Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar drivers Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power met with members of the media at ISM Raceway, Phoenix, Arizona. Full Transcript:
IndyCar Media Conference
Friday February 9, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Team Penske. Josef, are you ready to go?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it was OK. We didn’t run much on our side this afternoon just because I think we wanted to wait more for the evening running. When you look at when qualifying is going to be when we come back, we’re kind of waiting a little bit. I think we ran 20, 25 laps. Just a couple runs to kind of figure things out, understand where the car is at.
I think we were maybe a little bit off on our starting setup. We’ll retweak that, I think the next set of tires will be pretty good.
It’s different. I think there’s definitely adjustments that need to be made from last year obviously. It’s useful to have this time and to be able to work through everything because I think we’re all going to need it.
THE MODERATOR: Will, how is the car different?
WILL POWER: Well, the start, lifting at each end. That’s a good thing, I think. Yeah, it’s going to be interesting when we do run it, especially in traffic. We’ll get an idea of how it’s going to race. It’s a tough track to run because it has a dogleg the back straight. So, yeah, I don’t know how much that will change. But we will see.
THE MODERATOR: Simon, give us your assessment. How does it change without the Brazilian?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, we miss him. We miss Helio. He’s the joy of our lives. I’m glad I still have him in sports cars. I get to hang out with hem and find out what life is about. He’s a cool guy. I love Helio. He’s been a great teammate, obviously a legend. Knowing him more and more, it really is awesome to have him back in Indy. It’s going to be an interesting month. Yeah, should pull some pranks on him, I think.
THE MODERATOR: How has the car been different for you both from road courses and from what you’ve seen here so far?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, in general, lots of differences. It’s quite difficult to put a finger on it yet, on exactly what the car does in every situation because it seems to be doing different things at different tracks, which I think the problem is we’ve been used to having so much downforce, it’s been overshadowing everything.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll get to questions.
Q. The Andrettis were in here earlier and said they have a limited amount of parts. How are you guys on parts? Do you feel you have enough parts? Dale Coyne Racing basically has enough parts for a car.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think we’re all in the same boat, to be honest with you. We’re all in the same boat. You don’t want to wreck the car either way, so don’t do that.
But we got to push, figure out where the limit is. I think we’re trying to do that without hitting the wall. I think we’re going for it, you know. See how it turns out. Hopefully we won’t wreck tonight. That would be good.
Q. Tell me about Helio being named the grand marshal for St. Petersburg. Is that because he’s old? What does that mean?
WILL POWER: Special to the place and the series, I guess. Yeah, it’s good. It’s great. I don’t know what to say. Yeah, really a good thing for him and for us. Wave that green flag. What else is there to say?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think it’s great. Helio, what a fantastic guy. To have him at St. Pete, we’re going to get to spend some time with him, the fans will get to spend some time with him. This is a win-win situation for everybody.
I’m excited. I think we’re all excited to see him. I think he’s going to wave that green flag beautifully. So check it out, St. Pete, March 11th.
Q. Is there any one track you think this car is going to be a lot different at?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think street courses will be the biggest change. Short ovals I would say will probably be right behind that. Those are two biggest places.
This is a place where a lot of things are going to happen. You’re running qualifying downforce level at the moment looking at last year’s car. With that, there’s a lot going to be different. You have to look out for the cars differently, you have to drive the car different.
I think we don’t know yet if that’s going to be better for racing. We were discussing that. I think this is a great evaluation not only for the teams and drivers to work on their new setups for the car, to figure that out, but I think for IndyCar, they’ll be observing what they think about the current downforce spec and they will get a good idea of that tonight when everyone gets together.
Q. Have you gotten close to anybody at all to feel the turbulence?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I haven’t, no.
WILL POWER: The old car, you lost the rear. That made it really difficult to follow. Losing the front equally, but the turbulence is a lot less, I feel like.
SIMON PAGENAUD: It’s very clean, the other car, which meant drafting was also difficult. Not much of a drafting effect. In the corners, it was very stable in the rear. Just losing front. We’re going to need to adapt to that because it’s a different car than before, but it’s still very early to say. I still don’t have the right balance on my own.
Q. Will, you did the manufacturing test here (indiscernible)?
WILL POWER: We pretty much started with what we finished with there, then have made just a few adjustments. Actually the car feels pretty good.
Q. How much of an impact has dropping from four cars down to three had on the team’s off-season planning, strategizing?
WILL POWER: Just got easier really. One less car to run. Yeah, hasn’t changed much.
SIMON PAGENAUD: There is a reorganization obviously, the crews, all that. Plus the addition of the sports car team, it’s been a bit of a reorganization.
I mean, honestly been a very swift transition on both teams, having the experience with them both, it’s the strength of Team Penske, being able to evolve and go without a hurdle to anyone, any of the three teams here.
So far, so good. I think it’s a little easier personally, because we have a little less information, so we can actually go to the point quicker. Personally I feel like it’s not as easy to get lost, so it’s good.
Q. Simon, any differences in Josef now that he’s won a championship, or even year two on the team? Is he less or more chatty?
SIMON PAGENAUD: No, he’s Captain America, that’s it. No, he seems to be cracking up a lot more.
Q. Unfortunately the person that could probably best answer this question isn’t here. Helio has had a long history back to the ’90s where there was a new car every year, probably not major changes like this. From the driver’s point of view, I’m hearing you have to adjust your driving style. How long does that take you to figure out? With the engineers, I would imagine they’re trying different things all the time.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think with the good drivers, they do it pretty fast. You’re always sort of evolving your style, whether it’s the tire that’s changing or the engine just changing.
This year, it’s a big change, quite a big change. Like we were talking about before, really depends on the circuit. So street circuits and certain places you go, I think your driving style will change a lot, but you adjust very quickly.
I’ve always told people, too, when they ask about the car, you can’t just watch St. Pete and see where everyone stacks up, get a snapshot for the year. I think you’re going to have to watch all year to see how it evolves because people are going to be figuring things out as the year goes on, getting better and better.
It will be fun to watch who figures it out the quickest. As far as like the broad strokes, figuring out driving style, yeah, really quick, then it’s just down to the little details throughout the year, refining. Whoever gets those little details quicker is the one who is better at the end of the year.
Q. Any impressions of what you saw from the windscreen testing yesterday, the look of it?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I thought it was awesome, yeah. I mean, from an aesthetic standpoint, it looks great. I think IndyCar has taken their time, didn’t just slap something together. This has been in the works two years. One of our partners, PPG, has been heavily involved with developing the screen. You saw with the visor cam, not too much distortion. We didn’t drive it, but just from the views you can see, it looks fantastic. I think we’re all in favor of what we saw yesterday.
Q. Will, in any way does this feel anything like what you drove in Champ Car?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I remember racing the Champ Car at Milwaukee. Just needed more power. I think that was a big thing, how hard it was to get throttle on the short ovals. That’s why I thought, yeah, I think we should use the road course power here. Yeah, everywhere really, but particularly here. It’s the most difficult short oval to have a big race.
Q. Will, you’re going to be going to your third strategist in three years. This one is Roger. Tell me about what that will be like for you.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I’ll know in St. Pete. Yeah, Roger has had a lot of experience. Looking forward to it. I won’t get any practice at knowing how he speaks on the radio. I think he’ll do the whole weekend in St. Pete, though. Some races he just turns up on race day. But I think, yeah, it will be good.
I mean, David Faustino has been with me since 2007, so I think Roger will lean on him, too, as the strategist do lean on the engineer. The engineer probably does more than the strategist..
Q. What about Roger spending 24 hours on the pit box?
WILL POWER: That’s impressive, yeah. Shows I don’t think he’ll ever stop. Racing is his golf. He absolutely loves it. IndyCar races, sports car, NASCAR, yeah. He’ll be there at all the races this year again.
Q. One of the comments the drivers have made about this new universal kit is that the car can feel like it has a hundred more horsepower. I don’t know if that’s the road course configuration or oval. It sounds like from what you’re saying you prefer to have the same level of horsepower on all the tracks instead of reducing it for the ovals. It would seem that would be possible for the engine manufacturers to provide that because it’s already there, because of all the restrictions they have they’re not planning on doing a lot of development between now and when the new engine comes in. How does that work at a track like this if you have more horsepower equal to the road course?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think it would just create more tire degradation, more lifting, create another phase of the corner. Right now when you get to corner and it’s an easy bang. There’s more aggressiveness, and people make mistakes at the exits of corners. You get a run on someone.
Yeah, I think the engine manufacturers had enough time with the engine now, the reliability is pretty good. I think that should be one thing to think about.
SIMON PAGENAUD: I think the difficulty for the engine manufacturer is reliability. 500 miles with more boost is a completely different workout for the engine. The engines are designed and tested to run the boost level that IndyCar mandates. For a 500-mile race, developments being made at 1.3 boosts, that would mean all the development that has been done all the years prior, that’s out of the window. You have to restart development at a higher level boost, your components will wear more, then it will be a whole different program of research and development for Chevy or Honda, which might cost a lot of money. That’s probably why it’s not happening really.
It would definitely reduce the engine mileage.
THE MODERATOR: Good luck to you fellas.