Richmond: Post-race press conference
THE MODERATOR: Our fifth‑place finisher, Oriol Servia. Interesting night, what was your take?
ORIOL SERVIA: It was a really busy day. It's a difficult place and the car was great. Since we unloaded on Thursday, I told the guys, I said, "Listen, I think we have a Top‑5 car."
So I'm really pleased I was able to prove it and finish fifth. We started at tenth and really worked our way up, and every spot we gained, we really gained it through working hard. I passed many cars on the restarts and we passed cars on pit stops, so I think we all did our job and I'm extremely pleased.
Everybody expected us to do well on street and road courses, but I wanted to show that the team is really capable of doing a good job on ovals, so we kind of showed it in Milwaukee and we showed it again today.
Q. (No mic.)
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I don't know. I don't know what to say. We knew that the tires were really fast at the beginning and the pace would slow down for everybody. So it was a question to see who had the most consistent cars through the spin.
And Helio, obviously from where he was, he was extremely faster than anybody on his team but then he was quite slow, I think he was getting very loose later in the seam and then he would pass us early and then kind of slow down.
So it was all a question of how your car was through the seam, and unfortunately we didn't have a jacket through this race, so that handicapped how many things you can do on the car through the different fuel loads and tire life. But fortunately the car was very consistent and fast on the full spin.
Q. Was there an issue on restarts?
ORIOL SERVIA: It's just that we are all racers and once we know the pace, it's really hard to overtake anybody, until you get into traffic so restarts are your best bet. I made most of my moves on restarts on the outside and inside and everywhere, and everybody tries the same. On the restarts the tires are colder and when you take the biggest grips is when you have the hardest time on the lap time, so that's why it's very easy to lose it. That's why you're seeing all that action happening.
Q. How tough was it today to pass?
ORIOL SERVIA: My car was good on highs and lows, but tough on restarts or when the guy was ahead of me. When I was losing the downforce, I couldn't get closer. And like now at the end when Danica was faster than me and I was catching lap cars, I just couldn't pass the lap cars, and then she had many chances to overtake me. Fortunately I was able to keep her behind, and she was difficult.
Q. Helio, pretty interesting night out there. Give us your take out there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Wow. That's the only thing I have to say: What a race, what a team. These guys are awesome. We were able to do everything we could out there to find some grooves out there that did not exist and all of a sudden making the car stick out there.
So it was a lot, a lot, a lot of fun. I wanted to win this race so bad for the Philip Morris folks, and also this is one of my favorite tracks.
Well, I guess I had a lot of opportunity to pass a lot of cars. My car was really good on new tires, but unfortunately about 15, 20 laps after, it was really, really difficult to keep consistent, the car was really loose, and sliding, a lot of things were happening at the same time. Andretti Green was very consistent through the whole entire run, and that's what made them win the race, and us finish second.
Q. Did you think you would be up on the podium this evening when the race started?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's what we were working on. I was trusting my team for sure that we would be able to do something on pit stops. I didn't know I was able to do what I did on the racetrack, passing a lot of guys out there. So it was a combination of both.
We did not have the fastest car out there, but we didn't have a terrible car. We really took a chance on qualifying and we didn't have any practice, and certainly the qualifying proved it was not a good setup. So we were kind of trying to close our eyes and point fingers, okay, what are we going to do here, in a good way, obviously. Rick is an incredible guy and whenever we take chances like that, he's always going in the right direction. I was very pleased. I wasn't the fastest, but second is definitely pretty darned good.
Q. It seems that you are aiming now at the championship and you're getting out of it without putting yourself out.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm squeezing every little second out there of the car; today it was definitely proof out there, I was really trying hard. Sometimes trying a little too hard when we went three‑wide. I thought with the car we would be able to stay there and all of a sudden, I put two of the cars in a very risky move and thank God, I ended up losing position and nothing worse than that happened.
But hey, when you have adrenaline going, you're pumped, and I was very pumped, you want to keep going. Hey, you know, a little short, but second is still good.
Q. Five of the next seven races are rode or street races. How do you feel about that and how do you think it will affect the championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it will be great. I know Scott is an incredible road racer, as well. I know Briscoe is very good, too.
So, hey, we are ready to go next week, Watkins Glen, it's a place that I really enjoy very much. I want to redeem myself from last year, and we know that we have more competitors. We know with Champ Car we are going to have a lot of guys doing good on road courses that was proved in St. Petersburg. It's good for the championship to mix it up a little bit, and, hey, it will be a lot of fun.
Q. Some drivers complained after the race about problems with some driving and a record number of yellows out there. Is there something that the series needs to look at? Did you have any problems in the race, and what do you think the resolution could be?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm suspicious to talk about yellows, because for me, yellows were extremely good. That was the only way to pass cars. Maybe if you didn't have that much yellow you guys would see a very boring race, follow the leader and nobody pass, and you save fuel and that's it.
The point is, it's tough to pass here. Everybody when they have an opportunity, they want to take chances as much as they can. If you see a small window, you're going for it.
I tried everything I could. Sometimes, you know, this place, it really bites and you get surprised, and I was going for it because I knew what I was doing, but I was taking a lot of chances, as well.
But again, the series is really incredible here, and to keep everything clean and stuff like that, there's not much you can do here. They are not driving the car. We are the ones driving the car and sometimes we do put the helmet on and forget about everything they say. You know, patience is a big key and I'm one of them, especially on the restart, he's like, be patient and I'm like, no problem. And after that, he's like, I thought I said patience; sorry, I didn't understand.
Q. When we heard about the rain coming in, how much did that change the strategy of the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, I asked that question before the race started, and they were concerned that the race probably would be delayed. But as soon as nothing happened, for me, the message never came through, so we weren't even thinking about rain at that point.
Q. What do you think about that Servia guy? All of that short‑track oval experience he had back in CART seems to be paying through for him.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, he's a good driver. You have a lot of good drivers out there; the quality, and everyone, they are getting used to it. If you notice, they are really fast over here in Richmond, and no question about it, they are learning quick. They are picking up.
Hey, we have the same equipment. They have the same equipment. There is no reason for them to understand and the competition is getting higher and higher. So, he did a good job.
Q. You may have answered this, but early in the race, when there was another Danica sandwich out there where you went high, if you could take us through that.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, my guys are like, okay, we are running the same sequence on those guys, so no worries and do not be aggressive and just follow.
I saw an opportunity out there, and it wasn't much of an opportunity. I'm glad that everybody held their line. At the end of the day, it was my aggression that almost put two cars at risk. She could not do anything and Tony could not do anything. It's one of those things, one is going to take lift‑off and nobody took lift‑off and thank God I was the one that had to be wise and I ended up losing a position. It was nobody's mistake and it was just me trying to be a little bit too much.
Q. There were two incidents where they waved off restarts and there were a couple crashes; any reasons restarts were sloppier tonight?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, sometimes it's tougher to get the rhythm; you start a little too quick or if you back off, you create that line that everybody is breaking and checking and it's becoming a little bit hard.
So the point the way I saw it, once they are going, probably third gear, which was fast, sometimes good, sometimes not. Because I was very much on, and I wasn't trying, but it's hard. They had a great car and there was no bad car, and for me it was just awesome because I was able to make a lot of moves on those restarts.
Q. You closed just a little bit ‑‑ (inaudible) ‑‑ is it races like this, how you're going to win the championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Third place, do you know what happened there? That's okay.
Well, I didn't know, that's what I thought, we were fighting for every single point in this championship. Scott did an incredible job. And unfortunately we don't have a car to win yet, but hopefully it's coming.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, congratulations on the win. If you would, take us through your evening.
TONY KANAAN: Well, a lot of action. Definitely a lot of yellows. We benefit from being in the front, for sure. That's just a typical Richmond race, a very difficult, very long, and at one point, I looked, it was lap 245, and I just wondered if it was five laps to go like last year, but I knew we still had 55.
So it was, you know, a tough race. I think we had a strong car. Marco did, too. We did split the strategies just to try to cover both bases, and finally the luck was on my side.
Q. Does it take a little bit of the frustration and sting out of what you've gone through this year?
TONY KANAAN: Of course. I'm going to enjoy my win tonight for sure. I knew that I had to keep fighting. There's nothing else I can do. If you're going to have the season you expect every year, then it's going to be pretty boring I would say.
I knew it was going to turn around. I didn't know when. I thought it was last weekend and I made a mistake. When those kind of things happen, I have a tendency to actually have more strength to turn the situation around. I think I work better when I put a lot of pressure on myself, and you know, I came in determined to win this race, and it worked out.
Q. How difficult was it to pass tonight?
TONY KANAAN: Oh, very difficult, when I was in the lead in traffic and when Marco pulled away; I had a pretty good battle with Jaime at one point; so much for teaching the kid, and all of a sudden, you get all you teach him back. I'll have a chat with him at home. He won't be allowed in the office for a couple weeks (chuckling).
It was tough. But I have to say, lap traffic, it was really good. I was really impressed how people respect the leaders and they did not impede the progress of it. So I think we did a pretty good job.
Q. Jaime did a heck of a job; when he was in the lead, nobody was catching him. He was really moving.
TONY KANAAN: No, he was driving the hell out of that car. I think for such a small team, he proved he has a lot of potential, even though he ended up in the wall. But you know, I feel his pain and I know the kid is talented. I think it shows pretty much what he can do.
Q. When you were in victory lane, they were showing you making a bunch of frenzied hand gestures while you were talking to Dixon and Castroneves; was it that kind of night?
TONY KANAAN: I'm Brazilian. I talk with my hands a lot.
We were talking about how hectic it was and how difficult it was, the race. There wasn't anything in particular about it. I don't even remember. I think we were talking about setups and how bad and how good our cars were, but that's me. Some people, when I speak in Portuguese with Kika or some of my friends in the paddock, people think we are fighting like crazy, so I guess I've got to watch myself.
Q. You said it was a typical Richmond race, but wasn't it a little more frenzied out there? It seems like the restarts were a little sloppier tonight and more hectic?
TONY KANAAN: I think it was busier: 26 cars, a lot of people hitting each other. But like I said, this race is always going to be busy. You're always going to be mad at somebody or somebody is going to be mad at you, because you're always passing or trying to lap somebody. That's the way it is. What are you going to do?
It's the nature of the track, and you put 26 cars in a little track on like this, it becomes exciting, but also it has a potential for a lot of drama in the race. That's the nature of the track, and I don't think ‑‑ we can't blame anything. It's just the way it is.
And I think it's a pretty good thing to have, so we have all types of diversities when you go from a superspeedway to a small track and then go to just a little track like Iowa and have millions of passes, and then you come back here and have a totally different race. That definitely adds to the championship.
Q. In one of the restarts, you and Helio were the bread and Danica was the meat in the sandwich; talk about that.
TONY KANAAN: When they dropped the green flag, you are supposed to go, and so I'm going. So I didn't even see when I'm going. I just made the pass. I didn't even see Helio was on the outside. It wasn't because it was her; it was anybody. I charge on Jaime, too, later on. So I was just ‑‑ I wanted it to go.
Q. Worked out better for you than Helio.
TONY KANAAN: Finally. One time it works better for me. I choose the inside, so it was better.
Q. Ironic, all of the trouble you've had this year, and on a night when there's more chaos and mayhem out there than any other night of the season, you're a guy that survives with all of the stuff that's happening this year.
TONY KANAAN: You know, you've been racing for a while and that's the way it is, isn't it. I was just sweating with ten laps to go: What's going to happen now? It's like, okay, something is going to blow up; it's going to rain ‑‑ actually, if it rains, I was going to win, but maybe I was going to spin in the rain.
Out of all of the races my best finish here out of the last six years was fourth; so it wasn't the race that I would say, we had a huge shot. I knew that we had a good car, but I think you're right. That's how funny racing is. Sometimes it comes when you least expect it.
Q. We heard in victory lane about the win for your son; did it finally feel good to get the win for your son?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, he was going to be a year old, and if he understands about racing, he was going to say, "Dad, you suck."
So now I can say: "Son, when you're nine months old, I won a race for you," and he's not going to remember anyway. Definitely I was worried that he was going to come to understand about racing and that he's going to say like my wife does all the time: "Why didn't you win?" I just wanted to win this week.
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