10 April 2009
Q&A: Dan Wheldon ( Panther Racing).
Well, Long Beach is going to be a new track for me in IndyCars, but it's certainly something that seems to be the case at St Petersburg. I know Firestone will certainly work on that over the next few months. Any time that that is an issue, they really do work hard.
Actually it's something even I discussed with Firestone at the weekend; with the way that the tyre testing works, it seems to be allocated pretty much to the top few teams, and so we've asked if we can participate a little bit more, which will certainly make... the way the testing gets kind of implemented, if other teams can do more, I think it will just be structured better and it will be more fair. But that's something that they're going to address.
I think pretty much that that was more of a St Petersburg thing. I could be wrong. I haven't done Long Beach in IndyCars but, with the competition so tight, yeah, if you got off line and picked up the marbles, it was incredibly difficult not to lose many spots because it was just so close all weekend.
But I think what you saw there is just a great, very intense, competitive first IndyCar race, and I thought everybody... it was aggressive. There was probably a few too many accidents that didn't need to happen, but it was a great show.
In answer to your question, I think that's typically a St Petersburg thing, but it's certainly something that I think Firestone will address and try and help. But that's the nature of the beast when you're racing on street tracks.
Talking about tyres, this weekend was the first that we used the alternate tyres. How did you guys manage the use of those tyres throughout the weekend, and what did you learn about those tyres over the weekend?
Well, it was obviously the same for everybody, and I think that's something.... it certainly added another element to the competition and to the racing that you saw at the weekend. It was new for everybody, and different people played different strategies with the different tyres.
I liked the way that we at Panther Racing played it, although certainly, with the experience we've got now, we'll probably try and adjust that a little bit at Long Beach. The IndyCar Series is so strong right now and so competitive, and it's definitely great to watch and great to be part of, but I think it spiced up the storyline a little. And when you have a partner like Firestone that are committed to doing that, it definitely makes it entertaining, and obviously from a spectator's standpoint, it also adds another element of interest.
I thought the red tyres definitely give you more, I think, longitudinal grip, so you have better traction and, with the experience that we've gained, we will be able to affect the car's handling characteristics around that red tyre perhaps a little better than what we did at St Petersburg. But nonetheless, I thought it was a very good contribution to the competition and the spectacle.
Now let's look at Long Beach a little bit. As you mentioned, you haven't raced there in the IndyCars before, but I'm assuming that you've made probably at least a couple starts in Atlantics and Indy Lights. What do you remember about racing there in the past?
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