IRL: Kansas: Top-three finishers press conference, part 1

Indy Racing League Argent Mortgage Indy 300 Top Three Transcript July 4, 2004 Buddy Rice, Bobby Rahal, Vitor Meira, Tony Kanaan Part 1 of 2 MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan. We've been joined by ...

Indy Racing League
Argent Mortgage Indy 300 Top Three Transcript
July 4, 2004

Buddy Rice, Bobby Rahal, Vitor Meira, Tony Kanaan

Part 1 of 2

MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan.

We've been joined by Vitor Meira, who finished second and Tony Kanaan who finished third in today's race. Vitor, congratulations. Awesome finish. Talk about those last 10 laps when you were neck and neck with your teammate, Buddy Rice.

VITOR MEIRA: Yeah, seems like it was a hundred laps or something. Again, it's your teammate. I mean, if one mistake, would cost a lot, would cost the whole race. I mean, I respect him a lot, and he respects me a lot. And that's what it's all about. It's just the teamwork. So he won, I was second. Doesn't really matter for the team if I won or he come second or if he won or if I come second. I mean, it's the team effort, everybody's happy.

We had a great weekend. Started a little bit off with some problems, catch up, were leading. Because of a mistake, I lost the lead, and I had to recover. So we finished second. It's the teamwork again.

Thanks Team Rahal Letterman, Centrix and (Centrix CEO) Bob Sutton that just signed with Team Rahal Letterman for the whole year. We couldn't be in better shape going to the next race.

MODERATOR: Vitor mentioned not wanting to make a mistake. In third place, you're either wanting them to make a mistake or thinking your battle is going to help you take the lead. Comment on what you're watching in front of you.

TONY KANAAN: I knew they wouldn't make a mistake. I think the right way to win is passing those guys, it's not expecting them to make any mistakes. They did a great job. They had a fast car. I tell you, it was tough.

We had a few problems in the car, which I don't think I should go through it. But the cap was a little bit behind. In the last 10 laps, I think they did a great job. They kept controlling the pace. Buddy was lifting to keep Vitor on the outside. I was trying to stick my nose in it, which is the biggest part of my body (laughter), try to find a hole there.

It didn't work out, they did a great job. I'm happy. I think it's championship points. Some weekends you have a car to win, some you don't. When you don't, you need to maximize your efforts. I think we did great job for Honda. Top six (finishers). That pays off. I think the guys in Japan and HPD (Honda Performance Development) here in California are pretty happy about it.

Another day on the racetrack. Another Superspeedway, everybody together. Let's go to Nashville.

Q: (Inaudible)?

VITOR MEIRA: No, I didn't. Before doing anything stupid, I just talked to the team and asked who won. Even then, I didn't really know like 10 seconds afterwards. I think Buddy won by .005 (of a second). That's nothing. I don't even know how to measure that.

That's it, 1-2 for Team Rahal Letterman. Centrix car I guess was the quickest, again because of a mistake, and the failure. We didn't put the best result up there. But, again, just 1-2, we couldn't ask for more.

MODERATOR: The 5/1000th margin of victory is the second-closest in league history. The first was 2/1000th at Chicagoland in 2002.

Q: Vitor, what happened on the pit stop?

VITOR MEIRA: I don't know yet. I don't know. I felt my clutch real soft, real rubbery. The reason for that, I don't know. As soon as I put it ion first gear, the clutch was kind of half engaged, and the car just died. So we had to do something to keep going. I mean, I really don't know what happened. I just know what caused it, but I don't know what the problem was.

Q: You said all the right things. You kind of look like a guy that just lost his dog. Do you feel like this is a big disappointment?

VITOR MEIRA: No, I'm telling you, the last 10 laps was like a hundred. Of course, I wanted to win. Of course, I was going to be happier if I won. But, like Tony (Kanaan) said, I mean, this is just the way it goes. Sometimes you win, sometimes you do mistakes, sometimes you don't. Buddy did everything right.

From our part, we did not do everything perfectly. Anyway, I'll take it anytime. Winning, it's always better. But it's a 1-2 for the team. Everybody must be pretty happy. I'm really happy.

Q: Vitor, would you say the last 10 laps were more physically or emotionally exhausting?

VITOR MEIRA: No, just more concentration, everything. I was coming from behind and everything. You do way more effort to kind of just hang on to it. You do way more effort on the steering wheel and everything else than you should. That's the reason you become tired. That's all. More mentally, way more mentally.

Q: Would you go through the list of what you and your spotter were talking about both in front of you and behind you?

TONY KANAAN: I don't know if you guys listened, but it started very funny because before the green flag, I asked where was the fourth-place car. You know, we're getting ready to go. He goes, 'The fourth-place car is behind Hornish.' I'm like, 'Marv, I'm behind Hornish.' He goes, 'Oh, wrong green.' Anyway, we go green, we just start talking. I just say, 'Look, just tell Hornish and then to maybe work with me because they're a lap down and they're between me and these guys.' I would say Hornish was very fair. As soon as the restart, he moved up, left me on the bottom. Made it easy for me. I caught those guys up. But then we started to run side-by-side. You know, I had Hornish. But I think they didn't want to get involved in the middle of our thing. It was busy. It was definitely busy. Same way I was trying to find a hole to pass those guys, I had to be careful because I had people around me. One time I got three-wide. Even Dixon, and Dixon backed off because he was on the inside of me. They didn't want to get involved with the battle.

I think that's the way it's supposed to be. That's the way I would have done it, if I was there. But it was pretty busy. For sure for them was busy trying to keep up with each other, but for me I had to try to worry about trying to pass them. I had all the action behind them. So the spotter, he was busy. He was very busy. He was going everywhere - inside, outside, be careful. He usually is pretty good about telling me where to go. He goes, 'TK, nowhere to go. Just go.'

Q: Talk about your season from March until now, and Centrix which has signed on for the rest of the season.

VITOR MEIRA: That's just how things happen. You have to put your position sometimes to be lucky. Yeah, they did not have a ride for the first two races. Then suddenly Bobby Rahal and Scott Roembke came to me and said, 'We're going to make another car to Japan. Let's go month-by-month. That's a monthly deal. I don't promise you anything.'

I for sure accepted without even thinking much. We did good in Japan. We had some problems. We did good in Indy. We did really good in Texas then Richmond, and afterwards, Centrix, Bob Sutton, signed with us for the rest of the year. Sometimes you have to be lucky. Honda helped a lot, letting me run their engine and everything.

Again, everything came our way. G Force is the chassis to have. Honda is the engine to have. As Tony said, we were the top six (finishers), and we were clearly the quicker ones. We are the quickest engine. You have to thank God and put yourself in position to be lucky sometimes.

Q: Did you want that caution, given how much you were gaining?

VITOR MEIRA: I wanted that caution after the pit stop problem I had. I really wanted the caution. Actually, I wasn't even thinking much about that. I was just trying to go and find the quickest line outside, trying not to do any mistake with Buddy there. That would be a disaster. I wasn't really worried about the yellows or anything like that. I was just focused on going quick and don't do any mistake.

Q: How difficult is it to concentrate during long green flag stretches, which I think 169 laps is the most green flag stretches in league history?

VITOR MEIRA: I was pretty surprised how much green-flag time we had. We were there first to focus to stay out of trouble, save fuel until a certain part of the race, then you focus and go quick, find the quickest line, take care of each other up there.

Just I was really surprised, too, for the amount of green flag, which is good for everybody. Everybody wants to go fast, not having accident, staying under yellow, which is good for everybody.

Q: Can you talk about the first part of the race? What do you feel you and your team were doing right to set the pace? Were you surprised at all the way it went back and forth later on?

TONY KANAAN: Honestly, I wasn't expecting to lead. If we had to start the race, not having that yellow, I was going to be third, because Vitor already had the run on me. But all of a sudden I think Buddy was running different gears than I, for sure. As soon as we restarted, he pulled fourth gear. His fourth gear was very long. I just had a run on him. I see a Texas one again, I'm going to control the pace here.

Basically that's what I did. It looked like I was dominating the race, but I wasn't really. I was saving as much fuel as I could, so was Buddy, so was Vitor, so was everybody else. It looked good, but I was just controlling the fuel. I knew they were not going to pass me because they all wanted to save fuel.

I said, 'Well, if I need lost laps, it's going to be an extra point, so I might as well do it.' I kept it on, and I think we didn't do anything different from the first stint to the last one. Obviously, when was time to go, they went, and we stayed in the same speed.

Like I said, we had a few problems. I could only run sixth gear. I mean, there were many, many problems. I couldn't run my fifth gear. I had to run sixth. My sixth was too tall to run by myself. When I got locked up with these guys, it was okay. Being such a long stretch, the green flag, sometimes you lose the pack, you lose the draft, especially after the stops. We got going.

We didn't change anything. I think the team did the right thing. We just didn't have the right car to win today.

-irl-

Part 2

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice , Vitor Meira