is it for you --
ORIOL SERVIA: I think to catch those two guys, we need to start winning races. It's not about being consistent, being in the Top-5 and being on the podium. Those guys are on the top teams and they win every weekend. The only way to catch them even if they have bad weekend; it's to win races.
I think on my end, we are really getting close to that point, but we haven't yet, win one. So until we do that, we cannot really think seriously about challenging for the championship I think.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I think Oriol is spot on. You look at us, we had some of the best points-paying days you can v and yet we still lost points to one of them. You've got to win. They have got to have bad days.
But I think as a team on the Service Central side, our goal is to compete for the Top-5 in points anyway at the end of the year. That's where our sights are set right now and to think we are going to win a championship in our first year is not realistic, especially against teams of the quality of the Target Chip Ganassi guys and Penske and so on. We just have to fight to be the best now. They have pulled off quite a lead so just got to keep working to beat everybody else?
Q. Do any of the drivers reach out to you --
GRAHAM RAHAL: I've never had anybody ask me, you know, any tips to be honest.
So you know, I mean, obviously if they did, I would be more than happy to help, because I was always fortunate that, you know, especially a place like, this I could always lean on Dad, who is in the back of the room there, and get a lot of advice. And to be honest, I was lucky in my early days that I had Bourdais and Justin Wilson and this guy right here as teammates to learn from and really pick up on what they were doing.
And obviously continuing on now with Scott and Dario. So I still -- I've been doing this, this is my fourth year in IndyCar and I still -- there's still a lot to learn. So I would more than welcome them to come up and ask, but I've certainly never heard a thing.
ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, I think it was surprising in a way, at a place like Indy, we were able to surprise those guys. I expect, you know, less dominance of those teams in places like here, on a street or road track where you have everything perfect, a perfect weekend, you can maybe get them versus.
I was really, really surprised that we kicked them out of the front know on our case, especially somebody like Roger Penske who cares so much about the 500, as we all know. So it just gives us hope that if we keep doing our job, we are going to be there.
But I think what shows is that if true the winter, we can get the right budget and start working on the new car, as soon as they do, and with the same money, we can definitely be up there with them. We have the right brains in our teams that they can figure out things as much as they do, and you know, it's feasible.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I guess we are part of one of the big ones.
I mean, I think, you know, the thing for us to keep in mind on our side of it is our hopes and our expectations are always to go and compete with the Target team. I mean, obviously Penske, but the Target team which is directly related to us. But at the same time, if you look at it realistically, we took the liberty of cars in January and we built our teams from it there, and so we have got to manage our expectations.
And certainly, to run right up front with them, feels great. But, you know, when you're a part of a team like that, you realize why they win so often. It's so impressive, and you know, we are learning as much as we can week-in and week-out, and we are getting better. We are getting stronger. And it's just a matter of time until we can really, you know, compete with them.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I love it here. I love this track. It's so challenging. You look at a race like today, it can bite you, so easily. So you're on edge, all the time, to go fast. You're pushing so hard, and that's what I love about it. It's really in the driver's hands and I think that's a lot of fun.
ORIOL SERVIA: I kind of took a hit off all tracks. So for me, it's just great to go back to Milwaukee. I think Milwaukee is part of IndyCar history and should be part of IndyCar future. It's a great track, very challenge. We love -- I think you ask any driver out there, we all love one-mile ovals, low-banked, like Indy, and it's a great city. So I really hope it's there to stay for the long run.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined now by Bobby Rahal, and he is going to tell us about how special it is to win today, with it being Father's Day.
BOBBY RAHAL: Well I'm real pleased for Graham. I was up in the grandstands like the regular folks watching the race, and it was a great race, tough race. This race has always been tough, and as he said, I told him before he ever came here, I said you're going to love Milwaukee, this was my favorite oval, maybe this and Pocono, when I drove IndyCars. Because you really had to drive it and I think it's a little smoother now than it used to be and you really had to drive the car and it was a driver's track, a driver's oval. The car is so important, and it is here, too, but the driver really makes a big difference here.
It was a hell of a race and I'm just really proud of him. I think he's driving with great maturity this year, and I think we saw that at Indy. I think we saw it in Brazil. We saw it even last weekend in Texas even though the second race didn't go well for them, a great result, and that's three podiums in the last four races. So that's what you have to do if you want to finish in the Top-5 of this championship for sure.
BOBBY RAHAL: What was it, two years ago, 2009, I thought they had a tremendous crowd here. I'm not quite sure why the crowd was not as big this time as then.
I think there's a lot of enthusiasm for this track. There's such great tradition here. It's close to Chicago. You've got Milwaukee. It's not far from Minneapolis. There's no reason why it shouldn't fill the place. I don't know what happened in the promotion of the race prior to it, so that might have something to do with it.
But you know, maybe being away from a year, maybe that's not such a good thing. It's like starting from scratch again. But I don't think there's anybody that drives here that comes here to race that doesn't like coming here. And I think this racetrack has always produced great races. And we saw one today. I don't know of there ever being a bad race, in all of the years I was here, they were always good races.
You know, hopefully they will be back, will be back, because we are hoping to have a full-time program next year. And I think Milwaukee is important to the series for sure.
Q. Can you talk about a favorite memory of yours in your career here at Milwaukee?
BOBBY RAHAL: I finished second here way too many times I'm not sure that was a favorite memory. Somebody said, 'Oh, Graham is carrying on the Rahal tradition of finishing second.'
I sure open he breaks that tradition in a hurry. I never did win an IndyCar race there, but I really love Laguna Seca.
Seriously, you know, '92, we won three of the four mile-tracks when I won my lost championship and we were on pole here, even though my guys did a Dario and they ran me out of gas on the last lap of qualifying. Luckily my first lap was fast enough.
But he got a little unlucky on yellow and I finished second to Michael and really pissed me off because we should have won that race. We should have won all the mile-tracks. I love the mile-tracks in IndyCars, I think are they are the best, without question, because you've really got to drive it.
I have a lot of great memories here, even the seconds were are good memories but I always loved racing here. Of course being associated with Miller Brewing Company for all those years was like a home race for us. I was up in the grandstands watching the race today and people buying me beer. You know, good cheesers. I love the cheeseheads. They are real people and real racers. We had a real good time.
Q. Did you win --
BOBBY RAHAL: I won as a car owner -- I won two races here, with Kenny Brack and then with Jourdain in 2003 on a very cold night race. So I guess I won here so to speak.
Q. You can buy me a beer.
BOBBY RAHAL: I'll buy you a beer.
THE MODERATOR: Now we are joined by the winner of the Milwaukee 225 race, Dario Franchitti. This is his 29th IndyCar victory, he previously won at Milwaukee in 2004. You won the pole and led the most laps today and won the race to maximize on points. Can you take us through the win and how important it was for you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I wish it was that simple. The first -- up to the first pit stop, the car was really good, and with the track conditions, I was able to pull away a good margin. Just working on trying to keep the balance of the car because not only was it understeering at some points, the rear was sliding around, too, so it was difficult trying to pinpoint one area of the car to fix.
After the first area of the pit stop we could see Tony was looking a little strong, and sure enough him and I had a pretty good battle. He caught me in traffic, made a good move, passed me and I got him back on the restart. That was fun to race with TK. Typical Tony, very aggressive but in the best possible sense, not giving an inch but not doing anything crazy or obstructive; unlike his Brazilian brother in the Penske car. But that was a lot of fun.
You know the track was changing as it went on. And Chris and the boys were trying to keep up with it, and we did a good job of that I think. But trying to think what happened next. I was just in there hanging on. You know, Tony obviously got in the situation, I was better down on one and two than Tony, or Oriol for that matter and they were better in three and four, but Tony, it looked like he got oversteer in traffic on the exit, and that shows how close to the limit we are with these things. On the in car, it looks like we are not doing much, but trust me, we are not doing much because any time you do that (indicating very, very, slight turn of steering wheel), the reaction is that (indicating exaggerated reaction of car movement). You're actually just driving the thing on a knife edge.
So we had that one restart will Helio blocked the inside and then blocked the outside. No wonder he got a flat tire, some of the parts of the track he was using (clearing throat).
And then the last restart with Graham there, you know I was able to get going, and take off. I felt that the two strongest cars were probably Helio and I think certainly Tony was maybe strong. So those were the guy I felt I was going to have to battle. In clean air I think I was a little bit quicker. In traffic they might have been a little better. I don't know.
Anyway, just a great job by the Target team again, in the pits, and with the strategy, and you know, just typical Milwaukee though, working on traffic all day. Not allow anybody to get a run on you, which I did most of the time but occasionally screwed it up and Tony took advantage on one of those. Great to be racing back here at Milwaukee Mile.
Q. Tell us how special it was to have your dad in victory lane.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: A lot of you know, my dad comes to most of the races. But it's always special when I win and I can see my dad's face, but especially today on Father's Day. I don't think I'm alone here, and most of the drivers on that grid, without the sacrifices of their parents wouldn't be here. So it's pretty special.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I look at every race and for me it doesn't matter what happened last year or whenever. You've got to go out and you've got to do your job from the start of the week; even before the weekend you have to show up with the car close. As a driver you have to figure out what you've got to do each weekends to give yourself a chance.
So even though we have had success here before, there's absolutely no guarantee. I've been here before, since I won, in what was it, 2004, and I've had a hard time. So never any track, I never take it for granted that we are going to do well.
Each weekend, you've got a fight on your hands.
Q. After Texas, how disappointed were you coming out of that race and coming into this one?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, I was disappointed with the draw. By that I mean I was disappointed by the fact that I think all of the drivers agreed, we should have been in version (ph). But anyway, that's in the past. I was very pleased with the race. We drove both in the first race and coming from 28th to 7th in the second race. That was a pretty good night in a short race with one pit stop on a splash, and no yellows, it was a good night for myself and Team Target.
It won't happen again, having talked to Randy, and Randy's apologized for the idea and everything it. Won't happen again. It's happened. We have got to make -- it's in the past. There's nothing we can do about it and we'll just keep on going and get our hands down and our arses up and try to win some more races.
Q. Sitting thirds, do you know it's just typical Milwaukee? Are you waiting for something silly to happen in front of you? How are you looking at that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was trying to get on Kanaan's gear box. I was trying to make it happen. I was still so spitting mad from what Helio did on that restart, I was doing all I could to get up to him and past Tony as well. That was all I was trying to do there.
You can't give anything, you know what I mean. You can't ever just sit back and cruise. It's many a year since you're able to do that I think. You've just got to be flat-out all the time. And flat-out for the whole stint and manage the situation for the whole stint. The tires were going off a little bit with the track more marbles as the stint goes on -- it changes all the time and you have to keep on top of that.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Tony's one was really unfortunate and I was enjoying racing Tony. Helio's I think was self-inflicted. As I said, for somebody -- to race with Tony, as I said, it's such a pleasure. He's such a difficult guy to race with but he's so tenacious. But we just -- I think we have a respect for each other and we race each other bloody hard but there's always that respect there, too, and I love racing the guy.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I hope so. I hope so.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I look forward to every race. I'm not going to change the way I do things. Honestly, what happened last year is no guarantee.
Last year we were leading the race and blew out a gear box. We were in good shape last year, too. But, it's a night race. We are just -- we have got to go there and do the job, and if we do the job, we'll be in a good situation, and if we don't, we move on.
Q. Do you feel you're getting another kind of a -- that you're going to have to deal with on a regular basis, your satellite teammate, Graham Rahal?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think Graham did a great job today, absolutely. Ultimately he didn't have the pace of Tony, Helio and myself, but he drove a smart race I think. It's not the first time I've seen him do that here. Last time we were here, I think it he finished fourth and just drove a smart race, too.
Yeah, Tony has definitely showed his colors, too, as a competitor week-in and week-out and I told you that at the start of the season, really impressive.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know if I was smiling. I was running flat through one and two and I was hoping it was going to stick. I may be had the small smile on the back straight when I saw that it worked. I was too busy hanging on to one and two to smile.
Q. Is that -- those laps, are they as much fun as they appear on the outside?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Oh, it's fun when the car is working well and it's a nightmare when the car is not, you know what I mean. You can do certain things and you can change your driving style here. You don't have a lot of fun when you're doing it but when you get out, you think, wow that was amazing, whether you win or second or third, you generally come out of this think thinking, that was something special.
Q. You passed John Rutherford now on the win list, Rick Mears -- as a history guy, how does it feel to be associated with guys like that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was sitting there this morning just before the driver's meeting and Rick walked up and we were talking about some stuff, just roundabout the races and some ideas he had. And I thought, man, that's Rick Mears. That is the Rick Mears.
I thought, you know, if I do win another race, then I would be tieing that with Rick. And it just seems very strange to be honest. When I think about it, I'm delighted, I really am. I'm humbled by it.
When I tied with J.R., and then last week passed J.R. -- I saw J.R. in the bus lot about one o'clock in the morning, and he just -- he was driving passed. He stopped and just shook my hand and said well done. That was cool. So it's a weird thing for me to be -- to have those kind of numbers and to be rounds about guys like J.R. and Rick. It doesn't really compute, if you know what I mean.
Q. In your opinion, is this Milwaukee, is this where IndyCar needs to be?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What I think it was missing last year was true short ovals. To win this championship, you have got to be good on road courses, street courses, short ovals, Super Speedways, all of those things and all different types of track.
So the fact that we were missing Milwaukee last year was tough. We all love coming here. The fact this we are going to Loudon, too, is a bonus for us. And we -- every driver I've spoken to, really happy to be back here racing at the mile. Next stop I would love to see us go back to, Road America, too.
Oh, I've got a bit of a tidbit for you. The engine today was the motor from Indy and the two Texas races. So that's pretty good. I asked them what motor is that. I should have asked them before I got out. I asked them when I got out of the car otherwise I would have done some steamy burnouts, because I won't be using that again. But it was 1,400 and something miles that has done, and just never missed a beat. It's pretty cool.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Dario.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports