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July 10, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with Scott here. What are your initial thoughts for the members of the press here in Toronto?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, it was definitely a tough day. For us it was pretty smooth for the first sort of 20 or 25 laps, kind of just got into fuel conservation mode behind Will, and it looked like he was having to drive a little more aggressive to us, and his tires were burning off a little quicker.
I think Dario made a good call obviously once we got James Jakes coming out of the pits in front of us and slowed our pace down probably about eight tenths of a second a lap. They dove in the pits, and I actually got on the radio and I said, I guarantee you there will be a yellow in the next few laps, and of course there was, so that catapulted the 10 car obviously to the lead and we dropped back to 15th or something.
So from that point on it was just a race to try and stay in the race. I thought to try and stay clean was extremely tough. The cars were really hard to drive today, especially on the first couple laps of the restarts. Everybody was fighting everywhere, and then we kind of just got onto a roll there where it was restart after restart after restart, especially towards the end. Yellows breed yellows, and I think that was definitely the case today.
We had a good car. I think we had a car to win. Track position was definitely key. When it came down to the end it was not so bad to pass some of the guys back in the pack, but once you get to the front and obviously try and pass the ones that are quick, that's definitely more difficult.
Rahal was being a pain in the ass with about ten laps to go, as well, so I think he got his just deserts there at the end. Obviously not a bad day for Team Target, obviously, a one-two.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, finished third, your best finish of the season. What are your thoughts on today's performance?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It was just a crazy race. I don't know when I sustained wing damage there. All of a sudden the wing was down, and I was running fourth, third, something like that, and I knew we were going to have to pit for it at some point. The scary part about driving around like that is you know at some point at 170 miles an hour that the wing is going to fold under, get under the front tires, and that's when things become bad. It just dropped down all at once and I had to come into the pits.
There was times of the day we thought we were out of it, times of the day we thought we could win it, and that's Toronto. It's just a crazy race. Like Scott was saying, on the restarts it was so difficult. You could warm your tires to no end, and it didn't matter; you were sliding around almost losing the car at every corner. It was some crazy racing out there, that's for sure.
Q. Do you think after today what happened with Will now has really been a big boost for you to now put some pressure on him?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, definitely helps. I don't even know, it was probably about 30 points or something now away from him or even in the 20s even. That's a good gain obviously on a track where he should do well and maybe even make the gap a little larger. He definitely took a big hit today.
As Ryan said, Toronto is just so frustrating. You can go to the front, to the back. You never really know where you're at here, and it can turn around real quickly. Yeah, it's a big blow to them today. Obviously the gap now for Dario is like 50 points in the lead. They've got a lot to get back now. Dario is Mr. Consistent, man. Even if he's having a bad day he seems to pull something out and they get on the podium and get good points.
Q. At what point do you start to try to pressure Dario into making a mistake?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, we have always raced clean together. It's like at the end I think I could have probably -- on the first lap of the restart I could have probably slid it in there on turn 3, but I don't know, Chip and a lot of Target folks were here today, and that probably wouldn't have been the smartest thing to do, so kept it clean, and obviously we're in the championship battle now.
He hasn't had any bad luck, so maybe some will come. I'm not going to wish it upon him, but that's definitely what we would need to try and make a good run at the championship.
Q. What can or should be done about the track here?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, the double file restarts were just nuts. It was like a free-for-all. You had that first tight turn 1 that's really just slick as glass on a restart, so everybody is sliding through there trying not to hit the wall. Then you get through turn 2 and then your rear end steps out. Then you have this long six-gear straight where everybody gets a draft on each other, then you've got to shut it down to first gear. So it's prime for just no-holds-barred racing, just absolute kind of messy racing like we had today, which was -- you can go for a pass, and at Toronto, seven times out of ten there will be contact on a restart, and that's what we saw. I was lucky to keep my -- keep the wheels on it and everything on the restarts, and the Target guys were just really quick, and once they got out front they were gone.
That's the thing about Toronto. It's bumpy, it's messy. It makes for some good racing. Unfortunately we were under yellow a little too long today. But it makes for some good racing. It was hard work in the car, really hard work. I was just trying not to crash sometimes.
But that's Toronto, right? Every track has to have its character, and this place has character.
Q. Is it more fun or frustrating?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Depends. Depends if you're running up front and you've got a great car and you're laughing in your mirrors, or are you trying to get through the field and dealing with all that. It can be four different races in one. All of a sudden you're having fun, next thing you want to do is just get out of here.
But the Canadian fans are awesome. I love coming to Toronto. I think everybody does. It's just the character of the place. It's unique.
Q. We've talked about how the track is challenging. A lot of drivers in IndyCars enjoy Toronto. Do you find with all the stops and starts that it's misleading?
SCOTT DIXON: Well, I think from a fan's point of view it's better obviously with the yellows, the cautions. They obviously breed cautions. It makes the racing -- it's packed up a lot more. That's exciting. For the drivers it gets a bit frustrating; kind of all you want to do is get into a rhythm and try and let the race evolve that way.
But you know, as far -- as Ryan said, it's good at one minute, it's bad at another. I think it's exciting. At no point it's not exciting at this place. It's like a NASCAR Bristol race. It's tough to do obviously with an IndyCar, make contact, but we sure do a good job of it when we're here.
Q. Scott, Will said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that he always races Dario clean and Dario races him dirty. You're around him enough. Can you respond either way?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, I think they race each other the same. Today was an unfortunate situation. Once you get onto that concrete, the front takes off straightaway and then you kind of wait a little bit for the rear to come around. Will probably had a little more grip on the outside there and then was able to turn back, and they just kind of made contact.
I was still coming around the corner when I saw Will was already hit, so I don't know much about what happened there. But Dario is not known to be a dirty guy. If you leave an opening he's definitely going to try and take it, but the last thing on his mind is to make contact and take somebody out. I think that was just an unfortunate part of the race today when those two got into it. It could have been someone else in that same situation, but I wouldn't say either of them raced the other a different way.
Q. Do you have plans to speak to Graham?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I'll speak to Graham, yes.
Q. Your message?
SCOTT DIXON: Well, especially -- well, we're meant to be teammates, and racing the way he was is -- I was alongside him going down the back straight, and then the kink he just comes right across. If I didn't brake it would have been a massive crash. Luckily enough I sort of got another run back into the braking zone, but even that was touch and go with him squeezing. I know it's eight laps to go, but he didn't have the pace of any of us up front, and you get into situations like that where you're going to piss somebody off, it's just going to end in tears because somebody will end up crashing into you.
Q. Are you teammates or not?
SCOTT DIXON: I'm teammates with Dario, and I believe that's the way. You know, we're all a big team, but as far as -- I guess you could say teammates. But as far as what we do, we debrief with myself and Dario, and that's -- as far as the team goes, yeah, they try to operate and do development and some things like that a little bit more. I'm sure next year they're going to try and merge the two a little more.
Q. Speaking of Graham, describe your end of it.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, I saw it happen with him and Scott. I had a similar incident earlier on a restart. I was on the inside, had a great run on him, and if I hadn't have lifted, he was coming across in turn 2 and we would have had a big wreck there, and I was alongside of him. It doesn't have anything to do with the incident later, though. The incident toward the end of the race, when Scott got by him, Graham got way out into the marbles there, and then he started coming across, and there was more than enough room for two cars, and I got up in there, I already had my momentum, I was coming to the corner. I wasn't even trying to go by him, I was just trying to race him up to 3-4, and he just came straight across.
He had to know -- he looked in his mirror. He knew Scott was there. He knew I was behind Scott, and they went in, got tangled together, Scott took off, and he just came straight across. I don't know if he expected for me to just lift out of it, but I had my own momentum there, and it was a huge piece of real estate for me to fill, and I went for it. He could have raced me up to the next corner, though. There was room for two cars.
Q. Graham said on pit lane he wants to talk with you. Are you willing to discuss it all with him?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, of course, absolutely.
Q. Scott, I'm sorry to point out an unpleasant statistic, but you haven't had a win all year. Are you feeling any pressure?
SCOTT DIXON: No, not really. I think we've had situations where it could have definitely gone our way. It's just been one of those seasons that's been awfully frustrating. Indy was a big blow. I think we were definitely looking for great results there, and even on some of the road courses early in the season we had good potential.
Even for Ryan, they've been qualifying well, getting up front, and some of us, even Helio, it's been rough. Obviously these two-wide restarts have been a huge problem just to get consistency and maybe put yourself in the right place at the right time. Yeah, obviously not winning a race this deep in is frustrating, but I wouldn't say getting worried or anything like that. That's just the way it rolls sometimes, and you've got to roll with the good and bad and hopefully you come out on the top at some point.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, Edmonton is next. Any thoughts leading up to the next race before you leave us here in Toronto?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, looking forward to it. Racing in Canada is fantastic. Toronto has always been a favorite of mine. I haven't raced here maybe as long as some of the others, but the dedication and the enthusiasm that the fans have here is a lot of fun. It's good to see. There was a lot of action here today. I hope they enjoyed it.
Obviously moving on to Edmonton, it's a different circuit for us, so we're going to have to learn it pretty quickly, and hopefully the racing will be good there. Yeah, I definitely enjoy it. It's a lot of fun, a lot of fun.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, same here. It's a new layout, so it looks like some of the corners are maybe just about as tight as the Long Beach hairpin, and we've got a fourth-gear straight preceding one of them, so that should be pretty interesting. Can you imagine?
So we'll see what it looks like, but yeah, I love going to Edmonton. As Scott said, the Canadian races are so much fun. There's a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of support from the fans, and any time we have that, we're happy to go out there and put on a great show. It doesn't matter where it is.
Q. Do you think Helio is going to learn the blocking rule at Edmonton this year?
SCOTT DIXON: It worked for me last year, so it was fine. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: On behalf of everyone here, thanks for having fun with us and putting up with the frustrating racing.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: No, the racing is good. It's nothing like that. It's heated racing.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, Dario. Very happy that you've won the 25th IndyCar race on the Streets of Toronto, your third here in Toronto, fourth of the season, 30th win of your career. That's what I am told. You must have many thoughts racing through your mind. What are your initial thoughts?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It was a wild one, wasn't it? That was an absolute wild one. At the start -- in chronological order, I guess, at the start I could see -- I was running third, actually running fourth at one point, and I got past coming out of a restart and was running back in third, and I could see that Scott was really just kind of playing with Will. He could make some really good gains just in one lap, and he was obviously just kind of holding but he couldn't get enough to get past, but he was biding his time.
And then we started to catch traffic. I don't know who it was, but my guys -- we caught the traffic through turn 7, and my guys just called me in the pits straightaway. We got back out, and I understand from Scott they got held up pretty badly by the traffic. Regardless of had it had been a yellow or not, I would have probably been ahead of Scott and Will because of the comment guys made on the stand. It was obviously a good call, but I got ahead of those guys and they got shuffled further back because the yellow then came out.
We got somewhat held up, and I made the wrong choice on one of the restarts there and Justin got past, and then Will got past, as well, and then obviously the bit I'm sure you're all interested in with the contact with Will.
On the restart I got a good run down the back straight, and I was on Will's gearbox, and I actually just happened to just lift a little bit to avoid running into the back of him, and he pulled out and I went down the inside, and I started to brake -- I thought, well, this is as late as I possibly can go in here, and Will went a bit deeper. I thought, fair play. The result of that was that he missed the apex of the corner and he ran wide. So I was, I think, in more control of my car, so I went down the inside there and got about third of the way alongside.
As I had done before that day and as I did a lot subsequently both on the inside and outside, we started to run round the corner side by side. Will started to crowd me there, and unfortunately at that point as he was crowding, the wall comes out, and so I couldn't go any further to the right because there was a wall there, and Will was crowding me in. So I was trying to get out of it, and I couldn't, and I'd say that is my -- that was my part in the accident. I couldn't get out of it quickly enough to avoid hill hitting him, but I think Will has equal blame in that in the fact that he came down across like I wasn't there when it was clear that we could run through that corner side by side, and a lot of people, including myself, did so all day.
So from that point, I didn't want the incident to happen. I don't like to race like that. I don't like to have contact, especially with the guy you're racing, as closely as Will and I race together.
And then what happened? Um, we managed some subsequent restarts. The hardest part of the day was actually getting lined up for the restarts because of the marbles in turns 10 and 11. I managed to make some passes on the restarts and got up to second behind Graham, and Graham couldn't go to the left through turn 10 because of the marbles, and I couldn't go through turn 11 on his outside, so we couldn't actually form up for a double-wide restart. I tried it and I almost stuck the thing in the fence.
So that was a bit interesting. We eventually managed to get it done, managed to pass Graham on the restart. That was another yellow, another yellow, and we had some pretty good close side-by-side racing, him and I, through turn 1 down the front straight and through turn 1.
And then I saw Scott coming, and I thought Scott was the car to beat all weekend, so I saw him coming, I thought, ooh, this is going to be tough. I was able to hold Scott off and actually pull away a bit and control the pace. The car really came to life those last couple laps once we got rid of the marbles from all the restarts.
Great to win here in Toronto.
Q. Will's exact quote was, "I always race him clean and he always races me dirty."
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, I think that's a slight exaggeration. We've had contact once, which was today, and as I say -- I watched on TV. I obviously was involved in it from the car. I subsequently watched it on TV, and I think it's a racing incident at best. I don't think I'm known throughout the paddock as a driver who races people dirty. You guys can check up on that. I don't think I am.
We had a situation in St. Pete this year in turn 2 when I drove around his outside in turn 1 and passed him in turn 2, and there was nothing dirty about it. It was an aggressive move, but absolutely nothing dirty. There was no contact.
So I'm not really sure what Will is talking about in that. I will say in his defense, had that happened to me today, I would have been steamed when I got out of the car, too, particularly if I'd have crashed late in the race. I don't know how he ended up on the tires there, but I would have been steamed, too. I understand his anger, but hopefully when he watches the replay on television he'll realize it was a racing incident.
Q. Sixth win in Canada, unbelievable record. Is there anything you can attribute that to?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was telling the guys on TV, I won my first pole here back in 1997. I'm not sure how old James Hinchcliffe was in 1997. Actually he was 11. I saw his thing the other day.
I don't know. From the first time I came here, I loved being in Canada, and I think some of that -- whether it was Toronto, Vancouver or going up to Montreal, I think a lot of that had to do with Greg because spending him with him and his family I really got to know the Canadian people, and as you all know he was my best friend, and I think that's some of the reason I love coming to Canada, and I do some of my best work here.
Whenever I come up here, I always think of him, and it puts a smile on my face.
Q. Opening the gap in the points, how important is that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The points thing is going to ebb and flow all throughout the year. Scott looks really strong right now. You know, he was -- look at his drive in Iowa. He's just lacked some luck this year. Indy he was in a position to win, as well. He's been in position to win a lot of races this year, and today again he was very strong, so look for Scott to come on strongly. And Will, we know the level that he operates at, too. And then there's another 10 or 15 people that can win any race right now; 20 cars within nine tenths yesterday. It's tough out there.
So that points lead can be gone like that. So I just don't even think about it. I'm thinking about going to Edmonton and doing my very best and seeing what we can do.
Q. Also on TV they indicated that you were going to get a penalty, but yet the race directors never really issued --
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know. What I heard from -- I'm trying to think who told me that, basically Al Jr. reviewed the situation on the replay and said, no, there's no penalty. That was a 50/50 deal. I won't put words in his mouth. You should definitely talk to Al, but they looked at it and said, no, there's no penalty there. It's their decision. If there had been a penalty, what can you do. But the amount of contact that was going on out there today, there was a lot of it. And as I say, I saw multiple people, and I ran multiple times side by side through that corner with people all day, both inside and outside, so there was no need for contact.
Q. Following up on that, how lucky do you have to be to win this race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think you have to have a certain amount of luck to win any race. It's one of the ingredients. It's one of the millions of things that has to go right in order to win any race. It's part of it. There's so many stages. Every single person in an organization has to do their job right, and you have to have that certain bit of luck, too.
Q. There were a lot of incidents in this race, which is always the case. Were the teams a little bit more aggressive than it has been usually? What was it about this race? Was it the Kanaan crash early that set the tone or was it just normal racing?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, I don't know why. I think maybe one reason, and I'm just spitballing, is that it's just so close right now, to get that advantage is so difficult that maybe people are taking bigger risks. I know in my position I didn't want to take any risks.
The other thing I could say, we've talked about in turn 3 in particular the line that you take down the straight before turn 3 kind of hugs inside to avoid the bumps and then pulls out at the last minute, and I think that is maybe some of it, but ultimately I think it comes down to aggression and people trying a little bit harder. I don't know why.
On the restarts I will say that there was a lot of marbles, and the guys tried to clean them, and they wouldn't come up, and that made it really slippery on the restarts. I mean, sometimes like ice. We were trying to clean the tires off, so I think sometimes people just overestimated the grip that was available.
Q. I don't mean to belabor the frustration that Will has, but does it bother you that he crossed the line? Using the word dirty is a different level of criticism than a lot of things he could have said. Does that impact how you feel about it and your relationship with him?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think, like I said, I would have been upset, too, and hopefully when he cools down he'll reassess that. But if he doesn't, I can't -- I have no control over what Will thinks or what he chooses to say. I'm going to continue to race the same way that I've raced certainly since I've been in America. I'm going to keep doing that. Yeah, I'll do that, but I'll do the stuff I can control, and if Will chooses to -- if we chat about it and he chooses to calm down a little, then okay, and if he doesn't, then there's nothing I can do about it.
Q. You keep saying that it's so close, it's so close, and yet you are sitting there with more wins than anyone else.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think I'm doing something okay, too. That's a combination, isn't it? It's a combination of doing everything right. You sometimes get those breaks. As I say, I think my guys on the timing stand called that -- they called that strategy by coming in before the -- when Will and Scott were getting held up, that was a part of it, you know, and the thing was maybe they've added in restarts and all that kind of stuff, and the job I did, and the guys in the pit lane. We all have to do our job in order to be sitting here.
If I don't do a good job we're not going to win. If the car is not up to it, we're not going to win, if the strategy, if the pit stops are bad, so all those ingredients. And then as we said earlier, there's that little bit of luck you've got to have, too.
Q. Can you relax a little bit now that you have a big lead?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Hell no. By the time we leave Edmonton that lead could be gone, no doubt. That's just the way this works. I'm not even thinking about the points lead. The number is immaterial until that last race. That's when it counts. I mean, even at that point, I go out each week and try and do my very best.
There was times today I didn't know if I was going to finish first or tenth, but I was just trying to do the best I could out there. Same with the whole Target team. To get one-two for us was a big deal today. We said it out there, Target are coming to Canada in 2013, you heard that thing today, so to kind of launch that with a one-two is pretty special.
Q. Do you mentally prepare for this race any differently than others because you know it's combative?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, all the tracks can be combative. We've seen it pretty much everywhere. No, I prepare for them all the same.
Q. Dixon was particularly upset with your teammate Graham Rahal. That last battle, the last stage, do you have any issues with him?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I didn't.
Scott is pretty straight up. Scott is very straight up, let me rephrase that. He's not the kind of guy to say something if it didn't happen, and I didn't see what happened there. I had my hands full trying to fend off Graham on those restarts. If Scott is pissed about it, there must be a bloody good reason.
I don't know why he called him a wanker or what. I mean, it's the nature of this place with all the marbles on the tires, with the bumps and everything and the braking zones and different surfaces, you just have to miss by literally inches and you're going to slide and miss the corner, and if you -- if someone is in front of you there's nothing you can do about it sometimes. That's when that caution sometimes pays off.
Q. You drove NASCAR at Bristol; you drove here today. Compare and contrast.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I had brakes today. When I drove the Sprint Cup in Bristol, after 100 laps the hind joint in the brakes failed, so I had no brakes for 400 laps, which was really entertaining. But then the second Nationwide race was a lot more fun when we led a bunch of laps.
I actually enjoyed Bristol. It was one of the -- it was definitely a highlight of racing over there, but it doesn't compare to running here. This to me is one of the most challenging places we race.
Q. But to a fan of NASCAR, obviously they would have lapped this one up.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think any person that likes racing would have lapped this one up. As I said, each restart, trying to make it -- you're trying to make it through there. Yeah, this was -- I think this was a good one.
Q. One of the things that Scott said earlier, you and Scott talk over what's going on with what the Target team -- that you don't really go to Graham and talk with over with him, and that doesn't sound like Chip to me.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: But we're not a team. We have Target team. There are two cars in the Target team. There is another team which has Graham and Charlie in it, and they have access to all our data and all the technical stuff that we have.
Q. But you don't sit down and talk it over?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, we have enough to do keeping the two cars on the Target team straight, and Scott and I have a really good thing going, and the whole engineering group in the Target team has that whole rhythm going, do you know what I mean, bouncing ideas. We sit at a desk about that big bouncing ideas off each other.
I told Scott a trick on the restart here, and then I see him rolling up alongside me at one point, and I thought, damn, I wish I hasn't have told him that. But that's the relationship we have. Scott is like, hey, have you tried this here, and we work on the cars together. Charlie and Graham have the advantage of they can look at our setup sheets, they know what we're doing. Charlie comes around quite a lot and asks what we're up to. But there's all those -- they have access to the data. They can look at all that stuff. I don't think they're in too bad a position I would say.
Q. Just to be extra clear on this penalty issue, Scott said that (indiscernible).
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, they didn't say that, and I believe -- obviously there was some discussion about it, and as I say, it was relayed to me after the race that Al and I believe it was Tony Cotman looked at the video and decided, no, there wasn't a penalty, and so that was it.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, on behalf of everyone involved, thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports