Indy Racing League Copper World Indy 200 March 21, 2004 Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Michael Andretti Part 1 of 2 THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with the press conference with the second and third place finishers. In...
Indy Racing League
Copper World Indy 200
March 21, 2004
Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Michael Andretti
Part 1 of 2
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with the press conference with the second and third place finishers. In a few minutes, Tony will be in. We will pick him up when he gets in.
Third place, we have Dan Wheldon. Dan was our pole sitter. This is his back-to-back third-place finish this season. Dan, you were sort of the beneficiary of that last yellow. Tell us how the day went for you.
DAN WHELDON: The Jim Beam car at the start of the run was not too bad. I know TK (Tony Kanaan) was very quick. I'm happy for him to score another win at Phoenix. He seems to like this place a lot. Maybe the IRL will take this off the calendar next year if they could.
My main problem at the end of the stint was I'd get pretty loose. When you have Honda power like we've got, it gets ugly. I tended to backpedal at the end of the run.
Certainly I think if we can continue like this, when you're struggling, to come in third, I think that bodes well for the future.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Dan. Finishing second, Scott Dixon. Scott, you started in fifth today. Tell us about your run.
SCOTT DIXON: It wasn't too bad. I think, you know, the car was very good on long stints. I think that last yellow didn't really help us too much. We could sort of close in on Tony, maybe get within two car lengths, burn the tires up, he'd sort of stretch out again. It was kind of frustrating. It was not so easy to pass here today. You'd get a run occasionally, but guys had to be pretty kind to you to go through and pass easily.
I think all in all, we're fairly happy. It's good points. It's a lot better than Homestead. We'll take this.
THE MODERATOR: I'll open it up to questions.
Q: Pretty clean race until that last lap. How did each of you find traffic?
SCOTT DIXON: As I said before, it was fine. Everybody was fairly good. I think I had some problems with Helio (Castroneves) for a while, but I think he was trying to fight to get another lap back, early on when he was behind Tony. Apart from that, everybody was doing a pretty good job. If you stuck your nose in, especially guys that had been lapped were very courteous.
DAN WHELDON: Pretty much the same as what Scott said. It was pretty difficult for me towards the end. I was getting loose. If I got close to anybody, it would make the situation for me worse. I think all in all, pretty good.
Q: Have you ever raced in worse conditions?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't think the temperature was too bad. It was kind of hot. We in the car, it's fairly decent. Races like Chicago two or three years ago, with the humidity, that's the killer. Here was fine. It's dry hot. It's not terrible.
DAN WHELDON: It was fine for me, also. I think it's been worse in England when it's been freezing cold and torrential rain. I much prefer the heat to the rain and the cold, I have to say.
THE MODERATOR: For the record, the ambient temperature was 96 degrees and track temperature was 123.
Q: Scott, when you're in a race like this, you start to see other potential contenders fall out, do you start making notes to yourself, this happened, that happened? How do you feel about that? Penske fell off.
SCOTT DIXON: I think, you know, with Helio, he fell off pretty much immediately. Within 10, 15 laps, he got really loose. I think Sam (Hornish Jr.) was struggling a little bit before he spun. He seemed to be very good in the first stint with getting through the traffic pretty well. But I think he had some more problems.
The guys that spun out were not going to be too much of a hassle with you, anyway. You notice guys falling back, who's good where and who is not.
Q: Scott, having finished second four out of the last five races, does it get frustrating finishing second?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it's definitely getting old.
Q: Do you think you put the one jinx behind you?
SCOTT DIXON: You're the only one that keeps reminding me of it, though (laughter). I don't have a problem with numbers. Seems to be going all right.
Q: Better finish than Homestead.
SCOTT DIXON: I couldn't do much worse than what I did there.
THE MODERATOR: For the record, Dan, what high jinx did the team pull on you last night?
DAN WHELDON: It's best kept private, let me tell you. It's ugly.
Q: Were there things you thought you could do to change the car during the race? You had a couple pit stops. Is there something you tried?
DAN WHELDON: No, not really. I think the thing that I found is with the controls that I've got in the car, to try and make it better, everything I seemed to touch made it worse.
The first stint was really bad for me. It seemed like it was a long stint. They said 10 to go. That felt like three hours for those 10 laps to pass.
I think once I reset everything to how I started the race and just left it and dealt with what I had, it seemed to work out better for me.
Q: Dan, in talking about team culture, how is the situation with Dario (Franchitti) going to play out?
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I think Dario, it was just a bit unfortunate. I don't know what happened. The thing with Dario is he's been around long enough to know how good he is. You know, he's actually very laid back. Situations like this will not bug him at all. It's quite amazing, really. I'd be pulling my hair out.
But he's calm. He'll be really strong at Motegi. I think obviously he's got a good relationship with Honda, he knows how important that race is for them. I'm sure he'll up his game.
You can never discount Dario. He never really gets down. He is what I would call a good team leader, because he is good from that standpoint. Tony and I get antsy sometimes. He's good for calming us down. Bryan (Herta) is good for that, too.
Q: Before the last caution, were you starting to get in a position where you were trying to squeeze him, catch up a little? Were you able to do that?
SCOTT DIXON: I think on the longer runs, we definitely did. I think especially around (Turns) 3 and 4, we had a better car than Tony. That's why we were really wanting to go green the whole way. I think we would have had a lot better chance to fight for the lead. Especially with traffic, it seemed like our car was a little better. But that's hearsay, so--
DAN WHELDON: Not really. I think the main difference between Dario and I, like I've told a few people, if he goes out to dinner with you, I guarantee you you're going to buy dinner. If I go, there's a chance I could possibly buy. I'm learning from him, that's for sure.
Q: Do you have any special competitions?
DAN WHELDON: No, not really. I think obviously you've got to focus on the people to beat. Right now TK is very strong. I think Scott is going to be very strong, as is Penske. I think they're the main focus.
Q: Are these cars getting more difficult to pass on a flat mile oval?
SCOTT DIXON: I think a combination of, you know, the heat today, the cars having less downforce. The tires haven't changed, they're just burning off quicker. It's hard to get close. You don't have the grip to make a couple lanes occasionally when you need to. It's hard to get the car stuck. It is definitely a little harder. It's always been hard to pass on our level. Someone messes up a bit, you can get a decent run, things like that. If you work on someone long enough, you'll eventually get them.
I think for the drivers, it's a lot more fun, because the cars are a lot more difficult to drive. I was definitely on my tippy toes all day. So it was good.