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Aug 30, 2014 - 07:25 AM
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2014 Fontana: IndyCar Post-Qualifying Press Conference
Posted by: ASkyler on Aug 30, 2014 - 07:24 AM
IndyCar News
2014 Fontana: IndyCar Post-Qualifying Press Conference

MODERATOR: Will, a difficult session for you, but first in practice and the win here last year. How much confidence do you have coming into tomorrow’s race?

WILL POWER: I think the starting position, I’d rather have is either starting in the very front or in the very back. You know, just for the reason of staying out of trouble. Yeah, it’s all about the race. Very long. We get one more practice tonight to see where we can get our car to work a bit better.

Q. Was there any particular problem with the car. Will you be able to change it for the race?

WILL POWER: It was just I tried to get low in (Turn) 1. Got on a seam and had a moment. Sure, there could have been a much better qualifying, but it went as bad as it could possibly go. At the end of the day, we were just too loose.

Q. Did either of you encounter any problems with seams out there?

WILL POWER: I did. I definitely got caught on the seams.


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SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, that's the tricky part to this racetrack, for sure, obviously got loose on the seams, but it's not too bad. I think some cars react more aggressively than others on those seams. It's a matter of making sure the car can make you comfortable enough to run 500 miles.

Q. And for both guys, just want to know from Wednesday night to this afternoon how much different was the track?

WILL POWER: It's a lot different. It's a lot harder. Obviously running at this time of the day, it's ‑‑ even this morning it was a lot different. We did 2:21, and you're lucky to crack 2:19 today. It was a lot different.

Q. Will, you've been in this position before, running for a championship. What have you done this time either mentally or physically or emotionally to make sure that you get that championship tomorrow night?

WILL POWER: I think the circumstances change obviously as qualifying unfolds. Starting with the air, it changes things at the start of the race, and just to start, to be there at the end. That's the beginning of it. And then just understand what we've got to do when we got to that position.

Yeah, we've got a long night ahead. You know, it's far from over. It's a long night. We're going to do everything possible to make it happen.

Q. Does it really matter what the position at the start? It's a long race, it's a lot of laps. Does it really matter where you start? It matters where you finish.

WILL POWER: Yeah, everything is going to be where I finish, but yeah, it does. It helps, you know, just to keep yourself out of trouble, but then again, you definitely learn traffic on the way through. If you can keep yourself on stride, you learn what your car is like in traffic and probably get pretty good at passing. You've got three hours to work your way to the front. I think that's got to be the mindset.

Q. Tomorrow the race is in the evening, I'm not sure what the temperature will be, lower or the same. Do you expect a difference, better handling with the car, under the conditions tomorrow?

WILL POWER: Yeah, that's a big plus. It's a track that you can pass on. I think that's definitely good for us. So yeah, hopefully it is cool enough so there are multiple lanes, and we can work our way through.

THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with our Verizon IndyCar Series post‑qualifying press conference. Now joined by Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, who will be starting from pole tomorrow evening.

Helio, now that you know where you'll be starting in tomorrow's race, how do you truly feel about your chances for the championship tomorrow?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, it certainly helps. Starting in the front is always a good help. It's not everything. The AAA car's strategy was actually pretty good, and again, I didn't do it just by myself. It was Team Penske alongside with Will and J.P. They were ahead of me on the selection when they went out, and obviously were able to check the data and see what's going on, and with that we were able to make the final adjustment, which wasn't much, but enough to keep yourself steady and put yourself into contention to do the pole position.

With us, it's still 500 miles, it's still a long way, and we've just got to continue doing what we're doing.

Q. You started from the pole here in 2003 and also 2004. Your teammate Will Power was saying that he would rather start at the very front of the field or at the very back of the field. How important is track position here?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, I guess his wish came true. (Laughter.) I didn't mean that in a bad way.

I feel that for us, for me, I've got to go in the front. There is no question about it. I can't think about in terms of a championship because it's 500 miles, guys. It's a long way, plus there's other guys, as well, that want to win the race. Our job is to continue pushing as far as we can, attack, be aggressive, and finish in the same position we started.

Q. Under the soft conditions, how stressful was this not only for you but engine and tires? Are you preparing a little bit more special than for other temperature conditions?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it was extremely difficult. I mean, we're talking about 190 degrees of track in the morning and all of a sudden at 130 degrees the track for qualifying. And when you go qualifying, we're talking about knife‑edge scenario. We are extremely on the edge, and with such a dramatic change in the weather and the track temperature, we lose about almost 100 pounds of downforce. And that's the biggest thing. What are you going to do? You've just got to go for it.

So that's the tough part, and we played some huge elements, and in the past I was able to take chances. It didn't pay off, and this time I'll be taking the chance with the help of obviously my teammates, and going in the front, we were able to put it together.

Q. When you saw Will's performance, did you change any setups to conform to get a better performance like you did?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Unfortunately you're very restricted in what you can change. My car and Will's was very similar, different than Juan Pablo, and I'll tell you what, I was freaking out because not much we can do except the front wing, and we did make some adjustments, obviously, on the car. But I was very concerned because once you get in those scenarios, if it happens to one car, it can happen to others.

Q. And how much tire strategy is going to come into play here at this particular track?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, after the test we had Wednesday, Wednesday night, I feel that it will be important. If you're talking about last lap of the ‑‑ five laps to go in the race, and we might even end up changing tires if we need it, because tires do make a difference. But that's the way it is. It's the same for everyone. The way the tires are holding especially in the beginning of the race, it might be a little bit tougher to go all the way, but it's possible. But as the night comes in, it's getting a little better.

Q. I know a 500‑mile race, a big track like this, you can win anywhere on the track, but I'm sure even you have to be surprised to see who's starting next‑to‑last?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, yeah, absolutely. Like I said, when he had that scenario happening, I'm like, oh, my God, I was actually concerned because we couldn't have that kind of scenario. I was having some doubts, but nothing you can do. You've just got to tighten your belt a little bit more tight and go for it, and that's what we did.

Q. Qualifying setups are always different from race setups, but this is so wildly different because of the temperatures this afternoon than what you're going to face early tomorrow evening and tomorrow night. How much of a concern is it for you at this point you've hit the qualifying setup, hitting the setup for early in the race tomorrow and then still being okay at night?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, the good news is we have great engineers and they're able to put it together, the numbers with the temperature, and then obviously the track getting less dirty or get more grip, things like that, it just ends up helping when you have 22 cars out there running.

Yep, tonight we're going to do it again, trying to make sure the car, what we had Wednesday night is still the same. We feel that setup for qualifying was good, and setup for the race is also good.

Q. Some of the oval races, the driver that leads, maybe burns the most fuel and kind of makes the hole in the air for everybody else, is this a race that you really want to lead say the first 150 laps?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes. To be sure, yes.

Q. At what point do you think you’ll the 12 car in your sideview mirror

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm not worried about him. I think I have not only him but also 20 other cars really hungry to go and win this race, and that's what I'm focusing ‑‑ look ahead, and hopefully never look back.

Q. For tomorrow is there anything you would like to maybe change on the car or do you keep it untouched like in qualifying trim?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, certainly every time you're on the track you learn something, however ‑‑ no, we're going to start 7:15, correct, the practice, which is pretty much very close to the race time, which is 7:30, 7:00.

Q. 7:20.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, we want to make sure that what we have right now at this practice, it's similar to what we're going to start at. And every time you go out there and those conditions are similar to race, it's important for you to be out there to make the car better.

MODERATOR: Thank you Helio and good luck.

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