IRL: Nashville: De Ferran, Hornish press conference

Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much on behalf of Nashville Superspeedway for covering this event. We'll have a couple of brief questions, and then you are welcome to question our drivers. Congratulations. Gil, let's go back very ...

Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much on behalf of Nashville Superspeedway for covering this event. We'll have a couple of brief questions, and then you are welcome to question our drivers. Congratulations. Gil, let's go back very quickly, caution flag, last two laps. Talk about the restart.

Gil de Ferran: Certainly those restarts are tough. Sometimes you get the timing right, sometimes you don't. The restart before the last one, Sam (Hornish) had a great restart, got by me. And then on the last restart, I managed to time it just right and got a run. And Scott (Sharp) was able to make it by him. And, you know, I have to give it to Alex (Barron). I thought maybe he would take it easy on that first turn, but he kept it wide open, through that white-flag lap. He really gave me no chance whatsoever. For us, it was a great run overall. We had to come from the middle of the grid, went all the way forward. We were running right up there with Sam, and then we had a puncture had to come in on the green, lost the whole lap, went all the way to the back again, managed to come all the way forward there at the end. My car was very good. The guys did a great job. And overall, it was a good day. It is a shame we didn't win, but it was a very good day for us.

Q You were up front for a long, long time but did not lead that important lap. What happened there? Relive those laps that you did lead.

Sam Hornish Jr.: We were very happy with the car. Our team did an awesome job on the green-flag run. We were probably two, three miles an hour faster than everybody else. Came from behind quite a few times. Just didn't lead that very important lap. Had a little bit of an incident on the yellow. The team recovered very well. We were winning there, kept our heads about it and did the best we could. Coming out with a third-place finish after thinking the race was over for a couple of seconds. First you are disappointed that you didn't win, and then you are happy again that you did finish third.

Moderator: We'll open it up for questions right now.

Q That controversial bump with George Mack; how big a bump was it?

Hornish: I thought I was in Texas again. I saw the yellow come out, slowed down a little bit, got hit and thought, 'I can't believe it is happening.' Because the car is flying toward the wall, but somehow the car managed not to hit the wall. Really kind of a tribute to the team. I make mistakes, we get caught in other people's mistakes, we always continue to keep working, try to work harder, come back for the next race. Lost a couple of points on Gil (de Ferran) tonight, got a couple on Helio (Castroneves). Keep trading points, sooner or later we are going to catch up, hopefully.

Q This question is for Sam. What kind of damage was done to your car?

Hornish: We had a couple of pretty big holes in the side. Knocked a couple of fins off. Flattened the tire, one of the ramps that pushes air up over the rear tire and also creates downforce for the car got ripped off. Quite a few little things, but all in all, that is an expense for the team, but not as big as what it could have been.

Q Question for Sam. Will you be angry about not winning?

Hornish: I am a little bit happier about this one. We definitely had the car to beat. It is tough not to win a race when you have the car to beat. It's tough not to win when you have a dominant car. But I am happy because we gained some points. We lost a couple here. It is ﷓﷓ I don't know I can't really find the words to describe it, but I am happy we finished third. Disappointed a little bit that we didn't win. Overall, it was a good weekend. We showed again, led a lot of laps; we showed that we are capable of winning races. Every time that we lose one that one doesn't go our way, we try to come back a little harder to maybe take one that wasn't ours.

Q The question is for both drivers. How was the groove on the racetrack tonight?

Hornish: As long as you were on the lower line, it was very good. If you tried to move up, it was a little tougher. A couple of times I tried to get a run on people on the outside, the car pushed up. I had a hard time keeping it down. Quite a few cars weren't handling very well. Those guys were trying to stay down on the bottom of the track all the time. It was just a matter of rubber build up on the outside groove. It wasn't that there wasn't any grip there; it was that it wasn't cleaned up. There were a lot of pieces of rubber, marbles.

de Ferran: Earlier in the race, I had a little bit more success running higher than later in the race. A couple times I almost whacked the wall; it wasn't too good. Pretty much like Sam said, it just got dirtier and dirtier as the race wore on.

Q The question is for Gil. Qualifying and so forth.

de Ferran: We seem to qualify really well on the little ovals. And on the bigger ovals, mile-and-a-half, 2-mile oval, we just can't seem to find the ultimate speed. Our car handles really well, that is why we are able to come through in the race. We can't seem to find the last few tenths or few hundreds of a second here, that is going to get us up there. In Kansas, what happened, we just went wild with the setup and really just misjudged completely the racetrack, and I nearly crashed. That is why I started so far back. Here the car was handling fine. I was wide open in qualifying. That is as fast as I can go ... fine, great, no problem. We look forward to tomorrow. I don't know, in this type of track, we can't seem to find the last few hundredths of a second.

Q The question is for Gil ... (inaudible)?

de Ferran: No, I think Alex -- I always watch him. Even in CART when we were racing together, he, you know, never battled that much together. So I really didn't have, how can I say, a refined judgment about him. I am also certainly very aware of his success in go﷓karts from his career. And he had a few runs in CART that were very promising, I thought so. I never discounted him as a bad driver. I think he is proving that this year. He is running very competitive this year. He knocked on the door a few times. Sure enough, he came up with the win on this one. He really drove well at the end of the race.

Q The question is for Sam. How far were you from touching Scott Sharp?

Hornish: About that far. He had me about that far in the ... I had about that much room between his tire. He gave me probably a little bit less than a car length of room. I figured it was better to finish fourth than to crash the car, especially after everything else that we went through. I backed off, and I figured I will get him on the next lap, next lap he moved around again. Instead of having to pass him on the racetrack, Brian (Barnhart) took care of him for me.

Q Do you think it's narrowed down to a three-way race between Team Penske and Panther Racing for the IRL championship?

de Ferran: If I am not mistaken, there are five races to go or something. I do think it is wide open. As we move toward the end of the season, it narrows, it gets harder and harder for the guys that are further back to catch up. I think we have to wait, judging race by race, but for sure Sam and Helio and myself, we seem to finish first, second, third; third, first and second; fourth, third and second, you know, but we are always around each other. It is like disease almost, terrible. I look in my mirror and I go, 'Here he is again.' I look in my mirror and say, 'Oh, no, I want to see a different car.' It seems to be always the same guys around.

Hornish: It definitely is like that. Every time we finish on the lead lap, we are in the top three. That is the biggest part about it, to keep from going out there and not finishing. I had three bad races, we kind of stuck back on a little bit, got it going in the right direction. Head to Michigan and see what we can win there.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Gil de Ferran , George Mack , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske