Transcript - Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Post-Race Press Conference
MODERATOR: We are joined by Simon Pagenaud from Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports. This is a career best finish for Simon, previous best career finish was fourth, which he did three times, Mont Tremblant, Toronto and Edmonton, which is also a best finish for team owner Sam Schmidt in the IZOD IndyCar Series. His previous best finish was with driver Jaques Lazier, which was third in Nashville in 2001. Simon, you certainly put on a show today, reeling in Will there at the end. Walk us through the race in those closing laps.
SIMON PAGENAUD: I don't really know until I watch the race, to be honest, what happened because it seems like it was a pretty cool race to watch. So I'm glad for the fans. I'm glad to be back in Long Beach. It's a place where I've been pretty lucky in the past with two wins in sports cars, so I love coming back here. The Schmidt/Hamilton racing team is just fantastic at the moment. I think we are a one‑car team, but we need to give a lot of credit to Sam and the whole team for putting such a program together. They're the strongest in Indy Lights with five championship wins, and here we are again with second position today in the IndyCar Series.
A lot of credit to those boys. HP is a big support for us with my new ride Best Buy, so thanks to them for giving us what we need to fight against Penske and Ganassi.
MODERATOR: We've also been joined by James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport, James is also having a career best finish today. His career best finish was fourth, which he did several times at St. Pete, Long Beach, New Hampshire and Kentucky. In three starts this season James has yet to finish outside the top six. First podium. Walk us through today's race if you can.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I don't know where to start. It was a bit of an eventful race, but man, I know from my seat it was certainly exciting. I bet it was from the outside, too. It's cool to see some exciting racing back in IndyCar.
For us, clean start, didn't have the greatest first stint, kind of got held up behind E.J., he was struggling with the balance you could see, but ultimately it came down to the Andretti guys making the best calls on the pit stand. They've been doing that week in and week out this season. It's cool to have such a great team behind you supporting you and making those right decisions because that's what makes IndyCar racing so cool is you can start 16th and still have a crack at this thing if you play the strategy right. Credit to them. The GoDaddy car was strong right up to the end. I think my fastest lap was the second last lap of the race. Didn't quite have enough to catch Simon and Will, so congrats to them.
I do feel bad for Ryan, because obviously we finished fourth on track but with Ryan's penalty, and I only got there because of Ryan. He was punching holes left, right and center and I was just following him through for a lot of the race, so big thanks to him as well. Hopefully it's not the last time I get a trophy in this series.
THE MODERATOR: What is this we hear about seeing baby-face Hinch in two weeks?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, I may or may not have foolishly made a bet with Wade Cunningham, and the bet was that after my first podium I had to show up to the next race with a completely clean-shaven face, and that's not happened since about 2004. So I guess in Brazil you're going to be seeing baby face Hinch show up, and I'm not thrilled about that.
Q. Simon, in your mind what was the biggest reason for your success today?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Every time he's (Hinchcliffe) around we have a blast. I hope we get to do many podiums together.
I think it's mostly my engineer and all the development they are doing is not by himself. He's got a few other engineers working with him, so Ben Bretzman, Nick Snyder and Brendon Cleave, those guys are really close together, and the fact that we're an one‑car team is actually not a bad thing because they're very focused on just my car and very focused on my feedback. So everything I'm asking, I get it.
So we just – obviously it's taking us a little bit longer than those guys with three cars because we don't have as many data, especially this weekend with less sessions. But when we have a normal weekend, we can actually be with those guys because we have time to catch up.
When we don't unload from the truck really well, it's a little bit harder like it has been this weekend, but still, they make good decisions as you can see, and I think it's all about the right decisions at the right time, and I think that's what they're doing.
Q. Simon, not to pick on E.J. Viso, could have been any back marker, you had to have mixed emotions when you saw Will come upon him and slow down and then you had to realize you've got to get around him. What went through your mind at those two moments?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, I really thought I would have a go when E.J. was there. I thought E.J. did a good job. He did his best to get out of the way in the right place. There's not much else he could have done, really. I was hoping we was going to end up a little bit more, so it gave me some time, but I just needed one more lap or a little bit more pace. But to be honest, that's all I had, and I think it's plenty quick.
But it is what it is; sometimes you can make it happen, and sometimes you don't have the opportunity. But he knows we're coming.
Q. Simon, this is along the same lines because I know race control asked the car 5 and 6 to move over for the leaders, and it seems like car 5 took a while, at least a lap before he did so, and I know there aren't too many places around the track, but if he would have done it sooner do you think you could have challenged Will Power?
SIMON PAGENAUD: I don't know. With a lot of ifs, you could change the world. It is what it is at the end of the day. I'm really happy with second. If I had an opportunity, I would have definitely tried. You can trust me on that. The day I have the opportunity, I will try.
But I didn't have the opportunity, so I don't think I'll go end up (indiscernible) once again badly during the middle of the race, but that's another story. The others I think are doing a pretty good job.
Q. Simon, can you clarify for us, your car appeared to have the best view of the first-lap incident. Did you think Dario (Franchitti) made the contact with (Josef) Newgarden?
SIMON PAGENAUD: That's going to start to be political now. To me it looks like Dario drove him into the wall, but that's just to me. I'm not in his car, I'm not in Josef's car. Again, I need to watch the race and then I could have a clear point of view. I think it's a little bit harsh for me to say what I said.
Q. The tire that you struck, was there somebody on your outside when you hit power's tire?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Actually, you know what happened, is when I got out of the pits I saw somebody coming in my mirror, so I tried to stay as far as I could on the inside to leave him room, but it was actually Will, but I didn't know it was him. So I did my best to stay on the right to avoid a contact with that car, and I touched the tire. Really sorry about any delay I could have caused him. But it's a tight pit lane.