Suntrust Indy Challenge Second-, Third-Place Press Conference Transcript Saturday, June 28, 2003, Richmond International Raceway Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran MODERATOR: We have the second- and third-place finishers in tonight's race. In...
Suntrust Indy Challenge
Second-, Third-Place Press Conference Transcript
Saturday, June 28, 2003, Richmond International Raceway
Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran
MODERATOR: We have the second- and third-place finishers in tonight's race. In the infield media center, Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves. We'll start with Gil de Ferran, who finished third and give him a chance to tell us a little bit about the race tonight, and then we'll take your questions. Gil de Ferran, third-place finish, good job. Tell us about it.
GIL de FERRAN: Thank you. It was a good race for us, you know, we had a good start and jumped all the way to third place right at the start.
What happened to you?
DE FERRAN: You should know. Every single start I go forward.
CASTRONEVES: Gil de Ferran start this guy. That was impressive.
DE FERRAN: I will give you a tape.
CASTRONEVES: Thank you.
DE FERRAN: We had a good start, what was I talking about? The race. We had a good start and basically jumped to third place, and I have to say from there on I was just kind of biding my time a little bit, just waiting for traffic to come, so I give myself a little bit of distance from Tony and whenever we got to traffic; then I approach him. I was able to get by him in traffic. And I was able to close up on Scott, as well, in traffic and I thought I might get an opportunity there while in traffic. Then we went to the first pit stop and just running nose to tail - very, very hard pace, I have to say. At that point, Helio was right behind me and running very strong, and then we came to the last pit stop, and we had a slight problem on the last pit stop and lost one position. But from there on, I have to say that the pace was super-hard because we knew that the rain was probably on the way, and, really, there was no holding back. So at that point, it was just like flat out, we were driving, you know, qualifying pace and you know, we're all running sort of close-ish to each other, and the rain came. So there you go. I think overall a positive results. We had a good car, and I came out of here in one piece with the car still running (laughs) and with third place. Not as good as first or second but better than fourth, that's for sure. With that, that's it. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Compare your car and the race to last year.
DE FERRAN: It was -- I have to say I had a better car in the race this year than I had last year. Last year we went very, very, very loose; especially on that last stint, I was -- had a lot of oversteer, and this year that wasn't the case. My car stayed more consistent. I think we had a better set-up car. The engine was really, really good today, and we were happy.
MODERATOR: Let us have Helio talk about his race.
CASTRONEVES: Anyway, I guess my race was much better than last year, let us put it this way (laughs). At least I did not finish 100 laps behind this year. I finished just a couple of seconds. Again we start out 10th, we were able to make progress during the race. Obviously, our car is handling very, very well, and of course in the middle of the race when I was behind Gil I was trying, but we were just -- the guys just say take it easy. I said, 'Yeah, better just wait and see what is going to happen.' All of a sudden the pits, the guys did a phenomenal job. Then when I was behind Dixon, obviously, he was very fast. Happily we were going qualifying in those conditions, and again, he was able to deal very well with traffic, and we just were able to stay right behind. Unfortunately, the rain came out. We still had 50 laps to go, basically. It is a lot of race, a lot of things could happen, especially when the leaders start catching more fast drivers, that would be kind of a little bit interesting situation. But that's the way it goes. Maybe with the race finished like that, for sure, create more excitement in the championship, so we're going to keep going fast, hopefully.
Q: What was going through the drivers' heads when the lights went out?
CASTRONEVES: I didn't understand much. I noticed things were going dark. I thought I'd just passed a shadow or something like that, and the guys asked me: 'Are you seeing OK? Wow, so far I am seeing OK, I didn't drink anything yet, or unless you guys put anything in my drink bottle.' I was able to keep going. I had no job.
MODERATOR: Gil, anything to add to that?
DE FERRAN: Not really. Definitely got a shade darker there, but after a couple of laps sort of got used it to.
Q: Question is whether you could have caught Dixon in the last 50 laps with the change in track conditions.
CASTRONEVES: That's only Mother Nature would be able to answer that question. Unfortunately it's one of those conditions, he was fast, no doubt about that, my car was handling well, as well. Obviously, he was able to manage the two guys in front of me very fast, and maybe with more guys running in the same pace, maybe it would be kind of a tougher. But it's difficult to say, for sure. I was trying to keep it up and seems that the conditions for him and myself were pretty good.
Q: How much trouble was traffic tonight?
CASTRONEVES: For me, I had a lot of close calls today. For sure, I was locking the front tire. I don't know if I see my nose, if somebody touch my nose, as well. I had a lot a lot of trouble, but it's one of those conditions. This track, it's one of those tracks that you can't wait and you have an opportunity to go for it because otherwise those guys are going to go after you. So it was tough, but thank God I was able to manage well.
DE FERRAN: For me, I mean, nothing different than expected, really, I have to say. I had a couple of close ones, but you expect that when you come here. It's a tight racetrack, and there was some guys actually that were being lapped, they were running quite fast (laughs) and were sort of hard to pass. But that's normal, and I spotted the race, and you have to figure that traffic into your strategy.
Q: About the rubber on the racetrack, from the support races, was that a problem, and how did it compare to last year?
DE FERRAN: It is about the same as last year, you know, the track keeps changing, I think a little bit throughout the race, and certainly the track was quite slippery there at the beginning. I think it got better and better as the night went on.
CASTRONEVES: For me, definitely, I mean, I already anticipated this year what happened last year to me, so for sure it was a good -- it wasn't a good experience, but I learned from those things, and I set up my car in those conditions that I would be able to be in a positive way, perfect setup on my car, and definitely was much better than last year.
Q: The package this year with less downforce than there was in previous years the leader has a decided advantage most of this year than in year's past; especially at a short oval. Do you notice that when you are out there? Does the leader have more of an advantage than in past years?
CASTRONEVES: I have to be honest: I think it's a new year -- the chassis is new for everyone so some of the teams might be able to manage -- set up the car faster than the others. I don't think it's less downforce or stuff like that, lap leaders or stuff like that, you just have to keep working to find -- to tune the car well and try to keep it up. So right now I don't feel that way.
DE FERRAN: I would tend to agree with Helio. I don't tend to agree with your statement there. I think you know, what is been going on this year is that the guy who is in the lead and on the short ovals doesn't seem to -- his car is really not going off quite that much, in that case it has been Dixon, and he's got a very consistent car. So whenever you got a fast car leading the race it's -- you are always going to have a hard time.
Q: Question about Scott Dixon, his development as a driver.
DE FERRAN: I have to say from day one that he joined the series you could tell he had a very good hand, and what I think what impressed me the most when he joined the series was that he seemed very mature, you know, didn't get into trouble very often, you know, didn't put his nose in the wrong place, and he was fast at the same time, so he was obviously thinking. And I think that has helped him to develop his skills over the years, and today he's one, for sure, one of the top drivers.
CASTRONEVES: I do believe when he joined the series this year, he IRL, for sure, he adapted very well for those cars, those conditions, the power. And I think, for sure, he feel comfortable as I tend to agree with Gil: He seems to be being taking advantage in the right time. For sure, this has been the key in this series.
Q: Does it seem like Dixon might not have showed his whole hand tonight?
DE FERRAN: I don't think he was holding back. He might walk in here and prove me wrong, but you know, we were all pushing very hard. To me, it looked like he was pushing hard when I was following him, so I don't know, I think he was -- racing is racing, and you never know, suddenly he had a competitive car and a consistent car, and he did a good job driving so deserve to win.
CASTRONEVES: When I was behind him; especially toward the end, he was very clever. He was able to brake early or slow down very early for me to not get a good run, and he was able to manage well the lead. And when he made the good pass, he was able to keep going, and I was kind of stuck with the traffic. But, for sure, he was -- he was giving it all.
Q: Coming up on the halfway point of the season tonight, not being up on the top of the podium, but being on the podium, given that, how do you assess your chances for the rest of the year?
CASTRONEVES: I do. That's why I am here in one of the best teams today and again, I do feel that we have a lot to improve. But we've also been able to improve, as well. Again, it's one of those ways that now we're going to go to tracks that might become in handy, not maybe in speed for us but maybe for our experience on the race. We tended to run here last year; we were able to do well, and we just have to keep the momentum and keep going for the rest of the season.
DE FERRAN: I think, for me, as long as I have a mathematical chance, we'll be fine. That's the way I operate. I never count myself out of the running, you know. I just don't, basically.
Q: Question about Sam Hornish's charge late.
DE FERRAN: Yeah, he was about three seconds back, 2.9, got traffic; then he got traffic at 3.3, you know, just kind of seemed to me that way, I wasn't, you know, I wasn't particularly concerned, to be honest.
MODERATOR: Anyone else?
Q: Question is about the difference between the Chevy power last year and the Toyota power this year at Richmond?
DE FERRAN: To be quite honest, it is very hard to make comparisons because the car is completely different, the aerodynamic package is completely different, and even the engine rules are -- if you look beyond the displacement of the engine and configuration, it's quite different, as well. So it's really the car felt quite different from what it did last year. So did the engine and everything else. So it is really hard to make a comparison, I am sorry.
MODERATOR: That's it. We'll thank our second- and third-place drivers. Thank you both, congratulations.