Q: How close did you think Wheldon was to you on the back straight? You said you couldn't see him. Never mind the finish, would you do the same move again? Would you do it differently?
HILDEBRAND: Well,to answer the first part of your question, I knew coming out of Turn 2 that he was in the short chute between 1 and 2. At that stage, I obviously knew that he was rather close.
In terms of distance on the track, that's a little bit tough. Spotter could have said car lengths to give me maybe a little bit more information about where he was at. But I knew that he was close, relatively close, and I knew that he was going a lot quicker than we were, as well.
Then to the second part of your question. Is it a move that I would do again? No. I think the only reason I did it in the first place was that it had worked at different stages earlier in the race. But in hindsight, I think with the tires being as used as they were at that stage, that last run after the caution being for so long, it's obviously a learning experience for me, that the marble buildup is quite severe.
Q: As you were sliding down the fence toward the finish line, was there anything you were able to do to hurry the car along?
HILDEBRAND: I was flat on the gas, man. What are you gonna do at that point? I mean, after I hit the wall, I was not slowing down to the start/finish line. Obviously, I got to the point that I couldn't steer it anymore. I was making every effort at that point to try to lessen the blow.
Q: It's been an odd month in that the Penskes haven't performed. Ganassi was there. Panther has taken on the biggest teams, like Andretti. How do you feel about the little guy coming on? What was it about May that allowed the little guys this year to compete against the big guys.
HILDEBRAND: I could give you a fairly complicated answer to that in terms of what I would really say. I think in a general sense, and this is just speculation on my part, it has nothing to do with anything. But, you know, I think that with these cars, we've gotten to a point that, yeah, you can kind of rub on them and make changes all day long. But they're effectively kind of the similar formula that we've been running for quite some time here.
I guess as I've experienced a little bit on the road-course side, it's not difficult to overcomplicate what you're doing. In the end, it's still just another race car.
I can't say that's what's made other teams do more poorly than you might expect, but I think that's a part of what's allowed us to continue staying up toward the top of the sheets all month. We had a fairly simple outlook on what we were going to do, and we stuck to a game plan.
I'd certainly give some credit to Buddy Rice coming along for this weekend, that he's obviously quite a low-anxiety personality. Between the two of us, it's kept the mood of the garage area sort of relaxed. I think that's an environment that you make better decisions in, so that would be my two cents.
Q: You seem remarkably composed for someone who lost the Indy 500 by crashing on the last corner.
HILDEBRAND: I'm pretending well, I guess (smiling).
Q: It must be churning you up.
HILDEBRAND: Yes. If that's a question, yeah.
You know, like I said, it's not really like a personal thing right now. Maybe down the road it will turn into a personal thing that I'll just be pissed off at myself for not doing whatever. In the end, it's really more about the people, for me at least, this team has worked so hard, it's such an integral part of being here at Indianapolis and being successful at Indianapolis, that's really where the sort of heartbreak is for me right now.
I certainly wasn't planning my victory speech. But being here on Memorial Day weekend, driving the National Guard car with so many servicemen and women out here for this weekend, it's really a treat to be a part of that. It would have been an outstanding feat to be able to get up on the top step of the podium for them, as well.
Q: Is there a glimmer of hope?
HILDEBRAND: I heard something about the yellows, blah, blah, blah. You know, yellow flags have determined this race in the past, if you would recall. I'm sure Mr. Paul Tracy would be happy to come in here and talk to you a little bit more about that (smiling). We'll discuss how it shakes out.
I would have to say, for whatever it's worth, Dan obviously must have done quite a job because he was a few steps behind those cars that were up at the front prior to that stint. So good on him to get up there, as well.
Q: Graham, you've ran the Indianapolis 500 before. Driver with great promise. Results haven't been what you were looking for. We watched a guy walk out of here that's down with a second-place finish. How are you feeling with a third-place run?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Obviously, I feel great about it. At the same time if it were two laps longer, I'd probably be drinking milk right now.
I mean, I feel great about what my guys did today. Someone just told me we passed 67 cars today and didn't win. I mean, both guys finished ahead of me, I passed Hildebrand probably four times today and I passed Wheldon once.
We knew we had probably one of the best cars out there. At the end, we were running probably a little bit too much downforce to do some of those big numbers, which is why Dixon passed me after that last restart. I didn't quite have the pace out front. But in traffic, I was as good as anybody.
It feels great, to be honest. My Service Central guys did a fantastic job all day staying levelheaded. We went down a lap with 70 laps to go, got the wave-around. That took us from fifth back to 17th. We worked our way all the way back up. It feels really good to be sitting where we are right now.
Q: What was your view of JR there?
RAHAL: I don't know. I'd have to look at it. I've made that mistake before. I don't know how close Wheldon was to the back of him. You know, that's a tough spot. He must have gotten really high.
Q: He was going around Kimball.
RAHAL: OK. Well, anyway, I did the same thing and made the same mistake twice. But I had run fairly high there earlier. A couple of guys had. The grip was OK up there.
I think Firestone did a fantastic job creating a tire for this race. Truthfully, the marbles were never bad. You could always kind of pick a lane, whether it be outside, inside, not too wide, but you had some freedom to run. Otherwise, I wouldn't have passed, as I said, 67 guys. It wouldn't have been possible.
But they made a tire that was strong enough in which you could do that. It was dead consistent for me. I know a lot of guys were falling off, but our car was really good. In the long run, probably we were the best car out there today.
As far as JR, you know, obviously I feel bad for him that he was in that position. Certainly he was in that position because of what the team had done for him, to get him off strategy and put him in that place. Like I said, I passed him four times today, and he was never quicker than us. Overall, I would say that you learn from the mistakes that you make and you move on.
Q: You were doing a lot of passing in traffic. Seemed like three or four guys throughout the race would be back, then fight their way up to the front. What happened there that you just couldn't get over the edge? I'm talking about all of you. Anything in particular?
RAHAL: What do you mean "get over the edge"?
Q: Get up to the front and keep it.
RAHAL: In my circumstance, it was the downforce level we picked. We picked it because we knew where we were starting, we picked it because we knew we were going to have to be good in traffic. We were excellent in traffic. We never made a single tire pressure change or wing change. We don't have adjustable wing pillars, so whatever we picked is what we were running. A lot of guys could probably trim out near the end.
That was probably it flat out for me. If you saw the last restart, I took the lead from Oriol, then Dixon passed me a couple laps later. I know a wing angle they're running, and it's far less than us. The straight-line speed is going to be higher.
At the end, I would say the same is true for Wheldon. When I came out of the pits on cold tires, he flat-out had more pace than me. I just couldn't quite keep up.