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IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 500

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Bombardier Learjet 500

IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 500

Sam Hornish, Jr.
Danica Patrick
June 11, 2005

THE MODERATOR: We have Danica Patrick here, finished 13th. Danica, give us impressions of your first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

DANICA PATRICK: It's easy enough going around there by yourself. But you put a bunch of other cars out there, you know, it's a different element. Like I've said all along all year, the car moves around a lot, and you have to understand and have a grasp for what's going to happen. I'm still not used to it and I'm still not sure always what it's going to do. The practices yesterday I did more running in front of people that couldn't get by me, but running in front of them. I didn't do very much running behind people. So, you know, my car was kind of, you know, oversteering when we filled up with fuel. You know, you'd get into a run and understeer behind people. You know, it was changing all the time. It wasn't until I found a good balance with the weight jacker and the bars inside the car to make the car not want to overstep in the rear when I was going around the outside of people and not understeer when I was underneath them. So, you know, it's just figuring it out. I'm still figuring stuff out, I promise.

THE MODERATOR: Questions from the media.

Q. You don't sound disappointed with your finish at all. Can you reflect a little bit on the fact the place that you got?

DANICA PATRICK: I don't sound disappointed? Yeah, I'm disappointed. Of course, I am. But I'm also not -- you know, I'm not an idiot. I know it takes time to learn things. You know, that's why I got three shiny yellow lines on my car. You know, sometimes it doesn't appear like I do, and other times it does. It's going to show again this year, I promise. You know, while I'm racing against these guys that are so good, it's going to happen. It's going to take time to be ready for all situations.

THE MODERATOR: Sam, second-place run. Almost had it in the end. The margin of victory was .0534's of a second, 10th closest in IRL history. Texas has four of the top 10. Talk about the closing laps, what you were hoping to get done.

SAM HORNISH, JR.: I can pretty much summarize the whole 200 laps with what happened the last four laps. It was a lot about I didn't have a strong enough car to go out there and run on my own. So what I had to do was find someone that the car worked well behind and had a fast race car. The fastest person I could find and the best place my car handled was behind the 4 car. I told them about 15 laps into the race, I said, "Whatever it takes, I'll be with you all night long. I'll push you." What you can do here, as you've seen in the past, you can get up there if you have a faster car, you can edge them out right at the end. But what is really hard to do is get that pass completed. What you need is somebody behind you pushing, helping you draft along and get by there. So I said, "I'll push you by anybody, I'll stay with you. I know you guys are the fastest cars out here." I guess, you know, outside of seeing myself or Helio win, most of the guys I can bear finishing behind. But I'm a little bit disappointed I couldn't time it right there at the end. But the big problem was that Tony and Scott were right there, and I feel if I would have tried to make my move earlier, they might have been able to sneak back up there and I might have shuffled back. So I figured, you got to realize risk versus reward. What I was able to do was to be able to go out there and maybe get a chance at snookering them right at the end, but it didn't work out for us. And I'm really happy with the way the Marlboro Team Penske crew put a good car underneath me. We had awesome pit stops. WE came out ahead by half a straightaway almost everybody that we pitted near. So I'm really excited about the way that goes and really looking forward to Richmond.

THE MODERATOR: Further questions for Danica.

Q. Danica, do you feel like maybe tonight you became a little less super human and that maybe after just a tough decent run tonight, maybe some of the hoopla will settle down and let you settle into a racing season?

DANICA PATRICK: I've never been super human; I never will be. I am what you write. There's just been so much stuff written lately and so much stuff going on... You know, whether the hoopla, as you call it, is there or not, I can still race the car. For me, it doesn't matter either way. I don't let the media define whether or not I'm doing well or not. So, you know, it's a little bit of a reflection. Obviously, I know it's what's happened. But, you know, tonight I promise I had a hard race, and I raced hard. It's a tough one. You know, sometimes, like I've said before, sometimes when you're running, you know, mid to back area, it's harder than running up front. You know, I tried. I'm going to try again and probably fail in other areas again. There's going to be successes along the way, too, like there's been, and that's it.

Q. Is there too much hype? Is there too much hype or is the hype for real?

DANICA PATRICK: I think that's up for opinion for whoever. I don't know. What do I think? Like I said, I don't -- I don't let it get to me. So, you know, I can't control how much is written. I can't control what is written. So, you know, that's up to journalists. You know, to a certain extent, some of the stuff I've done has been great for a rookie, and some of the stuff that I have done has just been what a rookie does. So whether you think that makes me bad or something because I have a race that's worse than the one before, you know, that's up for discussion between whoever that is. But like I said, I'm not super human and I'll never be. These guys are incredible race car drivers out there, and I have a lot to learn and I'll never stop learning.

Q. You talked about running from behind. You went from 3 to 11 or 12 quickly. Was that part of the strategy at all?

DANICA PATRICK: Part of the strategy?

Q. They said earlier on ESPN maybe you wanted to get back and get a feel for the race in the first 10 or 15 laps.

DANICA PATRICK: No, no, no. It's never a plan to go backwards. You always want to go forward. I was just saying before to someone else that the car wasn't very happy in traffic. You know, I was getting understeer behind people when I was behind them, and I would go high to go around somebody. You know, the rear would step out when I was by myself. I just had a car that I really couldn't dial in quickly enough just with the experience I've had. Eventually I did, you know, and I was able to go through the last couple of pit stops without even having to adjust the car. So I got it down, but it just took a little while. No, it wasn't planned.

Q. Do you view it as a step back in your development or a step forward and a learning experience?

DANICA PATRICK: Every day is a step forward and every race is a step forward. I don't think that anything has happened this weekend that's been negative. You know, we showed we had a fast car and we can dial it in. I qualified third. You know, I finished -- the last couple races were good, but this one was just a little bit different. You know, I had plenty of time to learn the Indy. I think it just shows I just need some time to learn.

THE MODERATOR: Danica, thank you very much. Questions for Sam.

Q. On the last lap, you really closed on Tomas down the backstretch. Looked like you had enough momentum to pull off an outside pass. Looked like you were really closing quickly.

SAM HORNISH, JR.: I think with the right timing, I would have been able to get it. But I really couldn't afford to practice it to try anything different because of the fact that two other cars were right there with us. Had I had, you know, two or three laps to maybe try to get it timed a little bit better, I think it would have worked out better. But as it worked out, I didn't have enough (indiscernible).

Q. Sam, you talked about hooking up with the 4 car. Was that a deal made with your spotters, the team, or just worked out that way?

SAM HORNISH, JR.: You know, I got a good start, got by the 16 and the 2 car very quickly, was able to get right in behind the 4 car. The car worked really well right up there. I figured, you know, he seems fast. We were kind of getting a little bit of a gap on some people once in a while. I figured, this is a good place to be. So I radioed up to the spotters and said, "Hey, tell the 4 car spotter I'll stay with him wherever he goes, granted that it is on the racetrack." I feel they had a good car, and I knew that if I could stay with them that I would finish well, just as long as they were still running (indiscernible), I figured we could run with anybody. But the car was better there.

Q. When you were running with your teammate Castroneves, y'all were real close, looked like you were going to touch a little bit. What was that like going through the turns and on the straightaway?

SAM HORNISH, JR.: You know, I made that deal to stick with the 4 car. On one of the restarts, he didn't get going quite as quickly as he could. That is when Helio got up there and jumped and got ahead of me. I figured I needed to stay right in there. My car didn't handle that great behind Helio's. For whatever reason, it just wasn't working, it wasn't handling quite as good. So I figured I was going to try to get around him, and I couldn't get it done on the outside so I was going to try on the inside. As you know, we only have one rule in the Penske team, and that's we don't take each other out. You get as close as you need to, but you have to make the decision whether or not, you know, what to do when it comes down to it. He was just -- he couldn't really -- wasn't holding his line. He just kind of -- seemed like his car didn't handle real well behind the 4 car. His car was moving around. Every time he'd move up a little bit, I tried to stick my nose in there. I couldn't get it done. I knew with the right pit stops and whatnot, I thought we could get ahead of him.

Q. Here you finish second. All the questions go to the girl who finishes 13th. I know you've taken a lot of questions like that. What is that like?

SAM HORNISH, JR.: You know, I don't really care that she takes the questions. That's one thing. But I think, you know, you guys -- we all have races that don't work out well for us. Sometimes you build things up to be, you know, too much. You know, this is a tough race. I'm soaked from head to toe with sweat. I've done everything, hit the wall, done about everything you can do at Texas Motor Speedway. It's a tough racetrack. Everybody can say what they want to, it's a day of drafting, you've just got to sit and wait. You're fighting every lap that you are out there and it's a learning experience. So I think that, you know, just because it was a bad day, you shouldn't turn around and say, "Does this mean that you can't do it any more?" You know, I got those questions all the time, you know, when I first started. "Well, you won a championship, can you do it again? Well, you didn't win that race. What's your problem?" It's tough to be out there. Every race treats you differently. Sometimes you have good races; sometimes you have bad races. And I've said it a million times: Racing is a lot about luck. You know, I go to Indy and I felt like I had a great race. I made one judgment call, one error in my judgment, and put the car, you know, two inches too high than what it should have been and it didn't turn any more, went straight into the wall. Other people -- you know, she had her problems. But she did have the luck on her side, and it is a lot about luck. There were so many times, went out there, ran at tonight, the way we ran with the green flag pit stops, we could have come in the pits, yellow flag could have come out, we're a lap down to Tony and those guys and our race it over. You've got to have the luck. I felt like I was lucky tonight. I put my car in the right position, made the right decisions. But if I didn't start telling the 4 car Tomas Scheckter at lap 15, "I'll work with you all night long and be wherever you need to go," I don't think he would have worked with me on the last 10 laps like he did. He went around the outside of Tony, I got up there, started pushing him. When we got there, he could have went down right in front of Tony, I could have been odd man out, and went back in fifth position. Instead, he stayed up there where he was at till I got by Tony. We both moved down. You know, that's where we were, first and second. He knew I was going to try to give him a run on the last lap. You know, there's a lot to be made. I don't need to talk all the time and all that stuff. So I guess sometimes it's good for the attention to go somewhere other than me. But I also find it hard to sit here, and I know how I felt at certain points in time. Sit up here, yeah, it was a good race at Indy. She finished here. She didn't go out and put it in the wall. That's a good start right there, just to be able to run all the laps.

Q. There was a lot of contact during the race. Did you have contact with Kanaan?

SAM HORNISH, JR.: I don't know. I don't think so. Plus there's so much buffeting. You get all the wind, the way the cars are moving around, the roughness of the track, you get a lot of, you know, jarring action. So sometimes you don't feel it. In 2002, Helio and I were running for the championship, we bumped three times, and I only knew of one. You know, there's a lot of incidental contacts. You go through the corners, the car moves around. Yeah, you don't like to be doing that. But I don't think I touched anybody tonight, I'm pretty sure I didn't. But I'd have to look at the camera. You would have a spotlight on my car the whole time for me to tell you, no, I absolutely didn't touch anybody or anything like that.

THE MODERATOR: Sam, congratulations. Great show for the fans tonight.

SAM HORNISH, JR.: Thank you.

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