Suntrust Indy Challenge Winner's Press Conference Transcript Saturday, June 28, 2003, Richmond International Raceway Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi MODERATOR: We have the winner of the SunTrust Indy Challenge tonight, Scott Dixon, and team owner,...
Suntrust Indy Challenge
Winner's Press Conference Transcript
Saturday, June 28, 2003, Richmond International Raceway
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi
MODERATOR: We have the winner of the SunTrust Indy Challenge tonight, Scott Dixon, and team owner, Chip Ganassi. Just a couple of facts that you might already know. Scott, of course, is the first three-time winner this year on the series. He won the opener at Homestead-Miami. He won at Pikes Peak the last race, and he wins here today after sitting on the pole. And I am told that this is a fact you might not know - he has led the last 295 laps in competition this year, so Scott, congratulations on the win.
Yeah, thank you very much. Basically just want to thank everybody here in Richmond. They've done an awesome job and great race. Pity that it was shortened by the rain, but Team Target did a great job; we had the fastest car all weekend. We didn't even have to work on it that much. So great credit to the engineering side; also to the guys in the pits. Every time -- we nearly got beat by Gil there in the first one, but we just got out, so, car was great and just really want to thank the team.
CHIP GANASSI: Obviously this has been a great result, my best result here at Richmond obviously been here six or eight times now, this is obviously our best result and very happy, and very happy we got our IRL program - you know we were here last year and, you know, it's nice to come back with the full effort this year with the team and with, you know, with all guns in place, and you know, even when you have all the guns, you still need a gun behind the wheel, and that's what we got this guy here for.
MODERATOR: He has been shooting a lot more than blanks lately, that's for sure. We'll open it up to questions.
Q: Question is you were fast right off the track, fast through every session, you qualified for the pole, you win the race. Have you ever adapted that quickly at any track?
DIXON: I think generally that's where my strong point is, adapting to circuits fast. I think the big thing is the team has supplied great cars. That's what made Tomas and my job easier everywhere we have gone. We might have been off a little at some places, but the majority of the time we have a fast car.
Q: This track is known as the action track, most of the traffic, how did you find it out there tonight?
DIXON: It was pretty good. There wasn't cars going two- or three-wide, which helps out a lot, and basically you just got to focus on trying to pass the one guy that's in front of you; then move on after that. We had a good very good car off Turn 4; that's where get most of our passes going into (Turn) 1. So the traffic wasn't too bad. There was a bit of bottle-necking going on there occasionally but not anything - I didn't have a problem anywhere.
Q: Any close calls for you during the evening?
DIXON: No, not really. You know, I was pretty calm in the middle of the pack of the cars. There was a few close calls, I think maybe with knowing whether the guys were going to give me enough room, things like that, but apart from that, there was nothing.
Q: How much, if there was any communication between you and the pits about the clouds and the possibility of rain during the evening?
DIXON: We knew going into the race that there was a chance of rain, and basically what we wanted to do was make sure that we were leading, you know, sort of after the halfway mark and you know, lucky enough, I think it was a yellow at Lap 130, which is pretty much easy for us to get home from there on fuel and tires. That was pretty much the key from there.
Q: Did the change in the weather from yesterday to today, did you do much adjusting; anything major? You made changes on the car to accommodate the change in the weather?
DIXON: From yesterday to last night in qualifying in the warm-up we maybe took a little bit of front wing out the car just with the cold conditions, and that was basically what we did, nothing much at all.
Q: Talk about the pit stops, as dominant as your car was were the pit stops a key for you tonight?
DIXON: Pit stops are always a key, especially in this series. We always pit under the yellow, everybody is packed up, you know, the guys have done a great job. I thought the first one we might lose a little, I got into the box a little slow, and Gil was right there, but I think we had to take on less fuel, and that's what enabled to us get out a little bit quicker.
Q: Early in the race you moved up on, Foyt, looked like you were going to pass him; then you stayed behind him for a few laps. Was he going that fast or what was the situation there?
DIXON: I wasn't real sure on passing him, to be honest, but he seemed nearly fast, we didn't have a lot of pressure from behind so I just leaned back the fuel and saved fuel, and that's basically what we did there. He actually was quite fast and ended up passing a lot of cars. It didn't bother us too much.
Q: Seems like in this series there's always someone with a target - no pun intended - on their back, but it's the Penske cars or it's Sam, now you are the guy to beat. Does that put any extra pressure on you? Reaction to that?
MODERATOR: Interrupt by a phone call here. Team Target has turned the fastest leader lap in six of seven races this year. That's another little thing for you to put in the notes.
DIXON: I think it's good to have target, you know, you being the target, it is always nice to be a little ahead of the game. I think from my side of the team we have got a little bit of work to do on the mile-and-a-half oval, we have got a few of them coming up, that will be interesting. To always be ahead, I think, is a lot easier than chasing.
Q: Do you feel like people knew about you when you came into the series, or did you surprise them?
DIXON: I don't know. It's hard to say. People have different views with different teams and things like that. I think they knew that Tomas and myself coming with Team Target, we were going to be very strong.
MODERATOR: That's a good question for you. You are known as the guru of finding young very fast drivers. What is the secret for that?
GANASSI: I don't know, it's about -- I think everybody that had their nose into racing knew about Scott Dixon. I don't think there's any question there. I think he got robbed a few times last year with some wins, and so we knew there was some just around the corner here.
Q: Did you have any car left if Helio had continued to press you there? Did you use all the car tonight?
DIXON: I think we did. We were saving fuel most of the night, so Helio seemed pretty strong, but I think we would have been -- if he caught us, we would have been extremely hard to pass, and I think we would have gone away from him eventually.
Q: On the next to last restart when (inaudible) the restart was aborted it looked like the Team Penske was ganging up on you from behind and getting up high-side on the track to sort of use gravity to make a move on you. Were you aware of that?
DIXON: Yeah, I saw that in the mirrors. Obviously, they had a great start at that time. I definitely changed it up for the next one and got a jump. I knew what they were doing, but on the first one I was probably a little cautious on getting on the gas, but the second one I just went a lot earlier.
Q: Scott, there's still a lot of the season left, but do you think that you have kind of got Tony Kanaan's attention in the point race? He's got to feel the pressure that you are putting on him right now.
DIXON: I think, you know, they knew that we have -- Tomas and myself and the whole team have been fast everywhere. They have just -- I think they have had to wait for when we could put it together or you know, not -- get some consistency, so I think they knew that they were we were going to be there and eventually -- it's nice that we have got a couple in a row, and Tomas, you know, hopefully has a little bit of luck, and he can move up there, as well. I think they knew that we definitely had the speed and could win a lot of races.
Q: Scott, the best part of the package you are driving this year, is it the engine, handling, or it is a combination of both of those?
DIXON: The team owner. (Laughter) I don't know. It's definitely the combination. We have struggled a little, and maybe at start of year we didn't think the G Force was going to be the best, but engineering side and everyone at Target building the cars have done a great job, Toyota have been a big help to us, for sure.
Q: Are you going to be out of IRL next year of just in NASCAR?
GANASSI: I have been waiting to give this answer. Is everybody listening? That is complete bullsh*t. (Laughs). Anybody unclear about that?
MODERATOR: I think it is a pretty definitive answer.
GANASSI: They made us look a little bit like the Keystone Cops there at that pit stop. There was a piece of the nose broken inside the bulkhead there, if you will, so it was -- wasn't just a normal switch the nose. A little frantic there, yeah.
GANASSI: Like Scott said, there's always some question, you know, how much knowledge we had coming into the season about, you know, do we go the Dallara, do we go the G Force or do we go way outside and try something completely new. We had some experience with the G Force. We had some experience with the G Force people, and quite frankly, right now, I wouldn't say this to Don Panoz, but I am kind of glad nobody likes them. I mean, they can -- you know, I thought it was quite -- I thought it was quite a backhanded compliment to have Roger go out and buy three or four of them before Indianapolis, you know, I think that was the nicest compliment that you can get for a G Force, I think. And we think it's a competitive car. I think it's proven that way.
Q: How impressed are you Chip with his ability to adapt so quickly with the track?
GANASSI: That maybe new for you here in Richmond, but we had that -- we knew that last year at places we showed up we'd never been, and that's a real test -- I mean, that, to me, is a real blessing in a driver to be able to pick up circuits quickly. It just makes things so much easier on the rest of the team, and you know, this guy, you know, this guy has got a lot of wins in front of him, I can tell you.
Q: How much did it help having Mitch Davis and Jeff Ward being in the IRL last year to help you guys get off to a good start that you got off this season?
GANASSI: Well, it's -- any experience you have, any help you have is good, I mean, I think this year was quite a -- probably the biggest thing this year was it was new cars and new engines, you know, a change in the formula a little bit, it kind of leveled the playing field among all the competitors. It's just good to have -- we had good engineering and good people on the team to pick up on all that stuff.
GANASSI: It is a difficult thing. Jeff is a good guy and a great driver, and we just didn't -- you know, I mean, I think it's probably more -- I would just say probably the largest influence on that was just the, you know, all the outside things going on in the world, you know, in the economy and whatever, we have gone through a big -- I mean, I don't know if you realize it or not, but even in racing, this economy has affected racing, and hopefully most of the hard stuff is behind us now. It's taken a toll on racing the last couple of years, I mean, it was -- we wanted to try to hang on; we wanted to have three cars, but it just wasn't in the card, and we didn't, and we have, you know, we had some larger commitments out there, and we had to go with those, unfortunately. Jeff has a lot of talent, and I am sure he will be back here racing one day.
Q: Question is: The way things are going you are probably going to be invited to run in IROC next year, if IROC runs next year, but there's talk of having an IROC race here in Richmond. How would you feel running a stock car on this track?
DIXON: I don't know, I have never really driven one before. Chip said I could have a drive sometime. I might take him up on that. But I don't know, like it's -- I am not sure, you know, it would be a lot of fun, I am sure. (Inaudible).
Q: Would you come back with a third car if the economic conditions change, and would Jeff ward be considered?
GANASSI: Certainly he would be considered and, but we -- certainly we'd like to have three cars, sure.
MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much, and again, congratulations Chip and Scott, great run tonight.