IRL: Indy 500: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Michael, this is your last one. Are you at peace with the decision, how this has finished? ANDRETTI: Yeah. I mean, I was disappointed with today. I really thought there was going to be a lot more out of today. It was...

Continued from part 1

Q: Michael, this is your last one. Are you at peace with the decision, how this has finished?

ANDRETTI: Yeah. I mean, I was disappointed with today. I really thought there was going to be a lot more out of today. It was just a day that nothing worked. I think we had an OK car. It's just I got mixed up in the back, and I could never get it to the front. Every time we tried a different strategy, something else would go wrong. It was just one of those days.

It's like it's just the way it happened. Obviously it wasn't meant to be, to win it as a driver. We won it as an owner. Two of the last three years isn't too bad. Like I said, when we won it in '05, maybe I'm just meant to be -- meant to win 15 of these things, huh (laughter)?

Q: Dario, you said at the end of the 2006 you thought you had a little bit more left in you. Sam Hanks famously retired from this race in Victory Lane in 1957. Do you think there's enough left in you, and did this race give you a little more?

FRANCHITTI: Yeah, when we sat down, the four of us actually sat down in California, we were just talking about the following year. I think we just won at Fontana, hadn't we? I was feeling good about things. I wasn't sure. I was just being honest. I wasn't sure how much more I wanted to do. Then when the fairly average year we had last year, my motivation came back stronger than ever.

I don't see me quitting any time soon. There's a good few years left now and a championship.

You know, one of the things that really helps is having a 20-year-old teammate. Seriously. To see life through -- TK and I are old married men now. To see things through Marco's eyes is pretty cool. I've had some great teammates in my life. Really had some fantastic teammates, but I don't think we'll ever have this situation again. It really is a privilege to be part of this team.

Q: Speaking of the team, Dario wanted the chance to get back out there at Lap 113 when the rain came, but as a car owner, you have four in the top five, were you hoping that rain would just last a little bit longer?

ANDRETTI: Yeah, it was mixed emotions. We knew with my car, if everything was perfect, we only had to do two more stops and everybody else maybe had to do three. There was a shot we could do it there. But then on the other side, we were running one, two, three, and five at that point. It was a tough one. At that point it was just like we got to do what we got to do and hope and pray, you know, we end up with at least one of our cars up there. That's what happened.

Q: Dario, before you said it was extremely difficult to move through the pack. You did it after you had to change the tires. Any difficulty coming through?

FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it wasn't easy. There were some interesting moments. When a car goes into sort of a four-wheel slide at 220 miles an hour, it catches your attention. One lap it's pushing, the next lap it's loose, the next corner in fact. I was lucky in the fact that the Canadian Club guys gave me -- fixed the car throughout the race and gave me a great car all month to allow me to do that. I want to recognize the whole engineering staff, Andretti Green Racing, for giving us great cars, especially Allan McDonald and Dave Seiffert, my guys, my engineers, and also John Anderson for calling the race.

Every bump in the roller-coaster this month, they lived it with me. Just really proud - really, really proud of them.

Q: Dario, all through the month you and Tony, the whole team, worked very closely together as you said. You were very close on setup. You were saying before the race how much different you were going to have to go from Tony. How much different did you have to go and how much work did you have to do to really dial the car in as the race went on?

FRANCHITTI: I was very surprised how much work because the car seemed to work the last week of practice and also Carb Day in a range of conditions. We went out there today and had a huge push in the car. We had to work very hard to get rid of that. Big understeer. We really managed to do it. I was very impressed with the job the engineers did there. Split-second decisions. They made the right choices. They were talking to me; I was making adjustments in the car all the time. It was going in the right direction which really helped us because coming back through the pack at that point I thought I was going to have to pick off one car at a time here and see where we end up. It all worked out well.

Q: Dario, the look on your face in Victory Lane kind of defined of the word "disbelief." Can you take us through what went through your mind as you pulled off the helmet and were getting out of the car and teammates one by one coming up to you?

FRANCHITTI: I knew TK was going to kiss me. I knew that. That was a given (laughter). I was really happy to see Marco, see that he was OK. When I saw the accident, I saw the aftermath of the accident, I was on the radio, Is he OK? Is he OK? They said, "Yeah, he's fine." Just to see him there was really a big relief.

I think the disbelief started, first thing, when the rain started. Oh, it's raining pretty hard here, guys. The downpour started. They came on the radio, checkers next time by. I'm thinking it's going to be difficult even to get there because the car was aquaplaning, it was so wet out there. Then across the finish line, it was just disbelief coming into the pits. I came in really slowly. First of all didn't want to crash the car on the in-lap. The crowd stayed throughout the rain delay, got absolutely soaked. I just wanted to enjoy that moment, just have a little time to think.

Q: Dario, by my arithmetic 42 years ago a fellow by the name of Jim Clark won the race. Could you talk about being the whole Scottish aspect and following in that great tradition?

FRANCHITTI: Yeah, that was one of the reasons I was so pissed I didn't win in '05. I was so upset because it was 40 years since Jimmy Clark had won it. Jackie Stewart came over, watched the race. My old boss, obviously one of my heroes. It was looking good for a while. It didn't turn out.

It all kind of made sense when I turned around and looked at the trophy. I saw some of the names on the trophy today. Then I was in awe, I really was, to see the great names that are on there, see some of the great guys that should be on there. It's a humbling experience, put it that way.

Q: Michael, talk about how quickly Marco had gotten up to the front at the start of the race. 20 laps in.

ANDRETTI: Yeah, I was really surprised. I looked up. I saw he was like P2 or whatever. I'm like, He's flying. I don't know. He was very happy with his car in traffic, I know that, at the beginning. We were talking. The red flag, he seemed pretty good about things. What happened after that, I really don't know. I didn't really get to talk to him too much. Something must have went away for him.

Q: Dario, Alex Lloyd won the Freedom 100 the other day. You're the second British driver to win in three years. Do you think will encourage more British drivers over here?

FRANCHITTI: I hope so. I hope so is the answer to that. I've been over here now 10 years. Obviously, Dan has made a hell of an impact here. Alex Lloyd is doing a good job. It's good to see. So the more the merrier, definitely.

Q: When is the last time either of you won a race because of a flat tire?

FRANCHITTI: It technically wasn't flat. It was a cut tire. I've lost one here because of that I think. Second year here -- the biggest problem is when there's a wreck, there's tiny shard of carbon lying around the track, and they're razor-sharp. Before the safety crew can get a chance to clean them up, you try to avoid them. You end up driving over some of them sometimes. That's one of the side effects.

But, yeah, I wanted to keep using it but the Firestones guys are, "No."

ANDRETTI: Never happened for me (laughter).

Q: Dario, on the historical note, a few years ago you won the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in car 27. That was a special moment of its own. Maybe it's unfair, but can you compare the two historical/emotional wins?

FRANCHITTI: It is the 27th of May, isn't it? That's pretty cool. It's difficult to compare wins. Each one's special. The Indy 500 is the pinnacle of my career at this point. It's massive. It's awesome.

Told you I wouldn't make much sense today (laughter).

Q: Dario, back to Jim Clark, he's kind of like a hero or something. Don't you have a Jim Clark room or something?

FRANCHITTI: Yeah, we finished restoring or almost finished restoring an old house in Scotland. What are we going to do for all these bathrooms, bedrooms. We made one of the rooms Jim Clark room. I have all these Jim Clark memorabilia. Robin Miller gave me some fantastic Jim Clark pictures this morning. Thanks, Robin, they were awesome. We have a Jim Clark room in the house at home.

I think he's a hero for any Scottish driver, and really one of the best drivers in the world ever. Only time I ever went and picked out tile. I had to get the tile to match his helmet (laughter).

Q: It seems like you're the good guy of the sport. Everyone that has been interviewed after the race is telling about how really happy they were for you to get this win. What does that mean to you?

FRANCHITTI: It's awesome. It's really nice. There's one thing, you go out on the track and you race each other very hard. A good friend of mine Greg taught us that. We'd go out, race each other as close and hard as we possibly could, then afterward go and have some fun. We seem to manage that quite well in the paddock as a whole, but we certainly manage it within our team.

Yeah, it's a good atmosphere to go racing in.

Q: Dario, when you came over here, you came as a road racer. You raced sedans, had a reputation. Maybe you didn't quite get the respect as an oval racer. Does today put an end to that?

FRANCHITTI: I don't know. I hope so (laughter). I mean, we've managed to win on every type of track now. Certainly the first year I struggled a little bit on the ovals, but then I got more and more comfortable.

I think the short ovals, we won at Milwaukee and stuff like that, but I really -- I enjoy the challenge of the short ovals, and this place is particularly difficult. But, yeah, not quite sure what to say about that one.

MODERATOR: One thing we should do is congratulate a championship team, an Indianapolis 500 winner, and a gentleman right here who is a champion by any measuring stick you ever want to use.

FRANCHITTI: Thank you.

-credit: ims

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jackie Stewart , Jim Clark , Gilles Villeneuve , Alex Lloyd , John Anderson , Robin Miller