Iowa: Post-race press conference

Iowa: Post-race press conference
Oct 2, 2009, 4:45 PM

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Post-Race Transcript Sunday, June 21, 2009 An interview with Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe and Hideki Mutoh THE MODERATOR: Ryan Briscoe, tell us about your trip today around the track? RYAN BRISCOE: It was an exciting ...

Iowa Corn Indy 250 Post-Race Transcript
Sunday, June 21, 2009

An interview with Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe and Hideki Mutoh

THE MODERATOR: Ryan Briscoe, tell us about your trip today around the track?

RYAN BRISCOE: It was an exciting day. You know, had a really good car. We had to make a change in the beginning of the first stop. We started the race and had a massive push all the way around.

So we sort of got through that first stint, and then we were dialed in with my bars and weightjacker. And then the first stop we put the front wing into it, and we had the restart, and we were loose going into (Turn) 1.

So it actually took a while today until I really found where I needed the car to be. Once I did though, we were lightning quick, so it was great.

I think it was really tough for the start of the race, too. With all the rain we've had the track was really green, so it was very slippery. I think that's why we saw the cautions we did, and then the track just got faster as the day went on.

So, we had a great battle at the end there with Dario (Franchitti). Unfortunately, I didn't have enough for him at the end. I was hoping with the lap traffic we were coming up on at the end I was going to be able to catch him like the previous stint and get around him, but he actually got the luck of the draw with the traffic, and was able to extend the lead.

So it was tough. But I knew where the others were and it was a pretty good day to come in second and extend the points lead.

Q: Would you have liked to have had this scenario at Texas where the last pit stop sequence would have been done under green?

RYAN BRISCOE: It was done under green.

Q: But the green flag pit stop, that's something that you would have desperately have wanted?

RYAN BRISCOE: Obviously, in Texas that would have made my day. I certainly didn't need the yellow. Today I didn't think I was going to have much of a day if we did have a yellow, unless we beat Dario in the pits.

But he was better than me on cold tires today. And that's where he had the advantage. I thought I was a bit quicker from about Lap 8 to about Lap 50 and then it sort of plateaued out on the end. But he was very good on the cold tires today.

Q: Ryan, when you're coming in for that pit stop, did you have the sense this was going to be a fateful one? You needed to win that one out there once Dario got out in front or whoever it was. It was going to be tough to catch?

RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, the last pit stop of the day is always most crucial. We had a great pit stop. I probably left a little bit on the table coming in off the back straight. It was the first time I had really gotten the chance to practice doing it.

We missed in the first practice session yesterday, and that's when we really go out there and practiced the in-and-out laps. I think with Dario having tested here last week, I'm sure he had many hundreds of laps and many out-and-ins where he was able to make a little bit of a difference for me at that point.

Q: You've got three consecutive second place finishes. That's pretty good. Have you put it together and figured out what you need for that last push to get to first place?

RYAN BRISCOE: I don't think we're doing anything wrong. I think we're doing an extraordinary job as a whole team. It's going to be like this for the rest of the season. It's going to be very close. Every race we go to, it's going to be tough.

We're just going to have to keep on our game. Keep doing what we're doing. And hopefully we'll start with those last few laps instead of the first few laps.

Q: I didn't hear if you had commented, but it seemed a lot of cars hit the wall in turn two. Was that bump that they talked about over there that bad or in a bad place?

RYAN BRISCOE: I haven't seen why there were crashes today. The bump was definitely there. We could drive over it no problem. It certainly moved the car around, and in a way probably made it, you know, a bit more of a challenge, which isn't a bad thing.

I don't mind a little bit of character. It's like when you go to a road course and you've got elevation changes and stuff, you know, it just adds character. Obviously, if it gets too big and really starts bottoming out, then we need to address it.

I think Rusty (Wallace) has actually already addressed it this year and tried to fix it. But the way it was today it added a challenge, and our cars could definitely handle it.

Q: How big a boost was it for the drivers in the series to come to a place like this?

RYAN BRISCOE: It's awesome. There's so much hype here. And I think the Iowans who come to this race are knowledgeable and enthusiastic open wheel racing fans.

I know that the racing community around here is very strong, with Knoxville dirt track just up the road and many other dirt tracks around here. And I think there's a lot of resemblance between that and what we do in Indy car racing. It's just great to come out here and see a packed house. And we wish we had that everywhere we go.

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Hideki Mutoh, third place. Would you tell us how your ride went and we'll open up with questions for you?

HIDEKI MUTOH: Yeah, we had a lot of accidents today, but I just stayed out of trouble. And my guys did a fantastic job at pit stops. So I really appreciate my guys and I can gain position there.

And also my car was really good handling, really good, and I could pass a few cars at the restart. And my goal this weekend was a podium finish, so now I'm here and I'm really happy.

Q: How did the track run for you gentlemen both? I know the weather did play into it, but what was your reaction to how the track held up? You mentioned it was green in the beginning.

RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, the track was good. It was a bit green in the beginning. I think we all sort of expected that with the rain we had. No real issue with marbles, which was a nice surprise. We went two grooves around the whole track green all day. And most of my passing was done around the outside.

You know, it was good fun being able to do that and go wheel-to-wheel. I thought the track held up great.

Q: Do you enjoy kind of being under the radar at AGR? It kind of seems like Danica (Patrick) gets a lot of the attention, then you've got Marco and T.K., and a lot of people don't really notice you that much. Do you kind of enjoy that?

HIDEKI MUTOH: Yeah, I'm really enjoying with my teammates. I mean, T.K. (Tony Kanaan) has a lot of experience and he is a really funny guy. And Danica (Patrck) sometimes seems, you know, angry, but she's not. She's really focusing on winning races. But I like her very much, too.

And with Marco (Andretti), I go out to dinner or sometimes, you know I have night life with him. We're having fun, yeah.

Q: (Indiscernible).

HIDEKI MUTOH: I don't know what he's drinking, because I'm so drunk every time (laughing). Sorry. No, I'm kidding. We drink just water.

THE MODERATOR: We really enjoyed having you today. Congratulations. We hope you come back to Iowa.

RYAN BRISCOE: Thank you.

HIDEKI MUTOH: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Dario Franchitti, the winner of the 2009 Iowa Corn Indy 250. Dario, welcome and congratulations. And how did the run go? That's kind of a rhetorical question?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's all a blur at the moment. It was a very, very physical race of with the massive G loads we pull here, and the heat or the humidity. I'm pretty tired, actually. I was a little bit dizzy when I got out of the car, and it's been a while since I felt that. But I guess we'll start at the beginning.

We had a reasonably good start. One of the tricks today was having a car that was good throughout the whole run, because it seems that the cars are the same as it in '07 - really loose on cold tires. I think you saw that when Tony crashed. When somebody like Tony crashes on cold tires, you know how difficult it is.

We had a good car on cold tires, so. The first part of the race was kind of strange because people were pitting, including ourselves, at odd times, trying to position themselves for the end of the race. Sometimes we're 8th, sometimes we're 2nd.

And really, after the second stop Ryan and I were running 1-2, I think. And I passed him on the restart, he then passed me. The car wasn't great there, and the Target guys made a couple of adjustments for that last stop. And that was a green flag stop. And that was really the key - good in lap, good out lap on cold tires and amazing pit stops.

The Target guys today were phenomenal. They made three places on one stop on their yellow. To gain that kind of advantage against the competition we have in that pit lane is amazing, so that was awesome.

The car, the last stop with those changes, was fantastic, and I was able to pull away and have a good gap on Ryan. He was catching me a little bit. And I was able to get through traffic really well and then go. I'm so delighted to be sitting here.

Q: You're a two-time champion here at Iowa Speedway and it's father's day, your comments on that?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: My dad's not here today, but usually he comes to every race. He's probably missed five races in my whole career. So he decided he was having the weekend off. We were at the 24 Hours of LeMans last weekend with my brother (Marino). So he decided he was having the weekend off.

I said it on the TV, but this is for him and all the fathers on the team, and all the father in the stands and Happy Father's Day to everybody. I wouldn't be here without my dad supporting me away.

Q: You've been here twice you've won twice. What is the secret or what makes you feel so comfortable here?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Couple of things, I think. Well, running for good teams, running with AGR the first year. And now with the Target guys. I guess I'm lucky enough to be in good cars, and I've got kind of maybe a different way of setting the car up here than normal, and it seems to work very well. That was the case again today. That's one thing.

But again, with the team having fast cars and great pit stops, it's a team effort. You cannot do it on your own.

Q: Clearly you were comfortable with the set-up?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, as I said, we tested here last Wednesday. Amidst the engineering group we made the decision to test here last Wednesday. The car wasn't great yesterday morning. We were second quickest. We weren't that happy. In the afternoon, we made two changes and the thing was a rocket ship. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to show it, because it rained out.

I said it last night. The IndyCar Series people, Brian Barnhart had no choice but to make the decision they did. It would be completely dangerous. This track is hard enough to drive when it's completely dry. It's hard having puddles on the racing lane. So unfortunate, but I understand why they did it.

Q: Another big crowd here this year. A huge crowd at Long Beach, a big crowd at Milwaukee. It seems like the bad economy isn't hitting the IndyCar Series as hard as it has other series. Do you sense a little bit of an up tick here going on with IndyCar?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I do. I definitely do. I think it's been great crowds all season long, and that is, I think a lot of that has to do with the unified series. And there is definitely outward momentum in IndyCar Series, and I think that's been a lot of hard work and it continues.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about your experience last year running NASCAR now things are going well. Could you talk a little bit about your feelings about the season?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, I was very fortunate to have Chip (Ganassi) come up and ask me to drive this car, the 10 car for Team Target. I competed against the team in the IndyCars Series for a long, long time and CART before that. And I knew how good the team was. So unfortunately for all the reasons we know, the trip to NASCAR didn't work out.

When Chip started asking me these questions, it started to intrigue me. Then I went to the race in Detroit and that was it. As soon as I saw the cars running on the track, it was a done deal. And I'm really, really glad.

From the first time I jumped in the car, I'm so glad I made the choice to come back. And I'm loving it. I really enjoy driving Indy cars, racing in the IndyCar Series, and racing against the people that I get to. The one down side of racing against a lot of your friends is when you see guys like Tony having his crash, and Marco yesterday. It's just a worrying time. That's the one down side to get to race against people you're very close with.

Q: You won here the first year with a brand-new track, and it really has not been run on before you ran it. What was the difference this time since now it's a couple of years later?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think with the asphalt aging, I think it's lost grip. And so before with the first year I won it, basically I ran the bottom of the track. And today we were having to use pretty much all the track and different lanes just to get the grip to be able to run close to wide open.

So it's a much more challenging race for the driver. And I think a better show for the fans, too.

Q: It was a pretty good show. It was a pretty good show for a lot of reasons. You think there is a race here, an event we've seen certainly on the ovals this season? And talk about a couple of the crashes that happened right in front of you, the first one with Helio (Castroneves) and then you had another one late in the race or later.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I think Milwaukee was good. Milwaukee was a good race. Texas wasn't up to the standard we definitely expect from that place.

But today I thought it was a good race. I think traffic plays its part. We've got a good green flag run at the end. And the traffic was very tough. That kind of dictated the race a little bit as it did in Milwaukee.

As far as the crashes, Helio and Scott (Dixon) were racing pretty hard. Things happened so quickly. I was kind of positioning myself to try to make a move, so I'm not sure exactly what happened there.

But that was the thing on cold tires. Like I said, they were on a green track because of the rain. They were sliding around a lot. They were leaving black lines, and that's pretty difficult to do when you're pulling the four and five G's through the corner. So that was a close one.

Q: Didn't you have one maybe following Graham and they go three wide?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Graham had a point where he snapped loose.

Q: You were trailing that one?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, he snapped loose and went up the hill, and then he chopped me later in the race, which just about took me he out of the game, so I'll have to have a word with Mr. Rahal about that. I was none too impressed with that. The rest of the day was fine, but he chopped me big time in Turn 3.

Q: Ryan touched on it a bit. He said he didn't have as good of a car under cold tires. Do you feel that was different for you today how the car performed under cold tires and how quickly they got heated up?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think you've got to have a good car under all conditions, definitely. And that's where the Target guys, I think, did a good job and we set the car up. It was good in all conditions, and we definitely seemed to have an advantage on on cold tires. Ryan was hanging on pretty tightly it looked like on those restarts.

But we'd bring the car into the track. As the day went on and it was at it's best on lap 250. Timing is everything.

Q: They're talking about us working with IMS Radio network, and Davey was saying the first 50, 75 laps was very aggressive. Did you feel it in the beginning people were getting carried away?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: It was a lot of aggression. But everybody felt like it was going to be a track position race. So that was one thing. But also because everybody was pitting and trying to sort of position themselves. We pitted P2 or P 3. Okay, what's going on here? And I realized they were looking at the end game. So that meant that some quick cars were back in heavy traffic. That's why you saw some aggression.

Q: Looking ahead to Richmond. We've seen guys up front. What do you forecast for next Saturday night?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'd love it to be like '07. I don't see it being that way though. I think the competition level is high. And we're going to have the same fight as we have every week.

I really don't know until we get there and see what happens. I think one of the keys is to make sure we keep the tracks wet and the yellows to make sure we have a two-lane track, because today, towards the end it kind of went almost to one lane one and a half lanes. Actually on the inside of the corner, too. When you went down underneath someone it made the exit pretty interesting.

Q: You touched on the pit stop, obviously as good as it was. What's it like -- I know, Indy had a pit stop that didn't work out so well -- I know the one time you're not moving, and you're sitting there, waiting and hoping that it's going to be that good?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's one of those deals where I do my job to the best of my ability, and I leave it to my team who has absolute faith to do theirs. And everybody, especially me included, makes mistakes.

But you just, you trust your guys and you trust them to put the car together right. You trust them to do great pit stops. You trust the engineers to set the car up right. And they trust me to do my job, so we just let each other get on with it. And today they showed why they're the best in the business.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Hope you come back and visit us again soon.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Ryan Briscoe , Hideki Mutoh , Brian Barnhart
Article type News