Q & A with Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves dominated most of the Indianapolis 500 build-up, but his race day went awry when he stalled in the pits, and he had to settle for ninth place at the finish

Q & A with Helio Castroneves

He told AUTOSPORT how his day had unfolded.

Q. Talk us through your race.

Helio Castroneves: Dario [Franchitti] was faster, I could see that he was comfortable. I was being conservative, just trying to wait for an opportunity. It was a very silly mistake, just revving up the engine. It wasn't time to go, and when they sent me, what happened was the revs were down, and when you went on the throttle, the revs went twice as down. It's happened to me before. You can't rev it up and go again, that brings the revs down and it stalls. I thought they were going to send me, so I was about to go, and it didn't.

One of those things that's hard to explain, but it was very upsetting and disappointing, because we did everything right. Honestly I don't think we had a winning car, Dario was really fast.

Q. He was quicker than you?

HC: Big time. Will was quicker than me as well. I would say the rest would have been the same, because I was fighting a lot of understeer and working with the car. But then in the end we started picking up vibrations on the tyres and that was limiting us.

Q. Why did that happen?

HC: I don't know. At one point I was doing 215mph laps and saying 'guys, I can't see, I'm going to have to stop', but I was able to make it. At the end of the day, it was great strategy from [Tim] Cindric to turn it around and get everything together. We have another top ten here, which is great, and now for the championship we've got to look forward.

Q. You could say stalling was the turning point, but you actually got back into contention and threw the dice on strategy...

HC: Some of the people who finished around second, third and fourth, are not people who are in contention for the championship. Those guys' teams are not so much the same calibre. We're fortunate that only three - Dario, [Scott] Dixon and Will [Power] - finished in front of me. We'll go to Texas and try there.

Q. Have you ever known an Indy 500 where top teams like Penske and Ganassi have made so many mistakes?

HC: This is the second time in my entire life I've let a car stall. So it's very rare, but costly.

Q. How are you feeling - you've dominated this month until today...

HC: I feel disappointed. There was great expectation for everybody, including myself. I knew it would not be easy. I knew you had to be smart and wait for the opportunity, so that's why we were hanging there in the top five for most of the day. It probably would've been a top five finish at the end.

Q. You really needed a yellow at the end...

HC: Yes. When we had that issue in the pits, our strategy moved to plan B. We thought about what we needed to do, but we needed about eight laps of yellow to make it. It was possible. We could have done it. But unfortunately it didn't happen. That's why actually the entire field started slowing down, because everybody started saving fuel. It could've worked out, but it wasn't meant to be. Hopefully next year we won't have this heat, because this was probably my hardest day at Indy.

Q. Do you think the heat was what cost you speed?

HC: I think so. We only had one day of testing on Sunday and Carb Day, and I was happy, so the only thing we changed was the engine. I wonder if that also had something to do with it. The guys are figuring it out.

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