Watkins Glen: Post-race press conference, part 3

Continued from part 2 Q: Can you talk about what it means to be the guy who won the first Indy car race for Dale? And also put it in the perspective of all your heroes and everyone who has won here in the past from Jim Clarke and Jackson ...

Continued from part 2

Q: Can you talk about what it means to be the guy who won the first Indy car race for Dale? And also put it in the perspective of all your heroes and everyone who has won here in the past from Jim Clarke and Jackson Stewart and on and on and on. And again, not to just put your name in the record books with them, but to do it in such a sort of famous victory for an underdog team?

JUSTIN WILSON: It's fantastic to get Dale's first win, and also (Dale's wife) Gail's (Coyne). The two of them put a lot into this, and their heart and soul. We all do. So it's fantastic to get the first win. It means a lot to me. I think this is my most important victory of my career. I'm looking forward to enjoying it tonight.

I got here early, so we're down in Watkins Glen walking around, and you see all those names on the pavement down there. The guys that have won here, and that's pretty cool. You're walking around, reading off the names. It's fantastic to get your name on the board of winning at Watkins Glen up there with some of the best.

Q: Level of satisfaction of beating Penske and Ganassi straight up? No weird pits or weird circumstances. Just going out there and kicking butt?

JUSTIN WILSON: Well, it's great, obviously. It was an all out battle. Obviously, Ryan was unlucky with that yellow. But still, he was able to get the mileage and was able to be fast enough when everyone else pulled out of the way. He was right there again.

So we had a good, strong battle. And we came out on top. So we'll take that today. It's a great feeling.

DALE COYNE: You focused on the fact and I saw it in a press event that Penske and Ganassi won every race this year. Last year was a mess, we were so focused on what we were doing, that I didn't even realize that fact that makes it much sweeter, obviously.

But yesterday, we saw how strong Briscoe was. The time he put on the board. Yeah, he got weird on the pit stop on that yellow the first pit stop where the field got split.

But the last ten he's right behind us. So, here we go. And he pulled away, so of course, we know what they put into their cars, but the staff that we put together this year we kind of get a feel for what Ganassi has put into their cars over the years.

Like Justin says for the ovals, I think this is going to be an important off-season for us. For sure our busiest off-season ever, to come back and be more prepared for the ovals next year when the car becomes a pretty important piece of the puzzle.

Q: What did you think when you came down out of the last turn and saw all your guys up there on the wall?

JUSTIN WILSON: It was great. I just didn't want to slow up too early because I know the finish line is way down there. It was a great feeling.

Some of those guys have worked such long hours to get to all the races. They've put a lot of effort in. There's been some difficult times this year, but there's been some great times.

As I said before the end of the season, your efforts will pay off. We will win a race. Already we've achieved that so just got to thank all the work that they do.

Whether it's the guys working on the car or the guys going over the wall, you know, even the engineers. Everybody plays their part. And without any one of those guys today wouldn't have been possible.

Q: But did it surprise you to see them go all the way to the wall?

JUSTIN WILSON: It felt like being back in Europe; the guys on the wall. It's a pretty cool feeling to drive by and see them there. You know that they've not just sat back and blase to what's going on in the race. It matters to them how we do. They're passionate as much as we both are.

Q: After what happened on Tuesday back in Indianapolis, I mean, how much does this series kind of need to have a feel good story like this today to kind of get back in a positive direction?

DALE COYNE: I think it's good. Somebody said at St. Pete when we were leaving everybody in the press room was cheering that we were going to win the thing. And we didn't. But I think this is good to do this here. I think that's what's good about the sport is that a team with our resources and our budget can win a race.

Everybody thinks that the top two teams are going to win every race. But I think it shows the other series and for this series to be strong, we need more teams here. We need not to have to subsidize teams and we need all those things to happen in this economy to make this series work and grow.

I think us winning a race and any other team that can win a race helps to show that. A lot of teams from Grand Am, wherever they might be from, I think they can come here, get the pieces we need, the drivers we need and do the job. And I think that's very good for the sport.

Despite what Robin Miller says, this sport is moving forward for a long time.

Q: Are you signed for next year?

DALE COYNE: We have an option for next year. It's an option, but we'll try to get that renewed today (laughing).

JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously we're trying to build something for the future here. We're looking at this long-term as well as short term, trying to get wins this year and podiums. Our goal is to win the championship. We'll just keep working away at things.

Q: Last night a couple of your guys were saying that you messed up in the pits in the past. We're not going to do it this weekend. We've worked hard to make it right and they did a heck of a job. Just talk about that?

DALE COYNE: They all felt down in Long Beach. In Long Beach we messed up in the pits. And unfortunately we had an accident in Long Beach which wasn't Justin's fault, but the pit stop put him back with guys that he shouldn't have been back with. So that was our fault in Long Beach.

We were really focused after that to move forward and work on pit stops a lot. You know, they've proved that. They did a good job today.

Our guys have worked hard. I think you've seen over the years with the work they do, we've usually had less people than most and usually one of the last ones here. But all those guys have a love, as we all do, have a love for the sport and work hard at it. And they realize we're at the sharpened of the grid, we need to be at the sharpened of the pit stops.

We've worked at it. We've studied it. We've gone over technique. We've done lots of things during the month of May and all the way up to here to make that better and better. And they're really good. We've got a little farther to go. We could still do better than we are, but it's pretty good right now.

Q: How many employees do you have?

DALE COYNE: 16, 17, something like that.

Q: Gail, G-a-i-l, correct?

DALE COYNE: Yes.

Q: You made the reference to the two of you made the commitment to step up, hire (engineer Bill) Pappas, so forth. Can you give us a little anecdote about what kind of commitment that was? Did you have to sacrifice something?

DALE COYNE: It was financial. We're very happy with Z-Line and the sponsorship that they bring and do. But, you know, it takes a lot of money to run these things. You know, we just have to do the right things, hire the right people, and it takes a budget to do that. Sometimes you have the budget, and sometimes you have to sell more barbecues. But we're happy with what we've done.

Somebody made a comment that there are no free engines for transition teams this year. So we had to go out and build two more stairs. But we're committed to this.

We got lean in 2001 financially as the engine cost was over the moon for a Champ Car. The budgets were crazy. Engine bills were insane. Competition between the manufacturers that was a tough time. That's when we looked at how to build a financial base that was a little stronger.

There are guys out there that do a great job. Eric Bachelart, their heart's in it, but we're not at the Roger Penske level. But you need someone to back stop it when you have some lean times. That's a lesson we learned in 2001.

We didn't build a new house, we bought an engineer.

Q: You used every ounce of the racetrack today, every corner every lap it seemed like. That kind of demonstrates confidence in the race car for one thing. But it also means you're running really at the edge. Just talk about that. Doing that and your state of confidence and running on, if not over the edge. Although you're in control, it looks great and very tight.

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was nerve-racking in a few places. I know we were trying to save fuel, but also, I had Ryan right behind me pushing me hard. It seemed like every time I left early for the corner and try to break a little bit lighter, he was all over the back of me.

So I knew I had to push hard through the corner and on the exit and take everything I had. The key for me was being able to go quick through (Turns) 10 and 11, the last two corners. Carry the speed and open up a gap through turn one so they couldn't draft me up the hill. That's what I just focused on doing.

My car was great through those couple of corners. You know, couple of times especially toward the end the last couple of laps I was coming down into 11, and you're setting up. And I looked over and realized how close I was to the grass on the left-hand side right before turning. And I thought that wouldn't be too good. At this stage in the race that's not going to help my car life or my health. So I backed that off a little bit and took it probably 98 percent through the last five laps.

Once I got to the point where I saw the yellow come out and cause another restart. If it comes out now with three laps to go, we're yellow to the end. So that's why I could back it off a little bit and take it a little bit easier.

Q: I thought it was interesting, it's been stated you've been trying to win a race as a driver and owner. But as the race was winding down with one or two laps there were owners coming down and congratulating you even before the checkered flag. Once that happened they were all down there. It's a feel good thing to see you finally get a win. As you've said you've had outstanding drivers all through your existence as a team owner, but to finally get the young man that you have with you now and everything fall into place. It was a feel-good thing to see Dale Coyne win a race.

DALE COYNE: Well, thank you. I don't think people understand what drivers go through and what owners go through in off-seasons. You work, and you don't know what the next year -- it happens almost every year.

You don't know what the next year's going to be. There is a talented guy out of work. But he didn't know if he was going to have a job. The teams don't have a sponsor and don't know if they can put a program together. They overstretch what they think the reality is going to be.

So every winter is a lot of emotion for owners and drivers that people don't understand unless you do it. So, yes, it's a hard battle. I think Tony Bettenhausen once said if you ever put as much effort into being a team owner as being a businessman, you'd have all the money in the world because it's a lot of work. It's nonstop a lot of work.

Again, I can't thank my crew, my team guys and everybody that's been with me. Even (former team manager) Bernie Myers, who is not with us anymore, but was with me through all the early years and everybody.

Of course, my wife, Gail, who has stood by me through all this and big decisions and things we've done in the past few years. It's just all rewarded today.

This is a platform to build into the future. This is something we want to do for a long time. This sport is going to be here for a long time, the sport is going to get healthier. I mean, it's hard for any league to survive right now in this economy, and you're seeing that in every other series, and this one is surviving.

So despite what you hear out there, it's going to survive and it can only get stronger. So I'm encouraged about the future. We're vested in the future, and we look forward to being up here a few more times.

Q: Before the late caution came out, is there any sort of concern that the tires would hold up? I think you had them on like 18 laps? Was there a concern that you think you might have to be easy on them until that caution comes through?

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I was thinking about it. I didn't want to overload the front tires and wearing them out too early because I know in that first stint the last lap was getting a little tricky with the fronts letting go. Pushing more and more.

But, yeah, I was also trying to save fuel. So you're trying to manage the whole thing and make sure you're quick where you need to be quick, so nobody can overtake. Just managing that gap and trying to work out what I was going to need to do to hang on and hold Ryan behind. So that's what I was focused on.

As soon as the yellow came out, that meant I didn't need to save fuel, the tires had a chance to cool down, and the balance was great from then on.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on your victory at the camping world victory at the Glen. And best of luck throughout the IndyCar Series season.

-credit: irl

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jim Clark , Roger Penske , Robin Miller , Dale Coyne