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Firestone Indy Lights: Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100

Firestone Indy Lights: Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100

J.R. Hildebrand
Sebastian Saavedra
May 31, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our second and third-place finishers, J.R. Hildebrand, Sebastien Saavedra. Congratulations on a great run out there today.
J.R., let's start with you. Second place today. Your fourth podium finish of the season. Came in as the points leader. By our calculations still here a 10-point leader over Sebastien here. Tell us a little bit about your run today.
J.R. HILDEBRAND: You know, it was a good race. We knew we had a pretty good racecar there. You know, Mario, he was running well. They've been quick all weekend. You know, when it gets into a situation like that up front where you've got pretty evenly matched cars, we were running basically the same laps for a long time there, and I just kind of started to pick up understeer running behind him for so long. The leader ends up having the advantage of being out in clean air. So running close behind in second, I just kind of started to lose the front of the car.
I think that prior to the yellow coming out around the halfway point, I was starting to catch back up to him. I think that, you know, maybe if it had gone green for a little bit longer at that point in time, you know, a long green run in the middle of the race, I might have been able to catch up and make something happen. But wasn't able to get it done on the restarts following that.
Then towards the end of the race, I just had too much understeer coming off the corner to really be able to keep with him.
He did a great job. Congrats to those guys. I think we're looking good in the points. I said when I came in here that I'm sick of sitting here over on the right, but it's good for the championship. I think we'll be looking good moving forward in the season.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, third place today. Your fourth top five of the year. As we mentioned, just a handful of points behind your teammate there. Tell us about your run today.
SEBASTIEN SAAVEDRA: Yes, I think for sure was a great day. Since the start of the weekend, we knew that many good cars, many good drivers were into this Milwaukee Mile. Since the beginning, we knew it was going to be a conservative race. Gain points for the championship is sure the main thing we're looking for.
I was not very lucky in the first restart where Summerton spun in front of me, making me lose about five or six positions, coming out right away with the battle for the win. I just kept calm. We knew AFS/AGR did a great job with the setup itself. Just saved the tires for the last 20 laps, which is the important thing.
After I knew the race was going to already start opening itself, just start passing one by one with like a very conservative way and gain points for the championship.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. (Question about passing.)
SEBASTIEN SAAVEDRA: In that position, it was risking almost as much as I didn't do during the whole race. I was still not 100% sure of how my car was going to handle into that kind of overpassing.
Also I think my gears were a little bit off when I was touching the rev limiter a lot, inducing understeer in this part. But from here I just needed to get to the right timing. When I figure out, like two laps later, I understood how to do it.

Q. (Question about working in traffic.)
J.R. HILDEBRAND: You know, I think the traffic kind of fluctuated a little bit through the race. Whether it helped me or it helped Mario, sort of through the middle of the race, I don't know if his car wasn't working as well in traffic and mine was or he was he was just catching it at the same time, I was catching it better, on the flipside later on.
Certainly later in the race, we caught up to traffic in a couple of spots, he was able to get by them on the straightaways. I was having trouble with understeer already. That was made worse being right up behind guys. That's where I was catching him, kind of the in the middle of the corner. It flip-flopped a little bit.
Like I said, through the middle of the race, when we had that long green run since the beginning, after Jonathan spun, my car was getting better and better and better. We cut the gap down quite a bit at that stage.
But, you know, the traffic, around places like this, it's a little bit like traffic on a road course. You can catch 'em on a straight and get by, get a good run on 'em. If you catch 'em in the corner, there's not really a lot you can do about it.
I think that kind of went both ways for the two of us during the race. Just ended up catching me a little bit towards the end.

Q. (Question about track conditions.)
SEBASTIEN SAAVEDRA: The track conditions were quite similar as yesterday. I think, for sure, after yesterday's qualifying, we thought more into a longer run, taking into consideration that it was gonna be a little bit hotter maybe. The wind changed direction during the race. So I think it was just taking that into consideration for the runs.
J.R. HILDEBRAND: I thought, particularly compared to last year, last year's race, we were running half a second, the quickest cars, to a second slower. There towards the end of the race, we were picking up some speed again kind of all over.
Last year, because it was hotter, the track just fell off drastically through the race. Everybody's car got worse and worse and worse towards the end. Lap times kept getting slower and slower. Track conditions kind of all weekend I'd say have been pretty -- in my sort of short experience on the track, coming out here for test days, seeing other guys running around, were pretty close to optimal. It's not too hot. The breeze isn't too strong one direction or another.

Q. How do you mentally treat the race when you know the position you're in?
J.R. HILDEBRAND: There towards the end, I was pushing pretty hard. I guess the thing with these kinds of races, particularly being right behind the leader, you never really know how long it's going to go green. There's not that many cars on the track as compared to years before. It could go green for a long time.
We really didn't have that many yellows. But there have been races that it's been green a long time at the end, a long time at the beginning, stuff like that.
So for most of the race, I was just trying to stay close and work on sort of, okay, where is my car going to work. Throughout the race, the track changes a little bit here and there, whether the wind picks up or rubber goes down in one spot or another. So I was just trying to work on where my car was going to work the best and I was gonna use my tires the least to try to keep it up at the end of the race.
At that point, I didn't really have anything for him on the restart there at the end because we had a lap car between us. So that was sort of unfortunate for my game plan, I guess.
But, you know, my thought process for most of the race was, I got to keep it close in case he screws up or gets held up in traffic, because I didn't really think I had the car to pass him just outright. But I knew I had as fast a car as he did, if I could get out in clean air like he was. So I was just really trying to keep it close for something to happen.

Q. (Question regarding managing tires.)
SEBASTIEN SAAVEDRA: For sure, the tires run away towards the end. I think the strategy for sure was to understand that it was a long race. It was 100 miles. Well, for sure you're not gonna win the race in the first laps.
When I had that inconvenience, when Summerton spun in front of me, I understood it was not worth like going to the front right away. I understood just keeping the timing, just keeping understeer away from the car and oversteer away from the car was gonna be optimal for the tires to last.
As the race progressed, I think the yellow flags, like, helped to cool down a little bit the tires, lower the pressures a little bit. And every restart was like starting again for me, you know, 'cause I was not making the tires work as much as they should.
So towards the end, my tires were really good. I think I took advantage of that and passed, again, by the inside where many of the cars were not able to keep it. From then on, you know, just saving the tires was I think the key to be able to have the third position.
J.R. HILDEBRAND: I guess I'd say just on top of that, I mean, from my feeling at least, particularly just looking at the lap times we were able to run, we were running fairly similar lap times when in clear track or whatever for the entire race.
But I guess I feel it's a little bit more about than the tires totally wearing off and losing grip. Maybe one end of the car ends up catering -- you know, the tires cater to one end of the car than the other. If you start the race with understeer, you're driving the hell out of it every corner, every lap, then you're just gonna end up with worse and worse understeer, because that's kind of how the car works.
Like Sebastien said, it's more a little bit trying to manage, okay, I've got understeer already to start the race, you know, where am I going to be able to drive on the track, how am I going to be able to drive the cars, but I'm not losing too much time, but that understeer doesn't continue getting worse.
I think the tires, our tires, last longer than any other car that I've ever driven. To be able to run, you know, our fastest laps at the end of the race I think shows how good the tires really are. But, you know, the car's balance really ends up changing and affecting the balance over the distance of the race.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations on a great run today.

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