2013 Fontana: IndyCar Post-Race Press Conference - Will Power, Helio Castroneves
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by Helio Castroneves.
Helio, a hard-fought race and season. Talk about this year, the championship run, tonight's race.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: First of all, I want to thank the entire Indy community. It was a great championship. We did everything we could in our side to bring home the championship. Unfortunately we didn't finish the position we wanted.
But I tell you what, I had a great time. It was awesome. I went for it. I was driving my heart out out there. I was pushing to the limit. The AAA boys did a great job, too.
It's a shame that we end up having contact with 83, breaking our front wing. But I knew it would be very hard-fought with those guys. My only chance was to be aggressive, and that's what we did.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Normally you're a fairly emotional guy. You seem to be taking this very well. Where are you getting all this inner peace from?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I can't take for granted the season we had. Yes, so close, so far. But, you know, I would say a lot of little things. If you see the way we finish, you got to finish outside the five, you didn't finish. I didn't win, so basically if I lose by one point or two points, that would be hard to swallow.
In the end of the day, you can't take the credit from the Ganassi guys and Scott. One weekend unfortunately for us cost a lot of points. Unfortunately it was nobody's prediction. We did everything we could to avoid any kind of mechanical failure. The only time we had a mechanical failure in the whole season, that's what cost the season.
We can't look back. We just got to continue working hard. This is part of racing. That's why I'm taking it okay. I'm ready to come back actually next year and start all over again.
Q. What happened on the pit stop where Roger called you down and ultimately pit lane was closed?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, I think it was a little bit of confusion there. I asked again to pit. They ended up calling me yes. When I noticed I was the only one pitting, we got to go back again.
It was fine. That was just a blip on the radar. It wasn't an issue at all for the race.
Q. Roger kept saying, No, I'm so sorry. Did he say anything to you about it after the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No. Like I said, I was able to go back right away on the restart.
But I tell you what, it's been quite some time I haven't seen him like that. He noticed we gave everything. It was interesting. He made some good comments about the entire group number three. That for me meant a lot.
Now next year we have another addition on the team. We'll continue fighting for this championship. Again, this year proved to be a very competitive season. No question next year is going to continue to be like that.
Q. What happened on the broken front wing? Was it Kimball?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah.
Q. Do you have issues for him or discussion to have with him?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: What are you going to talk about it? He was going for it, as well. Yeah, there was a little bit of a craziness at one point that I even mentioned on the radio. End up one movement little too close, damaged my front wing. That definitely was a close call.
Also with Tag, at one point he came really close. I was like, It's going to hurt. Thank God I was able to avoid.
I knew it was going to be tough. I knew they weren't here for playing easy. So now we just got to keep going and unfortunately don't try to put ourselves in that situation again, try to do a little bit better.
Q. Do you like the fact that you get to close the season at a big oval like this with a 500-mile race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think so. I don't know what you guys think about the race, but in my view it was adventure. It was fun. It was a battle. Maybe there was one moment, one stint, that was a little bit calm. But normally it's calm after the storm, but that was the opposite. Every time we had a restart or something like that, it was actually pretty crazy.
I have to say the way it finish, it create some type of challenge. It was a drama, you know, find out what's going to happen. Anything could happen. In our side, unfortunately it didn't end up the way we want it. But I think the fans and everyone probably enjoy.
Q. This is the I think the sixth time since Sam's title in 2006 you've come into a finale and not gotten it done. Why do you think that is with the Penske organization?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, good question. We are putting ourselves in an opportunity to do that. I guess wasn't meant to be. Last time we won with Sam, it was a big battle between us and Ganassi as well.
It wasn't meant to be. We trying to cover all the issues that every season we are in this scenario. Three seasons in a row. One season with Briscoe. The guy led most laps, did everything he could. For the first time ever, there was no yellow flags in Homestead.
Then came Will.
Now it's my turn.
The only thing I can say, we can only build ourselves stronger and come back next year. We can't keep crying about it and question ourselves why.
Q. Will seemed a little emotional in Victory Lane. He said that he really wanted this one, especially after how last year went for him at this track. He also talked about someone, I'm not sure who he was referring to, about last year's race. That's typical Will Power, what happened to him, that he wanted to do this to prove wrong. Did he talk to you about that at all, how badly he wanted this?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I haven't talked to him about that kind of scenario. Certainly we discuss with each other. Today was about for us to do everything we can to put myself in a position to win the race, and we did that.
In the end, we work extremely hard together. We have a very good car. He deserve it. He fought hard this season to be a winner.
Q. You've won three Indy 500s, but the championship has always kind of alluded you. Which is more important to you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I would say the Indy 500 (laughter).
Q. You've had a season now with Roger being your race strategist. Do you prefer to have Roger?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I have to say for me it was great. John is great. We had a great time the last few years. But Roger is in this business not because he's the only team. He makes very good calls. He's decisive. Sometimes we need someone to make the decision. He's definitely the decision maker.
For me it was great to have him on the radio. I enjoy very, very much. Let's going to see what happens next year. Hopefully we continue together.
Q. I know you had the pit call with Roger. At what point in the race did you feel you might have the championship in your hand?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, probably before we had to do an extra pit stop. Actually, I have to be honest. Even when I was a lap down, I was saying, I'm going to make this lap, I'm going to be able to come back. Then when the yellow come out with the Sebastien Bourdais crash, I'm telling you.
Then 20 laps to go, they make the guys drive through the pits. Just to answer your question, probably 15 laps to go I think I still had a good chance and something could happen good to us. But then after that I just decided to not jeopardize anything on the car. There was nothing we could do anymore.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're now pleased to be joined by Jim Campbell for our manufacturers champion Chevrolet.
Talk about the great accomplishment this season.
JIM CAMPBELL: Thank you. First of all, what an incredible race it was tonight, and actually all season long. Racing in IndyCar has been absolutely incredible. Congratulations to Will Power on the win and to Scott Dixon and to Chip Ganassi and Mike Hull on the championship on the driverâ€™s side.
For the manufacturers championship, we came into the race, had 11 of our teams on their fifth engine. We had one team, Helio Castroneves, on his sixth engine. Honda had four engines that were in the fifth category. They had eight that were in six or more. They had four opportunities to earn manufacturer points.
For us it was exciting to win it. It really came down to the wire there. Had Charlie Kimball and Hildebrand who could have earned some points for Honda, they went out. As it turned out, Will Power brought the win home. Manufacturers championship for the second year in a row came our way.
In the end you don't win those championships without great teams and drivers. So a big thank you to our Chevrolet teams and drivers. They did a great job all season long, also last year.
In the end you have to deliver power, fuel economy, reliability, and the Chevy team did it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Jim, one of the things that was particularly impressive about Chevy this year is while you had adequate horsepower with the Hondas on the street circuits, you dominated on the ovals. What was in the formula of that engine that makes it work so well?
JIM CAMPBELL: I would say it's a combination of our Chevy power train, Ilmor, Pratt & Miller team, doing all we could in terms of testing, the tremendous amount of testing we do in our driveline dyno setup in Detroit to hone those engines. We're involved in eight series. That's the combination, our quest every single race. It takes a lot of work to get there. You have to basically really develop the engine, the whole power train system, then you have to get the whole car integrated together, and that's what the team did.
I'm really pleased with how they performed all year long. The teams just did a great job, so proud of 'em. We didn't get the driversâ€™ championship with Chevy power this year. We thank Ryan Hunter-Reay for being a great champion last year, and our hat is off to Scott Dixon for being the champion this year.
Q. Looking ahead to defending this for next year, Honda is planning to build a twin-turbo engine, does that change your approach in any way?
JIM CAMPBELL: Just to be clear, the series made a decision that everybody is going to use twin turbo. We have been on a twin turbo for the last two years. We're going to go on the same spec, which is slightly different than we're running today.
We've been doing our testing, so our focus is to deliver that combination I mentioned, power, fuel economy, durability, integrate to the whole car. We'll spend a lot of time testing the whole system and integrating overall. That's going to be our focus.
We obviously keep a close eye on all our competition in every series. We have to prove it on the track. Chevy has had a great year.
Q. Earlier this week something came out that both you and Honda would like to see another engine manufacturer come in to ease the pain it's costing you. Are you pushing hard trying to encourage another manufacturer to join the series?
JIM CAMPBELL: To tell you the truth, I don't remember doing an interview on it, so I don't know where that reference came from. We are definitely supportive of having another manufacturer come in.
When we were in Houston, I think I mentioned through our IndyCar contract, when there's two manufacturers, each manufacturer has to handle up to 60% of the field. That's our contract obligation. When there's three, it drops to 40%. Clearly the more manufacturers in, you basically handle a smaller portion of the field.
In the end it's more about the competition. We do not like to run in spec series. We're not interested in it. We like to race against somebody because it's meaningful, it creates innovation, it pushes you to be better every week, every race, every year. So we love racing against competition. We do it here and every series we're in. If we get to a series where there's no competition, we're probably looking for the exit ramp. We have to race against competition.
We'd love to see competition come in. We have a few neighbors in our City of Detroit, surrounding area, that we would like to have them considered, but any manufacturer around the world, we'd love to see them come in.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.
JIM CAMPBELL: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're now pleased to be joined by tonight's race winner, Will Power.
Will, how satisfying was it?
WILL POWER: Very satisfying (laughter). I was so determined to win. I went backwards, forwards, backwards, forwards, but eventually went forwards to win it. Very, very happy. Verizon, Chevy, everything. For what happened last year, I had this race in my mind all year, I had the ovals especially in mind, to do a very good, solid job. That's exactly what happened.
Probably my best win ever, that's for sure.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Will.
Q. After a brilliant drive, I'm going to ask you about the two things that went wrong. What happened with the visor change and what happened on one of the restarts where you dropped down?
WILL POWER: The visor change, I'm guessing a bunch of tear-offs came off. Suddenly I pulled my last one off and we're not even halfway. I'm like, We're in trouble. We had just one restart, I think that's the one that went backwards. I'm already struggling to see. We had to change that. We kept on the lead lap, changed it. I knew we were quick enough to get back up to the front.
The restart, I had to try to get around Hinch, everyone braked. It was a bad restart. I couldn't believe it. My God, all that work for nothing. But then start chipping back. It was kind of good to run in traffic because you knew how your car was. Running out front, you could get comfortable in clean air there.
Yeah, so I thought the call by Cindric at the end to put tires on was a great call.
Q. I heard you mention on television that you had a little extra incentive today to want to win this, make a point of some sort.
WILL POWER: The incentive? The incentive was, Ed Carpenter said that Will Power did exactly what everyone expected him to do at the last race last year. I thought that was just such motivation for me to beat him and win at this track and just be good at ovals. I went about it. I thought I'm going to beat Ed. Ed, I really respect him. A very good, fast, clean oval racer. Always good to race. I don't dislike him, but I told him, I said, Man, your comment last year gave me a lot of motivation. It's true.
So, yes, that's right. I like Ed. He's very good. He's quick. But that comment definitely got to me in a good way.
Q. There's a lot of guys that were very racy today, strong cars at different parts of the race. Could you talk about the track, how it changed, the different lines.
WILL POWER: Earlier, it was difficult to hold a load. My car got looser as the night went on. One stint I was leading, zero steer angle, I was just hanging on. Made a slight adjustment at the pit stop. It's a great track for that because there's so many different lanes that you can run. It just makes for good racing.
Q. You've raced here before, but today we kept hearing a lot about dirt and sand. Was that more prominent in this race than in the past?
WILL POWER: I don't know where the dust comes from, the sand. I mean, the cars are just sandblasted by the end. Your visor, everything gets sandblasted, and it doesn't seem to clean off. It's always there. That's how it is.
Q. It was more prominent in this race?
WILL POWER: It was the same last year.
Q. Great athletes always visualize their goal. Did you do any motivation by visualization?
WILL POWER: I didn't picture myself in Victory Circle. I just went about the business very methodically. My aim this year for the ovals was to finish every one and just build confidence. That's been the problem in the past, I haven't finished. Getting hit in the pits, this or that. You don't get experience.
This year I got maximum experience, finished every single lap. Got what I needed to get. Worked out.
Q. I know in past years you came down to the last race for a championship on an oval. Things didn't go well. Tonight, you look like the greatest driver in IndyCar Series history. You had to think, Why didn't this happen in 2010 or 2012?
WILL POWER: The one race that came to mind as I was driving around there was Kentucky. I had a car like that. If I hadn't been hit in the pits, I could have gone to the back, drove to the front, would have won the championship. I just thought to myself, I just can't get hit in the pits. I just want to win this race. I want to finally have a good car and win the thing. That's what happened.
God, why one year late, two years late? That's life, man. You keep learning. It's made me a much stronger driver, much stronger, honestly, in restarts, everything.
Q. Can you console with Helio? What's it going to take for Penske to win one?
WILL POWER: Got to beat Ganassi. Apart from last year, it's Ganassi every year. Yup, just got to get it right. It's been tough. Helio, same thing I've had the last three years. Can't leave anything on the table.
Q. Are you and Helio going to talk about finishing second?
WILL POWER: Probably not. Going to probably have a few beers, not talk about the race, have some fun.
Q. To have won now three races in the last five to end this year, you have a ton of momentum going into an off-season, how nice is it to get that?
WILL POWER: I said it to Merrill Cain, When am I going to finish a season in a good way? I think 2008 I finished fourth or fifth, Chicagoland. Yeah, got it. 2009, broke my back. 2010, hit the wall. 2011, got hit in the pits. Then the Vegas thing. 2012, crashed here. 2013, I won (laughter).
Q. There was a fairly long list of cars going into this race that were not going to be able to score points for their manufacturers. Can you talk about being the car that won the title for Chevrolet?
WILL POWER: We were kind of aware of that, the group of Honda cars that could score points for Honda. Chevy, I was obviously one of the cars that was on the fifth engine.
Yeah, I mean, Chevy, they've done a fantastic job. They were probably a little bit behind the eight ball when they announced. They came out with a great engine last year. Every upgrade, always chipping away. Phenomenal job.
Very happy to be a part of Chevy because you know you're going to have a good, reliable engine, good fuel mileage, all that.
With Honda going twin turbo next year, I expect a pretty tough fight. Andretti going to Honda. Like Jim Campbell said, tough competition is good.
Q. When did Ed Carpenter say that?
WILL POWER: End of last year.
Q. So you've been sitting on this?
WILL POWER: Yeah. Okay, that's right. Did you expect me to do this this time?
No, it's good motivation. That's how I work. I like people to say bad things. It makes me really go. If everybody is like, He's great. I hate that. This guy sucks.
Q. I need you to say something nice about Dixon. The way he held his cool over the last few weeks, emerged as the champion, talk about that.
WILL POWER: No question, he was the quickest guy the second half of the year. Definitely had some good battles with him. He probably wouldn't call them good, some of them. But obviously the incident in Baltimore, I felt bloody terrible that happened. Obviously looked at the car in front of me, moved, put him in the wall. Apart from that, it's been good racing, good, hard racing. Those guys picked their game up on street courses.
Last week at qualifying, every lap trying to hang with him. I would say he was the quickest guy this year. He won the championship this year, so congratulations to him.
Q. You've known for your musical ability. What song do you put in your head running a race like that?
WILL POWER: It's got to be like that Foo Fighter song. You're the best, the best, the best (laughter). That's what it's like when you're in that pack, yeah. Then when it all calms down, Mariah Carey, Dream Lover, something like that (laughter).
Q. What would be your goals for next year?
WILL POWER: To win the championship. That's going to be the goal.
Q. Indy 500.
WILL POWER: I always think if I win Indianapolis, I'm sure I can win the championship. That's been the point in the year where our points have started to degrade. So, yes, the Indy 500 would definitely be a part of that.
Q. William, based on your behavior, I think I know the answer to this question, have you sobered up yet?
WILL POWER: What are you talking about? I'm high on life. Finally finished a season in a good way (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: On that note, congratulations.