IRL IndyCar Series - Purex Dial Indy 200 March 23, 2003, Phoenix International Raceway Second- and third-place press conference: Helio Castroneves, Felipe Giaffone Moderator: We will get started. This is our second- and third-place finishers...
IRL IndyCar Series - Purex Dial Indy 200
March 23, 2003, Phoenix International Raceway
Second- and third-place press conference:
Helio Castroneves, Felipe Giaffone
Moderator: We will get started. This is our second- and third-place finishers for the Purex Dial Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Helio Castroneves is on his way in to join us. We will begin with our third-place finisher, Felipe Giaffone. You started second, finished third, but I know the day was not easy. You were up and down throughout the order. Tell us about your run.
Felipe Giaffone: It was a really tough day. This racetrack is always tough because you depend on the setup, you know, you depend on pit-stop strategies. It's always very hard. But it's a fun racetrack. I mean, you have to work with the car a lot. I mean, unfortunately I think my car was one of the best. I think Tony was in a better strategy maybe at the end where he had newer tires. We never changed tires in the last pit stop, just like Helio. I think this worked a little better for Tony. I'm still pretty happy. We'll finish third and better than that. We had a winner car. My dream in the race, it's no matter where I'm racing, the fun part of racing is to be competitive. That's why I'm glad.
Moderator: Today the pit stop strategy and everything played into the end in a way, but your team consistently got you out toward the front of the line.
Giaffone: Yeah, that's what I told them. I said, "You guys never make me lose a position." I mean, I always gain a position. I actually owe them big time because I lost the position for Helio in the track. They just did a great job. I mean, it was a very good and fast pit stops that we had.
Moderator: At this time, we're being joined by our second-place finisher, Helio Castroneves. Helio started the race in fourth position and, like Felipe, even though you were toward the front the whole race, a lot of action. It was not easy. Tell us about your run.
Helio Castroneves: Well, first of all, I just spoke with Gil. He seems to be OK. He didn't say anything in terms of he was not drowsy, nothing. Good news, he's speaking, talking. Hopefully it's just a checkup. Anyway, also the race was very challenging. I was trying everything. First, we started with Gil spinning right in front of me. Man, I had no idea how I came through. It's something that really I just closed my eyes, said, "I wish nothing happen." I guess my wish came true in that time. We kept going. Again, we just have to be smart. A lot of action over there. People were like really, really not giving any space at all. But, again, it's just racing. Very, very close. We did a hell of a pit stops again. My pits were doing fantastic. I couldn't thank Ben enough. We have to keep working that way. Toward the end, we took a gamble, like between me, Felipe and the rest of the field to leave the tires, not change the tires, keep going. I guess that worked really well in terms of strategy. Fortunately, my tire, what I understand, was going low, that's why they keep telling me to keep my pressure up, my right or left, they just told me the rear tire was going flat. Thank God they didn't tell me on the radio. Obviously, we have a fantastic battle. I was trying to pass Tony outside. I remember, remind me actually of go-karts, the three of us together, it was really fun (laughter).
Giaffone: In the back, I thought it was before, like 15 years ago (laughter).
Castroneves: Like 15 years ago (laughter). Again, Tony went really hot on Turn 1. I start pushing. Obviously, if I would have lift off, the two of us would be in bad shape. Thank God, I believe was a great, exciting race, especially for the lead, especially toward the front. Unfortunately, those yellows that nobody wants. But, again, I'm very happy with the results.
Moderator: At this time we'll open the podium for questions.
Q: Talk about how important the pit stops were, Felipe, that your team kept you up front throughout the race?
Giaffone: I think in the beginning of the race, I had the best car, by far. I kept saving fuel. I was still pulling away from the guys. I think the guys did a great job. Also with the fuel strategy, it work out very good for us because we had to put less fuel than other guys, I would assume. That happens when you're leading. If you're pulling away with all those yellows, you always try to save fuel. It help us a little bit. But they were right there. I mean, I'm still very surprised. I told them, I said, "You guys really should have won the race." We never lost a single spot, it was great.
Q: Helio, you had a moment on the second lap with Gil. How close did you come?
Castroneves: Close enough to close my eyes. Literally, I really closed my eyes, said, "OK, that's it, both of us going to crash now." I don't know what the heck I did in terms of to avoid that. I kept going straight. It was just a shame. Sometimes those tires didn't come up with the heat too fast, and I guess caught him in a surprise situation. But, again, I was very lucky.
Moderator: Helio, about 45 laps to go, you and Tony Kanaan had a tremendous battle. This is a pretty flat track, not supposed to go side by side through the corners.
Castroneves: Is that right (laughter)? Wow! Thank you to tell me just now. I guess I had saw opportunity. I tried couple laps before, I tried with Felipe. That's why I made my move, able to pass him on the outside because of some traffic. So I notice that would be a good way to try. Again, was clean on second; three, four, clean race. We came again side by side over there. I just couldn't hold it. You know, was too close. We probably would have crashed each other if I kept going. Thank God we finished and scored more points.
Q: Can you talk about the jump Tony got on the last restart?
Castroneves: Well, I guess if you're talking about why he was going so fast, is that right?
Q: Just his start. He obviously got a good start.
Castroneves: I think he was starting a little too soon, according to those cones. Wow, if nobody calls, that means he was OK. But, again, he had new tires, at least much better than I believe the rest of us. So for him was pretty much he was in a good shape. He was not moving at all. He was able to go faster and faster. We just couldn't keep it up. But definitely I believe was a little too fast. Again, was a good result.
Giaffone: I think we put more than a hundred laps on the last tires.
Castroneves: It was a lot. I think it was more than we were used to.
Giaffone: I said, "No tires."
Q: Felipe, early on you were quick. You got out in the lead and took off. Did the handling on your car go away?
Giaffone: The beginning of the race, I mean, 'til I would say the middle of the race, I would make my car push or go loose. When I have a perfect car, that's the way it is. If I want the car to push or go loose, I can do with whatever I have inside the car. That's the car I had at that point. Toward to the end, the car was loose a little bit going into three and pushing coming out of four. So I was a little stuck with the weight jack and bars. I couldn't improve, make it better. That's why I think I lost. I think it's probably because we're running more -- it happened more at the end when we didn't change tires, so we were running with the tires in a range that we never tried before. That's why. But the tires was running great.
Q: Helio, you were on the frontstretch when the last crash came. Were you stunned by what you saw? It was a pretty severe hit.
Castroneves: Well, I didn't know it was my teammate until they start lifting the car. Normally, at least myself, in those situations, I try to not look because we're still racing, and you don't want to see those accidents never happen. So I just tried to pay attention on my job. Obviously, Roger (Penske) came on the radio saying was great, so I was in good shape. That's when I realized that my teammate was crashed. It's one of those situations you don't want to happen to nobody. I just want to salute the troops in Iraq, you know, in the war. I probably speak from Felipe, as well. I wish them well and I hope they come back well like we just finished well here.
Moderator: Thank you.