Firestone Indy Lights: Carneros 100
Topics: Carneros 100
August 22, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our second- and third-place finishers from today's Firestone Indy Lights Carneros 100. We're joined by Charlie Kimball of AFS Racing, Andretti Autosport and James Hinchcliffe of Team Moore Racing.
Charlie, a California native, finished second, his eighth top-five finish of the season. Charlie has only finished outside the top five twice this year. Today's finish moves Charlie into third in the championships points battle.
James Hinchcliffe finished third, his fifth podium of the season.
James and Charlie, talk about the passes you had with each other to second place. Kind of the hot position.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Yeah. I don't know. From my understanding, the start, we were getting a little further around the corner before punching off. J.K. went a little early, I go caught out.
All credit to James. He made the run, got the pass done. But from the green flag, the 26 car was quick. I just had to settle into a rhythm. I knew that James' No. 2 car was falling back a little bit. He seemed to be fighting the car. After the restart, he dropped a couple of wheels at the top of the hill, so I closed. Coming into the chicane, I knew I was good on the brakes, lighter on downforce, so I just made the run, kind of chucked it up the inside. I have to thank him. He gave me a really good racing room. It's always enjoyable racing a guy like Hinch because we can push hard and it's a lot of fun.
It's a great result being home in California. I got a lot of friends and family here, a lot of supporters from (indiscernible). Good to give them a result in person here today.
THE MODERATOR: James, if you could talk about today's race.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I'd love to say that I did something spectacular, fantastic, just amazing. But that wasn't the case. It was more Charlie making a bit of a mistaking. I had to capitalize on it, made that good little run down the front straight there in the first corner. I was able to take. For the first couple laps, our car was quite strong. I was able to stay pretty close to J.K. and kept Charlie at a reasonable gap.
But then we started losing rear grip. We started struggling with the rear tires quite a bit. After that restart, Charlie, like he said, I made a little bit of a mistake coming up over the hill, he closed the gap and got a good run.
We were pretty reasonable on the brakes into the chicane. I saw him coming. I thought, Oh, my God, I can't believe he's trying it. I didn't think he was going to slow the car down, he did. So credit to him. Like he said, it's always a pleasure racing a guy like this. I know he's going to give me room. We got a lot of respect for each other. It's fun in that respect. A little bit of on-track.
It was clear from there those two guys were the class of the field. We were sort of the best of the rest today. It was one of those days where sometimes you got a third-place car and you got to just bring that home. That's what we did today. Another podium. Opened the gap a little bit to third place in points. So not a terrible weekend. Just thanks to the guys on Team Moore and congrats to Charlie and J.K. on a good race.
THE MODERATOR: It seems today was warmer. Did that affect track conditions for you?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: It definitely did. We fought with the car a little bit more even in qualifying yesterday when it was sunny. As the track temp came up, we've been struggling a little bit. I think the lap times were a fair bit slower even than yesterday's first practice when the track was really green.
It definitely affected the car. The Firestone Firehawks held up really well. This place is tough on tires. You're cornering all the time. A lot of downforce, a lot of grip. So all credit to Firestone. They gave us a great tire and it ran all 40 laps, a hundred miles, no stops, no problems.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I mean, he pretty much nailed it. As track temps go up, obviously you're going to lose grip. It was a little more of a struggle. Like he said, the Firehawks held up well. They were pretty consistent over the course of the run. So credit to those guys for giving us a tire that's almost too easy to race on sometimes.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by J.K. Vernay. This is his fifth Firestone Indy Lights victory this season. J.K. previously won at St. Petersburg, Barber, Watkins Glen and Toronto. This is the third time that J.K. has won from the pole and led flag to flag.
J.K., your fifth win of the year, maybe a little more special with your family in attendance today?
J.K. VERNAY: It's really cool because my family arrived last Monday. We visited California, San Francisco. I was really happy because a really big fan about motorsports. It's not really easy when you're living in Europe to go to every race because it's first to expensive to travel. I have one brother, one sister, so it's too much.
So, yeah, I'm really happy. The team did a great job. My family was here. It's just a fantastic weekend, fantastic week.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. J.K., you left everybody at the start. You seemed to go early. You had a good gap when you crossed the finish line. That worked to your advantage.
J.K. VERNAY: Yeah, my stops, one of the first things of the year was not bad, I have to say. I mean, I had really good traction and I was able to be flat really early, a bit earlier than Charlie, and take the lead. So I mean it was the target of this race. If you are P1 after the first corner, you did 50% of the job.
Yeah, the car was good. After the first and the second restart, I managed to have a gap with James and Charlie. It was just great. The car was really good. After the points weekend in Mid-Ohio, we were nowhere there. I really wanted to do great things there. We work really hard.
I had a chance with Jim Russell to learn the track last week. That is really important because for the first time. At the level of the other guys, I know the track when I arrived.
Yeah, I'm just really happy the Lucas Oil car was great. I want to thank my management company, CJ Motorsports, for doing a great job since the beginning of the year. We are working really well. I hope now to win a race on the ovals. That's the new goal, I have to say.
Q. J.K., you have a big points lead now. Are you feeling pretty confident about the championship? What's your goal for next year, should you win the title?
J.K. VERNAY: First I'm still focused on the championship because it's never finished until the last race, the checkered flag of the last race. So we never know what can happen.
But, no, I'm focused on the oval. My team is really good on the ovals. I have a good engineer, a really good team around me. I will try to do a good performance.
For sure I would never try something stupid to lose a lot of points. Now we have 70 points or 65, I don't know exactly. It's great, but it's not finished.
For next year, for sure IndyCar, I'm already focused. I'm already working with my management company to find a good deal for next year. Yeah, we will see.
Q. J.K., as you mentioned, at Mid-Ohio you were out to lunch somewhere. What happened there compared to what happened here? The three of you guys are primarily road racers. You're going to ovals. How do you set up? Are you getting comfortable with ovals and ready to go?
J.K. VERNAY: Yeah, Mid-Ohio, we don't really know what happened because all the road tracks we were really quick. We arrived there and we were two-and-a-half seconds off the pace. On a bad day, for sure you can be three, four, half a second. But we were two seconds. It was a huge gap. We didn't really understood what happened.
But, yeah, we won this race. Everybody worked really hard last week at the shop. They builded everything. Me, I was really working on this track physically. So, no, it's just great. When you work, you have always results at the end.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think when it comes to the ovals, as Amy mentioned, I finished second quite a few times this year. One of those was at Indianapolis. We struggled a little bit at Iowa. I made a small mistake.
But going back to the ovals, we tested last week at Kentucky and were quick. So I know that when we get to the next mile-and-a-half, we'll be up to speed. I love racing at those sorts of speeds because it's a lot of fun. It's a chess match at 180 miles an hour. The AFS Racing boys, Andretti Autosport always gives me a fantastic car on the ovals.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I mean, sort of like Charlie said, we've had two ovals so far this year and all three of us have managed a podium on the ovals. All three of us run very good teams, all different teams. It's good to see a level of competition in the series. We all have competitive cars. Indianapolis was a two-and-a-half-mile and Iowa was a 7/8ths of a mile. So the mile-and-a half's are actually a little bit different. The race craft is a little bit different there. So it's going to be interesting when we get to Chicago.
Chicago, in all fairness, is probably the worst one to start on for the rookies. It's a wild track. It's going to be interesting, a little bit different. But like Charlie said, it's 185-mile-an-hour game of chess. He said 180. You better pick up the pace a little bit. Actually, never mind. You stay there (laughter). I think it's going to be a lot of fun. It's a completely different kind of racing. It's heart in your throat the whole time. It's a lot of fun.
Q. Are you going to spend the week telling J.K. how difficult the ovals are and how scared he has to be of them?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Absolutely. There's nothing harder than Chicago. Chicago is the tax I pay for being a racecar driver. It's not even fun really. It's like praying Russian roulette with five bullets. I don't know why you'd even show up.
THE MODERATOR: On that note, we'll see you at Chicagoland.
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