92nd INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER'S PRESS CONFERENCE Sunday, May 25, 2008, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull PAT SULLIVAN: We are delighted to bring to the Economaki Press Conference Center the winning team, the...
92nd INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER'S PRESS CONFERENCE
Sunday, May 25, 2008, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull
PAT SULLIVAN: We are delighted to bring to the Economaki Press Conference Center the winning team, the winning owner, a gentleman who also is involved in making these plans and executing them and giving the driver the opportunity to be in a position to win. It doesn't always happen when you have the best car and I think everyone is coming here to acknowledge the best car won the race. Chip, I can't imagine, it's got to be a deep feeling of satisfaction to win the Indianapolis 500. Congratulations.
CHIP GANASSI: I tell you, I don't know what to say. I can tell you this, I'm very fortunate to work with the people that I get to work with in this industry and, you know, from obviously Scott and Dan and Mike Hull and the team of people that he puts together, and I'm the luckiest guy on the planet. I can't tell you how many times, you know, I talk to Mike every day on the phone or I see him and our emotions are up, down, sideways, left and right, and he's the guy that keeps it all steady and moving in the proper direction. I'm just lucky to have him.
SULLIVAN: Mike, you know as well as anybody that you can have the best car, no question on Race Day. But particularly in today's race with so many at times bizarre things happened and some contenders had problems, you know, it's just not easy to get to Victory Lane. Talk about your emotions and how they went during the day.
MIKE HULL: You're right about the question. We come here to the Indy 500, and we've been lucky enough to win and we've been lucky enough to finish at the front. This year we had speed, and speed was the denominator that we had this year with both Dan and Scott. When you have speed as your ally, then it makes what we did today enormously easier. Because, you know, my heart goes out in a way to Vitor and Marco at the end of the race because you know what? We've been in that position. We know how hard it is to pass the guy that's leading the race. And those guys, they hung in there to the end, and they had a legitimate chance to win. We've been in that position here So as Chip spoke a couple of weeks ago in this room when we talked about the pole, somebody asked the question and it's all about the people that prepare the cars to give Dan and Scott the opportunity to win big races. We dedicate ourselves as a team to win big races, and we're thankful we did it today.
SULLIVAN: It's a pretty big one. Questions?
Q: If both of you could kind of talk about the quiet confidence that Scott portrays in his craft. He always approaches his job as a driver with a lot of quiet confidence. That kind of sets him apart from some people.
GANASSI: He's been like that, you know, forever since I've known him. I think, you know, he at first, quite frankly, at first I didn't think he was that excited about racing when you first meet him because he -- he had won so early in IndyCars in his career. You know, that quietness, people confuse that with caring about things. You know, it's a relief to know that really wasn't what it is; it was a quiet confidence that sort of is his trademark. That's a powerful tool.
SULLIVAN: Ladies and gentlemen, let's indeed welcome the winner of the Indianapolis 500, Scott Dixon. Scott, congratulations. (Applause)
SCOTT DIXON: Thank you. Thank you. It sounds pretty good, doesn't it? It sounds very good.
Q: Chip, Scott was up there tossing the milk around and going -- you were off to the side and I saw you taking a swig of milk. Just how good did that taste?
GANASSI: You know, it tasted pretty good. You know, that's something -- in this business there are few things, you know, when you've been in this business as long as Mike and I have, there's a few things you get out of the business. One of them is trophies, one of them is rings and one is a sip of milk. You know, outside of that, you don't walk away from this business with much else. So that's what's special about that.
Q: Scott, you should have gotten married earlier. Man, this deal is agreeing with you. (Laughter) We can give them some of the credit. But to all three of you, you all sat there the same spot two weeks ago talking about being aggressive coming here for Pole Day, being aggressive this year. Was the approach the same for Race Day here today?
DIXON: Yeah, the whole month has, but it's tough to be aggressive when you don't have the equipment. You know, this year I think with everybody at the workshop, people that stay back at the workshop and don't come to the races, a lot of people that work out on these cars to try and make them fast. But this month for me was a month where you could be aggressive because you had the tools to do it, and I think that was what it came down to. Everybody's hard work in the offseason and coming into the season. I think the team has been unstoppable almost, I think, with over the first five races. It's nice to be aggressive, nice to have the confidence level and even better to come away with a win like this.
Q: Scott, I know you were a little reluctant even this week to hang on that favorite. You said I don't want to jinx us, we've been so fast and we shouldn't be looked at like that. When the race went down, did you feel pretty good that you were comfortable with the way things went or was there ever a time you were a little worried or how did it kind of turn out?
DIXON: I think I was worried going into the race just because we had had such a smooth month. It was one of those things where you're sort of waiting for something to go wrong. We only had it coming down to the Race Day, and it's the last day you want something to go wrong. But going in you always have high expectations, but in the back of the mind you're like, 'What if we have a bad pit stop or we have a problem of some sort mechanically that's going to take you out of it?' That's out of your hands. I think there was no point in the race where I knew we were over-confident or could win this thing easy. Especially toward the end with maybe with 20 or 40 laps to go when you have sleepers come like Meira come out, and he was super-fast. He was super-fast. So there's definitely guys like that. You could see Helio was coming up; Marco we knew all day was fast. I think he had a problem in the pits at some point. But at no point did I think we had this in the bag and was almost waiting for something to go wrong.
Q: Scott, that kind of goes into my next question. You didn't think you had it in the bag, you're leading, you had some really good cars trying to chase you down the last 20 laps or so. What was going through your mind?
DIXON: The corner in front, man, that's what I was looking at each time, the corner in front. With about four or five laps to go, the traffic was definitely going through my mind. We started to catch at least four or five cars, and I didn't want it to play out that way, get stuck behind one of them. Because as soon as you lose momentum around here, those guys, you know, breathing down your neck are going to blow by you with a couple laps to go. I think for me was just, you know, I started going stiffer on the rear bar, putting the weight all the way to the left to try and make the car as fast as possible for those last few laps. But I think for me it was just always concentrating on the corner and trying to make a perfect lap every lap.
Q: Scott, what were your emotions when you pulled in Victory Lane? You kind of looked a little almost maybe shocked at first.
DIXON: I was shocked. I think just almost dumbfounded. It's such a strange feeling, and for me, I don't show emotions too much. I don't know, it's almost like you're in a dreamland. It was quite crazy. It's something that you sort of expect somebody to maybe pinch you, and you wake up and you're sleeping in your bed back home. It still hasn't sunk in yet, and it feels so special. I think the parade lap and seeing everybody still out there and driving around such a magnificent circuit with three other people with you and everybody sort of yelling your name was something that I wish I had witnessed previous to now, but it makes you want to go and win this race once again.
Q: Chip, you made a lot of great news out of Indianapolis this month and not a lot of great news out of Concord this month. Was there ever a time -- two-part question, was there ever a time because of the kind of confusion down in Concord where you maybe questioned yourself, "Am I doing this right?" And then how much does something like this where you have a dominating car that actually delivers you this dominating win say to you, 'OK, I am doing this right,' and, you know, whatever craziness is going on on the other side there is craziness that's going to work itself out?
GANASSI: I feel like we have the right strategy, and I'm staying with that strategy. That strategy works in this company. (Laughter) OK? So I don't, you know, that didn't faze me. I'm in this business to win races, period, and every car we get into every week. End of story.
Q: Scott, at any time on that cool-down lap did you allow yourself any emotion? Did you have some that you can admit to doing? I know, as you said, it's probably too early to tell, but I mean, you talked about always wanting to win this race. Just how big is it?
DIXON: I was definitely yelling a lot on the radio and punching my fist in the air. I think I took out nearly three cars on the cool-down lap that were trying to go around me because I was going so slow. But no, everybody is different to how they throw their emotions out there. It's such a special moment, but all you're wanting to do is get back to the pits and see everybody that helped you get there. It's not just me, it's tons of people that worked on the team, it's Mike, it's Chip, it filters down. And my wife, Emma, for cooking me pancakes this morning kind of thing. (Laughter)
So you feel on the last 30 laps, you feel quite alone out there. You're like, 'Oh, shit, it's actually down to me on this, I better not mess up because everybody has given me the tools to do it and it does fall on you a little bit there.' But when you do win it, you do want to get back and see everybody.
Q: Scott, how much of this early-season dominance you have, especially at Kansas and here today, how much of this can you trace back to the disappointment of the last lap last year?
DIXON: I think it even goes back further than that. We had the dominance of winning three races in a row and going for four and trying to chase down Dario for the championship. I think that's when it started, you know. We had a great, you know, everything that everybody was doing was just falling into, you know, the right place. Everybody was working well together, and we've carried on that confidence level and the success we had at the end of last year even we didn't come away with the championship. But yes, I think that combination, with more determination after what happened, has been what's helped us this season, I think. So it's a combination of a lot of things.
Q: Scott, I'd love to claim your Australian heritage but I'm sure you're very much a New Zealander.
DIXON: How did I know you were going to start with that?
Q: I had to get a little Aussie out in me. This is a great sport achievement by a New Zealander or New Zealander team. How does that make you feel?
DIXON: Pretty special. I think it's so hard to see that part. Definitely a lot of support from New Zealand today, which I've never seen before. So winning the pole I think got a few people out here. I don't know, I think until I go home, because you're so far away over here. You just talk to people on the phone and do the occasional interview with TVNZ over here. It's hard to really feel what people have done for me back in New Zealand, and definitely the support I've had and the amount of people that have helped me get to where I've been. But it feels really special to be part of something that's going to go down in history books and more so in New Zealand.
Q: Of course you'll not only be famous down there, but you're going to be become a lot more well known, probably more famous here in the United States and for a pretty quiet guy, it's going to be a big change for your life, isn't it?
DIXON: Sure will. But as long as I keep winning races, that's what's important for me.
Continued in part 2