Dario Franchitti discusses his 29th IndyCar victory in Sunday's Milwaukee 225.
Q. Dario, you won the pole and led the most laps today and won the race to maximize on points. Can you take us through the win and how important it was for you?
"I wish it was that simple. Up to the first pit stop, the car was really good, and with the track conditions, I was able to pull away a good margin. Just working on trying to keep the balance of the car because not only was it understeering at some points, the rear was sliding around, too, so it was difficult trying to pinpoint one area of the car to fix.
"After the first area of the pit stop we could see Tony [Kanaan] was looking a little strong, and sure enough him and I had a pretty good battle. He caught me in traffic, made a good move, passed me and I got him back on the restart. That was fun to race with TK. Typical Tony – very aggressive but in the best possible sense, not giving an inch but not doing anything crazy or obstructive; unlike his Brazilian brother in the Penske car. But that was a lot of fun.
"You know the track was changing as it went on. And Chris and the boys were trying to keep up with it, and we did a good job of that I think. But trying to think what happened next. I was just in there hanging on. You know, Tony obviously got in the situation, I was better down on one and two than Tony, or Oriol [Servia] for that matter and they were better in three and four, but Tony, it looked like he got oversteer in traffic on the exit, and that shows how close to the limit we are with these things. On the in-car, it looks like we are not doing much, but trust me, we are not doing much because anytime you do that (indicating very, very, slight turn of steering wheel), the reaction is that (indicating exaggerated reaction of car movement). You're actually just driving the thing on a knife edge.
"So we had that one restart where Helio blocked the inside and then blocked the outside. No wonder he got a flat tire, some of the parts of the track he was using (clearing throat).
"And then the last restart with Graham [Rahal] there, you know I was able to get going, and take off. I felt that the two strongest cars were probably Helio [Castroneves] and I think certainly Tony was maybe strong. So those were the guy I felt I was going to have to battle. In clean air, I think I was a little bit quicker. In traffic, they might have been a little better. I don't know.
"Anyway, just a great job by the Target team again, in the pits, and with the strategy, and you know, just typical Milwaukee though, working on traffic all day. Not allowing anybody to get a run on you, which I did most of the time but occasionally screwed it up and Tony took advantage on one of those. Great to be racing back here at Milwaukee Mile."
Q. Tell us how special it was to have your dad in Victory Lane.
"A lot of you know, my dad comes to most of the races. But it's always special when I win and I can see my dad's face, but especially today on Father's Day. I don't think I'm alone here, and most of the drivers on that grid, without the sacrifices of their parents wouldn't be here. So it's pretty special."
Q. After Texas, how disappointed were you coming out of that race and coming into this one?
"Well, I was disappointed with the [qualifying] draw. By that I mean I was disappointed by the fact that I think all of the drivers agreed, we should have used inversion. But anyway, that's in the past. I was very pleased with the race. We drove well both in the first race and coming from 28th to seventh in the second race. That was a pretty good night in a short race with one pit stop on a splash, and no yellows, it was a good night for myself and Team Target.
"It won't happen again, having talked to Randy [Bernard], and Randy's apologized for the idea and everything. It won't happen again. It's happened; it's in the past. There's nothing we can do about it and we'll just keep on going and get our hands down and our arses up and try to win some more races."
Q. Sitting third, do you know it's just typical Milwaukee? Are you waiting for something silly to happen in front of you? How are you looking at that?
"I was trying to get on Kanaan's gearbox. I was trying to make it happen. I was still so spitting mad from what Helio did on that restart, I was doing all I could to get up to him and past Tony as well. That was all I was trying to do there.
"You can't give anything, you know what I mean. You can't ever just sit back and cruise. It's many a year since you're able to do that, I think. You've just got to be flat‑out all the time. And flat‑out for the whole stint and manage the situation for the whole stint. The tires were going off a little bit with the track more marbles as the stint goes on – it changes all the time and you have to keep on top of that."
Q. What was your reaction to TK's accident and Helio's bad luck with the tire?
"Tony's one was really unfortunate and I was enjoying racing Tony. Helio's I think was self‑inflicted. As I said, for somebody – to race with Tony, as I said, it's such a pleasure. He's such a difficult guy to race with but he's so tenacious. But we just – I think we have a respect for each other and we race each other bloody hard but there's always that respect there, too, and I love racing the guy."
Q. Do you feel that you're going to have to deal with your satellite teammate, Graham Rahal, on a regular basis?
"I think Graham did a great job today, absolutely. Ultimately he didn't have the pace of Tony, Helio and myself, but he drove a smart race, I think. It's not the first time I've seen him do that here. Last time we were here, I think it he finished fourth and just drove a smart race, too.
Yeah, Tony has definitely shown his colors, too, as a competitor week‑in and week‑out and I told you that at the start of the season, really impressive."
Q. Is lapping here as much fun as it appears on the outside?
"Oh, it's fun when the car is working well and it's a nightmare when the car is not, you know what I mean? You can do certain things and you can change your driving style here. You don't have a lot of fun when you're doing it but when you get out, you think, 'Wow that was amazing,' whether you win or second or third, you generally come out of this thing thinking, 'That was something special.'"
Q. You passed Johnny Rutherford now on the win list, and tied Rick Mears – as a history buff, how does it feel to be associated with guys like that?
"I was sitting there this morning just before the driver's meeting and Rick walked up and we were talking about some stuff, just about the races and some ideas he had. And I thought, 'Man, that's Rick Mears. That is the Rick Mears.' I thought, you know, if I do win another race, then I would be tying that with Rick. And it just seems very strange, to be honest. When I think about it, I'm delighted, I really am. I'm humbled by it.
"When I tied with J.R., and then last week passed J.R. – I saw J.R. in the bus lot about one o'clock in the morning. He stopped and just shook my hand and said, 'Well done.' That was cool. So it's a weird thing for me to have those kinds of numbers and to be around about guys like J.R. and Rick. It doesn't really compute, if you know what I mean."
Q. In your opinion, is Milwaukee a place where IndyCar needs to be?
"What I think it was missing last year was true short ovals. To win this championship, you have got to be good on road courses, street courses, short ovals, superspeedways, all of those things and all different types of track. So the fact that we were missing Milwaukee last year was tough. We all love coming here. The fact that we are going to Loudon, too, is a bonus for us. And we – every driver I've spoken to – are really happy to be back here racing at the Mile. Next stop I would love to see us go back to would be Road America, too.
"Oh, I've got a bit of a tidbit for you: The engine today was the motor from Indy and the two Texas races. So that's pretty good. I asked them what motor is that. I should have asked them before I got out. I asked them when I got out of the car, otherwise I would have done some steamy burnouts, because I won't be using that again. But it was 1,400-and-something miles that has done, and just never missed a beat. It's pretty cool."