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IZOD IndyCar Series: Iowa Corn Indy 250

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Iowa Corn Indy 250

IZOD IndyCar Series: Iowa Corn Indy 250

Tony Kanaan
June 20, 2010


THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much for taking the time. Ladies and gentlemen, Tony Kanaan has joined us as the winner of the Iowa Corn Indy 250, presented by Pioneer.
Tony, I said you had to get better and you proved me right there. This is Tony's first win since Richmond of 2008, which was the other short track under a mile. He just hasn't had very good luck here at Iowa Speedway. He's always fast and something happens, usually caught up in turn 2 somewhere. Today it was nearly flawless. Tony drives for Andretti Autosport, 7-11 Slurpee. This is the second win for Andretti Autosport this year, Ryan Hunter-Reay won in Long Beach earlier this year.
This is Tony's 14th Izod IndyCar win, which is impressive. The first question is the obvious one: The length of the streak of not entering victory lane, how good does it feel to drive that car through the crowds and into Pizza Ranch victory lane?
TONY KANAAN: The pizza tasted really good.
THE MODERATOR: Just like the milk, right?
TONY KANAAN: Well, let's not go there. I mean, it feels awesome. I think a win is always a win. A win on Father's Day, my son hadn't seen me win a race yet. He wasn't here, but I'm pretty sure he was watching on TV back in Brazil. He's 2 years and 8 months, so he hadn't seen me win a race yet, so I'm happy and obviously it feels good to be in victory circle for sure.
THE MODERATOR: You were competitive from the get-go, started deeper in the field than you would have liked but you were able to move up effectively, obviously using some of those push-to-passes, and when you got into the battle with Dario, it was the battle of all time; it had the fans on their feet.
TONY KANAAN: We had a good car. I made a mistake in qualifying, shot myself in the foot because if you guys look at the two first sessions in the morning yesterday, we were pretty strong. Last night -- I got to thank my two teammates, Ryan and Marco -- they came to the truck and they gave me a talk, which I usually do that to them, which I was impressed by that.
They said, man, come on we have a good car, and we thought about doing the set-up together, and we did. Marco was more aggressive and it didn't work for him, but Ryan was right there and, you know, when you win from 15th, and you pass every single car on the racetrack, it's definitely a winning car. I knew I had one, and the boys did a great job in the pit stop, and the battle with Dario was awesome, I was smiling the whole time, I'm not kidding; we were having fun. It was -- at that point I'm sure he was laughing, too, we were just like, enjoying the moment, and I hope the fans enjoyed it, and with Helio, too.
He brought me back so many memories. It's been 25 years that we've been racing against each other. You know, it was pretty good. I was trying not to hit him because we got to fly back home together. It was going to be an awkward flight if I did.
THE MODERATOR: Two guys having a race on a Sunday afternoon in Iowa. They got a charge out of watching you guys race and it was fun for everybody, obviously, including the two of you.
TONY KANAAN: For sure. And I want to thank the fans, the Iowa Corn Growers as well for putting this event together. I said we need more short ovals, because this is the way to race and you guys saw it and we proved that. I was excited about the race not because we won, but even seeing the guys in the front when I wasn't in the front racing that hard, and I think the fans enjoyed it, and I think they're going to keep coming back if we keep racing like this.

Q. You're 45 out of the lead. Talk about how this victory can catapult you on a championship drive.
TONY KANAAN: We got to keep doing it. I mean, you know, it's a long way to go, but when I said all along this year that we were better than last year, a lot of people twisted their noses and didn't believe it, but we are. We got to keep working on it and we have now a few road and street courses coming up, which we were really strong in, and we're there.
I think we got to keep digging, and we still not up there yet, we're still not at the place that I want us to be as far as a team, but all we can do, get our heads together and keep working on it.

Q. Tony, given yesterday and how difficult qualifying was and talking to those guys, what was it like in between? You're getting ready to go to bed knowing what had happened here before and to come out and have this kind of a perfect day, I wonder what went through your mind?
TONY KANAAN: You should ask my girlfriend how bad of a mood I was in last night! (Chuckles.) It was a tough day yesterday. I think with my experience and the things that I've been through, my career and my racing career and my personal life, I kind of -- every time something happens that I have to overcome I think I'm better at it. Probably better managing the damage than actually managing a good situation. I went to bed in a really bad mood, right, babe? And I woke up okay.
I was quiet and concentrated and once I jump in the car, I had to concentrate to make the right changes for the race and be smart not to get caught in any accidents and not to crash in turn 2 like I did the last three years, and once I put my helmet on I said I got to move to the front and do the best I can.

Q. Tony, were you surprised at all how racy the track was today? It ran like a super speedway; you guys seemed to be able to run practically anywhere on the track, and with all the talk about the bump outside of turn 1, it seems like you guys were doing it with impunity.
TONY KANAAN: I wasn't surprised. I got a good idea after the first two sessions yesterday how the race was going to go. The bump? It's a bump, guys, it's always going to be there and it's something that -- it belongs to the track; I wouldn't change that.
It adds to the race, like we have the push-to-pass, Iowa has the bump (Chuckles.) And we'll leave the bump there, you know? And I think in a smooth oval like this with the banking the way it is, it's something that adds to the race because either you avoid it or you got to work through it. The bump itself -- I should be mad because I hit that bump and crashed three years in a row because of that, but I think it's something that needs to be there. If it doesn't get any worse, it should be there.

Q. Tony, is there something poetic -- you stop and think you have had worse luck here than any driver of the series and now you win today by 4 seconds. Have you stopped to think about all that?
TONY KANAAN: I had three years to think about why I didn't finish, and you know when I came here people kept reminding me of that, that I led every time, a lot of laps and never won. I remember the first year I led, crashed, by the time I got on my plane and got home I watched Dario win the race from home, so that was not good. I don't let those things affect me.
After you race for so many years, every track has some history and somebody is going to bring something up that happened to you. I go to Indy every year, and it's the same thing, I been there, led many times and never won, always in a position, and this was the same thing. I just think that those are just facts. Those are just things that we can go look at the facts and we can change that. Like I said, I never finish, and when I finish, I finish first, so now we have a different story.
THE MODERATOR: I guess the old saying in order to finish first, you first have to finish is true.

Q. Tony, you talked about when you were here earlier that you were going to get a World Cup update, and --
TONY KANAAN: I didn't have time to ask but my assistant, Kiko said Brazil won earlier, 3-0, and I wasn't thinking about that, I didn't have time this time. I think the Brazilians, we don't need a lot of reasons -- we need a small reason to party, now we have plenty of reason; we had two on the podium, we won the game, must be a holiday at home tomorrow for sure.

Q. How about the first pit stop. Looked like it got crowded down there, kind of looked like your dirt race at Eldora a couple of weeks ago.
TONY KANAAN: Actually I'm thinking I might want to race in the dirt next week because it brought me a lot of luck! It got crazy, and on a tight track like this and such a difficult race with a lot of passing, but it's hard to follow the car.
Everybody try to make it on the stop, and when you have all the stops in the yellow flag and everybody comes in together, it's always going to be drama. Me and Helio almost touched, Ryan, my teammate, took my front tire with him and my crew chief was looking around, and I'm sitting in the pits with three tires and the other was gone, and those things happen in the race.
That is the characteristic of the short ovals. The pits are narrow and with the competition the way it is nowadays, everybody trying to gain everything they can everywhere.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, thank you very much.

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