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IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Toronto

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Indy Toronto

IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Toronto

Dario Franchitti
Mike Conway
Justin Wilson
July 11, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started. We're pleased to welcome Dario Franchitti with his third pole of the year, all in the past five events. Dario, you have two previous poles here in the past from your previous life here in Toronto. Tell us about your runs out there today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I think I got my first pole here in '97, which is an awful long time ago. So that was '97. I'm trying to remember what I did right back in '97 this morning so I could kind of put it to practice with the Target car.
Usual story. The guys worked really, really hard to improve the car yesterday. Then with the rain this morning, we didn't do too much running. And it was good actually with the changes we made in qualifying. The car was good out of the box. The lap that I did in the Fast Six, I came in afterwards and said basically, That's it. That was a helluva lap. That was as good of a lap as I've driven around here. If they can go quicker, let them have it, because that's all she's got. I was very happy with the car and the job I did today.
THE MODERATOR: Starting fourth will be Justin Wilson, our race winner last week in Watkins Glen. His fourth start here in Toronto. He has a win and a previous pole. Justin, talk about your run out there today.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I thought it was a reasonable day. Things went quite well. But we weren't just quite quick enough. We started out quite loose, struggling to get the power down, struggling for grip. We kept working on it, kept making improvements. Quite pleased with what we managed to do on the used reds. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to beat Dario. He was on good form as well as Graham and Will. I'm pretty pleased with fourth. Hopefully we'll have a trouble-free race and we'll move forward.
THE MODERATOR: Also joining us now in Mike Conway, who is starting sixth. A season best sixth for the second consecutive week. Mike started sixth last week at Watkins Glen. Mike, talk about your run out there.
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, it was okay. Made some changes overnight and the car definitely improved today. We're happy about that. And the pace seemed to be quite comfortable to move into each stage. But just then in the last six, just a bit disappointed we couldn't move up. We just ended up a little bit slow and lacking grip. But not too bad. The guys have been doing a good job on the car this weekend. All credit to them. Hopefully we'll run a good race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for any of the three at the podium right now.

Q. Did you think you would get qualifying in with the rain this morning?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We always knew we would get it in today. Whether it was wet or dry was the question. I think we all proved that it's pretty treacherous out there in the wet today. I managed to do a 360 in the last corner. I was entertaining the fans, yes (laughter). It's really treacherous in the wet. I was hoping it was going to dry up.

Q. (No microphone.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. Took me till this morning or the first qualifying run this afternoon. Up until then I hadn't been driving the track properly. I wasn't getting in a rhythm. I finally got in that rhythm again. And the difference was massive.

Q. Dario, you hadn't raced here in a couple years. Justin raced more recently. How did you find the track compared to the last time you raced here?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's a while ago since I raced. I think it was six years. Same old Toronto. It's been the same. The concrete patches are a massive challenge. Don't get any more grip as the years go on. Put it that way.
Bump-wise, a little bit more bumpy, but I don't think it's a problem. It's still as challenging as ever. The fans are still -- they still love the racing. It's great to come up here.
Yeah, it was awesome. It's a great experience every time I come to Toronto. Hopefully we can continue that tomorrow.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it's definitely a shock to the system the first time you drive the track, it's so different to anything else we run on. You know, I think it helps knowing what to expect.
But, you know, I think that's the whole part of coming here to Toronto. It's got some unique features. I like it. I like the challenge of tuning the car and making it work around this track.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I guess to offset that, when I did come my rookie year, I managed to get pole. Mike did a hell of a job today. Experience counts a bit. You've also seen some experienced guys not do so well. It's who gets the car right and who gets into the rhythm of driving the car and who gets the job done.
MIKE CONWAY: I think totally, otherwise I'd be on pole (laughter). It helps going through it beforehand. But that's all part of this season for me anyway. Every circuit I go to it pretty much new. It's a whole new learning curve. Really just got to adapt to it.

Q. (No microphone.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, you've got great drivers. It's a great team. And it's just right now one of those situations. We've seen it with great teams in all different sports, sometimes they go through a hiccup. The Target team had it a couple years ago. More than a couple. I guess it was '05. So everybody goes through it at some point.
I expect them to be coming out of it and be challenging. How many races did Michael win here? Like 150 or something (laughter). There were days you were out there running out front, something would happen to you, and there's Michael winning the race. So, believe me, starting up front doesn't mean you're guaranteed a win, and starting at the back doesn't guarantee you can't win tomorrow.
Those guys will be back, no doubt at all.

Q. The words I haven't heard are 'reds and blacks.' I had a team owner tell me a little while ago the reds aren't working very well and the blacks are the way to go. Would anybody like to comment on their experience, red or black, during qualification and practice?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I want to hear what Justin has to say.
JUSTIN WILSON: In the Fast Six we ran the reds straightaway, did my time. Then I put a set of blacks on and tried to go out there and use a new set of blacks compared to the used reds. We were thinking there was not a lot of difference.
Once we got back out there, I was about a 10th off on the new blacks compared to a set of reds. For me, definitely it helped my car, gave me more grip, allowed me to go a lot faster. I quite liked the Firestone red tires today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think the same. The reds were worse a little bit. In the first segment of qualifying, I went quicker on blacks, but that was simply because I didn't get a lap together. Second segment we were on the reds, went quicker. Obviously we used used reds. I think the usual gap between a red and a black definitely. They're both working well.

Q. With some of the drivers starting mid pack, then back of the pack, how big a scramble do you think it will be for them on track position? Do you think they're going to try to jump up there getting out of pit stop sequence?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm sure people at the back -- middle to the back will try to make things happen through passing cars and through strategy. You've got to use everything you've got in your arsenal here to try to get up front. If you're up front, you've got to try to stay up front. Usual story.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it could be quite an interesting race. If you have some good people starting further down, they'll try to run an ultimate strategy or try and force the issue. There are places to overtake here. If your car's working better than the guy in front, you can get by. It might mean more cautions for everybody else or it might make it a very interesting race for the fans.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, we appreciate your time.

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