CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Top three press conference, part II

An interview with Dario Franchitti Cristiano da Matta Tony Kanaan Part 2 of 2 Q: A question to all three of you. At different points in the race, you all came out with full fuel loads and cold tires and often in the midst of a pack of other...

An interview with
Dario Franchitti
Cristiano da Matta
Tony Kanaan

Part 2 of 2

Q: A question to all three of you. At different points in the race, you all came out with full fuel loads and cold tires and often in the midst of a pack of other drivers. And obviously, track position is very important. Can you talk about just how critical those out laps are when the car isn't really working 100% and how critical those were today?

Dario Franchitti: Yeah, you can probably gain or lose more because this is a bit more unknown. So you can take more of a risk and gain a couple of seconds, or you can either take it easy and let somebody else gain that on you. So there are definitely advantages to be made. I think we were pretty good on our laps today.

But as you said, sometimes you come out in a pack of cars when nobody is running the same pace. I pulled up behind [Shinji] Nakano and he's running almost the same pace as we were. So it's very difficult to pass people, even if you are first in the group, or almost a lap down.

Tony Kanaan: I think it's up to you to judge. When I came out of the pits, I had a situation with PT [Paul Tracy] and Jimmy [Vasser]. With Tracy, I tried to come out of the pits to stop him. I knew he had to pit so I let him go because I knew he would gain a couple of seconds in the first lap because my tires were cold.

I didn't try to hold Jimmy. We had a good battle going on. We both missed the chicane and after that, Tracy had the gap and I just pushed so I could get the lap. If I was trying to fight with them, I probably would have lost a lot more time. So I just needed to be smart and say, okay, this guy is going to pit in five laps. Why I am going to fight with them right now and lose all of the good time of my tires?

So I think it's really important to judge your pits to tell you what's going to happen.

I think, like Cristiano said, our situations were so different because we were out of sequence, so we could not afford to lose any time.

Cristiano da Matta: Well, one situation that happens sometimes, for example, happened today after the first stop. We came out of the pits with full tanks when everybody probably had a half-tank. So you cannot really pass anybody because everybody is running with a half-tank. The other car is that much faster than yours down the stretch and you just cannot do anything.

Also, it can happen the other way around. If you are on full tanks and there is a guy behind you or vice versa, with just a half-tank, it can work the other way and then you have a bigger opportunity to pass the guy. You can definitely do that on a track like this.

I was actually very fortunate that I didn't have any situations like that on my later laps or anything.

On my laps, though, I always had a little bit of traffic here or there. But I don't think it changed anything in the course of the race. I think it's just when everybody starts remembering every little detail. There are many things that could have happened better during the race.

The out-laps and in-laps are always very important. That is because of the unknown situation. The car is not like before it was when you did the stop. So you have to push for something, and you don't know exactly what the limit is.

Q: Dario, when Cristiano ducked into the pits on this first yellow, what were you thinking and did you have any conversation with your team at that time?

Dario Franchitti: No. There was no conversation. I trust them to make the right call. I just knew I had, at that point, a clear track in front of me and I had to just attack and make as much of a gap as I could from Cristiano because I felt even though he had made a stop already, he was going to be the main competition still. At that point, I think the Player's [Forsythe Racing] car [of Patrick Carpentier] was still very much in the hunt as well. He's done a pretty good job.

It didn't dawn on me on top of the podium, and Barry Green and I were talk about it, with #27 winning in Montreal. It's quite interesting. It felt pretty good when I thought about that.

Q:  You've now the first CART driver to win the Canadian version of the
Triple Crown.  Drivers talked all weekend about the big crowds here, the
super turnout and the big crowds in Vancouver.  Is there any added
pressure to win in Canada?  You've won four times now in Canadian races
and all have been well attended.  Do the drivers feed off the big crowds?

Dario Franchitti: Maybe we can get a free dinner later.

Tony Kanaan: No, you'll buy dinner. You won.

Dario Franchitti: Is there any pressure? No. But you can see the crowd on the parade lap and the reaction of the crowd on the straightaway. I think this is one of most enthusiastic crowds I've ever been in front of before. They are up on their feet and they are cheering.

On the in lap after the race was over, I stopped in the hairpin and put my engine on idle so I could hear the crowd - and they were cheering. That was a pretty cool feeling. It's a great feeling to race in front of full stands and fans that really enjoy what's going on.

Cristiano da Matta:  It's almost like the crowd put a little bit of a
show for us inside the car, too.  It works both ways.

Q: Cristiano, at the end after the restart, a lot of the people were expecting you to challenge Dario for the lead. But Nakano was there, how much of a problem was it for you just to overtake him?

Cristiano da Matta: After a lap and a half, he eventually let me by, but I wasn't expecting him to let me by on the first lap. I didn't even get mad because he has the same [Honda] engine as Dario. It was a very similar situation to what happened in Monterrey [Mexico] back in March when I was leading and I had the last car [on the lead lap], which was [Tora] Takagi, with the same engine as mine and Dario was running second. I knew that was going to happen.

Also, I wasn't in a position to attack so much, because now, with six races left, I wasn't in a position to throw away any points. It was very important for me to finish the race today. And of course, if I had the chance, I was going to try to do something, but I was pretty pleased with second place at that time. It's something very difficult for me to do inside the car, because your heart, once you attack and you want to race, you have to keep yourself on good behavior and then don't do anything bad.

Dario was very quick on the restarts, too. I tried to put a couple of fast laps together and I actually got clear and had a good advantage but I settled down after two laps.

Dario Franchitti: I was hoping he was going to hold up. I still definitely remember Monterrey.

Tony Kanaan: I was hoping, too.

Dario Franchitti: I was kind of glad when that happened. I met him earlier in the race and I got stuck behind him for a little while, so I was kind of glad that happened. It was nice to have an insurance policy.

Q: Can you go through the first pit stop scenario again? I still can't see the logic of pitting from the lead, unless the yellow had lasted until lap 17, because it guaranteed that you'd have to make an extra pit stop regardless of what anyone else, and you'd have to make four stops.

Cristiano da Matta: Well, the logic of it was because of half-tanks. You make your windows for all of the next pit stops that much bigger. Everybody still had a four-lap window for all of the other pit stops. If any other yellow happened apart from the last ten laps, the race was going to come back to us. Percentage-wise, it was something that was very, very possible, especially having two yellows already by Lap 11.

So, for us, we felt like it was the safest thing to do, but it didn't work. It's a very common thing to do. I think everybody expected everybody to stay out. I think some people were going to follow us in, but it was just different today.

Q: Dario, I also saw the first #27 win in the first race on this circuit back in 1978. What do you think about when they go back in the record books and your name is going to be with his [Gilles Villeneuve], and yours is the first CART winner here on this circuit?

Dario Franchitti: There's no comparison, is there, really? I mean, he's a legend, and one of the greatest drivers ever. He's just a guy who I think any driver looks up to for his heart and the passion he had for driving, as much as anything else. So I'm very proud and to be on the same piece of paper, I guess as him because he was, as I said, one of the all time greats.

Q: There was a lot of talk about brakes and gear boxes. How close on brakes were you?

Dario Franchitti: Probably after 20 laps, I had to start taking it a little bit easier, and change my style a little bit because of the pedal. I right-foot brake, and the pedal was starting to get really long. So I started to catch the throttle pedal on the way through and it starting messing up my rhythm.

We had a similar situation in Toronto in '98 when I had a 14-second lead with 11 laps to go, and I went for the brake pedal and nothing happened; it went to the floor. So I didn't want that to happen today. I started to back off a little bit and change my style a little bit. But with the gear box and engine- no problems all day.

Cristiano da Matta: My pedal also got a little long, but nothing that was different than normal. Actually we thought it was going to be even harder. But Christian [Fittipaldi], my teammate, had a lot of problems in the morning warmup, so we were very conservative on this side, on the cooling and everything. So I didn't have any problems, basically. It was the same with the engine and gear box. We had no problems the whole day.

Tony Kanaan: I had some brake issues like Dario with my right foot brake as well. What I was doing was just tapping the brakes. When you hit the curbs, the pads, the rotors, they oscillate a little bit, so they have a tendency to bring the pads away from the rotors. So what you do is just tap with your left foot a little bit and you bring them back. I was just doing that on every straightaway, so you make sure you have to good brakes.

Dario Franchitti: Oscillate? Did you say oscillate?

Tony Kanaan: Yeah, I'm learning new English. I'm going to classes. (Laughter.)

Dario Franchitti: Tony's studying the dictionary.

Tony Kanaan: It's a good word. I'm also learning to be polite. Morris is teaching me how to be polite. I learned how to speak English with my mechanics, so you can imagine talking about the car here.

Obviously, you slow down a little bit. So, basically, that's what I did.

Merrill Cain: Congratulations.

-cart-

Tope three press conference, part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Gilles Villeneuve , Barry Green , Cristiano da Matta