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IndyCar Series: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

IndyCar Series: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Dario Franchitti
August 22, 2009


THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Ryan.
We have been joined by Dario, our top qualifier. This is Dario's third pole of the year. He is the only driver to have been in every Fast Six so far this season. He also gained a point for the pole. So he is now 19 points behind Scott Dixon.
Dario, congratulations on the pole. How did your laps go today and how do you feel going into tomorrow?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Feeling good heading into tomorrow. With this two-day format, it's pretty rushed to get like an hour and a half practice. Then this morning with the horrible accident with Will and Nelson. Who else was involved? Three cars, right. You know, that took a lot of the time out of the session, too. We're kind of making changes on the run in qualifying.
Qualifying, this new format, I'm used to it this year, having a year out, it's bloody hard work. You have to do five I guess absolute hundred percent runs, four of which are on new tires generally. Those Firestone reds, I got blisters from those already, the grip level from those was incredible today.
No, it was good. The first, took it pretty easy, segment one. Segment two, on my second set of Firestone reds was able to push hard and got a good lap. Going out on used reds for the Fast Six, the track was gaining grip all the time and I was able to brake later. The problem was, I was braking later, the rears were starting to lock. The car wouldn't downshift, the paddle shift. I was coming to some of the corners in like a third gear corner and I wouldn't be able to get down past fifth. That's why I went off up the top of the hill. That was pretty interesting. I actually had to back it up to go faster. Actually had to slow down, bring my brake points back. The car was capable of it, but the gearbox wouldn't cooperate. Unfortunately, that was a standard formula. The Honda engineers can't do anything about it. In the days when we had engine competition, you could have had a word with them, they would have fixed them out. Now everybody is running the same.
Really proud of my tire guys to make every Fast Six this year. Helluva achievement. Got to thank them for giving me a great car.

Q. Do you have any dirt tracking in your past?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I've been off in the dirt there a few times in my life.

Q. On the more serious side, when you went off there and you were able to maintain control and get back on the track, you didn't have the option of changing tires. Were you concerned you were going to be able to scrub enough dirt off of them to get in a good lap?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, turn seven, the hairpin at the end, they were back in. I'd gone pretty easily through the corners to that point, again, just to build back up to speed. Kind of pointless to push until it was necessary. But it came back pretty quickly. That was good.

Q. Dario, I was asking Ryan before you came in about the points lead. The points are real close. How do you see finishing out the season? The top five are within real close points. How do you see the end of the season shaking down? He said wait till the end.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: How do I see it or how would I like to see it (laughter)? Whatever happens, it's going to be close. The three of us, Scott, Ryan, myself, seems to have separated ourselves a little bit from Helio and Danica now. But that's not to say that that can come back. They're still in mathematical contention. As we've seen the past couple of years, big leads with shrink pretty quickly.
I don't know. I believe it's going to go down to the last race. I'm going to have to beat these two guys. It's going to be tough. They're great competitors. I mean, obviously I've fought with Scott for a championship in '07. He's my teammate now. We know each other well. We're in the same equipment. So, you know, we know how good he is in the championship fight. And Ryan, again, he's very, very quick. He's doing the job this year. So it's not going to be easy.

Q. How do you like the 'push to pass'? On a road course like this, you have 15 of them for 15 seconds. Is it a help? If so, where would you use it most likely?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's a help. You know, when they told me the kind of numbers, I thought it's not going to be a help. Graham Rahal used it two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio to pass me. I'd used it coming up the hill at turn one. It switched off, the keyhole up there. He used it on the backstretch and passed me. It definitely helps.

Q. I know you spent some time at the Target House. I know you have a lot of guests here this weekend from Target. What kind of feelings or support do you receive when you know you have a lot of people behind you in person even far away?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Uhm, I've been lucky to have a lot of great sponsors over the years. You know, especially coming to America, even before that, I was lucky to have great sponsors. But I've never seen I don't think a company that is so into the racing as Target. The whole program, they love it. They really use the program and get a lot of benefit out of it, which is why it's been going on so long. To have that kind of support from them is amazing.
Going to the Target House with Scott and JPM two weeks ago, that showed another side of the company, the amount of support they gave the kids at the Target House. Going there, it kind of showed me that you might think you've got some problems, but life is good. The kids there, they're there fighting, and they've got smiles on their face and stuff. It puts everything, life into perspective, definitely.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Thanks.

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