CHAMPCAR/CART: Dario Franchitti press conference, part II

An interview with Dario Franchitti Part 2 of 2 Q: You talked about your focus this week. You've always had sharp powers of focus. Is it positive to be able to say to yourself: "I'm just going to worry about what's in front of the nose of the...

An interview with Dario Franchitti
Part 2 of 2

Q: You talked about your focus this week. You've always had sharp powers of focus. Is it positive to be able to say to yourself: "I'm just going to worry about what's in front of the nose of the car over the next couple of months"; that it might end up taking you to a different level of being locked in into what you're doing, to an even greater success level?

Dario Franchitti: I think we've been doing that all year. I just think the weekend, as we have been on a number of occasions this year, we had the car in reasonable condition to be competitive. I'm not saying we had the quickest car at the weekend, but we had a reasonable car. We didn't have any mishaps. We didn't make any mistakes. The guys at Team KOOL Green did a wonderful job at the front. I don't think we have been doing anything differently than we have been at any other race this season, as far as focusing or an effort level.

Q: You've been in several races in the Lola. Can you characterize how different that car is from the Reynard? I gather you like the Lola, but what are the differences that you've discovered between them?

Dario Franchitti: Well, we had in the last couple of seasons - we have not been as competitive as we were in the '99 season, and there was a fundamental problem we had with the way we were setting up the Reynard, for me personally. When we shifted to Lola, we changed a number of things, and that helped me get back to driving. I was able to get the car the way I wanted and get lap time out of it in general. Obviously, at Laguna Seca, that wasn't the case. But we have been getting closer and closer to getting the car work for me and my style of driving.

As far as differences, the cars are pretty similar I think, and I'm definitely used to driving the Lola now. It's better in some areas. In some areas, it needs a bit of work, but we are making most of it, and [Chief Race Engineer] Allen MacDonald and the technical people at Team KOOL Green have done a good job coming up with the setups and getting the car working with not a lot of testing. In fact, basically no testing. So, that's been a great job from those guys. The people back at the shop have been building the cars and getting at the problems, getting them very, very quickly. It's been a heck of a lot of work for the guys back at the shop, but they have done a fantastic job so far.

Q: I was in the pits and I know you've had some challenges with pit stops in the past, but your final pit stop, I shot the crew doing the service, they were poetic; they seemed to really be hooked up. Can you talk about that?

Dario Franchitti: Yeah, the guys have had a couple of tough times this year in the pits. I made my feelings plain, especially after Chicago, that I was not happy and they just needed to refocus. They can all do the job. They just need to believe that they can do it and focus on what we are doing again. You're right, that last pit stop, [Team manager] Kyle Moyer came in on the radio and said "we need a nice, clean pit stop here," and that's exactly what we got. As you said, it was really good. That's a tribute to those guys, and it's always more difficult to do something when you've maybe done it wrong in the past and you've been criticized for doing it. But those guys, they showed their mental strength and their skill and they got it right.

Q: I'm just going through the final run up on those photos to get them up on-line, and it was brilliant. Thank you very much for giving us probably one of the most enjoyable podiums to shoot that I can remember.

Dario Franchitti: We had a lot of fun up there.

Q: You said the situation regarding your plans for next year is fluid. Have you set for yourself any kind of a time line?

Dario Franchitti: No. I was actually talking to my manager about it tonight, and it's not a case of we need to deal with them by this date. We are just seeing what's available right now, talking to everybody, letting everybody get their plans finalized before we at least start to make decisions. So there's no definitive date that things need to be done by.

Q: First of all, one way or another, Barry Green, a big portion of what he has been to your career and to your life will be gone at the end of season. What do you take away from that relationship?

Dario Franchitti: I hope something that I can take away, because it's something that's very present during race weekend, is first of all, the support that he gives me. In the whole time I've been racing for the team, I've never felt that he's questioned my ability, my dedication and just basically what I do.

I think he believes that both Paul and I are doing our absolute best and he's happy with that and that means a tremendous amount. He's very honest. He's very open. He let's you know exactly what's going on. There have never been any real surprises. There was that one thing with Iain Watt that came as a bit of a surprise, but apart from that, he's let us know exactly what's going on and what the future holds and really made me feel a part of the team. And when I say that, part of the inner workers of the team, with him and Kim [Green] and Kevin, and it's really - from that point of view, it's been a very amazing experience. To watch how he gains the respect of everybody on the team, of all of the mechanics, he doesn't have to say anything. He just has this presence and motivates the people to push harder. He's a great leader in that respect.

Q: Also, off the subject and on to something else, with the fact that you had actually lived in Nashville, which is the heart of NASCAR country, what do you think of the Brickyard and the Winston Cup cars running on the Speedway this weekend? Will you watch it and what are your emotions?

Dario Franchitti: I'm in Scotland. I'm going to hang out with my friends. And no, I won't be watching this weekend. I didn't even know they were racing there, to be honest.

Q: Has traction control made the drivers make less mistakes, because it seems like we haven't had many, if at all, any on-track passes for the lead this year. Is it because everything is just perfect?

Dario Franchitti: I think it allows to you get closer to the limit. It adds that sort of security blanket, I feel like. What it does, as well, as you said, it makes it more difficult to make mistakes. It makes it easier to be consistent, and it's not quite as challenging for the drivers. From that point of view, it's not quite as much fun, and I think we have lost some of our advantage, particularly with guys like Paul and I who were before maybe able to control the power better coming out of the turn. Now you just stand on it and the traction control takes care of the wheel spin.

One thing it doesn't do, it doesn't give you traction. So you still have to get the car working very, very well. And obviously, the less you use the traction control, the faster you are going to go because it is retarding the engine. So it still slows you down when you are using it; it just means that you maybe can get away with slightly better mistakes than you used to.

Q: If you had a vote, would you vote to eliminate it?

Dario Franchitti: Yeah, I would have it out of there for sure. But I absolutely understand where CART is coming from and the decision they made, because they could not police the situation anymore. So it's the best way - in the CART environment, to make sure that everybody was on an equal playing field.

Q: So maybe with one engine maybe they can eliminate it?

Dario Franchitti: Well, I think one of the reasons there's no passing for the lead in some of the cases is because the guys are so close on lap time. I think it's not that the races are one-sided or boring. In a lot of situations, we can't get the advantage because we are so damn close on lap times. So I think there's a possibility without traction control there will be more mistakes made or whatever, but purely for driving enjoyment, I would say, yeah, for one engine, get it out of there.

Eric Mauk: Dario, we appreciate you taking the time and enjoy this weekend off and we'll see you at Mid-Ohio.

Dario Franchitti: Thank you everybody.

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Dario Franchitti press conference part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Barry Green