IndyCar Sao Paolo GP Saturday Press Conference
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by Dario Franchitti and E.J. Viso.
E.J., if you can, talk about today's qualifying run.
E.J. VISO: Well, hello, everyone. Very happy to be back here in Brazil. This is pretty much my home race, even if it's still a five-hour flight from my home.
I'm very happy to achieve this second place in qualifying. I need to thank my team, Andretti. They be just a great team to be driving for. They gave me a very competitive car today in the qualifying. Very proud on the way little by little we've been working as a team.
Having the feedback from Ryan, Michael, James, interaction between the four of us has only been positive so far. I believe this is only the beginning of plenty of good results we're going to be able to achieve this year only because things are just very positive in that team. Things are flawless in every single department, technical, media, marketing. It's really refreshing to be racing for them.
I'm extremely thrilled to be there.
THE MODERATOR: We've also been joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Dario, talk about today's qualifying session.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Sure. I can't really say anything in Portuguese because the only Portuguese I know Tony Kanaan taught me and I would get in a lot of trouble, so it's better I stay quiet in that one (laughter).
It wasn't a bad day for us really. We made consistent progress with the car, just getting used to the track. The track here changes a lot because it's so dusty to start with. The balance of the car changes a lot. We worked very hard to do that.
Even with a perfect lap, I think we would have struggled to beat Ryan on the new red tires. Left a little bit on the table a couple places.
But it's good to be in the Firestone Fast Six again, to start close to the front again. We'll see what we can do tomorrow.
As we've seen in this race, a lot can happen. That big long back straight, it makes it pretty interesting. Then obviously with the new turn one and two combination for tomorrow, it's going to be interesting how the starts and restarts look, too.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, could you talk about your day.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It was a good day. We started out not so happy with the car. For the second session, put stuff together. We put our heads together with all the engineers. I'm proud of how the team came together and moved the right direction as one. We made a difference in the second session.
We knew what direction we wanted to go. I think that was the difference-maker. It was fun out there today. This track is pretty interesting in qualifying. It's anybody's guess who is going to end up up front. Today was no different.
Just happy to be starting on the front row. More than anything to be out of the accordion effect for the turn one, and hopefully on the restarts as well, hopefully we'll still be up there.
Three races out of four on the front row, really proud of the guys and the cars they've been giving me. Now we just need to bring home some good points tomorrow, that's most important, heading into Indy.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. E.J., is this front-row start surprising to you?
E.J. VISO: To be honest, no. Since I joined this team, I knew the potential the team had. More than a potential, it was obvious jumping into the champion team, having extremely competitive teammates. My crew, everybody, we are all new on the team.
The beginning was very tough. But we knew we could do it. In every single race, we've shown we had the pace. We did the fastest lap last week. St. Pete we passed 16 cars in the race. I knew and I know that very good results are ahead.
I just feel that now everything is starting to click in my career. I'm very happy to be just with a team that is as dedicated as this one.
Q. I'm curious to know about the red and black tires on this track. It's a fairly long road course. How many laps does it take to get heat in those tires?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It seems to be taking longer than expected. I was surprised it took the reds so long to come in. Same thing with the blacks.
We'll see tomorrow. It's going to be anybody's guess which is the hot ticket to be on. It seems we're starting (indiscernible) a little bit more than this years past.
Q. Did you feel any difference with the new car in the new corner that has changed in terms of security or safety, handling?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: The new corner now, it is wider. It opens up an opportunity for passing. It's very inviting. But the problem is the entry speed is so much higher now, so we're not stopping as much.
I'm torn which way it will go tomorrow. I'm not sure how much passing there's going to be with that entry. We'll still have a lot of passing.
The good thing is the margin for error is bigger now. I think you won't have as many yellows there because it's wider, you can get two cars around side-by-side maybe when they're going slow.
Q. Dario, you didn't have a strong start for the year. Is this a result that's an adjustment of you and your team?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: At St. Pete we struggled definitely. Over the winter we went wrong with the development stuff. We took that off after St. Pete. Actually, after qualifying in Barber. We tried to persevere with it and it was terrible there, too. Barber race we were fast, but we had a mechanical issue. We broke an exhaust header, as they say in America.
Last week at Long Beach, we were pretty good. We qualified well, had a bad pit stop. We're definitely moving in the right direction. Long may it continue.
The time to peak is towards the end of this month, I would say, maybe the 26th of May. That's the time we all want to hit maximum form.
Q. (Question regarding Penske qualifying.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's always the risk you take. If you don't want to take that risk, you start at the beginning of the session, you go out on your red tires, do you your time early. Therefore, if there's a risk, you don't run that risk. That's a risk we all take when we wait until the last possible moment to go on track.
For a number of reasons we do that. The track is more rubbered normally. Also, if you go out too early, people come out of pits in front of you and hold you up.
But in order to gain that advantage of running at the end of the session, there's the risk of what happened to the Penske guys today.
It's happened I think to all of us before. Today it happened to them.
Q. Ryan, although you had a great race in the first two spring sessions, Will Power seems to be almost unbeatable. Do you feel a little bit lucky he wasn't there in the first six positions or not, or did you feel like you could beat him?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: We're used to hearing that: He would have won, if.
It's everybody's risk to go out, like Dario said. We went out early on blacks, on black tires.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Didn't you do your time on blacks?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah.
I mean, yeah, he's very quick here. I had the same thing happen to me at Baltimore with the championship on the line. I didn't get to put a lap in, went out the next day and won the race.
He's not out of it here. Hopefully we'll do a better job tomorrow working with my teammates. I think Andretti Autosport will do very well tomorrow. I'm also proud of having E.J. up here, too. It's great to have him up here.
Q. The Fast Six, we had three Andretti cars, two Ganassi cars. What can you expect tomorrow about Tony?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think he should drive with one arm more often (laughter). Very impressive. I mean, this track, it's so physical, bouncing over the curbs, some of the bumps. Yeah, the whole track is a very tricky track.
In the hairpin using maximum lock, it's difficult on your hands and your wrists. Tony is there with essentially one hand working properly and then a lot of pain. I was really impressed.
When I saw he was quickest in the round of qualifying, okay. Obviously he's fighting through the pain. Very impressive.
I'm happy to have him up there. It's always good to see T.K. up there. But he'll be tough tomorrow. Give him a sniff at a win, he looks, he can see a win, he'll be pushing very, very hard. That was an impressive performance today, definitely.
Q. Dario, your season seems to be going now in the right direction. How much have you forgot about the first couple races? You're really not that far back if you look at actual points.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I haven't forgotten about them at all. You can even learn from the bad days. Ultimately, as bad as the car was in St. Pete, I made the mistake. I crashed the car. What could have been ultimately maybe a top-10 finish was a 25th place because I got frustrated and crashed the car.
It's good to remember the good days, but it's also good to remember the bad days because you can always learn. You know, it's always good to keep those in mind.
But, yeah, you're right, we're not out of it. We'll just keep plugging away day to day, trying to get back up there. There's no grand plan to do it. Just get out there and capitalize every week and do your best to get back in the points fight.
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