T.E. McHale: Thanks to all of you for taking the time to join us this afternoon. If you will pardon the pun, please, there will be a decidedly "Christian" field to this afternoon's teleconference. We will welcome Newman/Haas Racing ...
T.E. McHale: Thanks to all of you for taking the time to join us this afternoon. If you will pardon the pun, please, there will be a decidedly "Christian" field to this afternoon's teleconference. We will welcome Newman/Haas Racing driver Christian Fittipaldi in a few minutes who will be joined first by Dayton Indy Lights Championship driver Kristian Kolby of Conquest Racing, who won the closest race in modern motorsports history Sunday when he finished a mere .001 of a second ahead of Damien Faulkner in the Kansas 100 at Kansas Speedway.
Good afternoon, Kristian. Congratulations and thanks for being with us today.
Kristian Kolby: Thanks a lot. Good to be here.
T.E. McHale: Kristian eclipses the previous closest finish mark of .002 of a second which was established by Terry Labonte over Joe Nemechek 1999 race at Talladega Speedway and equaled later in the 1999 season in a Dayton Indy Lights championship race at Michigan Speedway, where Philip Peter edged Casey Mears. His victory moved Kristian to fourth place in the Indy Lights Championship, heading into this weekend's second round of the championship in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Townsend Bell of Dorricott Racing leads the championship with 82 points, followed by Dorricott teammate Damien Faulkner, in who stands second with 71. Derek Higgins of Mexpro Racing stands third in the championship with 66 points.
Great race this weekend.
Kristian Kolby: It was awesome. A bit too close for me, but it was nice.
At least you came out on top. How is it that you all put on such a great show on an oval like that? Other people get spread out but somehow the Indy Lights, Michigan and Fontana always have great races. Is it just because you all are so close?
Kristian Kolby: I mean, we're pretty easily flat out on the first -- so it is a basic dropping game, something like NASCAR. We are cruising around just over 180, 185 average, so the top speeds are still pretty high. The drops are so significant in the car, and because it's an equal championship with all drivers in the same cars, you just are able to follow and it just turns into one big dropping game, and we were working one-wide and you start two-wide and I even went up and did three-wide so it was just really, really close and provides great racing. Same in Texas, just one big pack. If there was more cars, it would have been even better.
Are you having as much fun as it looks like you are having out there or does it get dicey at times?
Kristian Kolby: It's really dicey, but that's part of the fun, isn't it. If sometimes you don't suddenly find your heart in your throat or don't suddenly go, "uh-oh, that's close," then you're not racing hard enough. You need to have moments where is it is too close for comfort, but that's all part and parcel of racing. That's why I love it. The adrenaline rush is really, really good. To race that close, I touched with Damien across the line and I touched with Bell as well, a couple of laps when I overtook him. We were so, so close, and to be touching and banging wheels and literally being inches apart at that speed is an incredible feeling, it's just indescribable.
What are you looking forward to this weekend? Total change of type of track?
Kristian Kolby: Exactly. We are back to street circuits. Last we were on one of them was at Long Beach where we had a strong car in the race, and I finished in fifth place, but we should have been a lot closer because I had contact in the first corner; I was just hanging on, but really, we have a car that is good enough to be a Top 3 car, at least and possibly even a win, and that's definitely what we are going for. We have to be up there, and if we can close the gap in the championship any more, if we get a win here, we should be really good. I was leading in Portland the weekend before and made a mistake and unfortunately that cost me the victory there. But it's just nice to come straight back out and straight out win the race, so hopefully I can make it again.
What is it like to win a race that's that close? I mean, that's just not even enough time to take your breath in.
Kristian Kolby: Like I said it was just way too close for comfort, really. I was going round back there and thought I had it and then they started turn past me and going towards the finish line and I was like: Come on, come on, I'm full on the throttle, so I can't really do anything different. It was just awesome, to actually win it, I didn't actually know because on the radio it was all screaming -- did I get it, did I win, did I win. They were all jumping up and down for joy; so they could not hear me on the radio. They were a bit too busy looking after themselves, really. When I looked up on the big tower in the middle of the circuit, I saw that car 11 was on top; that's when I realized I had won the race and I just started screaming for joy and it was awesome.
Did you have to wait until you got to the pits to find out you had won, or did it get through to you on the track when you actually found out that you had won?
Kristian Kolby: I thought I had won, but I wasn't sure. I figured to myself, this would be really cruel if I don't win this . I sort of had a bit of sympathy worked up for myself going around on the slow down laps. I figured out, well, I must have won because it would be really out of order and a little bit cruel if I don't win this. So I was already feeling sorry for myself. But coming down the back stretch, I got into the pit lane and that's when I looked up in the tower and saw 11 was on top and I knew for sure that I had won it. Coming into the pit lane, everyone was jumping up and down for joy and that makes me extra sure because they wouldn't have done that if I finished second.
What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year and next year?
Kristian Kolby: At the moment I just have to concentrate on this season. We are still not fully funded for the whole season, so we are good for Toronto and a couple of races after that. I have some important sponsors coming up for the race in Toronto and hopefully that will be able to help me out. It is going to be a big event for me, and for me to come up, and to say, hey, I won the last race, obviously makes it that much easier for myself and management. So from that point of view, it's perfect. I'm trying to put a deal together where I'll be doing something involved with either IRL or CART. That's definitely what I'm looking to for the future. Obviously, I want to move on to the higher echelons of the sport. But as long as my season is just as good as last weekend, get a couple more wins under the belt, that should be a possibility and that's something that I hope to realize.
Comments I had out in Kansas that the premiere race of the day occurred after most of the fans left. Congratulations on that again.
Kristian Kolby: Thanks a lot. The fans were really hyped up about it at the end and we felt like we put on a good show, and like every time we race together, Texas and things, we always put on a really, really good show, the Indy Lights Championship, and hopefully it's something we can keep on doing for the rest of the season.
T.E. McHale: Kristian, thank you for taking the time to join us this afternoon. Best of luck in the remainder of the Dayton Indy Lights championship season.