Radisson Indy 225 Press Conference Gil de Ferran June 16, 2002 Moderator: Congratulations, winning the Radisson Indy 225. This is your first IRL win. Last time someone won from the pole was your teammate back in Phoenix. As we talked yesterday,...
Radisson Indy 225 Press Conference
Gil de Ferran
June 16, 2002
Moderator: Congratulations, winning the Radisson Indy 225. This is your first IRL win. Last time someone won from the pole was your teammate back in Phoenix. As we talked yesterday, your car was literally good out of the box when you got to the track, and it appeared you put it anywhere you wanted to today.
Gil de Ferran: That was certainly very much the case. From the beginning of the race, it was a little bit loose. It just a little bit leveling off, but the car was absolutely perfect on the last three-quarters of the race. I was impressed. It was probably one of the best oval cars I've ever driven, and I give a lot of that credit, it certainly goes to the team as a whole. Certainly, to my engineer, Tom German, who really did a great job this race and this weekend. The guys, every time I came into the pits ... on the first stop, had to take a little of the front wing up; that's why Helio beat us coming off that first pit stop. But from there on, it was really great. My car, like I said, I could drive on the top, on the bottom, right underneath people. It was really a real pleasure to drive a car like that. You know, on the speed, it was very close in the match, with Sam and with Helio, very, very close, hardly any time. I just seemed to pick up a bit of an advantage whenever we hit traffic and I was able to pull away a little bit. It worked out great.
Q Brian Barnhart came on the radio and wanted to know how conditions were. How tempted were you to tell him exactly what you were thinking?
de Ferran: Brian Barnhart is such a smart guy. He knows what's going on. I think the way he conducts his races is very, very professional. It's amazing, he make the calls. I have to say, that every time we went green, the track was 100 percent. The problem is, I told Brian on the radio, I said, 'Look, Brian, the problem is, I cannot afford to be conservative and check the track out as we are going green. I've got to restart the race and go flat to Turn 1; otherwise I'm going to be overtaken.' It's a matter of trust. I trust his judgment, and he was spot-on every time.
Q Was that the first time he called you on the radio?
de Ferran: No. That was actually the first time it happened, was in Nazareth. I thought I was getting a call from God. (Laughs). I think it's good. Certainly, he doesn't go in there for no purpose. My radio he's talking about green and the ability of the track to stay green-flag racing. I'm fine with him doing that.
Q Earlier in the race, when you were coming out of Turn 4, you were up high and then right up between the two cars in front of you.
de Ferran: I think for me, the biggest issue is not between the cars. For me the biggest issue was really running coming off 4, I think the reason that I decided to go high on Billy was I saw him looking down low coming out of 4 on Robby McGehee and I thought, 'Well, he's going to look down low, I'm going to keep my movement and stay up high because my car was fast over there,' and then as soon as I turn to do that, I thought, 'Oh, no.' But I think Billy saw me and he kept the car down. He had to back off a little bit. So really, from there he was ... flipping the car was not his bigger issue. It was being pinned to the wall. I've got to apologize to Jon Herb. When I came to lap him, he gave me room and I stood in front of him and I suspect that ...(inaudible) ... I think that is the reason why he crashed. Sorry.
de Ferran: When you have a teammate of the caliber of Helio, certainly, driving for a team like Marlboro Penske, you can't expect Roger to hire a bad guy. He's going to hire as good a guy as he's going to be able to find. And when you run against guys like Helio, it's hard because he dominates. He's good. It's a real dogfight. You've got to really push to your limit to be able to run with him and eventually beat him. It's hard to simply walk away with every single race. As far as this season in the IRL and even last year on a couple of races we did, we run strong every time. Helio runs a little stronger than me in some races, and it's my first time in the races. And this year, we've been knocking on the door right from day one, and that's just racing. I have to say I wasn't really getting frustrated. Because I felt like I was competitive, not only with Helio but the other guys, competitive in dealing with the car during the race. Things were not really coming our way. You know, you can see what happened in Nazareth, Indianapolis, and Helio beat me on one of his great starts in Phoenix, a good race for him. That's the way racing is. When you race against top guys like that, you notice the small things make a difference.
Q Just talk about the competitive thing going on here with you and Sam being so competitive in many of the races.
de Ferran: Well, certainly, I have the utmost respect for Sam and his ability. You know, he's been as successful a competitor as we can find. I have to say, however, I don't focus on one person. Just the same way that I try not to focus solely on Helio, I try not to focus solely on Sam or anybody else. I think that gives me a little bit more of a balanced approach to the race weekend. But there's no doubt that he's been a tremendous competitor.
Q Other than Redon, were you surprised the Infinitis ran as bad as they did today?
de Ferran: You know, you never know. I mean, I think this is very much a handling track. Our car was handling very, very well. Certainly, these guys probably were not handling it all that well, but that's the reason why it ran so much better.
Moderator: Congratulations on your first Indy Racing League win.