IRL: Indy 500: Second, third finishers press conference

91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 SECOND, THIRD PLACE PRESS CONFERENCE Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon Sunday, May 27, 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway MODERATOR: Well, we know what it's like having sat through it and watched and wondered about the weather.

91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 SECOND, THIRD PLACE PRESS CONFERENCE
Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon
Sunday, May 27, 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

MODERATOR: Well, we know what it's like having sat through it and watched and wondered about the weather. We have no idea what it was like to be in the cockpit. Scott Dixon, it was another quality run for you and a whole year of quality finishes and another quality finish at Indianapolis. I suspect, however, one more spot would have made this a better day.

SCOTT DIXON: What a day. Everybody is the same, we sat around, and the rains come like three times and then finally at the end of the race. Just frustrating, no flow to the race, a lot of back markers causing a lot of crashes, restart after restart. It's one of those days where you feel you haven't even raced, sort of like being on the freeway and watching people smash into each other.

Yeah, I'm disappointed. Finishing second is definitely great and means a lot coming this high up the grid at such a great place and against such great competitors. But just a frustrating day, in general, and frustrating for the guys at Team Target, the amount of work they put in, all of them. And we just came up second. You know, one of those days.

MODERATOR: Scott, was this a problem that you detected from the early period of the race, in other words getting through traffic, or was it just made worse by having the restarts and the rain and trying to get a rhythm in the latter stages of the event?

DIXON: It's similar for everybody. I think for us we initially started the race pretty aggressive. So we went quite low downforce, I think similar to some of the other fast guys. In the first part of the race, we were quite sketchy, all over the place and, you know, in traffic, so that made it tough. We just wanted to sort of stay up at the top, conserve a bit of fuel, and that worked out pretty good. We saved some fuel, got that yellow, jump up to second, and the car was coming along really well.

Yeah, I think getting in the traffic and people -- the hardest thing I think today was probably for the guys sitting on the stand and trying to work out what strategy you needed. I was always on the radio asking how far away is the rain, they were pretty accurate how that was going. But it's not the way you want to drive a race, think about the weather conditions and what other people are doing.

MODERATOR: We've got microphones working both sides of the room. Let's all be patient, we've got questions.

Q: Scott, we saw some passes on the restarts today. You were sitting second on a restart. How did you approach it? Did you think you had a chance? Was that the time to try to make your move on the actual restart?

DIXON: I think it was, you know. On that restart there with Fisher sort of in between us, it was difficult. You could never get a run that big, and she was hugging the white line through (Turn) 4 where -- that's where you try to get down and try and get some clean air. Especially after the rain came, the tires were getting a lot of abuse. They were perfect all day, and they just didn't last as long after the rain because it was so green out there. And after about five, six laps, in our car we struggled a bit with grip, and it was hard to get too close. If you're sitting second, I think if we had another restart there, you're always sitting in a pretty good spot. You get a good run, you've got enough grip because you're not going so fast through (Turn) 4, and you can get a run up the front straight. I think if that situation had happened, we would have had a shot at taking the win. But it didn't, and that's that.

Q: Scott, did your team do a short fill on that last pit stop? Were you expecting the rain about when it happened?

DIXON: We came in straight after the restart. We had, I think, three yellow laps, we came in and then we didn't pit after that. Oh, actually we did. We didn't take a short fill. I came in a lap early just because my car was sort of out of tires, you know, sort of skating and we had traffic. So we thought it was better. But no, we didn't short fill. We were just out of sequence to everybody else, myself, Dario and Briscoe.

Q: Can you spell out what you did during the rain delay? What did you do to keep from being bored and stay focused on the race?

DIXON: I went back to the truck, and the only thing we had to eat was a corn dog, so I had a corn dog. I went back to the bus and hung out with my dog and fiancee, and that was it. Went to sleep for about an hour. Pretty boring.

Q: Scott, the other day Dario described you and him as the invisible men. So there's got to be a little bit of satisfaction that you guys can be seen loud and clear at the end of this race.

DIXON: Yeah, you know, we were quick I think most of the day. We were sort of -- everybody was chasing strategies and knowing where to place yourself. Dario was really lucky finding that cut tire on that (Lap) 113 and then the restart there. Because otherwise he wouldn't have pitted, and he would have been in the same situation as everybody else, which would have been good for us in hindsight.

But, yeah, I think we kept it pretty simple all day. There was a lot of aggressive driving out there, I think people just getting anxious. There was no flow to the race and making dives and a few silly mistakes. But, no, it was great to see Dario. Congrats to them and AGR. They were definitely strong all day.

MODERATOR: Other questions for Scott Dixon?

Q: Yeah, Scott, given the conditions and the clouds, you went from ninth to second when all these other people pitted. Were you surprised so many of them went in?

DIXON: No, you know, we knew all those people -- that's kind of what happened -- we knew all those people and the ultimate strategy. We sort of had to leapfrog them again. That's the thing, the whole day was just about which group of people leapfrog the next group. At (Lap) 113, we were in the not-so-good group, and obviously after the restart and where we ended up that way. But continuing what we did have, almost 50 or 45 laps to go, everybody had to pit. They were probably about 12, 15 gallons burnt of fuel and we had only burnt sort of four or five. We knew those people were going to come in.

Q: Scott, several laps before that first rain delay, it looked like a lot of you guys picked up the pace. Were there thoughts of the race ending at that point?

DIXON: I guess it does. Your team is coming on to you saying the rain is about 30 minutes out, 20 minutes out, 10 minutes and then it was almost in about four. So I guess you do pick up the pace. I think the biggest thing today, a lot of the front guys went aggressive today on the aero. They were quite trim just so they could race the last part, and the track started to rubber up a lot more, especially with traffic, big drafts, you know, the speeds were just coming up big time.

Q: If you could talk a little bit of the first 113 laps of that race, the nature and urgency the guys drove and you mentioned how aggressive it was, was it a wild ride for you to see all that because there seemed to be some pretty bold moves being made?

DIXON: There were some pretty bold moves by a lot of guys. I saw a few just with the guys I was racing with. Obviously, the biggest one was probably Sam and Tomas and that kind of ruined their day a little bit. Michael Andretti was really aggressive out there but, you know, he's a hard man to pass and a good racer. But, yeah, I think it was. Just a lot of, you know, a lot of pressure built up, especially after the delay and how the race was going to go and this morning was going, just a lot of people want to get this race over, and obviously they wanted to get to the front.

MODERATOR: Other questions for Scott?

Q: After 113 laps, neither you nor Dan were obviously where you wanted to be. After the rain stopped the first time and you knew that there was a window for you to get back out there, get 20, 30 more laps in, talk to me a little bit about how anxious you were to get out there to finish up whatever you could.

DIXON: Yeah, big time, man. Obviously, when we saw the rain come at 113, nobody wanted the race to end there. There was a big shift in where people had been running; there was a lot of guys from the back that made it to the front through pit stops, and especially for us, I'm not even sure, I was sitting like eighth, and Dan was maybe 15th or something. So it was not where we wanted to be. We had had pretty good cars, I think. Dan had been struggling a little bit during the day, but we wanted to move to the front. For sure, all I wanted to do was get out there and try and improve on our position.

MODERATOR: We don't want to put Scott up here any longer than need be. Any additional questions for Scott Dixon? Scott, we'll go ahead and let you go and congratulate you on a great run here at Indianapolis once again.

It is another chapter for a guy who has an unbelievable record here at Indianapolis, a couple of wins, a second, a third. He looks a little bit down on this one, but Helio Castroneves is another step toward a Hall of Fame-type of career. Tell us about your day and your emotions right now.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, obviously you want to finish, you know, you want to finish in the green. But, again, we -- for everything that happened today, I have to say that third is a fantastic result. No question, I never lost faith in my team. They never lost the faith on me, and we always believe it. It's just a shame that especially toward the end after we made some change, I knew what we could have done and that showed when we made some incredible restarts, and that was awesome.

But, again, start from the beginning. We had a little trouble with the battery; we didn't go out on the parade lap. Finally get the car fired on and went back. Then Tony and I, it seemed to be handling very, very good up front, we were actually taking it easy. I was having a good time until pit stops where we had a little trouble with the hose, I think. One of the safety pins broke, and then we don't know why it wasn't fueling. Then we have to kind of -- but we kept our composure. It was incredible the way the team handled those circumstances in the critical situations. They were really able to calm down, which actually make me feeling very comfortable. As soon as we went out last, the beginning of our quest, we came and passed some people. Unfortunately, we had to wait and be patient. We were really, really good and I was really taking it easy because back there it was a totally different game. It was very hard. Then one incident in the pits, I almost, Sam and I touched, I was able to hold it. And the end of the day, we were able to restart in sixth place. The change that we made before the rain, it wasn't good, the car was pushing quite a bit. Then we made another adjustment in the pit stop, and then again the car was kind of the opposite, loose. And then the last one the car was fantastic. I mean, I was able to come from sixth, fifth, third, and I'm telling you, I was going for it. But I have to say that Indianapolis, we had very good points, collect good points. Dario took a gamble. I know how it feels. Definitely, it's fantastic. I'm sure he doesn't care if it rain or doesn't rain, he will be happy with the result and the paycheck.

So right now, we really happy for everything that happened. So let's continue and move on.

MODERATOR: We saw you at the end in high def, the television upstairs with spectacular moves, you had us all standing up. You know the question that's going to come, did you have something for him?

CASTRONEVES: Absolutely. I felt I had a lot, especially toward the end, especially with new tires. Basically he would have like some laps on the tires, I don't think he would be able to finish with the fuel. I mean, there were so many things that were going toward not that direction. But like I said, they gambled very good; they did a hell of a job like making sure that the rain would come and, I tell you, they deserve it. It wasn't meant to be for us.

MODERATOR: Again, other questions for Helio. We'll be working both sides of the room again.

Q: Hi, Helio. Scott had mentioned how aggressive it got out there at times today and there was kind of a lack of a flow because there were sort of two groups of cars that were leapfrogging each other in and out of the pits. Of course, you had the delay with the rain and a lot of tension built up, and you knew another rain shield was coming. I'm kind of curious whether you feel that so much tension had built up that the level of risk just got to be maybe borderline high on that last what, 30-some laps.

CASTRONEVES: Well, that's the Indianapolis 500. You bet it all, you try everything and that's what happened when you have such a competitive field. Today we have at least 10 cars able to win this race, and it is such a long race that you have to use your head. I have to say my team did that. We were very smart, and timing and were doing exactly what we need to do. And they did, too, I guess, finished second. No question it's a good position. If he doesn't want it, I'll take it. (Laughter)

Q: You said you were happy with your performance. Is your car owner happy with the way the day went?

CASTRONEVES: Say it again? (Laughter) That was too strong for me. Oh, Penske. Well, he is. Obviously you want to finish in the top. We bet all our chips and money that we knew where we had good conditions to be in the end, but he came to me and said that's what happened, good job, both cars did a fantastic job, finished third and fourth we think in the championship now. So let's move on and be happy.

Q: Did you consider, Helio, for your last pit stop short fill or did you really expect the rain when it did happen the last time?

CASTRONEVES: I did not. Especially our guys out there, we had like someone asking -- I mean focus on the weather. We thought we were going to finish with no problem, with dry weather. So that's why we were focusing our scenario to the dry conditions. But even that, Cindric, the guy who calls my race, he's like, man, you're going to have to go like hell because it's going to rain. I said, 'OK, it's naturally time to go.' We definitely made some change in the pit stop. And actually I have to say that was good because if I would have stay out, I don't think I would have enough for those guys. But after we made some change, definitely, definitely we were ready.

So it was awesome. It's just a shame that we couldn't -- one more restart. (Laughter)

Q: Helio, you've been a long-time competitor with Dario. Here is a guy that lately has kind of flown under the radar screen a little bit. What does it feel like as a competitor to see a guy like that win a race like this?

CASTRONEVES: That's a good question, Bruce. This is Indianapolis, just to move that not a young guy, not a fast guy but the smart guy, you know, and you have to position yourself in the right place and the right time. When he was passing by me, I noticed that he kept it out. I'm like that's a very interesting move. But, again, they have five cars out there. And I guess, you know, they agree let's take a chance and he felt that it would be the right choice. So it's good, it's great that, you know, like you said, he's not kind of a spotlight, but if you notice he's right there in the championship and being consistent all the time. So my only thing is congrats to him. I know how he feels and I just want to welcome him to the club.

Q: One of those last couple restarts it looked like maybe the two Penske cars or one of the Penske cars and another got together. Was that the case and what happened if that was?

CASTRONEVES: Well, there were two restarts, and one of the restart I was able to pass three, four cars and two cars at least went in front of me. But I was a little disappointed but, again, on another restart, it was a very, very close call between Sam and I. I was kind of -- I closed my eyes and said that's where you're going to hopefully fit. If it didn't fit, you must quit. (Laughter)

But it fit. So we were able to -- went through the very narrow area, and wow, it was a close call. That's what I'm saying, my car was all of a sudden, it was really pushing. Both our cars are very close. Sam and I were very close in terms of setups. That's why we finished third and fourth. So it wasn't like who had a better opportunity.

Q: You were you on the inside?

CASTRONEVES: I was on the inside.

Q: So, Helio, what did you do during the rain delay?

CASTRONEVES: I ate a little bit, you know. It's funny, my brother-in-law said I didn't know 500 miles you have like a break. (Laughter)

It was kind of funny. So I ate a little bit. I kind of rest, tried to not stay, you know, too much like jumping around, which is easy for me to do. And decide just to keep like we're going to go back there and still need to finish the job. I have to say it was kind of tough because you keep looking at TV and the track seems like it takes forever to dry.

Q: Where did you go?

CASTRONEVES: I stay in the garage. I just stayed in the garage and did everything there. Just relax, and as soon as they said ready, I'm ready and always ready.

Q: Helio, I wonder if you could elaborate on something for me real quickly. I know you had the problem getting the fuel into the car and then you came back. I thought you came back in the pits the first time to check to see if you got the fuel into the car. Two laps later you came back again. Can you elaborate on that?

CASTRONEVES: Yeah, just making sure that everything was under control, trying to -- tried a new hose and basically it was working so we didn't want to have another problem again. So it was just a check. Now we're in the back of the field so we're not going to lose anything. That was a clever way to do it.

MODERATOR: Helio, I think we're going to let you go after another great performance at Indianapolis. Congratulations.

CASTRONEVES: Thank you. I appreciate it. (Applause)

-credit: ims

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Scott Dixon