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IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Japan 300

IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300

Dario Franchitti
September 19, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We'll jump right into it with our second-place finisher, Dario Franchitti. Dario, talk about your day out there.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think we could see the Target cars were very strong. Both cars were very equally matched. Probably my car more so in traffic, and Scott maybe a little bit in clean air. But both cars, whichever one was in front was going to win.
I managed to go longer than Scott in the first run. It was looking good. We came out of the pits after the second stop having pulled a pretty substantial gap. I was coming up to lap the 2 car, and I went to go on the inside and he came down, so I moved up, he moved up. He kept moving up until I hit a bump and ended up in the marbles. I managed to gather it back up, by which point Scott had a massive run and passed me. It was unfortunate to lose the lead that way, but we've seen that all year from him, to be honest.
After that, it's just trying to pass Scott. We tried on the pits, on the restarts. We were so equal today, I needed traffic in front of us to slow Scott so I could get a run on him, and there wasn't any.
But, again, great job by the Target team for 1-2.
THE MODERATOR: Looks like going into Miami it's going to be winner take all.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What are the points?
THE MODERATOR: Scott has 570, you have 565, Ryan has 562. Eight points between first and third is the second closest in league history and the five points between you and Scott is the fourth closest in league history.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I guess they don't need a Chase (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Doesn't it simplify things for all three?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Providing one of us wins it. I think whoever ends up ahead, it's been that way really. We knew we had to come here and do what we did today, both Scott and myself. In some ways it would have been easier if one of us would have won a bunch more races than the other because I would have been able to support Scott or Scott would have been able to support me.
We're both still in the fight. That feels pretty good. It's going to be a hell of a show at Homestead.

Q. You're both so close. Any way you can play it each team for themselves? How do you handle the team?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. The reason we're in the position we are is because we work so well together. It's kind of a similar relationship that I had with maybe Tony, the fact that you just go out and there's no BS back there, you just share information, get the cars as good as you possibly can, you go out on the track and you race the heck out of each other. Kind of like it was in go-karts. We would go out and have a good time. We're lucky at this point to have the equipment to be running up front. That definitely makes it easier. Yeah, we'll both just go out there and get on it.

Q. When you lapped Helio, didn't appear he really held you up too much. Was that a concern as you were coming up on him that he might? At that point Ryan was still in play.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: When I came up to Helio, I didn't know what was going to happen. He didn't give me anything, but he certainly didn't make it difficult. There was no blocking, none of that. I got to thank him for that. That was pretty cool. When he came up to pass Tony, I got a good run on Tony, he let me have the corner. He also let Scott have the corner. Those guys, you can build a relationship like that. If you're not having a good day, there's no need to ruin somebody else's. It's pretty classy, I think.

Q. Flashback to 2007, you and Scott going into the last race, winner take all.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Fun, isn't it? That's the way it should be. Yeah, we'll just keep our heads down an do the best that we can.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the factory in Japan. We get such good support from Firestone, Honda and also Allied, that makes my helmet. I'm supported by some very good Japanese companies. I want to say thank you to them. It's fun to come race over here.

Q. Dario, you had nothing to prove coming back to IndyCar. Are you happy where you are in your career and this year?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I'm having a blast. I'm really enjoying it again. We've talked about this before. I thought at one point I would have retired maybe by the time I was 35. But I'm still enjoying it. I still love it. The fact I can still be competitive, I'm still out there winning races and challenging for championships, it's just for fun. It's just because I enjoy it.
For me a big part of enjoyment has been being in the position to win races. I've got to thank Chip and those guys for inviting me back.

Q. When you took the lead after your first pit stop, you pitted a lap after Scott, was that a matter of getting a better in lap or a better pit stop?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's a combination of a lot of things. I think in lap plus the fact of going a lap longer at racing speed, whereas Scott, his lap at that point was on cold tires. It was pretty close. He got very, very close to passing me again.
But it's a combination of things. Going one lap longer makes a big difference. We think we had a problem with the fuel system with the end because we should have gone two laps longer. That definitely would have been helpful. In fact, it wouldn't have because the yellow came out (laughter). Maybe it was a good thing we pitted when we did.

Q. You said you thought you might be retired at age 35. Give yourself an age now. What do you feel like as a racecar driver? 22-year-old kid?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Depends day to day, doesn't it? Similar to what I did when I was 30 but maybe smarter. I think there's definitely crossover. You improve as a driver and you improve your race craft and your sort of race smarts. You maybe become a bit smarter. At the same time, you know, your reactions maybe start going a lot. There's a crossover point. I don't think I've reached it yet and hopefully it doesn't come for a while

Q. There's been years where Chip's team has won championships in IndyCar and sports cars. This year there's a new twist. He now has Montoya in the Chase and on the pole. As an exNASCAR guy, your thought on how that team has improved?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I wish they'd been that good last year. It's brilliant for the whole team. Chip puts a lot into his racing and gives every team everything it needs to do their job. I mean, to see the improvement there, to see JPM is not only in the Chase but stuck it on the pole down there in Loudon is really great to see, really great. Hopefully we can keep our end of the bargain.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, appreciate your time.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: See you in Homestead.

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