91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER'S PRESS CONFERENCE Dario Franchitti, Michael Andretti, Kim Green, Kevin Savoree Sunday, May 27, 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we greet the winner of the 91st running of the ...
91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER'S PRESS CONFERENCE
Dario Franchitti, Michael Andretti, Kim Green, Kevin Savoree
Sunday, May 27, 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we greet the winner of the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500, Dario Franchitti, and Andretti Green Racing. Congratulations, gentlemen. An incredible day.
Dario, I can't imagine how many twists, turns, emotions, not only for you but your entire ownership team.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I would imagine at this point these guys have better stories than me, apart from Michael because he was busy today. These guys saw the whole picture, working all five cars, the ups and downs throughout the day.
What can I say? I'm in shock at this point, I must say. I'm definitely in shock. We started off the first stint of the race. I was really struggling with the car with understeer. Progressively we just worked on it, through each pit stop made it better. I was really happy with it. When the red flag came out, one of those bittersweet moments there. I'm looking, seeing Tony leading the thing and looking like he's going to win it. I'm thinking, I think my car is good enough here, but at the same point my best friend's leading this race, my other two teammates second and third. You know, it's looking like a pretty good day for us, isn't it, at that point?
The selfish side of me is thinking I hope we go back racing because I think we can do something. At the same point, if the result would have stayed after the red flag, I wouldn't be anywhere as happy as I am now, but it was probably going to be the second best result of the day.
And then after the red, we had a cut in the right rear tire. I guess we ran over some carbon from the last accident. We had to pit. That wasn't our intention, but we had to do it for safety, I guess. That put us on the strategy that won us the race. Pretty happy right now about that (laughter).
Then the last, when we got into the lead -- first of all, I had to fight my way back through the pack. That was exciting. Ended up not only behind the guys one the lead lap but behind the lap cars, too. The car was really good. Managed to get through the traffic pretty quickly, get back up into contention. Then the strategy, our roll of the dice proved to be the lucky one. We got in front, made a couple of good restarts, then the rain came. This place, it's been a roller-coaster month and definitely a roller-coaster day. I just, as I said, am in shock right now.
MODERATOR: Michael, I'm going to go back to a conversation I had with you in the Milwaukee airport two years ago. You had just come off a race at Nashville where your car got into Victory Lane, but you had a couple of cars with some significant mechanical problems. At Milwaukee you had a great quality team finish, but your car did not get into Victory Lane. I asked you which scenario do you most prefer, all your cars basically having good quality finishes or having one guy get into Victory Lane with the other couple cars getting torn up. I remember your answer then. I'm curious about it now.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It's still all about winning, isn't it? That's why we have five cars out there. Hopefully one of 'em is going to be in the right position. And that's what happened.
At the first part of the race, we had three in a good position. In the end, we had one. Lucky that it was Dario. That's the way it works out for us. Like I said, we're all about the win. We want the wins. We're very happy today that Dario was able to get it. I'm so very happy for him personally. He deserves it. He's been such a big part of Andretti Green Racing since day one. He's helped build it to where it is today. I'm just so happy that he was able to get the benefits of that. I'm really happy for him.
MODERATOR: Kevin Savoree, I saw you nodding there. Obviously, you had a glorious run at Andretti Green Racing a couple years ago. You found yourself in a fight-back position in 2006. Now it looks like your squad is back where you're the most comfortable and happy. Congratulations on a win at the Indianapolis 500.
KEVIN SAVOREE: Thanks very much. Again, I'm so proud of this organization. Last year here we just got our butt kicked. Through some strategy, we were almost there. Then, you know, as the season progressed, we just kept getting clobbered. We made a real commitment to development over the winter. I think it showed how much it paid off early in the month on Pole Day. But that's nothing like getting into Victory Circle.
Personally, I'm so proud of Dario. He sat down with us after Fontana at the end of '05 and basically said, I'm going to give this one more year. He's always been that kind of guy, very honest with us. He's such a part of our family. Then he followed up last year. He said, I've got some more left in me. I think he showed that today. Very determined. Drove his butt off. You know, just couldn't be more proud of him.
MODERATOR: Kim, you've been through these wars many times. It's a strenuous month, difficult month. There's the emotional twists and turns. I'm looking at the face of a guy who has I think look of satisfaction. I can't tell whether it's satisfaction or relief, as well.
KIM GREEN: All day today, we had race cars in strong positions. Certainly, we were doing a big rain dance at Lap 113 hoping it would rain out at that point. Danica drove a great race. In the end, the rain probably got to us a bit earlier than we thought it. Everybody at AGR, all five drivers today, did an awesome job. It was a very fast-paced race at the start. We had very, very good race cars. I think the way it all played out, we sort of covered the bases. I was a little bit concerned we only had one up the front toward the end rather than three of them.
I know every one of other drivers is disappointed but extremely happy because this is a team that works together, strives to get perfect race cars, and strives to help each other out on the racetrack so they can work together on the team. I think you saw a lot of teamwork on the racetrack today, a lot of team strategy in the pits, a lot of team strategy during the red flag. In the end, all the hard work paid off.
MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q: Dario, on Thursday you described yourself and Scott Dixon as the invisible men. Now you both finish first and second. For being invisible, you certainly were seen quite clearly today.
FRANCHITTI: That didn't escape me. When we came down to what was going to be the last restart, I looked back and saw Dixon there. I thought, 'Hmm, this should make people sit up and take notice.'
We kind of flew under the radar all month - all year, actually, I think. But this whole month, it's an interesting thing to go through, the whole Indy 500, because you put all your eggs in one basket. This thing only comes along once a year. It really hit me today after Lap 113, when we thought the race was finished, that was it. We figured that was a chance gone for this year. You put so much into it. If you saw the way our team worked together, how hard the engineers worked back at the shop, the mechanics, to get these cars quick and make the difference between that last year, if you saw the way the five drivers worked together, the five sets of engineers, it's bloody impressive. I'm really, really proud to be a part of it.
Any one of the cars today could have won this race, and it came down to, you know, there was some luck involved. That's not to sort of diminish what we've achieved today. That's the job that this team did: they put five cars on the grid capable of winning. We put ourselves in right place and things worked out.
Q: Dario, how does it feel to have won this race burning a hundred percent renewable fuel in your tank and how well did it perform in your car?
FRANCHITTI: I've had absolutely no problem with ethanol. I felt it worked really well. We were getting pretty good fuel mileage under the yellows today. I was quite happy for that. We knew the rain was coming. We were just hoping we had enough fuel to make it there, and we did.
Q: Dario, any kind of extra satisfaction or maybe a feeling, you talked about it being a roller-coaster month, to get a win after the way pole day finished up for you? I'm sure this kind of makes up for all of that.
FRANCHITTI: I made a kind of a joke with TK, actually. We were in the engineering office, sitting there. I turned to TK. He was looking stressed because he had to wait out to see if the track was going to dry. I turned around said, "It's your turn now." I won't tell you what his reply was (laughter).
As I said, it's not really sunk in yet. The two things that really give me the satisfaction of today's race were coming -- improving the car from where we started and then coming from the back through the field again. That felt good.
Q: Dario, who made the decision to fully fuel? Was it you, John Anderson? Were you feeling extra lucky after your dad got a hole-in-one this month?
FRANCHITTI: That's a good point. Michael did ask, had my dad used up all the family luck for the month? My dad got a hole-in-one last Wednesday at the Brickyard Crossing. First hole-in-one. We're pretty proud of him.
When we took the tires, we only had to put I think 5 gallons in the car because we pitted pretty soon before the red flag came out. It was a no-brainer to fully fuel the thing.
Q: Dario and Michael, can you spell out what you did during the lengthy rain delay to keep from being bored, stay focused, all that.
FRANCHITTI: We talked about some -- we talked about strategy, how we would behave, how we would try and make sure that an AGR car finished in this position. We talked about that. We had some fun, as well, cracked a couple jokes. Just tried to ease the tension a bit. We all sat in engineering, put our feet up, hung out. It was good.
ANDRETTI: I was right there. Same thing.
FRANCHITTI: Little bit of pasta. The guys at hospitality made us a nice bowl of pasta. It was very good.
Q: Any leftovers?
FRANCHITTI: I think so. It was a big bowl.
Q: Toward the end, Dario, was there a bit of anxiety hoping the rain would come, knowing the rain was on its way? I assume you knew it was on its way. Talk about the desire to be in this position when the rain finally hits.
FRANCHITTI: The one comment that sticks in my mind was John Anderson saying on the radio, "The rain's eight blocks away." I'm like, "C'mon."
When you get in that position, we knew we had to pit one more time, we pretty much were sure everybody else had to pit one more time, too, it was going to come down to a dogfight. There's a lot of strong cars, especially, as I say, my teammates, the Ganassi guys, the Penske guys. So whatever happened, it came down to that dogfight, it was going to be hard. So I was hoping for the rain.
Q: Michael, what were your feelings to see your son going upside-down and then at the same time your other driver winning the race? Had to be a range of emotions.
ANDRETTI: I didn't know he went upside-down. I just knew he was involved in an accident. Right away, Barry was on the radio telling me, "Marco is fine, Marco is fine. He's talking on the radio. Everything's cool." Then I was just wondering what happened.
Then, obviously once I got the good news, then it was all about hoping and looking at the skies and hoping that it rained soon so we get the win with Dario, so...
Continued in part 2