IndyCar Mid-Ohio Sunday Press Conference

(L to R) Will Power (2nd), Scott Dixon (1st) and Simon Pagenaud (3rd)
Adriano Manocchia/AR1

1st Scott Dixon
2nd Will Power
3rd Simon Pagenaud

THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined by today's race winner Scott Dixon.

Congratulations on today's win. If you can, walk us through the race and that defining pit stop there where you were able to beat Will out of the pits.

SCOTT DIXON: It was definitely a tough day. I think when we started out the first, I kept coming on the radio saying: Hey, something's wrong with the car, because I can't get it to (indiscernible).

And we made quite a few changes for the warm up. I thought something might have got wrong from when we got to the race and the steering was, honestly, half the wait.

But I don't know if it was just the set of tires. We made quite a few changes I think on the first pit stop. But what got us two cars on the first one was that we stayed out a lap longer.

I think my end lap was about a second and a half quicker than what I had done the whole race, and it really jumped us and catapulted us across the others and obviously gains, too.

Made changes to the car. The car was perfect after that. Put some front wing in. Made some tire pressure adjustments. And the balance was good. Today was quite tough.

There was a lot of sort of back and forth with Will. Will was speeding up the pace, slowing it down. He backed me up into Bourdais. Bourdais was trying to take a couple of dives there. Which is kind of frustrating, because you know we're trying to stick to a number because we're wanting to get to the end of the race.

And some of these guys just aren't focusing on that. They're hoping a yellow is going to come out and running full rich is they're just going to try and pass people and be able to stay out with the yellow.

So it was tough there. We were able to sort of get into a routine and sort of knock off some laps, go another lap longer than Pagenaud and Bourdais and Dario and people like that.

Coming in, I knew we were probably the last two people to pit. I knew I was going to have a an open pit. And I knew Will was right in front of me. Our guys had to be laid out.

It's very tough. It's the hardest pit boxes we have throughout the whole season. To try to get a car in when the person behind you tires are laid out, it's very difficult to get close to hitting the marks, let alone trying to do it quickly.

So had an open pit, slid it in there. Stopped before he even got to his. And the guys did a fantastic stop with getting the power plugged in as quick as possible and getting the tires changed and it just worked out we were a second or two quicker and off we went.

So after that it was just saving fuel. We maintained a gap, maintained a fuel number, and tried to get a bit better for it just in case there was a caution and we had to go full rich towards the end.

So all in all, it was a perfect day. I was waiting for something to go wrong. I saw ten to go. I saw the guy and the flag hanging his ten fingers out, and I thought: What's going to go wrong now.

Glad we got to the end. Super excited for the team. They did a hell of a job today. And yesterday I was a bit down in the dumps after qualifying. I really thought we would have done better, destroyed the front tires in Q2 and went out in Q3 and had nothing and put a stamp on it and obviously to come from fourth on the grid and win the race.


Q: The last stop, ten laps prior to that stop you looked like you were just biding your time and holding what you had under a second, were you doing that when you came out, would you say?

SCOTT DIXON: That's a good point. I think we were maintaining the same sort of fuel mileage as Will and the Chevy, and I thought we were going to struggle a little bit with the Honda because it hasn't been really our strong point at the moment.

We can match them, but it seems like it's a little harder for us to match them. But the first out lap I think we put three or four seconds on them. I looked in the mirror, couldn't see anybody. I thought I was doing something wrong.

I'm like: Has it gone yellow? Or am I meant to be saving more fuel? And I asked the team: Are we saving enough fuel? They're like yeah, yeah, you're fine. They gave me the number. They said don't go any less than that. My car on the out lap, it was like the tires were already hot. It was fantastic.

Q: Coming down pit road for that last stop, did it go through your head this is it? This is where it's going to happen? Explain what you're thinking, I guess, because obviously you knew the setup there and your guys.

SCOTT DIXON: You really don't know when they're pitting until you get to the apex of 12 and normally you've got your right side tires on the curb.

And when you're pitting off 12, you're sort of in the middle of the track. When I saw he was pitting as well, I tried to that lap obviously maintained the gap, keep it as close as possible, and then close it up, getting to pit lane speed.

But, yeah, you're constantly thinking, if we don't get them in the pit stop, am I going to it's much your opportunities are much greater on the out lap because the tires are cold. Maybe our car works better when the tires are cold.

You go through the scenarios of how you possibly can do it, whether I need to hit the push to pass way before turn 2 so we get a great run out of turn 2 and try and pass him like that. So you're constantly thinking, even before that you're constantly thinking of he made a couple of mistakes and it was definitely one time in turn 5 where it looked like his car had stopped.

And I went to go to the right again and he took off again. But the track was so dirty I couldn't really pull that pass off without taking us out.

Q: (Question off microphone)?

SCOTT DIXON: I think out of my hundred I think I still had 70 something seconds left. It turned into a bit of a fuel race. So it was difficult to use it.

But to try and stop the race and then you're trying to process, okay, I think the start's going to go this time so I need to push it five seconds before that. So when it does go green I'm going to have the power. And you could tell everybody completely messed it up.

There's cars sort of going and then you're thinking on the restart, well, I didn't do that right. So, yeah, it's difficult. I think there's opportunities for people to make passes because somebody falls on their face or doesn't push the button at the right time, that's going to happen.

But, yeah, it's going to catch you out, but I guess it's going to catch others out, too.

Q: Talk about you mentioned on your first comments you're on a fuel strategy. Somebody else's full rich (indiscernible). This time, do you go to your game plan and guys there? Where is the give and take? Where do you give in, where do you stick to your game plan? How can you carry your game plan off?

SCOTT DIXON: It's not too difficult when you can control the pace. The problem there is kind of the meat between the sandwich, because obviously Will was backing me up. I think he was kind of doing it on purpose, backing me up into obviously Bourdais. And Bourdais I think he had to pit before the end of the race because obviously he wasn't saving fuel.

Granted it was an extremely tough race to get fuel mileage. The pace we were running and getting the mileage we were getting, if you said we had to do that before this race, I'd say there's no way we're going to do it.

But it did. But, yeah, so you've got one guy that's saving fuel in front of you. I'm trying to save fuel and you've got someone behind you that doesn't give two chips about it. So they're going to be charging. They're just trying to pass cars. If they can pass cars, they think once I pass them I can back up and save fuel as well.

The problem when you're saving fuel you charge the corner quite slowly. You normally brake it say the one board and you're lifting off the throttle at the four or 500 meter board and you're coasting. And as soon as you lift off

Q: (Question off microphone)?

SCOTT DIXON: I do the same thing.

Q: What is it about this particular track that gets is this one of your favorite tracks? Are they kind of separate or

SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. I wish I was this happy to come to all the tracks. When you see it coming up on the calendar I'm excited for it because I know we do well. That's why I was so disappointed yesterday. It was like we really lost it here.

I think the team has always been successful here. Back in the kart days in the late '90s, they won a lot of races obviously with Team Target and Dario here in 2010.

So, it's a place where the team has done really well. I learned a lot when I first came here, I think it was in 2002 with Kenny Brack and Bruno Junqueira. And I couldn't get within like at the end of the day within two seconds. It was some crazy number of Kenny Brack. And that really frustrated the hell out of me.

Coming back, it's always been a track that I've focused on and loved coming to. I think it's been the same at Watkins Glen or Road America. We've had great finishes there.

So it's just a place I feel comfortable, a place you can really charge, you can really get aggressive with this place, and it keeps giving you some more back.

So, I don't know, it's one where the team does well and I seem to like.

Q: You're the leader, you can't get passed on this track very easily. Talk about that.

SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. I think with Will, it seemed like he was running a lot more wing than we were. And even I was backing off a lot further, a lot earlier than he was and I was still catching him a ton down the straights.

I think if push came to shove we had a battle towards the end, I think we still had a good shot of trying to pass him. Whether it worked out or not, it's hard to say. But it is tough.

Turn 4, and these cars now you're coming in at 170 miles an hour, you're breaking down to third gear but I don't know what speed you've got there, 130, 140 miles an hour, crazy speeds through there.

So if they changed the track and make some adjustments to it, obviously make it straighter and into try to (indiscernible), I think we'll have a pretty good passing spot.

Q: Looking back at Sonoma, you're one of the few drivers that raced in Fontana back in the early part of your career.

SCOTT DIXON: I'm excited for the last three. Sonoma's kind of been a bit of a thorn in my side. I don't know. We've had success there. We've won there. We've been on the podium many a times. But we struggled a little bit in qualifying. Dario and I think we're fourth and fifth last year.

The track's changing, which I'm looking forward to, I think it's going back to a scenario or situation where I think we can do a little bit better with bigger braking zones and things like that. So I don't know I'm going to take it as it comes. It's one of those races that we need to definitely sharpen up on, yet we're coming with a new car so it could be totally different.

Baltimore, frustrated last year, we were quickest in Q1 and then it was like tenth in Q2. I think we got a bad set of tires or something, just couldn't really find anything. And the race we were strong there and ended up fifth or something. So it's going to be a tough into the year, but now we're in the hunt. We can definitely make these things happen.

I know the team is going to be pumped and we can definitely gain good points here. So I'm looking forward to all three.

Q: Will mentioned he knew Ryan Hunter Reay was having a bad day. Did you know Ryan was having a bad day and did that factor in at all?

SCOTT DIXON: I knew he was having a bad day when I was lapping him. I know when you get lapped on a road course, man, you're having a really bad day.

I'm not going to lie. I wasn't sorry to see it. Because it's how the points chase at the moment. And we've had some sucky days, too, so it's nice to share those around a bit.

But we'll see. He's going to be strong. He's right there in the thick of it. Those four guys within 28 points, that's crazy at this time of year. It's exciting for the fans.

Q: (Question off microphone)?

SCOTT DIXON: No, you know, I think until the race is over. It's never over. I don't know how many times we've been in winning situations, myself and that goes for probably the whole field. And then it's snagged away from you, whether it's a silly mechanical problem, running out of fuel, missing out on the fuel measurement.

It could be so many different things. So I was a little worried there about five laps in, eight laps in on the third stint there towards the end of the race. He started to close the gap quite mental healthfully and we still have to maintain this pace, this fuel mileage I can't really go too much quicker and not destroy the tires.

But I think they were playing a lot of cat and mouse which was pretty smart on their behalf. It did definitely put me in a bit of a situation thinking wow they're getting way better fuel mileage than we are. That wasn't the case he was backing off big time. So until you cross the finish line, yeah, anything can happen. I could have hit a curb and got some wet pole and spun or something. So many other things.

Q: (Indiscernible) said you seemed to like rhythm tracks. Seemed to come forward. Do you agree with that? Do you have a feel going here?

SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. Obviously if we could replicate it, everywhere we would. But I think all around we've done a hell of a job at all the tracks. Toronto I messed up myself.

I think we had the pole car, but I screwed up two corners on my two best laps. Edmonton was the same thing.

Will spun off the track, backed (indiscernible) into me in the rain, and it was the last lap. And every lap is going to be quicker, and found ourselves at the back of the field with a ten spot good penalty.

I think we've had great speed everywhere. But you've got to say this place has been really good to us. It's very similar to Watkins Glen. We won loads of races there, too.

So I don't know what it is. I'm going to try and find out so we can do it at other places.

Q: Rick Mears retired at 41. You tied him today. You're only 31. Now you have some real legends that you're in the company of and can surpass. Show no signs of slowing down. Talk a little bit about that. You could really finish your career here in the next 10, 15 years.

SCOTT DIXON: 15 years, I'm not sure my wife would be happy with that. I don't know. We take it every step at a time, and every year's a new year. And I'm just thankful that I've been with Chip for 11 or 12 years. So it's been exciting times for me.

I hand a lot of credit to those wins to them. They're a top class team, all the championships I've won and everything.

So, yeah, it's great to be aligned with them and do that well and be tenth on the all time list. But we would love to work our way to the top. But 32, if I could run for another nine years when I'm 41, that would be pretty cool. That's a long time.

Q: You were talking about (indiscernible), said even though the fuel cells got smaller, you feel like the knowledge has gotten better. Can you talk about that a little bit?

SCOTT DIXON: The new engine, I think it's good to see on the engine, everybody get in line with technology and where every car manufacturer's going.

I think they can learn a lot from the racing that we do, because it is similar. But, yeah, we went further today than last year we had normally asked for a V8 and went two laps longer with four or five gallons less in the car.

So it's good to see technology and good to be a part of it. And some of it obviously goes back into the road cars. It's great for people in general.

THE MODERATOR: Big weekend. You got your face on a box of pop tarts. Fourth win at Mid Ohio, and going overseas to London to the see Olympics. Talk about your trip.

SCOTT DIXON: Excited. 6:00 flight out of Chicago. I don't know what time it is. I gain an hour. I think I really need that. But I'm excited. My wife was a runner for Great Britain, 800 meters and 1500.

To go to an event like that and see what it's all about and have somebody that I'm so close to sort of fill me in on what's going on behind the scenes or I could take Steve Shunk. He would know what's going on, too.

But excited. We get to go to a lot of great events and see a lot of great things in America, obviously with our races, but to go to something that big and that special, I can't wait to be a part of it. I've got pretty crappy seats, I might add. But I'm going to need to take some binoculars. But I'm excited. Can't wait to get over there and soak it all in.

THE MODERATOR: Scott, congratulations.

THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined by Will Power of Team Penske, who finished second. Will matched a career best finish here at the track.

Talk about today's race and taking that top spot back away from Ryan Hunter Reay in the championship point standings.

WILL POWER: That was definitely good points today. I mean, it was going to plan. That stop, I knew when (Scott) Dixon was behind us, was going to be tough. We were pitting the same lap because I had to get around his guys to get in my box. That really slows up my entryway. He has a clean in. And my fueler has to kind of stand back as my front wing swings around.

All that combination made for a slower start, and that's where he got us. And then obviously it's so difficult to pass around this joint.

Still a very good day, though. Really happy to score the points we did. And that was everything we had. We can't ask for anything more. We couldn't have done anything better, I don't think.

THE MODERATOR: We've also been joined by Simon Pagenaud. And this is Simon's third podium finish of the season.

Talk about that great battle, especially among the top four, and in the closing laps for third with Bourdais.

SIMON PAGENAUD: It was an awesome day. I would say even an awesome weekend. I think it was a massive step forward for the HP team. The guys, after the test last week, we came back home and after Edmonton already we sat down at the shop and it was a problem.

We didn't work well on the red ties. And obviously being so important in IndyCar, you have to make it work. And we sat down and we tried to analyze what we needed. And the guys just gave me that. So hats off to them. The complex they've been working on the HP computer, they did an awesome job.


Q: Your final pit stop leaving the pit (indiscernible)?

WILL POWER: We had to save fuel. Obviously he burned more early. And we kind of just immediately went into a fuel save mode.

Knowing how difficult it is to pass to ensure that maybe we can push hard at the end. But at the end of the day it's so hard to pass. It probably wasn't worth the risk really pushing hard on cold tires considering the championship, the state that it's in.

And the team obviously informs me over the radio, hey, had a problem so just be careful. And you take that all into account. So, yeah, and he's not going to take anything away from Dixon, he did a good job on cold tires, sure.

Q: But that moment, you had to go around the tires, go straight in. Obviously that made a huge difference. Did you believe or are you bummed out what's your feeling you're suddenly in second after leading the first (indiscernible)?

WILL POWER: You realize as you're coming in you it's going to be tight when he's sitting right behind you. You know, man, it's all about the stop. There's nothing you can do about it. All you can do is move on and try, make sure you get the miles you need to get to the end.

And hopefully it's yellow, maybe it will rain, you don't know. So you just keep executing and there's things you can't do anything about. That's racing. These guys our guys did a good job, too.

It's just the circumstance it was. So, you know, he won the race.

Q: How did the push pass help you (indiscernible)?

WILL POWER: I think it was stupid, honestly. Because the way they got it, you have to have a certain throttle percentage. You'd hit it and get in the corner and it would unclick itself and another it was useless. Honestly. I didn't find it useful at all.

SIMON PAGENAUD: The problem is the previous push pass we had was good. You could use it in a defensive way. But the problem is when your people are coming out of the pits and you're fighting with them, you know you hit push pass, going into turn 2, if you touch the throttle half, come back off of it of it just a touch, it shuts itself down. So you can't pass, because we got back on the power so early in 2, everybody does it. And you can't make any difference.

So the push to pass thing, because you couldn't actuate where you wanted to, and then you couldn't time your pass. So that was a bit tricky.

But I think the previous version was much better for racing. But that's just an adjustment. IndyCar will figure it out.

Q: (Question about being a single car team)?

SIMON PAGENAUD: I think the guys are just doing an awesome job.

The engineers we have are pretty smart. They come out of, I don't know, they have quite a lot of experience. Brett and Nick Snyder. And the nice thing about it is they have full trust in my feedback.

When I say I need this, they don't try to say, yeah, but you should drive a little bit differently. They say, okay, we're going to fix it. We're going to make the car the way as you want.

And we went the other way. Now we're really good on reds. We were good on blacks before. We're not so good on blacks anymore. So there's still a little bit of room for improvement. But definitely I would say I think there's just hit the switch pretty much every time.

Q: Will, what's the biggest reason for Dixon’s success here?

WILL POWER: You get very good fuel mileage. Going a lap longer here is really important because it's just such a penalty on cold tires. And just good around this place. I mean, he's quick. The car's got a good setup, the whole package. It makes it so difficult to beat him.

Q: Will, what is it about your pit crew this season, last season you had (indiscernible) and this season before that this year things are 100 percent better?

WILL POWER: Yeah, I think our pit stops have been really good all year. Look at Edmonton. It will be the quickest on pit lane. Today, the circumstances made it difficult. It would be unfair to say that they didn't do a good job, because I think they did. It just happened to be that Dixon was the guy we're finding was right behind us, he's laid out as we're coming in.

Nothing you can do about it.

Q: Simon, is it possible you compare Ohio to tracks in Europe?

SIMON PAGENAUD: That's funny, I thought about it during the race. I thought what are we doing together, we're doing pretty well this weekend.

Actually I didn't answer your question earlier on. We said we (Pagenaud and Bourdais) had pretty good racing. As said early on, it was like a French war on the racetrack. But the nice thing we said is you know he's going to race you hard but he always races you clean.

So he went really, really deep in Turn 3. So it was good racing there. He was on blacks. So I knew on reds I would have a little bit of an advantage. I don't know if it's probably a bit more like the track in England. I don't know. I just think it suits our driving style. I don't know, group level is different.

Q: (Question off microphone)?

SIMON PAGENAUD: I raced my dad's BMW M3, caught the brake on fire. Didn't like it. He didn't like it.

Q: (About the level of competition)?

WILL POWER: I wasn't surprised. I think the caliber of driver is a lot higher. And it's slowly getting more and more intense. You can see it from qualifying.

If you look at Q2 it was like eight cars covered by almost a tenth, a tenth and a half. It's insane how close everything is and how many good drivers there are and people just don't make mistakes now. And that's why there's no yellows.

Q: Simon, can you talk about the difference between Mid Ohio driving a prototype and an IndyCar?

SIMON PAGENAUD: It's actually not very different for some reason. I think Turn 1 and Turn 11 with the new car, the platform control is very important because we've got a steady flow. Sports car is similar. Any pitch, excess pitch on the corner was a problem.

So the new car really suits my driving style. And the transition between sports car to IndyCar was because of that. But the biggest, the toughest thing for me is getting used to the fact I've got a real light car. And you can slide it around, put five dozen slides, it's all about downforce keeping the grip an issue and using the downforce where these guys are a bit like that in high speed but user speed will be a slide as well.

Q: Talk about the difference between Sonoma, Baltimore, and California is a toss up, how do see these last three races in terms of the way you need to go after them as you look to the championship and what your competition is?

WILL POWER: It's simple for us. We just gotta do the best with the things that we can control. Obviously there's a lot of other factors in racing. But you can't nothing you can do about that. It's not worth worrying.

Sonoma's been good for me. I enjoy street courses. So Baltimore should be good. And like you said, who you knows, at Fontana, we'll just keep our heads down. If everything goes right, I really think we'll be competitive. I think that we need to win a race here soon if we're going to win the championship. We'll do our best to do that.

Q: Do you see Fontana being similar to Texas or a little different than Texas?

WILL POWER: I haven't run there. So I don't know. I'm hoping it will be like Texas. It's just a wide open race. Total lottery you may as well throw things up and grab one and it might be you.

Q: Will, what was the race like from a physical standpoint? Was it what you thought it would be?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it was. Like physically steering got really heavy at the end. I could have done it with power steering. It's pretty cool. You have to be fit. I find at the end I could push hard still. No question, if you're not fit, definitely drop in lap time, no question.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much.

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