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IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union

IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union

Scott Dixon
Dario Franchitti
April 10, 2011


THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our second and third place finisher Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Scott, this has to make up for St. Pete?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, obviously it seems like St. Pete is a bit of a race that we shouldn't have turned up to, because it wouldn't have mattered points wise. It's nice to get on the points table here. It's going to take a long time to try to regain what we lost at St. Pete with the competition being so tough, and with Will and Dario finishing so high every time, it was going to be a long old year.
But today was pretty decent. The car was pretty well balanced, so it was fairly loose especially on the black tires. Didn't quite have the speed there, even though we only went for a short amount of time before the cautions. But it was a tough day.
Helio definitely jumped us on the start and went around the outside. If I kind of continued on, I think we would have wrecked. So it was one of those things to let him go, and we messed up the next one and got the spot back.
We went on Briscoe for the majority of the first stint, and then went a couple laps longer and passed him on the transition. And we were set behind Will the rest of the day. We pushed as much as we could.
The car was good, but with about five or eight laps to go, I'd been pushing so hard, I just took the rear tires off the thing and couldn't hang with him.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, it seems like you and Will are really picking up where you left off last season. How important are these podium finishes to you this year with the championship and really at a place that's so physically challenging?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It wasn't that physical today. I don't know what you think. You were working hard in front of me, and you were hanging on. But I didn't find it that physical.
But it's like we said last year, every point, whether it's St. Pete here or the last race, you have to fight for every position. So to get from 7th to third was a good team effort. We managed to, racing with Oriol, managed to go two laps longer than him and be in a position that way.
On the restarts we gained some spots there and got outside of some guys. Well, Ryan pushed me on the grass, Briscoe pushed me on the grass and won. Anyway, the door opened in the middle of two, so I went down the gap, and then he closed it and he came off worse.
That was just hard racing. You know, then the restarts, the side-by-side restarts were -- there is one part you think, yeah, I'm going to have a chance to get the guys in front again, particularly when Scott and Will were so far off the road.
Then the other part of your thinking is you just built this lead up on fourth and fifth and stuff, and they've all got a chance to have a go at you. So it definitely livens things up out there.
Up until the last pit stop, I felt the car was very good. But we just didn't have quite a good enough balance in the car. With what we had to do to try to get the car in balance, it ended up hurting both ends. So not only did I have understeer, I had oversteer as well. These guys were driving off in the distance and there was nothing I could do. I just had to hang on to try not to make any mistakes. But ultimately, third is pretty good.

Q. Can you talk about the pole position in the last race (Inaudible)?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We need to do a better job. There's no doubt about it. We need to do a better job and get the cars better. We know that. But pole positions are one thing you have to convert into race wins. Sometimes we've done a pretty good job of that too

Q. How frustrating is it having Will at the start (Inaudible)?
SCOTT DIXON: To be honest, I think our car was a little better for the first sort of 15 laps. To stay that close to the car in front that long, obviously losing a lot of downforce, the car was just fast. I don't know if we just spent the tires up that much toward the end.
But it's not a track that if you're going to be racing a car that's within a few tenths of the speeds you can run, it's almost impossible to pass unless a guy makes a mistake. You try to crowd them as much as possible, and that's what we did for the first 20 laps and it just wasn't enough.
It's frustrating, but, you know, that's how you win races sometimes, and the guys are pushing us also. But a win would have been nicer.

Q. Can you talk about Will on the restart in your lane? Do you still feel that way?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, of course. And Brian as usual does nothing about it. So if they're going to implement these rules and tell you in the drivers' meeting that the person on the left has to be to the left center of the line, then enforce it. At least tell them.
I spoke to Will after the race, and he said well, I never heard anything on the radio.
But if you look at the restarts, I'm pretty much on the grass almost. And he's even over the center line on the right part of the center line.
I know why he's doing it. He's trying to get out of the dirty side. But you can't have the best of both worlds. If you're going to pick the inside and then run the car on the right that's not how it should be. All in all, I don't think it would change much, but I think it's a disaster waiting to happen.

Q. In warm-ups, Dario (Inaudible)?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The one in the warm-up, I don't know what everybody's talking about. Really that's been happening all week. But there were definitely a couple of big moments towards the end when, like I said, the balance of the car wasn't quite right, and I was still trying to keep the pressure on it a little bit. I had a couple of big moments using a bit of offensive luck.
Yeah, as much as those guys were pull ago way, I was giving everything I had to try to stay somewhat close.

Q. What did Will say back to you?
SCOTT DIXON: He didn't hear anything about it

Q. (Inaudible)?
SCOTT DIXON: It was pretty close. I kind of saw that coming. I think he was pushing hard. Will was on cold tires I just coming out of the pits, and T.K. was probably on a good lap and trying to get around him and jumped on the gas probably a little too early. He kind of lost it, then saved it and lost it and came back to the left. So I ended up just stopping. I think if I had kept rolling, we would have hit. But it was nothing too quickly.

Q. (Inaudible)?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It definitely allowed me to progress, which wouldn't have happened with single-file restarts. It definitely closed things up. There was a lot of way on restarts, one, two, and three if we restart. But from that point of view it was a success.
But the accident in turn five, the yellow after yellow that we need to work on. We're so close physically on the track. Times are so close, and it's such a competitive environment, that you take every chance you can. But, yeah, that is the one down side I would say of what happened. Just the repeated caution after caution.
SCOTT DIXON: I agree with that. I think here the style of track lends itself to a cleaner style. I think Long Beach is going to be a different story.

Q. (Inaudible)?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You get in a position, and you're driving the car, and you're in a good rhythm. Much like St. Pete last week, I was cruising, yet just pulling away from the field. It seemed that apart from Scott, Will was pretty relaxed in the car and pretty happy as well, and that just happen as. You get working and you get into a rhythm. We've all done it.
Scott in Middle Ohio a couple years ago, he disappeared. He was 20-something seconds up the road. It was ridiculous. It just clicks. Everything works. Days like that, it's easy, and you forget how difficult it really is.

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