BOTH OF YOUR VICTORIES HAVE COME ON PERMANENT ROAD COURSES. "The only reason we didn't win at a superspeedway was because Kenny had me up a wall Michigan, otherwise we would have had an oval win, too (laughs). First of all, let me tell you I'm...
BOTH OF YOUR VICTORIES HAVE COME ON PERMANENT ROAD COURSES.
"The only reason we didn't win at a superspeedway was because Kenny had me up a wall Michigan, otherwise we would have had an oval win, too (laughs). First of all, let me tell you I'm very proud to be here with two special people like Gil and Memo. Both have been fighting hard for different goals in life, like I am doing and I am very proud of my achievement, like I am sure everyone else is here on this podium. As Memo said, we didn't have the fastest cars, but we had the best pit strategy. I'd been attacking very hard all race long and we were under tremendous pressure all race long, and I felt this was a great victory because we proved we went from last to first. It takes a lot to do that. It takes a lot of will, it takes a little luck, but I don't believe in luck. Luck comes to people that hunt to it. We've been hunting for it and we do not have much. For one time, we believed in our goals. As I told Mark Johnson before the start of the race, I believe we can pull something special out of here. I said it was important to believe in it and I did all race long, even in the last laps; I always believed I could do it. We had to struggle a little bit, but I'm sure everybody else had their own problems as well. I was just focusing on what I could do and I'm very proud to be a winner at Laguna Seca. This is a track that has a lot of history and great names have been before me and I'm very proud to be on that trophy because it means a lot. With Alex (Zanardi), the win he had here created his name and I felt that today I reiterated why they call me Mad Max. From last to first."
WHEN DID YOUR STRATEGY START TO PLAY OUT? "We knew that starting from the back, we had to do something different. We were in the back of the field at the beginning and it was very difficult to pass because everybody was very active out there. We decided to come in and lose some positions, because we gained a few spots at the beginning. We said that track position was not important at the beginning, we can gain that track position by saving fuel. I was looking at the number they were asking me for, and sometimes it is much more difficult looking at that number than just doing what you want. It requires a lot of concentration, it requires a lot of skills, things I have learned my whole career in Champ Car and Sports Car, and I tried them all. As I said in the beginning, as a team we said we needed to do something different. You can't win if you don't believe in it. We always believed in it. As I said, I always believe I can achieve success no matter where I start and what I do. Unfortunately, I can't prove that to all of you all the time, but when I go home I know that I've done a 100 percent and I'm very proud of that even if sometimes I finish 16th. Today, it's just a great gift."
YOU HAD PROBLEMS IN QUALIFYING. AT WHAT POINT IN THE RACE DID YOU FEEL YOU HAD A CHANCE TO WIN? "First of all, we never got a great handle on it on the setup of the car. I guess everybody else was struggling in the race as well because in the last eight laps I pulled a little bit away from the rest of the field. I knew that when they took me out there and I first started to gain, I was 15th and then 8th, I said this is going to be a good day. Things like that don't happen by chance. I was always attacking. I had pressure from Memo and I had pressure from Michael and I saw Helio go by me once and he had a strong pace. I focus on my own game and you can only drive the limit of the car you have in your hand. I took the best out of it and the team took the best out of themselves. What we did today was something very special. One deal is being in a situation like Gil has been in the last several races where he's always in the front and succeeding and winning. Another deal is one day you're last and the next you're first and then last again and then first. It kind of wears you out, especially the guys. I'm very proud of everybody at Team Rahal because this win comes because everybody believed in it. Me first, and that's what it comes to."
THERE HAS BEEN SPECULATION ABOUT YOUR FUTURE AT TEAM RAHAL. WHAT DOES THIS WIN DO FOR THAT? "At the moment, my only contract is driving Jimmy Vasser back for next year. That's what I'm tied up on (laughs). For the future, we'll see. Like I said, I'm a fighter and I haven't achieved all of the goals I want in my life. I am slowly sneaking on it, but I have much more to show. Not just the personality, but the professionalism and the way that I go about my life. I can't do that every weekend, but every time I have the opportunity, I try to show that."