Chevy Racing–IndyCar–Pocono Qualifying

JULY 5, 2014

Juan Pablo Montoya Grabs the Pole; Sets New Track Record with Chevrolet IndyCar V6 Power; Will Power Gives Chevrolet a Pair of Front Row Starters for Pocono IndyCar 500

LONG POND, Penn (July 5, 2014) – Juan Pablo Montoya was the last car to make a qualifying attempt for Sunday’s Pocono IndyCar 500, and the driver of the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet made it count. With a new track record of 223.871 m.p.h. two-lap average, Montoya won his first Verizon P1 Pole Award since returning to Verizon IndyCar Series competition this season.

Montoya’s Team Penske teammate and current Series’ points leader Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, was second fastest, also breaking the old track record with a two-lap average of 223.725 m.p.h. to give Chevrolet IndyCar V6 power two of the three front row starters for Sunday’s 200-lap/500-mile race on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, also known as the “Tricky Triangle”.

“Chevrolet extends a proud congratulations to Juan Pablo Montoya and Team Penske for putting up a pair of stunningly fast laps at Pocono Raceway today, besting last year’s pole by 2.598 mph, and winning his first pole position since returning to IndyCar racing,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager for Verizon IndyCar Series. “Next to Juan Pablo on the front row will be his teammate Will Power who also beat last year’s pole by 2.452 mph.  The innovation and skills that exist in the Verizon IndyCar Series today are made visible by results like these.  We are looking forward to the Pocono INDYCAR 500 mile race tomorrow where Team Chevy and our technical partners will have the opportunity to demonstrate innovation and preparation under race conditions.”

The third Team Penske driver, Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet, turned in a two-lap average that also broke the existing track record set in 2013 and will start seventh tomorrow in race No. 11 of the 18-race season.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Tony Kanaan, No. 10 Target Chevrolet, and Ryan Briscoe, No. 8 NTT Data Chevrolet, will start eighth and 10th respectively to give the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 five of the top-10 starters in the race.

Carlos Munoz (Honda) will complete the front row of three.
Live television coverage of the Pocono 500 is set to start on Sunday, July 6 at NOON ET on NBC Sports Network. The command to start engines is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.
Live radio coverage will be on IMS Radio broadcast on XM Radio Channel 209 and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 213. In addition, IndyCar live timing and scoring with the radio broadcast can be found at


THE MODERATOR:  We’ll get started with today’s Verizon IndyCar Series post‑qualifying press conference.  We have joined by Will Power.  Will will be starting second in tomorrow afternoon’s race.  He started fourth and finished fourth last year.  Will, tell us about qualifying and the conditions out there today.
WILL POWER:  Yeah, it was a pretty good run.  I had probably too big of a lift on my first lap, too much understeer, but apart from that, Juan ran a bit more downforce, so I thought if he can be flat or have less of a lift, he’s going to be very tough to beat.  But still very good for Penske to have a one‑two.
Q.  Will, how important is qualifying for a 500‑mile race?  I know it’s a long race.  Does it really have much implication?
WILL POWER:  No, I mean, it’s always good to start at the front.  You’ve got less of a chance of getting caught up in something at the start of the race and probably on restarts, as well.
But you know, apart from that, you look at Dixon who won it last year, all the Ganassi cars last year came from quite a ways back.  Strategy is going to be a big deal, fuel, windows and so on.  Yeah, it’s not a ‑‑ if you qualify last, you can win from last.  You know, it’s not something to worry about, but it is good to be in the front.

Q.  There is no difference like red and black tires here and there’s no Push‑to‑Pass, so how difficult is it going to be to pass here, and which part of the track can you pass on?
WILL POWER:  It’s tough to pass, yeah.  I mean, really when it all sorts out, man, it’s going to be difficult to get by.

Q.  It sounds like a lot of teams went conservative on setups.  Was that based off of the wind from the earlier practice sessions?  Did that factor into maybe toning things back a little bit?
WILL POWER:  Yeah, and also lack of practice.  You don’t get much mileage going into a 500‑mile race, so I think it’s a place you’ve got to really creep up on, so if you go over the top, you know, it can be pretty bad to get caught out.  Yeah, you didn’t have time to really do good qualifying sims.

Q.  Will, this question is for you being atop the points standings, second half of the season here and it’s a short season, so is it great to be in that point position or is it a little bit scary because there’s only one place to go?  What is the strategy?  I don’t mean to be negative, but that’s really ‑‑
WILL POWER:  You look at it black and white, you have more points than anyone accumulated right now, so it’s obviously a good thing.  You would rather have that than not.  So you’ve just got to look forward and just focus on your job.  I mean, that’s all you can do.  You can’t sit there trying to points race.  You’ve just got to go and race.

Q.  Helio said during the session after his run that he felt the track was improving as the session went on.  How much of an advantage was it to run late?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  It always helps a little bit, but it’s the luck of the draw.  Some weeks are good for you, some weeks are bad.  I think the big thing for us was balance and we had a hell of a balance.  I know Helio struggled a little bit with the balance during qualifying, and in a way of running late when you’ve got good teammates is you can see how much they struggle and you can adjust the car so you always get a little more information.  It’s like I know like what Will did, they came in ready straight away and he did this and he did this and he helped, so I already knew before I started where to go, so you’re already in a better place.  But they were a little more trimmed than me.  I’m like, I was faster and I was right.
WILL POWER:  You were, you (expletive deleted).  It was only a couple hundredths, too.  Man, why did I lift?  Damn.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  You were good through 3 or not?
WILL POWER:  I was flat through three, but 1 I was like ‑‑
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  I had a small lifts in 1, tiny little lifts.
THE MODERATOR:  Carlos, good luck in tomorrow’s race.  Juan, I have some history for you.  Last pole in an IndyCar, Gateway 2000 ‑‑
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  No, Surfer’s Paradise.
THE MODERATOR:  15th career pole, obviously 2012 won pole here in NASCAR.  Now that you’re back here in an IndyCar, tell us about your qualifying run.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  I had no idea what to expect because this morning I felt like we had a really good car in race trim and really struggled.  Started trimming the car down, and every time we trimmed it, it was just balance‑wise it was awful, had a lot of understeer in the car.  Made quite a bit of changes for qualifying and it was really, really good.  You had a little bit understeer and stuff on the front bar, took a little crossweight out here or is it crossweight we did here?  Yeah, we don’t say wedge, it’s crossweight.  Took a little bit of crossweight out, and as soon as we did that, the car started hooking really nice, and it was good.  I mean, it was a bit of a handful through 3, but it was good through 1.  The big thing here is if you can hold it wide open in 1.  As trim as you are, if you can hold it wide open, it pays off because it’s just all momentum.

Q.  I think you never raced here in open wheel racing, only in NASCAR.  How do you approach this in event?  Did you ask for advice or information from your teammates?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  No, you watch ‑‑ I watched last year’s race, a little bit how the race developed and how everything went, and that’s all you can do, be as prepared as you can be and take it as it comes.  That’s all you can do.
It seems like I run really well on ovals this year, so it’s fun.  It’s nice to have a good track position.  For the next race we have pit good stop, as well, so that pays off big time.

Q.  Last Friday at Houston you said we’re getting there, and then you had a pretty good run at Houston on Saturday.  Now you’ve won a pole.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  We’re getting there.

Q.  I think getting there, you’re almost here.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  No, I feel I’m still lacking a little bit.  I’m getting a lot better.  I feel a lot more comfortable in the car.  Like I feel at home in the car now.  But I need to be a little more proactive with the car, understand it a little better, help the engineers a little more.  Like I can tell them what the car is doing, but the more I learn the more I can tell them which direction we need to go with the car to make ourselves better because the series is so close and we’ve got two really good teammates between Will and Helio, and we help each other and everything, but I feel to be able to get an edge on them I’ve got to do a better job of understanding the cars so I can get ahead of them.  It’s the only way.

Q.  I know you guys have the new right sides this time around.  Now that you’ve had more laps on the track, more laps on them, do you like the balance with them?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Tires‑wise?  Tires are fine.  They’re not dropping that much.  I mean, if anything it’s going to be a hard race because it seems if you do a really good job through Turn 3 and you suck up in there and you get close enough into Turn 1 then you’ve got a big understeer in 1, and if you miss Turn 3 then it takes you all the way around to get back into Turn 3 and it’s like a vicious circle.  It’s really hard to pass here, so I think track position is important.  Also I think fuel mileage is key, as well.  We’ll see.  I mean, we just ‑‑ we’ve got to plan the race and see what it brings.  That’s all you can do.  Whatever it gives you, you’ve got to be smart, you’ve got to run all day.  It’s double points, and you’ve got to take that into consideration and you’ve got to be there at the end.
THE MODERATOR:  Will, do you have any comments on tire usage here at Pocono?
WILL POWER:  Yeah, they’re very consistent really.  It’s one of the few tracks we go to where they don’t really degrade at all.  I think the speed over the whole stint we stayed the same.  If anything get a bit quicker as the car gets lighter from fuel.  It’s not going to be a tire game tomorrow, it’ll be strategy versus fuel, depending on where a yellow may fall and trying to make it one less stop than everyone else.  If it happened to be green, yeah, it’s that type of race I feel.

Q.  Getting back to the ‑‑ am I getting here, is he here now?
WILL POWER:  He is.  He’s definitely ‑‑ I mean, he’s brought a lot of good stuff to the team from the very beginning actually even when he was coming up to speed.  Definitely good ideas, and I think just the experience of the three of us I think is really helping like push the car in a good direction, the development.  Because at the end of the day ‑‑
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Make sure you mention that to Roger.
WILL POWER:  At the end of the day the drivers push the development in a certain direction, and the beauty of driving for Penske is you’ve got the resources to develop what you want, so it’s good having experienced drivers in the team to push you in the right direction.

Q.  Juan, is it my imagination, it seems like when you’ve taken steps, you haven’t reacted like the veteran that you are.  You’ve kind of looked like a new guy doing something new every race, but you do a little better.  Do you feel like you’re kind of getting into new they are try all the time?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  It feels like new territory because I haven’t done it for such a long time.  I know how to do it, but knowing how to do it and actually getting to do it is two different things.  It takes time.  It’s all about believing in what you can do and believing how far like in street courses how far you can actually go before you actually really hit the wall, before you actually bounce off the wall, and that’s one of the things ‑‑ like in street courses I’m still missing.  I’m getting better but I’m still missing in qualifying especially I’m terrible ‑‑
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Yeah, you learned from me there.
WILL POWER:  That’s one bad thing you taught me, qualify badly.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Exactly.  Yeah, it was funny because we were in Long Beach and I think I qualified like 14th and he’s like this is our worst qualifying ever, it’s embarrassing, and he’s like, boom, boom, it’s getting worse.
WILL POWER:  Now it’s like 19th, 18th every week.  But it’s fun in the races, man.  You start back there, it’s great fun.  It’s boring from the front.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Really?  It’s amazing it doesn’t matter where you qualify, if you’ve got a good car and you make a couple of good calls you’re there.  You’re always going to get a couple opportunities in the race to do something different, and if you do it right it’s going to pay off and you’re going to get a good finish.  So qualifying is important but it’s not crucial.  It’s good for the pit stop, for the race, for the next race and for the pit stall, and it’s great for the team.  This week we’ve got the PPG Chevy car and it seems to be really good, and Verizon has supported us a lot, so we have the two Verizon cars, the drivers in the front row.  It’s pretty cool.

Q.  We keep hearing it’s really hard to pass here, it’s really hard to pass here.  What is it about this track that makes it hard to pass and how do you overcome that?
WILL POWER:  Straight through the corners, they come back on themselves.  It’s not like Indy has got four corners so they’re at a 90‑degree.  These get passed.  It’s very difficult to make it stick when you rely on aerodynamics to stay close to someone.  I think it’s the same for NASCAR.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Yeah, NASCAR it’s pretty hard to pass, same thing, because the last time I had the same thing.  The corner is so long and there’s really only one groove that is the bottom groove.  I think Turn 1 is a little wider, especially because people coming out of the pits should run a little high to go around them, but I’ll be honest with you, if I’m running wide open and somebody comes out of the pits, I ain’t going to run wide open around the outside of them just for the sake of it.  Hell no.  I’m going to make sure I pass them, but I’ll be cautious about it.  But it’s like Turn 3, for example, you’ve got to be on the bottom the way the corner is, especially being so flat, it makes it pretty hard.  If you could run two grooves, then it would make life a lot easier because the cars are very aero sensitive.  That’s where they are.

Q.  Because of the difficulty with passing, how crazy do you expect the start to be just because everyone is going to be right on top of each other?
WILL POWER:  500 miles.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Yeah, it’s a long race.  I mean, it’s all about making sure you work on your car all day long and get a good balance for when it really matters.  It’s all about strategizing and putting yourself in a good position to have a shot at the end.  That’s all you can do.