CART Post Race Press Conference Rockingham 500, Corby, England September 14, 2002 Dario Franchitti, Cristiano da Matta and Patrick Carpentier Part 1 of 2 Merrill Cain: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let's go ahead and get started...
CART Post Race Press Conference
Rockingham 500, Corby, England
September 14, 2002
Dario Franchitti, Cristiano da Matta and Patrick Carpentier
Part 1 of 2
Merrill Cain: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Let's go ahead and get started with our top-three press conference following a very exciting Sure For Men Rockingham 500 here today at Rockingham Motor Speedway. We are joined by Cristiano da Matta, who finished second this afternoon, driver of the #6 Havoline Toyota/Lola Bridgestone. He places second, captures his ninth podium of the season. The series points leader widens his gap even further in the championship, if you can believe that, opening up a 58-point lead with four races to go.
Cristiano, I guess the race probably couldn't have played out any better for you, I guess if you were one seat over, but not a bad race for you. Most importantly, you build on your points lead. You still have that with four races to go. Things are looking good for the championship.
Cristiano da Matta: Yeah. I was, of course, very worried about the points lead coming in here. I felt like I had the car to win the race, but out on the racetrack it was very difficult to overtake, with the short straights, long, fast corners here at Rockingham, so it makes it maybe a little more complicated. But my car worked good. My team gave me some very good pit stops.
It's very important when you can collect 16 points at this stage of the championship. Now I have 58 points. Only four races left with a 58-point advantage, it's a pretty good advantage. Of course, I still cannot relax. Mathematically it's not over. But I'm very pleased. I'm starting to miss winning the race. It's been a little while.
Merrill Cain: Not a lot of sympathy up there for you.
Patrick Carpentier joins us, finishing third this afternoon, driver of the #32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard Bridgestone for his third podium of the season, his first on an oval track this year. This solidifies his hold on fourth place in the championship. He boosts his point total to 115 points.
Patrick, an excellent performance for you. You started 10th. Moving up through the field, you have to be happy with a third place finish here today.
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, I'm pretty happy. It was a good day for us. I got to admit, the guys did a fantastic job down pit lane, the last pit stop. That went from I think seventh or sixth to third place. I lift my hat to these guys. I owe them a beer tonight. It was good.
After that, we just had to stay there. I tried to pass Cristiano there, but it was pretty tough to make a pass. I'm pretty happy with third.
Merrill Cain: Instead of beer, maybe some Scotch.
We're awaiting Dario Franchitti. Let's open it up for questions for Patrick and Cristiano.
Q: Cristiano, how difficult is it for you to run for points versus running for the win?
Cristiano da Matta: Well, believe it or not, I wasn't running for points only. I was trying to win the race, too. I had a pretty good chance; it just didn't happen. If it doesn't happen in the pits, it's not going to happen on the racetrack unless a very, very different situation than normal happens. Every time I had traffic, I saw the leaders had traffic ahead, so there was something going on.
(Dario Franchitti enters the interview room with bagpiper leading the way.)
Merrill Cain: No one can say you don't have a flair for the dramatic. Scotland the Brave, correct?
Dario Franchitti: That's pretty cool, isn't it?
Merrill Cain: We are joined by your champion, Dario Franchitti, driver of the #27 Team KOOL Green Honda/Lola/Bridgestone. This is the 10th win of his career and third of the season that saw him take his first ever oval Champ Car victory. He moves into a tie for 10th on the all-time victory list and moved to within seven points of second place in the season championship.
Unofficially, let's run down the top five before we get on to Dario's comments. Cristiano da Matta leads the championship with 191 points, widening his lead, Bruno Junqueira second with 133 points, Dario Franchitti now in third with 126, Patrick Carpentier with 115 points, and Christian Fittipaldi completes the top five with 98 points on the season.
Dario, talk about the win. This is a roller coaster of emotions for you. Your mum is here with you for the second time. You had some struggles early in the race, a bad pit stop early, but you came back and ultimately the pits won it for you late in the race.
Dario Franchitti: My mom, both grandmothers, great aunt. It was an interesting day, shall we say.
I knew we had a great car. In qualifying yesterday, I made a pretty bad job of it and we were still able to qualify reasonably near the front. At the start, it was just very difficult to get around anybody. Luckily [teammate] Paul [Tracy] stayed away from me this time, so I was pretty grateful for that (laughter). I didn't talk to him about it this time before the start. It seemed to work.
From that point everything was fine. I came in for the first stop in order. Trying to leave, I was on the limiter trying to slip the clutch, it just stalled. I thought it was a traction control problem. I switched that off, the same thing happened. Obviously, it was a clutch deal. So that put us to the back.
We ran a sequence after. My team manager came up with a new strategy to get us out of sequence, to get us in some clean air. Everybody else came in the pits. I got some pretty decent laps. I had a clear track. I could run pretty quickly, rather than a pace being dictated by the cars in front. We were hoping there was going to be a yellow flag when I wanted to come in. That way we could have put a lap on the field. There wasn't a yellow, so we came out fourth. That was certainly an improvement anyway.
We had a problem with one of the tires. I thought it was a wheel bearing initially. It was a vibration that was getting worse and worse. I came to the point I couldn't pretty much see where I was going. I don't know if it was a wheel weight or tire issue. We had to make another pit stop. No problems.
After that, I came down to the last pit stop. I've really been giving my guys a very hard time this year about the pit stops. If they ever needed to do one, that was a peach, it was right there, and they did. It was perfect. We came out in the lead. After that, I could really stretch my legs, get going, because it cleared up pretty much the whole race, pretty much the 30 last laps.
It's just terrific to win, win here, first oval race, at home.
Merrill Cain: We mentioned this is your 10th Champ Car victory. How can you place this in terms of what this means to you? How does it feel to you?
Dario Franchitti: This one's pretty good, I have to say. It's difficult to say this is the best. Right now this one feels - this is a great feeling, put it that way. After tomorrow, it will all be about the next race in Miami. Right now it feels great.
Top three press conference Part II