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IndyCar Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  SunTrust Indy Challenge

IndyCar Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge

Helio Castroneves
June 28, 2008


Q. Helio, pretty interesting night out there. Give us your take out there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Wow. That's the only thing I have to say: What a race, what a team. These guys are awesome. We were able to do everything we could out there to find some grooves out there that did not exist and all of a sudden making the car stick out there.
So it was a lot, a lot, a lot of fun. I wanted to win so bad this race for Phil Morris folks, and also this is one of my favorite tracks.
Well, I guess I had a lot of opportunity to pass a lot of cars. My car was really good on new tires, but unfortunately about 15, 20 laps after, it was really, really difficult to keep consistent, the car was really loose, and sliding, a lot of things was happening at the same time. Andretti Green was very consistent through the whole entire run, and that's what made them win the race, and us finish second.

Q. Did you think you would be up on the podium this evening when the race started?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's what we were working on. I was trusting my team for sure that we would be able to do something on pit stop. I didn't know I was able to do what I did on the racetrack, passing a lot of guys out there. So it was a combination of both.
We did not have the fastest car out there, but we didn't have a terrible car. We really took a chance on qualifying and we didn't have any practice, and certainly the qualifying proved it was not a good setup. So we kind of like were trying to close our eyes and point fingers, okay, what are we going to do here, in a good way, obviously. Rick (ph) is an incredible guy and whenever we take chances like that, he's always going the right direction. I was very pleased. I wasn't the fastest, but second is definitely pretty darned good.

Q. It seems that you are aiming now at the championship and you're getting out of it without putting yourself out.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm squeezing every little second out there of the car; today it was definitely proof out there, I was really trying hard. Sometimes trying a little too hard when we went three-wide. I thought with the car we would be able to stay there and all of a sudden, I put two of the cars in a very risky move and thank God, I end up losing position and nothing worse than that happened.
But hey, when you have adrenaline going, you're pumped, and I was very pumped, you want to keep going. Hey, you know, a little short, but second is still good.

Q. Five of the next seven races are rode or street races. How do you feel about that and how do you think it will affect the championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it will be great. I know Scott is an incredible road racer, as well. I know Briscoe is very good, too.
So, hey, we are ready to go next week, Watkins Glen, it's a place that I really enjoy very much. I want to redeem myself from last year, and we know that we have more competitors. We know with the champ car we are going to have a lot of guys doing good on road courses that was proved in St. Petersburg. It's good for the championship to mix it up a little bit, and, hey, it will be a lot of fun.

Q. Some drivers complained after the race about problems with some driving and a record number of yellows out there. Is there something that the series needs to look at? Did you have any problems in the race, and what do you think the resolution could be?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm suspicious to talk about yellows, because for me, yellows were extremely good. That was the only way to pass cars. Maybe if you didn't have that much yellow you guys would see a very boring race, follow the leader and nobody pass, and you save fuel and that's it.
The point is, it's tough to pass here. Everybody when they have an opportunity, they want to take chances as much as they can. If you see a small window, you're going for it.
I tried everything I could. Sometimes, you know, this place, it really bites and you gets you surprised, and I was going for it because I knew what I was doing, but I was taking a lot of chances, as well.
But again, the series is really incredible here, and to keep everything clean and stuff like that, there's not much you can do here. They are not driving the car. We are the one driving the car and sometimes we do put the helmet on and forget about everything they say. You know, patience is a big key and I'm one of them, especially in the restart, he's like, be patient and I'm like, no problem. And after that, he's like, I thought I said patience; sorry, I didn't understand.

Q. When we heard about the rain coming in, how much did that change the strategy of the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, I asked that question before the race started, and they were concerned that the race probably would be delayed. But as soon as nothing happened, for me, the message never came through, so we weren't even thinking about rain at that point.

Q. What do you think about that Servia guy? All of that short-track oval experience he had back in CART seems to be paying through for him.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, he's a good driver. You have a lot of good drivers out there; the quality, and everyone, they are getting used to it. If you notice, they are really fast over here in Richmond, and no question about it, they are learning quick. They are picking up.
Hey, we have the same equipment. They have the same equipment. There is no reason for them to understand and the competition is getting higher and higher. So, he did a good job.

Q. You may have answered this, but early in the race, when there was another Danica sandwich out there where you went high, if you could take us through that.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, my guys are like, okay, we are running the same sequence on those guys, so no worries and do not be aggressive and just follow.
I saw an opportunity out there, and it wasn't much of an opportunity. I'm glad that everybody held their line. At the end of the day, it was my aggression that almost put two cars at risk. She could not do anything and Tony could not do anything. It's one of those things, one is going to take lift-off and nobody took lift-off and thanks God I was the one that had to be wise and I ended up losing a position. It was nobody's mistake and it was just me trying to be a little bit too much.

Q. There were two incidents where they waved off restarts and there were a couple crashes; any reasons restarts were sloppier tonight?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, sometimes it's tougher to get the rhythm; you start a little too quick or if you back off, you create that line that everybody is breaking and checking and it's becoming a little bit hard.
So the point the way I saw it, once they are going, probably third gear, which was fast, sometimes good, sometimes not. Because I was very much on, and I wasn't trying, but it's hard. They did a great car and there was no bad car, and for me it was just awesome because I was able to make a lot of moves on those restarts.

Q. You closed just a little bit -- (inaudible) -- is it races like this, how you're going to win the championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Third place, do you know what happened there? That's okay.
Well, I didn't know, that's what I thought, we were fighting for every single point in this championship. Scott did an incredible job. And unfortunately we don't have a car to win yet, but hopefully it's coming.

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