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Aug 31, 2014 - 07:01 AM
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2014 Fontana: Will Power IndyCar Post-Race Press Conference
Posted by: ASkyler on Aug 31, 2014 - 07:01 AM
IndyCar News
2014 Fontana: Will Power IndyCar Post-Race Press Conference


THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined by Will Power, Roger Penske and Tim Cindric. Tim, this is the team's first championship since 2006. 13th IndyCar championship since 1977. Talk about finally getting Will a championship and finally getting the team another championship.

TIM CINDRIC: Without a doubt, it's kind of been an odd few years, because it's not as if we weren't winning races or winning poles. We just couldn't for whatever reason be sitting here today.

For quite a while we were the ones to beat in terms of championship and that went away for a while. And with Will, if there's a guy that deserves it, it's absolutely Will Power. When you look at the number of places he's won, number of pole positions he's won in the last four years, it's been phenomenal.

As a team, I'm glad to say we finally can get him that one and hopefully it's the first of many.

THE MODERATOR: Roger, question for you, several seasons finishing second in the championship. Finally making it up to the top this season. Tell us what it means to you and what Will Power means to Team Penske.

ROGER PENSKE: No question that Will deserves this championship. As Tim said, he won a number of races, a lot of poles and really brought some momentum to the team. I think his working with Helio and obviously bringing Juan on this year made us that much stronger. He deserves it. He was obviously the best road racer, won that championship a number of times.

 

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To see him operate on the oval this year, the way he ran at Milwaukee showed me what he's got. I think for me from my standpoint Tim and the team have done a lot to grow this business as it has with the series so much better and the competition you see it tonight.

I don't think there was one car dropped out. So the reliability and the racing is clean. And it's very, very competitive. So for me and from the team perspective, it was a big win and obviously for Will it's something that he's worked hard. I think he's got the monkey off his back now.

THE MODERATOR: Will, I have a long introduction for you. First IndyCar championship. Finished second in points from 2010 to 2012. Fourth in points in 2013. For the season, three wins, four pole positions, seven podiums, eight top five finishes, 15 top 10 finishes and 11 races led. Throughout his career has 36 career poles and 24 career wins, was either first or second in points all season taking over the points lead for good this season at Mid‑Ohio.

Taking that all into consideration, tell us about, firstly, the race tonight. And then, secondly, just what it means to get your first Series championship.

WILL POWER: The race tonight was surprising, it was so green. And starting the back there, it didn't ‑‑ we just slowly picked people off and we would pit early and get more people on the out lap and get good air.

There was a point in the race where I thought I'd really have to go for it. That's when I was about sixth or seventh, I think I passed Munoz. And I said okay it's time to really get myself well in the top 5.

And also on that restart, I've got to lead a lap and not go backwards. So that was the key to the race. No mistakes. Just keep on top of the car and very good strategy. Very good stops. And it was honestly to win the championship it's 15 years of hard work for me. Started back in 2000. And just to get the opportunity to drive for Penske and to finish runner up three times, it's such an emotional win for me. But I'm just so grateful to have this opportunity and like Roger said, I think the team this year has been phenomenal with Juan and Helio.

And I think the great thing about driving for this team is whatever you want as a driver, whatever direction you want to push the development, you can.

And that's what we've done. And I think Tim Cindric is a very good leader as far as the shop and the team goes and that's why we won the championship. That's why we won two and four in the championship.

Q First of all, Will, when you see your brother's video online you're going to be mortified. Secondly ‑‑

WILL POWER: Just keep in mind he's a comedian. So I don't think he was drunk.

TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, he's just jealous. He's asking for a loan.

(Laughter)

Q Secondly, was the fear of the unknown, I don't want to say self‑doubt, because you're a very confident driver, but the fear of the unknown your biggest foe going into the race?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it was ‑‑ you think of a 500‑miler. You think of the previous years as being six or eight cars finish. So in my mind, it just shows how good Chevy is and the reliability of the team itself.

That's obviously, there's a lot of variables that could have gone the wrong way. But just shows that absolutely not a problem. And that's the team for you.

Just awesome to be here.

We watched you racing in this country for quite a long time. Would it be fair to say the end of last year was kind of a transformation or even last year as a whole was a transformation? You seemed to relax so much more?

WILL POWER: Yeah, I think the fact that I wasn't in the championship chase made me realize how aggressive I truly could be.

And I got back to how I raced when I was young which is attack, not be conservative. I think the three championships we lost was me kind of on being conservative in certain situations.

And now I just feel like I've raced naturally. And it was a change, just because I was put in the position not to protect the points lead.

Q Will, all week long you've been taking questions that started with "You've been in this position before." Now you've been in this position before is going to be champion. How does that feel?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it hasn't sunk in that I've actually finally won the championship. Get a lot of questions before the race. And I just try to keep everything else out.

Kind of weird. Didn't even think about the process of the race or anything. Just was two weeks of not much sleep and stress and all that sort of stuff. Keeping my wife up at night. And just when I got in that race car just kept my mind on the job, focused and this is the result.

Q Last week at Sonoma you ran toward the back, but you worked your way up on a road course to finish very well and keep the points lead. Today you started very much in the back and yet you ended up as a champion. What is your mindset when you do that? And my second question is how much has Tim helped you in mentoring throughout the race?

WILL POWER: Having Tim on the radio, I think it's been three years now ‑‑ was it four? I can't remember. Three and a half.

But, yeah, he's very good on the radio. Very calming and only tells you what you need to know, and always puts me in great space on the track, when to pit and when to send me out. The last week, took me by surprise.

TIM CINDRIC: It was last weekend where it all started at Sonoma was the fact we could be out of the pits. We made a mistake during the pit stops. Took three seconds longer than it should have.

Our strategy was to come out on black tires, which was going to be difficult against the reds on a restart. We knew Dixon would have blacks behind us and the red tires would attack Dixon at that time.

The key to that whole strategy was the fact we didn't execute on the pit stop. We put in behind Dixon. He was the one that got attacked. At the end of the day, the team was what put him in that position. Looking at it, it was all of us. It wasn't just him. Like I say, we're in good shape.

Q You get to celebrate a championship night with Will. But your driver has another disappointment. What did you say to Helio afterwards?

ROGER PENSKE: Helio said, "Can you imagine second again?" I think if he sat back and the way he ran and his run at Indianapolis, he'd have to say this was a great year.

Before the race, the entire team said, look, one is only going to win here tonight but it's a team effort. And it was all of us and everyone had something to do with the championship.

And obviously Will gets the championship ring for winning it. And to me it's something that Helio had a big part of and also Montoya. You can see how hard he ran tonight. So having that kind of staple of drivers is going to give us some great opportunity in the future.

Q Will, talk about the sequence when you did go to the lead. You ran the bottom for a while. Looked like you were wearing out your tires a little bit. Did they get a little ‑‑

WILL POWER: Yeah, that car was very good on fresh tires at the beginning of the stint but faded a little bit at the end. Yeah, I thought more people would go to the bottom. It surprised me that it's clear and it's clear air.

You lose 30 percent of your grip behind the wake of another car. So just be in clear air and the bottom short distance ‑‑ yeah, use your tires up more and it's a bit more of a risk that you guess the game position.

Q Looked like on the last stint you were maybe struggling with the car a little bit. Was there an issue with the car or were you being conservative?

WILL POWER: Just being conservative when Helio, no need to ‑‑ just take it easy.

Q Will, given the number of kind of iconic names that have won championships for Roger, have you begun to think about now I'm on this list now?

WILL POWER: I haven't. It hasn't sunk in. I'm sure it will.

TIM CINDRIC: (Indiscernible).

WILL POWER: Exactly. When you're in the short days, Indianapolis wins and everything that's been achieved at Penske Racing, is just so great to be a part of it.

Q Win the championship at the track that you put together yourself, do you want to talk about that?

ROGER PENSKE: As I said earlier, in coming in here, seeing the track something we spent years building and to think that we could win the championship here was pretty special because California Speedway certainly was a track that we tried to build out here and bring this open wheel sport to fruition out here. So to me it was pretty special to see us win here. It was terrific.

Q Will, I noticed after you went to the Verizon podium, behind the podium you were also congratulated by Derrick Walker, what did that mean to you after the transition of Champ Car and then coming over here to IndyCar?

WILL POWER: Derrick was the first guy I drove for over here. He ran a very good team. He worked for Roger for years. And his organization is very similar in the way that Penske organization is run. But Derrick's been a mentor of mine and he was very happy to see me win.

Q Tim, obviously after the poor qualifying of Will yesterday you took a very conservative approach. During the race, was there some moments when you were thinking maybe it was a little bit too conservative until that 175 or 176 which was always caution‑free. And second question for Will. Will, in the past you have seen that quite a few make IndyCar make their way to Formula 1. What will be your reaction, and will we get the surprise call from a leading Formula 1 team?

TIM CINDRIC: I'll take the first one. With regard to qualifying, I think it was exactly the opposite. We were probably too aggressive in qualifying. Because we were trying to fit it in on the poles.

And probably just were a bit too aggressive in terms of the setup and where aero balance was and we ended up where we ended up really because we had a difficult first lap there. But it wasn't for a matter of being conservative at all.

And the race itself, I think once the race started, I feel like Will was as fast as anybody on the racetrack. It's just difficult to continue to go forward. We started out the first stint, I think we were about 23, 24 seconds behind the leaders once the start, and then each sequence that we came in pit stops, we picked up probably three to four seconds on the leader.

So I felt like throughout the race if you looked at the lap times we were actually faster or as fast as the leaders and gained on. So I don't think it was a matter of conservativism really until Helio had his drive‑through and from that point on I would say it was a matter of being smart the rest of the night.

WILL POWER: Yeah, the Formula 1 question. Formula 1 is not realistic for me at my age. And to me IndyCar racing is the best racing in the world. I don't think you see close, more competitive racing anywhere especially for open wheel cars. I love racing IndyCar, and it's a very good group of teams and drivers right now.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.


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