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IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Helio Castroneves
April 1, 2012


THE MODERATOR:  We are now joined by Helio Castroneves, who finished third. 
Helio, if you can, just take us through today's race.  Looked for a minute in the end Graham almost got you. 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Yeah, it was a good battle.  First of all, I want to thank AAA and Shell-Pennzoil, Verizon.  Those guys keep supporting us.  This is what we need. 
Talking about the race, started consistent.  Tried not to do anything outrageous.  Had a little chat with the guys, they said, Just save fuel when you can.  That's what I was doing.  Actually, we did have a yellow, so tried to extend as much as we could in case we could have only a two-stop strategy. 
It was very difficult to keep the car because the tires were going away too fast.  I think we stopped a little bit early, one lap early.  We could go two more laps, but not without handing the lead to Scott Dixon.  On the black tires, he was so good.  He just took off.  He got a good rhythm.  Probably 12- 15-second lead.  Suddenly we started coming back again.  We pitted.  Again, we put the black tires. 
My car was very loose.  It was very difficult.  I was just trying to hold on.  It was like the back fishtailing everywhere.  When we put the reds on for the last run, those are the tires we used in qualifying, I kind of knew the left front was a little bit overshot.  Unfortunately, that's what happened.  It was too much understeer right away, right at the beginning.  I just tried to hold on at that point for the position three. 
I was trying everything I could.  Graham obviously in turn two was much better.  So I was trying to keep in one line.  Thank God we were able to hold on and finish third.  
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions for Helio. 

Q.  After last season, how does it feel to be atop the points standings? 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Pretty darn good.  I'm not thinking about it right now.  I'm thinking the big picture.  For Long Beach we're really looking to have a better result, two spots better.  But I'm happy.  It was certainly a great effort today for the AAA machine.  It was very difficult.  Ron did a great job on the strategy, Ron, my engineer. 
But I'm not thinking at the moment for the present.  I'm thinking one race at a time, and that's what we're going to be doing. 

Q.  How quickly did the tires wear off today? 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  It was about, I would say, 10 laps.  The rest of the 15 laps, it was difficult to hold on.  Again, today was just a matter of be consistent.  I mean, the warmup, we were doing 72, in the race we were doing 74, 75.  The heat definitely helped for those kind of scenarios.  Today I guess the consistent car and the fast car ended up winning the race. 

Q.  Starting from the pole and doing so well the early part of the race, how frustrating is it to end up not on the top step? 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  A little bit.  But, you know, the way the car finish in the end of the day, I have to be very happy with a third.  That's the best we could do.  For us, we brought the car to more points. 
It's always good to start in the front.  It's just a different rhythm.  But I felt very good, very strong. 

Q.  I know you're saying one race at a time, but this weekend you have an opportunity to test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Talk about that. 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I'm extremely exciting about this.  To this time I have not run on the oval with this car.  It's going to be my first time Wednesday.  I don't know the purpose of the test, but I think certainly we're going to work together with other teams so we can see how the car runs in the pack. 
But at this point for me it's great.  Be able to find a good seat and stuff like that because right now I have no idea how it's gonna go.  But I feel good.  I'm glad we're able to do this test before the Indianapolis month of May.  Can't wait to go. 
THE MODERATOR:  Helio, congratulations on a great podium finish and best of luck at Long Beach. 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Thank you very much. 

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