|Race winner Scott Dixon|
1 – Scott Dixon
2 – Josef Newgarden
3 – Helio Castroneves
Sept. 4, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Joined now by our second-place finisher, Josef Newgarden here at Watkins Glen International for the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen presented by Hitachi. Josef, this is your fourth podium of the season. It was a rough race for you, you started 12th and were able to work your way up. How were you able to gain so many positions throughout the race?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I mean, I think the weekend in general was tougher than we would have liked. We didn't start — we were pretty decent in the first day on Friday and then had a little bobble on day two in the morning. Into Turn 7 we had a little wreck, and tried to just have a smooth qualifying yesterday, which I think we did. We weren't as fast as we wanted to be, but we were fairly smooth, and then we had a pretty good race all in all. I think we got shuffled back really early, had to go wide in Turn 1 after there were some spinners. But once we got off strategy we passed a lot of cars. Able to make the fuel thanks to Chevy, and then I think we just had a great Fuzzy's Vodka car today, and that's ultimately what made the difference for us to secure second.
THE MODERATOR: Joined also by our third-place finisher Helio Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Helio, you said before you seemed to qualify really well here at this track but the race just never really went your way, but your first podium here at Watkins Glen International. How were you able to break that streak today?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, this time it definitely paid off. The early yellow probably, before we pit, did not help us out when we were running in the top 5, but then we were able to put our back — my car was really difficult in traffic. I knew my setup was more conservative than the other guys, so it was really difficult to catch on the straightaway. We were kind of struggling a little bit. So during the run we just got another yellow, and we just made a pit stop, and we dropped to sixth, which was very good strategy, but we knew that what we're going to do, we've just got to keep going.
So we decided to do that pit without changing tires, and then as we start saving fuel, RP was on the radio saying, you've got to do better than that. I said, RP, I'm doing everything I can to make it happen but it's not happening, so we've got to change plan here. And it was great because they were able to listen and we were able to execute right away, so we decided to turn the pace and tried to catch Dixon because he had a big gap.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]And then my dash froze, so now I don't know what's going on with the fuel mileage, so I'm like, great. The good news is I don't need it. And then we stopped, and about two laps to go, it was about 35, 37 laps on the tires, and it was really difficult, and obviously people started running out of fuel and we were able to capitalize on that. Great team effort from the Hitachi team, Hitachi boys. Looks like now it starts coming back, our luck, especially after Texas. We were able to crash and come back and finish in the top 5. It shows that we're right there.
Unfortunately the win — it was a little bit far to go unless something would have happened with the No. 9, but he was over the weekend in a league of his own. Good job for them, and right now we're still in the championship top four. I don't think we have a chance for Sonoma, but the good news is Team Penske is very close to sealing the deal.
THE MODERATOR: Everyone has been talking all weekend about how great it is that the Verizon IndyCar Series is back here at Watkins Glen. Josef, now that you've actually experienced here at the track, how great is it that the cars are back here and we're coming back for a couple more years to come?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it's great. Back when I was like a toddler, I was watching Helio around this place, and he was just my hero around here.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: How many years ago?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: In all seriousness, I think 2008, 2009, not too long ago, I did love watching the races around here. IndyCar was always — I actually watched the 2010 race back last night going to bed, and they always look fun around this place. I was kind of sad when they stopped coming here, and then you had that five-year gap that we've had not being here. For me it was special because I've always wanted to race here. It's the first time I've ever been here in an IndyCar, in a race car in general, and I think just for IndyCar in general, it's been great for the fans. We have a lot of good fans up here. I think the track really deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround that they did.
We announced this in May. It's three months ago that they announced we're coming back here, so I think for the turnout we did have, it was amazing. I think you saw they were pretty sold out on campers. There was not much space left for anyone to come camping, and you could see that when we were on the parade lap.
I can only imagine what we can do with another year to prepare for next season, and I think we'll come back here with an even better show and ramp it up a bit more. Yeah, for me it was very special, and I think for IndyCar it was very special to be back here, look forward to years to come.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, I'll ask you the same question but from the experience of somebody that was here when IndyCar raced here six years ago and now is back, just your impressions on the series being back here and coming back for the foreseeable future.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Can you repeat the question again?
THE MODERATOR: Just your general impressions of IndyCar being back here at Watkins Glen.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Oh, my God. I said when I was having lunch upstairs at the Legends, which was really an honor for me to be with Bobby Rahal and Dario, it was really cool. This place is the DNA of open wheel. This place is historic. I mean, we're talking about many, many years ago, and Bob Rahal was talking about 1974 coming over here, and how cool is that, that we're still coming back. The layout is similar. They were saying that they used to go without the Bus Stop, which was incredible.
But my point is this is the DNA of open wheel, and it's great to have the IndyCar Series back again. I'm very happy that they signed two more years, and hopefully we keep going because those are the typical type of tracks that suits our racing style, here, Mid-Ohio, Elkhart Lake, hopefully one day Laguna Seca, Sonoma. There's a lot of places that is really, really cool. This is the type of races we should be doing. Long Beach is another one.
He was talking about watching me. I was watching a lot of those guys, as well, back then, and for me just it's great to be back. Hopefully we keep going, and great job for the entire organization, by the way, because not only about the surface, new surface, back again, there was so many people camping. I think this is becoming a tradition for people to come over here and bring their kids and have a good time.
I have only one complaint, when the guy from the PA system wakes us up at 6:00 in the morning to put Formula 1 — he was not even talking, he was just putting the Formula 1 on the speaker, I was a little bit upset. But at the end of the day, hopefully I'll talk to the guys to make sure that — it doesn't need to be at 6:00. It could be at like 8:00. But anyway, it was so good. Everything is unbelievable. Hopefully next year we'll come back the same but not in third place but first place.
THE MODERATOR: Just like the cannon going off at Indy; you should be used to it by now.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: This is my first time I have motor home, so Rev Group is a great group of guys, and I'll tell you what, it was a little bit interesting. Were you here?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't have a motor home yet. Hopefully one day.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Talk to me. I can help you.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I'd like that. That would be great. I've got to get your number, man. I don't even have your number.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'll set you up.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Thank you, buddy.
Q. Helio, can you compare the grip between the last time you were here and here, and Josef, you did it the first time. Did it live up to the hype?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: We're talking about 5.6 seconds faster than the pole position six years ago. That just shows that — I mean, we're fighting for hundredths of a second, and when you're talking about five seconds, it is massive different speed. It is unbelievable the way we do the Bus Stop — I'm not sure on TV, I haven't watched it yet, but I'm not sure TV gives you the right speed, but trust me, when you're going on the Bus Stop and just downshift once or sometimes twice, man, that thing is fast, and the Carousel, as well. I was flat out.
I was asking Montoya when he was in Formula 1, I said, that's exactly what it used to be in those days with Formula 1. Just to show that we're right up there. This is definitely physical, but we love it.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, just to give you an idea, I have never added an oval type padding to my headrest on a road course, and I had to add one this weekend. At one point on the second practice on Friday, at the very end — it was a two-hour session so it was a long practice and we were running a lot. The very last run my head was just going through the Carousel, like Helio said, flat out, and then all of a sudden I was like, I can't hold it anymore. It actually fell over and I was trying to see where I was going still, and it was like, where am I going.
To give you an idea, you never do that on a road course. We have pretty strong necks that you build up after driving the car for a long time and being in the gym, and it's one of the things we work on. But the speed here is the highest we've ever seen I think anywhere in an IndyCar. We've never pulled G's like we pulled here. Part of that is the IndyCar, the technology that's been put in through the aero kits and all the work Chevrolet has done, but then also a lot of it is the surface and just the nature of this track. It's a very fast track already, and the surface they put on made it unbelievably fast. I don't think it hurt the racing at all. If anything I thought the racing was amazing today. All around, it was a big bonus for the track with everything they've done over the last year.
Q. Josef, how are you feeling with your result today going into Sonoma?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I'll be honest with you, I didn't think we were going to be on the podium today. Not to sound like I was pessimistic going into it, but we just didn't have a smooth weekend. I came into the weekend thinking we could win here after we had our test. We were very fast at the test, felt really good about things with the whole team. The weekend started going along, and on Friday we were kind of around sixth, seventh, eighth. We were just in that top-10 region, and it just wasn't enough. Scott clearly had a pretty big edge on anyone this weekend for the most part.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Then we kind of progressed through qualifying, and we lived through that, and we didn't have a great qualifying result with 12th. I think it's one of the worst we've had this year. So going into the race, it was like, man, we've got a lot of work, so we did a lot this morning on the setup of the car in the warmup to try to make it better, and I was really surprised. I think we had a great car in the race. Wasn't as good as Scott's; I think he was just clearly ahead of everyone this weekend, but I really think we were a solid top-five car, not considering how the yellows fell or anything like that. I think we had a very strong car pace-wise and we executed well. We could save fuel just as good as anyone, and that's what got us second place ultimately, so I feel great about it. It was a great result for us. Now that we can go try and win the race in Sonoma, we'll see where we end up in the end.
Q. Josef, you mentioned earlier it was a tough weekend, you had the accident or wrecked the car. I suppose it was repaired. Was the car the same like before, or did it behave a little bit different?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No, I think we started losing our way more as the second day progressed, and really in qualifying we lost our way, so the wreck didn't affect that. I think it actually wasn't too bad. When I first hit and I was looking at all the body work, the rear end, basically the rear wing exploded, so it just looked terrible. Everyone was like, wow, it was a huge hit, but we got it back and it actually wasn't that bad. I think we only bent one toe link from the suspension, so that's pretty minor for a hit around Watkins Glen.
We fixed it pretty easily, to answer your question, and the car wasn't different after that. We were just kind of struggling to figure out what we needed from a race pace standpoint.
I think we just lost our way more so in qualifying and then tried to recover this morning.
Q. Helio, you mentioned earlier, if I understood it correctly, your dashboard was frozen and you couldn't control the fuel consumption?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That is correct.
Q. Did you panic when this happened?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I just noticed that the number wasn't changing, and I realized that something was froze. But the good news is, like I said, we were in not saving fuel mode, and we didn't have to go for it.
As long as they were able to tell me when to pit, there was no issue. But it was just, I tried to change pace to see if it would come back, but unfortunately it didn't, but that was not an issue for us.
Q. Helio, Josef talked about this a little bit earlier, but there was a lot more action than anybody expected, I think, in the race. Going into it I think a lot of people thought no one would pass. There was thankfully a lot of passing. What would you attribute that to?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, a lot of grip, different strategies, patience. How many yellows did we have, four, three? Three, eh? So basically that was probably the average that we were thinking about, and every time Brian — in fact, it was even mentioned in the drivers' meeting, every yellow, another yellow comes to follow it.
But because there was so much grip, so people were able to take advantage of that, and when you have a full tank of fuel, the car does behave sometimes a little bit different, even if you were running in the morning but temperatures were a little bit higher, some people running different type of downforce, a lot of people running I think what I saw low downforce — I think him and I were similar, more high downforce.
You know, when you have that kind of a difference, probably that's what happened, and the Push-to-Pass, a lot of passing back and forth, and that's what happened.
Q. Helio, on the restart it looked like you had — Kanaan got in the way a little bit when Scott passed you. I wonder if you could talk about what happened there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's correct. I did not understand what's going on because all of a sudden he's turning in and kind of like slowing down. I didn't know if it was going green or not, and then I saw him coming in, but it was too late, and I think Scott also hang back, so he got a very good run in Turn 11. I'm not sure if they were communicating or if it was just coincidental in that kind of specific timing. Obviously it caught me as a big surprise, so I didn't have much reaction to do with Scott. I wasn't even in the Push-to-Pass to be honest because it did throw me off a little bit, but I don't think it was malicious intention, it just was kind of like very sudden, very — I was not expecting that, let's put it this way.
Q. When someone locks in at a track like Scott has here, is it feel? Is it just growing confidence? Is it great engineering, maybe some combination of both? Why has this guy been so good here, especially when you look at the amount of times since the series has been here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, obviously Scott is no one that — not a guy that doesn't have any experience and a guy that knows what he's doing, and I do believe also the fact that some of the type of this track probably suits his driving style, as well. And the team obviously, Ganassi won many championships before. It's a combination. So when you put all those ingredients together, it just sparks on.
I have to say, and he even said on the podium, people start catching up during the weekend because even that he has something in the car, we were still able to kind of like look and see what kind of downforce those guys are running. Unfortunately you can't see under the hood, let's put it this way, but I feel that it's a combination of all the details, and obviously Scott is a very good driver. When you put those things together, that's the result.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I mean, my sense would be I think it goes in cycles to be honest with you. I was watching the 2010 race and it actually looked like the Penske boys were the ones that had everything hooked up that weekend. That was the last car version, so that wasn't the DW12. This is the first time back with the DW12. Maybe they figured something out in the first cycle of the year here. When you come back next year, that might not be the case again; maybe everyone catches back up.
Sometimes you see that, a team will lock in on something quickly at a circuit, and they'll be ahead for a year and then it takes people a while to catch up. Sometimes it happens the opposite way. Penske does it sometimes where they figure something out. I think if you look at us, we were locked on something at Iowa. To me that's just a cycle thing. You're going to see that through a lot of different groups, and I think really any team is capable of it actually in the IndyCar Series now, so you're going to see that kind of cycle in and out, and I think they just hit it right this year and it was kind of hard to catch up, like Helio said.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think that's a great point, as well, because it was not only him. It was all four cars very fast from Ganassi, Tony was fast, Chilton was fast, 83 was fast. And I think Elkhart Lake was very similar, and that's when you start looking. They figured out something that benefited them, and obviously they seem to — they like this type of circuit.
Q. Josef, when you think of everything that's happened since June 5th, your injury, then you come back with that dominant win at Iowa, you're driving well, the season is almost over, and your name is in the news practically every day as a driver that's in demand. How do you approach the next couple of weeks?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Wow, I don't know. I think for me, it's been nice just being able to run the last couple IndyCar races and try and be somewhat in the title fight. You know, honestly we're not in it now. It's going to be between Will and Simon. I don't know how the points shook out. But there's no one really close enough to challenge those two guys. I guess what I meant by that is we're in the top 5. We're kind of challenging for the top group, so for me, I've just been focusing on that. I've been working with the team. We were excited to come here. It was really a bummer to miss Texas. I think we would have had a very strong car there. I think Ed proved that in the race. He looked very good, and I think we would have been just as good, too, so that's an opportunity missed for us. So I'm just kind of enjoying the last couple events of this season because we've been so good with the Fuzzy's Vodka ECR team and then can kind of just think about the future after that.
I think the nice thing about IndyCar now is you don't really have to think about that stuff until October. It's not like you're really pressing to do something until October, right, so I think we're going to try and finish off the year super strong, and fortunately that's where my thoughts can remain.
Q. Let's look forward to Sonoma, another high downforce — it's going to be a pretty grueling track similar to this. Can you give us a little bit of a preview?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think you're going to see a great race again at Sonoma. I don't know what it is, but when the kits originally came out, everyone was very concerned about the racing, and there's been I guess a progression of how the racing has been on road courses, and I don't think you could really have asked for much better racing this year on road courses. It's the same thing today. Everyone is like, wow, there was way more passing than we thought would be possible, particularly with the pavement. They thought that was going to make the passing hard with how much grip was around this place. You've just seen amazing racing.
I think part of it is the drag of the car. I do think they toe pretty well, and when you get the different combinations of aerodynamic setups like Helio talked about, you have people on high and low downforce that creates a lot of opportunity for movement.
So going to Sonoma, I think you're going to see a great race. As far as what's going to happen at the front, I don't know. I think there's a lot of pressure for sure on Will and Simon, and that's going to be up to them how they manage that. And really for guys like Tony, Scott, Helio or me, it's kind of a battle for the best of the rest.
We can kind of just have the fun of going out, having a really attack-style weekend and see where we land because at the end of the day, we want to finish as high up in the championship as we can, but we don't have the pressure necessarily of fighting for the title, so I think it makes it a little bit more of a relaxed approach and being able to attack and really enjoy the weekend there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, absolutely. We're going to try to finish this championship as a good style sponsor for Team Penske. Like I said, I think the two spots now are locked in, first and second, but we want to — we have four cars. Unfortunately with Juan Pablo, so many incidents that he had this year, he wasn't able to bring it back.
But for sure, trying to put all three cars up there would be phenomenal. We don't know yet about Sonoma. We're going to be testing. I think a lot of people this Thursday. It will be extremely crucial for us that we are battling for third place in the championship, and I'm sure obviously for the two guys battling for the championship.
At this point, we're going to do everything we can to finish one, two, three in this championship.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by our race winner Scott Dixon, driving the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing teams. I know a lot of people ask you and tell you, you really make it look easy here at Watkins Glen International, but obviously it's not — you're celebrating your 40th IndyCar win, which breaks your record for fourth all-time with Al Unser. Obviously a huge accomplishment for you, but what goes so right here that allows you to just dominate the rest of the field and keep them behind you?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. I wish it happened a lot more often. You know, that's the hard part, right, is that these are the weekends that you definitely don't forget, just in the sheer fact of we had such a smooth one, which made it hard also going into the race. We had been fast in practice, fast in qualifying, obviously got the pole. You just think of the problems and maybe strategy not going your way or maybe having a mechanical and taking you out of it.
A lot of it is what the team does. Huge credit to everybody at Team Target and the whole Ganassi organization from the people back at the workshop to the guys that are here on the weekend to make this opportunity possible. The car was just fantastic, and the track I love. I love coming to obviously upstate New York, and this track is one of the old-school great American tracks that we're lucky enough to come back here and race.
Again, huge thanks to the Verizon IndyCar Series and everybody at the Glen for working this out in a very short time frame, and the fans responded. It was great to see so many people here with not even having this on the schedule earlier in the year. I don't know, just love being back here, and I think we should have a double points race here and probably race two or three times at the Glen.
THE MODERATOR: This is the 102nd win for Chip Ganassi Racing teams, as well. It makes sense it would come at a track like this where all of your teammates really were having such a great weekend. What is the team able to provide in terms of experience and data from past races here that help you and also the entire team?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, even in my career with the team, it dates back to even going to a test in 2002 with Kenny Brack and Bruno Junqueira when we were in CART, and going to Mid-Ohio for the first time, you jump in the car, and you're like, wow, this is a lot different to the car I drove here previously.
It's a great baseline, but this team is very good at not being stagnant. I think we've had a rough year on paper, lots of ups and downs, but the performance of the car, we've been fast at a good majority of the places that we go on to kind of outside of Indianapolis. Everywhere else was really good.
It's never one thing, it's always a lot of small things to equate to what we have, but I think with these road courses like Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, Sonoma even for the last couple years and Road America, I think Road America could have been a great day for us, too, outside of the mechanical problem.
But it's just a great baseline, plus this weekend across the board the team did a fantastic job. It was great to see Max, a rookie this year, make it into the Firestone Fast Six. It's extremely tough, especially in a rookie year I think to make it through into the Firestone Fast Six, and huge credit to him this weekend, as well.
Q. From start to finish for a whole weekend, you dominated every practice session. You broke a new track record here. You won the race today. Would you say this is the most dominating weekend from start to finish in your career at one track on one weekend, in your long career?
SCOTT DIXON: It's probably close to it, yeah. I think for a road course, I know we've had some dominant weekends like this at ovals. Kansas I think rings a bell back in the day where the team had a very dominant streak going, and Mid-Ohio we've had something close to that, but I think to lead all three practices, warmup, qualifying the pole, and then win the race. I think TK actually got fast lap in the race, which is one thing I didn't get. I'll talk to him about that later.
It was definitely a very dominant weekend, but I think when you're in those weekends, too, your mind is just running crazy with possibilities and things that could go wrong, especially in the race. Yeah, I don't know. As I said, I think we should race here more.
Q. You had a perfect car and a dominating car at Toronto. Talking to your guys in victory lane, they said they kind of learned their lesson a little bit with the pit strategy, that they were bringing you in a little early this race so the Toronto thing didn't happen. Does this race in many ways kind of make up for how dominant you were at Toronto?
SCOTT DIXON: Unfortunately it doesn't. You always think about those ones more than some of the victories that you get just because of the sheer fact that you thought you were so close to getting it.
Toronto was a tough one. We'd been bitten by that just on the 9 car side three or four times throughout my career there, and we had spoken about it before the race. I think that's what made it a little bit harder to swallow.
I think Mike called a perfect race this weekend, and it's so hard, you can't equate for a yellow coming out when they do, and today we were on the other side of it. We were like, hey, we're going to pit as soon as we can. As soon as these windows open up, we're going to take care of ourselves and make sure if we lose out a little bit, so be it. At least we're not going to go to the mid-pack or back of the field and have to try and fight our way through.
As you saw today, we pitted a lap pretty much before anybody else, and we had a caution a lap later, and that's just how these races can flip. It's tough to swallow when it's on the other side.
Q. IndyCar prize money purses aren't what they used to be, but you said during the broadcast and during the win that you'd be donating your winnings to the Wilson Children's Fund. Tell me about that decision.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, coming into the weekend, I think actually any other weekend, especially around this time, I've obviously — a year going on with the loss of Justin, being back at Pocono just recently, and obviously talking to Jules and seeing the family, this was a place that Justin really loved. Last time we had a good battle here, and he kicked my butt. It's a place that he got I believe it was his first win maybe in the combined IndyCar and Dale Coyne's first and was definitely a milestone, and I was thinking about Justin a lot this weekend.
Obviously with the launch of the Wilson Children's Fund, the new website and all that stuff, I just thought — Emma and myself and our family could donate our winnings from this weekend.
Q. At the end you have 16.53 seconds lead over Josef Newgarden at the finish. Can you give some secrets how you saved fuel? Is there any special trick, especially with Helio Castroneves came in 57 or 58? Were you concerned that you can't make it until the end?
SCOTT DIXON: The brakes I guess is a good one. I don't know, we've had a phenomenal run with Chevy, and I think I maybe got the Chevy Volt engine today, we were running on electric or something out there. But the mileage was through the roof. They gave us — Mike gave me the number, and then I knew we had four or five cars to pass. I'm like, oh, man, that's not going to be too pretty after fighting for a few laps, and luckily we got through the traffic in about a lap or two. But even then the number was very big, and I was a little worried about that, but I knew that with our combination as a team and how about the car was going to be, or was this weekend, that we were able to probably get a lot better fuel mileage than some of the others.
I knew if we were in a tight situation like that, we were going to be the best at the job, and that definitely played true. But I can't give you any secrets.
I drove it back in. I was going to do some burnouts and stuff, but I didn't think everybody would like that too much.
Q. When you look at the wins in '05 to '07 you had Eric Bretzman was your engineer, now you've got Chris. What's his role been, and how much confidence did you have in his setup and just what he was able to do?
SCOTT DIXON: I believe actually in '05 it would have been Chris and Bretzman on the same stand, which was a hell of a combination and a combination which I wished lasted a lot further. Obviously they're both very talented and had to split off into different teams at some point. Chris I've worked with for many, many years and have known him for even longer. Always have great confidence in Chris and always had great confidence in what Eric brought to the team and still continues to on the Cup side. I think you can credit a lot of the 42's pace actually of recent to Eric Bretzman. So it's good to see him fitting over there.
But yeah, you know, as always, there's places that we know that we have a good baseline setup and a place that we can run strong at, and this is definitely one. We didn't really change the car too much all weekend. I just wish there was less practice this weekend. Everybody else got a lot better from practice 1 to practice 3 in qualifying. But yeah, no, Chris is fantastic, always is and always has been, and same with Eric.
Q. This year's championship is coming down almost to the same points spread as last year. What do you say to power? It's about the same number of points you had last year, and maybe what advice do you give to Pagenaud?
SCOTT DIXON: Both of them, man, you've just got to go for it. You've got to race it like any other race. It's hard. I think all of us fall victim to falling into a championship battle and racing for a championship as opposed to just doing what we need to do. I think in the past this team has done a very good job with the championships that we've — not so much stole but taken last minute with Dario's record and some of mine, as well.
You know, it's definitely a very emotional ride, I think, going into it, and Will has been in a lot more battles for the championship than I think Simon has. But then also Will took a pretty big hit today as far as points.
You know, we'll have to see how that team handles it. I think Roger will be very happy that the championship lies with that team and they can fight it out. He's going to be a happy man either way. But yeah, I think the biggest advice I could give those two, not that they really need it, is just race it like any other race.
Q. I guess at minus 104 you could conceivably score enough points to tie them, but you'd need zeros on Pagenaud's part. You're going to try to win at Sonoma, but who do you think has an advantage among the two guys that are realistically the only two guys running for the championship?
SCOTT DIXON: It's hard to say. I think Simon has done a phenomenal job this year, and especially early on in the season. It's somewhat a Penske-dominant track, or has been at least for qualifying. We've had a good run there recently with the race victories. And Will has — I don't even know how many poles the guy has had at that place, a lot, and the same with Helio, too.
Yeah, it's going to be interesting to see how it plays out. I think going into the race I would say that Will has maybe a stronger situation going in as far as speed in qualifying, but the race can throw so many different variables, and Simon has just been rock solid in so many different situations this year. I think we could see that, especially at Mid-Ohio, where Will got the advantage in the pit stop exchange but Simon was able to work it back out.
It's going to be a good battle to watch. I just hope I'm in front of them.
Q. After 50 laps in the DW12 with these speeds, can you compare and contrast the physicality of this race compared to 2010 and the previous years?
SCOTT DIXON: It's hard to do that. Things change so much. I like to think a lot of the tracks that we go to, the most physical ones are the bumpy ones, just because you're correcting so much. The street courses have a lot of grip, but places like Mid-Ohio or Road America have a lot of character to them, so the braking zones are a little bumpy, the apexes, but the speeds and loads are high. Here it's still very smooth and you're not doing a whole lot of correcting.
And then with how the race played out, and we had a 16- or 18-lap final stint while saving fuel, you know, the pace comes down a couple of seconds and the loading comes down a lot.
Had this been a flat-out race, I think, throughout, which they may change I think the distance of the race next year just so it's not so much of a — kind of a — you're right in the middle of making it on fuel and making it pretty easy to be achievable but not being that slow. So next year they may change it by five or ten laps and see how that plays out.
Yeah, it's physical at times, but the way the race finished today, it wasn't so.
Q. Where does this victory rank in your 40 so far?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, it feels darned good right now, so right on top of the 40 right now. You know, I don't know. There's so many different races. Indianapolis I think is always going to be a standout just because of what that race means to a lot of people and to yourself, especially I think as I've been in the series for so long now, to see what Indianapolis is really about. That one is always really tough to top.
But I think as the weekend goes, which if you look at my Indianapolis 500 victory in 2008, that month went very similar to how this weekend went. We led a lot of practices, we got a pole and we led almost 150 laps or something, I have no idea. But it was a lot.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]So you know, Indy is hard to beat, man, but this was definitely a pretty sweet weekend.
Q. I believe in victory lane you said you were talking to the former CEO of Target. Can you take us through what it means to keep winning for them? I know they're not going to be on your uniform full-time next year, but take us through that part a little bit.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, Chip has got a lot of friends, and Bob Ulrich was the first CEO I think when I joined the team in 2002 and has always been a good friend. He was at the Phoenix race this year. He comes to Milwaukee sometimes and Iowa. He was actually in Iowa this year, as well. He still comes to a lot of the races.
You know, I think as I've said many a times, the best part I think of the 15 years that I've had with the Target relationship outside of the 27 that Chip has had is all the friendships that I've made. Bob lives most of the time still in Minneapolis or Phoenix doing his music museum out in Phoenix but still plays a big role in — we catch up a lot, we talk a lot, and he was a huge part of my career in the early part. Yeah, it was definitely nice to chat to Bob. I hadn't seen him since Iowa. But he's always the guy that will be calling Chip, as do the other CEO's that we've had through the course of the relationship.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud, who started seventh and finished seventh in today's IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen presented by Hitachi. Obviously your points lead has increased this race after what happened to your teammate Will Power. What's going through your mind after you've had some time to process the race and realize where you stand heading into Sonoma?
SIMON PAGENAUD: It was a very eventful today day. The HP Chevrolet was really good, actually, in race pace. We struggled with a bit of — we lacked a bit of pace this weekend, but in the race, I was very aggressive at the start, which gained us a lot of spots. We were actually battling for second going into the Bus Stop with Will, and at that point it was going to be a good fight going forward with him.
We basically had the same strategy, so we were caught by the yellow with him, and then on the restart I managed to get around him. Yeah, a couple good fights on the track. Quite a bit of fun.
But then on the second stint, on the black Firestone tires, we had an open gap and could really make a lot of ground, which put us pretty much in I believe top four at the time toward the end of the race, and before the last caution, we were looking pretty good there, but the last caution made it so the guys in front had to save a lot of fuel, and we didn't save enough fuel to start the stint, so the end was very slow.
We made it back in seventh. Championship day is very good, so we collected a lot of point. We have a better cushion going into Sonoma, even though we still have to race hard. It's going to be a lot more comfortable.
THE MODERATOR: How much were you keeping tabs on Will throughout the race, and obviously you never want to see your teammate go out in the fashion that he did, but were you advised when he had crashed out of the race that that had occurred?
SIMON PAGENAUD: So I was basically racing him as much as I could, and my target was really him all day. We were changing positions, so I knew where he was, and then I lost sight of him on that second stint. It's funny because when the yellow came out, I asked where was he, and they told me, yeah, Will just crashed. At that point it didn't really change anything for me. I still had to race hard and try to make as many points as possible, knowing the double points system makes it very difficult. If you want to be comfortable you need a big gap going into the last one.
You never know. We could have mechanical issues, we could have any outside factors. That's not in our control. That could take away the championship from us. Tried everything to make it so we have the best cushion.
THE MODERATOR: Did you get that gap that you were kind of aiming for coming into the weekend, I believe it's 43 points now?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, I mean, the last stint, they restarted the race with 17 laps to go, we can really make only 16 laps on a full tank going hard, 15 maybe, and in that case, a lot of people had to save fuel. Some other people in the back didn't have to save fuel. At that point there was so much fuel saving there was no racing going on for us, it was just about finishing the race in the best position possible, hoping some people were going to run out of fuel.
So the last stint was not very racy, unfortunately, but that was the strategy, and it worked out.
Q. I'm not asking you to be a medical advisor, but did you see Will after the race, and did he look normal like Power, I guess?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah. What does that mean? I don't know if he would like that comment. Yeah, I saw him. He's a total normal Will Power like. He seems okay. Glad he was okay. I mean, it's never great to hear any concerns on the head. Just glad he's all right. Like you said, I'm not a doctor, so I can't say what's next. But yeah, just glad he's all right because I want to take this fight to Sonoma.
Q. Simon, when you're out there competing with everyone and you're running at speed and trying to pass people and then the race strategy changes and you're told you have to save fuel, how does that affect you in the cockpit, because it must be a little boring but yet it's still challenging to meet numbers, especially when they're not realistic.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yes. It's very disturbing. Racing around the racetrack like this, and most racetracks it's all about rhythm. You've got to find your rhythm, your tempo, so you can keep going faster and faster and faster, and all of a sudden when they ask you to save fuel, your braking points change, the way you lift the throttle changes, and all of a sudden it's a different rhythm that you need to get into and extract the best out of that new rhythm. It's very difficult to switch back and forth, and especially when they ask you big numbers, like you said, unrealistic ones.
But even my engineer came up on the radio and said, calm down, we just need you to work with us, so I understood at that point that I just needed to stick to the program and get their numbers.
Q. First road course race since Mid-Ohio for you; how physical was it? How did your back feel? Was there anything you did, like did you need anything in your headrest, extra padding?
SIMON PAGENAUD: It felt good. My back was fine. It's really back to 100 percent now since I would say Texas, so that's really good. Pretty happy about that.
Physically it was very demanding, especially if we had to run the whole race 100 percent. But I think it was great. I think it made a bit of a difference at some point. Physical aptitude was very important, abilities was important. Certainly the neck suffered in the Carousel and the arms were burning quite a bit, but training was good enough for it, so I'm pretty happy.
Yeah, it's all good. I think it's the most physical racetrack we go to for sure.
Q. Simon, in case you win the championship in Sonoma, in the past during the Champ Car time, Europeans winning the championship, how is it following in your country, and do you think it will open doors for other teams over in Europe for you to drive somewhere else besides IndyCar next year?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Listen, it's no secret I've always been super interested in the 24 hours at Le Mans. I finished second there. Unfortunately it was the closest margin in history, so I've got unfinished business. But right now I'm pretty focused with Team Penske to run in IndyCar, try to win this championship and then try to win the Indy 500. That's my goal. It's always been my dream since I was a kid.
I've got things to accomplish here before I can think of anything else.
Q. You were talking about Ben Bretzman. Is he as much of a psychologist to you as he is your engineer?
SIMON PAGENAUD: That's a good point for sure. He's very positive. He's an incredible guy. Even in a dark day, he's very positive, always uplifting. And he definitely — we've known each other since 2010, so it definitely changed — not changed my life, but he definitely made me look at things differently since we've been racing together. I used to be very intense and always very anxious, and now it's a lot easier because he's basically shown me that I can be positive. There's always a silver lining, so yes, he's been very important psychologically, as well.
Q. Simon, you started seventh and finished seventh; clearly you wanted to beat Scott, but do you feel satisfied with that finish, or do you kind of feel like you left something out there on the track?
SIMON PAGENAUD: I had nothing for Scott this weekend, so no. Some days it's not your day, and some days — actually on days like this, that's how you win a championship is when you're not having the best day but people don't realize you're not having your best day. That's when you're doing well.
In my opinion this weekend I think we were fighting for podium results, and then strategy came into play. We ended up where we ended up. It was more strategy than skills at the end of the day.
Yeah, nothing for Scott. I think Scott was in a different league this weekend.
Q. I was just wondering, are you at all nervous heading to Sonoma despite the points gap?
SIMON PAGENAUD: You know, you can always be nervous about everything, right? Outside factors take me out. You could worry about that, but I can't control it. It's stuff that I can't control. I think we're going to be competitive there. We were last year. We have really good cars with Team Penske at this track. It's a little easier now because we can just mirror whatever Will does. If he gets caught by yellow, we'll get caught by a yellow. We can just do exactly what he's doing. That's really easier. But that doesn't mean that everything is done. There's a lot of road to cover still. There's a lot of points going into the last race.
I'm not nervous, I'm eager to finish this championship, finish it off.
Q. Kind of more big picture, you had the four wide at Texas last week; is a moment like that the kind of moment where you think, if I win this championship, that'll be the kind of moment where I made a really good decision, or is there some other point in the season where you think, boy, that was a really — I got more out of the car than it should have?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, yeah, I think there's been some good moments. Indy qualifying for me, Indy Grand Prix qualifying was very good, got us up there. First win at Long Beach where those laps before we pitted made the race. There's been a lot of moments. I think Iowa was very strong, as well, and Phoenix. A lot of good moments.
Unfortunately we had some bad moments, too, with some bad luck and mechanical issues, but yeah, Texas — it's a shame I had to get back and get out of it for sure, but I had no choice. This one today I think is probably my best, considering that I didn't have the pace I expected. I think that was my best race of the year, especially the restarts, getting ahead of Will. I think for those reasons it was a really good race.