IRL: Nazareth: Giaffone, de Ferran press conference

Firestone Indy 225 Nazareth Speedway Felipe Giaffone, Gil De Ferran April 21, 2002 Moderator: We are joined here by third-place finisher Gil de Ferran, Firestone Indy 225, and second-place finisher Felipe Giaffone. Gil, you mentioned you agreed...

Firestone Indy 225
Nazareth Speedway
Felipe Giaffone, Gil De Ferran
April 21, 2002

Moderator: We are joined here by third-place finisher Gil de Ferran, Firestone Indy 225, and second-place finisher Felipe Giaffone. Gil, you mentioned you agreed with the pit strategy that your team had, you were two turns away from winning this thing. Has to be a little bit of a frustrating day for you.

Gil de Ferran: No, I think it was the right call from many points of view. At one point the sky looked pretty dark, so the race could have been rained out at any moment then. I think with this sort of situation, you got to stretch it for as long as you can because that was certainly a possibility. Obviously, the second possibility is rain continue to go on and off intermittently is we would have enough fuel to get to the end. I think it made sense from two points of view. Certainly we were very, very close to getting it right. But, you know, I think the last thought, at least in my mind, this was a great run for us. We had a great car all day, very, very fast. You know, overall, obviously disappointed not to have won the race, but overall happy with the day.

Q: Strange race, you're doing a lot of stopping and starting. Hard mentally on you?

Gil de Ferran: In a way, I sort of expected a race like that. Last time we were here, it was this cold, it was really, really difficult. Lots of yellows, stuff like that. I know it would be a race where you had to have really a lot of patience. Unfortunately, it turned out obviously the way we never like to see a lot of yellows. But that's the way it is. These cars gets very tricky, or any car gets tricky to drive on the restarts when the temperatures are so cold. Obviously, we had to continue with the rain. But I think overall, you know, there wasn't thankfully any major, major trouble. I think Brian (Barnhart) in race control made good calls throughout the day with the rain, when to just run on yellow and when to go green. I think overall out of a difficult situation we came out OK.

Q: Felipe, can you take us through that last restart from your standpoint and the pass that you made, just sort of go from there.

Felipe Giaffone: I had a few close calls the last 50 laps. I didn't know about Gil, I knew he at least would be trying to save gas. I knew about Sharp, I knew that he was good, and Sarah, as well. I knew the only chance I had would be in the beginning. You know, that's what happened with Sarah. We got very close together. But it works good for me. Then with Sharp, I think we both took a chance. I had like half my left rear was in the grass, and I bottom very hard, almost hit the wall on the outside. So I think we took a chance. But it worked a little better for him. Fortunately, we didn't go to the wall, both of us. It was very close.

Gil de Ferran: When was that?

Felipe Giaffone: It was close (laughter).

Moderator: Questions from the media.

Q: When the yellow car ended up in the wall, Buddy, you're looking at a silver lining out of this day, five points behind him going into the Indy 500. Talk about making some gains on him?

Gil de Ferran: Right from the start, we knew Sam was kind of I guess out of the race. So on a day like today, it's important to score a lot of points because you can make up a lot of difference. We were well aware, at least I was, of Sam's situation there. Thankfully we were able to come out of here with a strong third place and make a lot of points on the championship. But, you know, still a lot of races to go.

Q: Felipe, did you see any opening at all? Also describe what happened. It seemed like after you made your attack on Sharp, you laid back toward the very, very end.

Felipe Giaffone: Right after that my car started to push more than before. Before that, I had a very neutral car, and good. I was a little -- I mean, after that close call, I was a little concern that something was going wrong with the car. But I don't think anything was pretty damaged there. I just start to pick it up a little bit of push. I knew it would be very hard to pass without like a slower car to help out, you know. Even Gil, I'm pretty sure even the way he was running a lot slower because of the fuel. I mean, he still would keep Sharp behind him. So I took the chance, and I knew that would be it. I was just waiting for another slower car.

Q: Felipe, you had sort of like a secret season. You have three top-six finishes so far. Talk a little bit about this new team. You're with the Mo Nunn team. Tell us how you feel about the season and your prospects for Indy.

Felipe Giaffone: Mo Nunn Racing, they're doing a great job. We start a little bit off in Homestead. We really struggle with the car there. Pretty much nowhere. But still got away with seventh-place finish. Phoenix wasn't very good. I ended up in the wall. Wasn't good in this point. Fontana was good. I'm very happy so far. We're having a good car pretty much everywhere we're going to. I hope is not going to be different for Indy.

Q: Felipe, I know when you were in Brazil racing cars, it was you and Helio and Rubens (Barrichello). By then, he had probably already moved on.

Felipe Giaffone: It was funny because my cousin was talking to Ed just before the race, talking to somebody, just to give him a hard time. "You know, when Eddie was racing, I had his picture in my room because I was still doing go﷓karts." For me, the same situation for him (laughter). I didn't say I had the picture in my room, because it would look bad (laughter). Is always a guy that I was following. I know all his races. Christian (Fittipaldi), they're together, Emerson (Fittipaldi) was another step.

Q: Were you aware of him (Giaffone) when he was racing go﷓karts?

Gil de Ferran: Absolutely. I always keep the eye on the potential future rivals.

Felipe Giaffone: Never imagine I would be running with Cheever and Salazar.

Gil de Ferran: I have to say Cheever is a good surprise (laughter).

Felipe Giaffone: Honest to God, I had a picture of Eddie on my wall when he was driving Formula One. It was great. Every time I give him a little dig, you know. "Eddie, you lost. I guess it's OK."

Q: Gil, how much were you backing off there those last laps to try to save fuel?

Gil de Ferran: I was really driving to the numbers that were being given to me by the pits.

Felipe Giaffone: We have the same motor (laughter).

Gil de Ferran: Trying to make as much fuel as I could, really very lean on the mixture, really trying to get out of the throttle as much as I could. You know, as we went on, it looked like we were going to be OK, but I guess we were probably about, like Bruce says, about this much (laughter).

Moderator: There were only five engines in this field built by Ilmor Engineering. They finished in the top three and they also went fifth. Could you talk about Ilmor and their motors, if that gives you an advantage?

Gil de Ferran: I think Ilmor, since last year, they've really been doing a great job with the IRL engines. I mean, they're relatively new to IRL competition, they started last year, and I think their engine is typically very reliable, at least so far this year. We haven't had a problem. Even throughout most of last year they were very reliable, very powerful. I think they're very good engines. As far as in relation to everybody else, it's hard to say. Things keep changing all the time. I think I have to say that this track is not really a horsepower track, but I think we had a good engine.

Q: Felipe?

Felipe Giaffone: I agree with Gil, you know. In Fontana was more like a racehorse power track. I mean, we're still a little bit off in Fontana. I think the Infiniti, they have a little bit more power than we do, but our engine is more reliable than they are, you know. It's kind of -- I think Speedway is doing a great job. It's very tight. I don't think there's a big advantage there.

Q: Gil, when you went low, did you hear it, feel it or see it on the dashboard?

Gil de Ferran: At that point I wasn't looking at the dashboard anymore (laughter). It's kind of a depressing sight. But I just went into two-flat (fuel setting), and I felt the engine cough a couple times, finally died down halfway through the turn. I stayed as slow as I could to give room for Scott. Actually thankfully he didn't hit me. Obviously, he was going for it, so he should have. You know, at that point I was actually afraid I wasn't going to make it to the line. But when I straightened the car out, we picked up a little more fuel. That was enough. I went flat, almost flat to (Turn) 3, just to carry enough speed. I was thinking I would at least roll to the line, which is actually what ended up happening. You know, that's what happened.

Moderator: Gentlemen, thank you. Congratulations. Great race.

-irl-

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