CART Post Race Press Conference Rockingham 500, Corby, England September 14, 2002 Dario Franchitti, Cristiano da Matta and Patrick Carpentier Part 2 of 2 Merrill Cain: Let's open it back up for questions. Q: During the race, once the...
CART Post Race Press Conference
Rockingham 500, Corby, England
September 14, 2002
Dario Franchitti, Cristiano da Matta and Patrick Carpentier
Part 2 of 2
Merrill Cain: Let's open it back up for questions.
Q: During the race, once the restarts got going and everybody started building up momentum, it was difficult to pass. Talk about the opportunities to pass, they came on the restarts, talk about that, and what happened once everything got wound up and everybody was up to speed.
Cristiano da Matta: I think on cold tires, there's different performance on the cars. Some cars are better, some cars are not as good. In qualifying yesterday, when everybody had warm tires, the difference between the lap times, you could see how many cars there were within 3/10ths in qualifying.
I think the bigger the difference is on equipment, the more passing you're going to see. I think after everybody was up to speed, tires up to temperature and pressure, I think everybody was running very similar lap times. It makes it very, very difficult to find a way around.
Dario Franchitti: I agree absolutely with Cristiano. The other thing is not many people are making mistakes out there. There's no slow cars for everybody to back up behind. The 19 cars out there were all running very close lap times. You know, I guess in that way, if you want to see passing all the time, CART right now is a victim of its own success, I guess.
Merrill Cain: It marks the first time that all three engine manufacturers in the series have finished on the podium since Mid-Ohio. It's also the fifth win of the season for Honda and the second here at Rockingham. The first came last year in the initial race here run at Rockingham.
Q: How much of a psychological breakthrough is this, winning an oval, in context of what you might be doing next year?
Dario Franchitti: I'll tell you that in Fontana, I guess. We've always come close. The last time in Chicago, I think we had the quickest car there. But as a team, we didn't do the best job. Because of that, we didn't win.
Yeah, is it psychological? I don't know. It certainly feels good.
Q: Did you push a barrier down?
Dario Franchitti: Again, I don't know. We've tried for a long time. So many different things have got in the way of me winning. It's just nice that it's finally done.
Q: We had a bit of fun at the expense of the English the last couple days. Darren [Manning] did a pretty good job, don't you think?
Dario Franchitti: I tell you, it wasn't easy conditions. He stuck in there all day. From that point, I think he did a great job. I think he found the first couple laps interesting. I watched him have a huge moment in turn two.
I had one problem. I tried to pass him into turn two, and he closed the door pretty hard. I was alongside. I had to get out of it. He also had a little exchange, dive-bombing move on Michel Jourdain that took him up on the wall.
Give him a chance, he'll learn. I guess you have a bit more respect for it when you've hit the ball and realize how much it hurts when you do.
Wouldn't you agree?
Cristiano da Matta: Yeah, I agree (laughter).
Q: We all know how difficult it is to pass on this track. Is there anything that could be done to the aerodynamics to the car, rule changes, to improve the possibilities of passing on this track?
Patrick Carpentier: To me I think the wing setup that we have for Fontana would work here. But it's very difficult to pass because this track has four 90-degree corners. We go from the wall, to the apex, back to the wall. There's no constant line around it. Straightaways are fairly short. The time you have to make a pass is actually - like today, you probably saw a lot of people going in and then back after that. You basically don't have a lot of straightaways.
I think the Hanford device would create a bit more turbulence. But the way the last corner is done, I think it would give the guys behind a chance to get a good run on the guys up front.
Dario Franchitti: I don't know what to do. It's very difficult, again. I think if you put big wings on, I don't know, it would certainly take some of the skill away because I think you'd be able to run easily flat out, which right now takes some doing. If you put the big wings on, it would be too easy.
It's difficult with a track where you always appear to be in a corner. That makes it incredibly difficult to pass.
Cristiano da Matta: Another thing, I think now we have 19 cars running. Everybody has a pretty good car. Talk about the races with so much passing on the ovals in the old days, with 28 cars running, the big difference on performance, every time you have traffic. If you saw the race here last year, there was a lot more passing than this year because the teams were not so even as they are this year. There were more cars, so more slow cars, you were lapping people all the time.
Q: Dario, yesterday you said you'd take some risks that you normally wouldn't take. Did you take any risks today other than watching some big moments?
Dario Franchitti: No, because the car was good. Like I say, I couldn't get close enough to really have a sort of serious go. There's obviously a line between a risk and a silly move. That's a polite way of putting it. As I say, I didn't have really any opportunity to do that.
I think we took a risk with the strategy maybe in the pits, but it certainly paid off.
Q: Patrick, you made some changes aerodynamic-wise, more downforce for the race during the warm-up. Can you talk about that? It looked like you were making good moves at the start of the race.
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, it worked for the restarts. But let me tell you, when I was by myself, it was pretty long because the cars behind me were getting closer. At the end there when I was following these two guys, I was trying to stay close to them. One time Michael Andretti came out of the pits, I met him in all the corners. I lost a bit of time. As long as I could stay pretty close to these guys [leaders], there was no problem. If they would have left me, you probably would have seen Oriol Servia coming back and giving me a run.
It was good. We knew we were going to run in traffic pretty much all day, which is what we did. Those wings were very good to make a couple of passes on the restarts, just to be able to stay wide open pretty much all the way around so when somebody was making a mistake, somebody could capitalize on it.
It was good. It was a bit slow down the straightaway. At the end of the day, it turned out to be pretty good.
Q: About two-thirds of the way through the race, Michael was a lap down, running right in front of you. It's the first time we've seen Michael let somebody go by. Did he wave you by?
Dario Franchitti: Absolutely. I came out of turn three. I didn't know Michael was a lap down at the time. He just moved over. I thought he was going in the pits. He waved me through. He's done it a couple times before last season. I've done it for Michael, as well. It works quite well back and forth.
Certainly there's a big advantage for me. He doesn't lose anything by doing it, for sure. It's very nice of him to do it, for sure.
Q: What did you think of the reception at the media center, the bagpipes?
Dario Franchitti: It's never happened before. Awesome. Absolutely awesome.
Q: Emotional day?
Dario Franchitti: Very, yes.
Merrill Cain: Do you get that on the way out, too?
Dario Franchitti: Hope so (laughter).
Patrick Carpentier: They follow him to the airport.
Dario Franchitti: To make sure I leave.
Merrill Cain: Congratulations on an awesome race. We'll see you in a couple weeks.
Top three press conference Part I