1st – Marcus Ericsson, Ganassi Honda
2nd – Scott Dixon, Ganassi Honda
3rd – James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Honda
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Marcus Ericsson, winner of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.
Everybody here is trying to figure out how you held onto the reds.
MARCUS ERICSSON: Me, too. I’m trying to figure out how I won the race after being up in the sky, thinking my race was over. Yeah, I can’t believe it (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: You got some air on that.
MARCUS ERICSSON: Got some good airtime. I feel sorry for Seb. Thought they were going. One of those incidents.
I thought my race over there. Then we had to repair the car. I got a stop-and-go. We were dead last. It was all about trying to recover. I think the car got some damage, as well, from that flight. There was definitely some damage on the car.
I thought I would try and recover as many positions as possible and have a solid, what, top 15 was sort of my game plan after that incident. Then, yeah, the team did a great job with the strategy. Pit stops were great. There were so many incidents. For sure there was a little luck there, as well, no doubt about that.
But we delivered when we had to. In the end I think when Colton was behind me and I had to do a really big fuel number to get us to the finish line and still keep him behind, that was one of the toughest challenges of my career. I’m very proud that I could keep him behind and keep the pace up. That won me the race.
He was pushing really hard, as we could see. He’s been the fastest guy all weekend.
Then obviously as the race was, with all the incidents, it was going to be another red flag, so it was not going to be an easy finish. But, yeah, I was really happy to finish it off there and have another win. So much things going on today. I’m still trying to figure out how I ended here.
I think the bottom line was that we were really fast. We were fast. When we got some free air, we were fast. We were fast getting by people, doing the fuel numbers needed. Got the tires to stay underneath us.
We’ve been fast all weekend. I think I’ve been top six every session. Unfortunately in qualifying yesterday I touched the wall in Q1, broke the suspension. That’s why we started further back. I think we should have been in the Fast 6.
INDYCAR, anything can happen. It’s been like that over the years. Once again today it shows that you can never give up, you have to keep pushing all the time, keep believing. If you have a strong team like I have, anything’s possible.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. At the bridge, you seemed to pull away from Colton a little bit. Were you using ‘push to pass’ at the bridge or were you getting better traction?
MARCUS ERICSSON: No, because I was doing a fuel number, I was trying to be as slows as I could in the corners, then focus on the corners leading out on the bridges. I didn’t use any ‘push to pass’ for most of the race, so I had quite a bit of ‘push to pass’.
Like I said, I focused a lot on them two corners leading up to the straights, always did a quick push on the ‘push to pass’ to get a good pull out of the corner as we knew that was the most efficient.
I still had to do a lot of lifting in the end of the race. It was always crucial to get out of turn three and eight, that’s what I needed to keep him behind.
Q. What was your confidence level heading into the weekend knowing what you had done a few weeks prior at Mid-Ohio?
MARCUS ERICSSON: I think the last month since the 500, I’ve scored the most points of anyone. We know we have a good thing going. We’ve been very strong in the races. Going into this weekend I was feeling very confident. I think I showed that in the practice sessions. We were right up there.
Obviously very disappointing yesterday with the qualifying and the incident I had there because that put us on the back foot for today. But still went into the race with a good sort of feeling. I thought top eight or even a top six was possible. That was sort of my mindset.
Obviously it was a crazy race, so happened a lot of other things. But, yeah, a lot of confidence going into the end of year now. We are sort of in the hunt, as well, in the championship. I don’t know, I haven’t seen the latest after today.
Yeah, it’s looking good. Just trying to continue to work hard and continue to put all the hard work with the engineers and with the team, try again next weekend.
Q. When you came in for repairs, you obviously changed the front wing. Were there any other repairs done?
MARCUS ERICSSON: No, only the front wing. We got some damage on the right front suspension, on the floor, some other parts of the car. There was some small damage still on the car. I could feel like in the left-hand corners the car was better than in the right-hand corners because of the hit on the right-hand side.
After I got the damage on the front wing, when I tried to make my way back to the pits, at one point the front wing got underneath the front tires and I went into the wall at turn six and kind of bent the right front. I thought I had to stop. Somehow the wing came to the front again and I got steering and I could continue.
At one point I see the sky, I think the car is in half, then the wing goes underneath my front tires, I hit the wall. Just everything going on.
Then, yeah, somehow things worked out in our favor.
Q. Was the team telling you to try to get back around to the pits?
MARCUS ERICSSON: They were trying to tell me. They told me to try and get back obviously. It’s tough because I saw the front wing was flipping around. If the wing gets underneath the front tires, you cannot steer the car, like happened to me in six. The rest of the lap I managed to get back.
I could see it flying around, hitting the suspension, all these things I knew was not going to be good. But at that point I was just trying to get back, not to get a lap behind. We managed.
But then we got a stop-and-go and all that stuff when we restarted. I started the race after the incident in last, then got a stop-and-go to get even further back. Then, yeah, we managed to climb all the way up.
Q. Race officials said they’re prepared to make some changes, tweaks and things, for next year if they were necessary. Course could be something they change. Would you just as soon they leave it the way it is?
MARCUS ERICSSON: I think the track is really cool to drive. It is very tough because it’s bumpy, different surfaces. It’s a difficult track to drive as we’ve seen all weekend.
But I like that challenge. I think it takes the best out of us drivers to try and figure out all these bumps, figure out where to place the car. So I like that challenge.
I think the four through eight section is a little bit on the slow side. Maybe there they could open it up, make it a little bit wider or a little bit higher speed. That could maybe help.
But personally, I won today, so I think we can keep it this way (laughter). But, yeah, I think it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been speaking to a lot of other drivers. I think everyone has been impressed with how much fun the track is because when we saw the layout, it was a bit like, I’m not sure how much fun this will actually be because it didn’t look that exciting on the layout. When we actually got here, I thought it was a lot more fun to drive than I expected. There was a lot more elevation from what I expected from what I seen before.
It’s so cool going over the bridge and back. I think it’s such a cool thing. The TV shots of that, it’s just really impressive.
Q. When were you aware that Colton had hit the wall?
MARCUS ERICSSON: He was putting a lot of pressure on me. At one point I think he did a mistake in nine as well because he suddenly was two seconds off. They kept telling me a higher fuel number all the time. I was like, Oh, my God. I was having to save more and more fuel all the time. Colton was right up my gearbox.
He did a mistake, dropped like two seconds. I got a bit of breathing room. I saw again he got close to that gap again. Obviously I saw the caution come out. They told me it was Colton. I didn’t know it was Colton until there was caution.
Q. You’re trying to conserve fuel at the end, and your teammate has tires that have 50 laps on it. Did you figure he wasn’t going to be able to make up the time?
MARCUS ERICSSON: To be honest, I didn’t know he had 50 laps on the tires. I knew he was on blacks. I knew I had an advantage because I was on reds. I didn’t know they were that old.
But the thing is, even if Scott was on wet tires, he would still be difficult to keep behind because he’s such a good driver. It’s never easy to have Scott Dixon behind. But I knew also he wouldn’t do anything silly. I knew if I did all my things right, I would win the race. So I was just focusing on that.
Q. When you landed…
MARCUS ERICSSON: I was seeing the sky. When I hit the ground, I felt that one. I didn’t say that, but I’m really sorry for Seb there. I got caught out. I thought everyone was going, and I went. I think someone in front of Seb braked, and he braked. I just didn’t have time to react. I was really sorry for seeing him going out of the race that way. I’m really sorry for that.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARCUS ERICSSON: It feels amazing. I think it backs up what I said, that that was probably the best performance of my career to keep him behind for that long. When he pulled off behind me, I was thinking this is not going to work. We’ve seen all weekend how fast he’s been. I’m thinking, I’m not going to be able to hold him back.
I just went into my myself and tried to focus on where can I save most fuel where he cannot attack me, where can I push to make sure I stay ahead. I was really trying to just use all my experience to try and figure out how I was going to keep this guy behind. I was really proud of doing that.
I think he definitely deserved to be on the podium, so I feel bad for him crashing. But that also showed he was pushing to the limit as well to try to get that victory. Yeah, that was, like I said, one of my best performances to keep that.
Q. You said in victory circle that this proves anything can happen in INDYCAR. What makes this series so wild?
MARCUS ERICSSON: I don’t know. I think the cars we have, it’s definitely a difficult car to drive. I think that makes it really fun races because the races are tough because they are long and you have tire wear, you have different strategies with the fueling, refueling, and the car is never planted to the ground. You always need to fight the car in some way with understeer, oversteer. I think that really makes it a series that’s tough and never straightforward. You always need to, like, push to the limit.
Especially since I came here over the three seasons I’ve been here, the amount of talent that has come into the series as well is just unbelievable. I said before the season I think it’s like 20 guys that can win on a good day in INDYCAR. I don’t think there’s any other series in the world that can say that. I think that shows as well that one day you win, the next day you can be P20 if you don’t get it together.
I think that’s super cool. Also the fact that we go to all these different types of tracks like today, Indy road course the next weekend, Gateway the week after, that just adds to it because you as a driver and the teams need to be so flexible and so good on so many different areas which for me makes it the best series.
Q. You don’t have anything nailed down yet for 2022. Two victories now, fifth in points, does this help your case?
MARCUS ERICSSON: You would think so, right?
No, I mean, it’s no secret I want to stay with Chip Ganassi Racing. When I came here a year and a half ago, we created a new team within the team. I was the new guy that came with some INDYCAR experience, but came mainly from the GT program. It took time for us to sort of get going last year. We gelled straightaway. We worked really, really hard. I have a great relationship with my engineer Brad Goldberg, the rest of my crew, a core group that really works well together.
My biggest wish is to continue here in the 8 car, continue in this program for many years to come because I think we’ve shown, especially the last month or so, that we can definitely be up there and compete against the best. Yeah, I want to see where that can get us.
Yeah, nothing is done yet. Hopefully Chip took notice today.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARCUS ERICSSON: I think the whole last stint, I knew it was going to be big fuel numbers. I thought the tires held on well. I was on the red tire for a long time after my incident in the start. I didn’t feel like they were wearing that much, especially if you were looking after the rears.
I wasn’t concerned about the tire wear really. I knew I could keep them underneath me. That’s one of my biggest strengths, is to sort of conserve tires. So that was not a concern. The biggest concern for me was the fuel number.
We knew a certain fuel number was possible to hit without losing that much pace. But the number they were asking me was like, Oh, man, that’s too much saving. I had to figure it out and I did. That was good.
I think Firestone picked good compounds this weekend and it made for a great race.
Q. As the dust sort of settles here, you are in with a chance to battle for this title. How do you handle having to fight two other Chip Ganassi Racing teammates for this championship?
MARCUS ERICSSON: I think it’s a great thing. Chip Ganassi Racing is such a great organization, and I think this year the team we have with me and Scott and Alex and Jimmie and also T.K., there’s such a good atmosphere between us. Even though we are all fighting each other, we always do it fair, and we always help each other.
We are very open. I think that’s why we are three cars in the top five, is because we help each other become better. That’s a great thing.
We’re going to keep doing that. We’re going to keep fighting each other, but keep doing it in a fair way. It’s like Chip says, if we win 1-2-3, we take points from our competitors. That’s the way we’re going to try and keep doing.
Q. Does the information sharing start to be shut off from each other as this thing gets closer to winding down? Do you still share stuff?
MARCUS ERICSSON: I guess we’ll see now (smiling).
No, to be honest, I don’t think so. Like I said, we want to be 1-2-3 and 4 if possible. That’s the mentality that we have. We going to try and push as we’ve done all year because that’s been so successful, the way we have been trying different things on different cars in a race weekend, taking information from each other, helping each other to make sure we have the best possible race cars.
When it comes out on the track, we’re allowed to race each other. But we want to be able to get the best possible results. The only way to do that is by working together.
Q. Could you talk a little bit through what happened from the stop-go until the lap 31 caution where you took the lead. What transpired there for you to be able to close the gap?
MARCUS ERICSSON: I’m trying to figure it out myself.
After the stop-and-go, I came out, I couldn’t see a single car. I was, what, 20 seconds behind the last car. I just tried to put down lap times. I think we were as fast as the leaders at that point. So I definitely had the pace in the car, sort of quickly catched up the pack. When I catched the pack, I overtook a couple of cars I think. I think it was a caution. At that caution I overtook another couple of cars.
Then I think there was another caution where there was the big crash in turn 11. I managed to just like go through that without getting hold up. I think that took away like five or six cars that was ahead of me. That really put me up in a good position. I think it was P12 or something then when it was the red flag. Then I knew we were in a very good spot.
From then on, it was all about trying, yeah, not do any mistakes and be focused and hoping that this strategy would work out.
Q. Do you think it helped being in Nashville where you’re running high ride height on the car, that the damage you received wasn’t so impactful as it could have been at some other tracks?
MARCUS ERICSSON: I think definitely on a street course it’s better to have damage on a street course than on an oval or a road course. Definitely that way.
Like I said, I don’t think it was that much damage. It was on the right front suspension, but not a lot. There was some on the floor that I could see after the race, which is pretty incredible. I was flying quite high in the air. I thought the car was going to break in half. Yeah, it shows that these INDYCARS are pretty strong machines.
Q. You won both your races on street courses this season. What do you put that down to? Your experience within Formula 1? The circuit layout here is similar to Monaco.
MARCUS ERICSSON: Yeah, I don’t know. I always liked street courses throughout my career. I had pole position in Macau and the lap record there for almost 10 years. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed, the challenge, trying to be close to the wall, push the limits.
My best result before my Detroit win was in Detroit two years prior when I had that podium, the second-place finish. It’s definitely been good for me here in INDYCAR, the street courses.
I really enjoy that challenge I think, sort of the way a street course pushes the drivers to the limit, no margin for error. I think that’s something that I love.
Q. What is it about the street circuits like this one that are similar to Monaco that suit your driving style? Can you credit that to your win today or do you think there was a little bit of luck there?
MARCUS ERICSSON: There was definitely some luck there, no doubt about that. But I think even when you have some luck on your side, you still need to deliver and be fast to win an INDYCAR race.
We needed some luck today, but we also delivered on pit lane with the strategy, with the race car, and I delivered under pressure when I needed. There was a lot of things going on. But a win is a win, so I’ll take it.
Q. Is this the most fun you’ve had driving or racing in your career? Can you think of another time before INDYCAR where you’ve had this much fun racing?
MARCUS ERICSSON: It’s probably the most fun I’ve had, yeah. To be fighting up front, to be winning races on this level, it’s amazing. To finally show after all the tough years in F1, being a back marker in small teams, people thinking you’re not good enough, so on, to be able to come here and show what I can do, just show that I can deliver, show that I can win races, run up front, it means a lot to me.
It’s been a long time, a lot of tough days to get me here. So I’m really enjoying this year so far to finally show what I can do.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARCUS ERICSSON: It’s a great honor to be the first winner of this Music City Grand Prix.
To go back to your question, I think all of us, all the drivers, we have been so happy to be here. It’s been such a cool event. It’s been such a fun weekend to see the whole town coming together, to see the atmosphere, to see all the things happening throughout the weekend, to see all the fans. It’s been just a tremendous event.
The track going through downtown, it’s been so cool to race on. I think for INDYCAR as a series, I think I said to some people, to grow and get even more fans and new fans, it’s events like this that makes a difference because it’s such a cool event.
For anyone, even if you’re not a diehard motorsports fan, if you were here this weekend you had a good time. I really think this was a great thing for INDYCAR. I’m very proud to be the first winner. I hope we come back for many, many years to come.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Good evening. We are joined by Scott Dixon, who finished second, and James Hinchcliffe with his best finish of the season coming home third.
Scott, recap your day. Did you have anything for your teammate there on the last restart?
SCOTT DIXON: Man, I don’t really know what to say about the day. It was a crazy race. There was a lot of yellows, a lot of reds. I think we did almost 45, 50 laps on the last set of tires. We didn’t take tires on the last stop. They were blacks. That was real interesting.
Yeah, kudos to the team. You got to take those wins, man. He was in the right place at the right time. I think he had probably one of the most eventful days of everybody out there, flying up in the sky, then getting a drive-through penalty and all that stuff, coming out with a win.
It was just so good I think today for me just the parade lap, seeing so many people here. That’s what really fired me up, I think what really made the event.
Of course, the race was tricky. I don’t know what happened back in the pack. There was definitely a lot of cautions. I felt like the front group was doing really well, taking care of each other, not making these dives that maybe created some of these issues early on.
Big congrats to everybody that was involved in putting this event on. It was a killer, man. Doing a lot of PR today around the paddock, seeing so many people here, this is what INDYCAR races are all about.
THE MODERATOR: James, Andretti Autosport had a big showing this weekend.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: The pace of the entire Andretti squad was quick. It sucks that Colton and Alex had their problems. Ryan and I both coming home in the top five is a great result for the team.
For us in the 29 car, it’s been a rough season. We’ve had our own troubles, but we’ve also had a lot of bad luck. It looked like it was going that way again today when we got stuck in the traffic jam in turn 11. Brian Barnhart made a great call, got us in the pits there to kind of cycle through when it all shook out.
We had a great car. The Capstone car was great. The Andretti Steinbrenner guys in the pits were awesome in that second stop, got us ahead of Ryan because he was ahead of us on track at that point.
It was eventful. We were at the back, front, kind of ran a little bit of everywhere today, in the middle. Like Scott said, we probably had a few too many yellows for what we would have wanted to put on a good show for everyone here.
The crowd in Nashville, unbelievable. You think this race had been going on 40 years. It’s like a Long Beach, Toronto, St. Pete in year one. Excited to come back. Huge credit to everybody that put on the event. Like I said, great result for the Andretti Steinbrenner guys and the Capstone car.
Q. Was it really the tires that kept you from making a serious run at it today?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I was just hanging on, man. The rear tires were definitely pretty shot. I think everybody kind of around us on reds, I think Colton did a tremendous job to fight his way back through. He had some serious speed. I’m not sure how that equated. I know he had a big lockup previous to that. I’m not sure if that caused the second situation he had when he found the wall.
For me, when the tires are bad, it’s really hard to get fuel mileage as well. You can’t really roll the speed you need to in the apex. It’s a bad combo.
Yeah, the pace wasn’t great.
Q. James, when you were part of that pileup, did you think you’d be able to come out of that?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: No, I mean, honestly what saved us is going red. As much as we hate that happening, I thought they were going to drive the field through pit lane, until we cleared up the traffic jam, we were going to be three, four laps down and kind of out of it.
Credit to INDYCAR for not eliminating all eight of us, whatever it was, that were stuck back there. We had no damage. We avoided all the carnage. The traffic just blocked.
Credit to them. I think they made a good call on that one. It’s just unfortunate that we created so many situations where we had to have the safety guys out there today.
Q. How important is it for you here to really put together a streak of some good finishes, make something happen for 2022?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, for sure. As the saying goes, you’re only as good as your last race. We’ve been finding some pace in qualifying the last couple events. In Mid-Ohio we got caught up in the turn one deal. Sort of kills your day. It was nice to have nothing, well I am not going to say nothing because something went wrong, but then something went right.
It’s nice that our luck balanced out today. The car did have great pace. We were having to save a bit more fuel at the end. I wasn’t able to challenge Scott so much. He did a great job on 50-lap tires. Credit to Firestone and him on that.
But, yeah, hopefully we’re just slowly chipping away at it and we can have momentum for the last couple.
Q. During the race on social media the critics are saying half the race is under caution, two red flags, feels like a disaster. How would you answer those people who might say could this truly be a good race? What can they do in terms of tweaking it, if anything, with maybe changing the restart location or anything like that?
SCOTT DIXON: I don’t know. Everybody else seemed pretty pumped. I don’t know if they’re drunk, but they were pretty excited (smiling).
It was a crazy race. Maybe driver (indiscernible) needs to be kicked up a bit. I think there were some regulars making mistakes and hitting people. Maybe that needs to be looked at. All the penalties need to be stronger when you cause accidents like that.
I don’t know. It’s a tricky track. It’s really difficult. Especially on restarts with trying to get temperature in the tires, knowing that it was going to be somewhat hard to pass, there was a lot of people trying to make it happen on restarts. I totally get that.
I don’t know. It’s a balance, right, that you got to try to work out. Maybe next year I think there may be some areas of track that can change a little bit that would create some passing zones, maybe make the racing a little bit better.
You look at Herta, he made the passes happen. It can be done cleanly, like he did.
Q. (No microphone.)
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: One of the things I said when I was sitting down in turn 11 with my engine off. In Long Beach we’ve had this problem, too, right? In INDYCAR, on the restarts, when the green flag flies, you can pass. Nine times out of 10, that’s not a problem.
What we were seeing in Long Beach, as the leader comes out of the hairpin, the green flag flies, the guy in 10th dive bombs the guy in ninth. We end up with a completely clogged racetrack. We came up with a gentlemen’s agreement to not pass under the hairpin, wait till the start/finish.
I think if we did that in turn 11, said you can’t pass until the start/finish line, you would have eliminated at least one of the reds and another yellow from guys just trying to get cute going into the last corner there.
There are definitely things we can look at. Look, it was the first time we were doing it, right? There’s always going to be things you can improve from year one. For a first crack at it, as an event, this was pretty frigging awesome.
Q. Did you go out and sense a lot of enthusiasm?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Here is the thing. This town is absolutely hopping on a weekend anyway, right? We did our little street party signing thing on Thursday. As much as we would have loved all the credit for the amount of people that were on Broadway, they were probably going to be there anyway.
To come to the race and see how many people actually took the time to show up, how many people stuck around till 8:00 to see the end. It wasn’t just like some guy that heard some noise and walked in. These were race fans. There was a ton of merch, a lot of people that knew what they were talking about, knew the drivers. It wasn’t just we got dumb lucky putting ourselves in a highly populous city. There’s an appetite for racing here.
Yeah, we saw it. I Lime scootered or Bird scootered into the track every day. I was getting called out by people on the sidewalk. This town knew that we were here and looked like they loved that we were here, which is great.
Q. How dark was it out there near the end?
SCOTT DIXON: On the last two, I think my put my visor up.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I can’t do that with the vent. After the last red it was dark.
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: A bit more confused, I guess, I don’t know (smiling).
There was just no flow to the race, right? It was like you had six races. So, yeah, I don’t know how it played or how it looked. But even our sponsors, talking to the CEO of PNC, he is like, That race was crazy.
It was exciting to watch. He’s a racer himself. Everybody was cheering, cars were crashing, everything was going on.
I think from the fans’ perspective, they had a ball. If there’s enough alcohol out there, it’s going to be a good show no matter what, so…
Q. Did you notice the water in turn three before?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: We were all on the radio. Hey, guys, just real quick, there’s a river in turn three.
SCOTT DIXON: Somebody kicked the port-a-potty or something like that (laughter).
Q. (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON: I think I actually caught that on the radio. I said, He’s going to win the race now.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: You know, I remember Dario Franchitti being backwards in pit lane with a broken nose in the Indy 500 and he won that. These races, they’re not over till they’re over. I learned that in my rookie season. You think you have a bad stint, doesn’t matter. These things can change on a dime. That’s what happened today. I think it makes it exciting.
SCOTT DIXON: I think it was definitely a thing for a while: if you changed the front nose during the first caution, there was a 50/50 shot you were going to win the race.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: P.T.’s last win, he went through three noses. You just never know.
Q. Scott, talk a little bit about how important today was in terms of the overall championship picture for you to get some points to make ground up.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was definitely I think a good gain on Pato. I think Alex still had a pretty decent race. They caught back some good points there. I think we’re just over 40 points behind. There’s definitely loads — 250 plus points left on the table, there’s lots that can happen, especially at some of the racetracks we’re going to.
Yeah, big day for us for the points. Obviously a win would have been that much better. But, yeah, I think this is where it’s going to separate a little bit. We have to see how that plays out.
Good day for Ganassi in general obviously with two on the podium. For us, it was a good headway for fighting for the championship.
Q. How much does this result give you confidence going forward for the rest of the season?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I mean, like I said, we’ve been kind of finding some pace the last few weekends. Mid-Ohio sort of ended before it started for us.
I think the team is doing a great job. I think we’re really gelling at the moment. We’ve had a few good ones in a row. We got a couple tracks coming up that we really enjoy.
Hopefully this is some momentum that we can carry through the last five races of the year.
Q. Scott, you’ve closed the gap to Pato and Alex. How important was that for you for this weekend with it being a brand-new circuit?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, definitely. Obviously it was a tough weekend for Alex just because of the fact that he had a six-spot grid penalty through no fault of his own. Those weekends are definitely frustrating, especially on a track that it looks like you could have started anywhere. Maybe you were better off starting at the back for this one.
Yeah, obviously it’s a race for us against teammates at the minute. You want everybody in the team to have great results. It was great to see Marcus grab another win here. Obviously he’s closing the gap on the championship, as well. Be fun to have three cars fighting it out. I’m sure Chip would definitely like that.
Q. Was the track as bumpy as it looked?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: It was pretty bumpy. Honestly, the track is actually really good. It’s just the bridge. Even over the bridge isn’t that bad, it’s just the transitions on and off that are really the issue. If it wasn’t for those, I think it wouldn’t even make top three bumpiest tracks. It was pretty good otherwise.
Q. Hinch, this is an inaugural race. You are now on the podium again. How does that feel for you? It’s a comeback for you. You’ve got to feel some emotion there.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I think anytime we come to a new venue, come to a new event, it’s good to be part of the opening class of podium finishers. Whenever you come to a new place, every team, every driver has the hope they are going to kind of figure it out first and have some kind of advantage.
If you look at the pace of the Andretti cars, they did a great job. Huge credit to the team. We should have had all four cars in the top six probably at the end of the day. But the way it shook out, unfortunately some of the others had problems. Two in the top five is solid. To have the Capstone car in the podium is great. To be one of the first guys on the podium here is awesome.
Q. Scott, how do you reflect on this race? You’ve not had a lot of time to think about it. Is it a positive in the sense of points gained on Alex or do you feel like it’s a missed opportunity in the sense it’s been a crazy race, but he came from 18th and won the race? How do you interpret how the weekend went?
SCOTT DIXON: I think the weekend went really well honestly for all of Ganassi. We had great speed. There were definitely some misses with the 8 car in qualifying, Jimmie unfortunately as well.
I think Alex did a fantastic job and tried to create as much damage control as possible with the grid penalty that he had. Today, honestly, man, I think with where we ended up, some of the places we were earlier in the day, it was a great result.
I don’t think you can be bummed or disappointed about it. All of us, of course, want to be winning the race. That’s just how INDYCAR goes sometimes. It’s just not your day, and some guys just get really lucky, and that’s the way it is.
I feel like over the consistency of the season or duration of a season, that plays out for everybody. Can’t be disappointed for the second place. Big congrats to Marcus.
Q. How does a driver process the notion of being back in it after a stoppage?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I mean, for better or worse, it’s kind of become more commonplace for us the last few seasons. So we’ve had a little more practice doing it than certainly the first half of my career.
Yeah, I mean, you’re strapped in the car the whole time. You try to never really get out of it. You don’t think about having to get back into the mindset because as long as you’re in the race car, you’re still in the race. You never really get out of it.
For how hot it was today, it would have been interesting if we ran more green flag laps, if we would have felt worse at the end of it. We had cloud cover, which was nice. A couple long breaks which helped take care of us.
Mentally we’re all pretty used to it now. It happens from time to time. Obviously it is done to try to give the fans the best race we can give them. Certainly at the end there for a green flag finish.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, great results for you guys this weekend.