Indy Japan 300 Post-Qualifying Transcript
1. Helio Castroneves
2. Ryan Briscoe
3. Will Power
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the top qualifiers for tomorrow's race, Helio Castroneves who will start from the pole. And this is Helio's fifth pole in five years here at Twin Ring Motegi. Ryan Briscoe will start second. His previous best start since 2009. Will Power will start third in his first race here. Just a quick note, this is the second time this year Team Penske has set the top three spots. Previously they qualified one, two three at Watkins Glen. And also no Team Penske car has finished outside the Top 10 here at Motegi since 2006. So the pressure's on.
So Helio talk about your pole, and what you love about this track?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: This track, this place is so challenging, and I'm very, very excited that we all three are starting in the top three spots. But certainly, it's a great place, and hopefully we will finish like that as well in the race.
I want also to thank the guys in the shop. They did a good job working very hard to put these three cars in the top, so this is also a great effort from the entire Team Penske.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about the mentality of qualifying and going into the race tomorrow?
RYAN BRISCOE: It's really exciting. It's so fast, but it's not an easy track. You really have the wind down there in Turn 3 and 4. And today the track improved a lot from practice. The speeds were a lot higher.
Helio did an amazing job. He did a one man band on his warm‑up lap. It was an impressive run.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you.
RYAN BRISCOE: But I sort of knew it from his run that the track was fast, and I really pushed hard out there. I made a little mistake on my first lap with my gears. But really going into the second lap it was exciting to get in the 202's around here. That is really fast on this track. It's just a great event to be in the top three.
We as a team have made a lot of changes this year coming to this track. We weren't happy with the performance here last year, and it is a real testament to the engineers that have given us these race cars to come here with.
THE MODERATOR: Will, I have to ask, talk about making your first start in Motegi in the middle of the championship, basically. You have another race after this, and it's a really unique situation.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it is. I've got my teammates out there, and a fantastic team result. And as a team, we're due for a good finish. We've had a pretty good lap time over the last couple of races. We're going to ultimately look to win it.
I'm talking about the team, Helio, you won, that's great. Anyways, they can drive. (Indiscernible) but I'm very impressed with the Indy pole.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you, that's very nice of you to say that.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and open it up for media questions for all three drivers.
Q. How concerned were you about trying to get this pole? You got to go last, so you got to see what everybody had. Were you points racing at all, trying to be conservative?
WILL POWER: No, I was very happy when Helio went. I was happy ‑‑ when Dario went out there, wow, it was fast. And when Helio went, I was like he's in good shape. He's taking the points from Dario.
But I'm very happy about the starting positions. We hope we can execute in the race and get some points back.
Q. I'm not sure if this is a track where it's better to go single file and go faster than to go side by side? Can you talk about what your strategy is going to be tomorrow in the race to keep the Ganassi Team from getting up front?
RYAN BRISCOE: Three‑wide the whole time (laughing)?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's one option.
WILL POWER: I'm good with that.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm going to be inside. Well, we're going to try to be able to get the win for Team Penske, but big deal in the big points is tomorrow for the race. We're going to make sure that we have three cars ‑‑ make sure that we have three cars with the good potential to finish ahead of them, and just execute, you know.
We don't need to panic, we just need to execute. So the ball is in our court now and just we can make it happen. But it's great.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, just let the race play out. We've got good cars and we've been fast in practice. As for me, I've just got to follow these guys and keep Dario behind.
Q. Helio, how are you with downshifting? Every driver is using downshifting and every year this track is using it? What strategy do you feel you have?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, the first question is we do downshift. The second one we've got to know how it's going to play out for to do a few race. I did lose a race, but it depends how it's going to lay down during the race, depends on how many yellows and things like that.
But certainly we have three guys that we can play different strategies, and it might benefit Team Penske.
Q. Given the thought that today was the first day when you ran here last year, do you feel you maxed out your performance today in qualifying ahead of Dario?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, I think everyone's in the same boat. The track had a lot more grip than expected. So I think that I was a little bit geared wrong, but everyone's the same.
So I felt I could have gone quicker. But it's for me very good to come here and be ahead of the Ganassi guys, especially Dario. Yeah, that's what we need to do and we need to do that tomorrow.
Q. I'm very bad English speaker. Question for each of the drivers. What do you expect to win the race tomorrow without thinking of strategy? Just how do you see yourself tomorrow?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, from the practice today it seems to be very difficult. All the cars seem to be very equal. It is a difficult place to pass. But somehow the tires seem to be better, and I think it will be a very challenging race.
So whoever has a good car on the track, it might not be the fastest one, I'm sure he's going to be in good shape in the end.
RYAN BRISCOE: I agree with Helio. I think something different this year than in previous years, this is the biggest IndyCar field we've had in Japan in my experience, 25 cars. So lap traffic will become a factor in the race which could mix things up, I think.
That could become the best possibility for the passing in the front to happen because going into traffic in the field. So it's going to be important to get through traffic well, and of course, pit stops also will be very important tomorrow.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think tomorrow's race is really difficult to pass. Like Helio said, I think you're going to have to move through the traffic well. And sometimes this race does come down to strategy.
So I just think as a team if we just don't make any mistakes, I think we can all finish in a very good position. I think that's going to be the key to winning this race.
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