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IndyCar Series: The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance

IndyCar Series: The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance

Helio Castroneves
July 22, 2007


THE MODERATOR: Dario, thank you.
Now joined by our third-place finisher Helio Castroneves. His third third place of the season and first top five in the last seven races.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, talk about your day out there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Absolutely. I mean, well, whole weekend long we were struggling a little bit to find the setup. We can see that the speed we had was there, but not very consistent. It's kind of like up and down. As you guys heard me yesterday, we almost not qualified for the top six. I really put my heart and soul to do one lap. It was awesome.
But for the race, I knew it would be really tough, especially after the warmup, seeing the times that they were putting in, especially the Andretti Green cars.
You know, the only thing is was just to take it easy, play a very conservative race. Not only that, I won here twice. Not trying to do exactly the same what I did, but this time actually I was the guy to be hunted, instead of in the previous years I was the guy hunting. I was just trying to be smart. I think especially on the second pit stop, we were still leading the race compared to the other guys. But we got stuck in traffic a little bit.
Other than that, that's what we got. You can see the lap times of those guys, they were really pushing. I was pushing everything I could. But there was a limit. My car has always one limit I couldn't pass over otherwise it will be a big mistake. I managed to hold third place, which was very, very good for us, especially coming in for very tough results. I have to say I'm happy.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Helio.

Q. When you opened that gap over Tony, did you think you could win this?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Definitely with new tires, it gave a good rear grip, and I was like, Man, I'm going to get out of a keyhole here. I knew I had a very straight line. Probably we were running low downforce compared to the other guys, that's probably why we managed to go really good in straightaways. I was positive that was going to happen. But unfortunately Scott was making a lot of mistakes and kind of slowing down. Until I saw an opportunity, then I took a chance. He was clean, too, as well. We didn't have any trouble. We went for it.
From that point, man, we were pushing so hard. I can see Scott pushing me. It was fun. I have to say that was the best part of the race. We were having so much fun. You could see Scott pushing, Dario pushing Scott, the three of us. I was having a good time.
When two guys are in front of me, I don't know who they were, they said on the radio if I want to pit, it would be my call, to not get traffic. I kind of thought I could go one more lap. I mean, I have fuel for seven more laps. I didn't know if I would lose more time like I lost with Scott Sharp. I said, you know what, I'm going to pit this lap. When I pit, I get out of it. The lap time was still pretty good, but unfortunately here if you pit one lap early, it's kind of kill yourself.
Again, I think it was an exciting race for me in front. Turned out to be a good race.

Q. Take us through the start as you saw it.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: As soon as we did the keyhole, I started waiting for Danica, then I went for it. She kind of like fell back just half a car. Like I said, my car was really good in straightaway. Start pulling away. As soon as I brake really deep actually, that's why I thought I messed it up. When I look behind in the mirrors, I saw Tony and her. I think they tangle, I'm not sure. It was too fast. After that I just kept going. I saw the yellow. That's it. I didn't see much what happened.
You know, it was just two cars when I saw it, but not much. How did Danica finish?

Q. Fifth.

Q. What was your plan at the start?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Like I said, I was waiting a little bit. When I looked last, looked like she was going, and I went. Like I said, my car seems to be really good on the straightaway. Obviously if I jump the start, Barnhart didn't think so, and I think he's the director, not her, so...

Q. With Dixon on a hot streak, at what point do you think Dario starts getting nervous?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question. Both actually are very experienced drivers. Both seems to be in a very good momentum, you know. I have to say right now, because of three straight wins for Scott, definitely he probably going to feel a little bit more comfortable.
But Andretti Green also has three other cars which when you thinking about championship, you want to do everything you can to secure that. I'm not saying anything negative. I'm saying everything positive. You have more chance, guys like Tony, Dario, Marco, even Danica, to be stealing points from Scott. That's why it's going to be an exciting championship, no question about it, as always in the IndyCar Series. We just want to make sure we win the next race and collect more points.

Q. What are you leaving here with?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I should ask you guys. I enjoy it so much. The crowd seemed to be enjoying. Even before the start, still people coming in. My point is, IRL, IndyCar Series, seems to be, you know, with the oval racing, we always talking about oval, this is the type of racing. But IndyCar Series, I mean, everybody really enjoy road course. Everywhere we going, street course, road course, it seems to getting a lot of attention, a lot of public, a lot of fans.
I have to say they definitely doing something right in that direction. Here, a tradition place, a place when I was a kid I used to watch it. We have to have this type of race. So far I enjoy it very much.

Q. With the mix of road courses, street courses, ovals, do you consider yourself probably the best all-around drivers in motor sport?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Absolutely, when you putting everything together. Ask if one of those Formula One guys want to race here. They always say, Oh, you guys are crazy. Well, that's what I'm talking about. We know what we're doing. We enjoy speed. We enjoy go fast. If it's not an oval, if it's a short oval, doesn't matter. Our cars are very fun to drive. That's why it's a tough race out there.
I say every year, if we add a little bit more challenge, short ovals, superspeedway, road course, street course, it just makes even more for everyone. Hey, it's fun.
THE MODERATOR: Appreciate your time, Helio.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you. Don't forget to sing happy birthday to Scott Dixon. I gave this weekend for him. It's his birthday. It's a present. Just kidding (laughter). Supposed to be a joke.

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