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IZOD IndyCar Series: Cafés do Brasil Indy 300

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Cafés do Brasil Indy 300

IZOD IndyCar Series: Cafés do Brasil Indy 300

Dario Franchitti
October 2, 2010


THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We are now joined by our 2010 IZod IndyCar Series champion, a three-time champion, Dario Franchitti. Congratulations.
One of the themes this year really has been the level of competition that we're at in the series. Does that make the third time around sweeter?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's very difficult to kind of compare the three, after the 500, to compare each of those. I do believe the competition level in the series is going up. For whatever reason, we at Team Target both Scott and myself maybe didn't have the speed advantage we had last year. In some cases we have to work harder to finish in the top 5 at races.
So to come away with a championship after a season like that is very satisfying. And we look back to Iowa and think to that gear box, that took a lot of points away, and from then on it was a real struggle.
But nobody on the Target team gave up. We did our best every single week. We find ourselves here again tonight. It was pretty cool. Great to be out there enjoying that feeling and that moment with my family, my friends, my teammates, it doesn't get any better than that.

Q. (Lost audio)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I really felt maybe we along with Scott and probably Tony were the three cars that were going to fight out tonight. And I knew Scott was very much working with me and Tony was going to do everything he could to help me out.
But I knew that it came to the situation we're going to fight it out for the win, those guys were going to be pushing very, very hard, obviously particularly Tony because he's driving for another team. You could see we were racing very, very hard tonight.
And I didn't want to kind of win it doing what we did there, which was actually at the points race after Will had his problem but the guys were just extra cautious, didn't want me running out of fuel. Took an extra pit stop. Put me back in the pack and amongst all the madness.
So we had a car that we knew could run up front all night. But when then they told me after that those last 30 laps you've got to finish 10th here. You're 9th and I passed one guy and now you're 8th.
So there was no -- it would have been nice to find our way back up front again but we wanted to win the big prize tonight.

Q. Talk about your immediate reaction to the news that Will had had his problem?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: My immediate reaction was, okay, how bad is it? What's this going to mean? Then I immediately put it out of my head; you can't think about that. Leading up to this race, I'm not going to think about what he's doing. I immediately put that out of my head.
The guys came out eventually and said he's behind the wall. And then I came back on the radio, I said, "Is he still behind the wall?" They said yep. That gave me some idea of what was going on. Shortly after that they told me what position I had to finish.
And then again I was more trying to keep out of trouble. The 18 car spun and hit the wall, I don't know, two feet in front of me. That was a little too close for comfort.
That was getting back into the track, we couldn't afford to run out of fuel, had to make a splash on the green at the end. It wasn't a gamble worth taking.

Q. You kind of touched on it there, but you mentioned being put back in the madness, can you just talk about the split second thought going through your mind when that notorious 18 car lost it right in front of you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I just thought -- well, the immediate thought was, "Oh shit." I tried to pull the car down off the wall. I heard the noise when the car hit the wall. It was a big old hit.
My plan there was waiting for them to get in single file a bit and start working my way forward if I could. Because they were four-wide, wheel-banging, all kinds of crazy stuff. It was an interesting view out there. It was much more fun up front.

Q. Some young guy in Scotland is going to look up to you like you looked up to Jimmie Clark now with three IndyCar titles and two Indianapolis 500 titles. That's a pretty big piece of hardware to carry around, sir. What are your thoughts about that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Good haul, isn't it? I don't know. Look back to the start of 2007, I hadn't won a championship. Won a lot of races not a championship or Indy 500. Now we find ourselves with two 500s and three championships.
I'm just going to enjoy it. I think I'm just going to let it sink in, enjoy it. And if you ask me that question maybe starting next year I'll give you a better answer. But I'm very proud of the achievement. And it's an absolute honor to get to drive for the Target team.
And the equipment they give me. And that feeling of success is great.

Q. Can you talk about the fine line between you missing Milka and Will sliding into the wall? You almost have parallel seasons in different respects. But one thing goes differently in the race.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think I was listing at that point because I was aware there was craziness in front of me. I was nowhere near the limit which allowed me to avoid the accident. That was I think maybe the difference. Absolutely, Will has been a terrific competitor all season. It's his first season back from the back injury. And he did a great job all season long and was a great competitor.
And him and Team Penske are going to come back stronger we at Team Target will have to push harder if we want to beat him next year. He's a very good driver.

Q. Mike said the other day on a teleconference when Will got that big lead over the summer that, not to the drivers specifically, but on the team there was a lot of freaking out, I think was the phrase he used. Was there any sense of -- did you always think you were going to get to this point? Was there ever any sense of that's 60 points is too much or whatever it is?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: At no point did I freak out. I was very aware that I might not win the championship. But there was no point in freaking out about that. If it was the situation we found ourselves in. That was it. I just looked at it as an obstacle and see if we could catch him again. If we couldn't, he would win the championship. But we gave it our best effort. And we saw the results.
I think everybody in the team, they just buckled down, every single person. I'll tell you tonight it was a lot easier out here when you've got Scott Dixon backing it up than it is racing against him for a championship. A lot more comfortable. Because he's tough out there.

Q. Chip visited us yesterday early afternoon and talked to some of the media about how his team was laid back and the drivers were laid back. Could you talk a little bit about how much pressure you're under? It doesn't seem to bother you. That's the impression I get?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm going to state the pressure I'm under is self-imposed. I'm under pressure because I want to win and I want to be successful. And I want to do a good job for my team. So that's where the pressure comes from.
And I can see that every person on the team puts himself under the same pressure to succeed. Including Chip. He takes it very personally when he doesn't win. So that's maybe some of the reasons that we find ourselves in these situations. I don't know.

Q. Along those same lines, I know you've been asked this throughout the year but you've added yet another thing for them. The chances of one team being able to do all that has been done this year ever again, unless it's y'all again, is pretty rare. If you could just put it into perspective again what all of this means. You've added yet another thing?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think it's something to ask Chip. We enjoy the success of the NASCAR team and the Grand-Am team. But certainly the NASCAR team, we're not day to day part of that, but we enjoy the success very much, take pride in that. The guys in the Indianapolis shop take pride and the guys in the Indycar team take pride in the Grand-Am success and also the NASCAR success. I think it's vice versa.
But the one guy that's there at both races back and forth is Chip. And I think he really -- he just had an incredible year. And, again, it goes back to a lot of hard work from Chip putting the right people in the right places. And it's really good to see. But it's going to be tough to repeat this.
We'll definitely try and obviously Roger's probably the only other guy who's got the spread over the whole series to do something like this.

Q. Obviously it's a great night for the Franchitti boys with Marino taking 4th overall and best-in-class at the Petit. When you get together, is there a little bit of sibling rivalry related to that since you trumped his ace tonight?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I didn't trump anything. Marino has done a phenomenal job all season. He did Sebring where he qualified the car on pole. Went to Laguna where they won, and they were doing a good job at LeMans.
And tonight they won with David and the whole team I've done some work with and they're great people. Marino has absolutely taken full advantage of that situation.
This is his second year in a row that he's won that class and been in the winning team at Petit LeMans. So he's doing his own thing. We don't have any rivalry. We don't kind of work that way.
It's kind of the same thing with our little cousin, Paul, if he gets to F1, probably the second happiest guy in the world, apart from his dad.
I just don't see it that way. I'm so proud of my little brother and the job that he's done and how hard he's fought for every single thing that he's done. And tonight yet again he and his teammates, Simon and David, came through, and the whole team won the championship.
So I couldn't be happier. I watched as much of the race as I could in the bus today. And then I had to go and focus and get with my own stuff. But I've got it on Tivo so I'll go back and watch it later.

Q. If you could -- by doing what you've done winning two Indy 500s, winning three IndyCar championships, you've established yourself in very elite company in the history of the sport. And when you think about it in those terms, which I'm sure you don't think about it in those terms, but what do you think when you hear that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: As I said before, Bruce, I'm very proud of those achievements. But when I -- like today -- was it this morning? Yesterday morning, I took a picture. A.J. and I took a picture with the A.J. Foyt trophy. I said, "Oh, my God, it's A.J. Foyt." We were sitting, talking away like old buddies. I'm thinking,
"It's A.J. Foyt."
Then Mario, I know him from my years driving with Mike. Mario's a buddy of mine. But I'm thinking it's Mario, Rick Mears. These guys are legends of the sport. And these guys are special.

Q. (Question off microphone)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's not the sort of thing I think you'd say about yourself. As I said before, I'm really proud of the results. I want to keep going.

Q. (Question off microphone)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We'll soon find out. I don't know. I think back to tonight and I think back to Japan, and I think Japan was possibly, was one of the most aggressive and trouble-free races, mistake-free races I've ever driven, probably in the top five races I've ever driven in my life.
Then that day absolute best. If I can keep operating at that level, who knows. Allow me to continue that. I'm just loving it.

Q. You've been thrown in a pool. You've had a pie in your face.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: God, I forgot about that.

Q. What's in store for you tomorrow?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm glad to see that my watch is still waterproof. I'm going to be this smart I'll wear old clothes to start the night off and bring a change of clothes with me, because I guarantee that Kanaan, Dixon, et al., all my friends will throw me in the pool. So as long that's all they do and they don't tie me to a rogue boat and set me adrift in the Atlantic Ocean we'll be all right.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.

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