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IndyCar Series: Argent Mortgage Indy 300

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Argent Mortgage Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Argent Mortgage Indy 300

Michael Andretti
Tony Kanaan
July 3, 2005


THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Danica. Tony Kanaan, winner of today's Argent Mortgage Indy 300. Tony, your first win this season, your first since Nashville last year. What took you so long?

TONY KANAAN: I wish I would know. I don't know. I think we definitely were close a lot of times this year. We haven't been able to capitalize. I think it's always like this, the race that you don't think you have a great chance, you end up winning. I think this was one of those cases.

THE MODERATOR: It was such a close finish at the end. It's got to be a relief to be battling with your teammate.

TONY KANAAN: Kind of de'ja vu of last year. I was stuck behind Vitor and Buddy over the last 10 laps. I finished third. I wasn't too happy about that. When I got side by side, I looked in my mirror, I saw Vitor. I said, "Hey, remember this?" I had a lot of fun racing. Vitor is a very clean guy. Then, as well, me and Dan, we talked about it, what we're going to do. It wasn't like we just came up with that. It was planned, you know, if that would happen, what we were going to do. We tried the whole race. I never run the high line ever through all the 200 laps to make people think I couldn't run up there. But my car was quicker up in the high line than it was on the bottom. I kept it on the bottom the whole race because I was tired of getting passed on the outside in the last lap. I guess it worked out perfect.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take some questions from the media.

Q. Why didn't you think you'd have a good chance to win the race today?

TONY KANAAN: Well, looking at the qualifying and warm-up, we thought we had a good car, but I didn't think I was quick enough to get on my own. I knew I had a car to be first, but once I got there, I don't know if I could hold it. I mean, Scheckter looked really strong. If you look at the whole race, he was passing anybody he want any time. That proved my point. I said, "Well, we're going to have to get rid of him." He almost got rid of himself a few times putting his car where it doesn't belong. I think IRL addressed that when he passed me on the bottom of the track, that I couldn't -- I didn't even saw him. I mean, all of a sudden I see this silver thing going by. I thought was the white line, so they put it back. When it went green all the time, all the way through the six laps to go when we had to make a stop, that's when I took the advantage, coming in quick, getting out quick, not losing a lot of time, so we spread the field out. Dan was there holding everybody, "I'm coming." I guess they told him.

Q. When you have one of these side-by-side battles, is it easier or harder with a teammate?

TONY KANAAN: It's easier, definitely easier. Especially in our team, we don't play -- we don't play around, we respect each other a lot. I had no problem actually. I was laughing, to be honest. I'm like, "Ho, ho, we're going to win this race as a team now. Let's see who is going to win, Daniel." Last lap I'm talking to myself. I'm like, "Let's see the odds. He won four races. I haven't won yet. Come on, give me a break. It's going to be a close finish. I have the bigger nose, I guess I have a good chance."

Q. Did you think you had him at the line or it sounds like you were blocking?

TONY KANAAN: Blocking who? You can call that blocking for sure. They did it last year. You know, blocking is when you try to cut the guy off. Over there, we just blocked the traffic. I knew I had won because I could see his nose where it was. But I got a bit confused. I knew I had beat him, but all of a sudden Vitor flies by, and nobody says anything on the radio because they all celebrating instead to tell me who won the race. I go to turn one and I looked at the tower. I saw my number. I started to celebrate then. For a moment, I knew I had beat Dan, but Dan moved me up a bit, and I was worried about Vitor. Sure enough, he was coming.

THE MODERATOR: The race today was also the second closest 1, 2, 3 finish in IRL history. Michael Andretti, talk about what you're thinking those last few laps as you watch Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan at the end.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It was a good feeling actually because it's a little bit of reverse de'ja vu where Rahals were running 1, 2 in that same position, and Tony was running in Vitor's position. We knew Tony was in a helpless position last year, so we knew where Vitor was this year. It was a nice setup. It was a good feeling to have both of them. Pretty much you felt that if everything went the way it's supposed to go, we were going to win it, either Tony or Dan. It was where we wanted to be.

Q. Does it give you greater pleasure to beat your friend Dan?

TONY KANAAN: Yes, because I can pick on him (laughter). Still has Indianapolis ahead of me, and another three races. I mean, if you look at the cool-down lap, he hit my side pot with his car just to leave a big dent there. I guess Michael is going to make him go to the shop and paint. Yeah, for sure, it's fun because we can look at each other and make fun of each other, for sure. Like he was after St. Pete, he's like, "Hey, thanks, man. Good job. Let me by." So today I said... Not a payback, but I have more pleasure beating a lot of people, everybody else, than beating my teammates.

Q. Did the wind have any effect on you today?

TONY KANAAN: A little bit in the beginning of the race. After that, I didn't pay attention a lot or if I was running behind people all the time. That really for me didn't make a difference. I could tell it was strong because on the back straightaway we're pulling all the gears. Then you get in the front straight, it looks like you don't go anywhere. But balance-wise, handling-wise, I don't think the wind was a big factor.

Q. Is it as big a kick to watch your teams win as it was for you to win?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It's a different kick, but it's a great kick. You know, winning it as a driver, there's that self-feeling. But winning it as a team is a great feeling, as well, especially when you're friends are winning for you. It makes it really special. It's different, but the same in a lot of ways.

Q. How scary is it as a team owner to see two and sometimes three cars dicing it out with each other?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, definitely you're holding your breath a couple of times when you're looking to Turn 1. There was one moment when Tony went inside of Scheckter, I thought, "Oh, boy, here we go." Definitely your heart skips a beat there for a second. But, you know, that's part of it. I think everybody else has the same feeling as well. I guess that's the excitement of racing.

Q. Do you feel this is somewhat of a turnaround in your mile-and-a-half programs?

TONY KANAAN: I think it's a good feeling, but it doesn't change anything. We still don't have it for qualifying. We haven't figured it out. But we do have for the race. We've never been concerned about the race, having a good-handling car and be able to go to the front. If you look how long it took for me, Don and Dan to go to the front, all of a sudden in two laps, we're second, third and fourth. But I think we're lacking a little bit of the speed, for sure. That applies for qualifying. If you have a little bit more speed for qualifying, you can transfer that to the race car and then be strong all the way around. But on the other token, the best comparison we have, if we say who is the guys who figure out qualifying this year for the mile-and-a-half ovals is the Rahal guys. Then looks like in the race they struggle a little bit more than we do. So I think it's kind of a trade that I wouldn't trade places. I still keep starting 13. I don't mind. I mean, I can pass few people and move to the front and then have a good race car. I think we haven't found the balance between the qualifying and the race. I don't know if we ever going to find. You know, only thing we can do is keep working. We have good race car drivers, a great group of engineers that are working really hard. Trust me, as a team as competitive as we are, we don't like to start 8th, 13th, 14th, especially when you see 1, 2, 3 same team kicking our butts all the time, so we have to work really hard. Turnaround makes us feel really good. We have Nashville, we have Michigan, we have Fontana. It's coming, so we have to work really hard.

Q. Tony, it seems like you were the only driver out there today that had success in the front position. What really gave you the edge on the outside line?

TONY KANAAN: Well, like I said, I worked a lot on my race setup this weekend. I did everything different that I ever done in the past. I approached the weekend saying, "We're going to work on race, then we're going to put on a new tire and go qualifying," because I haven't done that so far. In the race, man, I never showed people that I was strong on the outside because I didn't want them to know. I always run on the bottom. People thought I was understeering. I kept losing positions and going back there. I wasn't panicking. When I had to pass Scheckter, he really pissed me off going on the bottom, I passed him on the outside. I knew I was strong. I knew my car would run better on the outside than it was on the inside, but I didn't want to show anybody. When I was able to -- I was afraid that Dan had figured that out, so he was going to go on the outside and didn't let me the inside on the last six laps, but I guess he didn't. I knew the moment that I pulled beside him, I was going to win the race.

Q. Tony, Dan was talking about the close finish here. What is it about this track that seems to produce these close finishes?

TONY KANAAN: I think it's the type of the cars that we run and the type of the banking we have. It's been very exciting. People doubt it before because they say we always have yellow before the last 20 laps, that's how we got the pack together. It didn't happen today. I think the nature of the track is what causes to be those finishes that we have. I think the way we run our wings, the cars are very similar, so the drafting is really important.

Q. (No microphone.)

TONY KANAAN: I don't hear anybody talk about Rahal Letterman right now, so who cares. They can talk as much as they want. Like I said, when the race is finished is when the checkered flag drops. Now they're going to have to talk about us. You guys want to see Danica win? Sorry, you got to wait till next time.

Q. Comment on Bryan Herta's troubles today above

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: We're really scratching our heads. It's not Bryan's car fault for sure, it's the same car he had at Indianapolis which he struggled with all month long. We're trying to figure it out. Believe me, our engineers are scratching their heads right now. But I have confidence that we will. Bryan should easily be running up there with the other guys with the setups and everything that we have. It's just unfortunate that he's got something in that car that's not working right.

Q. Talk about the continuous green-flag racing, how it played into your strategy?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, I'm not sure it played into our strategy. I think it just worked out well for us. I think we run the same strategy as for everybody else. I'm glad it didn't come down to that last pit stop thing because it seems like that happens a lot. It was nice to see it actually play itself out in the right manner, and that was to have the last pit stop under the green and really have the best cars running at the end up front. But there wasn't a strategy involved. I mean, we did run two different ones with Dan staying out, the other guys coming in. But in the end, that really wasn't the thing that made a difference because you do that different strategy because a yellow's coming out. They didn't come out, so it didn't really matter.

Q. Comment on Vitor's move at the end.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: First I was thinking, if he were to pass, there would have been a big protest because he was down under the white line, seemed like there were some problems there all day long, especially with Scheckter, we were a little upset that he did it twice and didn't get penalized. Obviously, if Vitor would have pulled off the pass, he would have had a little bit of controversy, which I'm glad we didn't have.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, and thanks for coming in.


TONY KANAAN: Thank you.

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