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DATE News (chronologically)
07/31/13
IRL
Quotes from IndyCar Mid-Ohio test  HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet, IZOD IndyCar Series points leader): Racing at Mid-Ohio is a tradition. I've been racing here a long time, but before me, they were racing here since the early 1970's. It shows the tradition of Indy car and it's a great track. The design of the track from back then is still in fashion today. It's a challenging place. Over the years, the asphalt has changed and the track gets faster, every time you go on it. The first two laps you do today, it's very different from where you finish. Every time you go out there, you learn something. Even with the experience that I have, there's always something new. The fans are so great and are a big part of why I like coming here.

Q. Scott Dixon has been so good here. When you go somewhere where one guy is so good, do you measure yourself against him?

CASTRONEVES: The good news when you see someone has adapted to a track is that every driver has a track that suits their driving style. For the competitors it's good because it pushes you to the next level. You look a little at what they've done in the past and work it out. That's the way I see it. Our PPG boys are working hard. It was good we've had these two weeks off because our boys have been working to find things to help us that we haven't seen before. In that aspect, we're not focusing on what (Dixon) is doing. We're focusing on what we can do. But we know how good he's going to be.

Q. You are six races away from achieving your goal of a championship. What's your mindset heading into these final six races?

CASTRONEVES: "It's still a long way to go. Six races. A lot of points are involved. We just need to keep doing what we're doing. It's gotten us here to this point (where we're leading the championship). The results we've achieved have come from our consistency. We're pushing the limit of the car and myself. We're not trying to overdo it. If the cars good, we'll go for it. If the car's not good, then we have to find ways to make it happen. That's what we've done in the past. We've always been very close (to winning the championship) and right now things are going our way. Hopefully we keep it this way.

Q. Do you feel like this is a charmed season? You've finished every lap of every race and finished in the top-10 in all but one race.

CASTRONEVES: At Detroit, we got pushed into the wall and we were still able to come away with a top-10 finish. Things happen for a reason. You can't always explain what the guy upstairs has planned for you. I'll tell you one thing. We're not trying to change the focus. We're not trying to do anything different. We're not stopping in believing what we've got. I think this team has a lot of heart, and combined with what we want, hopefully our wish comes true.

Q. Does this season feel different from year's past because you seem so locked in

CASTRONEVES: Not really. We shuffled some guys around, but last year was a success. We finished in the top four again and we were mathematically in the championship until the last race of the season. Things fall into place at this point. We have to keep going and they have to worry about us, not us worrying about them.

***

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires Honda): I don't think the championship is within reach for us. There's only five or six races left and to rescue the season would be a difficult thing to do. For us, now, it's about winning a couple of races and building momentum for 2014. Unfortunately, as things came together for the team this year, we didn't have speed in the car from the get go. At a couple of different tracks this year, it clicked for us. We ran up front at Long Beach and at Iowa, we were really strong. When I can only list two races out of all the ones we've done, it's been a frustrating year. At this point, we're doing some things, making some changes within the team that will benefit us into 2014.

Q. How do these changes help you for next season?

RAHAL: It helps us because if this is the way the team is going to stay in '14, we get time to work together. I'm mean Neil Fife, who will be my engineer for the rest of this season. I've known Neil for a long time, but we've never worked together. It's a new thing. That's why today we were hoping to get a lot of running out there. It's a time for him to figure out what I want in a car and vice versa. Unfortunately, we lost the morning with the rain, but that's the way it goes. It's all about building momentum and the more time you spend and get more familiar with everybody, it's only going to help you in the future.

Q. What does this weekend mean to you, even if the season hasn't been what you've planned? Is it more pressure racing at home?

RAHAL: I don't feel more pressure racing here. I always want to do well here. I have a lot of family and friends here. My whole family will be here. A lot of my friends. Central Ohio in general, if you look at the TV ratings, this is one of our strongest markets. Ohio, in general. Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton. There are a lot of open-wheel racing fans here and I hope they are fans of the Rahals. I want to do well here. A win here would mean a lot to us. Not only for me as a person, but for the whole team. It would mean a ton.

***

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "We're trying to defend the championship and that's how it's been all year. We've been right there second in the points pretty much the whole year, we have two race wins, but we've just had a string of bad races recently. Hopefully we'll be getting over that soon, and there's no better place to turn that around than Mid-Ohio.

Q. How do things fall into place for a championship season?

HUNTER-REAY: You hear past champions talk about that and in a championship run year things tend to go your way and you get on a hot streak and things fall into place. I thought we were on that earlier in the year and we still can be on it. We've come back from bigger deficits than this so I'm optimistic. From Pocono to Toronto - eight days - we had a terrible run and we're ready to turn that around."

Q. Talk about this track

HUNTER-REAY: Mid-Ohio has a flow to it that no other racetrack has. It has high-speed corners - we're using fourth gear at 140 mph through Turn 1 and doing probably 4 Gs through there - and it just gives you that reward. It's a track that when you get it right it's so rewarding because you're hanging it out on the edge and you can feel the risk is there. It has elevation changes, braking zones, fast corners; it has everything you'd want in a racetrack. This is one of my favorite racetracks, and you always have to be a student of the game. You have to over-analyze every bit. You have to constantly be digging to find the place in your driving style to put it all together."

Q. What are your expectations for the weekend:

HUNTER-REAY: "It's going to be a tight competition here this weekend. IndyCar is always tight, but this is going to be a real shootout."

***

Q. Scott, are you on a roll?

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): I hope so. I hope we can keep these results coming. It was much needed. It was a big turning point for us in the championship. Before Pocono, we were 92 points out and now 29 and second in the championship. Typically, Mid-Ohio has been a great circuit for us. Hopefully, that transfers.

Q. What is it about this place that figured out a way to win?

DIXON: I think it's a combination of the team. They've always had good results here and both cars have been very quick. If you could put your finger on it, you would try to replicate it at every track. It makes it tough to work out why, but if you are, you just roll with it, and hopefully, you can continue to (stay on the roll) each year.

Q. Do you enjoy being on this roll and having everybody watching you as the guy to beat?

DIXON: You've got to do your own thing. Yes, you can take in more information and see what other people are up to, whether it's on a practice day and going out and having a look around and seeing what everyone is doing in each corner. The best way for you to focus on what you need to change and what direction to go is to go do it yourself with your team. We approach each weekend the same. As a standalone, we can't go off the results we had last week. We've got to go here and make the best of this weekend.

Q. Do you look back at the last three races and say 'wow?'

DIXON: "It was a big wow to win three in a row. Pocono was more a shock. My first comments to (team owner) Chip (Ganassi) when I got out of the car, 'This morning I didn't expect to be sitting here.' When you have a weekend that turns you like that and the confidence with the team and the driver and everybody, it gives you a better flow. Going into Toronto, we had a few problems on the first day and we seem to correct those quickly and made the most of the weekend. "

TEST DAY QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): "The PPG crew guys did an awesome job. We got a bit of a late start due to the rain this morning but we were able to use the entire afternoon session to test a few things for the race this weekend. I am happy with the set-up of the car and the track seems to be getting faster and faster every time we went out. But today gave us a good gage as to where we are and I'm excited to get back behind the wheel on Friday."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a good day for our No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. This track takes rubber (from the tires) all day and with that becomes quicker and quicker. The team made great changes to the car and we will continue to work on it during practice on Friday and see if we can improve. Overall, I'm happy with the day and look forward to the rest of the week."
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