Mid-Ohio IndyCar Saturday Press Conference
1. (12) Will Power, (123.825)
2. (10) Dario Franchitti, (123.360)
3. (77) Simon Pagenaud, (123.343)
4. (98) Alex Tagliani, (123.155)
5. (9) Scott Dixon, (122.983)
6. (2) Ryan Briscoe, (122.791)
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's post qualifying press conference for tomorrow's Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio.
We are pleased to be joined by several of our Firestone Fast Six qualifiers starting with Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing who will start second. He started on the pole here in 1998 and 1988; he also started second here in 2010.
And also joined by Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Hamilton Motorsport, who will start third. This is Simon's best qualifying result of the season and his previous best was fourth which he did at both Long Beach and Belle Isle.
And Alex Tagliani of Bryan Herta Autosport who qualified for fourth and will have a ten grid spot penalty unfortunately due to an unapproved engine change. Alex has qualified in the Firestone Fast Six in every race since Belle Isle this year.
And also we are joined by Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing who will start fifth, Scott started in the Top 6 at Mid Ohio in every race since 2007.
And also Brian Briscoe he who started on the pole in 2009 and qualified second in 2008.
Ryan, just walk us through today's qualifying.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, proud of the team. Did a really good job working on the car from practice into qualifying, adjusting to the track. It's really rubbering in, and gets faster and faster; so you just have to keep up with it, and the times were so close. It was a good effort. We just missed out a little bit in the Fast Six as the tires went off, but pretty good.
You know, tomorrow we'll try to move forward from there and look at what the weather is going to do.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, for you, obviously you always excel here and another strong qualifying result here at Mid Ohio.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was okay. We would have hoped for a little bit better, going into Q2 it was extremely close, we were almost within a tenth as Ryan touched on.
Q3, I burnt the tires off too much the front in Q2 and once I went out there, the tires just started to get worse and worse and worse so it was really hard to get time out of the car. I think the balance is pretty good and I think it will be good for the race.
I think we can still win. We are starting fourth position because of Tagliani's ten spot. Looking forward to tomorrow and could be kind of crazy with the weather.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, another strong effort; if you can, walk us through today's qualifying.
ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah, definitely, thanks to Honda, fourth Firestone Fast Six in a row, so we get used to it and I love. It makes me forget about the first four races, I tell you this.
Yeah, the team is doing a fantastic job, nothing to say, chemistry is great. Enjoying driving the car. We are pretty close on the setup every time that we go out.
And qualifying, you know, Q1, Q2 is pretty good. I think we ended up second in those two and in Q3 we didn't run enough laps I think. We thought we could reproduce what we did in Q1 and Q2 but running very little laps and saving tires, but the track was picking up a lot of grip. We just ran out of time so we had to come into the pits and just fuel the car for three laps and that was not enough.
So, we learned, but very happy with the performance of the car, and hopefully with the crazy push to pass on the long straightaway, we'll be able to make some ground on 14 tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, congratulations on another front row start. How important is track position going into tomorrow?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think that depends on if it rains or not. If it stays dry, obviously track position is very important here. The push to pass with the delay is going to really make things interesting I think, wet or dry.
So, yeah, that will be interesting, but track position is definitely always important. It's nice to get another front row. I think that's our sixth in a row, front row start. Nice to convert it into a decent result tomorrow. We've struggled with that bit recently.
Qualifying was a lot of fun. I really got everything out of the car there in the Fast Six. I thought it was a good lap and saw Will's, and that wasn't in our car today. There was a lot of grip from the Firestone Reds, and we actually went quicker in the Fast Six there, so I was happy with that.
But the amount of grip we've got, it's good fun. It's hard work. I'm glad to see everybody sweating here and it's not just me. For a minute there, I thought it was just I was the only one.
THE MODERATOR: Simon, for you, obviously very different scenario than last year where you made a last minute trip here to fill in for Justin Wilson, and this year, proper time behind the wheel all weekend put you for third on the grid. If you can, talk about your qualifying effort.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Congrats to Will for another qualifying position; the guy is hard to catch, so it's actually a lot of fun.
I want to thank the team, just amazing, all weekend long. We have made major changes in our philosophy after the test here last week, and I'm glad to see its working on the Reds, because that's our weakness since the beginning of the season.
We were really solid today and I'm really, really happy with the car and tomorrow should be an exciting day. Hopefully the weather stays nice, so if it rains, then rain hard.
THE MODERATOR: We have also been joined by Will Power, pole sitter of Team Penske. This is the third pole of the season for will and he also won the pole at St. Petersburg and Brazil and started from the pole position here at Mid Ohio in 2010. This is Will's 27th IndyCar career pole, which ties you with Al Unser, Senior with the all time post list at ninth.
Talk about that last lap of round three there that put you in the top position.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think our car was really good on used tires. I was surprised it had more grip than new tires.
Yeah, a lot of energy in that lap. It's so bloody quick around here. Man, I got out of the car, I felt dizzy. Probably held my breath through a lot of the lap.
Yeah, it was good. I thought I was determined to get a pole because I know track position is really important around here, and I know the weather can play a part in having a mixed up race tomorrow. We just need to be good in every situation and keep chipping away at the points lead that Hunter Reay's got.
Q. Will, what
WILL POWER: It was good. I mean, I was lacking sectors, and fortunately I had Ryan's data to look at in between sessions, so I closed the gap on that sector, and then my car was good on used tires. I think I was surprised that the grip was actually more. And, yeah, just a good a lot of energy into the lap and I'm sure everyone else is doing the same. But, yeah, I think I've got every single sector right, and that's just what gave us the lap time.
Q. When you test do you test tires for a little more grip.
SIMON PAGENAUD: You know, I think obviously the Reds gives us more grip, which then they have a tendency to drop off more than the Blacks, which makes for good racing. That's the whole purpose, I believe.
But also, on restarts, it's always nice to have the Reds on, because they get up to temperature quicker.
But our problem with our car was we left a lot of front grip when it was releasing the brake just after the mid corner, so I couldn't get back on the power. And on Blacks, I didn't have the issue, but on the Reds, the rear is often stronger in balance, so that reduces a little bit of understeer and every time I put the Reds on, we struggled. So now I think we shift and we took another train, and that's good news, because I was getting frustrated a little bit.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, it's going to take away obviously the ability of the leading car to use it in a defensive way. You're going to have to plan, you know, if you think the guy is close enough, you're going to have to plan it going into turn two or whatever.
It negates it, doesn't it, if you're both on the push to pass. I think it was going to help pass him. It's one of those things; we'll be pissed off if we are the only ones getting passed, and we'll be happy if we're the ones doing the passing. Usual stuff.
Q. How do you think the rain could play out?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, we started the race in '08 in the wet, and it's a tough track, definitely. You know, there's a lot of rubber out there right now and it's easy to make mistakes, definitely.
So I still think track position helps, even in the wet, for sure. But certainly around this place, you want to be concentrating pretty hard to keep it on the road.
Q. Scott, can you add to that?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I don't know, Dario ran I think in the wet in practice and he made it to turn four turn four. I think this track's really, really slippery on the wet. But, yeah, my only other experience was starting in '08, and I think the first ten laps everybody started in the wet and then we switched to dry. I have a feeling there would be a lot of yellows if we raced in the wet.
Q. Will, tell us your thoughts starting out front
WILL POWER: You know, I think you know when someone is close enough to use it, and obviously you have restarts, so be smart with it there.
But yeah, definitely makes it harder to defend I would say, which is good, because it promotes passing, but if you're a leader, it's bad. So probably more incentive to pull a gap early in the race or on the first lap to prevent that.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I think the push to pass, I think last year it was about five horsepower with the normal aspirated engines, and now it's multiples. I don't know the exact figure but it's a lot bitter than that. In the longer term, it would be nice to see the track modified.
The guys, the owners here have talked about a couple of corners here and changing that long turn, one of which would be turn four which would be a shame because it's such a great corner but it doesn't promote passing with the shape of it. It's such a fast entry there. They could just make it, I would say a tighter corner with a wider entry almost, right now, you're turning so early and quickly, it makes it very difficult.
So they have definitely talked about that. The owners have got ideas and they have talked to some of the drivers. And as time goes on, they will start implementing those things. I think you're going to see with tomorrow with that push to pass, it's going to be better.
It's a shame we are talking about modifying it to help passing, but it's such a fun track just to drive. I mean, it's so physical and such a quick track. So you want to modify to make it race good, but not too much to lose the great character that it's got.
Q. Can any of you describe how the race will be different tomorrow if it rains
ALEX TAGLIANI: They are going to be wet watching it, for sure. Well, I think, you know, what everybody feels, it's so slippery out there, it promotes for more yellow, and more yellow means more restarts. So that's how the races could end up being played if there's wet.
So, we are hoping that, you know, if it's wet, it's going to dry out at some point. I think with this car and with the push to pass, we can have a really nice race for the fans out there.
Q. Will, you've been fighting a sickness this weekend. Are you ill? Are you concerned about it?
WILL POWER: No, I don't feel as bad as Helio, but he's the one that passed it on deliberately. If he's got to suffer, he likes everyone else to. (Laughter).
Q. Sonoma is a fairly unique road course Elkhart Lake with the elevation changes is this about the most traditional road course that you guys go to?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's got everything. It's got the fast corners, like turn one, turn 11, some slow stuff, a lot of technique and rhythm areas, too, a lot of undulation.
It's just a I think Will said it yesterday or something, it reminds him of one of the tracks in the U.K., like Oulton Park or somewhere. It's a lot warmer than it is at Oulton Park, but definitely one of the old school ones. I think we all enjoy driving here.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think it is. I think we could have a lot better well, not a lot better, but a lot of other great tracks out there as well, with Road America, Watkins Glen was always fantastic for racing, as well, places that are a little bit bigger. This track probably feels about the right size for Formula 2000 or smaller car. It's quite little for our stuff as far as width and things like, that, and general speed and the elevation and the flow of corners, it's pretty cool.
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