Houston GP: Saturday Press Conference
1st. Scott Dixon
2nd Simona de Silvestro
3rd Justin Wilson
Q: We are pleased to be joined by our race winner, Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. This is Scott's 33rd career IndyCar victory. His most recent win came this year at Toronto Race 2, and today's win now closes the gap between Scott and Helio to eight points in the championship points standing. Today's win also makes Scott eligible for the $50,000 SONAX Perfect Finish Award should he sweep the doubleheaders here at Reliant.
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with today's post race press conference for the Shell and PENNZOIL Grand Prix of Houston Race 1. We are pleased to be joined by Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing, who finished second in today's event. He finished fifth in 2006 here, and this is also Justin's sixth top 5 finish of the 2013 season. Justin, talk about today's race.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was interesting. We had a reasonable start. There was nowhere to go, and obviously there was that yellow. But then we just I don't even know what position it was, and just cruising along, clicking off the laps, and then I felt the right rear start to slow down and start to get a little loose every time I turned left. I got on the radio to the team, I think I've got a flat right rear, and they said no, the pressures look good. Half a lap later they came back on and said, no, we need to pit.
Just pretty fortunate. We got close to our window, we weren't there but we got close to it, and we managed to dive in the pits and not make an extra pit stop. Sometimes that's the way it goes. We managed to save fuel and still pretty quick after that, pushing hard, trying to limit the damage, and try and get back to the front. But it was tough. There was some great racing out there, some side by side action, and I had a lot of fun.
I was hoping I could get Simona at the end there, but she did a great job on those restarts and pulled away, and it took a few laps for me to get some tire temp and some grip and then I could start to run her down again.
But pleased with third. I think the Boy Scouts of America car worked great, and the team has done a fantastic job.
Q. Can you just tell me what you thought of the track? I know that a lot of racers were talking about how bumpy it is. How did you feel the track was?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, the track is bumpy. It's kind of what we're used to on a street circuit. It's very physical, though, because you've got all these long corners. We never stop turning. Even on every straight we're turning, so it's a really demanding track. It's hard enough trying to get a drink. We've got a drink tube in the helmet and you're trying to circle that drink tube, and there's just no chance to really take a breath.
It's a tough track. It's hot, it's humid. It's going to be very difficult tomorrow. I know we've all got to try and rehydrate and eat well tonight before we go and do it all again.
It's fun when the car is working well. It's a fun track. It's got a good flow to it. But it's tough to get it just right, so when you go over these bumps, the car lands and turns. If it lands and doesn't turn or it turns too much, then it's a long day.
Q. Were you surprised at the number of passing places, and if so, what was it that caused that? Was it just the constant battling with cold tires and battling with cold brakes? What suddenly opened this up to make it such a racy track?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, there was more overtaking spots than we experienced last time we raced here. I think it's this car. You can get closer. But also it's very hard to get those perfect exits, so the guy behind can get a run or you can get a run on the guy ahead. You get closer in places, and we've all learnt that to finish on the podium, you've got to give each of the racers room. That's got better in the series so when guys get halfway alongside people are leaving room instead of just turning down and causing a crash.
Generally there's a lot more give and take because we know there's going to be times when you have to give it up and there's times when you get it back.
Q. Were you one of the drivers advocating for single file restarts? They seemed to work reasonably well today.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it was universal. Somebody suggested it, I don't know who suggested it, and we just bumped right just after the start finish line, nobody really wanted to go through there side by side. I tried it once, and it wasn't good. I think it was a smart thing to do.
This weekend it's been difficult. There's been quite a few curve balls throw at all us, and I think everyone has dealt with it pretty well.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about you're trying to challenge Simona as a driver for second place, and also I hear it's going to be a little cooler tomorrow, so will you be making any changes to your car?
JUSTIN WILSON: Definitely got ideas and things I want to change to the car overnight, but we go straight into qualifying tomorrow so you don't want to mess things up here, though. It's tough. The way the schedule is, you have such limited time to test things. You've pretty much got to run what you've got. There's more chance of getting it wrong than there is getting it right.
That's something tonight to study and think about and come back tomorrow and see what we can do.
Q. By the end of the race it seemed like just about everybody had given up on the red tires. Was it the heat or the roughness of the track or was it just that the compound was not right for this one?
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm not sure. I just felt that my car was a lot better balanced and a lot faster on the blacks. Mainly to me, I don't know what the difference is, whether it's just grip, but on the red tire I get a lot more heave and pitch, so in the braking when you go over these bumps the car starts to dive more, and it's a lot more unstable. We opted to put the blacks back on, I could go in much later, deeper and have a better balanced car in the corner.
THE MODERATOR: We're also pleased to be joined by Simona de Silvestro, KB Racing Technology, who finished second today. This is a career best IndyCar finish for Simona. Her previous best finish was fourth in St. Pete in 2011. Simona, talk about today's race, a strong weekend starting with qualifying today.
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Yeah, I think we rolled off actually kind of okay, I think, and we haven't done that before on a double header, so that was really nice to see. I think whatever we learned in Baltimore kind of really helped us here, and we had a lot of momentum coming into the race.
Yeah, I think we made our lives a little bit easier by qualifying higher up and qualifying fifth, and the race, I think it was really tough, but I passed Pagenaud for 3rd and we looked pretty good, and then the first yellow didn't go really our way, and I think we ended up in seventh. But then kind of kept my head in it and kind of managed the car a little bit with the brakes I think is a big issue a little bit more everybody, and I think that was really important to kind of stay on top of the car when we have a little bit of time to cool things and things like that to try to do that, and towards the end during the last yellow things kind of played out and we came out in second, and then I tried to keep up with Dixie, didn't quite have his pace, but I think we were pretty good on cold tires actually, and then I could pull a little bit of a gap from Justin and then kind of work from there.
Just really happy to be here. We've been waiting for a long time for this podium, and everybody, all my sponsors that have been supporting me for all these years, it's really cool that we can be together and celebrate this.
Q. Simona, over the last three weeks, you've had some pretty good drives from what I'm looking at. That uptick in performance, how much of that comes down to, I guess, for lack of a better phrase, maybe selling in with KB and everybody on the team kind of figuring out like what you prefer as far as car setup is concerned?
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Yeah, I think when I look at the season, I think we started off really well with the 78 car, and then in the middle we kind of had kind of a slump, and later I think the biggest key we did is we just focused on what I needed in the race car. We really sat down and kind of tried to get what I wanted in a race car, and the results have been coming, so that's really nice to have kind of put our heads into it and just kind of do it a little bit our way and that the results are coming. I think it's great.
Q. This comes at a good time for you because you've got to negotiate a contract or pick a team for next year. How important is that in this?
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Well, it's huge, because yeah, like you said, this was only a one year deal, and I felt like going into this year, things would go much smoother, but it kind of didn't really until now. Things have been going really well.
Pressure was there for sure to get this done, but you know, I'm really happy that it's actually coming together now, and we've had a lot of momentum since the last three races. I think that's really cool, and I think it just shows that we can be up there and fight in the front.
Q. How much did the tires vary, because in the middle stint you kind of struggled and dropped back. Was that simply down to tire compound, or how much tire pressure you had or whatever?
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Yeah, we put the reds on in the middle, and a little bit like what Justin was saying, I think because the track is so bumpy, I think the car is a little bit more out of control. I felt like on the blacks like the balance was much better and I could be much more consistent with the car, and you think that was the biggest thing.
Now, we'll have to see into what we can do for that tomorrow, but I kind of like the blacks more. Even right away on cold tires it felt grippier, so I really liked that.
Q. It seemed a very bumpy track, very hot, very taxing on the drivers, probably your body is a little beat up. How are you going to go into the race tomorrow? How do you feel, again, to do another 90 lap race?
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Yeah, I think it was really tough because I tried to drink like half the time during the race, and I couldn't because it's so bumpy and like my hands are all over the wheel.
I think for everybody it's the same, and I think we train enough to be ready for this. But for sure I think double headers are really taxing, and especially on a track like this where you really can't relax, and mentally if you kind of stop focusing, you can end up in the wall really quickly.
I think tomorrow is going to be interesting, but right now I think the biggest thing tonight is kind of really close this chapter and everything starts again tomorrow. Looking into qualifying and then see how the race goes.
Q. As you kind of alluded to, not much time to kind of look back on this podium finish, but still, it's a pretty big accomplishment. Can you talk a little bit about that and where it stands as far as like the other accomplishments that you've had in your career?
SIMONA de SILVESTRO: Well, yeah. I think I've been all the Jr. series I've been in, I've been able to win races, and you know, that's how I kind of earned my way into IndyCar. I think the last three years we've been fast, but it seemed like we never really could get it together or we had a bad pit stop or something didn't go our way. You know, I think I've learned a lot how to manage a race now, and I think that's really important. I feel like everything is kind of really starting to come together, and hopefully we can be as successful as I used to be in Atlantics and Formula BMW here in IndyCars.
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