chevy racing–indycar–detroit grand prix post race

CHEVROLET RACING IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES CHEVROLET DETROIT GRAND PRIX STREETS OF BELLE ISLE TEAM CHEVY PODIUM PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT JUNE 12,2021
RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 SONAS/AUTOGEEK ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET (FINISHED 2ND) ¬†AND PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET (FINISHED 3RD) POST RACE PODIUM PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to the post race press conference for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. We are joined by our third-place finisher, Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 AMSP Chevy. This is his best finish at Belle Isle, his third podium finish of 2020.Pato, tell us about today’s race. It was crazy.PATO O’WARD: Yeah, it was good. The main point for me today is Felix is okay. That was a nasty crash. Nothing he could have done there. He was just a passenger, it was out of his control. I’m really happy that he’s okay. He’s getting evaluated further. But he’s good from what we’re seeing.Yeah, I mean, we started on pole. We’ve never won from pole. We went backwards. I guess that’s a disappointment. If you go back into the first red, we got hosed by that really bad. Everybody in our strategy I don’t even think finished within the top — I can’t remember who was in our strategy. We really had to fight for this podium. Bummer for Will. I feel for him, not starting up the last few laps.But, yeah, I mean, I think we salvaged a lot of points from where we, like, could have finished, which was further back just considering how hard it was to pass. But the guys did a great job in the pits. I did my job on the track. Made it through. I think we passed like eight people on track, seven people on track, in three or two in the pits. That was fantastic.We just get to come do it all over again tomorrow. Hopefully we get another pole. Hopefully we actually win it then.THE MODERATOR: Tell us about the battle with Rinus at the end.PATO O’WARD: I was nursing a front left flat spot. I have a lot more to lose than they do. I could just tell, whenever they race you and stuff, not that it’s wrong, they’re being smart with their own racing. They know if I’m stupid about it, then I’m the one coming out losing out of it.I had to give in quite a few times there just battling Sato, Rinus, McLaughlin. I had to be cautious because it’s so tight around here, it just takes one little bump, you go straight into the wall. I didn’t want to do that because the guys I’m fighting for the championship with were behind me. I think it was a job well done today.THE MODERATOR: We can take questions.Q.You looked like you were mad at Sato. What was wrong with him?PATO O’WARD: Well, the guy basically just left his front wing there. If I took the corner, I go into the wall and I spin, and he’s fine, or I let him by. I had to let him by. I know him. He won’t back out of that, so…Q.How did you handle the heat today? Will was dying in the car.PATO O’WARD: Was he? I was fine. Honestly we had a lot of breaks today. If it would have been a full green flag race, I think a lot more of us would have been destroyed after it.Honestly today was kind of easy in terms of what it could have been. Tomorrow is going to be a heavy one.Q.Did you need a fan in that second restart, second red flag?PATO O’WARD: Oh, yes. Just imagine like a sauna at maybe 125, 130 degrees inside. And nothing gets in there, only sand and dirt. So, yeah, I needed a fan.Q.Fun sauna.PATO O’WARD: Hot Yoga.Q.What about the long red flag, what did you do then to hydrate and stay cool?PATO O’WARD: I went to my bus and had avocado toast, get some food in me. I didn’t have a chance to eat a lot before the race because of stuff we were doing. I had to get some more fuel into me. Just drank some water, hydrated a little bit more rather than the hot tea we have inside the car (smiling).Q.Do you have any idea what happened on Felix’s crash?PATO O’WARD: Yeah, he popped off the brake. I mean, if you see the replays, you hear it out, the engine just goes flat out. I know him. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t him doing that with his own throttle.Man, I feel for him. It sucks. If you think about it, I mean, if it could have been in like a turn seven, turn three, that’s ugly. I really hope they find what caused it because that can be really bad. It was really ugly.I’m really happy he’s okay. We’re like brothers. I was definitely asking for updates.Q.When that happens did you start to have any concern that maybe something happens to your car?PATO O’WARD: No. You have to block that out. We’re in a business where you just, I mean, see accidents and accidents will happen, they can happen to you at any time. You just hope that they don’t. But if they do, you just try and do everything possible to recover.These INDYCARS are very safe. The monocoque was intact. The front end of the car was destroyed, but it’s a survivor cell. They’re meant to withstand hits of 230 plus miles an hour. This situation more now is more of the G that your body, like, compresses through when the car just launches up.But, yeah, I mean, I think the cars are really, really safe.Q.You talked about your thoughts on restarting the Formula 1 race. Do you think today was okay?PATO O’WARD: I understand they want to end on green. I bet you if I was Will, I’d be telling you no. I feel for him, man. The guy, I’m pretty sure he was the one leading. I think he would have walked away with it if it didn’t go red. It really sucks.Yeah, I mean, I wasn’t the one winning the race or anything, so I don’t really care if it was one or the other. For me it was good because I got a couple more (indiscernible).THE MODERATOR: We’ve been joined by our second-place finisher, Rinus VeeKay, driver of the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing. This is Rinus’ second podium finish in seven starts.Tell us about your day.RINUS VEEKAY: It was very nice day. Pretty crazy race. I think we made a good call on the strategy. I always trust the team with that. Yeah, best Chevy. Two Chevys on the podium. Very happy with that. I think engines are flying. Yeah, everything felt great. The team gave me the material to win.Yeah, made some pretty cool moves to secure second place. Also got a bit lucky with Will. Of course, I prefer to pass him just on track instead of with him being unlucky.Anyway, P2, very happy with it. Yeah, it was just a crazy, crazy Detroit race. Definitely a really good start for the first race.THE MODERATOR: You and Pato had a good battle at the end. We heard his side of it. How about you?PATO O’WARD: I didn’t think we had a battle. We did? I was waiting for him to make a mistake, but he didn’t make one. I was just chilling.RINUS VEEKAY: In one part from turn seven till turn 11, you cannot really make a pass.PATO O’WARD: I do remember now (smiling).RINUS VEEKAY: I pushed my tires quite hard at the beginning of my stint. At the end for the restart my tires were a little cooked. Yeah, I knew Pato was going to be fast. He’s always aggressive. But so am I. That was good.Yeah, I made a good move on Takuma, which I was pretty happy about. That felt pretty good. Pato came with me. Yeah, I just had quite a lot of ‘push to pass’. Luckily I could get a little bit of a gap in the last lap.From turn seven to turn 11, kind of took it a little bit easy. Didn’t want to tap a wall or break anything. I knew he wasn’t going to be able to pass me there. Still it got pretty close.No, I think it’s quite a cool podium, quite a young one, too.THE MODERATOR: This is also our seventh different winner in seven races.PATO O’WARD: Crazy, yeah.THE MODERATOR: We’ll continue with questions.Q.Trying to figure out the points, but once again it’s scrambled. I’m sure you guys have moved up since Alex didn’t have the greatest race in the world.PATO O’WARD: I might be like within five points, I think. I thought I got 35. How far was I back? Palou gets some for 15th.I should be in the fight. It was a good points day for me.Q.Both you and Rinus probably gained a lot today. Talk about how it seems like this points race is going to be a dogfight.PATO O’WARD: Everyone keeps asking me, Would you risk it? I mean, obviously it’s not like it’s one race, double points. There’s two races in two days. You need to maximize those two races. You’re better off having two top fives rather than a win and a DNF.THE MODERATOR: You got 37 points for the day, and you have 248 currently.PATO O’WARD: I’m where Palou was. I should be a few points back.RINUS VEEKAY: I think title fight is pretty good on our side. But I just treat every race the same. Like last year I was 14th. Now I’m probably somewhere in the top five. But, yeah, the season is still like nine more races. We’re not even halfway. So many can still happen. I just treat every race at a time and just, yeah, try to get the best possible result every race, see where I end up.Q.You two are young. There’s a quick turnaround. It’s 6:00 here, you have to be out there qualifying at 9 a.m.PATO O’WARD: What time is it now?THE MODERATOR: 6.PATO O’WARD: Dinner now at 6? That means I’m off the hook (laughter)?Q.Quick turnaround, 9 qualifying, 12 race. How do you get as much rest as you can?PATO O’WARD: I want to get in my ice bath. You have one?RINUS VEEKAY: I don’t have one. I have a massage. I’m going to be massaged, a full spa treatment (laughter).PATO O’WARD: Okay, I don’t have my personal spa (smiling).Q.Rinus, you were one of seven guys who never raced here before. How did you adapt to the track so quickly?RINUS VEEKAY: Well, I think it’s kind of a track that suits me. You got to be a little bit crazy. If you don’t know the risks, you can’t give it all.I think for me, I like street courses. I think we also have a great car which helps me get up to speed. We also had a sim day last Wednesday on a sim.PATO O’WARD: Those don’t do anything to prepare you for Detroit. What are you talking about? Not a chance.RINUS VEEKAY: No, I felt like it really happened. I did a pace lap with Conor.Q.He taught you everything?RINUS VEEKAY: Everything (smiling).Q.Do you feel since your win you’re driving a lot more confident? Or has that not changed, you’re driving the same way?RINUS VEEKAY: I actually forgot about my win. I just give it all. I enjoy. I think that’s most important. I enjoy. I’m still pretty bouncy and happy in the team. Like all the spirits are very high, everyone is very motivated. I think that helps.I think just the whole team, like everyone together, just has made a huge step compared to last year. We have a consistently good-performing car.Q.Pato, I saw you throw your fist up in frustration at Sato maybe. Rinus, did you have an issue with Sato? Both had problems with the same guy today?RINUS VEEKAY: I had no real problems. It was just racing hard. I was aware if he made a move and reaction, he would make a block. Yeah, just his mistake. No, Takuma, he’s not an easy guy to race. No attack, no chance is his motto. He’s a little crazy.But, yeah, I finished in front of him. No attack, no chance today, so it’s been a good race.PATO O’WARD: I finished in front of him, so I have no complaints (smiling).Q.On the flipside, the guy who won today, he seems to be a driver that you don’t ever hear anybody complain about the way he drives. How do you feel about seeing him crack into Victory Lane?PATO O’WARD: I’m happy for him. He was telling me it’s been 10 years since he won. Like for me it was three years and it felt like forever. I can’t imagine 10 years. I’m really, really happy for him.He’s a great guy to race. He races you hard, but he’s very clean. Yeah, good guy.RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, I’m also very happy for him. Of course, the first victory is always the most special. I think his first and only podium was here in 2019. Very good track for him. He’s putting a lot of work in just like us. Definitely a great driver. Great that he gets his first win here. Pretty cool way to jump in the fountain and sit on the lion.Q.You got your first wins this year. We saw another first-time winner. When was the last time we had four first-time winners in seven races? I don’t think that’s happened before.PATO O’WARD: I got to say, I don’t think the field has ever been this stacked in decades. Like I’m really proud to be part of it, proud to be one of the guys that’s mixing it up in the front. I’m sure Rinus feels the same.RINUS VEEKAY: I’m proud of it. We of course are the new generation coming up. It’s pretty cool to battle it out. I think, yeah, it’s just great how the young guys kind of take over. Really proud to be a part of it.Q.Rinus, how was this place? You’re one of seven drivers who came in this place for the very first time. What was it like?RINUS VEEKAY: It’s definitely crazy. Once you give it 99% one lap, you’re a second off. You got to be on it every lap and push hard.Yeah, you will touch the wall a few times in the race, which I did. No damage. Definitely very cool. It gives you a lot of adrenaline. Finishing on the podium here is really satisfying.Q.Pato, back to talking about a championship. Were there any moments today where you were thinking championship first? If so, what were those moments?PATO O’WARD: Yes, many times. When Sato stuck it inside, when Rossi stuck it in the inside, when I was fighting I think it was McLaughlin. I ended up getting him, so that was good.Yeah, I mean, there were multiple times in the race where I made the right call backing off. If I didn’t, I’m pretty sure my race would have been ended before the first red flag.Q.Is it full send tomorrow from the green flag or back to thinking championship?PATO O’WARD: I need to qualify as high up as I can. We did a good job of that today. Tomorrow we try to do the same. Hopefully no yellows fall down to hose us.Q.Rinus, your pass on Takuma on the last restart, how aggressive were you on that move?RINUS VEEKAY: I was quite aggressive. I had a pretty good run from the restart. I knew they didn’t sweep turn one. It was very marble-y off the line. I got a taste of what being off the line is like yesterday in practice. It’s very slick.I thought once I get my wing there, you know, I can stick it. He’s not going to be able to follow me on the outside. I put my front wheels on his inside. Yeah, then I knew the move was done.Very happy. Definitely paid off.