Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe, participated in a media teleconference ahead of this weekend's IndyCar Series season finale, which will determine which of them claims the 2009 driver's championship.
Dixon, a two-time series champion who seeks his second consecutive IndyCar Series title, leads his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and 2007 IndyCar Series champion Franchitti by five points, with Team Penske's Briscoe just eight points behind entering the Firestone Indy 300 on Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It is the second-closest three-man championship in series history.
Q. What is your confidence level heading into this weekend? It's a winner-take-all event. Do you approach this race any differently from the previous 16? Scott, you're the points leader, so we'll start with you.
Scott Dixon: “I don't know. For most of us, you almost treat it just as a normal race weekend. I think if you try to change your strategy or the way you approach the race, it might affect how quick you go over the outcome of the race, and ultimately the outcome of the championship.
“So I think you try to keep it simple. Not put too much pressure on yourself and let it all play out. It's pretty much whoever beats who is going to walk away with the championship. So it's definitely good for all the fans and one of the toughest days for the drivers.
“But I'm definitely looking forward to it. It should be a great show, and (a) happy (occasion) for one of us. It's been a great shootout so far as far as the whole championship's gone, and I think everybody's definitely put in a lot of hard work this season, teams and drivers and everybody else. We'll all find out probably 7:00 o'clock Saturday night”
Dario Franchitti: “I can echo what Scott said. It's the same as any other race. Points from the first race are the same as the points from the last race. You just go out there, do your best. The team that does the best (will win). Everybody's prepared, seemingly as they prepared for every race. We just go out there and do our best and see what we can do. Confidence-level wise, I think all three of us are fairly confident. We've had a good season. And it's just whoever does the best on Saturday night who gets a little bit of luck as well. Yeah. It's what we race for.”
Ryan Briscoe: “I think the only difference is as we get down to the final stages of the race, it's you can't just feel, at least from my position, feel comfortable coming in if it's Dario (or Scott) in front of me. It won't make a difference coming second or 10th if they're in front of me. So the main difference is that we're going to have to put a lot on the line and do what I can to finish in front of them to finish in the final stages of the race.
“Otherwise, the approach going into the race is the same. We've all been doing a great job at all of these races this year. And there is no reason to change up what we've been doing. It's just, you know, there's a bit more on the line there as you come down to the final stages of the race.”
Q. Ryan, do you feel outmanned there, two against one? The two teammates against you? And also, I think Scott was the one who said that we'll know quickly, we'll know as far as the outcome? Why will we know so quickly?
RB: “As far as feeling outnumbered, I really feel as though all three of us are going into this last race really in the same boat. It's either one of us win the race, it should be the championship.
“Obviously, between myself and Scott, get a couple of bonus points in between. I might need more than that. But really, I think we're all feeling the same pressure going in. I'm sure Scott and Dario will still be working together to try to get the best performance out of their car. But the same way I'll be working with Helio (Castroneves) moving into the race, trying to get the best setup as well.
“I think we're all in the same boat, still feeling the same pressure.”
Q. Talk a little about the two teams. These two teams are always battling it seems like for championships every year. What is it about these particular teams that gets them to this high level and keeps them there all the time?
RB: “I just think that both are just first-class teams and they just put a lot into every aspect of the game. From pit stop practice, the crews are first class, the engineering department on both teams is what is most important to both of them.
“I think that the confidence that each team has to go at each weekend and win races and the experience that each team has it all adds up. There are definitely a lot of similarities between the two teams.
Q. Dario, you're new to this side of the Ganassi Team, can you talk about that a little bit about what makes this team so good?
DF: “Having been with Team Green and then AGR for 10 years, I got to know the team there very well. And I think the Target team is definitely cut from same quality. The big difference that separates the successful teams from maybe the not so successful, some of it is budget for sure. But it's attention to detail. Attention to detail on the small things. These guys they focus on every single aspect of what it takes to win races and championships. And as a driver, they push you to do the same thing.”
SD: “Just the same as what the other guys are saying. And more so with Dario, it's attention to detail. It's not one or two big things. It's 50 small things. That's what I think the team, does every day when they go into work or after a race weekend. First they look at how we performed, and then the next part of it is to really how they can better the cars and make things work better, obviously be quicker. So they're constantly looking ahead, where some teams try to maintain. That's not how you're going to come out with the ultimate performance.”
Q. This is a showcase event of the year, pretty much for the championship at stake. There's pressure for you guys to put on a really good show. You think it's important to make this one of the great recent races in the series?
SD: “With no doubt, I think it's going to be exciting. Homestead, and some of the tracks we went to earlier in the year with the rules package that we had, maybe wasn't the greatest racing. But I think with some of the changes they've made, and definitely Homestead being the typical track that it is, it's going to put on a fantastic show.
“So for us, by all means I would love to walk away and try to leave the whole field and I wouldn't care about the show. But that's not what we're dealing with. And I'm sure the other two guys would think the same thing. No doubt in my mind that it's typical IndyCar Series, last race, last corner, last lap. It's going to come down to that.”