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June 22, 2012

Helio Castroneves

Dario Franchitti


THE MODERATOR:  In the second starting position for tomorrow's race, Helio, the heat race qualifying format, what did you think?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I like it.  But I don't love it, as much as I like it, if it makes sense.  No, just an internal joke between myself and Will Power and Ryan Briscoe.  Hopefully we don't see that in the end.
No, I guess, you know, honestly, the practice, in practice it was a little bit more risky than actually the race, the heat race, because you really take a chance on not knowing what other guys are doing.
But, you know, I think if you had to do that again, maybe we should do a qualifying one lap or two laps, whatever, to determine where you're going to go for the heat, if it's 30 minutes or 45 minutes, everybody out there.  So this is the only thing I would have probably suggest.
But other than that, you know, it was okay.  Certainly 30 laps, I believe it was enough.  It was still getting tough out there.  I was able to make‑‑ we were able to pass Marco, but kind of not enough time to catch Dario.  There was not many cars out there that could catch draft.  But for the first time, like I said, it was positive, in terms of trying, and certainly if we are going to do it.

Q.  To do a true heat race format‑‑ and slugging it out a little bit, is there some incentive‑‑ inaudible ‑‑ do you just like a 30‑lap racetrack?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Good question, honestly I don't know.  People should discuss more this format, or they should discuss that more, brainstorm a little bit more, so that we can get examples and try.  I don't know if that would have been the right thing.  I'm not sure about the tires, how those two guys would have done it and things like that.
But in the end of the day, like I said, I'm happy that we tried, and we should keep discussing and brainstorm other possibilities so that it can be becoming better and better.  I don't know if we are even going to try different ovals.  But for sure here, it's a bit different and, well, I'm trying in the front row and that's what I care about.

Q.  Inaudible.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Well, I think everybody is using their heads, as well.  The heat race, it's not a race, which we should do that, as well.
But again, in that particular time, I feel that there was not many cars around, eight cars, so that gives space enough for everybody to have clean air.  So when you have 20‑something cars, it's becoming much more turbulent and it becomes a little bit more difficult to do it.
Plus, now, in this configuration with fast cars, some of the other guys were trying a different setups and trying to go faster‑‑ in some laps, time, so it was the first time.  And for some of the first cars running in front, at that point would be running backwards the setup.  It was a good practice for the race tomorrow, and to understand your car.  So that's probably why there was not many incidents.  It was like a little bit of a practice instead of an actual race, so we are better understanding that.

Q.  We are going to see obviously a very different track atmosphere tomorrow.  Do you think there is really a lot that you can apply from today?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  That's why only being 30 laps, that's at least an indication how it's going.  But you're right, our cars are very sensitive to the weather.  It changed quite a lot, and that could be an interesting factor for tomorrow.
But again, at the same time, you're going to have two times‑‑ well, many more, 20‑something more cars out there that I‑‑ as I said, even you start a little bit on the front, depending on the front (ph), I think the real deal what it's going to be tomorrow, but at least it gave you some direction, even if the weather is hotter.

Q.  It seems like in past years, some cars had a little bit of trouble between the bumps between turns one and two.  How did it feel?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  It did improve, the bumps out there, it did improve.  The tracks guys did a phenomenal job to minimize.  But for our cars, it's still quite difficult.  And not only that, the outside is also a little bit bumpy, as well.
Hopefully I would also give a suggestion so that next year, trying to put the same work that we did, but a little more aggressive on the bump so that you can create‑‑ which we do have it, but at least we can experience a different type of downforce and things like that, so that we can ‑‑ it will be more challenging.  Right now the bumps are still there, but it was a better change so far.

Q.  So now you know what the tires feel like on the first 30 laps of a run.  What will you see the next 30 laps on the next set of tires?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Traffic.  Obviously we didn't get any traffic out there, and that for sure is going to be a big part of it.  And that's where‑‑ we are not going to run 30 laps without traffic; about 15 laps when it starts traffic, and that, for sure, will change a little bit again.
I believe it will be much more competitive, yes, because, for example, when you have that big of a gap, Dario, I guarantee, when he gets the first guy or the second guy, closer than that, it will change.

Q.  I know the 2 car has more downforce‑‑ what about not having that little wicker on the back, is that something you want to have or is it just right?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Right now it seems to be good.  It seems to be good in the fact that probably as the tire goes away, and difficult to pass, but in terms of different set ups you might send out, I don't know.  I can't answer 100% sure how will that be.
One thing I say, the tires did a good job.  The tire does have a lot of grip, and took the downforce off, it does have a change on the handling of the car, about 30 laps.  So I would say that that's insane, with the way ‑‑ more traffic, more cars, you're going to‑‑ I don't know if that will be the right format, but we will try, I don't know yet.  I will tell you after the race is over.
THE MODERATOR:  Helio thank you so much for your time today.  Appreciate it.
We are pleased to be joined by the winner of today's qualifying heat race No. 3 and the pole sitter for tomorrow's Iowa corn Indy 250, Dario Franchitti at Target Chip Ganassi Racing.  So this is Dario's his first pole at Iowa Speedway, and this is the second consecutive pole for Dario.  He started the pole last week at Milwaukee, as well.  Great start for Dario in Iowa.  Previously your best start was third in 2007, and this is also the 75th IndyCar pole for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
So Dario, congratulations on a great heat race.  If you can, walk us through those 30 laps.
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  Thank you.  I think it start the during the second practice session, trying to get laps to start in the fast eight.  I must say, after watching practice, I thought there's nothing much faster than these heat races.  The first one, straight out‑‑ and the second race, I watched Tony making some of those moves and I thought, well, just rubber in.  I figured that's all we need here at Iowa for a good race, two lanes opened up, two lanes rubbered in, some grip, and that was definitely the case.
Quite early in our heat, I was able to move up the track and the Target car reallywas able to make that pass on Marco to gain on him and then the next lap, he was just outside and he gave me more than enough room, and didn't need any extra to pass him, and then I was able to gap the guys behind him, controlled it from about a second and a half so really happy with that.  There was not much fall‑off for the tire, and happy with the balance.
So half a stint on the tires tomorrow, it will be very interesting to see what happens as the grip goes away a little bit.  But no, really happy with that and looking forward to tomorrow.

Q.  When is the last time you had a heat race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  I just got asked that.  1989, go‑karts back in Scotland.

Q.  Do you like this format?
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  Well, I think it could always take some tweaking, but in my view, what I remember from years previous, there was more people in the stands than any other qualifying day I've seen.
So that is a bonus.  I think the races, certainly the second two were much more exciting than single‑car qualifying.  I would like to see some tweaking, I there are some things I think we could change but I thought it was a really good start.  Get Randy to open his wallet a little bit‑‑ he looked up as soon as I said "wallet" ‑‑ get some money for them to do this, because all of the team others are risk their cars and stuff.  We could do a little modifying, but I thought it was a really good start.

Q.  I think Briscoe Tweeted it would be more exciting if the winners of the first two heat earned their way into the final heat.
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  It's definitely an idea.  I think‑‑ I'm sure the guys at IndyCar will go home and think, okay, what can we do to spice it up and that was something we actually talked about, as well, it would be great if you saw TK and Graham stuck on the back of that final race.  But as a first stab at it, I thought it was really good.

Q.  Would you like to see Michael Andretti try this in Milwaukee next year?
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  I don't know, I would have to say single car at Milwaukee has been pretty good to me.  I don't know.  I think we've got to look at this one first and see how it went and what we‑‑ but I don't think we need to do it every week.  It's nice to have it as kind of something different, but I don't think to do it every week would be right.
Well, I still think we have to have some single cars on the short ovals, too, as I say, Milwaukee is pretty challenging.  But it's not up to me.  I think we have to analyze this weekend first, and the guy at the back of the room will make a decision‑‑ he's not paying attention.  (Laughter).

Q.  There has been some rumors about possibly adding Road America to the schedule.  Do you have any comments about that or how your feelings would be?
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  I would love to go to Road America.  It's a track that I love driving.  I think it's one of the classic road courses in the world, not only North America.  I was lucky enough to win my first race there back in 1998.  And I would love to go back there.
So if we can make that happen, it would be fantastic.  Whether it's this year, I don't know, or next year, would be fantastic.  But hopefully we can get back there, and I think if you did a pole on all of the drivers, they would all say the same thing.  It's one of the very few things we all agree on I think is to go back there.

Q.  What was key for to you make that jump in the second practice session there late and to be so dominant in the heat race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  Well, the key was actually getting a clear lap in that second practice.  That's maybe one thing to look at for next year, maybe split that second.  If we are going to do that, split the second practice session, because it was me and him at the end, because Graham pulled out of the pits in front of me and proceeded to go ahead.  So I had to come in with two sets of tires, and luckily it's only a 17‑second lap here, so I was able to get back up to speed and get one clear lap and that was enough to get me in.
I thought the guys, Chris Simmons and the guys on the Target team did a good job.  We sat there for a long time after practice‑‑ a lot longer than we normally do just talking through what the car needed, what it was missing.  And that's what we came up with.  So it was a good start and I think we've got a couple more changes to make overnight to go racing tomorrow night.
THE MODERATOR:  Well, Dario, thank you very much.  Congratulations.  Best of luck tomorrow.

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