Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
August 31, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Scott Dixon, our championship points leader at this point in the season, also third fastest of the day today. Tony Kanaan, currently third in the championship race. We're also joined by Dario Franchitti, second in the championship points race. Joining as well is Helio Castroneves, our fastest of the day.
Scott, talk about your run out there today, your return to Detroit.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, our run today, lots of stuff going on, especially in the first session. On our wets, we broke a tripod, blew the (indiscernible). That spun me out, took us out. That was a bit of a struggle, just trying to get the car back up to speed, make sure we got fast for this afternoon.
We've been moving along pretty consistently. We made a few changes at the end maybe in the right direction. We were up quite a bit on the last lap, as I'm sure most of the guys were, that caution there.
All in all, a bit of a funny day. We didn't end up too bad.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, your run out there today, and talk about your return to Detroit.
TONY KANAAN: Good memories. Well, from the first lap, I said hi to the walls that I hit, told them that I didn't want to see them around. After that, it brought back good memories. I think me and Helio had good battles here in the past. Here we go again.
I guess nothing has changed. 10 years has passed. Great track. Very slippery. Very difficult. Bumpy as usual. No worse than 10 years ago. I think it's going to be a tough race.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, for most of the day you had the fast lap till Helio caught you there near the end. Talk about your run out there today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, we were kind of surprised this morning just how slippery the track was, how bumpy it was, as well. We had to work very hard on the car to get the balance that we wanted.
We were very comfortable in the first session. We tried some stuff in the second session that didn't necessarily work. We're going to go back for tomorrow.
I'm feeling really happy right now with the way the things are going here. The bumpy track at the moment is definitely suiting the way I like to drive the car. See what we get tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, fastest of the day out there. Talk about your day.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was pretty good. I had one moment only that I did one of those 360. Thank God the camera didn't caught. Roger might be upset about that.
Other than that, actually the car start really fast. Track seemed to be changing quite a lot. At one point seemed to be you improving your time, and then right next few laps, the time is not improved. You're like, What is going on? That's typical of a concrete surface. As you put more rubber in, definitely it makes it faster.
This morning we would have had a very good lap. Unfortunately, the yellow caught us a little bit. We were able to put in the lap today in the afternoon session. No question, those guys are really, really fast again. We're going to have to continue pushing very hard.
As we all knew, I mean, this is a very physical place. It won't be easy on us obviously on Sunday. So far it seems to be great. A lot of people came to watch, which is fantastic. I heard a lot of people say, Man, this is great. Feel a very good vibe. Good atmosphere. I mean, that's what we were expecting. It's great to be here again with this kind of vibe. Now let's go race.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for any of our drivers.
Q. Tony, you were kind of smiling through it, shrugging your shoulders when you said it was slippery and bumpy. Is that a challenge you look forward to or is it more frustrating than anything?
TONY KANAAN: You saw me out of the car. I wasn't very happy.
No, I would say, thinking about it, obviously when we're out there, it's really hard. You know, in a way I think this is a good track for us to come with a championship fighting because you really showing who can drive better than all the guys because it's so slippery right now that you really got to use everything you know on driver skills, not just setting up the car, because the car does a different thing in every corner. Every lap is not the same.
I would say I like it, although I wasn't happy when I got out of the car, and I apologize. But I think, you know, it's definitely a challenging track, which I think it's good for all of us.
Q. Helio, did you get a chance to try and pass anybody? If so, is passing going to be easier than previous years here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I try, if we were a little bit faster than the guy in front of me. It can make life very tough. Anybody can make your life very tough out there.
It's a short straightaway on the back. We definitely have room finally because in the past it was very narrow so you were actually taking a lot of chance in the past. Now at least someone side by side, someone make a mistake, spin the wheel a little bit too much, things like that, definitely you at least have some chance.
Passing is always very difficult, believe me, because we have very similar cars, very similar speed. Any track, even in St. Pete, even in Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, it's always going to be very difficult to pass. Someone might be off the pace. That might be less difficult. Right now between four of us, five of us, you know, it's always going to be tough to pass someone.
Q. Scott, you mentioned there was a broken tripod. If I remember correctly, that's what happened to Dan last week. Are you concerned maybe you have fatigued parts or a bad batch of these things?
SCOTT DIXON: It's all that Honda power. No, I have no idea. We know that Dan's tripod was put together wrong. It was missing a bearing, apparently. Maybe they left one out of mine, as well.
I have no idea. It was definitely the tripod. I guess in some ways we're a bit worried. Kind of sticking with a part that's been running. Both of them have broke within 50 miles that we had problems with, so I'm not sure.
Q. (No microphone.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I think Tony made a good point. As bumpy as the track is, as little grip as there is out there, the car is doing a different thing at every corner. And depending how you hit the bumps, you can make it do a different thing.
I think maybe the experience that we have at this track is maybe going to count for more than I thought it would simply because of the nature of the circuit. But I definitely expect the guys who don't have experience here to be closer tomorrow.
Q. Tremendous amount at stake on Sunday. How tough and fast and hard will this racing be between you guys who are running for the championship?
TONY KANAAN: Same as has been all year, I guess. If you look at the last race, the four of us, we had a pretty good battle. So I have to say I don't expect it to be any different. Me and Helio have a lot less to lose than these two.
But I don't know. I had a pretty good battle with Scott the whole race. You saw us, when he left the pits, I don't think he was really concerned about us hitting or not.
It's going to be tough. It's going to be good for you guys to watch. But especially here I think it's going to be tougher than Sonoma in the sense of running side by side. But we're going to try to put the pressure on each other to try to force the other guy to make a mistake.
When you're running with such a good drivers, it's really hard for anybody to make a mistake. So I would say it's going to be a good battle. We're probably going to be cramping and not be able to speak by the end of the race, which happens many times. But it's going to be exciting.
Q. Scott, can you talk about that?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't see there being any difference to what we had in the past. All I can say is I hope we don't put ourselves in situations that we did last weekend. I think we qualified bad. If you qualify better, it's going to help your weekend out. I just wish Dan would be up there to bloody help me out (laughter).
But, yeah, it's definitely tough. I think at Sonoma there were four of them and me. They can do a lot with strategy to try and hinder what you're going to do. You just got to go with it. You can't do anything about it. See what happens at the end of the race.
Q. With four points separating you two, it's got to really be anxiety, any mistake could have a devastating effect on your championship run.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Been that way for a while. No different now.
SCOTT DIXON: Coming down to the wire. Two races left. Four points. One of us could have a problem this weekend, one could have one next weekend. It's definitely going to come down to Chicago.
Q. Dario, how much more emphasis do you put on qualifying now knowing if you get up front, you might be able to pick up the three points versus maybe St. Petersburg?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Qualifying is very important on any road or street course. We put a fair amount of emphasis on trying to get out there and do it. We managed it last weekend. We came up short a couple other times. Again, we'll see what happens this weekend.
But it's definitely important. As Scott says, it makes it so much more difficult if you're back in traffic.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much.
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