Q: It was a wacky day, but you had the dominant car all day long. In the end, it looked like justice. Tell us about it.
CHIP GANASSI: I was telling Dario, we were lucky he had a good enough car he could stretch out his lead there by four or five seconds or whatever because we needed those four or five seconds at the end when we were having to save fuel. We were a little confused listening to some of the others about what mileage is. Everybody monitors everybody else's channels. We were a little confused by some of the numbers they were saying the other teams needed.
The other thing you have to keep in mind is, you know, we were in a situation where we got down to the last 10 laps of the race, OK, you had Castroneves, Wilson, those guys pitted, then you had the guys behind us. Now you get in a situation where they could get by you, not have enough fuel to finish the race, squirt by you, it goes yellow, now they suddenly have enough fuel to finish. You have to be prepared for all eventualities there. We had to play that game being the leader to keep those guys behind us but also stay in front of them to make it to the finish.
MIKE HULL: It was a great day. It's what race teams work to achieve, to win this race. This is the biggest race in the world. Today we had great race drivers and great race teams. I don't know what the head count is here because they never tell us, but I think they were treated to a great show. Obviously we think that at Chip Ganassi Racing.
What we had to employ today was everything we do as a race team. We had to employ setup, speed, strategy, and understanding fuel after different times during the race. That's what we do well as a team. We just try to be consistent in being able to do that.
CHIP GANASSI: Dario asserted himself on the start. Yeah, there was that yellow pretty quick. But he got by Will going into Turn 1. He went around the outside. Then he passed Helio coming off of 2 before it went yellow. That kind of set the stage. I think that was a very important kind of pumping his fist in staking his claim. Certainly you can't win the race on the start, but you can lose it.
I think that went a long way toward getting him up in the seat, knowing how his car was. Then, as the race went on, we were able to pull out one second, two seconds. It was dominant up through 150 laps or whatever.
Between Scott and Dario, they led here before a bunch, and came up short. I think we led 175 laps a couple years ago.
MIKE HULL: We just didn't lead the right laps.
CHIP GANASSI: We led more laps than we led today and didn't win.
Then, you know, probably one of the deciding factors in the race was I think Roger short pitted Helio there to try to catch a yellow. What it did was it actually took him out of sequence with us. I think he might have had a better finish had he not done that. But it was a gamble they had to take to try to win. They came up about four or five laps short.Q. What about Daytona and Indianapolis?
CHIP GANASSI: Obviously, you know, Jamie McMurray won that race in February. Dario and Target won the race here today. I'm a lucky guy to be in this business and to be able to work with people who accomplish that.
I didn't drive either car. I didn't change any tires. I didn't put any fuel in the cars. I don't do any of that stuff. I have hundreds of people who do that kind of thing. I'm very, very lucky is what it comes down to. I'm very lucky.Q. You put the teams together.
CHIP GANASSI: 25 damn years or more I've been working on it. I'm just the guy who gets my name on the door, the sign in the front. But it's a lot of hard work by a lot of people, a lot of people who never get the attention they should. A lot of decision making that you never know if you made the right decision or not. You never know. You're on the end of the diving board, I used to hear Roger say. You have no idea what a lonely world it is being a car owner these days. You're in the middle of sponsors in this environment. We have great sponsors. But you got sponsors on one side, drivers on the other side, your team on the other side of you. Everybody is always pushing hard to get those cars to the front.
All we work at at our teams is to win the next race. Someday we'll look back at the record books and say, "Gee, that was a great race, a great year, a great win." But when it comes down to it, it's a sports business. It's every kid's dream.Q. Chip, how much fuel was left?
CHIP GANASSI: 1.6 gallons.Q. How far will that take you?
CHIP GANASSI: I have no idea.Q. Was there going to be enough to get him to the end if it had remained under green flag conditions? How fearful were you that Wheldon could have picked you off?
CHIP GANASSI: I don't think he could have picked us off, but I think he could have passed us. A lot of those guys are kicking themselves because they ended up with fuel left over at the end of the race. The worst thing you want to do is have some control over the fuel either with a switch or the push to pass button. The worst thing you can do, and we've done it, is come up second in this race or third and have fuel in your tank that you didn't use, you could have used more of it.
But that's this race. I mean, that's what it's like when you go into the last three laps or two laps and there's a yellow, white flag and then there's a yellow.Q. Mike, all through practice and qualifying you guys were struggling with Penske. They seemed to have better pure speed. Dario was able to run a strong speed and they couldn't quite come up to him. What can you tell us about how you were able to make that work in the race? Did you have to do a huge amount of work? Dario and Scott practiced a lot together.
MIKE HULL: In fairness to the Chip Ganassi Racing team, I think we worked all week to do what you saw today. We were fast during the week. We weren't always the fastest car. With what we concentrate on, which is today on fuel, working on race things, mechanical grip versus what the aero side of the car is, I think that was demonstrated very well today.
As a team, we worked hard with Dario and Scott to understand what we needed to do for today. Then you wait for the atmospheric condition, the density of the air. You already have a mechanical setup, the suspension side, the dampening, then you work on the aero side to try to match that up. The worst thing you can do is put too much aero in a car on a day like today. You have to have enough aero to be able to run the laps when you're out front like Dario was today.Q. Chip, you made a decision after a very frustrating year when Dario went to NASCAR to bring him back here. That was a tough year. Did you ever feel like there was no doubt in your mind he could come back and be what he was before, as he has now, or did you have concerns what happened that year was such a downer that it would affect him?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, you guys know me well enough to know, I'm not the kind of guy, if we make a mistake, OK, we make a mistake, we move on. If I thought Dario didn't know how to drive, he wouldn't be driving the car, no matter what happened in NASCAR. I knew he knew how to drive. I knew he was the best driver available when that seat became available, and I told him that.
His NASCAR experience, that was like a semester at sea or something that we did. We did it and we're glad we did it but we're glad we're back home, too.
Q. Chip and Mike, there's a lot of major changes in the way the 500 worked out today. Would another change of 10 gallons more fuel have been a help to you guys?
CHIP GANASSI: You can sit there and second guess any race you want. I don't care if you're in NASCAR, IndyCars, Grand-Am, I don't care if you have a fuel switch or you don't. If you have X amount of fuel in your tank, and with that X amount of fuel you can go X amount of laps, just pick a number, you have fuel to go 20 laps, and there is a yellow with 22 to go, you can bet everybody is going to come in and fill up and save fuel till the finish.
I don't understand why you guys don't do a better job of explaining that to the fans. Everybody is like, "We don't like fuel races." There's no way to stop fuel races no matter what you do. There's always going to be that case where there's a yellow right before the exact amount of laps that you need to get full to finish. Everybody keeps trying to put a switch in, take the switch out, have push to pass, all this stuff. It doesn't mean anything. There's always going to be a fuel race. I'm not saying every race is going to be a fuel race, but there's always that incident where there can be guys saving fuel to get to the finish. It's just that simple.
The only way you could legislate that is have everybody stop with 10 laps to go in the race and fill up and say fuel has nothing to do with it so the first part of the race means nothing. You're always going to have that no matter what you do. There's always going to be that instance. Does anybody not understand that? You're always going to have that case, 'cause we never know when people are going to crash. That's one of the things about sports, you don't know the outcome of it. You're always going to have that case. 10 gallons more fuel, yeah, would have helped us today, but maybe last week it wouldn't have.
MIKE HULL: At the point everybody pitted, 10 gallons of fuel wouldn't have made any difference. You still would have had to come back in. We have a 22-gallon cell. What you're saying is should we have a 30-gallon fuel tank. If we had that, lap 60, we all would have made it to the end, yes. We came in over whatever it was, 63 or 64. You're not going to make it. It doesn't matter what clever strategy you employ. If you're full rich and running with your foot flat on the floor at lap 163 at the Indy 500, you're not going to make it.