IRL: Indy 500: Meira, Herta, Patrick post-race transcript, part 2

Continued from part 1 PATRICK: I was going to say, that wasn't very convincing. (Laughter) I thought it was a good race. I thought at least from my perspective, and I don't know about your perspective, but especially being in the back, I mean...

Continued from part 1

PATRICK: I was going to say, that wasn't very convincing. (Laughter)

I thought it was a good race. I thought at least from my perspective, and I don't know about your perspective, but especially being in the back, I mean the cars were all scattered. It's so hard and they're just everywhere and you don't know who's going to check up, you don't know where you're going to end up at all and everybody is just spread. So I think that's what fans want to see, they want to see everybody all over the place and overtaking and, you know, I was definitely doing as much of it as I could, and lapped traffic makes for a good show, even. You know, the last pass, you know, my restart with Wheldon, stuff like that, they want to see that. So I think from my perspective, there was a lot of overtaking happening. You? I don't know, you were up in the front and everything.

MEIRA: From my perspective, it was again, also, ups and downs. I mean, at the beginning of the race we were really weak. We were really -- we had to wait for the traffic. I mean, the car was fine, the balance was fine, but there was just no grip, not at all. The track came back to us a little bit from lap 110, our car really got good and got hundred percent. I mean from that point on, I really started to make the positions. I mean, it was one of the most entertaining races I've ran.

It was hard to overtake but wasn't impossible. And I think that's what IRL is all about. Again, I'm saying again it's Honda from first to fourth and from fifth to, I think, eighth. I mean, it's the second year in a row that they have -- I mean, they have first through fourth in Indianapolis. That's something to really, really be proud of because it's not easy to win, it's even harder to win twice in the first top four positions.

SULLIVAN: Obviously, we have brought Bryan Herta to the stage. Bryan, I tell you, it was a great run for you. Talk about it briefly. You had a bit of an unusual pit strategy, your team rolled the dice and it really paid it to you, and I know a lot of us feel good for you for a good quality run.

BRYAN HERTA: Thank you. It was an up-and-down day. We struggled to get to the front on our own, we just kind of got mired in the pack. I finally got up in the top seven and then I got busted for speeding in the pit lane, put me back again. I thought, 'Oh, man, that's going to screw everything up,' but it put us in a position where we could do something different on the pit strategy that we probably wouldn't have done otherwise. You know, I've got to say Michael Andretti was in the pits today with George Klotz, and I think those guys made the right call obviously for me to get me up in the top few positions. So obviously I'm very, very pleased with the result and even happier for Michael Andretti and Dan Wheldon to win the race. Wish I could have given him his win, if I couldn't, I'm glad he finally got it.

Q: Both for Bryan and Vitor, if it hadn't gone yellow at the end, do you think you would have had a shot at catching Dan? Second part is, what has Dan been doing this year that four out of five victories he's been doing so well?

HERTA: I just thought of something funny that I can't say. (Laughter)

I mean, in terms of -- you never know. The first part of the question, I don't think you can't say what could have, might have, should have, would have happened. The race played out the way it did. So Dan won it and congratulations to him.

In terms of what he's doing right, I wish I knew exactly, because, man, the guy's got a rabbit's foot hanging out of the rear end. He's doing a good job, he's not only lucky. But things happen to put him in position and he capitalizes and every year he's taken advantage of it. So good for him. It's fun to see him having such a great year. He's definitely got the three other teammates he's got pretty riled up to go out and beat in two weeks in Texas because he's starting to get to be a bit of a trophy hog. We need to balance it out.

Q: Danica --

MEIRA: Say first Danica, then Bryan. I'm joking, guys. (Laughter)

I was -- if it kept green for the whole -- to the end, we had a shot not because we were going to get stronger. I think Bryan and Danica were in a different fuel strategy and they had a breathe on that short yellow we had. I think I had a shot. If I could have been able to capitalize that or not, only now we're never going to know. But yeah, I was getting close to Dan. I was actually, I was side by side with him two laps earlier before the yellow came on. I mean, again, the yellow didn't hurt us but helped the others.

Q: Danica, you mentioned before in the last few laps you were starting to run loose. Let's say that you had been able to run full fuel to the end, would the loose condition have been such that Dan still probably would have been able to get by you or would you have been able to get back by him?

PATRICK: I would have been able to correct it. No, I feel if I were able to run full fuel, I was running from six to seven out of eight slots. So, you know, that's saving quite a bit of fuel. Yeah, I mean, I think especially starting in the front and you get to start when you want to start on the restarts. Normally you get a bit of a gap then just because you can. The way that the cars react behind each other with the wind and everything makes the cars ill-handling when you're behind a car. So I think that if I could have run full fuel, and -- we'll never know, I don't know. You know, I'd like to think that we could have maybe won it. But, you know, we also had to sacrifice somewhere coming from where we did today.

Q: Danica, I think this race is very special for you but you've got the same result at the Motegi in the last race. Do you have any special different feeling this race than the last race or the same feeling?

PATRICK: The difference between Motegi and here was that at Motegi there wasn't really much for mistakes, there really weren't any problems that occurred. It was basically just trying to run in the front and trying to lead it and trying to win. But we had saved fuel at some point just -- when I dropped back, that's what was happening. But it was because at the end, you know, Tony Kanaan pitted with two laps to go or something. So we were making sure that we didn't have to do that. So again, there are sacrifices, you have to give and take a little bit. If the yellow had come out a couple laps earlier and everybody slowed down, I would have finished eighth or whatever I was in.

But this one, there were problems. There were things that happened, and I'm mad at myself for the stall. I mean, I pushed the throttle and dropped the clutch and it went boom. So I don't know. It took a while to restart it. But that's frustrating; I wish that wouldn't have happened. So we turned traction control off for the end and I came out of the pits and I'm like sideways the whole way down the pit lane. Thought I was going to hit someone.

The spin, like I had said earlier, I think that was something that needed to happen. It happened for a reason. Because I could pit since I was in the back anyway.

Q: This race was satisfying?

PATRICK: Yes, more proud of the race team, again. I mean I was proud at Motegi, but they were cranking out some numbers I'm sure back there seeing whether or not I could finish the race. Because management sure doesn't like it when you just pull it over to the side of the road in the grass because you ran out of fuel. So nobody likes to pit with a lap to go.

HERTA: Management's name is Bob. (Laughter)

PATRICK: Scott. He would be the most mad.

So, you know, like I said, one at Motegi didn't have mistakes, so it was good, and it was the first really hard race. This one was overcoming the adversities and the things that happen in a race.

Q: Vitor, we know what it means for the driver who wins this race, but for yourself to come out of here with the second place finish, do you think you might have stepped out from the shadows a little bit, you know? People got to know who Vitor Meira is.

MEIRA: I honestly don't know because it's going to be up to them. I'm still doing the same job I did last year and last week and yesterday. I'm never going to stop doing the job I always did. I hope they do, but I mean, it's not going to change how I'm going to approach the next races. It certainly didn't change how I approached this one. That would be a good thing for the sponsors. That would be a good thing for the team. But for the way I approached my job, it doesn't change anything. Of course, I would be glad to have more attention and everything, but I mean, that's -- to have attention, you also have to do credible things like everyone else is doing. So it's my turn now.

Q: Two quick parts. Danica, one, when you were leading under green and then when you retook the lead on the restart, were there moments when you allowed yourself to think, 'Hey, one yellow behind me, and I win this thing?' Did you let yourself almost taste it?

PATRICK: Sure, I thought about it, yeah.

Q: And part B, when you spun, it looked like Sharp checked up a bit when you spun.

PATRICK: Might have.

Q: How much did that have to do with it, the spin?

PATRICK: With the spin? I hate to point a finger at anybody if I can't see a replay or anything; I don't think that's right. I really don't know exactly what happened. Like I said, I could have hit someone, someone could have hit me. I could have just went for the brake or done something, spun it. But, like I said, it just seemed like everyone was going slow, and people were just going really slow. So whether they had checked up at that very second and I didn't have time to react, I don't know. It seems weird that I wouldn't be able to react at a hundred when I can react -- we can react at 230.

Q: Bryan, the fact he's won the Indianapolis 500 now, do you give Dan a pardon on the practical jokes or do you turn up the rev limiter even more?

HERTA: He doesn't get out of anything. He may have his face on the trophy and he's doing a great job, but he's still the little brother on the team. (Laughter)

Anybody who's been a little brother knows what that means. (Laughter)

Q: Danica, your dad told me the other day that during the race he was probably going to just go into hiding and be by himself and watch. I'm curious, do you know what he did for the final few laps, did you have a chance to talk with your mom and dad and hear what they had to say?

PATRICK: Wave to the crowd, everybody; Brooke, my sister, and mom. I have no idea what my dad does during the race. He does his own thing. He wasn't sure if he was going to keep breakfast down. That was at like six this morning. So he sure gets riled up. And I'm sure that when I stalled, people learned new words. And I'm sure that when I spun, they learned more new words and saw new things. But at the end I have a feeling he was just so proud, and he came to me after the race and he was crying and he was so proud. That means a lot.

Q: Vitor, I guess you're ready for another question. I think it's safe to say you've been the forgotten driver this month. Would you talk about that? And your name wasn't mentioned, I don't think, a lot today on the ABC telecast. So talk about being in the shadows and coming out of them here.

MEIRA: Everybody's talked about being in the shadows the whole month. But they kept talking about it.

PATRICK: That's what I was just going to say, everybody keeps saying he's like --

MEIRA: Yeah, they know I'm in the shadows, but they know, which it has a point. (Laughter) It's good. It's good to come out and prove that the work you are doing the whole month, not showing everything you had until you had to, it worked and there was a lot of people believing in me to win this race. I want to thank them. Again, it's good to have -- I mean, it doesn't happen very often, a win. Doesn't happen very often being in second place in the biggest race in the world. I'm thrilled, I'm happy, but I wanted to do better. That's going to be up to us next year.

PATRICK: Everybody has a style, and everybody says Vitor is kind of like this under-the-radar guy. That's obviously just him. In a way you're just a little more quiet, and Helio is the loud one and everybody just has a title.

MEIRA: Yeah, Helio is the loud one. (Laughter)

PATRICK: Your title attached to you means that people say they don't talk about him. You talk about him. Good story.

SULLIVAN: We have three great stories. Obviously, what Danica has done, and two drivers worked very hard in terms of the development of their teams to get their teams to the top as well. Vitor and Bryan and Danica, congratulations to the three of you on a splendid Indianapolis 500.

(Applause)

-ims-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Vitor Meira