IndyCar Series: Iowa Corn Indy 250
Topics: Iowa Corn Indy 250
June 22, 2008
THE MODERATOR: On behalf of the Iowa Speedway, our second-place finisher this year, Hideki Mutoh, Andretti Green Racing. Congratulations.
HIDEKI MUTOH: Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: How did it run today? Looked pretty tight.
HIDEKI MUTOH: At beginning of race, my car wasn't as good as we thought yesterday. But I think one time I dropped like to 16th place. So we changed strategy, saving fuel for the last stint. And that really worked for the last stint.
I almost got Dan Wheldon, but I think I had not enough speed to overtake him. I think this is the highest finish for Japanese racing driver, so I think that's very good news for Japan and for myself, too.
THE MODERATOR: How did your run with Marco go?
HIDEKI MUTOH: If that was early on, maybe I let him go. But that was 10 laps to go. Dan was right in front of me. I could see Marco, but this time it's my day. Maybe next time I let him go. We have more clean race maybe. It was still clean race, but I think one time I crossed his front wing, then he dropped back quite a lot. I feel sorry for that.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Hideki.
Q. How big is this going to be in Japan? Are you going to get a new commercial or something out of it?
HIDEKI MUTOH: A commercial, I hope.
Q. Obviously it's a big deal. Do you expect they'll be celebrating with you a little bit?
HIDEKI MUTOH: Yeah, for sure. Honda Formula Dream Project always support me since 2002. They must be happy for this result. But I know they want me to win the race, so it's not still enough.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, Marco. Good to have you with us. Congratulations. Maybe you can make some opening comments. How did the race go from your end?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I mean, the first thing I said, it had to be good for the fans because it was good fun from the cockpit for sure. It was a lot of close racing. That was one of the best races of the year, I thought. I mean, you know, it was good fun, very enjoyable. It's always fun when the car is working, obviously.
I think this year we put more of an emphasis on car setup. I think the better cars were towards the front, which is how it should be. We were able to make the second groove work a bit, which last year, you know, you're able to, but if the guy on the bottom is so easily flat out, you're never going to overtake. Now I think it wasn't so easy flat out on the bottom, which is exactly the kind of racing that we were looking for.
I think the hot temperatures played a little bit because obviously, you know, the hotter, the less downforce. I had a lot of fun, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take some questions here.
Q. Marco, second year in a row at the end of the race, trying to get by your teammate in the 27 car. Talk about trying to get by him the last few laps.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, it was fun. Obviously, it's for second place; he's not just going to hand it to me. He was as clean as can be. I was trying to make it work running around the outside, but I didn't think I had enough to do it. Obviously, he was going to have to have a pretty big lift for me to be able to overtake. So I just went for the inside. I kind of just went for it. You know, it was never there, to be honest. You know, he didn't do anything wrong. There was room there.
HIDEKI MUTOH: Sure?
MARCO ANDRETTI: You didn't let me by. That's what you did wrong (laughter).
No, great drive for the rookie. He's a pain already (laughter).
Q. Hideki, anything you could have done differently towards the end? Were you looking backwards more or forwards more?
HIDEKI MUTOH: Both ways because especially teammate was behind me, so I look to care for Marco, but also I want to pass Dan. Hard race, yeah.
Q. Hideki, how big is racing in Japan?
HIDEKI MUTOH: If I keep finishing like podium, close to finish first place, I think getting much more popular. At moment, it's still popular, but need build up more. So I need to finish high.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Hideki is popular in Japan.
HIDEKI MUTOH: Kind of, yeah.
Q. Marco, on the last restart, you and Scott Dixon kind of made a sandwich out of Danica. Talk about how you set that up and how you were able to pull it off.
MARCO ANDRETTI: You just get a run going. Sometimes it works out. In places where it's sort of tough to pass once everybody is up to speed, those are the opportunities you kind of have to go for. A little bit risky, but obviously I knew I could trust my teammate. She could have obviously put me below the yellow line and made it very difficult for me. But she drove very sensible, as did Scott. We went for it and we go it.
Q. We saw the cars in the top in the practice weren't racing too well. Talk about why some of the top cars from practice were not doing as well? Cars that were struggling in practice moved up.
MARCO ANDRETTI: It could be just because the whole field is within 2/10ths of a second. Honestly, I mean, you either get it right or you don't for the race. Putting the time in, doing it for 75 laps is a different story. You know, the cars that had a better handle on it I think in the race were able to march forward.
Q. The fuel strategy, pit strategy, you were on different ends of it. What is your perspective? Did you think you'd be able to conserve enough fuel to make it? Were you kind of sitting in there going, I wish I stayed out?
MARCO ANDRETTI: It's one of those things. That's racing. Obviously not always the fastest car wins or anything like that. Here, it's a very track-position place. I think Kim Green and Kyle did that very well with my two teammates. I was mad because I was working all day, and now we had to work to overtake him. Hey, great job. It's part of the game. They were able to conserve the fuel to make it work.
Q. How much better was the quality of the race this year over last year?
MARCO ANDRETTI: I think it's one of the best races yet, to be honest. It's not like we're at ridiculous speeds wheel to wheel. It's about right. The cars are sliding this year, where last year it kind of just stuck, pretty easy for everybody.
No, I think, like I said, the outside lane, you were actually able to overtake because the people on the bottom weren't so easily flat out this year. That's exactly what needed to happen. I came here to do an aero test to try to make it work. I think Firestone did a good job to make the tires go off a little bit because they're too good. They put an emphasis on car setup anyway.
Q. Take me through the pass past Tony. Was that to save fuel on his end? Did you get a run on him?
MARCO ANDRETTI: I think it was a genuine pass. He might tell you different. You know, we went for it. I think I felt like I had a bit more on him. Once he got behind me, he probably felt the same. So as teammates, we do that just to see who's going to be quicker.
But I think there might have been a genuine pass because I got a decent run. I was able to stay flat right behind him and get a tow in the corner and come off. Normally I was showing my nose high, high, high. I went for it on the bottom and was able to make it stick.
Q. Hideki, you were obviously into the Firestone Indy Lights series. What did you learn there that you were able to bring across and what do you perhaps wish you could have learned there? There's a lot of drivers that would like to be in your position this time next year.
HIDEKI MUTOH: For sure in the traffic stuff, behind other cars, where you should be in the corner. I learned more track. I know this is oval, so only four corner, but still different angles every track. That's very important to learn. I think category like Indy Lights, that was really helpful.
Q. How physical was the race? Guys had trouble with steering, retired because they couldn't turn. How physical was it for you?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, it was, for sure. I think before the race, we took what he had call Castor out to make the steering a bit lighter. Obviously, as soon as you get the thing into the banking, it loads up pretty well and it gets worse as the race goes on. It rubbers up and grips in even more. We just jam our elbow across the side of the cockpit and turn.
Q. Your No. 1 supporter out there in the 24 car continues to have a really good time out here. How impressed are you to see him come back here and have as much fun as he's having?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Not just have fun, he's actually doing a very good job. It's good to see. Obviously he has talent. It's gonna show. He's a fighter, so he's going to make the car finish wherever it can possibly. I'm a supporter of him, as well.
Q. I noticed Andretti Green was wearing the Falcons caps. How did that come about?
MARCO ANDRETTI: I think our team manager and stuff like that. But obviously when everybody heard of obviously the tragedies and everything like that, I think there were six deaths in that school, it's a horrible thing. We can only do what we can to try to give a little bit back.
To be honest, it's great to see the amount of people that went through what they did, they still come out to support the event. It's definitely special to see. It says big things for Iowa Speedway and also the IndyCar Series.
Q. Were you able to go flat out at all today?
MARCO ANDRETTI: I think most of the day. I think that's the thing, is last year I think everybody was pretty much flat out. Now this year I think it was just maybe the first maybe five. At one point it was a battle with five cars for the lead. It was interesting. I think if you're able to get it flat, especially in traffic, you're gonna be looking good.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations.
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