Drivers: 1- Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 2 - Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Racing 3 - Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing 7 - Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
THE MODERATOR: We bring in race winner Takuma Sato. I've seen a lot of things in my career, you have, too. Six days ago you know what happened.
TAKUMA SATO: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Week has been a little difficult.
TAKUMA SATO: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: I saw you go to last place in this race, but somehow here you are. Congratulations.
TAKUMA SATO: Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Not the preferred path but we'll take it.
TAKUMA SATO: Yes, absolutely. First of all, I'd like to say thank you very much to all of you in this room. You saw what happened last week. Just a lot of opinion, for sure, I take it.
Mostly you guys supported me. I can't thank enough all. As pure journalism, find the fact, find out what was it. Don't just judge one fact.
Obviously, after that was significant support. All of you come here. The fans come in here, this distance, hold on. Everyone was support. Like I said on the podium with Mike, when we go along the drivers parade, I think generally speaking St. Louis we have so much enthusiastic fans. We've seen it last few seasons.
This year the cheering, screaming my name so much. I just can't find the word to thank you to all the support. Was special, particularly like you said, after the difficult circumstances, come here, strong qualify, which I really proud of the team. A difficult start. I was sandwiched, then go backwards. Was difficult to get away the first stint.
Head down, do our job, believe in ourselves, take the moment for the chance to come back. We came back. We made a lot of good pace over the next two stint and stretch the fuel what we needed.
Yeah, yellow came in. Of course, some lucks maybe be happen. I think this is the whole effort of the team completely behind me, support. So happy to bring the car to the win for them. I'm very, very happy.
THE MODERATOR: The last restart you had Tony Kanaan behind you. I'm not sure which driver was more determined.
TAKUMA SATO: Yeah, absolutely. Being an A.J. Foyt driver, very, very privileged to beat them. I like 14 car, T.K. a lot. I think everyone know he one of the toughest competitor. I have to make sure don't give any space or showing any mistake.
The last restart, perhaps it was really slow but consistent speed obviously. I had to take all the advantage just to control the pack. After that we just drive away beautifully, I would say. Excitement for the race, tire degradation. Tony and I had similar difficulty for the last 20 laps where Ed seems to be hooking up very, very good speed.
I'm sure that the night of the show made very exciting for us. It was tough for the last five laps. Especially for the team and sponsor waited with very, very tough circumstance. I just wanted to bring the car home, which we did. Very, very happy.
THE MODERATOR: Aside from the Indianapolis 500, the most gratifying win of your career?
Redemption for Sato
TAKUMA SATO: Yes. I'm sure. Win pole for Barber very significant. Just the domination of the weekend is always great credit for the team, and satisfaction. But this win is so special, like you said, beside Indy 500, obviously nothing like it. This is just so emotionally. Gave me unbelievable boost.
For sure some of the difficulty now we can have a little bit consistent with it. Next two races going to be exciting one. For sure the championship going to be very exciting. Hopefully I can climb a few positions up towards the end of the season.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Can you give some information about the car at Pocono? Was it a repairable car or brand-new car for this race after Pocono? TAKUMA SATO: Yeah, car is repairable. There's obviously some damage. The car we use at Pocono and this weekend is different car. Everything is fine. I think that car is going to repair, put in for next year's windscreen, halo, driver protection system. Everything should be ready.
Q. During the coverage of the race, the camera showed some tires blistering. How much was the tire wear for you? TAKUMA SATO: Like I said, I think first of all the most importantly the Firestone is always bring the tire for the safety number one. We never seen anything concerning for the tires in terms of the safety, which is a great tire.
Of course, they try to be best all the time. They brought the new softer compound on the left-hand side. Of course, under the circumstances, unfortunately they grained them. That's only just a performance issue. Make race very, very excited.
Some of the team get on really well, some couldn't. It was very narrow sweet spot, for sure. Not easy tire for everyone. I had some difficulty, too. End of the day, I think finish again, that makes IndyCar very attractive. Thank you for Firestone.
Q. That was a blast from the past podium up there. Two of the oldest drivers in the series and a 38-year-old Ed Carpenter, who looks 48. TAKUMA SATO: Three of us added I think is 150 years old for sure (laughter).
Q. Just to show the old guys can still gas it around here. TAKUMA SATO: I think that's the beauty of this sport, with motor racing. If you're talking only in physical terms, might not be able to do that. With the combination of experience and the team behind it, the race craft, all the things, I think age is sometimes something, but it is not everything.
I think we can still perform like this. Today was a great day for three of us. Three of us is very happy.
Q. You said something about cars being retrofitted for the new driver protection system. Have you been able to sit in a car where the driver protection system was in? TAKUMA SATO: No, I haven't. My teammate Graham went and sat. He tried a lot of executions, all things. It's a very positive feeling, very positive. Obviously once again, safety is the first thing has to come. We all very excited with the new thing.
Now, of course, all over the world the halo is a standard. In IndyCar, it's going to take beyond of that. We have a windscreen system which I don't know yet how it's going to work out.
There's a few concerns, the wet situations, and when are a car got upside down, how we going to do that. If driver unconscious, how we going to get it out. I'm sure the safety team will do a lot of exercise. Firstly they protect everything from debris.
I think it's fantastic news. We all excited about it. Hopefully we can do a great test and there is no problem blending into the new season. That's what we hope.
Q. Are these restarts as crazy from the cockpit as they appeared to us? TAKUMA SATO: Yes (laughter).
Q. Earlier in the race wasn't there a real close battle where you on one side, Hunter-Reay, Rossi was close? Were you aware are of that? Were you sitting there saying, I've seen this movie before? TAKUMA SATO: Yeah, there's such an exciting long night. I think the conditions give us a different taste. From first stint to the last stint, you can see the pace is different. The guys who shining is different. Strategy worked out whatever you call it.
But my car balance was not necessarily great on the first two stint. But we build it better and better all the time. In the end I got a great tool. Thank you to the teammate for making this happen.
Yeah, also, Ryan, we get close racing again today. One stage he looked like a little bit struggling. At that time I was very strong pace. So, yeah, I think it was just generally speaking a good race.
Q. Earlier Josef said your comeback this week is professional sports, sometimes you're a hero, then you're a zero, then a hero again. Your team backed you, put out a statement. You backed them. How gratifying is that? TAKUMA SATO: It is just unbelievable support from the team. I'm so happy. So proud to be a part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Why they did that? Some people say they never seen team do that kind of statement.
Last week, it was very difficult to judge. A lot of people judged from only TV one angle. It looked like I turn into Alex, which wasn't true. Nobody wasn't sure. They just only one little fact.
After that, the team got logging system, onboard footage, that shows very clear evidence I wasn't move. I hold my line, I drove straight. That not necessarily doing right because end the day we had accident, whatever the reason.
As I said, I feel sorry for that. I apology for the situation, especially Alex involving for the championship possibility. However, there was a seam, actually very clear that other drivers moved up. As a consequence we had an accident.
I think we can all learn from that. We try to give each other more space. Once you're side-by-side or three-wide, you can't just depart your lane, that's the bottom line. Of course, I could have probably give more space moving to the right. Perhaps that I should have done.
But I start racing, I thought I was correct going to the straight. That's what happened. Which just later a lot of people analyzed from Alex onboard and Hunter-Reay's onboard, my onboard, and there was very clear evidence that people can see what happened.
After that I don't need to say anything. Eventually it will come back very strong here with the support of the team. The team needed that statement be done because so much information wrongly in the world. That's why they backed up.
I really appreciate it. Really call home for the Rahal team. Especially Mike and Bobby. Bobby came to my town, we had a great lunch together, just two nights ago. Team is fully behind. Don't worry about Taku. Just get focused and (indiscernible).
I appreciate Mike, Bobby and David as well. The whole team.
Q. Did you think Ed might have passed you there at the end? It was closer than maybe we expected at the finish line. TAKUMA SATO: Ed?
Q. Yes. TAKUMA SATO: It was close. It was close, yes. For me everything was under control. If he passed me, that's it, that's racing. He had a great moment. That's fine. But if I finish cross the line ahead of him, that's another form of racing, which I love it. I love this sport.
Thank you again for your support and thank you for IndyCar fan made this very exciting moment. I love this.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Tony Kanaan from A.J. Foyt Racing. Good to see you.
Kanaan shaves ugly beard, looks 10 years younger, gets first podium in 4 year
TONY KANAAN: Good to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Strong run for the 14 car. Has to be gratifying. Your first podium finish in two years.
TONY KANAAN: That's a long time.
I told the boys on the cool-down lap, I probably remember where I had to stop my car.
Yeah, great result for us, great weekend. Overcoming a lot of adversities throughout the year. We've been hearing a lot of things, good things and bad things, some support, some people thinking we shouldn't be doing this.
This is a great night for us. It paid off. When I joined A.J. Foyt Racing, it was to make this team better. We've been struggling quite a bit. This is a great night for us.
The boys did a great job. Now it proves it's making us stronger, definitely. A result like this, it's a huge boost for everybody. So happy.
THE MODERATOR: I would think that last restart you had a pretty good sniff at the lead, pretty excited.
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, (Takuma) Sato got a run on me on the restart. I think when he took off, obviously he was behind, people know how I restart, he got a little bit of an edge. After that I had to measure and decide what I wanted to do. Do I need to attack? Did I have anything to attack? If I was going to keep it in the podium, which is a great result for us...
Once he took off and opened a little bit of a lead, I said, I'm going to sit here and see what happens. I was waiting for him to hit traffic. Unfortunately when we all hit traffic, we all got in trouble. I got a little bit loose. Ed got me. It was one of those things.
I think we were strong. We had a great strategy. The Chevy and the fuel mileage we had, very, very good fuel mileage that actually got us to the point that we got lucky with that yellow.
Once we had the track position, the car was fast and we were able to perform.
THE MODERATOR: I take it that was fun?
TONY KANAAN: It's always fun when you finish on the podium. It was a great race. First 50 laps I think it was a little boring. After that it got extremely exciting. Yeah, I had a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony.
Q. After qualifying yesterday you were quoted to say you're struggling with oversteer. How was the car in the race? TONY KANAAN: Qualifying yesterday was kind of weird. We had a bunch of oil dry on the track. The way we qualify nowadays is by championship points. I was the fourth car out.
We got loose. The car wasn't very good. It was very frustrating. In the night session, the car was pretty decent. I was pretty happy. But I knew that track position was going to be everything.
I had a pretty good start, passed six cars on the start. Put ourselves in the top 13. I said, All right, let's start racing from now on. Obviously we got a break. Once we got to the front, we were pretty strong.
Q. Maybe I'm wrong, I have the impression your cars came late concerning speed, lap 175 or 180. Were you struggling before? TONY KANAAN: We race when it counts. Why do you want to waste your breath when it doesn't count anything? 20 laps to go, we go.
Q. Tony, there's been a lot of changes with Scott Harner come in to help Larry (Foyt) run the organization. Is this the first sign of a lot of that work coming together for the team? TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I think Scott came in late, late February or March. Things are happening. They take time. We do have a great organization.
All credit to Larry. It's nothing that we haven't asked Larry to do that he hasn't done for us. It's on us. It's on me. It's on my engineer. It's on Harner. It's on the entire team.
ABC provided us every single tool with the sponsorship for us to perform and we haven't done it. Slowly we turn it around. We brought Don Halliday back, which is a guy my first year here in America, '96, he was engineering myself at Tasman. He came in to do some damage control. It's been great.
Yes, it was a good result. Obviously let's not get ahead of the game. We still have two races to go, still have a lot of work to do. I'll take it, enjoy it tonight and go back to work tomorrow.
Q. What year was that with Tasman? TONY KANAAN: '96.
Q. How old were you? TONY KANAAN: I'm 32 (laughter). You want to see my Brazilian passport?
THE MODERATOR: We'll bring in Ed and Josef.
Close 2nd for Ed Carpenter
Ed, looks like the oval finishes we've seen from you so many times. I would expect your last oval race of the season was pretty enjoyable there at the end.
ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I mean, it could have been a little better if we had a little bit longer straightaway or another lap. But it was nice to finish on a high note, especially after the day we had yesterday.
We were really bad yesterday. I really wasn't comfortable. Having a hard time figuring out how to get the car to work. The guys did a really good job keeping their head down and staying focused, dealing with my whining all day yesterday and overnight. They delivered today.
Really feel like we had a good car the whole race. They asked me pretty early on what I needed. I was just like, We really need track position. I think we have good pace to run with anybody. Fortunately we caught a couple breaks with the yellows, put us in a good position. We were able to almost close it out.
THE MODERATOR: You cleared Tony with two laps to go. Did you really think you had a shot or give it the best you got?
ED CARPENTER: I had every intention of driving for the win. It's a difficult place to pass. We were really good on long runs. They were coming back to us. I do think another lap or even another corner we probably could have had them. There wasn't enough time. That's the race. Happy with second.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ed.
Q. As a team owner, had to go to fifth place today to get to a Penske, Ganassi or Andretti. What does that tell you about your team's performance and the series? ED CARPENTER: Well, first off, the series is unbelievably competitive. The Penske guys have won every oval race up to this point. It's just because of the quality of drivers they have and they're a quality organization. It could have easily not been that streak up to this point.
You just have to miss it. Like earlier I said we were terrible yesterday. It wasn't like we were that far off. We were just enough off that it makes you feel terrible in this series because the competition level is so high.
I think that's what you saw tonight. You have a caution at the right time that mixes the field up. It can totally reset things at any given moment.
It's rewarding to be up front. It's nice to finish my year off on a good note. Nice to be racing up front with this guy. Been a while. I'll enjoy it. Wait till May to try to go fight for another win.
Q. How much does this help you going into the off-season, sponsorship hunts? Good momentum builder? ED CARPENTER: It helps my psyche I think more than anything. (Wife) Heather can tell you I wasn't very happy last night. Certainly tonight will be a lot better. The hardest part now is just waiting to go again.
We've got a resilient bunch. Like I said earlier, proud of the effort, proud of them sticking with me and delivering when it counted.
Q. How much longer do you think you would have had to go before you would have been able to catch Takuma? ED CARPENTER: I think if we would have gone to Turn 1, I would have gotten by, to be honest.
Q. You have an Ed Carpenter Racing alumni member next to you. He's battling for a championship. To see the progression he's made, the fact you're still up there winning races, competing for race wins, what does that say for everything you've put together? ED CARPENTER: I think we're up getting ready for the podium, Tony made a really mean comment, said, We're all 40 years old up there.
Hey, I'm 38. Like I'm a legit 38. I don't really know how old you are. I don't know how old Takuma is. Everybody lies about their age. I am a legit, honest to God, 38 years old. March 1981.
Working with Spencer (Pigot) and Ed (Jones), these children that were starting racing when I was already in Indy cars, it keeps me young, even though I'm going gray, losing my hair and everything else. It keeps me young. I love racing with these guys. Josef and I are still very close and good friends from our time together.
It's just fun to be in the mix with them again.
THE MODERATOR: Ed, we appreciate the show you put on. Shows you can still do it.
ED CARPENTER: That's good to know. Good to know.
THE MODERATOR: We bring in Josef Newgarden. Josef, perspective-wise you gained on your championship tonight. More points ahead of your nearest competitor, and your nearest competitor now is a teammate. Big picture-wise, a good end to the race and to the day, but maybe not what you hoped for 20 minutes before the checkered flag.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I'm really proud of our group. I thought they did a great job tonight. We had actually missed a bit on the long run. I would say our setup didn't favor the tires for the long run, which we didn't forecast perfectly. I don't put that on anyone. Sometimes you didn't gather enough data. I really thought we were in the right window last night. We learned tonight we weren't for the longevity of tire life.
Even with that, the team did a typical fantastic job of great calls, good pit stops, and just put us in a position to keep fighting and scoring great points. That's what they've done all year.
I've been really lucky to have a unit behind me that I think is the best on pit lane. I got that advantage in my pocket, I got the best of the best around me. Showed it tonight.
They put me in a good position and we came out of here with some respectable points. Could have been worse. It is what it is at this point. It's not too bad. We've got something to fight with now I think for the last two rounds.
THE MODERATOR: With all due respect to the other races we've seen this season, these restarts were some of the most exciting of the season. Talk about it from your perspective.
Newgarden has championship all locked up
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It's hair raising just because there's not a lot of blame usage here. If you take a lot of risk, you can try and come up a lane and a half for a couple laps there. It's risky. This track just breeds risk because of the way the marbles accumulate, the way the lanes are used.
It's not a place like Iowa where you have a clear two- or three-lane track, it's consistently that way. It's just not that way here. I think that brought a lot of excitement, what your referencing. Made it difficult.
People were sliding all over the place. The track got really slick. Moved people around a lot on the those restarts. I hope fans like that. It was difficult inside the racecar but maybe more exciting to watch.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Do you feel like you're playing with house money as it heads into the final two races with your championship? JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I mean, I don't think we can feel too confident or secure where we're at. I really don't. I think we're in a good spot, without a doubt. It would be silly to not recognize it's a good position.
It's not something that you can just sit back and rest on. It's going to be tough the last two rounds. I wish we could have gotten a little bit more here the last three races. For sure Mid-Ohio, you look at that and say it was what it was. If I would have done a better job, that would have helped. Pocono could have been a little better. Here definitely could have been a little better.
We've not had a smooth last three races. We've got to clean that up now for the final two. I think we're in a good position, but we can't do anything different than what we've been doing all year. We have to keep sort of attacking with some caution I think.
Q. Now that second place is Simon, you know the quality of equipment he's got because you have the same type of equipment. How much does that play on your mind, to know how tough Simon is going to be in the final two races? JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't know if it helps or hurts. I know what he's doing all the time, and vice versa. We're a unit that works together, him, Power and myself. Yeah, it's a dynamic I know very well. I got to think that's going to be a positive.
They're all going to be tough. Simon is always difficult. He's a very strong driver. When you look at the whole picture, Rossi is still a fantastic driver that's tough to beat. Same thing with Dixon. I don't think it's anywhere from over.
Portland could flip this thing on its lid with a hundred points at Laguna. It's going to be down to the wire. Here not anywhere from a blowout here. Just got to keep your finger on the pulse.
Q. Take us through the final lap, what happened between you and Santino. JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I already gave two cents on NBC. I'll be disappointed if people think I'm a whiner after giving my assessment. Rarely do I ever try and put someone in their place when I think they need to be put in their place. I think Santino needed to learn a lesson.
This is no disrespect to fans or anyone. Most people will not understand what he did wrong in that final corner. They've never driven an IndyCar. They don't know the subtleties of it. I think what he did was very risky. He needs to learn from that. I told him that. It's really a racer's thing.
Hopefully he gets that. I think when you go to bigger ovals, it's even a bigger potential problem. Yeah, like I said, I gave an assessment on NBC. That's how I felt about it.
Q. When you got going again, down the front straightaway, did you know all those cars were not for position? Wound up being not as bad. JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I was happy I wasn't in the fence, to be honest with you. I was surprised I wasn't in the fence. The engine was still going. I wasn't in the wall. I was trying to get it out of any stall. Thank goodness, I'm kind of straight. I can't believe we're still going here. I couldn't believe it. I thought we were going to be in the fence.
Yeah, I had no idea about the other cars. I was trying to stay out of people's ways, which is what you need to do, keep my car straight and consistent, just get across the line.
I felt fortunate the engine was still fired. Didn't turn into a bigger disaster. I still don't know how it didn't. But fortunately it didn't.
Q. I know you don't pay much attention to anyone else other than your own car, team. Takuma has been a punching bag the last week since Pocono. For a guy to come out and win the very next race, what does that say about the guy? Pretty impressive to bounce back like that. JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Literally the definition of professional sports: hero maybe one minute, zero the next, hero again. That's just how it goes. Everyone thought Takuma was the worst thing on the planet of earth leaving Pocono. Now it was like it wasn't his fault. Now he's probably a hero again. Next week he could be a loser one more time. No one knows.
You live day by day in this sport. It's every day you're judged. A great day for him obviously. All these teams put in a lot of work. I'm sure it's very gratifying for those guys. Really everyone in front of us did a great job. Santino had a great race. All these guys did a pretty nice job. I'm sure for Sato and his crew, they're going to be pretty happy about it.
I wish it was us. It's hard not to feel happy for everybody because there's a lot of work that goes into this paddock from all the teams.
THE MODERATOR: We'll see you in about five or six days.
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