Q: Dario, congratulations. You were dominant all day long, but everything got a little unusual. I'm sure you have all seen races where the dominant car did not win.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, last year springs to mind. You know there's a big puddle of oil under the car. I think we broke an oil cooler, seriously.
Q: You're the king of extreme weather.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. What can I tell you? We tried our best in qualifying, and we came up a little short. None of us were happy with that. We worked, Scott in particular on Bump Day worked very hard on the car. On Carb Day we did again. We left thinking the car was good. From the first lap today, yeah, it wasn't easy to drive, it was bouncing around in Turn 1 as much as I've had a car move around here in the rear, but I couldn't fix that because it was in balance other corners. But it was fast. Everybody had a problem in traffic, but we seemed to get through.
It was all looking good right up until that whole yellow, then we had to save fuel, were we saving enough, was Tony going to catch us? Turned out he wasn't. Turns out we had plenty of fuel because of the slow-down lap. Came in to pit lane, did some burnouts, still had some fuel in it. There was enough.
Q. You're a student of motor racing. This puts you in an elite category, your hero Jim Clark won here 45 years ago today. What does that mean right now?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: They showed me a list of two-time winners. Those guys are legends. I said the other night, "I'm just a driver, those guys are legends." I'm so lucky to be driving for Chip and Team Target, getting in good cars, especially having gone away after we won in '07. To be invited back was pretty cool. To have won a championship and an Indy 500, I didn't expect any of this. I said before, I expected to be retired by the time I was 35. This is all bonus and it's pretty cool.Q. It looked that little bit of wing you added at the first stop changed your day. Watching the timing, you were half a second clear per lap. Reminded me a lot of Montoya. Did the car feel as solid as it looked?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know how other people's were to drive. My car was a handful, but it was a fast handful. When it's fast, you can hang on to it. When it's not quite like that, you have to start making adjustments. It was a handful particularly in 1, but it was a handful doing 223s when other guys were doing 221s. Looked better after the tires. We made one change.
Q. Last week when you were asked about the possibility of the $20 million bonus for running this race and the Coca-Cola 600, you said that the 500 was enough. Now that you have the 500 in your pocket, is it still enough?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. Quite frankly, it's a lot of money, 20 million bucks. Hasn't been announced they're doing it yet. For me, this is enough. Physically, this is enough. That was a tough day out there. For me it's enough.
I think if you want to win either of these races, the Coke 600 or the Indianapolis 500, you have to specialize at it. Chip might change my mind at some point. He seems pretty happy at some point as the man who won the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in one year, that's pretty cool.
Q. Chip said early on, the first lap going into Turn 1, when you got around Power, you stuck it in there, it's sort of like you sat up in the seat. He felt it was like a moment of you realizing you had command of this race. Was there such a moment?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I thought I had a good chance. I thought I had a fast car by the time I did the first stint because I knew how the car was running through the whole thing. At that point, I thought, We're in the fight here. That move at the start, though, I knew the car was capable of it. It's something I've done before here. When I got past Will, I thought, "Fair enough." I was sitting on Helio's gearbox. I thought, "Damn, this is good." Pulled on past him, the yellow came out. Restart, but different people, we were able to gap them on the restart and go.
Again, we made a lot of right choices in the car setup. All day from lap 1 to lap 200 I drove the thing as hard as I know how.Q. Chip Ganassi is the first owner to win the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in the same year. You know first hand what a different world NASCAR is. What does this accomplishment by Chip mean to you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I wish we would have had those cars in '08 (laughter). Mind you, might not have been sitting here, which would be a real shame. It all worked out perfectly. We said that at Long Beach last year, didn't we? Worked out perfectly. Got to have a holiday, come back, have some fun.
I think it says a lot about Chip, the people he employees. The mindset, whether it's here or down in Concord, it's the same mindset: we're here to win. All he wants to do is win. If you're not interested in that, if you take your eye off the ball, he lets you know. That's all he cares about. Mike is the same. We go racing, and we like to win. To be a part of a team like that just makes your job so easy as a driver. You're going to get beaten, absolutely. But you know everybody is on it all the time. That comes from the top down.Q. Can you take us through your thought process the last five or six laps. How concerned were you with running out of fuel, getting caught by Wheldon?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was concerned about running out of fuel. I was concerned about Tony, that he pitted. The guys were like, "Right, just get to the finish. Dan is a ways back. He's coming on a bit, but he's a ways back. We have a good gap." I was managing the gap to Dan. That last lap, I saved a lot of fuel. But Dan was coming on. I think I lifted for the yellow pretty early there.
Q. Two Indy 500 victories. Are you now on par with Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, or are you now above them?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I could win races, Indy 500s, for the rest of my life, till I'm 70 years old, and I still wouldn't be in the same vein as Jim Clark or Jackie Stewart. Those guys are absolute legends. I'm in awe of both of them.Q. What did you think when you looked in your side view mirror and there was T.K. from 33rd to behind you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I thought, "I knew it." I had a dream last night that T.K. and I were going to fight to the finish. But, by that point, I had those thoughts and it was down to business again. Right, get away from T.K. so he can't draft me and save more fuel. Manage that gap, try to hang on to those guys ahead of me to save as much fuel as I could. Then I kept looking and he was still sort of a similar distance. I thought, "Man, if he's saving as much fuel as me, he's going to make this a difficult last five laps or so." Then he pitted, and that took a lot of pressure off. Until he pitted, I never took my eye off him because he can always surprise you. He didn't get the result that he deserved, but to have gone from last to second was cool. He will win one of these races one day, you watch.
Q. Last year you led a bunch of laps and at the end you got stuck in traffic. Today was it really your goal to get out in front and try to stay out in front? Also you talked about how difficult the car was to drive, difficult to match Penske. Did you have to make the car so it was totally on edge to be able to have that speed?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think in order to be quick here you have to be on edge. You seldom drive around here and think, "This thing is quick and it's easy." Qualifying '07, that's maybe the one time.
As far as staying out front, Scott and I last year were able to lead a bunch of laps, then we had those problems in the second to last pit stop. It just shows you it's a team sport. Everybody, even the best, even Team Target and Team Penske make mistakes. Today my guys were perfect. That's what it took.
Q. When you have a situation like you had at the end, the confusion, is it hard to keep track of all that stuff, concentrate on all those goofy things?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's much easier when you're just running wide open, definitely. I say "wide open," as hard as it will go. But that's part of it. Strategy is part of racing, whether it's IndyCar racing, stock car racing, sports car racing, you have to find the best way to get to the finish line, right? Doesn't matter what it is, you have to find the best way, and we did that.
Q. In terms of emotion, feeling, can you compare this one to your win in '07?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think that would be like comparing our two dogs. You can't do it. They're both different.
I have to say that feeling, when you drive into Victory Lane, you see some of my family, my dad was here, Ashley, some of my family from Nashville, my friends from Scotland, my team, it's cool, man. That's it right there. You get out and you get to drink the milk. That's what it's all about.