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What Drivers Are Saying After DXC Technology 600

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Here’s what drivers are saying following Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (courtesy INDYCAR Media Relations):

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “You know, pretty much anything bad that could have happen happened tonight for the No. 1 Verizon team.  Everyone worked real hard and the guys gave me a great car.  Everyone did everything they could tonight. It was a great effort from my team.  Pretty much, anything that could have went wrong went wrong tonight.  That is all there is to it. We will move on to Road America.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “We were having a solid start, I think, and then I just lost power in Turn 1. I told the team, “No power. No power,” and then suddenly, I just saw flames coming up from the engine cover. We don’t know what happened. The only thing is that it is a pity for the team. I feel for the team not just for myself. I think we had a great car here and we could have done a great race here. It is what it is. It happens sometimes. Looking forward to the next one now.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): 
“We were making progress on that first stint – we were one of the last cars to pit. We made up a good chunk of time, and then we had a problem with the fuel hose that first stop, lost a lot of track position. The No. 5 Arrow Electronics car was really good tonight. We didn’t have the speed we wanted in qualifying, but we’ve always said here that it is probably the least-qualifying sensitive track… We made some great passes on track and managed to make those tires last. That’s what it was about today: making those Firestone tires last. The SPM guys did a great job with that. Happy to rebound from P15. I hope Robbie (Wickens) is all right – sucks to see a team car go out, especially when he was running well like that. Good result for the No. 5 car.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I think (some cars were) being really desperate, trying to do whatever they can, I guess, to be racing. (Zach Claman) De Melo in front of me was being so dangerous and that’s how (Ed) Carpenter got by me. Ed made a mistake. I went to his inside. I don’t know if his spotter didn’t tell him I was there, but he just turned in and we had contact and went up into the wall. I mean, it sucks. We were so strong the whole night. Things were going so smoothly we were getting the fuel mileage. I don’t know, I’m just frustrated. I mean when you’re driving around slower cars, they’re getting blue flags every time at start-finish – they’re getting blue flags and they ignore every single one of them. We shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place, but it just sucks. We had such a good car.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I love winning at Texas. This place is awesome. Always a big thank you to Eddie Gossage (Texas Motor Speedway president) and his team. They do a fabulous job. The PNC Bank car is back in victory lane. It’s fantastic. The car was just stuck. Whatever we did, the car was just nailed. It was a bit loose at times, but I can’t thank the team enough. The pit stops were fantastic.” (About being patient early): “I think we bided our time a little bit. We wanted to make sure the Firestone tires were looked after as much as possible. They did a really good job. We went all the way to the end of the fuel stint and we haven’t done that in a long time. We conserved a little bit at the start, then put the hammer down.” (About being third on the all-time wins list): “It means a lot, but more so for the team. We celebrate together and we win and lose together. Forty-two of those wins have come with this team. I can’t thank them enough. Chip (Ganassi), Mike (Hull), (Scott) Harner, Barry (Wanser) and all the No. 9 car crew.” (About leading the championship): “It’s not bad. But it’s going to be hard to hold onto. We’ll see how the next races go. The car has had good speed all season and we’ll try to keep it going.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The guys in front of me were saving a lot of fuel and completely lifting to try and make it and someone went around on the outside. Unfortunately, the timing stand was talking to me at that exact moment and I couldn’t hear my spotter call, “Outside,” and there was someone outside at that point. It’s just a bad situation, but something that happens at a track like this. It was not the guy on the outside’s fault. I didn’t know he was out there at that point. We were lifting so much trying to save fuel and he went outside me. It was just a bad deal, but we will move on to Road America.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): 
“I don’t know what happened. We definitely had a little issue with the rear of the car and it cost us the race. But it was a great weekend up until now, we qualified sixth. You know when you’re 12 laps down, it’s not worth it to put yourself out there. We’re not going to gain anything so we decided to stop. We’ll bounce back.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda): 
“Overall, I can’t complain too much about finishing sixth. The Fleet Cost & Care team did a good job with strategy, we did a good job in the pits and the car was pretty good. We were able to make some moves, but as everybody could see, it was hard out there today to get a whole lot done. We’ve got to work on the aero package this week and move forward to allow us to follow a little bit easier, but overall, I can’t be too unhappy with that.  We salvaged another really good result out of a really tough start. We’ll keep our heads down and move on.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “Obviously, it was a disappointing result for a pretty solid race. The SealMaster Honda No. 18 was as good as anything else out there. I just didn’t gauge the tire degradation well enough on the first stint. We ended up pitting early and that settled the issue because there wasn’t a yellow until much later in the race. When one did finally come out, it went against us because we had just come in the pits. The guys did a great job, the car was competitive, it was fast, like it was all weekend. In the end, we just took what we could. It’s a real shame. The car and the team deserved better than eighth.”

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): 
“I got a great run on the outside in clean air, I probably would have passed (Will) Power, as well. I don’t know if his spotter didn’t tell him I was there. Watching the replay, I was clearly there. It’s just one of those moments. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose. I feel bad for him and I feel bad for me and the team. It’s a bad day, but I think I showed my potential. It was a great run up until that point. To do what I did today, from second to last to get up to where we were, it was looking like a possible top-five finish, top three even. I can’t thank the whole team enough, Paysafe and everyone. The car the Dale Coyne Racing team gave me was amazing. After a disappointing weekend like this, I can’t wait to get back into the car again.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet):
 “It was a mistake. I knew Robbie (Robert Wickens) was coming. I thought I could close the door, but it was a big mistake on my part. He was a lead lap car. We were having a bad day, we just didn’t have it this weekend. We just could never get the balance right where it needed to be. I made it worse by making a mistake like that so, my apologies to him. I know it doesn’t mean much now. I feel bad for those guys. I feel bad for my guys. The night certainly didn’t need to end like this. It’s a mistake on me, and I’ll have to come back and get ’em in Iowa.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “It was a tough race. Throughout the stints, the balance was changing quite a lot, so I had to try and stay on top of that. At the end of the day, we were missing a little bit, but we hung in there. The guys did a great job with strategy and in the pits to keep us in the fight and finishing 11th was probably better than we expected at the beginning of the race. Overall, I’m just happy to get through it and I learned a lot tonight.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good night. We started really strong, really loved the car to start in the heat. As the temperature dropped, it got a little bit more difficult for us. We adjusted the car the wrong way as the temperature dropped, it got pretty loose for us midway through. It was a pretty fast-paced race, as well, quite physical. I was just trying to manage the balance. It was quite fun, actually. We had to keep up with the tires, keep up with the balance of the car throughout the stints and also relay to the pit what you needed for the next one. It was fun. I mean, I had a lot of good battles, especially with Alexander (Rossi) at the end. He gave me some gray hair, the last 30 laps, but we managed to hold him off. That was really cool. Just to get a good result like this for us – I think the No. 22 team needed a break. I think we got one tonight. For DXC, it’s pretty awesome. We had about 3000 employees from DXC tonight, so it was good to have a good showing.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “Tonight was tough with the tires degrading and the car sliding around more and more as the stint went on. The nice thing about the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet, actually both Carlin cars, is that they were stable all race. I was confident in what the car was going to be able to do. That really comes down to the preparation that the team has put into making sure that every time I roll out of pit lane they’ve given me the absolute best car that they can. It feels like these top-10 finishes are starting to be a habit and we’ll just keep moving forward from here.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): “Things started off really well. We drove from 16th to third on the first stint – which just showed what kind of car we had. It was the best car I’ve had in my career, the best car I’ve had in (the Verizon IndyCar Series), so hats off to my engineer and the entire Relay / Group 1001 team. Then, the rookie side of me came in during the second stint. I just got too high running through Turn 2 trying to get air. I got the right rear into the wall and bent a toe-link and went 10 laps down. From that point on, we were just fighting as hard as we could. I honestly think we had a car for the top five, possibly the top three, we passed everyone up to (Scott) Dixon, basically – even though we were laps down. That just shows the strength we had. My crew gave me something special and I just didn’t get the job done with it. But, you know, that’s learning. I’m excited to go on to Road America and then get back on the ovals at Iowa. For me, tonight it felt like a switch finally flipped. I felt like I can run with these guys and push them into the corners and not be afraid to take the way they drive on track. I put myself forward and stood up for myself, and that’s a big key in INDYCAR. I finally feel confident enough to do that.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “Simon (Pagenaud) did a good job defending. We tried to go up high, and I would have taken it if it was an easy one, but I couldn’t force the issue.  We came home third. The NAPA AUTO PARTS car was awesome from the get-go. We were able to pass some cars and go long on fuel. The tire life was great, so all-in-all a great effort from the No. 27 team.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): 
“The day was solid, but that’s kind of all it was. We just really couldn’t get the car up in the mix at the end – just too much understeer. I couldn’t get close to those guys to join the party. It looked like they were having fun, I just couldn’t get in there. We’ll take the top five for the DHL team. We gained a little in points and that’s what we’re really keeping our eyes on.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda): “It was a tough day. Obviously, the key today was managing the tires. Unfortunately, halfway through my first stint we had a huge problem on the rear, so I had to come in to change the tires and that put us two laps down. After that, I think the team did a great job to work through it and we got two laps back in the end and fought for position. Finishing seventh is a solid finish, but starting where we did, we wanted to be a little higher. But I think it was a solid day. Thank you to ABeam Consulting for being the primary sponsor for this race. It was great to see the guests, and of course, I think the car was one of the best looking. It was a great team effort overall.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “It was a long day in the office. Sometimes, this race feels as challenging as Indy. We knew coming into this race it was going to have its curve balls. I felt like we handled everything thrown our way tonight pretty well. Our tires lasted longer than most people – I think we might’ve done one of the longest stints. I struggled with ultimate lap pace, but from midway onward, we had pretty good speed. It was more to do with just strategy at that point. We were three laps down and we were able to get ourselves to one lap down. We had some good pit stops and we had a couple of good overtakes. We’ll take P12 for sure for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet, especially considering where we started. We’ll have a nice midseason break here next week and we’ll come back stronger in Road America.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “It was a bit of a long night. We felt pretty good about the car during the last session on Friday night, so we came into the race thinking that we’d be in pretty good shape. We did a small tweak, which I think threw the balance over the edge and because of that we really struggled for the first stint. The car was really loose, so it became pretty hard to drive and keep pace on a track like this. We tried to do the best we could and made some good changes that gave us good pace after that, but unfortunately, we were already so many laps down that it’s impossible to get back into the race. Proud of our guys for powering through today. Onto Road America.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda): “We were running a legitimate fourth and the clutch failed during our stop. From them on, we had no clutch the whole race. I had the clutch in, grabbed first and then it just stalled and wouldn’t restart for five laps. We had just gotten by Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and the car was coming into its own. The U.S. Concrete car had the pace to win the race and we just had to cruise the rest of the way.”

F1 Preview – 2018 French Grand Prix

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It’s hard to believe that the French Grand Prix, the oldest grand prix event on the planet, as it dates back to June of 1906, was ever removed from the Formula 1 calendar.

Alas, not since 2008 at Magny-Cours has Formula 1 held a race on French soil. Yet, that all changes this weekend, as Formula 1 visits the Circuit Paul Ricard for its first French race in a decade.

Formula 1 teams are not strangers to Paul Ricard. It has been a popular testing facility for years, as evidenced by the below photo from 2016, featuring Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in a wet tire test.

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE – JANUARY 26: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Ferrari drives during wet weather tire testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 26, 2016 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

However, in terms of racing, Paul Ricard has also been absent from the calendar for quite a long time – the last time Formula 1 race at Paul Ricard was in 1990. Alain Prost won for Ferrari that day.

1990: Alain Prost of France punches the air in celebration after passing the chequered flag in his Scuderia Ferrari to win the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Beausset, France. Mandatory Credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

As such, despite being a known quantity as a testing facility, how a race weekend will shake out is anybody’s guess.

And what’s more, it marks the beginning of three consecutive race weekends – The French Grand Prix, The Austrian Grand Prix, and The British Grand Prix – which F1 teams and drivers are calling “the triple header.”

Talking points ahead of the French Grand Prix are below.

A Journey Into the Unknown?

Like all new venues, or resurrected and refurbished ones in this case, the Circuit Paul Ricard represents somewhat of an unknown, as there’s no available race data to make predictions off of.

And the 3.61-mile, 15-turn track itself represents a range of challenges. It has fast corners, like Turns 1 and 2 (S de la Verrerie), a technical section between Turns 3 and 7 (Virage de l’Hotel through the Mistral Straight Start), and a 1.1-mile straightaway in the Mistral Straight, though it is separated by a chicane (Turns 8 and 9).

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff discussed the challenge of the circuit, highlighting the lack of data to build off of as well the tough three-race stretch ahead as especially challenging, in a preview on Formula 1’s website.

“France should be an interesting race. We don’t often get to race on a track where we have little to no historical data. It makes preparing for the weekend a bit trickier than usual, but that element of the unknown also adds to the challenge. The French Grand Prix marks the first race of the triple header, which will test all F1 teams to their limits, but also offers the chance to score a lot of points over the course of three weeks – which is precisely what we’re setting out to do,” said Wolff.

That element of the unknown makes Paul Ricard one of the biggest wildcards on the 2018 F1 calendar, and a championship shake up could be in the cards as a result.

Ferrari, Mercedes Continue Their Back and Forth

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari and Mercedes have traded jabs throughout the 2018 season, with neither able to pull away from the other so far through seven races.

Sebastian Vettel enters the French Grand Prix with a one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton, and holds a slight edge in victories – three to Hamilton’s two – and comes off a thorough domination of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel led every lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his way to victory, while Valtteri Bottas had to carry the Mercedes flag in finishing second. Hamilton languished in fifth, a surprising and disappointing result given his previous success there.

The aforementioned Toto Wolff described it as a “wake up call,” though Mercedes will roll out a power unit upgrade this weekend – Ferrari and Renault, which also powers Red Bull Racing, rolled out upgrades of their own in Canada.

With four long straightaways present at Paul Ricard, power will certainly be at a premium, so such upgrades will be vital in giving Mercedes a chance to make amends after Canada’s disappointment.

Trio of French Drivers Look to Impress on Home Soil

It comes hardly as a surprise that the three French drivers – Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon – are keen to make an impression at their home race.

And all three could certainly use a boost. Gasly has only one finish inside the points (seventh in the Monaco Grand Prix) since his stellar fourth place effort in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ocon is coming off back-to-back points finishes (sixth in Monaco, ninth in Canada), but he has only one other finish inside the points this year (tenth, in Bahrain). And Grosjean, despite showing the speed to finish in the points, is yet to score any in 2018.

As such, all three are hoping for big things in their home race this weekend.

“I want to get a good weekend, have some luck, get my first points of the season, and get a lot of support from the fans,” said Grosjean. “I think we should be in a nice place at Paul Ricard. I’m always looking forward to jumping back in the car. I just love driving an F1 car.”

Ocon, who has raced and won at Paul Ricard in the past, expects his prior experience could be a big help.

“I did race at Paul Ricard early in my career – it was actually where I had my first victory in single seaters in 2013 so I have some fantastic memories of the place,” Ocon described. “I hope we can add some more success this weekend. Having been there in the junior categories makes getting used to a new track in a Formula One car much easier. I think I will find my rhythm quite quickly.”

Gasly’s excitement level obviously matches that of his French compatriots, with the added bonus that the return coincides with his rookie F1 effort.

“For me it will be absolutely incredible that my first full season of Formula 1 coincides with the return of a French Grand Prix to the calendar for the first time in 10 years,” said Gasly. “That has to be a reason for me to be very happy and I’m really excited to be racing in my home country. I can tell it will be a special feeling going out on track and actually, I have spoken to Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about it and they both told me that it will feel really special and something that you really have to experience as a Frenchman racing in France.”

Qualifying for The French Grand Prix begins at 9:55 a.m. ET on Saturday, with Sunday’s race at 9:30 a.m. ET.

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