2014 Dover: Helio Castroneves NASCAR Sprint Cup Post-Race Press Conference
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with our post race press conference. We're pleased to be joined by today's winner, Helio Castroneves.
Helio, talk about your win here.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, no, for me, coming out of a tough weekend, but good weekend in Indianapolis, coming out here, we turned the page. We're like, Okay, guys, it was a good weekend. Unfortunately we didn't win. We were close, showed potential. Let's keep going.
My engineer and I worked extremely hard. Even when the race was over in Indy, we were already working on Detroit. I said, I want to win this race as bad as anybody.
As soon as it came out of the truck, the Hitachi car was outstanding. Whatever you guys did, don't touch it. Literally we massaged the car just a small bit, and it was absolutely perfect.
Race number one, unfortunately the yellow didn't play in our favor. But we had the car, the strategy, but it didn't work that way. We at least were able to carry on the Team Penske flag.
Today, man, I knew we had the car. I said, We've got to keep going. Can't just give up. That's why Team Penske is one of the best. We never give up. We push as hard as we can. It was pure racing. There was no fuel strategy, no playing games. I love it.
It was perfect. I knew exactly what I needed to do. Winning was what we wanted to do.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Helio.
Q. Talk about how important it was to have your team up on the fence with you, and have you done that before?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, that was really cool. I did not expect that, to be honest. That was a very touching moment.
They deserved it. They did so well. I mean, in the beginning of the season to now, they're pushing so hard. Those guys, people don't understand, but since Indianapolis, the Grand Prix, they're flat out. I speak on behalf of everyone, every mechanic here, everyone is really flat out, fixing cars, putting together, converting from oval to a street course.
It was great. It was great to see them there. Very pleased to be able to win today.
Q. What was your strategy on the final two restarts?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, the whole time when I was about 12, 15 seconds, that's what Roger at least was telling me, I was pushing, but I was under control.
In fact, it was about 15 laps, I'm just going to take it easy, because even if I lose a second a lap, it won't be a problem. So I was really managing the distance.
When the yellow came, that was exactly my experience, you got to have the tires and the car and myself ready to go. That's exactly what happened.
So as soon as they going to go restart, I wasn't even looking to the mirror. I don't want to sound cocky, but I was very confident. I had the car with me. I just needed to deliver. It was just absolutely perfect. So I wasn't worried.
Q. On your second and third pit stops, you were doing 117s, but at first they were 118s. Will was doing 117s while you were doing 118s. Was it cold tires? Did anybody tell you to speed up?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: The last pit stop?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I was opening the gap about 13 seconds. When we stopped, we came out about 11 seconds, and he dropped down to 9 seconds.
Definitely was the set of tires. Temperature was still coming up. The guys told me on the radio, Listen, I'm having a little bit of handling here, which I didn't have. The temperature's coming up. After the temperature came up, I started doing the 17s back again.
Like I said, that was the point I was like, Don't need to risk, don't need to push, 15 laps to go. When I need it, I'm going to save my 'push to pass'. I knew I had more than him.
So I was just taking it easy. If that will come out to one second... Roger was kind of telling me like nervous. I'm like, Relax. He needs to chase me. I did say that on the radio.
I think he understood the message. It was good. Everybody was in sync.
Q. With what Detroit has been through and what Roger's done to this island, could this be one of the most satisfying victories for you on behalf of him?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, for me, being biased, because this is where I get my first win, and having Roger on my radio, knowing how important it is for Detroit, for Chevy. In the beginning of the season, Chevy said, We want to win the Indy 500 and Detroit. We were close to the Indy 500, but we were able to deliver two wins here in Detroit.
For me, having a lot of friends already here in Detroit, mutual friends from Roger, for being so many years with him, it's just special. You see the crowd. You see the volunteers. In fact, I want to thank them. Every time you come over here, there's not one single person upset. In fact, everybody was really happy.
That for us as a driver, team personnel, that's the best you can have. You see the island every year. Now next year they say they going to make some improvements. This is the jewel of Detroit I heard many, many times, and I agree. This is a great island to have a racetrack, to have a family coming. Honestly, the weather was perfect.
So all these things combined for me, it's a very special day.
Q. Does it feel like it's been 13 years since your last win here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, no, actually it does not. To be honest, the win feels just like 13 years ago. They're great. They're awesome. The crowd was great. The only thing, I need to hold my emotion better because I'm getting old (laughter). But it was just like 2000.
Q. This is a great victory to celebrate. Next Saturday night you're going to one of your best tracks at Texas. Do you have a feeling this could be the start of something big for you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, we are on it. We are not playing around. I'm very confident with my team. The Hitachi car, we know what we got, especially after Indy. Ovals, we improved quite a lot.
We need to know what kind of rules they going to have in terms of downforce. But we are ready. We are definitely ready. I'm already thinking about Texas, to be honest.
Q. Power says you're probably driving the best he's seen you. Do you feel like this is the best part of Helio's career?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think I'm becoming wiser I guess with the age. But I be able to pay attention in details that I haven't seen before, able to work with engineers better than before. I think this is the second year in a row I have the same engineer, same crew. Crew actually changed. First time I had Roger. Last time I had part-time Roger. When you go from that kind of changes, it takes a little time for them to understand, for you to understand, and everything is clicking the right way, especially Jonathan. Everybody knows engineers is the key to keep you going. When you have a guy that understands what you're saying, it's great. For me Jonathan is doing an outstanding job. He gave me an amazing car today.
Plus the rules was changed from the past. Now the rules is going the way it's supposed to be. Those I believe are the things going in my favor.
Q. Are you a better fence climber now than you were?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah. Before I was just going and running out of breath. Now I'm able to at least take my time, not rush into it, have time to talk to the interview after I come down from the fence (laughter).
So, yes, I am a better fence climber.
Q. You had a really emotional whole month in Indy. Now you come here and you have two races in a row. Talk about how tough it is emotionally and physically to do back-to-back races after the whole month at Indy.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Emotionally we were able to control ourselves. Like I said, for the car that we had in Indy, we felt we had the best car out there. But it wasn't our day. We were able to compose ourselves, come back here and focus.
The first day, Saturday, it didn't go our way, even having the best car. Today, just never give up. We proved today it was perfect.
Physically, yes, it's tough, especially coming from one month at Indy, then to come back here in Detroit, which is a very physical place. But today is a statement of my trainer, Carlos Bailly, we were spot on. I sweat, but not that bad. I felt good all day, all the time, and I'm ready for Texas.
THE MODERATOR: See you next weekend.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you so much, guys. Appreciate it.