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A Conversation With ... Sam Schmidt, Josef Newgarden, Esteban Guerrieri, Victor Garcia

 

            MODERATOR: Well, gentlemen, congratulations. I'm sure Josef is on his way. Victor and Esteban, on completion of a run that, a race that had plenty of excitement. How about from your angle, Victor?

 

            VICTOR GARCIA: Well, it has been a really like short race because we have done 12 laps racing each other. It has been, though we have done really few laps, it has been really good because we have been racing Esteban, Goncalvez went into the top three, and he was really quick. They were racing each other really, really good and really careful. I was worried about because in this morning it was quite crazy. But, yeah, really fun and -- well, a podium in my first race ever oval in America, so really happy.

 

            MODERATOR: Absolutely, when you get on the podium in your first performance here, that's got to make you feel good.

 

            GARCIA: Yeah, yeah, really happy. I have to thank also my team and the Firestone people because they have done a great job, although we have had only like five laps today, enough -- 20 laps today and 10 laps yesterday, but yeah, really good. And thank you to all that have come. Thank you very much for coming.

 

            MODERATOR: Esteban, the question always comes up in a situation like this when a race gets stopped early is whether or not you were going to have something at the end perhaps to take away the victory. What's your thoughts on that?

 

            ESTEBAN GUERRIERI: What do you think, I had something left?

 

            MODERATOR: Well, I always think a guy does that's running second.

 

            GUERRIERI: Was looking good, but if you wanted a close finish, there you are, you see the top 10 in seven seconds. Anyway, I think I had a good car from the beginning, you know. I started fifth and then I made my way up. It was also a lot of fun. It is different when you're racing than when you're practicing, you know. In the race you really commit yourself to the overtaking. I was going sixth gear flat out all around and it was working quite good. The car was working great. Then as you saw, there was a lot of safety cars and, well, in the end my plan or my idea was to pull away with Josef, you know. I had a spotter, Wade Cunningham, he was really experienced and he said push him to try to cut the tow from the third, which was him. (Laughter)

            Him or Goncalvez. But to cut the tow and then we finish the race in the last few laps. You know, you just fight for the position, but only against your teammate, not against three or four. So that's what I tried to do in the first restart because there was so many – I'm confused a bit – but I tried to do it on the first restart. Then on the last restart, I lost a bit of gap and I didn't know why it was feeling a bit nervous, the car. Then straightaway the safety car, which was the last one, the long one. Then we realized my rear right tire was cut, I had two cuts, we don't know why. It just happened to a few drivers. I don't know if it was a bit lucky in a way because I would have finished the race, I think, probably I have, the car last laps to fight for a win. So it was like it was -- I'm pretty happy with the finish here in the podium and the first time here, as well. So, yeah, it was overall a good result, good points for the team. Congratulations, of course, because we're one and two, and I owe it to my sponsors, as well.

 

            MODERATOR: Thoughts you ran over debris perhaps with the car?

 

            GUERRIERI: You mean because of the tire?

 

            MODERATOR: Yeah.

 

            GUERRIERI: I don't think so. I asked the engineers because, you know, I'm also new let's say in this kind of situation. When I saw the cut tire, I said are you sure it's cut tire or kind of like even some oil around the top of the track that was stuck in there. He told me, ‘Man, you have a cut tire so let's hope you don't restart again.’ So it was wearing of the tire. In the end it worked out, let's say well because I don't know what would have happened if there was a restart, how I would have felt the car.

 

            MODERATOR: Absolutely. Questions for our podium guys?

 

            Q: Start with you, Esteban. You said you and Wade discussed trying to work with Josef to pull a gap on third place. How hard was that to do given the conditions, it was so cold and the tires getting up to temperature right away?

 

            GUERRIERI: That's a good question because in the first restart -- sorry, the second restart, I was second and I kind of left a gap to Josef but tried to make a quick acceleration to get the tow on him but try to break the tow from the third. But as I was catching the big tow and running right behind him the first few laps, say the first lap, it felt pretty unstable, you know, and free in the rear. But I just kept the foot down. And then after that, you know, it got better but it was only one or two laps, you know. So it was quite on the limit. Good feeling, you know. But probably I don't know if it was because of the cold tires or because if I was having the cut in the tire.

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