VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
POCONO INDYCAR 500 FUELED BY SUNOCO
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER POST RACE TRANSCRIPT
JULY 5, 2014
TEAM PENSKE’S HELIO CASTRONEVES, JUAN PABLO MONTOYA AND VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES LEADER WILL POWER met with the media at Pocono Raceway following today’s opening practice to talk about track conditions, being back at Pocono, contact on street races and other topics. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
HOW DID IT GO OUT THERE THIS MORNING?
“Pretty good. The wind conditions hit us and threw a little curveball. At the end of the day, it’s the same for everyone. The Chevy engine is working good. We were able to try a race setup, which is what we wanted. Hopefully now in the second session we will be able to work a little bit on qualifying.”
WHAT DOES THE WIND DO TO THE CAR?
“It makes it a little tough to set up, especially when you are going from one corner to another, even though it is an oval. When it’s a constant wind, it’s not a problem. When it’s a gust of wind, that’s when it’s a problem. On one lap, the car is one way and the next one is, ‘Whoa, what happened?’ The inconsistency is what makes it difficult for us.”
LOOKING BACK AT LAST WEEKEND, THE STREET RACES ARE BECOMING MORE OF A CONTACT SPORT. IT SEEMS THE ONLY WAY MOST PEOPLE FEEL THAT CAN GET AROUND IS TO PUSH SOMEONE OUT OF THE WAY. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?
“Certainly I don’t like it, and I don’t think anyone likes it especially if you are the one getting the contact. For one thing, the car is too strong. It gives opportunities for guys not to be careful. If there is a small opening, they are just ‘eh, whatever happened happened’ and not thinking of the consequences. But it became a good show with the contact like that. Unfortunately it hurts when you do have contact like that. It’s not going to change any time soon.”
JUAN PABLO SAID THERE ARE STILL GUYS YOU CAN RACE AGAINST. HOW DIFFERENT IS IT FROM BACK IN THE OLD CART DAYS? IS THERE STILL THE SAME ETTIQUITE OR IS IT A LITTLE MORE AGGRESSIVE NOW?
“In the past, there was more power so it was more difficult to get out of the corner. The close racing was a little different, and the approaching speed was a little different. Now because everyone is so close to each other… the braking marks are so close to each other. In the past, if you touched it used to break you more. It was a little different game. But the competition has adapted and I have to say this field is very close, probably because of the way the equipment is. We don’t have as much torque as we did in the past. Saying that, you see the younger generation driving a little different. Some of the new rookies have very huge respect – some not so much. But it’s never going to change. But it’s always fun to race like in the Indy 500 with Hunter-Reay when we are pushing each other to the limit. It was a great show with lots of respect.”
WITH A DOUBLE-POINTS RACE, DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS WEEKEND IS A CHANCE TO GAIN GROUND IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
“Absolutely. Those are the races where we need to focus. But we can’t just focus on the championship. We have to focus on having good performances. Whatever comes out will sort things out.”
DOES IT MATTER TO YOU THAT YOUR TEAMMATES ARE THE ONES YOU ARE FIGHTING OFF?
“No. It’s a good problem for a team to have and that’s what we are looking for. It’s great to be battling with Will. I think the biggest one is how to manage that so we can bring both guys in and at the end of the day we will accomplish our goal – give the championship to Roger (Penske). We still have that mentality of wanting to make that happen.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THINGS ARE STARTING TO COME TO JUAN?
“I never doubted him. You have to give credit to the guy who jumped back in after seven years in NASCAR. He’s doing extremely well. I was never thinking anything different. I’m glad he’s adapting fast, and I think that’s his biggest strength.”
WHICH TURN HERE REQUIRES THE MOST CONFIDENCE FOR YOU?
“I think Turn 3 is the toughest one because of the circumstances of the angle of the corner and how you approach behind from someone. In front, it’s not so much (difficult). Where the laptime is is at Turn 1. Put those together, that’s the toughest part for the engineers and drivers.”
DO YOU ENJOY RACING AT A TRACK THAT YOU KNOW IS ONE OF THOSE GREAT TRACKS FROM 30 YEARS AGO WHERE SOME OF THE GREATEST NAMES IN INDYCAR RACING HAVE WON?
“Oh yeah. The tradition is always great to keep adding to the series – Milwaukee, here. Unfortunately we don’t have Nazareth. Phoenix is another place we used to race. Laguna Seca is another place. But we gotta go where we are welcome. And I think the series is doing a great job of going places where we are welcome.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA
HAVE YOU STARTED LOOKING AT THE STANDINGS A LITTLE BIT MORE LATELY?
“It’s good now. I was looking at them at the beginning when I was 12th or 14th in points, and I was like, ‘I don’t really wanna look at this. It’s embarrassing!’ But I think where experience pays off is you don’t put yourself in bad positions and you finish more races. I feel I’ve been doing a good job for Team Penske, Verizon, PPG, Chevrolet and everyone who supports us. As long as the man (Penske) is happy, then I’ll be happy.”
DO YOU ENJOY THAT IT’S YOUR TEAMMATES THAT YOU’RE CHASING DOWN?
“In a way, yes. But in another way, it’s nice that they are running 1-2 at the moment. Neither of them have a championship yet, and I think both of them deserve one. So we will see how their interaction continues.”
HOW DID IT GO THIS MORNING?
“Good. It’s amazing how fast this place is. Even though you test here and you know what you have to do, it’s hard. To commit yourself into Turn 1 or Turn 3 to hold it down, it takes a lot of self-confidence.”
YOUR RESULTS HAVE PICKED UP A LOT IN THE LAST FEW RACES, AND YOU HAD A HUGE WEEKEND LAST WEEKEND. ARE YOU FEELING MORE COMFORTABLE?
“I’m starting to figure it out. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not confident. Now I know I can outbrake anybody. I get there and I can throw the car in and I’m still going to stop. So the confidence level is starting to go back up. It wasn’t going to happen overnight. You have to go racing to really understand. You test and you push until you think you’re comfortable. Then you go into a race and when you push you’re a second off, you have to get out of that comfort zone and figure it out. That’s what we’ve been doing.”
THE STREET RACES ARE BECOMING MORE OF A CONTACT SPORT. DO YOU REMEMBER IT BEING THAT WAY IN THE CART DAYS?
“It’s a contact sport with some people. It depends on who you are racing. If you’re running with guys that are experienced, you don’t have any problems. You’re running with Kanaan, Power or people like that, if you get out inside of them they will give you the room. They are smart enough. But then there are kids who would rather end up in the tires that give up a position.”
WAS IT THAT WAY IN CART?
“Michael (Andretti) was a guy you could race against always. He was a fair guy. Then you had other people who were desperate. When you’re desperate for results, you’ll do anything.”
WILL YOU WATCH THE SPRINT CUP RACE TONIGHT JUST TO WATCH IT?
“I will be in my hotel room. Last night I was watching the Nationwide race last night and fell asleep. But not in a mean way; I really wanted to watch it with 30 laps to go. It woke me up, the screaming at the line. That’s the thing with restrictor plate racing. We should do 10 five-lap races. That would make it so much more fun.”
YOU HAVE SO MUCH MORE EXPERIENCE HERE THAN ANY OTHER DRIVER. DO YOU FIND THAT IT HELPS?
“No. In a stock car here, you brake and downshift. You downshift in these cars here but it is very different. There is no technique and you press a button. It’s completely different. The IndyCars are very sensitive to the aero. Any gust of wind changes how the car behaves. But they are fun to drive.”
IS THE TRACK DIFFICULT TO DRIVE IN THE SAME PLACES DRIVING A STOCK CAR THAN AN INDYCAR?
“No. In a stock car, if the car was bad it doesn’t matter how good you are. When the car is good, it doesn’t matter how bad you are.”
HOW IS THE WIND HERE?
“It changes the balance and makes it hard because every corner drives different. You go into Turn One and you have tons to understeer. You go through Two – it shouldn’t be a corner in these cars it’s so easy. You turn in and you’re saying ‘please don’t snap, please don’t snap!’ You get into Three, and you have a ton of instability in the entry and feel like the front gives up. You think you’re going crash and you turn the wheel, the car doesn’t turn.”
THE RESULTS HAVE BEEN GREAT LATELY. HAS THE TEAM FOUND SOMETHING OR IS IT MORE OF A PROGRESSION IN YOUR RETURN?
“It’s a progression. I always said it would take time. If you thought it wasn’t, you were dreaming. I hadn’t been in an open-wheel car in six years and not in an IndyCar in 10 or 12. I feel like I’m getting there. I can feel it start to click, and the more it starts to click the more confident you get in the car and the more you can push it.”
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PENSKE AND GANASSI?
“They are very different organizations. They are both great organizations, and I’ve been lucky enough to run for both of them. But the way Chip and Roger wants their things are completely different.”
HOW DID IT GO FOR YOUR THIS MORNING?
“Good. In the first session, we were trying to work on stuff to try and get the car better. It seems quite difficult to follow. We have to work on that.”
THE STREET RACES ARE BECOMING MORE OF A CONTACT SPORT. ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THAT OR WOULD YOU PREFER MORE PLACES TO PASS SO IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A CONTACT SPORT?
“I mean, you can’t hit someone hard but the good thing about these cars is that you can rub. So it has become a little more push-and-shove. Obviously if you go too far you’re going to get a penalty. That’s street racing and how it is right now. You play to the rules at the time. That’s how we are playing right now.”
HOW DAUNTING IS IT TO GO FROM A DOUBLEHEADER WEEKEND TO A 500-MILE RACE?
“I don’t know about daunting. One thing that is daunting is this place. But it’s fine. The temperature will make the race more comfortable. That and the lack of humidity. But it’s great – racing every weekend and having fun.”
YOU’VE SAID YOU’RE NOT LOOKING AT POINTS…
“You have to focus on the actual weekend. It can be a big swing one way or the other. You have to focus on your job and do everything you can to have a good day.”
TALK MORE ABOUT THE HUMIDITY AND HOW THE WIND IS AFFECTING THINGS?
“We’re running out of gear on the frontstraight a lot. So the wind is pushing us along pretty good. It’s actually pretty fast now, the track. The wind always affects these cars. It’s not too bad right now – the direction of the wind. Sometimes when you get a bad direction, it can really upset the car. This isn’t too bad.”