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Firestone Indy Lights: Grand Prix of Edmonton

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of Edmonton

Firestone Indy Lights: Grand Prix of Edmonton

J.R. Hildebrand
Richard Philippe
Sebastian Saavedra
July 25, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our second- and third-place finishers. Sebastian Saavedra and Richard Philippe. Richard, talk about your day out there.
RICHARD PHILIPPE: Yeah, what would you like to know?
THE MODERATOR: Walk us through it.
RICHARD PHILIPPE: Well, I mean, it was pretty uneventful, apart from the start. You know, I tried to put some pressure on JR, but at the same time I didn't want to end my race and his race in the first corner. So I think we did a sensible job there and made it through.
Then from there on, in the beginning, he got a gap in the first two, three laps, and I was able to stay behind. I had no radio communication with my team, so I had really no idea what lap we were on or anything. So I believe we were on lap 15. Between 15 and 20, I made a little mistake. I had a really hard time to recover from that.
Then I kind of just saw him drive away really. Then I was just managing my race. I saw I had no real threat from behind. So I was just running my race. It ended up being pretty uneventful for me. I have to be happy. I have to thank the Palm Beach Driving Club for making this possible for me. Let's try to move on to bigger and better things.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastian, how about your day?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: It was a pretty wonderful day. Starting in fifth position, it was a very hard start, almost nowhere to stop, it was so wide, everyone was trying everywhere. We were able to survive the first corner. From then on, I kept a very nice strategy just keeping my tires until I needed them. I just saw Hinchcliffe and James Davison battle. When I noticed they did a couple of mistakes, I took advantage of them and tried to pull away. I was able to see Philippe, but he was already quite gone.
I just decided to keep a good pace, a pace to not have any threats behind me, and get the points for me. Today that was the most important thing.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by JR Hildebrand, race winner, our current points leader in the Firestone Indy Lights Series. JR, your day out there?
JR HILDEBRAND: A bit like Richard said, the start was a little bit hectic. But, you know, like he said, I have to thank him for giving me some room. We all ended up kind of making it through there cleanly.
From there, I was able to get a little bit of a gap on sort of the newer tires. I knew our car was quite good. That was sort of my plan. And then from there, I kind of tried to run just the same lap time over and over again. Had a bit of trouble with that at the beginning. Once I kind of sorted the car out, the car really just came to me. As the tires went off, I lost a little bit of grip but gained a little bit of balance. I was able to kind of run my own race.
As the lap cars were coming along, I pushed to get as many of them in between as me and the guys behind me in case a yellow came out. Tried to be sensible. The fact it was green kind of played into our favor. From there, it's just a great weekend for the guys. Everybody did everything right this weekend. That makes my job much easier, for sure. Big day for us.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.

Q. (No microphone.)
RICHARD PHILIPPE: No, sometimes that happens. I don't really know, to be honest. I didn't have anything. When I saw the white flag, I thought it was about halfway through. I was quite relieved to see the white flag, to be honest.

Q. (No microphone.)
JR HILDEBRAND: It's a difficult circuit, but sort of at the same time when you come to a track like this, we really didn't make any mistakes in terms of how we adjusted the car for the track. So that's a big thing. It's the first time that Indy Lights teams have been here before. I had some past experience on the track. You know, we were able to just kind of stick with the game plan session after session. I think that was a key to being able to be as quick as we were there in the race.

Q. (No microphone.)
JR HILDEBRAND: I mean, in all fairness, I think it happened to lapped cars, had something to chase after, for sure. But, you know, I've never had a big problem with focusing on what we were doing. Just try to kind of maintain the lap time and pay attention to just corner after corner rather than thinking too far ahead or about something you just did.
I just started to get into a rhythm and go from there.

Q. (No microphone.)
JR HILDEBRAND: Correct, yeah. I got wrecked out of the first race. It was a doubleheader weekend. Got crashed out of the first, and then finished fourth or fifth in the second one.

Q. (No microphone.)
RICHARD PHILIPPE: Between 15th and 20th lap, when I made that little mistake, I went wide in turn five, I believe -- turn four, sorry. You know, I tried to push and push and push. I was struggling a little bit with the car. So I just, you know -- you never give up. You hope for the best. But in reality, you know, I was just conserving from there on.
But you can't tell yourself that when you're in the car because if you make a mistake, you got guys that want your spot. You know, so I was trying to push. But from around the 15th, 20th lap, I kind of said, I'm gonna keep pushing, but it's gonna be tough. I could see him drive away. I could see him further and further away. So it was tough, for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)
RICHARD PHILIPPE: It could have given me an opportunity to make a move at the restart if we had a restart. To be honest, if I had been able to make that move, today JR was just stronger. He would have found a way past. With the rules of no blocking, no swerving, no reacting to a move from a car behind, there is nothing that I could have done.
So I think it played out the fastest car won and the fastest car and driver combination won today.

Q. (No microphone.)
RICHARD PHILIPPE: For the restart, we line up, and that's pretty much where we get the green flag. So that would have been the only -- my best chance to make a move.

Q. (No microphone.)
RICHARD PHILIPPE: Yeah, because again, we were so close. He got a pretty good start. I was able to move on the inside. But my start wasn't very good, and Davison moved on the inside of me.
But to be honest, I was concentrating on trying to make it through. I was in a dirtier part of the track. I could say Davison. I really wanted to make it through turn one. It would have been a shame to not make it through.
I still had a good -- I was really side-by-side with him going into turn two. If I would have stayed there, we would have just run into each other. That was just pointless. We wouldn't be here.

Q. (No microphone.)
JR HILDEBRAND: It's tough because you are all so close together, particularly on the start. Like on a restart, maybe you can go out of the last corner, everybody strings out a little bit, something like that. On the start, everybody is within 10 or 20 feet or something. Everybody is accelerating from the same point. There's no way to get away from anybody really.
Then turn one, it's so wide on entry that it's really inviting for everybody to just kind of fan out and go into the corner. You sort of just have to expect that. That was by far the furthest offline I'd been all day.
Again, I have to thank the guys, Richard in particular, but everybody for being able to make it through there.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys.

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