IndyCar Toronto Race 1 Press Conference
|From left, Castroneves, Bourdais and Kanaan|
|Phillip Abbott/LAT and General Motors|
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We will begin with our Honda Indy Toronto Race 1, Post Race Conference. We are pleased to be joined by Helio Castroneves, who finished second in today's race. He continues to lead the Championship points, 30 points now ahead of his teammate, Will Power. His third second place finish and 35th career second place finish. Helio, tell us about the race won today, a postponed race from yesterday and how you regrouped mentally to prepare for today?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: The car was actually pretty good right at the beginning. Unfortunately, I left probably a little bit enough room for Hunter Reay to take advantage of it, still the beginning of the race. We didn't want to take any chances, and he was able to overtake us, and then we stayed out there trying to pass again, without any risk, but unfortunately with that kind of scenario, Sebastien started pulling away, and finally when his tires, Hunter Reay's tires started going away, I mean, it opened up an opportunity for me to go, but it was too much of a stint and I didn't have much to catch. Then we stop and made some time, but it was just so close. I mean, obviously Sebastien and KV did a great job to keep him in front, and it was difficult because the tires started going away, and it was just a matter of trying to just collect more points.
Q. Do you think things might have been different if you had changed to the black tires like Sebastien did after his pit stop?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: What did Sebastien run, reds?
Q. Reds first, then the blacks.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: We did the same. If I would have had red yeah that would be different for sure, but because of those two races now you gotta think. You have a very good position.
You can start now in the second race in fact, that decision I deliberately told the team you guys make the decision, you know what I want, I want reds, but every time I want something they go the opposite way, and it worked out today but, yes, I do feel it would be different.
Q. What about those red tires, did they start to fall off about, at what point?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question, what lap about did we pit?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: 33, 35.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: So take three, four laps away. I was surprise at my car handling especially well on the red tires. It's good to know those things.
Q. Seemed like Hunter Reay's red tires went off quick and yours didn't.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Correct. That's why I was really happy with my car in those conditions. Sounds like the reds for me works really well.
Q. How much did the track change during the race with all the rain we had yesterday and as it rubbered in through the duration of the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It changed a lot. At the beginning it was completely green. The good news we ended up going with the brand new reds, and that actually overcome the situation, but it was completely green. There was no rubber out there.
Q. You just did 65 laps; you have 65 laps later. How tough is that going to be and what are you going to do personally to prepare for the afternoon race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Right now just trying to get a little bit of ice in the upper body area, trying to get massage, if you guys know of anybody?
Q. (Away from mic.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That are? Well, I'm going over there to find out if they can do something before the race because those are the things you 65 laps, it was tough. We're only 20 away from a full race, and now we're going to do it in one day. It's got to be done, so we're going to hydrate a lot, drink a lot, and the weather is cooperating a lot, and now we gotta go.
Q. Helio, seems like some of the positions this year, 3, 4 and 5 have been kind of like up and down, Yo Yos. Hunter Reay had an incident today, he's going to lose some points today, and of course he has a chance to gain 'em back, but it seems like you may be taking the lead at the time when your competition may be starting to short circuit themselves.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good! (Chuckles.)
Q. (No microphone.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't drive looking to the other guys. I drive when I can push and make it happen, you know? Last year we were finally able to have a very good race finishing second in the second race and now would he repeat ourselves. We push ourselves to the limit, what we can do and now I have a great opportunity to repeat and make it better for the second race. So whatever happened to those guys, it's outside of my control.
Q. Helio, aren't you starting on entrance points on the poll for the second race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That is correct.
Q. Cheer up!
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm focused for the second race. Remember we still have another race. It is obviously again, it's something that nobody wants to happen. What happened yesterday was the right decision for the series to call it a or it would be extremely dangerous for us to drive in those conditions, and right now it's tough for anyone, not only on the drivers, but especially on the teams as well, especially on those that unfortunately crashed their cars and they have to move on. It was the best way to accommodate everything and hopefully in the future we will be able to manage a little bit better, but at this point I think they are doing a very good job. Now we gotta keep focused. It ain't over.
Q. How come your teammates seem to be struggling so much with the handling of their car and you're doing so much better than they are?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, Mary, you know this is sometimes suits a little bit better than the others. Sounds like we were able to find a little better pace, but those guys started in the back, and they are not finishing at least Will was able to finish in the top 10, so that's a good result and I'm sure again, you guys realize even if you're five or ten cars away from another guy, still it's affecting your car, especially when the tires are old. This is going to be interesting, now, the second run, but anytime you have an opportunity to run in the front, it gives you a chance to keep going so see what happens.
Q. Helio, how about a day and night double header in Iowa or Milwaukee?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: What kind of medicine you have in there, man, to ask that question, no?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Whatever you taking Bruce gave it to me, man!
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You're right. It would be extremely difficult to have something like that in Iowa and Milwaukee. Again, it's road course, it's tough out there, it's very tough, even the guy goes to Ironman knows how tough it is. Now, we just gotta keep going.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Tony Kanaan who finished third in today's race, his second consecutive podium finish, third at Iowa last week. Tell us about the race and the double header conditions that you'll deal with today.
TONY KANAAN: It was okay race. Sebastien Bourdais was in a class all his own, so it was pretty hard to fight for the win but I tried to keep up with Helio and Hunter Reay at the time, and I knew my car toward the end of the stint, it wasn't as good as theirs, so I was just trying to hang in there, and we had a pretty good stop and finished third. It's an okay day. We still have a little bit to improve I think if we want to win races, but we're heading to the right direction.
Q. Tony, speaking of finishing third, does it feel better to get a good result on a road or street course with Ganassi and kind of how would you rate your street course development?
TONY KANAAN: Obviously it feels better to finish in the top three anywhere but we knew this year we were struggling the most on the street and road courses instead of the oval, so it definitely feels good. I would say feels better. I would say we still have a little bit to go to be able to have a winning car, so we just gotta keep putting ourselves in that position and we've been working extremely hard to do that. Me and Dixon are putting pressure on the engineers and working closely together to make sure that's going to happen soon.
Q. Overheard a suggestion that Dario may have given you tips on his favorite way around this place that may have helped you. Not asking you what they are but how much is his influence helping you at this point in the season?
TONY KANAAN: Well, "Coach" I call him "Coach" and his experience is extremely high. I've had him as a teammate and he had some secrets around some places that he would never tell me as a teammate because those are the things that you can't say so the biggest advantage for me this year is to have him around and he's retired so I'm finding out little things here and there that worked.
Obviously he's in my pit stand with Chip and Barry there and he's a big help. I love having him around. He's one guy I go to when I don't have a full understand or I'm not certain 100% of one of my decisions. He's always has something constructive to say, so the it's almost like two people driving the race car these days; it's me and him. I'm glad to have him and he did help here this weekend quite a bit.
Q. Tony, can you describe for us when Hunter Reay was trying to pass you, he seemed to bump into you just before he went into the wall. Can you describe how that was going on from your perspective?
TONY KANAAN: I kept my line, he went on the outside. I think been coming here for many years, we know only one car is going to fit through that turn, and that was the car in front so whatever happens behind me, I have no idea. I felt a little bit of a bump, and when I look in my mirror, he was gone.
I kept my line and I move forward. Obviously he doesn't have the same opinion, as always, but I'm not worried about it.
Q. Tony, did you have any ill affects from the contact with him?
TONY KANAAN: No, no not at all. It was a very small bump on my end. I didn't feel like it was that bad but, no, the car was fine.
Q. You're a strong guy, a triathlete, you take physical fitness seriously. Talk about what the day is going to be like not only for you but for the crew.
TONY KANAAN: It's not an ideal situation, obviously. We gotta do what we gotta do because of what happened yesterday but it's brutal. I mean it's you know, I don't think people understand how hard it is to drive case cars and to do two in one day, it's tough, but it is what it is, and we gotta do it and that's why we workout and we get ready for it.
The crew as well, those guys have been working flat out and it's tough for everybody but we gotta do what we gotta do.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, good luck this afternoon. We're pleased to be joined by the winner of today's Honda Indy Toronto, Race 1, Sebastien Bourdais of KVSH Racing. This is Sebastien's second win at Toronto, won also here in 2004. His 32nd career win. Last one came in Mexico City in November 2007. Sebastien how great for you personally does it feel to be back on the top step, especially here at Toronto where you won before?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I got a big smile across my face and I can't seem to get rid of it. It's just really cool. The whole race I was stressed out, it felt too easy, it felt like it was way too much under control and it felt like it was way going to go wrong at some point.
I don't know, it didn't. I was surprised about that because that's what happened all season long so far, so I couldn't be any happier. The guys give me a really good car and the combination, Sulli, Kevin and Jimmy putting this package together with Hydroxycut and Circle K, Techtronics, a lot of partners that have become good friends of the family and it's working out, you know, everybody is really, really pumped up. They come to pretty much every race. It's not that they have to, it's because they want to be here when the thing is going to win, and today most of them was here, and only the guys from Mystic couldn't make it, and I know I'm going to give him trouble for not coming, because if he shows up and we can't win again, it's going to be bad karma or something.
It's just really sweet. When you got a good scenario like yesterday, and you start from the front like this, it's easier, especially in Toronto where relation is high and team and truck positions are very important. So from green to checkered flag, it doesn't quite get much better than that. We have a second race and we will see if we can go back to the front. It's going to be very different because we will start probably 10th, so with the entrance points. So it is what it is, but we will keep at it and see what we can get out of Race 2 and whatever happens we will have something to celebrate tonight.
Q. Is there any special significant Sebastien, first win in a long time, at an old Champ Car track?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's definitely one of the tracks where I've been the most consistent since my return to IndyCar to start my career. It was one of the very hardest races I had in '03. I just couldn't get comfortable with the car, didn't figure out the whole thing with the patches and stuff, and then I came back in '04 after looking at a bunch of video and camera data and stuff and I figured something out, and I got to point out what was the track, what was the car, and where you had to focus on to make the car good and quick around the track, and it's definitely a place that I've been putting on good, very strong performances and to be back on the top step in the way we have done it today pretty much like the "good 'ole days" it's very special.
Q. Sebastien, speaking of the good 'ole days, your Champ Car series career, you won so often you made it look easy. How much do you appreciate this win because of how hard it was to get here?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: A whole lot more, obviously. All of us at Newman/Haas, we probably realized how special this time was when it was behind us, and it's always like that. Now when you reflect on everything that happened, it was very, very, very extraordinary, and now, you know, to be able to do it with the density of the field in the way we have done it today is very special and shows that I still got it, and I'm here for I'm here to stay and, you know, hopefully we can get on a roll and there is not going to be any domination like we had from '04 to '07 just because there are too many good drivers, too many strong cars, the way the racing is these days. You look at it, you're either P1 or P10, so you can't have the consistency but we can still be contenders and to win a championship in a series, you have to finish five almost every weekend, which on paper can look easy but it's not.
We are going to keep digging and see what happens and hopefully enjoy more moments like this.
Q. Congratulations. Nice to see you back as a winner. You had 31 wins in Champ Car. This is your first against the IndyCar field. Can you reflect on your journey? You went to Europe and came back.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: There have been quite a few wins not in IndyCar, but obviously I had my success with Peugeot and won a couple of races, and F1 was miserable, but that's what happens.
Yeah, it's been quite a journey, but that's the career of a race car driver. You're only as good as your car is and you get some up's and down's and you gotta fight through and hope you keep the motivation and that you keep challenging yourself, so you stay on top of yourself and kind of keep the passion. As long as the passion is here, you know, you just make it up and it's a perfect example today.
Q. Sebastien, you looked pretty frustrated yesterday when the race was called in pit lane, and I was wondering what your mental state was last night, what it was last night and what you were expecting ahead of the race?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I was very pissed last night because I saw the race was cancelled, the only one it that would have been cancelled was the one I was on poll, which is like, you gotta be kidding me, so when it was announced that it was going to be two short races, I was back to, okay, all right, just going to have to sleep and get at it tomorrow.
I woke up this morning and looked at the parking lot and looked mostly dry, and I guess it's not raining, so we can think about racing in the dry, and it's going to make it quite interesting because two 65 lap races is not exactly the same as racing two rain affected races. I didn't think about anything. I just knew we had a good car, and we were going to start in the front, it was going to be a rolling start and hopefully we could hang on to the lead and that's exactly what happened out there pretty much.
Q. You didn't think your luck had ran out last night? This morning before the race you thought you were in good position?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I knew we were going to be in contention, I was just dreading the whole race, when it was going to be run, because like I said it only takes a couple of yellows to shuffle things around and guys get out of sync and all of the sudden they're cycled to the front and you're behind and the race is over.
That was the only scare I had, but toward the end, once everybody was good on fuel, we still got to save quite a bit because we pitted earlier than most, so I was afraid of, you know, I guess, somebody coming through the field charging hard, running wide open and then, you know, the one thing you don't want at the end of the race is a yellow flag where it bunches everybody up and it's chaos again, so I was happy with the 3, 4 second lead. We had and managed fuel and managed tires because there was a lot of that today, obviously, to make the one stop you had to save quite a bit of fuel, and the yellow made it easier but not a whole lot so we still had to make quite a few laps on that tank.
Q. Sebastien, you've worked with stout engineers in your career but this year you're with a fairly new at least lead engineer, Olivier, and he's also French. Can you explain how your relationship has grown throughout the year? You guys have had the pace but the results have finally started to come.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I guess it's like it reminds me a little bit of '03, to be honest with you, a lot of pace and the worst luck ever. Every time things can work out they go sideways, and then we have these happy moments hopefully from now until the end of the season. It's been a great relationship with Olivier. I managed to carry over Roberto who was my assistant engineer at Dragon last year, and that was a massive piece of the puzzle because you can at least bring continuity, what we had set up, what works for me, what doesn't.
He's very analytical about it and starting to put numbers in front of problems, which is really starting to pay off and help us react to issues throughout. It's always a learning process but we're definitely getting pretty good at it. Having the eye of the driver on the timing stand being standing a little behind but always guiding Olivier and Roberto, we also got Mike Sicerelli on that, so it was a bit of a reshuffling, but it's a three way relationship in the engineering office and it works really, really nice, and it's not quite like the old days yet but it's getting there and it's gone through a lot of hard work and it's paying off. It's quite awesome to be honest.
Q. Sebastien, I think you did have kind of a scary moment out there when there was a big piece of what looked like came out from under Ryan Hunter Reay's race car. Were you concerned when you ran over that?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Sure. I was like, "Oh, here we go."
The kind of thing that, when is it going to go wrong? It just did! You know? I went through turns 3 and 4 and there was yellow flags there and sure enough it was a piece there, and I get to turn 8 riding on the outside line and max lock, and I get off the curve and there is nowhere to go, nothing to do and straight line with it, my left front tire and run over the plate and the wing, I think, so it's a lot of carbon in there. I was just waiting for the guys to call me in the pit saying, sorry man we got a slow puncture on the left front or something like that, and then you start to be paranoid about it because you run over a big piece of debris you start to make up stuff, I'm pretty sure I cut the tire, the thing doesn't turn sharp and for four or five laps you are wound up inside the car.
It was enough one of these moments but thankfully didn't affect it.
Q. How big of a relief was it to see that they had actually attached to the crystal to the base of the trophy this year?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: They didn't. The good thing is they didn't present the pedestal with the base, they only give the crystal. It was good promotion for IndyCar. We're on every single morning show and evening show. Leave it there
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, you have an autograph session coming up, congratulations.