CHEVROLET IN THE NTT INDYCAR SERIES
STREETS OF LONG BEACH
ACURA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
TEAM CHEVY POST QUALIFYING RECAP AND PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 13, 2019
CHEVROLET IN THE NTT INDYCAR SERIES
STREETS OF LONG BEACH
LONG BEACH, CA
ACURA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
TEAM CHEVY QUALIFYING RECAP
APRIL 12, 2019
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 13, 2019) – Three former NTT IndyCar Series champions put their Chevrolet-powered cars in the Firestone Fast Six for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Team Penske drivers Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet (2014 Champion), Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet (2017 Champion) and Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet (2016 Champion) qualified third, fourth and fifth respectively for the 85-lap race around the 1.968-mile/11-turn temporary street course in Long Beach, California.
A total of nine Chevrolet qualified for the fourth race of the season, and the second street race of the 2019. The historic event is the final race before the Series heads to Indianapolis to start the month of May with the Grand Prix of Indy on May 11.
Alexander Rossi is the NTT P1 award winner with Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal (all Honda) completing the top-six drivers competing for the pole.
The race will be broadcast on NBCSports.com, INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com, the INDYCAR Mobile app, Sirius 113 and XM 209. Practice sessions will be streamed on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 3RD: WILL POWER: “Yeah, it was great for all three of us to get in, considering how tight it’s been in practice. Yeah, that was my aim was just to get in the top six because I felt like I was struggling all week. But yeah, the teams worked well. I think the car feels super good balance-wise, like I’m very happy with it. It was a mega lap Alex did. I couldn’t see myself doing that. But very good to be in P3.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 4TH: “T The Fast Six is great for the race. I think we’ll have a much better vantage point to the start of this thing compared to Barber. It’s hard to make something happen at 16th, but up in the top six it makes a world of difference, so excited about that. Wish we had a little more today honestly. I thought our car was great. My engineer Gavin did a good job, the te
am did a good job. Wasn’t much missing from what I could feel. The car felt really good. We were just a little shy in performance, and we’ll chip away at it, figure out where that’s at, but I thought it was a solid run, and like you said, a great starting position, so we’ve got to be happy with that.”
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 22 DXC TECHNOLOGY TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 5TH: “We worked pretty hard. It’s pretty cool to see how hard Team Penske has been working all winter trying to figure out that street course setup, and as we’ve shown today with all three cars being in the Fast Six, we’ve made a great improvement. I had a lot of fun driving the car all weekend. What a great track. It’s awesome to drive around here.”
PATRICIO O’WARD, NO. 31 GESS CARLIN CHEVROLET, QUALFIED 9TH: “We definitely had the pace today in the No. 31 GESS Carlin Chevrolet, but unfortunately we just got caught out by that red and couldn’t finish our quick lap. We were right on pace to make it into the Firestone Fast Six, so this one stings a little bit. It’s been a blast driving around this place – it’s such a fun track to drive. I think we have a lot to look forward to for tomorrow’s race with how much progress we’ve made over the weekend. It’s a hard lap to put together, but it’s nice to know that we do have the pace to compete at the top.”
MAX CHILTON, NO. 59 GALLAGHER CARLIN CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 16TH: “The No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet was the best it’d been all weekend today for qualifying. We’ve been struggling with balance and we were nowhere this morning, so we definitely made progress. I know we’re starting 16th, which is right in the middle of everything, but from where we started this morning, we made a positive change. It’s just so close out there. If I had the balance that I had this morning, I probably would’ve gotten more out of it for qualifying. In general, I’d say we’re making the right steps forward, but it’s just incredibly close out there.”
ED JONES, NO. 20 ED CARPENTER RACING SCUDERIA CORSA CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 17TH: “We tried to change up the strategy a bit to try and avoid getting affected by a red flag, as that has happened in a few previous qualifying sessions. We didn’t get to show our potential on black tires, our third lap was going to be our quickest but we came in early for reds. Because we stopped early, our first lap on reds was affected by cars coming out of the pit lane in front of us. On the second lap, the red flag came out. By doing what seemed like the right thing, in hindsight, created another issue for us. I don’t know how much father up we would have been but, but one of the worst thing is when you don’t get to see what your potential is. It seems we have improved every session this weekend, so I feel like we will have a strong car for the race and should be able to move forward quite a bit.”
MATHEUS LEIST, NO. 4 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 20TH: “Unfortunately things didn’t go our way, we’re struggling a little bit with the car. The conditions changed so much from practice and qualifying, you never know what’s going to be good and what’s going to be bad. I was just not comfortable driving the car today, pretty much the whole weekend. Hopefully things are going to start to get better. We still have a warm-up tomorrow so we’ll see if we can make some improvements to have a good race car.”
TONY KANAAN, NO. 14 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 21ST: “Somehow we lost our way last night and it was my fault trying to make up for something that we don’t have. It’s frustrating, I shouldn’t have made the mistake, I should have known better but that’s my competitive side. I’m always going to try to do better and it’s frustrating. Somewhere, somehow last night we lost our way, so we’ve got to regroup tonight and hopefully we’ll have a better racecar for tomorrow.”
SPENCER PIGOT, NO. 21 ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, QUALIFIED 23RD: “We’ve been chasing a lot of things this weekend, unfortunately it’s not just one thing we are looking for. We’ve been trying a lot of different things but haven’t been able to hit the nail on the head yet. We’re going to have a long day tomorrow, but hopefully we’ll make some solid improvements to the car overnight, maybe get creative with strategy, and see what we can do.”
FIRESTONE FAST SIX PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: We’ll begin our NTT IndyCar Series post-qualifying press conference for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Joined now by Josef Newgarden driving the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet for Team Penske in this weekend’s race, starting fourth in tomorrow’s race on Sunday afternoon. A podium finish here in 2017. Josef, you had a bit of a disappointing qualifying effort in Barber. I know you were hoping to start higher up. Obviously a great Firestone Fast Six appearance here. How happy are you to turn things around this weekend?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it’s a much better starting position for sure. The Fast Six is great for the race. I think we’ll have a much better vantage point to the start of this thing compared to Barber. It’s hard to make something happen at 16th, but up in the top six it makes a world of difference, so excited about that. Wish we had a little more today honestly. I thought our car was great. My engineer Gavin did a good job, the team did a good job. Wasn’t much missing from what I could feel. The car felt really good. We were just a little shy in performance, and we’ll chip away at it, figure out where that’s at, but I thought it was a solid run, and like you said, a great starting position, so we’ve got to be happy with that.
Q. Josef, considering that Barber wasn’t necessarily the best qualifying effort, now all three Penskes made it to the Fast Six, how much does it say for you but more importantly for the team to get that rally back?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I think our street course cars have been good. We were solid at St. Pete so I think that’s what you’re seeing here. We did a lot of work on that in the off-season, so I think that’s what it speaks to mostly. But yeah, Barber, I think we need a little time on our road course side. I think we’ll figure it out. I have no doubt, we’ve got the best in the business that work on our cars, so we’ll get there, we just need a little bit of time to figure out where we need to be better.
So it is good to rally here, like you said. But we kind of expected that. I knew we’d have good cars here. I was really excited to get going. Now we’ll try and get through this weekend, try to get through the race, score some points and focus on where we can be stronger on the road courses in the future.
Q. I’m just wondering, the way that you guys get so close to the wall here and have to maximize every little bit of track to get a good lap time, is there any way to put into perspective like how difficult is that? You guys make it look fairly easy like you’re in control, but how close are you to not being in control there?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It’s kind of like when you’re pulling out of a parking spot and it’s tight on both sides and you back up and you start to turn and you’re like, man, am I going to miss that car in front of me, and your nose is like right there, and like 50 percent of the time I’m just like, well, I think I’m going to make it. If I don’t, I hit him. That’s kind of what it feels like.
You’re like all the time on every lap, you’re just like, argh, I could hit or maybe not. Most of the time you don’t. That’s what it’s like for me. It’s kind of fun. It’s like parking. (Laughter.)
Q. How are the red tires holding up, and do you expect to get them off the car as quick as you can or are you just going to wait until one third of the race and then get them off? Are they durable enough to go a whole stint?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think they can. Obviously, tire deg was not been too bad here this weekend. I think that’s why you kind of notice that in the lap times. Most people didn’t drop off in the Fast Six because it’s not as bad here. The track rubbers up quite a lot, and it will throughout the race.
So yeah, you’ll be able to run stints on reds for sure. It’s going to be a question of how much performance the reds have over the blacks, and are you going to have that for a long enough period. So that will be what we’ll weigh up. But I think the degradation has been pretty solid this weekend. They’ve not been too difficult.
I think you’ll see a lot of people mixing it up, a lot of red tire runs.
THE MODERATOR: Joined by Will Power, starting third in tomorrow’s race. Will, it’s not unusual to see all three Penske drivers in the Firestone Fast Six, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen that. How strong is your car specifically this weekend but also just the strength of your team?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was great for all three of us to get in, considering how tight it’s been in practice. Yeah, that was my aim was just to get in the top six because I felt like I was struggling all week. But yeah, the teams worked well. I think the car feels super good balance-wise, like I’m very happy with it. It was a mega lap Alex did. I couldn’t see myself doing that. But very good to be in P3.
THE MODERATOR: I’ll welcome in Simon Pagenaud starting fifth in tomorrow’s race. Your best start of the season here coming at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. You’ve been very close to some Firestone Fast Six appearances throughout the season, but how happy are you to finally make an appearance here in the Firestone Fast Six this race?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I wasn’t gone. I’m still here. (Laughter.) It’s all good. We worked pretty hard. It’s pretty cool to see how hard Team Penske has been working all winter trying to figure out that street course setup, and as we’ve shown today with all three cars being in the Fast Six, we’ve made a great improvement. I had a lot of fun driving the car all weekend. What a great track. It’s awesome to drive around here.
The car was great. We just had a few more laps on the tires just like Graham did due to being in group 2, but the car was fantastic, and it was super competitive. I’m pretty pleased being fifth on the grid. We won from fourth in ’16, so why not.
Q. Simon, when you came in you said, I’m still here, and as Nate here from NBC pointed out I think you’ve said a few times on TV this weekend similar things, like I’m still the champion —
SIMON PAGENAUD: It’s just my ego coming out. I’m a contentious person, so I just said these things. Why not say it, right?
Q. I was wondering if you’re feeling unloved or ignored or if there’s something going on —
WILL POWER: I have been ignoring him a little bit.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Actually I have plenty of love, mostly from Will, a lot from Josef, too much sometimes. (Laughter.) But no, I feel confident, so I think ego comes out when you’re confident. I think that’s what’s going on maybe.
Q. Do you have a chip on your shoulder?
SIMON PAGENAUD: I don’t have a chip, no. It’s all good. I’m pretty focused, 100 percent. Yeah, might have shown some aggressiveness, fire, yeah, that’s not a bad thing.
WILL POWER: He tried to beat me up after practice. I got in his way. So yeah, he’s very aggressive right now.
so we’ll see how it plays out. But we’ll be fine in the race. I’m not really worried about that.
But like to push to a qualifying pace level, the rear of our car is just not good enough, but you deep tune it a little bit, should be all right.
Q. Both Will and Simon, Josef pointed it out that during the street courses the program has been pretty good for both of you. The street course program, they’ve been working on it throughout the off-season maybe a bit more than on the road courses. How does it feel that now all three made it to the Fast Six after what happened at Barber?
WILL POWER: Yeah, there’s no question we’re better on the street courses, and it feels good to be in the Fast Six. Honestly, like when you look at how tight the field is now, one little mistake or if your car is not quite in the window, you’re going to pay for it and you’re going to be probably back to 10th.
Yeah, yeah, very happy with the street course performance this year so far.
Simon says the same. (Laughter.)
Q. Will, missed the Fast Six last week, 10th this morning in practice. Were you ever concerned?
WILL POWER: Yes, I was. I was actually concerned. I was going to qualifying, just because it’s so tight. I knew that if we got everything right, I’d be close. Running like a tenth off, ended up being in sixth this morning, so that was my aim, just get to the Fast Six and I’ll be really happy. Whatever else you get from there will be a bonus. So yeah, really happy.
Q. Two guys on row three, you guys came together in Turn 1 here last year —
SIMON PAGENAUD: You can’t focus on these things. We race together every week, and sometimes one makes a mistake and the next week you make a mistake. You can’t really blame everyone. That’s my opinion. We’re all trying hard. It was very unfortunate for us. It was very unfortunate for the sponsors being here, and the goal is to make DXC Technology super proud to be here and have a great race and put on a good show for the fans.
Q. Well, is it the event? Is everybody just so happy because this is a good event? What is the reasoning for this good mood?
SIMON PAGENAUD: I personally think that it’s so competitive, and I don’t think you guys understand how — sorry, no offense. I don’t think anyone outside the race car can understand how competitive this is right now, so it’s very rewarding when you have a good day, and I think it’s — as a driver you feel fully content when you’ve had a good day and you’re happy. It’s that simple. Qualifying for us means a lot because it’s obviously going to help you the next day, on race day, and it’s also a feeling that’s incredible, when you are that much on the limit and you do a lap like Rossi did, that’s what you dream of, that’s what you work for. So when it happens, it’s awesome. You want to do it again and again and again. That’s why we do it.”