Honda Indy 200 Saturday Press Conference
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post race briefing. We're joined by Ryan Briscoe, who is now third in the championship points with one race left. Ryan, if you would, talk about your day out there, in particular your incident.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, it was pretty frustrating. With the accident leaving the pits, it was a huge opportunity for me to get the race lead. I just gassed it too much leaving my box, and the car spun. I hit the wall. We had to change the front upright. The team did a great job doing it in the time they did, but unfortunately that was our day done pretty much. Just sort of brought the car home without pushing too hard at the end.
The good thing is that it's only eight points to Scott. I feel real good going into Homestead. We've been strong on all the one and a halves this year. This track is unique. Ganassi had the upper hand on us this weekend. Homestead, Team Penske I'm confident is going to be the team to beat. Eight points is the difference between first and second. It looks like is it's going to be a pretty tough battle to see who can win the race.
THE MODERATOR: You're the only driver that's led in back-to-back races. Being in first place is not necessarily a position of strength.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, no, neither of the other two guys have led two races in a row. Maybe the odds are against Scott at the moment. I'm going to put this behind me in just a minute and my focus will be on Homestead.
Q. How interesting is it to be a winner-take-all shootout?
RYAN BRISCOE: That's right. I think it's exciting for us. It's exciting for all the fans. Certainly it's going to be an awful lot of hype in the weeks leading towards Homestead. It's going to be a tough one. I think it's a flip of a coin really who is the favorite going there between myself, Scott or Dario. I think all of us are fully capable of winning at that track. We're just going to have to be on our game, make everything absolutely perfect, be strong.
I can tell you, I'm going to be as motivated as I've ever been after this race. Hopefully I'm going to be the favorite to do well there.
Q. How was your car up until the accident? Was it getting better, worse? Could you get the two Ganassi cars?
RYAN BRISCOE: It was tough. They were 1 or 2/10ths quicker than me. Felt like the track was getting a bit more grip and my car was getting better. I'm not sure if that's the same for them as well. I don't know what lap times they were doing at the end of the race.
I thought as I was getting more competitive, I was really struggling in the beginning. I really had to change my setup in the cockpit, move my crossweight to the right corner, change my bars to try to get a balance that was more comfortable. I was really working hard in the cockpit to try to make the car better and I felt like I was making progress.
I was looking forward to the second half of the race.
Q. Would you describe how you felt at your crash.
RYAN BRISCOE: I was aware the caution lights were on, I didn't know who it was. How did I feel? I was pretty upset with myself. You know, I was just apologizing to the whole team really. Really just disappointed. I was fairly confident that the car was broken, you know, we were going to have to lose laps fixing it.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, we appreciate your time. We'll see you in Miami.
RYAN BRISCOE: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll jump right into it with our second-place finisher, Dario Franchitti. Dario, talk about your day out there.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think we could see the Target cars were very strong. Both cars were very equally matched. Probably my car more so in traffic, and Scott maybe a little bit in clean air. But both cars, whichever one was in front was going to win.
I managed to go longer than Scott in the first run. It was looking good. We came out of the pits after the second stop having pulled a pretty substantial gap. I was coming up to lap the 2 car, and I went to go on the inside and he came down, so I moved up, he moved up. He kept moving up until I hit a bump and ended up in the marbles. I managed to gather it back up, by which point Scott had a massive run and passed me. It was unfortunate to lose the lead that way, but we've seen that all year from him, to be honest.
After that, it's just trying to pass Scott. We tried on the pits, on the restarts. We were so equal today, I needed traffic in front of us to slow Scott so I could get a run on him, and there wasn't any.
But, again, great job by the Target team for 1-2.
THE MODERATOR: Looks like going into Miami it's going to be winner take all.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What are the points?
THE MODERATOR: Scott has 570, you have 565, Ryan has 562. Eight points between first and third is the second closest in league history and the five points between you and Scott is the fourth closest in league history.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I guess they don't need a Chase (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Doesn't it simplify things for all three?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Providing one of us wins it. I think whoever ends up ahead, it's been that way really. We knew we had to come here and do what we did today, both Scott and myself. In some ways it would have been easier if one of us would have won a bunch more races than the other because I would have been able to support Scott or Scott would have been able to support me.
We're both still in the fight. That feels pretty good. It's going to be a hell of a show at Homestead.
Q. You're both so close. Any way you can play it each team for themselves? How do you handle the team?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. The reason we're in the position we are is because we work so well together. It's kind of a similar relationship that I had with maybe Tony, the fact that you just go out and there's no BS back there, you just share information, get the cars as good as you possibly can, you go out on the track and you race the heck out of each other. Kind of like it was in go-karts. We would go out and have a good time. We're lucky at this point to have the equipment to be running up front. That definitely makes it easier. Yeah, we'll both just go out there and get on it.
Q. When you lapped Helio, didn't appear he really held you up too much. Was that a concern as you were coming up on him that he might? At that point Ryan was still in play.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: When I came up to Helio, I didn't know what was going to happen. He didn't give me anything, but he certainly didn't make it difficult. There was no blocking, none of that. I got to thank him for that. That was pretty cool. When he came up to pass Tony, I got a good run on Tony, he let me have the corner. He also let Scott have the corner. Those guys, you can build a relationship like that. If you're not having a good day, there's no need to ruin somebody else's. It's pretty classy, I think.
Q. Flashback to 2007, you and Scott going into the last race, winner take all.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Fun, isn't it? That's the way it should be. Yeah, we'll just keep our heads down an do the best that we can.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the factory in Japan. We get such good support from Firestone, Honda and also Allied, that makes my helmet. I'm supported by some very good Japanese companies. I want to say thank you to them. It's fun to come race over here.
Q. Dario, you had nothing to prove coming back to IndyCar. Are you happy where you are in your career and this year?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I'm having a blast. I'm really enjoying it again. We've talked about this before. I thought at one point I would have retired maybe by the time I was 35. But I'm still enjoying it. I still love it. The fact I can still be competitive, I'm still out there winning races and challenging for championships, it's just for fun. It's just because I enjoy it.
For me a big part of enjoyment has been being in the position to win races. I've got to thank Chip and those guys for inviting me back.
Q. When you took the lead after your first pit stop, you pitted a lap after Scott, was that a matter of getting a better in lap or a better pit stop?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's a combination of a lot of things. I think in lap plus the fact of going a lap longer at racing speed, whereas Scott, his lap at that point was on cold tires. It was pretty close. He got very, very close to passing me again.
But it's a combination of things. Going one lap longer makes a big difference. We think we had a problem with the fuel system with the end because we should have gone two laps longer. That definitely would have been helpful. In fact, it wouldn't have because the yellow came out (laughter). Maybe it was a good thing we pitted when we did.
Q. You said you thought you might be retired at age 35. Give yourself an age now. What do you feel like as a racecar driver? 22-year-old kid?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Depends day to day, doesn't it? Similar to what I did when I was 30 but maybe smarter. I think there's definitely crossover. You improve as a driver and you improve your race craft and your sort of race smarts. You maybe become a bit smarter. At the same time, you know, your reactions maybe start going a lot. There's a crossover point. I don't think I've reached it yet and hopefully it doesn't come for a while
Q. There's been years where Chip's team has won championships in IndyCar and sports cars. This year there's a new twist. He now has Montoya in the Chase and on the pole. As an exNASCAR guy, your thought on how that team has improved?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I wish they'd been that good last year. It's brilliant for the whole team. Chip puts a lot into his racing and gives every team everything it needs to do their job. I mean, to see the improvement there, to see JPM is not only in the Chase but stuck it on the pole down there in Loudon is really great to see, really great. Hopefully we can keep our end of the bargain.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, appreciate your time.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: See you in Homestead.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by race winner Scott Dixon. Scott, quite a day out there. Big jump from third to first in the points. Looks like it's winner-take-all down in Miami. Talk about your run out there.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was definitely not the way we wanted to start. The car was pretty good for the first five to 10 laps, then started to pick up a lot of understeer. We actually thought that because today seemed to be a little warmer than it had been yesterday, it was definitely very tough in traffic. I definitely didn't have the speed that Dario had in the first or second stint. We tried making a change to the tire pressures in the second stint. It didn't help us. And then after the second stint, we finally put some front wing in the car and the car came alive. To make the pass on Dario, he had a bit of a mishap in turn two with Matos, which enabled me to get a run going down the back straight into turn three. From that point on, we led the last two stints. The car was definitely running very smoothly.
As you just mentioned, a fantastic day for team Target. A 1-2. For me it's tremendous. It's a track I've always wanted to win in. I kind of put Motegi just below the Indy 500. It's a very difficult circuit. I remember coming here in the early years and competing for different engine manufacturers and how much emphasis is put on this race. If you have a fast car, you can still get to the front. Puts on a good show. Over the moon. Definitely a good day for points and very happy.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. What was going through your mind when you came around lap after lap and kept seeing the 6 car in the pits?
SCOTT DIXON: We saw the 6 more than we thought we should. I think he had cycled to the front because he beat us out. I kind of noticed there were some sparks coming out the car, the cone sticking out the side of it. He went through a closed pit but passed the field again, which was quite strange. I thought I was seeing about four, five, six cars.
But, yeah, you know, it's a feel-good moment, to be honest. He probably had the same feeling when we had a terrible race in Sonoma. It's what we needed. We needed to get maximum points. Dario and I 1-2 in the championship going down to the last race, it's what we expect for IndyCar. It's going to come down to the final lap, the final corner of Miami.
Yeah, that was a feel-good moment.
Q. Could you see the situation between Dario and Matos developing in front of you?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I kind of saw it. Dario I thought through the race had been extremely brave actually with the traffic. I was kind of being a little more cautious with it. He was definitely throwing the car in there. He totally different styles for turn three. I don't brake all and lift off the throttle a lot earlier. And he drives right in there and brakes right into the apex. He was definitely making some pretty spectacular passes going into this. Earlier on in the race, I think E.J. Viso or Hunter-Reay, I did the same thing in turn two, went to the outside. There were definitely lots of marbles up there. The car started to slack off. Dario got definitely a lot higher than I did, lost a lot more speed, was definitely enough and a break for us to go on the inside into turn three.
Q. Talk about the excitement level racing your teammate and Briscoe, shooting it out, winner-take-all down in Homestead.
SCOTT DIXON: It's always tough racing your teammate. You tend to feel at least racing with him you're going to get a little more room on the track. But when it comes down to it, it's winner takes all or whoever is ahead of each other in that race. It's a tough kind of decision. You definitely don't want to take each other out, maybe have Briscoe sitting in third and he's laughing all the way to the bank when he wins.
It's going to be one of those things we'll just have to play it by ear, see how we're going. I think it's huge for Team Target to have both of us at the point of one and two in the championship. That's definitely what it's about. We definitely have to make sure we emphasize taking the championship. It's even more interesting that both teams are testing next week in Miami on the Friday as well. There's no real advantage for us that we thought we were going to have a test by ourselves.
Q. It's a mile-and-a-half oval again. Previous races, Penske had a little bit of an advantage. This time you won. What is it going to be the situation at Homestead?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, you know, here is totally different. It's a one-and-a-half-mile track, but it's very handling-dependent. Turn three and four is the craziest corner we have on the schedule. It's a lot of fun, this track. It takes a lot of determination, things like that.
So I think Homestead is definitely a totally different layout. It's your typical high-banked mile-and-a-half. Definitely over the last two or three years the track has lost a lot of grip. It's becoming more of a handling circuit. The first 25 to 30 laps are pretty consistent, and not too bad to keep it on the bottom of the track. The last 20 laps of a stint, you start chasing up, turn three and four become difficult at Homestead as well. Hopefully we can find a bit of an edge at the test. Typically, mile-and-a-half, high banks, Penske has had an edge on us through the season. If you look at Texas, even Kentucky. The only place we seemed to be fairly strong was Kansas. We definitely got to dig in a lot and make a lot of improvements to the car.
Q. Certainly not overlooking Ryan at all, but the fact is Dario is now your teammate. Rewind two years ago, do you feel like you want to even the score with him after the '07 battle?
SCOTT DIXON: It would only be fair to do it that way. I'll mention that to him before the race.
It's going to be a crazy race. Obviously the three of us are going to be pushing to the maximum. The only other player is maybe Helio to make it interesting because he'll be trying to help. Ryan, but he's totally out of the chase of taking the championship. That will play into it, I'm sure. We just have to make sure that our cars are quick. I think we've of driven better races. Chicago I think the 9 car team had a perfect race but we still came up short. Penske and such definitely had more speed. We've definitely got to try and make a gain the next few weeks here.
Q. I think I heard about the time you took the checkered flag that you had a right rear tire going down.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I guess two laps before the finish we had a cut right rear tire and we started to leak on the last lap. We were about eight or nine pounds of pressure out of the tire. I backed off a little bit once they told me because we had a sizable gap. But luckily it didn't happen too much earlier than that.
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