Q & A - Helio Castroneves and Rick Mears
IZOD IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears participated in a Q&A session. Below are select quotes from the interview. The complete transcript will follow later.
· 35-year-old native of Sao Paulo, Brazil competing in his ninth full season in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
· Drives No. 3 Team Penske car for Team Penske.
· Currently third in IZOD IndyCar Series point standings.
· A three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 with victories in 2001, 2002 and 2009.
· Won his fourth Indianapolis 500 pole position - his second-consecutive - on May 22.
· Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner with victories in 1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991.
· Serves as consultant and spotter for No. 3 Team Penske car of Helio Castroneves.
Q. What makes turn one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so difficult and so unique in the sport?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I tell you what, I'm going to let Rick answer that because he never told me, so today he might come with an answer. I'll let him answer that.
RICK MEARS: I've never told him because I don't know (laughter).
No, you know, all four corners basically geometrically are supposedly the same. When you lay the surface down, they always have their own little characteristics.
I think a lot of the times the prevailing wind here is at your back coming down the front straightaway which carries you into turn one faster and tends to blow the car off on the exit. That's one of the things that makes one a little more difficult. To me, there always seems to be a little bit of a transition or elevation change about two‑thirds of the way around the corner coming out of the exit of one that would tend to hook the car a little bit. If I was loose, that's where I would get loose first. It's almost like you couldn't feel it, but it would upset the balance of the car a little bit.
But historically I think a lot of it's due to wind direction and the speeds that you approach that corner.
Q. Helio, you have Rick as your spotter. He's a four‑time winner. How assuring is this going to be for you in the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, every time I have Rick, especially in the 500, maybe that's the secret, you know. He certainly knows a lot in this place. Basically he's there to make sure that I don't have any issues, stay out of trouble, especially when somebody comes from behind, taking chances, unnecessary chances.
In fact, he saved me quite a lot many, many times over here that I could end up not in a good situation.
Sometimes I do ask him, Hey, Rick, what do I do? I don't know what to do anymore. The car is tough. Obviously I'm sure I'm going to do the same thing this weekend.
So I'm glad to have Rick on my side being my spotter. Always when you have someone with such an incredible experience, obviously he's the one to have the secret here, but I'm always listen, I'm always up for innovation or up for learning because this place is all about that. It's all about taking every lap by lap and learning every time.
Q. Helio, talk about if you do win, joining the company of people like A.J. and Rick and Unser, also to be the first non‑American‑born driver to do this. Can you talk about your thoughts on that. Then, Rick, if you can kind of compare yourself and Unser and A.J. and Helio, different styles, different eras, nutshell on what makes the four‑time winners.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly Team Penske and I, we're going to do our best to see if we can accomplish that goal. I have to say, you guys basically comparing, talking about it. I'm trying to focus on the race, go out there and win the race. Yes, Indianapolis is the most important one. Again, if it's not that this time, there going to be a next race.
My mindset is what can I do to accomplish my goal to finish first and beat everybody. Now, when you guys talk about it, for me, Rick, A.J., they're the gods of racing, the legends. I'm so honored to have this opportunity that I'm facing right now.
Not taking anything for granted. As I said, I'm still a lot, lot to learn. Even to be compared with those guys, if I'll be able to accomplish what I want, it will be a dream come true. So I'm just honored to be in this position right now.
RICK MEARS: Pretty much the same with me as Helio. When I won the fourth one, to be anywhere near compared to A.J. and Al, two of my heroes, was just a great honor.
I think over the years as far as comparing all of us, I think desire, the love of what we do, sitting in that racecar, competing, the competition, I think that love of what we do creates the desire, and the desire creates the results.
Obviously, one of the most important thing is all of us being fortunate enough to have the right equipment, the right people behind us supporting us to give us the tools to be able to accomplish those things. And then the final thing I think is having a lot of thing is having a lot of lady luck on your side and the car fall in your direction.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You're right on that one (laughter).
Q. Rick, I know winning the Indianapolis 500 is not an easy task. You did it four times from 1979 through 1991. If Helio wins on Sunday, he will accomplish it in a faster period of time. How difficult a task is it to win the fourth Indy 500?
RICK MEARS: They're all difficult. It doesn't matter whether it's the first, second, third or fourth, they're all difficult.
One thing, myself and Helio, too, we've always approached this race as a new day, a new race, almost the first time. You don't really think about which one it is. We're here to try to win the race.
In this business, it's about being flexible. You have to be ready for change at all times. Every day is a new day. You don't know who is going to be strong, who your competition is, what the track conditions are going to be like. You got to be open and ready to change, do what's necessary to get yourself in a position.
The guys, the team all make the right calls, the right decisions in the pits, all falls your way to put yourself in position to win it in the end.
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