Bombardier Learjet 550 post-race transcript
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined in the media center by tonight's thirdâ€‘place finisher, Ryan Briscoe. It's his second straight podium finish, best finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Ryan, you had an upâ€‘andâ€‘down night tonight. Talk about your night.
RYAN BRISCOE: Crazy stuff going on out there tonight, but I'll tell you, third almost feels like a victory for me tonight. It was a really hardâ€‘fought race. You know, I made that mistake in the first pit stop, and I'll make sure it doesn't happen again, but I missed my box and we got penalized, as well, so we had to come from a lap down. Had to have a bit of luck to get the lap back.
Then coming through the field, car was great in traffic and we could run anywhere. Unfortunately when I caught the leaders with (Ryan) Hunterâ€‘Reay, he had a bit of a wobble coming off of Turn 2 and got out of throttle, and I actually ran up his back, which damaged the car somehow. We had to change nose, which put us back in the field again, but the car was never quite as good from that point. I think we might have knocked the toes out a little bit or something. But great recovery, and like I said, third almost feels like a victory for me tonight.
Q. Ryan, it was a mistakeâ€‘filled race, not just for you. It seemed like everybody was having trouble. Was it the heat or something? Even the officials messed up because you got to pit after you got a waveâ€‘around, which seems a little odd.
RYAN BRISCOE: I was on the lead lap.
Q. That's normal? Everybody else is complaining.
RYAN BRISCOE: I was on the lead lap.
Q. But it was a mistakeâ€‘filled race. Can you talk about that, not just from your point of view, but everybody seemed to be having some troubles.
RYAN BRISCOE: I don't know. I think it was just very close racing tonight. You know, we didn't have any particular problems with the car as such, but definitely consistency on the tires is really important, and I think, you know, on our No. 6 car over the last two races we're really proving to be probably one of the most consistent cars over the duration of the tire life, which is great, and I think that's where we've been making a big of difference in traffic the last two rounds.
Q. Ryan, do you think the IndyCar Series should consider something like NASCAR does with a greenâ€‘white checkered finish or something like a red flag so that you guys are racing those last few laps for the fans to get to the finish?
RYAN BRISCOE: I mean, I don't mind. You know, whatever the rule is, I'll do my best in whatever situation. But I'm not sure what complications that might create because if we did that tonight you probably would have seen everybody coming down pit road for fuel. So I'm not really sure. I'm not probably the best guy to ask about that.
Q. Ryan, Davey Hamilton kept coming on the radio broadcast and said that's the hardest you've probably had to race because you had to come from two laps, a lap and a half down, and you end up finishing third. You get up there and you go back and you came back again. That team and yourself have really got to be connected right about now.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, it was tough, let me tell you, but it was a lot of fun coming through the field. It's always a little frustrating to get yourself in those sort of situations, and we really shouldn't have been in that situation we were in at the back and having to catch up. But you just never give up.
I think at Team Penske, my experience last year in the American Le Mans Series in those long endurance races it teaches you a lot about never give up, and you can always come back and win races even from a lap down. Roger (Penske) is a genius at doing that and just really keeping everyone motivated and pumped up and relaxed at the same time, which is also important. Tonight was definitely a good case of that.
Q. Following up on that, what was Roger telling you when you did fall a lap behind? And second of all, given how well the car was running, at least before you had the little incident with Hunterâ€‘Reay, do you look at this as a missed opportunity or a moral victory?
RYAN BRISCOE: A bit of both, a bit of both. We might have had a car that could have won tonight, but it's so tight, the competition, and at the end there with sort of old tires, third, I'll take that. But Roger was just really telling me, just take your time, we'll get them one at a time out there, one at a time, and that's what he always says, and it really just keeps you focused and doesn't get you â€‘â€‘ so you don't get too excited about it.
Q. You had some trouble early in the year, and then you obviously had your win last week and then tonight you started with trouble and then you battled on. Do you feel like now you've kind of jumped that hump and now you can ride smooth the rest of the season?
RYAN BRISCOE: Well, I mean, probably one of our smoothest races was Homestead until (Milka) Duno spun out in front of me and took us out of the race. But I think in the first few rounds I had a bit of bad luck. Definitely this wasn't a pictureâ€‘perfect race for us, but as I said, it was a great recovery, and maybe it's a sign of a bit of luck turning our way to be able to come back from being in a difficult situation.
But I've got to really focus on not making those mistakes that got us in that situation. You know, on these ovals I'm learning every single race we go to, and I just hope to keep getting better and better as the season goes on.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined in the media center by tonight's secondâ€‘place finisher in the Bombardier Learjet 550K, Helio Castroneves, third secondâ€‘place finish of the season, sixth topâ€‘5 finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Helio, take us through your night.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Wow, I mean, the car was incredible. I had a fantastic car. Team Penske did a fantastic job. Unfortunately I came a little bit too hot, I guess, in the pits. It was probably one mileâ€‘anâ€‘hour over. It was really close. It's a shame that we got caught in that situation.
My guys did an incredible job. Call them black knights because they're warriors. They keep fighting and keep putting me back in those scenarios, and that's the way you win championships. We actually made a lap back on the green flag, which is pretty incredible, and that proves that we had definitely a fast car and a winner car.
So I feel kind of like upset because we had a great chance, but obviously it's just the moment right now, but second place is a great place, it's great points, a lot of points in the championship, and that's what we need to focus on.
Q. You spent a long time side-by-side with Scott (Dixon) and then it got three wide with Marco (Andretti). That seemed like almost a battle for the three lead lap points. Is that what you were thinking?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, since the beginning I told them I want to take the lead and I want to keep going. Scott made a lot of points on that, even though he didn't win the race, some of it. I said, I've got to fight back. Today we had a very good car. So it's not that we tried to take a stupid chance. Today we had a very good car, we were able to run in the front. We definitely had a challenge with the Ganassi cars and Andretti Green, so we were strong, and it's just a shame that I came up a little bit short.
Q. Helio, I mentioned this the other day when I talked to you, you seem to be able to tell when you have a winning car and you try to get to the front, or if you don't have one you try and get the points. Obviously you've got your eye on the title at this point, and finishing second and leading the most laps gets you three bonus points; that doesn't hurt at all.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you. Obviously it's just the moment. When you have cars like that, it's not very often you have opportunities like that, and with a silly mistake you can't just throw away. We never gave up, that's obviously our philosophy, and it paid off, obviously fighting and saving fuel and doing everything we could to make sure we keep in the lead lap. And when we did that, we just went for it. Just came a little bit too short, but it's good for the championship.
Q. This is the second week in a row that the race has ended under caution. It's kind of a downer for all the people in the stands and watching at home, too, I guess. Would you like to see the league adopt something similar to what NASCAR does where you might have a green and white checkered or just red flag it where all you guys stop and then restart and try to finish the race under green?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Today I was thinking about that (laughing). I definitely had a car to make it happen. But you know, you can't compare both series. NASCAR, you're stopping the racetrack, turn it off, turn it on. For us it would be a little bit of a mess, stopping in the pits, turning off the cars. You'd have to have everybody checking the cars to make sure nobody touched the cars. It would be a mess.
But hey, it is the rules. It's something that you cannot change. But right now, to be honest, it was a shame. I mean, that that crash happened in the end, and definitely I was in a position that I had a good car, but unfortunately it didn't happen.
Q. Any kind of mixed emotions there at the end, though? If the crash doesn't happen you might not finish two, but then you also want to be racing under green there at the end?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, definitely they were fighting for it, and we were saving a lot of fuel at that point, saving a lot of fuel. I'm not sure if we would be able to finish â€‘â€‘ they were probably battling and trying to go for it. I don't know. It's difficult for me to tell what strategy they were playing. I unfortunately have to save lots of fuel to make sure that I was in the lead lap, and certainly no question I had a car to win. So for me it doesn't matter if I was fourth or second, I'm positive of that. Again, it was something that was unexpected, but we were able to overcome and finish second. It's a positive thing.
Q. Real quick, did you have enough fuel to make it?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, definitely. We were saving. Until that point we were saving a lot. Like I said, he keeps telling me not to worry about those other guys in front of me. In fact, Wheldon and Tony (Kanaan) and a lot of guys were doing 202s, 203s, and we were doing 209s, so definitely we were going to be close to everyone, but we were playing like safe, and we definitely had fuel, for sure we had fuel.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by tonight's winner of the Bombardier Learjet 550K, Scott Dixon. This is Scott's first win at Texas Motor Speedway. Talk about your night. You're the fifth winner to start from the pole. Take us through your night and finally winning at Texas.
SCOTT DIXON: I think starting from the pole, obviously doesn't last too long. I think Helio (Castroneves) led the first lap, and we opted to have four top gears tonight â€‘â€‘ sorry, three top gears instead of two top gears, so that made us struggle quite a bit on the restarts, and pretty much every time on the restart we got put there, so it was interesting from that standpoint. And I definitely didn't want to have a restart with maybe a white checkered there because with the Penske cars behind us we were going to struggle to hold onto that position.
But everybody drove pretty fair, I think, all night. Some of the traffic was quite difficult to get through, more difficult than years past, especially towards the end of the tire stint we were sliding around quite a bit, a lot in (Turns) 3 and 4 and the exit of (Turn) 2, which made it difficult to get around some of those guys, and I lost a lot of momentum, and Helio. But I think once we worked it out, that's where we started to pull away from those guys a little bit more.
So it was a good night overall for the guys, especially in the pit stops were phenomenal. Every time I needed to jump a spot they would push me right out to the front, again, which is what they've been doing all year, so I've definitely got a lot to owe them.
THE MODERATOR: Also joined by team owner Chip Ganassi. This is your second win at Texas Motor Speedway. Talk about those last laps and picking up your second win here at Texas.
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, just a matter of really â€‘â€‘ it wasn't so much the last laps, it was leading up to that. It was a bit of a fuel race before that. I think with about 25 (laps) to go, it started to be a fuel race, and with that â€‘â€‘ not the last yellow, the one previous, secondâ€‘toâ€‘last yellow, made it possible for everybody to be full red, so that brought kind of the excitement back to the front there.
You know, I'm just happy for Scott, I'm happy for the team. All the guys back in Indianapolis that work on the cars, real proud of those guys, and it's our second win here at Texas and our second win today. In fact, the Grand Am team won up at Watkins Glen, they won the sixâ€‘hour race today, so that's a pretty big day for us.
Q. There were a lot of cautions through the first third of the race. Was it because the fuel needed to get thinned down a little bit because you guys needed to get used to racing with this many cars on the track? What do you think it was?
SCOTT DIXON: I think some of it was definitely more cars on the track. I think most of the cautions were from back in the pack, and typically â€‘â€‘ especially at a place like that, you're still on the edge, especially in race conditions, and I think when you get so many cars running you lose a lot of downforce. When you're back there, there's probably two or three guys trying to pass you at that same point.
I think once you have a yellow, they brew yellows, and it was real hard to get into a rhythm until you sort of singleâ€‘filed some of those out and got going on that long stint. I think there's still many guys that are learning what to do out there. Especially a place like this, man, it took me a long time to get used to it, and at that point there were maybe 18 cars.
Q. It was around the middle portion of the race, you had some instances there where you were side by side with I believe it might have been Castroneves and then Marco was coming up to maybe make it three wide. How tough was that during that portion of the race with that type of battle?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was a bit annoying actually at that point because nobody wanted to give in. I just wanted to lead a little bit, Helio didn't want to give the lead up, yet we were sitting side by side on full rich and burning a ton of fuel. I tried for probably 10 or 12 laps just to see if somebody would give in, and then Marco, because he was working that high line so well, was having a bit of a sniff there, as well.
But everybody drove really well together. The leaders out front gave each other room. Nobody ever tried to pinch anybody at any point I think until that sort of last incident with (Ryan) Hunterâ€‘Reay and Marco, but you've got eight laps to go and everybody is trying to make position, so that's totally different. But Helio and Marco when I was with them were driving fine.
Q. On the lap that you passed Marco, it was 222, can you take us through that again? You said he gave you some room. Was it a little bit easier than you thought, or was he â€‘â€‘ did you just stick your nose in there and he couldn't counter?
SCOTT DIXON: I think earlier in the race Marco and I had a few comingsâ€‘together there. I think when he was leading I was trying to go under him and he kept sort of entering in the middle lane and then halfway through the turn he'd be on the bottom so would enter on the bottom and stay on the bottom and then he'd cut in front of us. Even when I was on the inside of him I had to back off, and I think I started moaning a little bit on the radio, as everybody does, and I think he might have got â€‘â€‘ somebody might have said something to him about it.
To be honest, at the end, he left it wide open. I don't know what he was doing. You could have fit two or three cars through there. Marco's car was working on the high line. Maybe he couldn't sit on the bottom. But if it was me I wouldn't have given him the same room.
Q. Chip, you mentioned outside you would like to see some kind of rules for greenâ€‘white checkered. Scott obviously probably doesn't. Is that something we should really see in IndyCars, or just leave that in NASCAR land?
CHIP GANASSI: I think with the fans, and I saw some of the fans walking out before the checkered even fell, that's all. It's just disappointing. They come to see a show, and they deserve to see a show, they deserve to see a good finish. They deserve to see an exciting finish. I understand the difference between IndyCars and stock cars and why some people think you can't do it. But I think there's a way to do it, and I just think we need to sit down and get our heads together and figure out how to do it so it makes it fair for everybody.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, obviously tonight I wouldn't have liked to be in that situation, but maybe last week in Milwaukee I would have liked a different situation, so it's going to come and go. But yeah, I agree totally with Chip. It doesn't seem to happen too often with us, but that's two weekends in a row now where we finished on the caution, and the fans come first. That's why we're here. They pay to come see us, and that's the only reason why we can race. If they can do something to help that, I think it's going to be better for everybody, and it's going to work for you one weekend and it's not going to work for you the other.
Q. Chip, the team â€‘â€‘ both your cars are running extremely well. What did the team do over the winter to pick up the pace to where you are because you're obviously now the team to beat, either car in any race?
CHIP GANASSI: And when I'm finished telling you that, I'll give you the recipe for Cocaâ€‘Cola (laughing). I mean, we just worked hard, that's all. The guys worked really hard in Indianapolis. I'm not going to tell you what they did, but they worked really hard. They're earning these victories.
You know, I'm sure other teams are working just as hard to surmount us. You know, no one is working any less hard. I can tell you it worries me because these other guys are catching up to us I can see.
Q. Chip, you've had a lot of great runs by a lot of great drivers in your day. Where does Scott's kind of â€‘â€‘ what he's done the last year, going back to the middle of last year, where does that kind of rank?
CHIP GANASSI: I mean, it's right up there. He's right there at the top. I mean, those are different days and it's hard to compare guys year to year, let alone after a couple years or five years or something. You know, cars are different, engines are different, tires are different. You know, I've been blessed to have some great drivers and I'm blessed that I have great ones right now.
Q. Back to that sideâ€‘byâ€‘side battle early in the race, Helio said that he was definitely doing it because he wanted those three points. Were you thinking the same thing?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, because we've been going after that quite a bit this season. I don't even know who got the three points in the end. He did, yeah, okay. Wow, I was trying for it. But those points are valuable. If you can pick those up over the season, that can be nearly 50 points or 45 points at least. So it's something that we are definitely trying to go for, and I think probably what made both of us quite stubborn at that point.
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