Watkins Glen: Post-race press conference

Corning 100 Post-race Transcript Sunday, July 4, 2010 -Watkins Glen International An Interview with J.K Vernay James Hinchcliffe Sebastian Saavedra THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started here with today's podium finishers from the ...

Corning 100 Post-race Transcript
Sunday, July 4, 2010 -Watkins Glen International

An Interview with
J.K Vernay
James Hinchcliffe
Sebastian Saavedra

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started here with today's podium finishers from the Corning 100. We are joined by James Hinchcliffe who started on the pole and finished second, and Sebastian Saavedra who started fourth and improved to finish third. Just a few notes: Today's podium finish moved James into second place in points, and this is his fifth top-5 finish. For Sebastian Saavedra, this is his fifth top-10 finish.

James it was a close race out there, and you moved up in the points. Can you talk about how close you were with J.K. in the closing laps?

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Obviously we were really close to J.K. I don't think it's unfair to say and everybody would agree that we had the best car out there today. When we were out front, we were pulling away and when we were behind we were all over him, but he just had a couple degrees less wing than us and up that straightaway I just couldn't do anything with it.

It's heart breaking, you know, because I got one run, but he was so quick in his straight line, and I couldn't get up alongside him. For us to have the weekend that we've had, we've led every single session, warm-up, qualified on pole, there was one mistake all weekend, and it was me in turn 1 that got J.K. that run. It's not very often you get a chance to have a race weekend where the car is so good every time our on track, so for us to walk away with anything less than a win is certainly a tough pill to swallow, and I got to thank the guys because they did a great job, and sorry I couldn't hold on to it.

THE MODERATOR: Sebastian, talk about your race today, coming off a strong finish in Iowa.

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: Very happy. Of course every point counts for the championship. Tough weekend, we were -- this is the first time we came in, but very happy for the complete effort of the crew and tough luck for my teammate, which we were looking good to work together and go to the front, and even though it's good for us, get back into the championship, try to catch these guys.

We had a great car, not enough to be able to pass them, but enough to have a good show, and that's what makes me happy and looking forward for the next round that are looking good for us from Bryan Herta Autosport.

Q: (No microphone - Vernay's pass at the bus stop.)

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Like I said it was that mistake in turn 1, after the caution period for the blown engine there was a ton of dust and quick dry right on the breaking line for turn 1 and in the initial restart I made sure I got through safe, but we have "no blocking" rules here, and I didn't want to get anything questionable, so for the second lap I tried to go closer to the traditional racing line and got a little bit on that Kitty Litter and it completely pitched the car sideways destroyed my momentum up the hill and that's what gave J.K. the run.

And I even said under caution I was surprised they didn't sweep the track more during the run I was surprised they let us "go green" with that much dust on the is racing line, but at the end of the day it was there, everybody else had to go through it, and I made the mistake. A little bit frustrating, but if it weren't for that mistake I don't think anybody would have had a chance to get a run on us today.

Q: (Question about going into Toronto with a win under your belt.)

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, for sure, going into Toronto would have been incredible with a win under our belt. Yes, we may have moved up in the championship position but at the end of the day we lost ground to the leader. I want to close the gap to the first-place guy. Ao it sucked to lose the win, hurts even more that we lost it to J.K.

But if you want to talk about motivation heading into your home race, I've never been more hungry to win a race now because I just feel like I robbed myself of a win today. So for sure the motivation is super high and we've got two poles on the two street circuits so far this year so we know we have a good car. We've got to go there and keep our head down.

Q: (No microphone - following his win on an oval at Iowa with a podium finish at WGI)

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: I would say I don't know which one is more difficult, because they have a completely different approach, and both races have its own difficulties. I'm more used to driving road courses, and coming to these weekend to the Watkins Glen and such a beautiful track and the closest from my European background, so it's of course a lot of driving in here, but it's very difficult to say which one is easy or not because both are very difficult in their manner.

Iowa was, in a special way, being so bumpy and so short that it made the driving a lot more sharp, than other places. Coming to here is a place where being smooth pace and braking and turning right of course is helping and makes it even bigger in the equation, but it's something that the U.S. driver you want to be getting involved in and of course I want to have more wins on road courses.

Q: Is there a possibility if you had one more lap you would have gotten J.K.?

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: The last eight laps we were keeping a fairly similar gap across the line, you know, four-tenths, half a second, something like that, and on the last lap J.K. was trying to make sure he didn't make mistakes and was being a little bit extra cautious, so that sort of gave me a closer run across the line on the final run, but I don't think another lap would have made a difference. He would have driven the same as he did the second to the last lap, so he didn't make any mistakes that I could capitalize on, and he did a great job.

And in terms of straight line, they were running two holes less than us, so once -- so I got a run on him when he made a mistake coming out of one. Once I pulled out, I started going slower compared to him, so it was tough to make that move stick and he raced me hard into the bus stop, and we were both pretty clean, so it's unfortunate because if it hadn't been for that one mistake that I made, I don't think anybody would have touched us today.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks James and Sebastian. We'll see you in Toronto.

We will get things started with today's race winner, J.K. Vernay. This is J.K.'s third win of the season and fifth podium finish in six starts. He won at Saint Pete and Barber, and this is the closest Firestone Indy Lights finish this season to date. The margin of victory was .2135 of a second and it's the fourth race with a margin of victory under 1 second this season.

J.K., if you can talk about that pass you made on lap 19 to take the lead today?

J.K. VERNAY: James did a little mistake in corner 1 and I was able to catch him in the straight to overtake him, and I had a chance to pass him and just a little mistake, and I was close enough to overcome him. So really good pass, and I had to brake a little late, and after he just gave me hard luck because he was a bit quicker than me. I had less wings than him. We took a bet with my engineer we said okay maybe we not have a lot of chance to overtake him, so we tried to overtake him at the start.

After it was really, really difficult, the car was great, except in the first corner because of the down force, but I did my best, team did a great job, my engineer worked very well and my mechanics to give me a great job to win.

I'm really proud of this victory because I didn't know this track, and the team improved my car, I improved my driving during practice and qualifying. I finished eight-tenths, and that was quite far, but we worked hard with my engine to find the best set-up and the best line to be giving a good performance, so I'm proud of this victory. It's one of my best.

THE MODERATOR: Obviously you made big gains in the points here. Can you talk about the season's championship and your goals?

J.K. VERNAY: Yeah, I think James Hinchcliffe is now second, I don't know about points, maybe more 30. It's a good thing. What I want to win is the championship, I prefer to win the championship than a few races. It was a good thing, unfortunately for Charlie, he had a problem at the start I saw, but we just have to stay focused and the car is good. I have a good team and since the beginning of the year -- I'm a rookie so I don't know the tracks, and I have just a bit of experience in the oval.

I did two races, so we just have to be smart, focused, learn, take advice from the Indycar driver. They are really nice with me and they give me advice, so I want to take everything from the driver and to learn really quickly to do my best.

Q: (No microphone - hope to get a caution to overtake Hinchcliffe.)

J.K. VERNAY: Yeah, after the race started a little mistake, and there was a bit of gap, and I tried everything to come back. It was hard because Hinch was really, really fast here, but I tried everything to come back and to be close enough that if he did a mistake to be close enough to overtake him.

So yeah, for sure if he didn't have this mistake, I would not be able to overtake him but the race was really long and, yeah, it was a small mistake and I was here and close enough to overtake him.

Q: How do you like this course?

J.K. VERNAY: This track is fabulous, honestly. I like all the people inside the track who come; it's really, really nice, and the track is fabulous, the long straits, the corners are great, fabulous but difficult, also, to learn.

Yeah, just -- I mean when you arrive here, I did the track on the simulator, but it's completely different because you have the bumps on the tracks, so it's completely different and difficult, but beautiful.

Q: Is this track similar to track courses you've run in Europe?

J.K. VERNAY: Not really, you have some corners that are similar but not the whole of the track. It's a little like driving in Europe, but here it's different, and also a big change for me because the carriage is different than I was driving, and the tires are working completely differently, so when I arrive first I have to learn the track and also to remember that I have to drive differently also the car.

It's a big hit every time.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on today's win, and we will see you in a few weeks in Toronto.

-source: irl

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Series INDYLIGHTS