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Firestone Indy Lights: Long Beach 100

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Long Beach 100

Firestone Indy Lights: Long Beach 100

Esteban Guerrieri
Stefan Wilson
April 17, 2011


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our third place finisher from today's Firestone Indy Lights race here at Long Beach, Stefan Wilson of Andretti Auto Sport. This is Stefan's second consecutive podium finish this season. Stefan finished second last week at Barber, which makes up for a 16th place finish at St. Pete. If you can talk about today's race and really chasing down Esteban there.
STEFAN WILSON: Yeah, I mean, we had a bad qualifying session yesterday. We looked like we were in good shape, and we definitely felt like the car deserved to be much higher than a P-6 starting position. Anyway, a few quick laps would have put us on the front, and unfortunately the yellows caught us out and we had to start from P-6, and really going into the race really wasn't quite sure what to expect.
I knew that turn 1 would be crucial and I thought it was going to be very tight, and I'm glad that I was able to maintain my position through turn 1, and then we had a good race car and were able to pressure guys into mistakes. Right at the end there I was keeping up with Esteban on the cold tires, and I felt we -- an extra couple laps we could have had a chance to get by, and then it turns out the next corner Josef made a mistake and went off, and that elevated me to a podium finish and took away the rest of the race. The rest of the race was run under caution.
All in all, I'm very pleased. The second consecutive podium in two weeks, so I'm pleased with that, and it's good points, and it's just nice to be here on the podium at Long Beach
THE MODERATOR: We've also been joined by our second place finisher, Esteban Guerrieri of Sam Schmidt Motorsports. This is Esteban's career-best Firestone Indy Lights finish. His previous best finish was sixth at St. Pete. Esteban, if you could talk about the start out there today for the race.
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI: Well, the start, yeah, just position after the first lap, I don't remember, because there was many. I started good. Actually I had a good run in the first corner out from the green flag. But then on the straightaway started off with quite a bit of speed and allowed me to push instantly from the beginning, so I got past and then I got past again after a couple of laps, so I was third.
Then I got in a pace, was okay, but still, I wasn't the quickest out there, so I just tried to maintain my rhythm in there. There was a restart, which I didn't have very good traction, so I got also got by, so I was fourth, and then there was a couple of crashes unfortunately for Josef and for Dempsey, got me up to second.
But overall it's the best result I've had so far, and it's not too bad to finish on the podium. Of course you want to win from the pole position, but it's not every day you can do it, and we have to learn from this experience. Congratulations to the whole team, to the whole Sam Schmidt Motorsports team because they gave me a very good car the whole weekend and they did a good job with all of us four drivers, and to my sponsors, of course, Lucas Oil and all the others, which they have supported me from the beginning, and now we start the oval season, so let's see how it goes.
THE MODERATOR: Both of you, if you can address I think the weather conditions today were a little unexpected. How did that play into today's race?
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI: Well, yeah, it was kind of similar from the morning. It was misty and a lot colder than yesterday, but we learned from the morning the car balance was more (indiscernible), and we thought we cured that -- well, at least for me we thought we cured that with some changes with it, but then probably it wasn't that much different from the morning, the temperature, but the track was grippier and grippier and I think we were lapping in quite good times, which were low 14s, so it was close to qualifying times.
The track was quick, and I think if it would have been hotter, probably the car balance would have changed, but with the conditions similar to the morning, it was quite similar overall balance for me.
STEFAN WILSON: As Esteban said, I was kind of surprised in the early stage how quick the race pace was. We were doing almost qualifying times. In fact I actually went quicker in the race than I did in qualifying. That just shows how much the weather conditions affected it from yesterday's quite hot, humid qualifying session and the cooler conditions. It was quite good this morning warming up with the same conditions. We knew what the race was going to be like going into it and what we needed to fix, really.

Q. Did the different types of tire rubber, being that we had so many races and so many different tire companies represented on the track, did that affect any of the performance of your cars in the Indy Lights?
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI: You mean from the 2010 tires to the 2011 tires or you mean through the weekend?

Q. For the whole weekend, because you had Yokohama, all different types of tires laying down rubber.
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI: I understand. Yeah, I think the other sport cars, other touring cars, of course they lay other rubber in the circuit, and that for sure affects the car balance. But it was quite grippy toward this morning and getting grippier in the race lap by lap. But as I said before, and also Stefan said before, it was quite similar to the morning, so we know more or less what to expect -- well, from my side we didn't make big enough changes, but it was quite similar. But it can change quite a bit the balance between one tire and another one.

Q. Were you surprised that Josef got by you?
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI: I was surprised -- well, actually I saw him in the mirror, so I was not that surprised. Of course as you kind of block, you are kind of waiting for that. But I was surprised how a lack of speed in the beginning, that I couldn't actually push the car. That we know got me a bit off guard, and then when he was right behind me, you couldn't do anything because he was deeper on the braking, and that's it, it's almost done.

Q. For Stefan, I know you said just now that you went faster than you qualified at, so you're running very strong and running very hard, but do you almost feel like it was your birthday or Christmas because people kept crashing and giving you positions during the race?
STEFAN WILSON: That's right, yeah. The first one I was racing against Anders Krohn, and we were obviously much quicker than him and we just pushed him -- I pushed him so hard and kind of forced him into a mistake. It was going to be very hard to make a move into any of the corners. You've got to be really late on the brakes to have a really good run, so I was just biding my time.
Eventually I knew I was quick enough that I could get by, and he just made a mistake and all of a sudden the waves parted and I had a clear track in front of me and I was able to put some good laps in and the caution helped for sure. We were able to catch up that seven seconds that was the difference between me and Esteban, and I think after that restart with the cold tires, my car was handling a little bit better.
Obviously it was very surprising to see Josef go off there at the end. He had been running a really strong pace, and obviously unfortunate for him, but it was beneficial to me.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on a great race, and we'll see you next month in Indianapolis.

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