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IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 500

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Bombardier Learjet 500

IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 500

John Barnes
Doug Boles
Tomas Scheckter
June 11, 2005

THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by Tomas Scheckter and also one of the co-owners of Panther Racing Doug Boles. Let's recap some of the accomplishments for the weekend. For Panther Racing, this is their fifth IndyCar Series Indy Racing League victory at Texas Motor Speedway. The race is the 10th closest in IRL history, .0534ths of a second. Four of the Top 10 closest finishes in IRL history have been right here at Texas. For Tomas, you have now led more laps at Texas Motor Speedway than any other driver. Your sixth career IRL pole and third at Texas. It's been a weekend of success all the way through. Just kind of recap it and wrap it all up.

TOMAS SCHECKTER: It has been tough before this. We definitely had a lot of downs. Indy was one. We were running good there. Before Motegi, we were also running good. You begin to doubt everything. The team put it together. They came back from Indy, worked very, very hard. A comeback with a pole and then obviously a victory is unbelievable. It's great for Chevy. It's great for the whole team morale. I think this will really lift us up so we can start doing this more often.

THE MODERATOR: Talk about from the management team and all, you stuck with Tomas, stuck with Chevrolet, now there's some results. How satisfying is that?

DOUG BOLES: It's very satisfying. I'll first admit I think there at the end of the race, we've had enough history with Sam Hornish before. Sam likes to beat up on the high side. Watching him behind us the last 10 laps I know made everybody nervous because we know how Good Sam is at this place. We were wondering what's going to happen. Chevrolet has done a great job for us. Really if you go back to last year when we came to this event, ever since we were in the car here in the fall, Chevrolet has given us something better the next time we run it, whether it's been in a test or a race, and they continue to give us better stuff, which has been getting us back to the front. Pretty excited about that. Obviously to do this in Texas, which is Pennzoil's hometown, down the road in Houston, that's important for us to do that for our sponsors.

THE MODERATOR: Recap the last few laps. What was your ultimate goal?

TOMAS SCHECKTER: Pushed me up in front. I got a lot of horsepower from Chevy, but I got some extra from Sam. And then towards the end, I was behind him. We both like to run high. I think Scott Sharp -- it was Tony, Scott Sharp and then Sam. I was trying high a little bit and really wasn't making any ground. I dove to the inside and managed to get by Sam. Then Sam helped me by Scott and then he helped me by Tony. It just made my life a little easier.

THE MODERATOR: Let's go ahead and go to some questions.

Q. Doug, obviously you get that horrible luck for a lot of races. Did it ever cross to mind maybe you needed to change the driver? You stuck with Tomas.

DOUG BOLES: No, that really hadn't crossed our mind. We went through last year where we all had bad luck. Tomas had some bad luck. But Tomas has been fast everywhere we've gone. So I think the thing we felt was most important was to try to stay together, stick through this year and see if we couldn't get our luck to turn around a little bit. Some of the problems we had were self-inflicted, other problems were just, you know, dumb luck that we couldn't do much about. But really the driver replacement piece was never something that we considered. The thing we did at Indianapolis with putting Buddy Lazier in a third car, I think we brought him on just to get somebody else to give us some input on the cars and what's going on to help out both the Tomases. And I think that helped us here a little bit, as well.

Q. Tomas, on Thursday night, you were very hard on yourself, saying that you needed to win races; winning poles wasn't enough. Do you feel this is the first step in maybe turning around the perception of who Tomas Scheckter is as a racer?

TOMAS SCHECKTER: I think so, for sure. This is what I really needed. I think the whole team needed it. I needed it for my morale. Again, I have to thank the team for sticking with me. A couple of stages where I wasn't believing in myself. John and Doug and everybody in the team stuck behind me, you know, allowed me to get my confidence back up to get us to this stage. I think certainly after this, we're definitely going to take a different attitude going into races. Hopefully we're a threat at every race after this.

DOUG BOLES: I add to that. I think we all noticed from the outside almost a monumental change in Tomas' thought process at Japan. Japan, Tomas I think decided he was just going to sit back and ride and see what happened. You think about the end of last year, he made unbelievable passes to get to the front really from Michigan on. At Japan, he just kind of sat back, ran fifth to seventh the whole way. All of a sudden at the end of the race, he was in second place. I think after the race he said to John Barnes, "I just figured something out, I don't have to make those crazy passes till the end. I have a chance to win this." Indianapolis was the same thing. He was sitting, waiting to go. On the radio with his guys today he said, "Is it time to go yet, guys? Is it time to go?" He's gotten a lot more patient the last three races. That's just going to mean a lot more victories for the 4 car.

Q. You seem in the last two years to really have matured as a driver. How do you do that? You've always been quick.

TOMAS SCHECKTER: Well, I mean, I would think I would have liked to have matured a little bit quicker, especially how many races that have slipped away - a lot of times through not my fault. But, you know, I think whether it would have helped me win more races or not, I'm not positive now. But for sure when you're at the end of the race, you're still mentally very strong. If you push very much from the beginning, you know, you sort of get to the end of that race, you're mentally starting to tire, where it's almost like an athlete. I just sort of relax and stay in tow. When I need to go, I went. I knew from the beginning we had a good car. I told the guys, "Let's just be easy. Let's get in and out the pits, no pressure. As long as you get me out in the top five, I can get to the front." And that's what they did all night long.

Q. It was clear pretty much from the outset that you had the car to beat. Given a lot of the crazy things that have happened to you in your career, did you find yourself thinking at all during the course of the race that you wonder what could go wrong tonight?

TOMAS SCHECKTER: No. I had a very positive attitude. I was very calm for this race. And I actually said before, it almost sort of doesn't feel like a race. Maybe, you know, I knew it was the time. I knew that we had everything. So I knew to a point that even if we had to drop back to the back of the field, we would get through. And I think that gave me a lot of confidence. You know, I just sort of, you know, took it easy coming in and out the pits, you know, really let the car do the work.

Q. When you look at the drivers who were up front, how this race played out, did it reestablish that this is a series of veteran drivers and that veteran experience is going to show through over some maybe hotshot rookies that are getting a lot of attention?

TOMAS SCHECKTER: Well, those hotshot rookies are filling a lot of the seats, and people are switching on a lot of TVs. I think the main thing is that those people that switch on the TVs, they appreciate the racing we're putting out and they stay long-term fans of the IRL. But, you know, sometimes these rookies got a little bit to learn. I'm sure it's not a flash in the pan and they're going to be around for a long time, as well.

DOUG BOLES: I guess I'd echo that. I think everybody in the series is a top flight race car driver. You look at our rookie, our other Tomas. He had a top five car today, and unfortunately we had an electrical issue that caused us to lose six laps. He's ran with that front group the last hundred laps and keep his nose clean and was able to drive around people when he wanted. And his maturity level at the end of the race about 15 laps to go, he said, "I'm going to drop back, stay out of this. I don't belong here. I'm six laps down." I think had he not had an electrical problem, you would have seen him running right behind the No. 4 car. I think the rookies deserve to be here and they probably deserve the attention they're getting.

Q. It seems that the high line wasn't as good as it normally is at this racetrack. Did you find that? Any idea why?

TOMAS SCHECKTER: Yeah, I think -- I thought the same thing. Sometimes when I went high, I really couldn't get enough speed, and that's why a lot of times where I made actually my moves when I was behind is going low. It was unbelievable that the car could still stick down low when we didn't do anything from the car from qualifying to race and it was still very, very good in traffic. I think those were the big things. You know, when I was behind Sam, I think I was fourth, the only reason why we could get ahead was that I could run down low. I'm not real clear why the high line was not as quick tonight.

Q. Do you paint the car yellow now or it stays silver?

TOMAS SCHECKTER: This car is quick yellow or silver. I don't mind. I've changed my shoe colors, my underwear colors enough to not bother about what color and what luck it is. I think the main thing we know is we've got a great car, we've got a good team. We've proved it to ourselves now we can do it. Now it's just a case of doing it week in and week out.

DOUG BOLES: The car will be yellow at Richmond and it will turn platinum again for Nashville and Kansas. After that, we haven't made a decision what will happen.

Q. Considering the attention this race got, do you believe a Tomas Scheckter victory now gives this series another star that they can hang their hat on?

DOUG BOLES: This is John Barnes. He's actually been in the hospital. We had one of our guys get run over. John, why don't you come take my spot here, you can answer this question better.

JOHN BARNES: We feel like every race we go to, we can win. And we feel like Tomas is, you know -- if you ask anyone that watches races week in and week out, they'll tell you he's the most exciting guy to watch. So if they're not fans of his already, they damn sure will be soon.

DOUG BOLES: Told you you'd do a better job.

Q. Tomas, did the cowboy hat fit you? Are you going to wear it around Indianapolis?

TOMAS SCHECKTER: I'm not sure about that. But maybe those guns were pretty cool. I just want to say again, I want to thank this whole team, Panther, they believed in me, Pennzoil, Chevrolet. It's really great to be here and I want to carry this momentum and win a lot of races for these guys.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. You have the Foyt Rutherford Trophy, named after a couple Texans who have done well at the race. Congratulations on your run tonight.

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