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July 21, 2012

Ryan Briscoe

Helio Castroneves

Dario Franchitti

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Takuma Sato

Alex Tagliani


THE MODERATOR:  We'll get started with today's press conference.  We are pleased to be joined by Dario Franchitti, who qualified second.  This is Dario's fourth consecutive qualifying appearance here at Edmonton.  Also his first front row start at the track. 
We're also joined by Takuma Sato, who sat on the pole last year and led 18 laps. 
We're also joined by Helio Castroneves, who qualified sixth.  Helio has two front-row starts here at Edmonton. 
Helio, walk us through today's qualifying. 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Yeah, it was crazy.  Starting the second session, second group, I got a lot of traffic.  I tried to get out of the way, so I didn't want to get a penalty or something like that.  Unfortunately almost ended up myself in trouble. 
Then we decided to keep going because we knew it looks like it's starting to rain.  So we decide to stop and already make the setup for the wet, which was actually pretty good.  Made us to go through the top Fast Six.  It was very, very difficult. 
But Firestone did a great job on the new tires.  First time I kind of tried the new tires.  I felt pretty good. 
Well, unfortunately didn't have enough time to make the change back.  The track, didn't know if the it was dry or getting wet.  So we decided to leave it the way it was, scuffed tires, which was the oldest set we had there. 
We keep pushing, pushing, but sixth was the best we could do.  So happy to be in at least the top six and now we'll focus on the race. 
THE MODERATOR:  Dario, talk about the challenges of the weather today with qualifying. 
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  It was fairly interesting.  The track drying in the second session, the first session starting to rain a little bit, so made it pretty interesting. 
In the first session the big decision was to go with new reds or go with scrubs, so we decided to go with scrubs.  Tried to get a lap there.  Got within a hundredth or something.  Didn't manage to put that lap together.
Good to be starting on the front row.  The Target car is good again this weekend.  Be nice to have a good race this weekend.  We've had some good qualifying performances, but the races, we've had incidents in all of them, all kinds of crazy stuff happening.  It would be nice to have a day free of incidents tomorrow and try to get a good result. 
THE MODERATOR:  Takuma, you've been strong through all qualifying rounds.  Talk about the speed you had out there. 
TAKUMA SATO:  Yeah, it didn't get as well as the last time.  But I think we did as good as we could get today.  Terrific result for Rahal Lanigan Letterman team.  After a couple difficult races, really pleased to be back in here, the first time in the top six this year. 
It's waiting for a long time, but it was really good.  We made a good progress over the course of the practice session, and through the Q1, reasonably happy with the balance, actually quite strong on the (indiscernible).  So we were pleasantly surprised.  It was pretty good. 
Of course, Q2 was my favorite.  I was happy with the Q2, but unfortunately on the Q3 was a bit of a gambling whether we go first before coming rain or wait for the moment till the track dries out again. 
I think we achieved what is the best and I'm certainly very, very happy starting from the second row. 
THE MODERATOR:  We've also been joined by the remainder of our Firestone Fast Six. 
Ryan Briscoe, walk us through today's qualifying. 
RYAN BRISCOE:  It was good.  We've been struggling to find the balance in practice.  We opened up yesterday with a good car, sort of making lots of changes, didn't quite get it back.  Been a bit frustrating leading into qualifying. 
We made some good changes.  In Q1 had the car back where I could attack and drive the way I like to.  Yeah, so from there we just had to do our best in Q2 in the wet, then Q3.  So it was a very mixed bag in qualifying. 
I wish maybe we would have waited a little bit longer in Q3 with the sticker tires, I think that's the advantage Hunter-Reay had waiting a couple laps, having fresher tires in the end. 
All in all, very good, proud of my engineer with the setup change we made.  It's good to be starting at the front.  We have lots of guests here from Hitachi, we need to win for them and for myself.  So we're looking forward to a good day tomorrow. 
THE MODERATOR:  We're also joined by Alex Tagliani, who qualified fifth.  This is the best start for Alex here at Edmonton. 
Alex, talk about the momentum of the team lately. 
ALEX TAGLIANI:  Yeah, it's pretty easy to see that since we switched with Honda, it boost the performance of our team tremendously. 
After May, we had Detroit and Toronto, and this is the third street course that we're doing.  Third time in the Firestone Fast Six, so I have to take my hat off to the whole Barracuda team.  Guys are doing a fantastic job.  Chemistry is good. 
We're right there.  We have plenty of speed; we just miss sometimes in the race.  A lot of bad luck for some reason.  We probably had everything happen and hopefully nothing else will happen for the remainder of the season and we can close the deal in the race. 
THE MODERATOR:  We're also joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the pole.  This is his second pole.  His previous pole came at Milwaukee in 2004.  This is his best qualifying effort here at Edmonton. 
Ryan, great qualifying effort.  I know qualifying up in front, but a 10-spot grid penalty for tomorrow's race.  Talk about that. 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  It's certainly unfortunate to take the grid penalty with our first pole this year, my first pole in a long time.  But we'll take it for sure.  11th is better than starting 15th or 16th. 
We also saved a set of reds in there.  We went on used reds that last run, so that was another bonus for us. 
It was a strange session, going from full dry to full wet, to a drying track on rain tires, back to reds again.  You really had to keep on your toes.  Once again, the team gave me a great car.  We really progressed over this weekend.  We started out to lunch here yesterday morning, and to be on pole, it's really a huge testament to the team. 
That session was white knuckle.  I'll tell you that much.  You constantly had to be on edge.  The line between getting a lap in and going off track was very, very small.  We're happy to get through it.  Dario is starting first, so that's good for me (laughter). 
THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations on the pole. 
We'll open it up for questions. 

Q.  How unusual is it to be up here without Will being here? 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Certainly the circumstances was different for everyone.  I don't know what Ryan did, but sounds like we're similar in the setup and that help us.  I don't know what happened to them, to be honest.  But we always feed from each other.  Some days go to us.  A lot of days it was going to him. 
But today, you know, it's all about each individual.  We try our best to put Team Penske up there. 
RYAN BRISCOE:  It was obviously a strange qualifying round today.  A lot of it was making most of the conditions, not making mistakes, getting the timing right. 
I haven't seen what anybody else did.  I just got out of the car.  But I felt like we did a solid job.  Really happy to have made it up here to the front. 

Q.  (Question regarding points.) 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  These races change so much.  In the first 15 laps, it could turn on its head.  So we have no idea.  Will will fight his way to the front, all these guys will be up there.  I have a long way to go, even from 11th.  Each car gets progressively more difficult as you get through it. 
It's going to be a long day, tough to get up there.  Hopefully we'll get some strategy right, make some passes on the track, and be there in the top five towards the end. 

Q.  (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  The whole session was kind of like that.  These guys were, as well.  I started to lose the rears a bit as I was getting up there on the tires because they were used. 
I had to really get it in early.  We waited a little bit longer than most, I think.  We timed it right.  I got the most out of the tires before they went off.  Even the next lap, I just couldn't put the power down. 
We timed it right, got the most out of it at the time. 
Any lap around Edmonton for us so far has been pretty ugly.  It's all asses and elbows in there. 

Q.  (No microphone.)
RYAN BRISCOE:  You're asking if we agree with the penalty?  You have to have something in place where you can't just change engines every session.  Comparing to other series, like Formula One, they have a five-spot penalty.  Comparatively, five there is like 10 here.  It's easier to pass here.  Seems to be very mixed up all the time. 
I think it's been working well, honestly.  We've probably seen more penalties than everyone would like to see.  That will come with experience and reliability down the road.  But I think you need to control it somehow for the cost and development. 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  As long as it is explained well to the fans because sometimes people don't realize that there is this type of rules.  It's your job, guys, to go out there and say that's the reason he's starting 10th. 
We understand.  As Ryan said, it keep the costs down, competitive, all these things.  Manufacturers actually are the ones that asked for these types of rules.  It wasn't even the series or the drivers, so I think it's fair. 
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  The only modification I'd like to see is if you break your engine in testing.  I don't think it's really fair.  There was a point in the middle of the year, Scott had a blow-up.  A bunch of other guys had penalties.  Hinchcliffe.  That I would like to see taken away.  But if you blow an engine up for practice or qualifying, I think it's a fair rule. 
ALEX TAGLIANI:  To try to control the cost into the series.  If that rule would not be there, I think we would see a lot more engine changing and the costs would skyrocket. 
It's a good point that Dario is making.  You need to go testing.  Right now with the rule the way it is, everybody is afraid of testing, because if something happens in testing, you get penalized in race weekends. 
TAKUMA SATO:  I think guys say most of stuff.  One test engine for the season, I think it's a fair point. 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  I think everything has been said.  A lot of opinions. 
Everybody here has swallowed that pill.  It's part of it.  It's just the way the series is this year.  New engine manufacturers, or new engines I should say, coming in.  It's a new formula.  We're going to have some of that. 
We can argue all day if 10 spots or five spots is right.  It definitely hurts when it happens, that's for sure. 

Q.  (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  Not at all.  We started out the weekend 25th in practice.  That's a big hole to dig your way out of.  We have been making the car a lot better.  You can see how tight it is.  Yesterday was 1st to 22nd or 23rd was a second.  Any weekend can be anybody's weekend.  It can turn on you like that. 
I still feel the same way.  I still feel we have to go out and do better.  There's a long way to go on this.  Five races is a whole lot of racing, a whole lot. 

Q.  (No microphone.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI:  I feel pretty under the weather, to be honest.  I was back in Scotland, got a throat infection and a head cold.  It's catching up with me a little bit. 
I don't think it's slowed us down on the track any, so that's what's important. 

Q.  (No microphone.)
TAKUMA SATO:  I see a couple fans come from Japan here this weekend.  But I don't think it's representative for the Motegi track.  Such high-speed corner here, from that point Motegi is similar. 
To be honest, it's a different track.  In terms of the brakes, it's going to be really hard timing here.  But that is it. 

Q.  (No microphone.)
ALEX TAGLIANI:  Yeah, I mean, this is a different team, a different group of guys.  Chemistry with my engineer is really good.  So, you know, I think once you find a window of where you like your car, you have good chemistry then, you're basically bringing that from race to race to race. 
We had a pretty rough start of the season.  We changed engines.  We had to relearn a lot of things.  But it's a team effort.  You know, I never seen guys work that hard, and I've been to many teams. 
Engine is not just a big piece of metal you just switch.  There was a lot of things to do.  The guys worked hard.  I think they were very motivated.  Once we went with Honda, they saw we had pace.  We qualified third in Detroit, sixth in Toronto, and fifth here. 
I think we're there.  We're always just knocking at the door.  We just need to get a bit of luck and I think things will come.  As long as you stay up front, things will come. 

Q.  (Question regarding 'push to pass'.) 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  It can be used either way.  We've used it for many years, so everybody is pretty used to it.  As to how powerful it is, I'm not really sure.  I didn't use it a whole bunch in Toronto, thinking I was going to save it till the end.  Ended up going yellow. 
Maybe these guys can comment on it.  It certainly helps.  If you're making a run on somebody, it helps make that little bit of difference that you're looking for. 
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, guys. 

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