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Firestone Indy Lights: AvoidTheStork.com 100

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  AvoidTheStork.com 100

Firestone Indy Lights: AvoidTheStork.com 100

Martin Plowman
J.K. Vernay
June 19, 2010


THE MODERATOR: We are joined this evening by our podium finishers from today's "AvoidTheStork.com 100," Martin Plowman, with AFS Andretti Autosport. This is a career best for Martin; previously his was fourth at Barber. We're also joined by J.K. Vernay. He retains the points lead, and this is J.K.'s fourth podium finish of the season. Starting with you, Martin, can you talk about tonight's race? Sounds like the last 10 laps were crazy.
MARTIN PLOWMAN: Yeah, I spent the last 30 or 40 laps chasing Sebastian down, and I felt like I had the car -- after that first restart, let the car get away a little bit, and I was constantly fighting to get the balance back with my in-car controls, and it was like the whole race ebbed and flowed. And he would pull away, and I would catch up, and after that we easily had the edge over third place behind, until the last yellow flag.
At that point I was maintaining the gap, and I could see J.K. pulling in half a car length every lap, and I didn't need that yellow flag there. I made a good start, and I felt like I was managing the car and trying to keep J.K. behind me, because I didn't have it to match Sebastian for the win. But in the last two laps, when he came into terrible traffic, I thought maybe this could be my day, and unfortunately it wasn't to be, but the car was solid all day, and I want to say a big thank you to the AFS crew for giving me a car. On the podium but still chasin' that first win.
THE MODERATOR: For J.K., this is your first short oval race. Your thought about this evening's event?
J.K. VERNAY: It's my first podium, so I can be happy about the race of today, and it was fast, but after this race I know they will be quick on the oval and I know I have a good car. The team did a great job again. Last year they finished 1, 2, 3 so we were sure to have a good car this weekend, which we did and yeah, after I tried to -- I took a good start, and I overtook Martin in corner 1 but maybe too much on the throttle and he was able to stay out in the second lane, so just a rookie mistake. I'm still a novice on the oval, and I have a lot to learn. It's my second oval, so for sure I cannot be perfect and I have a lot to learn.
Yeah, it's a good weekend for the championship, and I don't know where the others finished, but I finished 13th at Indy, and now I can earn points on them, and we have to be focused like that to the end of the championship. The goal is to fight for the title and to win the championship, so for sure we cannot win every race; we have to be focused and be smart until the end of the year. The team did a great job since the beginning of the year, and I'm sure that they will continue like that. So it's good; I'm happy.

Q. There has been a lot of talk about the bumps between one and two. How did you approach them? I heard several drivers talking about different ways to set the car up and approach the bumps so that you get the least amount of jump. If you hit it wrong the car would pop up. How did you guys handle the bumps?
MARTIN PLOWMAN: That's correct. In practice when there wasn't a lot of grip on the track, it was a nightmare. I couldn't even hold it flat, and every time I went in there I was holding my breath and just praying I would come out on the other side of it. We made some changes to make the car more adherent to the bumps for qualifying, but we still had to be conscious to keep the speed on the car because to make the car soft on the bumps tends to slow the car down, so being aggressive on one side and trying to make the car better in turns one and two.
Qualifying was the first time I went flat out in one and two and I went to the bathroom to check my underwear to make sure -- it's pretty scary. Indy is a place you have to treat with a lot of respect, but it's flat and you have a very good car and the qualifying outcome is dependent upon how quick your car is and how free it is. And this one you have to go in there hard and be ready to catch it.
J.K. VERNAY: It was my first time here so I had to learn the track and also the bump! I was flat for qualifying also because they told me, okay, you have to be flat if you want to be in front, so I did that and I was flat. At the end of the race I was flat nearly all the time, so just a question of confidence in the car, first, and after to know the track better.
MARTIN PLOWMAN: There was a point after the race, there was more grip and more rubber going down, and I think it was easier to get flat toward the end of the race for sure and it was going slower toward the ends, obviously, but I was thinking how are we going to get flat out around here?

Q. To the bump, is it just adding to the excitement? Or are you talking about a fear factor? Is it something you want to see smoothed out? How do you view that bump?
MARTIN PLOWMAN: Every driver would love to have his job made easier for sure. If it was flat, it would be easier for everybody so the gap between everybody would be much closer and I think the racing would be tighter and harder for us, so it's kind of -- it's better the devil you know. It's harder for us to drive around it, to drive around the problem, but then you will see a bigger gap between the drivers.
J.K. VERNAY: You can repeat the question.

Q. (No microphone.)
J.K. VERNAY: It can be, depends if you have a good car or not. Obviously you have to find a good set-up and work well with it in general, because you cannot have the car on the bump, but also after you need the good line, and it's not easy. You have to try different line to find the best way to take the bump
but, yeah, like we said, at the end of the race we were confident because we did so many laps that we know where we have to turn, when we have to turn and everything, and it's no big deal at the end.

Q. J.K., for you this is your second oval; your first was the Speedway which most drivers coming from road racing say it resembles a road course because of the way the turns are. Now you come to a short oval. How do you like this racing on ovals?
J.K. VERNAY: Honestly I start to prefer the ovals than on the short track. It's fun because you can overtake normally a lot. This race was not the case, but if you go on the outside you have a great feeling and, yeah, it's just a question of -- you just have to learn to listen to your team, the advice they can give you and after it's not so difficult. You just listen what your engineer said, and if you are also on a good team with a good car, it helps.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much and congratulations on tonight's finish.

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