Baltimore Grand Prix Sunday Press Conference
1st Simon Pagenaud
2nd Josef Newgarden
3rd Sebastien Bourdais
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by our second and third place finishers in today's Grand Prix of Baltimore Presented by SRT, Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing finished second, career best here and in your first start in Baltimore. Just talk about your race.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I finished second here in Indy Lights, second in IndyCar now, two times, here, so I really like Baltimore. It's been good to me so far. I think the people here are incredible. I just love this race. There's so much about it that I love, the atmosphere is really good, and the location is incredible. I know we probably pissed some people off
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I didn't know you like to get bumped into.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, that's always fun, bumper cars out here. Regardless of that, I like the venue. I love this place. It's been good to me. Happy for our team, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, good to have a result for us, so second place, we'll definitely take that.
We wanted to challenge Simon but we had a bit of a brake mishap at the end. We were really struggling with trying to keep the pedal solid, and I think heat was just getting to everybody today. It was really difficult to keep the cars cool and it definitely bit us at the end. Tough race for all I think.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien Bourdais of Dragon Racing finished third, his third podium finish of the season. He started today's race from the 22nd position. Talk about working your way up to the front and continuing to stay at the front with all that beating and banging.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, obviously it was a pretty exciting race, starting from the back, walked our way steadily towards the front. The guys did a great call on strategy, and that second stint, we were really strong, so we were in clean air and could run fast.
The yellow fell right after our second pit stop, and that was it pretty much. We just had a perfect scenario for that. It really looked like the race was pretty much in the bag, but then, you know, the race started to be the usual Baltimore chaos, and it was one restart after another and it was just survival.
And then when Graham got the better of us on one restart, kind of jumped it a bit, but whatever. You know, we got hit and got turned around, thankfully, I don't know how, but we didn't lose so many spots. I think we ended up like fourth, fifth.
And the car was getting banged up a bit, but overall, we still had some pace, made some good moves, and then on the next restart, there was a bit of an incident when James tried to dive in the inside of the hairpin, and I just it just took my attention and I just looked at him, and, I saw, oh, yeah, and next thing I know, I just brushed the back of Justin's car, and that spun him around and that got James up and it was just chaos. I felt bad for him.
But in the meantime, I was in the middle of a fight, really. I just didn't know what to do anymore. If you were not aggressive, you were going to get run into. If you were aggressive, you took the chance to hit someone. It was very, very dodgy.
It looked like after things settled down, we were going to really have a shot at winning again, and Simon made a mistake and nearly hit the wall. I think he probably brushed a bit in turn seven and that got a run. Yeah, I guess he didn't see me coming, but squeezed me pretty good.
We touched twice and I thought that was over, because I probably missed the tires there by about half a foot or a couple of inches, and then after that, the car bounced off a couple too many times from the wall and it wasn't the same anymore.
I'm just happy we finished; in the end, we won the podium. It's another podium and it's what we needed for the organization and for the sponsors. We'll take it.
Q. How were you able to move up so quickly? And at the end, did you lose control or lose your brakes or something?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I had probably four laps I don't know how many I did at the end before the brakes went completely away.
So as soon as Simon and Bourdais kind of got together in turn eight, I got by Bourdais, and then I had to get by Marco and then I got by Marco. And then I saw just Simon in front of me, and he had a nice gap at that point. I thought, you know, we can chase him down no problem. And the brakes were fine, and I had probably one really hard lap where I was able to chase him, maybe one and a half. I think we closed it up pretty well. We closed up a second, maybe nine/tenths of him.
And I was feeling good, but as soon as I got to that point, the brakes started fading very quickly. And we had struggled with it earlier in the race. It wasn't right at the end that it happened. We had it in the first stint and really bad in the second stint, and we had so much caution period that it gave the brakes time to cool off.
But the damage was already done earlier in the race. Once you heat the calipers and the brake flood to a certain point, they don't recover, even with the caution that we had that were so long. I actually almost ran into the turn one tire barriers with two laps to go. I just had no brake pedal.
So I had to back up and slow my pace down by a couple of seconds to recover the brakes and at that point it was just about keeping Sebastien behind me. I knew I couldn't do anything with Simon anymore and it was about salvaging second, which is a shame. I really wanted to race Simon. I think we would have had a good car. I don't know what would have happened but it would have been fun to at least challenge him and go for the win.
Q. I don't think we need any more questions from you Joseph, but early on when you tagged the wall with your left hand side, was there any damage, was it handling like a skew whiff?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No, there was new issues. Another thing was we had a great start I thought on the Red Compound. Most of us started at the front with red compounds, I think the top six, seven guys.
I had when I was racing Justin at the beginning of the race and trying to get by him, when I did get by him, I had to get really wide in a couple corners and I picked up a bunch of debris, and something happened at that point where I just I could not regain grip in the car. The car was great to start the race for the first five, seven laps and then after I did that, I had no grip, no traction, no front end, and I was just in the way of everyone. I could not even keep up.
So, yeah, I brushed the wall, like you said, and there was nothing wrong after that. We finally got going and off those tires and no damage, so we were lucky.
Q. What happened at one of the turn one accordion effect moments where you got stacked up in the back? Could you see or what was the process there?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was like six races worth of incidents. I don't know how to describe this to people there's so many things that happened.
That one, yeah, I went into turn one and I thought that it was clustered on the inside, so I followed Helio on the outside and ended up being clustered on the outside. And Helio ran into the tire, and I ran into the back of him.
And right when I did that, I actually heard on my radio from Mike, he said, "Take the run off." And he said it right when I turned in, and I was like, oh, no, I could have turned left and it would have been great.
But you know what, it ended up coming back around for us because there was another incident in turn one like that, and I did take the runoff and then I gained positions back again. So that's really what happened to us. I don't know what happened. We just got caught in the accordion, and then we got everything back by the next incident, so we got lucky.
Q. For either of you, is a race like this stressful to the point of being ridiculous with all the things going on, or are there so many things happening that, you know, your emotions, you're almost numb to everything?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't think we are numb to anything. I think we are more excited than anybody else. From the car, sometimes it's really hard to keep the emotions in check, particularly when you are in position when you know you have a lot to lose on all these restarts, and the problem is with these double file restarts, they breed another one.
You basically get into a rhythm where you can't get your tires and your brakes up to temperature and clean the tires up, and everybody arrives at that first corner locking wheels and running into the back of each other and cannot make the turn; and it's just, you know, it's inevitable. And.
I think that's really when and where we probably as a group need to really think about these double file restarts, because, I mean, I think it was a pretty exciting show and everything. But at the end of the day, when it's just a series of incidents after incidents, it just reflects poorly on everybody and we just look like idiots and I don't think it's the best.
But I don't know what fans want to see, they want to see racing or they want to see crashes, but I definitely saw the first half of it was racing and the second part of it wasn't so much.
Q. On the restart before you got spun out, did you have problems getting going on that restart, because it looked like maybe Will Power and Scott Dixon stacked up behind you and had their incident.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I just braked where I knew I could stop the car, and I guess they just brake later. I saw them in my on the mirror, I was left, and the other one got tagged by an unidentified object, so that was gone, so I only had the right one. Yeah, I saw dime getting pretty damn close, and I was like, hmmm, I don't know what's going to happen, but if I don't get run into, I'll be lucky.
No, nothing was wrong, but the problem is also you start from the inside and there's no grip there. Just when you put power down, there's absolutely no grip. Just debris and marbles and dust and everything, and when you put power down, you just don't get going.
And then you start to brake on the inside where it's less grip, so you kind of are a little careful not to try to overdo the corner, and even though you think you're safe, you still run wide actually I thought I was going to lose it there. It's one of these races where when you finish, you just feel like a survivor because you have near misses like about ten times during the race. It was not uneventful, that's for sure.
Q. You talked about the chaos out there, and you talked about it quite a bit, but if thief future races here, would you like to see the courses modified?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Not really. The only question is what we do with the curving situation for the chicane. There's not so much we can do in the series or the organizers do about the chicane.
The problem is we would have to race the car so much to be able to run through railroad tracks on the main straight flat out, that it would be very difficult to actually even change the tires, because the tires would hit the ground even when the car would be on the jacks. So that's No. 1.
And you know, No. 2, I think it's always the same thing. You know, it's the balance between aggressivity and trying to get things going. But the race directors are asking us to pair up and kind of keep a consistent pace through the acceleration corner which clusters everybody, because you get that, basically, two or three rows formed before you get to the throttle, and then you've got everybody exiting the chicane full throttle and it stacks up at some point; land it gets there when it's already really tricky, and you've got a bunch of cars locking wheels getting into a very tight corner, which is going to create an accordion effect.
So I don't think there is so much you can do. But for sure, what Marco was doing, basically jumping the start straightaway and not letting anybody back up with basically a single file restart; and that's probably, for me, at this place, to try to get some racing, that's probably something we should consider, because you see every time we try to go double file, it doesn't quite work out so well.
Q. Regarding the chicane and what you're talking about, would it make a difference if they adapted going to a double file restart and then avoiding the chicane and then just discounting the chicane on the restart?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We talked about that, but then the problem is basically the guys from the back end up basically going over the railroad track full blast because you exit the corner and they are on the gas.
So they tried that and it turned into a pretty big disaster. I'm not so sure that's in the solution.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, Josef, congratulations on a great finish here at Baltimore.
We are joined by our race winner, Simon Pagenaud. This is Simon's second career IndyCar victory and his first victory came in June at Belle Isle, the second race at the doubleheader earlier this year. This is Simon's second start at Baltimore and he finished third in his other start in 2012.
Simon, congratulations on the victory and a great race today. Talk about the race, especially at the end there, it seemed to be a lot of contact, a lot of craziness.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, it was great racing. It was obviously a difficult day for I think everybody, lots of contact. Everybody is getting pretty excited as the season comes to an end, and the HP car was just really, really fast at the beginning of the race, and I really thought we had a good shot at it. I think the whole weekend was incredible.
The engineers has been so good at understanding what we need, and after Sonoma, they just came back home overnight and worked, understanding what we are going to need and here we are.
I think it's the first time of the year on the one lap pace really with the guys, so that's something we have been focusing on, and my hat off to the engineers for making it happen so well this week.
And the race, you know, it was good at the start and then we had a little bit of trouble mostly with brakes and a lot of pick up on the tires when we are on the Red tires. But I just think it's probably our setup to be honest.
And then the second yellow saved us because we could cool the brake down, change tires and then basically we got very, very lucky on that restart where we managed to go on the right side of the road and ended up being sixth or fourth, I don't remember.
But then I thought, okay, this is my second chance. You never get a second chance in racing, so you've got to grab this one. And I knew I was on fresher tires than the guys around me, and I knew I had a faster car, but we needed to get going. We knew my car was really good after a while, after a lot of laps, and we just need to get going.
Passed TK on that restart and then Marco on the second one, and then I pushed as hard as I could with a broken wing, but it actually made the car pretty good.
THE MODERATOR: Not only was it an important day picking up your second career victory but also an important day points wise.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I don't know what the points situation is.
THE MODERATOR: I believe you moved up to third.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Oohh, yes, I take that. Obviously that was in my head. I knew Marco I didn't expect Marco to be up there because he was struggling all weekend, so when he was out there, I had finished ahead of him for points.
And like I said, Dix and Power, they were all out, and Franchitti. I thought it was my time, really, and I did everything I could to I honestly went for the win or nothing, and it paid out. I was pretty aggressive, but it worked out really well. So you know, it's one of those days where everything is with you and it works out.
Q. Can you talk about the momentum going into today's race?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I think it's perfect for the HP team. You know, we are showing we can fight with Penske, Ganassi and Andretti, which is a pretty big task for a race team. We certainly don't have as many people working. We don't have people working overnight.
But the people we have are quality people and they are just waiting to work extra hours and they understand really well the problems. They trust me as a driver, so it's great momentum going into Houston.
I think we know Houston is going to be bumpy and we know it should be concrete, so that's very similar to here and I think what we found this weekend should work. I'm excited about it. I just wish we were going next week so we wouldn't have to wait so long.
It's going to be a difficult event, a lot of things will happen there, because obviously there's only three races to go, so a lot of people will be trying to make things happen. Just try to be up front and not be bothered too much by the chaos.
Q. When the race unfolds the way it does with all the crashes and bumps, is it tougher mentally or physically toward the end, and where do you think you win the race? Do you win the race with your physical skills as a driver or just being able to survive the chaos?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Actually I think it's easier when we have yellows because we have time to drink and we have time to rest and recover from a long running on the green. Long running on the green here, you sweat a lot, so you lose water and it's so bumpy, you don't really have time to drink, so cramps could happen. So the yellows are awesome or recuperation and drinking.
The biggest thing on the yellow is to get your energy up again and to understand where your tires are, how cold they are; the brakes, also, and understanding how to get everything in temperature.
And then the trick is on the restart, understanding who is ahead of you and what they usually do on restarts, so I knew Marco was going to go early, because that's what he usually does, for example no offense to him, but that's what he does. And some drivers don't do that.
So you know, when you say you restart slow you've got references like that in your red and you just try to focus on it. So when it's time to go, it's time to go, and you're there.
Q. Having been out here a couple of times, there's talk next year, there's concern that they are trying to get a date it sounds like everybody is on board in getting a date
SIMON PAGENAUD: To get what?
Q. To get a date for this race.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Okay. Sorry.
Q. How important is Indy to have a place like Baltimore given the city and the track?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, the city is really nice. It's nice to come here to this area of the United States. I personally love the event. I always have good results here. I love the city. It's a nice city and I think the event is really well put together by the Andretti organization.
It's really a good event. It's really busy. People are very close to you. You get to walk within the area of the track, people can walk there and cross your path, and I think that's awesome.
It's very different to the other racetrack. I this I we have a pretty good contact with the fans, and I think that's why the Grand Prix is nice here. I hope to come back.
Q. You had mentioned the pick up on the Reds, as opposed to the Black tires. Was it an easier tradeoff to have less grip with the Black tires than to pick up the garbage on the Reds that you could clean up after a lap or two?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I think our setup was very good on the Blacks, as you could see in practice, we are always in the Top 3, and we were really fast on the Blacks actually did the same lap time on Black tires as we did on the Reds during practice.
So I knew the Reds would give me what I needed, the Blacks would give me what I needed. The Reds in qualifying was a little bit of a surprise. It changed our balance. We didn't have as good of a car, I would say, and I was having a tendency to lose the rear.
So, you know, when I had the opportunity, I decided just to stay on blocks and I could push. So with the Reds, I had to nurse it a little bit too much and I don't like that.
Q. Can you talk about the end of the race when you got in the lead, you were challenged by a couple drivers. You can talk about the condition of your car, in terms of the tires, did you have brake problems, and I know Bourdais got along side of you, could you just talk about what happened there?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, you're going for a race win. I ended up getting some marble on my tires in turn seven, and honestly, I didn't know it was that close, so I exited the corner and went back to the racing line and he was there. And we touched as he was braking. I got sucked into him, and the second touch put him out of line. It's not great. You know, I don't want to say that it's racing, that's the way it is; it's not great. But in the meantime, I'm not going to open the door. I'm going for a race win. I need this for the championship, and I had a good car and I knew if I could get going, I was going to pull off, pull away. It's one of those moments, out of many moments during the race, that were more hairy than this one.
But always clean; I want to always say, he's a good friend, he's very clean, and we both race and we both race for different teams and when it's time to go for the win, you go for the win.
Q. You mentioned earlier that you were having some brake problems with brake fade and Josef Newgarden mentioned he was having the same problem. Is it a systematic thing or just because of conditions here?
SIMON PAGENAUD: It's very hard on the brakes because we were going so fast down the straight and then we slow down so much, so it's a big stress on the brakes but it's also really hot. There's no breeze, no fresh air to cool the brakes down.
So I had the same thing last year, not as dramatic to be honest, but we were able to recover with the yellows, the yellow. And my experience in sports car helped me understand what to do with the brakes to get them back and they came back and that's why at the end we were so fast. That's pretty much normal.
Q. You had touched on it earlier, you said you were aware of who was out of the race and who was still in contention. When you know that guys who have won consistently are out of the race and maybe guys like Marco who were trying to push a little, they have not won in a while does that give you confidence that, okay, you can do some things, you're just as experienced or just as capable as they are; or, does it matter who is in front of you or who is in contention?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, like I explained earlier, I think, you know, you analyze who is your opponent; if it's Marco, I'm going to behave differently than Dario, for example, or Helio, and I'm starting to get to know them better as a racer. So you know their attitude and you know what they are going to do and you know that they are going to be good on exits; like Dixon, for example, is always good on exits. It's important to analyze that.
But today was my chance. I had to go for it. And if it didn't work out, it didn't work out. I would have been fifth in of the championship and the end of the day. It was a big opportunity today to grab and muscle a little bit.
Q. As you said, you don't drive for one of the bigger teams with the huge resources. I'm sure you have confidence in your own talent but when you've sat down at the beginning of the year, did you envision in your wildest dreams that you were sitting here now for your second winner's interview at this point in the season?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Why not? (Laughter) why not?
I know the relationship I have with the team is great. They trust me so well that I'm never in doubt, and that's a big thing for a driver to be in confidence. And I feel like I'm driving well at the moment.
So I'm raising the bar every race and I'm analyzing a lot what's going on and every race, I try to improve a little bit more. So I think, you know, it's fantastic what we are doing for the resources we have.
As I said, we have got great people on board and that relationship with them really helps getting the results. But the results is just the results of the equation. Everybody is just working so well results together.
Q. You mentioned engineers earlier this year, plural, because Tristan ran really well, qualified Fast Six. What was the feedback of your working with him and how does having the second car here help compared to last year when it was a single car deal?
SIMON PAGENAUD: This weekend I think was probably our best weekend as a race team with two cars. Alan was very experienced on Tristan's car and Tristan was very fast straightaway here. So we started with same setup. We went different directions. One direction was better. We kept going in that direction and we improved both cars at the same time.
Yesterday in practice, we tried something different that didn't work so we came back to my setup and then this morning, I tried something else that was more toward what he did the day before, and that didn't work. So we have twice as many information.
I think that just helped us to understand how to tackle Houston, for example, and that's definitely it answers a lot of question when you can have two valuable feedback, and that kind of weekend like we had.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much for your time today. Congratulations on the win.
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