Indy 500 2nd, 3rd finishers, top rookie press conference

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway

An interview with: SCOTT DIXON, TONY KANAAN and RUBENS BARRICHELLO

Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

THE MODERATOR: We have Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan.

TONY KANAAN: It was a great race. I think toward the end there, the three of us were all a little bit comfortable with each other, apart from Sato was a little bit wild, typical guy that wants to win this race so bad. It was an awesome race. A lot of passing for the fans. We have to thank them. It was so hot.

But at the end I thought it was going to be between me and Scott. Dario comes back and won the race. Dan, his three best friends in the top three, I don't think it could have been any better. Well, it could have been if I won (laughter). It is what it is so I'll keep trying.

THE MODERATOR: Scott, talk about your day.

SCOTT DIXON: It was a tough race. A caution that late, it's going to be chaotic. I kind of agree with Tony. Sato, all day he was just throwing it in there no matter what.

But Dario did a fantastic job. There's no doubt about it. He got caught up with Viso early on in the day, went to the back of the field, got ultimately back up front.

Fuel mileage was fantastic today, which I think was a big key to be able to move up to the front. Also Target, celebrating their 50th anniversary, it was big. You couldn't do it a better way having it 1-2. It would have been nicer the other way around, though.

But it was a tough one. I didn't expect Sato to come through on me on that second to last lap. He threw it in, I had to move up a little bit. But I thought we were in a pretty good situation. I think maybe we could have gotten one of them on the backstretch and one of the others on the front straight. It could have been anybody's I think at that point. It was such a tough race. I think all four of our cars were so equal in speed, drivability and stuff, and traffic, too.

Yeah, it was a good overall race. I hope everybody enjoyed it.

THE MODERATOR: Rubens, we can bring you up, as well.

TONY KANAAN: Rookie (laughter).

THE MODERATOR: It's hard to think about Rubens as a rookie, but here he is. Rubens, you just had a steady race that produced a real quality finish. Congratulations on that in your first trip to Indianapolis.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Thank you so very much. First of all, I want to say that, yes, I did race a lot, but nothing like this. It's impressive. The first 180 laps, it's all OK. A lot of respect on the last 20 laps, man. That's when the race starts.

Unfortunately for that last 20 laps, I had a little bit too much downforce in the car because then you could see people were not on the same level. Maybe they dropped the downforce or something.

Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

I was OK. I could overtake people. I had fun all afternoon. But right at the end, even though all the way flat, trying to stay on the draft, they were too much for me. I'm glad I was able to still finish 'cause running inside, outside. T.K., Servia, these guys know how to race on the outside.

But I'll be back. My next May I will try outside, outside, outside.

THE MODERATOR: After having completed a race, are you glad that you came here and did it?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: Well, it's a lot of mixed emotions. This thing, I think I drove quite well for the whole month. I was safe. The team played safe with me. There are points in the race that you wish that you could compete because the car is too loose, too pushy. It's a very long race.

For my first experience, at the beginning I had to play safe. Right at the end I was eager to go. If you think on the penultimate start, if T.K. was able to carry a little bit longer into (Turn) 1, because he was able to run on the outside, and I think that's when you got the lead there, I was right behind him, but unfortunately I had to lift.

TONY KANAAN: Let me know next time.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: When I saw you P1, I said, Ask him when he's going to start with his throttle because I want to know (laughter).

It was much more positive than anything else. I want to thank, again, the whole team. I want to thank T.K. for the help. It was a good month for my birthday. It was a good everything. So I'm really pleased.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Scott, I think during practice or qualifying I remember you said something, that you were not happy with the speed. Did you find for the race improvement in the engine? And the second question, what we have seen today in the race, do you think it's characteristic for the forthcoming oval racing or was it just special because it's Indianapolis?

SCOTT DIXON: I think we were in a bit of a tough situation come qualifying. I think the 140 kPa boost wasn't to our advantage. We saw the margin slip away. We had engines that was mileaged out, pretty much to maximum, come qualifying day. I think our engine probably didn't have the best power at that point.

The new engine was definitely better. Fuel mileage was vastly improved. The speed even from Carb Day seemed to be improved on the car.

I think we were able to run a little more trim than some of the other teams, so I think that added to it, as well. But our cars mechanically were fantastic throughout the race. Even in traffic it was pretty decent. Three, four cars back, I didn't have to fight it too much all day.

Yeah, I think Honda did a fantastic job to improve the power and fuel economy.

Rubens Barrichello, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
Rubens Barrichello, KV Racing Technology Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

Q. Tony and Scott, what did you see when Takuma tried to make that move? Was that incredibly brave or irresponsible?

TONY KANAAN: Looking at the outcome, I think it was totally responsible. We were talking on the elevator. It's easy for us to make a comment.

What I saw there, what Scott says, we saw during the entire race, a guy that wants to get antsy on the last lap. He was going to get Dario, but he waited a little too long. You do not play Dario like that. He should know better than that.

I think it was a young driver mistake. That's going to haunt him a little bit.

But, you know, the last lap of the race, it is what it is. He tried. It could have worked for him. It could have worked for Scott or for myself. But it's easy to make a comment now I would have done different.

When I saw the move, I thought to myself, This doesn't look good. Then I thought secondly, Maybe it's looking really good for me (laughter).

SCOTT DIXON: No, very similar. I think what sort of got our momentum a little crossed up, two to go, when he dove under me, Dario definitely had a good run. Sato came a little late. I think it put us in a pretty decent situation. We had good speed to come back and maybe pick them off on the last lap. It was brave. Dario gave him room. He was so close to pulling that off. I think if he didn't pinch it as much and maybe moved up on Dario a little bit more, it would have been OK.

But Dario did a great job to save it. Sato, I don't know why he didn't wait a little longer. I really don't.

Q. Rubens, talk about that first lap for you, what it was like. What was it like taking the lead?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: I tell you, I had a problem with the fuel pressure as soon as I went out. There was alarms for my fuel pressure. That in a way kept me out of the (indiscernible), what T.K. said about the turbulence, I was a little bit worried about that.

In actual fact, when the race started, when I pushed the throttle, I had a big cutoff. When I changed gears again, it was people going bang, bang, bang. I was dealing with that the whole race.

The first start, I had really to be careful. I saw people trying here and there. I also tried on the outside. But the restart, so many other occasions, it depended who was leading. They started in a different way. I was in between like P5 and P15 all the time. I started accelerating in different areas. That's the question.

By the time we got to the line, it was four-abreast. That for me was more impressive than the actual start of the race.

Q. Scott and Tony, obviously Dario is probably going to be buying the next round of beer.

TONY KANAAN: Buying the party. I mean that, too (laughter).

Q. What does this win mean for you guys and your relationship with Dario? Does this put him on a pedestal as one of the legends of this place or is he the same old Dario to you guys now?

SCOTT DIXON: No, I think he's the same old Dario. But three victories, he's now up there with Helio. I think if they win one more, there's four four-time winners. He's already in an illustrious group.

The thing with Dario, he's always there. Earlier in the day, a lot of guys wouldn't come back from that, mentally be strong enough to get back from that.

I think he's the same old Dario. He may have a few more accolades than some of us. He's getting on, too. Actually, T.K., you might be, too. How old are you?

TONY KANAAN: He's older. I'm 37. He's much older than all of us (laughter). Shut up, old man.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: I'm a rookie (laughter). I'm sitting here because I'm a rookie. I have 'Rubens Barrichello, Rookie'.

TONY KANAAN: The oldest rookie we've ever seen.

SCOTT DIXON: So, no, I think nothing will change.

TONY KANAAN: I agree. I think this is the beauty of Dario, he will never change. He's always been picky. He always has his own ways to do things. As a personal friend of mine, it doesn't matter. It's the same Dario that has won zero championships, zero 500s till today.

He's a guy that appreciates life, friends and family. Thank God nothing got on top of his head about all the winnings he's had. That's why we're good friends.

Q. You and Dario had a ton of back-and-forth lead laps.

SCOTT DIXON: Once we went back to green with, what, 34 or 32 to go, nobody really wanted to lead because it was right on the margin there for fuel mileage. You get much better fuel mileage at least one spot back. We went back and forth to try to help each other instead of having to drop back too far and mix it up with people maybe we didn't want to. We definitely talked before the restarts to try to see if we could do that.

With this car, I think it really pulls up. Toward the end, with the grip level, it was easy to stay close, easy to pull past. You know, that was mostly just to save fuel.

Q. Tony, being a good friend of Dan Wheldon, race car drivers get so focused when they put the helmet on and get into the car. Did thoughts of Dan ever come through your head during the race or were you totally focused on the 500 miles?

TONY KANAAN: No. I mean, obviously you can't look at the board every time you drive. Lap 76 and lap 77, I definitely thought about it. But I could not lose my focus for that. Not just me, but I know Scott and his family have done a lot for Dan's family in the past few months. They were good friends, too. So was Dario.

I don't think it could have been a better result for Dan. Wherever he is right now, he's definitely making fun of Sato, I can tell you that, and he's giving Dario a tap on the back for sure, and he was going to call me a wanker that I didn't win this thing (laughter).

I'm glad this is over. I'm glad that now I hope we can all move on and just remember Dan the way Dan was: a happy guy, a wonderful friend.

Q. Tony, I know you and Dario were very close with Dan. My question to you is, you were leading there toward the end, it was going to be you or Dario. Were you thinking that if you won this race, it would be for Dan?

TONY KANAAN: At that time I didn't want to think about it. But, I mean, honestly I would include Scott on that, too. When I saw the three of us there, I said, Well, Mr. Wheldon would be happy today because I was pretty sure one of us was not going to go out. I said all along that obviously I wanted to win this race for myself, as bad as I've been trying. But this year will be obviously special, to put my face right beside his on the trophy, with Susie and Holly here, all the things we've done for him.

You know, I try not to think about it. I said, You know what, I don't anticipate things. I don't plan how I'm going to celebrate because it's not done until the checkered flag is out.

I don't know. I'll save it for another time.

Q. Rubens, you've driven this car and Formula One cars. What is the difference in the approach that you had and which one do you like better and which one from a professional standpoint do you have more fun in?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: In my life, whatever I do, whatever is right or wrong, I have fun. I have fun. If I am sitting on this car, it's because I'm having fun. I've already proved to many people that I could have quitted. I have a wonderful wife and kids. I could stay home in Brazil.

But I still love this too much. I honestly do this because I was made to do this.

On the cars, they so different. They so different. That's why I think I'm still not there competitive-wise. I think I'm doing OK, but I'm not a hundred percent just yet because the car has more boost. Being almost 200 kilos heavier, the car is more difficult for brake for me. I'm kind of a smooth driver with the way I drive. With this car, you just have to be tougher because the steering wheel is heavy.

I tell you, I think that my experience here on the oval will help me have at least more feedback from the cars. You run on such a light downforce that I think it will help me.

So I look forward for Detroit next week. Actually, I'm testing Milwaukee on Tuesday. It's everything happening so fast. But I'm a pretty fast learner, as well, and I'm enjoying my time.

Q. Tony, when you took the lead on the restart, did it fall your way or were you thinking that you had to make something happen? Secondly, when you came back around, could you tell the reaction from the crowd? They went absolutely bonkers when you went to the lead.

TONY KANAAN: I'm not going to say 'plan to go to the lead.' But I'm tailing Dario all day. I could see where Dario was going to try to restart. I just looked at him. By the time he accelerated, I was already pulling through my gears. I was six cars behind. With the draft on those cars, I timed it perfectly.

I didn't know where I was going to end up. But from the start, I already gained four positions on the first start of the race, I knew I could pull it out.

He didn't let me lead that lap anyway. He passed me back right away. But, you know, I saw the crowd, yes. I mean, I was leading. You can see because they wave. Obviously I couldn't hear them, but I'm pretty sure they went bonkers. I can't thank them enough. They make me feel so wanted here.

The other day somebody made a comment that might be true, I tried to change it. But I think people like me here because I haven't won yet. I became more famous for not winning this thing than actually winning, so I'll keep trying.

We can see old people do well here - Dario - so I think I still have a shot (laughter).

Q. When Dario left for NASCAR, since he came back, he's been pretty much unbeatable. Was he a different kind of driver when he came back?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think so. Obviously the NASCAR turn he had there didn't go the way he wanted to. He was in pretty bad cars. It didn't last too long.

Yeah, I think he was back home. He was back to something that he was really comfortable with and around the people that he knew really well.

I think he was actually hungry after that, too, because he wanted to prove when he came back that he was still the driver that he was. You know, he's definitely done that - maybe a little too much.

Q. Rubens, how many ovals have you driven on?

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: This is the very first one. I like it. I think that it couldn't have been better because the whole month, you might think, OK, this place changes a lot, everybody told me it changes a lot. One day the car is good, the next day with the same setup the car is not good. The wind changes. I've seen that many times in my life. This place is really special.

But I had the whole week in the car, whole week, trying to get different lines, some friends, Scott, T.K., Dario: Man, get out of that white line.

TONY KANAAN: Tell them what we told you.

RUBENS BARRICHELLO: I can't tell you what they told me (laughter).

Get out of the white lines, that's NASCAR, that's not for you.

That's something that I appreciated so much. Everyone that play with me this month, they play me safe. At the end of the day, those 20 laps, there's no friends there. I can see that. But at least people have a lot of respect before.

We had fun this whole month, I'm pretty sure that tomorrow when I leave this place, I'm going to miss it.

Q. Scott, how badly did you want to have your face next to Dan's on the trophy?

SCOTT DIXON: Aside from the Dan factor, I think everybody, whoever comes here, it's the marquee event, the big event, you're going to do anything to put your face on the Borg-Warner. I think a lot of us that were close to Dan, you know, you wanted it that little bit more. I guess maybe in the back of your mind you figured he would probably help you out today, too.

I think in that situation, seeing how it lined up with the top three, three of Dan's friends, it was a tough one. But, you know, it was a great race. But I think tragedy aside, we would come here the same way, same mindset. It just added a lot to it. I think it would probably feel a little bit more special having won right after Dan.

Q. Scott, with Tony's reputation for the restarts, do you get a heads up from your team or spotters of what Tony is doing coming up to the restart?

SCOTT DIXON: Well, that restart I think it was jumped by quite a bit (laughter). We were like sitting ducks, man. We were 1-2. I think by the time we got to the start/finish line, we were seventh.

That was definitely unexpected. It hadn't been like that all day. I think they timed it perfectly. I'm pretty sure T.K. was in fourth gear by the time we were trying to get out of second gear.

They came by quickly. It definitely woke us up. We had to get back after it. With the new car, when you're out front, you're definitely a sitting duck. We were a couple of sitting ducks that time and I got passed by quite a few.

Q. Tony, is that the greatest restart of your career or greatest restart in Indy 500 history?

TONY KANAAN: I can't vote for that. I mean, it was a good one. I would put my 2010 better than that. There were 12 cars, two corners, I was dead last. I had more fun on that one.

Like Scott said, I timed it perfectly. But 10 to go, I have this thing, whoever leads with 10 to go never wins. I'll let Dario go. It goes yellow. I'm leading this thing. I knew I was going to be a sitting duck again.

Yeah, it was a good one. I hope the crowd liked it, but I'll still vote for my 2010.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations on a great day.

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Series INDYCAR
Tags barrichello, chevrolet, dixon, honda, ims, kanaan