Indy 500: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Mike, what happened on the pit stop where Dixon lost a wheel? MIKE HULL: The tire changer put the tire on, had a problem with the wheel nut. He came away to get his other wheel nut I'll try to get this right came...

Continued from part 1

Q: Mike, what happened on the pit stop where Dixon lost a wheel?

MIKE HULL: The tire changer put the tire on, had a problem with the wheel nut. He came away to get his other wheel nut I'll try to get this right came away to get his other wheel nut. When he did, he came all the way back and put the gun down. The guy that sends the car thought the wheel was on and done. So he goes to the air jack guy to drop the car, and he did, and the car left.

We work hard to prevent those things. Didn't like that it happened.

Q: Mike, the reason you guys are here is because of Dario's victory. I was equally impressed with how much you did to help Dixon recover. Talk about that. Chip, are you wishing back in January you were talking to the league about doing 20 million for Daytona and an Indy win?

MIKE HULL: Tony Kanaan proved today you can get from the back to the front. If you think about that, the extraordinary exhibition, if you want to call it that, what they did as a team to recover the way they did for race day, what Tony did in particular early in the race, and I'm with Dixon, I said to Dixon on the radio, when we were all the way at the back, Tony got to the front, you can get to the front. We worked together all day as a team to do that. We never gave up. That's what we do. We thought we had Dixon in a position in fourth place there to where the three guys in front of us, if they'd have been green to the end, I think there might be a different guy sitting here.

I think it works out as a team. We work as a team, and that's how we work. It's just great to be here today.

Q: Chip, were you on your way to Charlotte tonight? If so, are you going to tell Juan Pablo to pick it up a step?

CHIP GANASSI: I think I'm going to go. Feeling pretty good about racing today. I have a new burst of energy. I think I'm going to go.

THE MODERATOR: Dario, congratulations. We detailed the fact you were dominant all day long, but everything got a little unusual. I'm sure you have all seen races where the dominant car did not win.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, last year springs to mind. You know there's a big puddle of oil under the car. I think we broke an oil cooler, seriously.

THE MODERATOR: You're the king of extreme weather.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. What can I tell you? We tried our best in qualifying, and we came up a little short. None of us were happy with that. We worked, Scott in particular on Bump Day worked very hard on the car. On cash Carb Day we did again. We left thinking the car was good. From the first lap today, yeah, it wasn't easy to drive, it was bouncing around in one as much as I've had a car move around here in the rear, but I couldn't fix that because it was in balance other corners. But it was fast. Everybody had a problem in traffic, but we seemed to get through.

It was all looking good right up until that whole yellow, then we had to save fuel, were we saving enough, was Tony going to catch us. Turned out he wasn't. Turns out we had plenty of fuel because of the slow down lap. Came in to pit lane, did some burnouts, still had some fuel in it. There was enough.

Wasn't good for your heart, was it, Chip?

CHIP GANASSI: No.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Much easier to get on it and keep the foot down because the Target car was good. But great day. To win two of these things is pretty damn special.

Q: Dario, you're a student of motor racing. This puts you in an elite category, your hero Jim Clark won here 45 years ago today. What does that mean right now?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: They showed me a list of two time winners. Those guys are legends. I said the other night, I'm just a driver, those guys are legends. I'm so lucky to be drive for Chip and Team Target, getting in good cars, especially having gone away after we won in '07. To be invited back was pretty cool. To have won a championship and an Indy 500, I didn't expect any of this. I said before, I expected to be retired by the time I was 35. This is all bonus and it's pretty cool.

Q: It looked to me that little bit of wing you added at the first stop changed your day. Watching the timing, you were half a second clear per lap. Reminded me a lot of Montoya. Did the car feel as solid as it looked?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know how other people's were to drive. My car was a handful, but it was a fast handful. When it's fast, you can hang on to it. When it's not quite like that, you have to start making adjustments. It was a handful particularly in one, but it was a handful doing 223s when other guys were doing 221s. Looked better after the tires. We made one change.

CHIP GANASSI: What happens is you get in a situation where he comes in, we say, How is your car? He says, It's dancing a little bit in of turn one, push off of two, three and four. We say, Okay, do we want to make a change to the car? We're looking at the speeds everybody is doing. Those guys are doing 220s. I'm saying, You have to make a decision. Do you want to take a chance on slowing your car down or leaving it alone?

That's what we're thinking about in the pits while he's saying what his car is doing.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I have a very narrow view of what's going on. This morning I went into the truck, we had a meeting. I asked Chris, Are you happy with the wings we're running? Scott and I split downforce levels. We didn't want to run exactly the same because we wanted to give ourselves a cover things a little more. He said he's happy. You don't want to do this? He's like, Nope. We added half a turn on the front wing. As I said, it was a handful, but it was a fast handful. My boy did his job today. He was great.

Q: Earlier this week we asked about the possibility of the $20 million bonus and all. You said at that time the 500, it's enough. Now that you have the 500 in your pocket, is it enough?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. Quite frankly, it's a lot of money, 20 million bucks. Hasn't been announced they're doing it yet. For me, this is enough. Physically, this is enough. That was a tough day out there. For me it's enough.

I think if you want to win either of these races, the Coke 600 or the Indianapolis 500, you have to specialize at it. Chip might change my mind at some point. He seems pretty happy at some point as the man that won the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in one year, that's pretty cool.

Q: Chip said early on, the first lap going into one, when you got around Power, you stuck it in there, it's sort of like you sat up in the seat. He felt it was like a moment of you realizing you had command of this race. Was there such a moment? Did that pass and move through one and two...

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I thought I had a good chance. I thought I had a fast car by the time I did the first stint because I knew how the car was running through the whole thing. At that point, I thought, We're in the fight here. That move at the start, though, I knew the car was capable of it. It's something I've done before here. When I got past Will, I thought, Fair enough. I was sitting on Helio's gearbox. I thought, Damn, this is good. Pulled on past him, the yellow came out. Restart, but different people, we were able to gap them on the restart and go.

Again, we made a lot of right choices in the car setup. All day from lap 1 to lap 200 I drove the thing as hard as I know how.

Q: We tried without success to get Chip to talk about himself. Being the first guy to win the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in the same year, you know firsthand what a different world NASCAR is. What does this accomplishment by Chip mean to you?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I wish we would have had those cars in '08 (laughter). Mind you, might not have been sitting here, which would be a real shame. It all worked out perfectly. We said that at Long Beach last year, didn't we? Worked out perfectly. Got to have a holiday, come back, have some fun.

I think it says a lot about Chip, the people he employees. The mindset, whether it's here or down in Concord, it's the same mindset: we're here to win. All he wants to do is win. If you're not interested in that, if you take your eye off the ball, he lets you know. That's all he cares about. Mike is the same. We go racing, and we like to win. To be a part of a team like that just makes your job so easy as a driver. You're going to get beaten, absolutely. But you know everybody is on it all the time. That comes from the top down.

Q: Can you take us through your thought process the last five or six laps. How concerned were you with running out of fuel, getting caught by Wheldon?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was concerned about running out of fuel. I was concerned about Tony, that he pitted. The guys were like, Right, just get to the finish. Just see if you'll get to the finish. Dan is a ways back. He's coming on a bit, but he's a ways back. We have a good gap. I was managing the gap to Dan. That last lap, I saved a lot of fuel. But Dan was coming on. I think I lifted for the yellow pretty early there.

I was quite happy. My biggest worry was not that, it was running out of fuel. I just noticed, as well, British drivers 1 2 3, four of us in the top 10. That was pretty good.

Q: Two Indy 500 victories. Are you now on par with Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart or are you now above them?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I could win races, Indy 500s, for the rest of my life, till I'm 70 years old, and I still wouldn't be in the same vein as Jim Clark or Jackie Stewart. Those guys are absolute legends. I'm in awe of both of them.

Q: What did you think when you looked in your side view mirror and there was T.K. from 33rd to behind you?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I thought, I knew it. I had a dream last night that T.K. and I were going to fight to the finish. But by that point I had those thoughts and it was down to business again. Right, get away from T.K. so he can't draft me and save more fuel. Manage that gap, try to hang on to those guys ahead of me to save as much fuel as I could. Then I kept looking and he was still sort of a similar distance. I thought, Man, if he's saving as much fuel as me, he's going to make this a difficult last five laps or so. Then he pitted, and that took a lot of pressure off. Until he pitted, I never took my eye off him because he can always surprise you. He didn't get the result that he deserved, but to have gone from last to second was cool. He will win one of these races one day, you watch.

Q: Last year you led a bunch of laps and at the end you got stuck in traffic. Today was it really your goal to get out in front and try to stay out in front? Also you talked about how difficult the car was to drive, difficult to match Penske. Did you have to make the car so it was totally on edge to be able to have that speed?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think in order to be quick here you have to be on edge. You seldom drive around here and think, This thing is quick and it's easy. Qualifying '07, that's maybe the one time.

As far as staying out front, Scott and I last year were able to lead a bunch of laps, then we had those problems in the second to last pit stop. It just shows you it's a team sport. Everybody, even the best, even Team Target and Team Penske make mistakes. Today my guys were perfect. That's what it took. Chip told us this morning, didn't he, Make no mistakes, we're in the hunt here today, guys.

Q: When you have a situation like you had at the end, confusing race, is it hard to keep track of all that stuff, concentrate on all those goofy things?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's much easier when you're just running wide open, definitely. I say 'wide open,' as hard as it will go. But that's part of it. Strategy is part of racing, whether it's IndyCar racing, stock car racing, sports car racing, you have to find the best way to get to the finish line, right, Mike? Doesn't matter what it is, you have to find the best way, and we did that.

Q: You got around Helio right away. He dropped back. Toward the end there he was in third place and coming. Did you think he had been holding back and was on a real charge? Was he one, along with T.K., you were concerned with at the end?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: At that point I was kind of concerned about T.K. and I was doing the best I could at that time and that was it. There comes a point where you can only go as quickly as you can, you can only save as much fuel, all those sort of things. We managed it.

Q: What does it mean for you being a role model for Scottish kids because you are not only a great racing driver but a great ambassador?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you. That's a tough one to answer.

I think by the way maybe you live your life, that's all you can really do. Yeah, that's about it. It's very important, both at the track and out of the track, we look after the kids, the fans, the younger kids, because I remember going to racetracks and seeing my heroes. When they were nice to me, it was an unbelievable feeling. I think it's very important.

Q: In terms of emotion, feeling, can you compare this one to your win in '07?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think that would be like comparing my two dogs, our two dogs. You can't do it. They're both different. They're both pretty cool, yeah.

MIKE HULL: Need a third dog.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Need a third dog, exactly (laughter).

I have to say that feeling, when you drive into Victory Lane, you see some of my family, my dad was here, Ashley, some of my family from Nashville, my friends from Scotland, my team, it's cool, man. That's it right there. You get out and you get to drink the milk. That's what it's all about.

Q: Obviously a British 1 2 3 here. Same in the Turkish Grand Prix. What does it feel playing a part in British motorsport history?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: It was great to see Lewis and Jensen fight hard but not take each other out. It was close. I think we have to think about Mike Conway, as well. Any news on Mike Conway? There's a lot of British drivers here, a lot of quick British drivers. Great having four of us in the top 10 and a 1 2 3. I don't think that's been done before. I think we're doing something right in the UK. I think I'm a generation ahead of most of the other guys, but it's great to see them. Obviously in LMS, as well, F1, LeMans next week, a couple weeks' time. I think we've got some pretty good British drivers right now. I'm very proud of that.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for coming in.

-source: ims

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series INDYCAR