IndyCar Series: Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix
Topics: Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix
July 6, 2008
WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK
THE MODERATOR: Well, we have the gentlemen who finished second and third in the Camping World Indy Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Tony Kanaan. Who certainly stands to gain a lot in the overall point standings, turned what could be a disastrous day into a very good day.
I know it's been grilling and congratulations to Darren Manning and the ABC/A.J. Foyt Team for a career best second place finish.
Tony, we'll start with you. I can't imagine a worse situation in the final practice to have a car snap around on you. You wrapped your wrist a little bit, and the team really fought hard. A very good end of the day, at least from our perspective.
TONY KANAAN: For sure. I think we had a suspension failure in the morning, which caught me by surprise, and hurt my wrist a little bit, which distract. It's not a nice feeling. It's a wrist that has been broken twice, so it probably hates me right now.
But I have to say, it was a great day for us. As far as points, like you said, I think, you know, I don't think I had enough, even with my wrist being okay for Darren or for Hunter-Reay.
I mean, Darren was pretty strong at the end. Ryan as well. I mean, I was losing a little bit in the high speed corners because I couldn't turn, but I don't think I had a better car than he did. I probably could put a little more pressure on him. But I don't think I could have passed.
So I'll take a third place. I think it'sâ -- like you said, it's thinking about the championship, it's great.
THE MODERATOR: Well, Darren, you were right there at the end with a chance, and, boy, what a great day for you and the team. It was neat to see you out front, I think for the fans. Congratulations.
DARREN MANNING: Yeah, thanks. It's a nice change to be in the press conference here a little bit. There you go. See, I'm a rookie. It's been a while. There you go. No, it's obviously really nice to run competitive and run at the front.
The competition out there is so, so deep. Really, really deep throughout the field. You know, last year if you were second off the pace in qualifying, you may be, you know, in sixth, seventh place, something like that. This year if you're second off the pace, you're 20th. It's crazy. Well, it's not crazy, it's good. It's good for the fans and good for the state of the sport. That every team can get up front there.
Just a shame I was a bit of a sitting duck. We had chosen to stay out. And, you know, I knew I was going to be in the lead there. But I was at the stage that I got in the lead there, I was at a stage that I was in the lead there when I was about to go green. I knew I was going to have to save fuel. And I knew I was probably going to be a sitting duck with saving fuel.
But, you know, we were willing to take that and hold off as many people as we could saving fuel. And made the drop into top six and things. But as soon as a couple more yellows came out, we were golden. I was waiting for those magic words from A.J. that we've got to go to the end on full. So we were.
It was just a shame. There was a lot of dirt there in turn ten. And I decided to restart after the dirt, thinking I might be able to catch some of these guys out. But it was a shame on me, because Ryan got a good run on me. I nearly got him back into the stop, but I thought discretion was the better part of valor, two-wide going into it. I think Tony gave me a bit of room to come back in.
TONY KANAAN: I was just in.
DARREN MANNING: Yeah, I could see him licking his lips. And Ryan nearly went into the stop at under 90 miles an hour. And I spotted in there. And then I reached the yellow, came back out. And thought okay, my turn to get him back. And A.J. was screaming in my ears, Don't let him do that again. Get him back.
But I tried and he learned from my mistakes and it went really early. That bugger. I had words with him. But he had a quick car, And pulled away. Pulled a quick couple of seconds gap on me.
As Tony said, I was quick enough to hold my own. It's just all testament to the team, and good job we've done.
THE MODERATOR: Before we take your questions. Just a point, Tony Kanaan, we mentioned, is the only driver to be in the Firestone Fastest Six every time we've had it. So I do expect that.
But I think it's worth noting despite the attrition we had. Darren Manning was strong all weekend long, and congratulations to that team.
Q. Tony, if you could just tell us a little about how much pain you kind of went through? Because this is kind of a physical course anyway. You know, even without having a broken wrist. And both of you can talk about how at the end it just really seemed to be the adage caution breeds caution.
TONY KANAAN: First, let's not say broken wrist, otherwise Tremmel's going to try to operate on me tomorrow, and I don't want to do that. So it's fracture, maybe.
The pain, how can I describe? It's a wrist that has already 14 screws on it. It's been operated twice. It's a really sharp pain on the outside bone. So, basically every time I turn to the right, which we don't have. Yeah, not too many on this side. It gives me like somebody's really putting a needle inside my wrist.
So that was the pain that I had all race. And I was really happy for all those yellows, trust me. I was even wanting my tires at one point, thinking I can't do it. So it was painful.
Like I said, I don't think we had the right car to win the race today even if I was 100%. So I'm not trying to brag about it or make an excuse that's what happened.
After what happened in the morning, we turned it around pretty good. So if you asked me after if I was expecting to finish third today? I would say no. I didn't even know if I was going to continue the race.
Q. Talk about the caution, like the last 16 laps?
TONY KANAAN: Everybody gets greedy. Funny enough, everybody gets greedy before the start, because the last two cautions were under yellow. So I assume everybody could run under yellow, so every car, everybody's trying to warm their tires. That's what I think caught Dixon at the time, and it's unfortunate, but, like you said, yellows bring yellows.
DARREN MANNING: After you go through two and one, you've got to get through that. There are a couple of cars that didn't on one of the restarts, but if you can just be a little more than patient, and not have to worry about warming your tires. I think sometimes you get a bit more build up even when you do warm the tires.
So like Tony said, everybody's so competitive, everybody's going for every little advantage they can get. Like Ryan did with me. He won the race because of the restart. So it's won and lost.
Q. Darren, you did have a good weekend. You were pretty quick all the way through, have you guys taken a little bit of a step-up on some of these courses?
DARREN MANNING: Yes, all the cars did. Just can't quite shown it yet. We ran in St. Petersburg, strong. We finished third there. I think I would probably finish behind them there. But we had a gear box problem, and enough to finish the race in third gear.
So, we were really strong there. And, we had enough to get up in sixth place there. And I was challenging Marco for fifth. And a lot of theseâ -- still finishing ninth, it was great for us. We dropped back to 24th in a race on the way back to 9th place.
So even though things had gotten very quickly around there, because we race every weekend. It was the last race. That's why I'm in second right now. Or should I say?
TONY KANAAN: Third now. Could be worse.
Q. For both of you, Darren, you haven't had the best of times, but your crew hasn't given up on you. Does it keep working to give you a car, and this weekend you had the same thing. You had your problem this morning, and the guys worked hard up until the time they got the cars in to get you back. And they did a good job. Because you had no problems up until the last two runs.
DARREN MANNING: My guys are a small team. We're not a two or three car team. My own teammate, A.J., who is a pretty good teammate to have at times, but other times, he's a tough task master.
He's got very high standards. You know on some of these short weekends where we've only got maybe an hour, hour and a half to do qualifying and race set-up, and try to get the car fast and comfortable and get the race set-up and things. And trying to get in traffic running, you run out of time really quickly. It's extremely difficult, you know, by ourselves.
But I think within the team, they know what a job we did, and we did resources. We've got the same resources as anybody out there. We've got the race sponsor in ABC, that gives us everything we need: The wind tunnel time, the shocks. We've got pretty much what everybody else has got.
It's just nice. We've had a long weekend right here at Watkins Glen. The three-day weekend to sit down and talk about it, between myself, and the engineer and the chief mechanics. We've worked out what we need to go faster. We've proved it every now and then to ourselves. It's nice we can validate it to ourselves on weekends like this.
TONY KANAAN: I've got to thank our team. That's our strength to be able to put the car back together. Not just my team, but the whole team. We have different guy guys working on that car.
So the least I could do is drive the best and get the most out of the car. That's what I did, and that is the best way to thank those boys. Like I said, great results, I think. We were trying to feel the car, and I was hoping I was not going to have another suspension problem.
We go through the check, and it was one, two, three, bust off. And came through turn three, and I said radio check, my favorite corner. So they all laughed. So I was trying to get some positives out of it. It was a good weekend, for sure.
Q. If both of you could comment on Ryan Hunter-Reay breaking through as a race winner?
TONY KANAAN: I'm always happy to see somebody win the first time. It always brings me back to when I won the first time. He won the style that he fought for it. It's nice. It's nice to see a new face in Victory Lane.
So, well deserved. I hope he enjoyed it. Like Manning said, you're only as good as your last race. So next week in Nashville, he'll have to try to do it again.
DARREN MANNING: Yeah, I thinkâ -- I just realized I was second to him when he won his first Champ Car race. A bloody win there as well, not so good, is it?
No. It's nice to finish second to Ryan. He's a good guy, a good driver. It's nice, he was out of the ride for a little while there. I'm sure we've all been in that situation before. And it's nice that the Rahal/Letterman team gave him a chance. And he proved it straightaway. He was super fast straightaway. And we all knew we had another competitor on our hands for sure. It was just a matter of time.
DARREN MANNING: Yeah, I'd have to apologize. I don't think it was anything other than a bit of a racing incident. We were kind of three-wide between Marco, myself and Dan, and I think he just had a problem.
He had come back right away from the lead group. He was bottle-necking us up. And Marco had to get off the gas, and I kind of went to the left of him, and we went to the right. And you can stay out without even looking at the replay whether Dan had come to the left and didn't know I was there, or Marco had come up to me or I had come up to him. But he just dropped a little bit.
I think I touched into Marco a bit. Did Marco finish? I think? Yeah, at least Marco kept going. So just a shame for Dan, I mean just a situation where Wilson was coming back, and we'd all kind of go around him, and I had nowhere to go.
Q. Were you surprised to see Dixon make the mistake he did under yellow?
TONY KANAAN: I guess he's human, isn't he? Jesus Christ, you know? You go, and you look at the guy is having a fantastic year. You think he has some extra power from another planet or something. Then you don't know when he's going to have a bad day, and there you go.
I was surprised, but you know what, the way we all warm our tires like we were saying before, it can catch you by surprise. So, obviously, he's not going to forgive himself for that. But somebody else asked me if I was happy about that. I should never be happy about what happens to that. But if I had to look at Dixon right now, I would say it was a trade from Homestead. I don't think they're that upset when I drop off, so.
Q. Over the last couple of weeks you've taken about 40 points out of his championship lead. Can you just talk about your prospects in the championship?
TONY KANAAN: I'm on my way. I guess the second part of the season that happened. I got there last year as well. You know, I think at one time I was going to have to turn the situation around. I was getting worried about it. I had a dark cloud on the top of my head the whole time. And I talked to my mom. I don't know. Do something. Pray. What am I doing wrong?
No, it's been good. I think it's going to be tough. It's still 66 points behind, but, you know, it was really good before I came here, so we're on the way. We're on the way back.
DARREN MANNING: Going for a championship, it seems to be today was a bad day. You have to do the best you can with a car without trying to get carried away because it can put you in the stands. You've got to be smart. And I said that under the yellow.
I see under the yellow, it's Hunter-Reay, and I look behind me, and it's Rice, and Marco, and Marco was the highest guy in the championship among all those guys and myself.
Here's the thing. I don't think Hunter-Reay are going to give me any slack, because I have everything to lose if they don't.
So despite the situation, you've got to be happy with what you've got. And you know, third is better than nothing, and there's a lot of points, obviously.
It's worse than second, and worse than first. But sometimes you've got to be smart about it. That's the way we won the championship, and that's the way to keep himself alive in a championship until now. So, you know, I was extremely happy shooting third there.
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