Motegi: Post-qualifying press conference

An interview with Mario Moraes, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe Friday, September 18, 2009 THE MODERATOR: We're joined by second position starter Mario Moraes, along with Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe. Mario, pretty dramatic...

An interview with Mario Moraes, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe
Friday, September 18, 2009

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by second position starter Mario Moraes, along with Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe.

Mario, pretty dramatic finish there today. Talk about your run out there.

MARIO MORAES: Well, we've been working really hard all season long. First time here in Motegi, so I'm really pleased. I'm happy it's my first front row. I think it's going to be a long race tomorrow. I think we still can have a good finish.

THE MODERATOR: Ryan, championship points leader, talk about today and tomorrow.

RYAN BRISCOE: Pretty good. Just a little bit loose on the first two laps. It wasn't really giving me of the confidence to get the throttle down out of Turn 4, so I left a bit on the table there.

The car has been pretty good in practice. We had good, long runs today. It's going to be a tough race, it always is here. Hopefully doesn't come down to a fuel event, which it usually does, but we'll be aiming for it if that's the case. Hopefully we can still come out of here leading the points going into Homestead.

THE MODERATOR: Dario, talk about your run out there today.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: We struggled this morning with the LifeLock car. We didn't have a good balance at all. The guys made some great changes on it from the first to second session. We were very happy with the car.

Qualifying, my out lap leading to my first lap, I wasn't quite quick enough on that. I was a little concerned. Took one, two, three, four coming to the green. Ultimately that cost me some lap time. Still wouldn't have been quick enough to challenge Scott. He did a fabulous job there. Really impressive qualifying run.

But we're starting close to the front. Yeah, it's going to be a long race. As Ryan says, hopefully it doesn't come down to a fuel race. But I think we're in good shape for that. I think our race car is better than our qualifying car right now.

Q: How much will you be aware of where the other two guys are that are in the championship chase?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: He's sitting next to me (laughter).

I think in the race you really have to do your own thing. Maybe more for Ryan because he's leading the thing right now. He's got to keep an eye on what we're doing. We've got to go out there and close the points gap. We'll be doing the best we possibly can.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. We'll get on with our pole winner, Scott Dixon. Scott, why don't we get started with you and your run out there.

SCOTT DIXON: I think actually the whole day for Team Target has been pretty decent. Obviously both in the second session, we were at the top of the charts. My car was definitely good in the first session. This morning we stuck with one set of tires. We didn't run another set like everybody else was just to try to save them for two qualifyings and practice, too.

It's always hard to know what you're going to get out there especially when you have a couple guys that hit the wall, put All Dry down, things like that, the track conditions changing. I think they all seemed to be in our favor today. I think the track cooled off a little bit. There was no real wind. The car had a real balance. The outlook was nice to see when you see that come up on the dash and obviously you know you got to go a little bit quicker. But it didn't seem we had to pull out as much as maybe some of the others.

The car was definitely quick. Hopefully it's consistent. We did a nice full-tank run in the second session, seemed pretty decent. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q: You got one point back today for getting pole. Is it pretty much win or bust in terms of the championship?

SCOTT DIXON: I think for me it's definitely all out. We've got to try to gain obviously the pole point. It's only one, but it definitely helps. It's also good for the ego coming into the race, maybe confidence over some of the others.

Championships come down to that one point. It's definitely heading in the right direction. Last year we were dominating the race and still you could not be on the right strategy and somebody else could win. So we've got to try to keep pushing, but do it I think skillfully to make sure we don't go out there, burn a bunch of fuel, get ourselves in trouble as well.

First step is done. Hopefully we can continue in that correction. But we've still got 32 points to catch up to Ryan. That's a lot of points, unless he has a bad day.

Q: Kind of a rarity at this track you get a full day of practice and qualifying before the race. How valuable is that for everybody?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I've been coming here since 2001. It's probably the first time I think that's ever happened. It's nice that I think they've changed the time of the year, then also condensed it into a two-day event. It's a long ways to come. But if you can hammer it out, I think with good weather, it's definitely well worth it.

I think the track time is more beneficial to obviously some of the new people here, which I think we had eight or nine of them this year. It's a pick up for them. For us we prefer if it just rained and they couldn't really work on the setup too much. You can tell with people like Mario, the guy never been here before, but definitely is standing on the gas and qualifying up front, and is going to be very tough tomorrow, as well.

Q: It obviously was getting cooler as your run approached. The threat of rain was also there. Do you put that out of your mind?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, the rain wouldn't worry us too much. Obviously it would take away the point and obviously put Briscoe on the front. I think all in all we knew we had a good car, we knew we could still get to the front. But you wanted to see if you could get that point and see if he could slip back in the pack a little bit and make at least the first half of the race a little difficult for them.

I think the more mind challenging stuff is when people start crashing. Then you think, did we go a little too loose on the balance, are we going to have the same issues, things like that. You really got to go out, try to go as fast as you can and focus on your own stuff.

Q: Tomorrow for the race, can we expect some overtaking on turns three and four?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, absolutely. I think three and four is definitely the key to the circuit, whether it's practice, qualifying or racing. That's why we at least did take some time to work on it in race setup. You can start the car quite loose, you tend to burn the right front up quite a lot here. The loading on the front of the car through three and four is quite heavy. Obviously when you get in traffic, you lose a lot of your front grip.

But I believe that's where you'll set up a lot of your passes. You might not pass there on restarts, maybe a two-wide through there. It's got a very fine line. If you can get a run out of four, carry it all the way through one and two, make the pass, that's definitely the way you're going to try and do it.

Q: Do you think you can make good usage of the overtake button?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's not a huge amount at the moment as its early days for the overtake system. Definitely when you're trying to save fuel and you have lap traffic, I think it's definitely a key point where you can push it and make sure you get those people out of the way.

When it comes down to the final stint of the race, hopefully you're running mixture one, it's only five horsepower difference. That will add up. Coming out of Turn 4, up the straight, up the hill, it will make a slight difference. Hopefully I can save them all for the last 15 laps and push them all on the last 15 laps.

Q: How do you feel the difference is on the track between this year and last year?

SCOTT DIXON: Typically we would have thought it was going to be about 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer. It's been a little warmer through the practices. Qualifying was probably pretty similar to last year. Also the track conditions. I think we had some sessions last year where it was quite windy. I think today we ultimately got perfectly conditions.

The only major difference for us I think is Firestone brought a different tire. We're running a speedway tire instead of an Indy tire. There's definitely a little less grip with that tire, but it seems to last and be a little more consistent. That seems to be the difference at the moment.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Mario Moraes