Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Postrace Transcript
April 19, 2009
An interview with Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Dario Franchitti
THE MODERATOR: I eavesdropped on your conversation coming in here, and I heard you say, I could have won this race.
DANICA PATRICK: Well, Dario clearly won, but still I wasn't aware of really what could have been and what could have happened with being able to win the race. Michael said when I came into the pit that if the yellow would have come out at a slightly different time that we'd have had the lead. So I don't really know how that all would have shaken out exactly.
But the bottom line is we made incredible strides through being sort of calm with the car in the last couple of runs, and just said let's get something comfortable underneath me, and then also with strategy as well. Was Dario the only other one that pitted like I did?
THE MODERATOR: Yes.
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, so that's pretty good from the new guy in the pit box, right?
THE MODERATOR: Absolutely. Then you run from 22nd to 4th. I guess you were upset with your qualifying run yesterday and the charge there?
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, we obviously had our moment in qualifying with spinning out and hitting the wall, and taking out the front wing at the beginning of the qualifying run. After being in the top 10 in the morning practice we thought, "Man, we've got a shot to on move out of our group and see what we can do."
But once we hit the wall and got back out there it's been very easy to tip the car over and make it hard to drive and not very fast. So, what's felt good hasn't been good for a lap time unfortunately, either.
So with those two things combined, it's been a tricky weekend. But the bottom line is that my engineer Eddie put a good car underneath me for the race. And if you're going to get to pick one session, you hope it's the race.
So we'd obviously like to improve qualifying on so we can have a race from the front but all the points are the same in the end when you finish.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, questions, please.
Q: On your way up to the IndyCar Series , you were always a good road racer. Are you a little surprised with the good results on the road circuits have been a little slower coming?
DANICA PATRICK: I'm a little surprised that I can't seem to figure qualifying out. I can't seem to pull the time out of the car when I need to. But to be honest, my race pace from the beginning has never been that bad.
I think that showed again in the race today when probably my favorite part of the race was being able to hang there with Dario. I'm sure he was saving fuel because we were doing the same thing. And he was saving fuel, too.
I think that was good though. I just need to learn. Whether they're holding back, I don't know. I highly doubt it, to be honest, because I have three teammates. But to be able to just have that left in you to know how to get speed out.
But other than that, we've been doing well on road courses. We finished well at Sonoma last year, obviously, Detroit the year before. Couple front row starts in '07. It hasn't been horrible, but, my goodness, if you look at the field now, the whole field is good. So it's really hard.
Q: You were featured prominently in the IndyCar Series spots during the TV broadcast interview clips, showing sort of your determination. I'm wondering if you had any say in what sort of direction those things would go? If you had a chance to see them before they aired and what you thought about them?
DANICA PATRICK: The GoDaddy commercials?
Q: No, the IRL.
THE MODERATOR: It was the VERSUS spot, and at the end you talk about some girls went to proms, I went to the racetrack.
DANICA PATRICK: Right, actually, the way it was done, they had a really sort of young and amazing director come in and investigated a bunch of us drivers. There was a direction that they wanted to take, and wanted to elevate moods a little bit and messages of the drivers but it was really interview-style.
We took a clip of what my answer was and sort of boldly said it or said it individually. That was the interview format. I mean, things are dramatized a little bit. For the most part, it's true. I never went to prom. I went to the racetrack.
I've had guys ask me to prom since then, though. I don't know. (Laughing)
Q: You're talking about the guy on the box there calling your strategy. How has that been working out for you? You seem you've got a little confidence going into Kansas now with the boss calling a little bit of the shots there.
DANICA PATRICK: Well, he's done a good job. Mike is -- it's his first time. I mean, he's definitely called it from the sidelines a little more so with the radio on his head, making that exact call.
But he's so passionate. He lives it every day of his life, so it's nice to have somebody that's as passionate as you are, and also understands it from a driving perspective. Mike's done a great job.
We were on a great strategy at St. Petersburg, as well. We were on a two-stopper which was first, second, third, fourth, fifth finished. And so presuming that would have put me in that mix, that would have been another good mix for us. So Mike's done a great job, and I'm sure he'll only continue to improve.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Helio Castroenves. Was last night a normal night before race or did it feel different?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I will be honest. You know that butterfly going on in your stomach before the race? I didn't have it. I slept like a baby. I was tired from practice. I think it was finally sinking in that I was in Long Beach. I woke up really well rested and said, "Wow." I slept with a smile on my face.
But the point is, it was awesome. It was just so great, and day-by-day I think it's going to come back slowly, but I'll be ready, I'll be in the rhythm.
Q: You said to the TV guys that your muscles were sore? Is that from yesterday or just from rustiness?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I think it was more my butt, so basically --
Q: Thanks for sharing.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm sorry. But if you know, you move a lot, you put a lot of pressure on the brakes and throttle to keep moving your feet quite a lot. You stay in one position, and you don't move at all the arms and this area.
It's kind of like a little cramp. It's typical when you have sore muscles. I actually was enjoying it. It was nice to have back this kind of soreness, and the neck as well from the G-force, all the normal things.
Remember, it has been six months and I ran for an hour and a half yesterday, and this place is very bumpy. -- so it was a good feeling, I have to say.
Q: You also said that your water broke, your water bottle broke?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes, actually you have holes right here in the helmet, and somehow from inside it escaped. And I just felt it about halfway through the race. I felt really cold in my chest. I'm like, "I'm not sweating. What's going on here? Oh, that feels good."
And I realized it's the worst thing, because anything to distract you in this place is very bad. I did face that challenge today, but it didn't bother me.
I wasn't very thirsty. I thought I would be really tired, really thirsty, but, hey, I'm back in the game and I'm happy about that.
Q: Helio, if you could contrast your happiness to be back in the car? Now think of what Will Power's going to have to be doing next Sunday when he has to get out of the car. Tim said they're going to plan A, so he's not going to be racing at Kansas. Can you just kind of maybe see as well as he's done as high as he is in the points, have a little empathy for him as a teammate?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't know what the plan is. I heard Roger (Penske) and (Tim) Cindric talking about it again. Will Power, he proves he's a fantastic driver, and that's not going to change.
The way the circumstances came in, it was very difficult for everybody, including him. I'm kind of like happy and not happy. It's mixed feelings for both of us.
He's a good guy, but at the end of the day, I love racing, and I want to be back in racing. And now it was great for Team Penske. They found him a car, found him another ride, and he proved that he was fast.
So he did a fantastic job today. But I'm sure if there was something that Penske Racing can do, they will do. From now on, I don't know. I'm just happy to be back in the No. 3 car.
Q: How did you find racing on the Reds and Blacks? And how did they help you with the strategy?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: When I started the race, it's good when you keep one tire, but it's not very good when you jump to a different tire and you've got to change. There are a lot of variables now. It's not so much like it used to be last year.
At least last year you had the same tires and everything. You know what your car iss going to do every lap. Because the Red tire seems to have a little more grip and go off later on, it's hard to push too hard in the beginning or you might have trouble.
For me, I was more discussing about what the car was doing. It was the first time I was able to find it on the line here. It was good with every lap to learn a little more about the track and get comfortable with the car, with the rim. But an interesting scenario now. I think tomorrow or in the next few days -- isn't the oval the Red tires as well or not? The ovals?
THE MODERATOR: No, no.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: So next race in the Reds I'll probably understand a little bit. But today, it was a great learning process for me. I'm very glad that I was able to score some points.
Q: Do you find the fact that you found another line, what line did you find and how did it work for you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Remember, one and a half hours is a little bit hard after six months for you to understand everything. And I knew that would happen. But it was good to see other drivers doing that.
So at least I knew what my car could do. And the lines that were there were changing because of this scenario that I just told you.
It was very interesting, the car, the tires handling in some areas. I actually talked a lot today on the radio. Telling them how the car was handling so on the next road course we can fix some of those things. But that dang yellow, I'm still upset a little bit about it. It would have been a great finish, but 7th is still very good.
Q: It had to really make you feel good with the crowd reaction that you've got and people welcoming you back. You've spent a few months busy. Were you able to work out at all? Did you get a chance to get to a gym or have time to do any pretraining?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I remember Wednesday my trainer called me, and I was avoiding him quite a lot. Not because I didn't want to, but my head basically wasn't very much in racing. I was just avoiding everything. Maybe that's the way I'm trying to be positive.
But then on Wednesday he said, "I'm going wherever you are, and I'm going to train you." And as soon as I finished he's like, "Man, you're ready." And with that, I'm like, "OK, I know what I can do." My only problem was my head and he said he could fix it. And he did.
Yesterday and today, it was a great feeling to be back in the race rhythm. It was awesome, a great feeling. And the crowd again was fantastic.
Q: Since 2 p.m. Friday afternoon, has everything been a complete blur?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: A complete?
Q: Blur. It all happened so fast. Is it all just blurring?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think it will sink in when I go back home. The first reaction onFriday, I don't even know the time, was that I just want to get out of there. I just wanted to come here to Long Beach and see all my friends, colleagues, and you guys. Believe it or not, I want to really be talking here. And you know me, I like to talk.
So for six months, I was not able to talk. That was a lot of torture. I'm happy to be here talking to you guys.
Q: You've talked about wanting to put this whole idea behind you understandably. How long do you think that will take? Will you ever really be able to do that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't think I'll ever forget. I said that the other day. When I look at that scar, it's going to make me appreciate things I never appreciated in the past. I do believe I am a better person today. And I just want to continue racing. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Will Power. Will, a second place run out there for you. Your best ever finish while in the IndyCar Series. Talk about your run out there today.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was good. It was the very sort of the result that I needed. We didn't have communication. I couldn't hear them on the radio, so we were using the (pit) boards, but the guys did a great job.
The power was good throughout the race. I was saving some serious fuel at the end. I wasn't sure whether I could make it because we didn't have the communication working on my dash. But we had a really good result with the Verizon Wireless 12 car.
THE MODERATOR: Did the heat play a factor out there today?
WILL POWER: No, I was fine. I really felt fit. It didn't affect me at all.
Q: You mentioned that you had no radio and no telemetry; is that correct, in the car?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was just a small wiring problem. We brought the car here and it's just a little issue. So it wasn't a big deal. We used the board, and I could just hear the radio in a small section of the front straight. You know, we got it done, we got what we needed done.
Q: So you worked pit board only?
WILL POWER: Pit board, and a small bit of radio. I couldn't talk back, but I could hear.
Q: Ever see a guy so happy to finish 7th? And how are your feelings? You have to have mixed emotions today. You left here second place, and now you've got to wait a couple of weeks to get in the car?
WILL POWER: I'm just happy to be given an opportunity, especially with this team, Team Penske's very special. To run the Indy 500 with these guys is going to be great. It's going to give me a good opportunity to run right up in the front. They've had a lot of success there, as you know. So I'm looking forward to the month of May.
Continued in part 2