Honda GP of Alabama post-race press conference
1st - Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske
2nd - Will Power, Team Penske
3rd - Scott Speed , Andretti Herta with Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for making the time to speak to the top three. That was a pretty eventful Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It was good to see double the amount of cars finish on the lead lap. 14 cars finished on the lead lap as opposed to last week's seven. Plenty of incidents. Obviously a different looking podium and a different winner, first-time winner in Scott McLaughlin for Team Penske.
Scott, tell us about your day. You went off on a very different strategy and it paid off in the end. How was it for you? It certainly looked exciting for us.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Yeah, we did a fair bit of work. First time this week I had my engineer, unlike last week where I was doing the fuel numbers in my head. Having Jonathan Duggan from Penske helping me out, who helps me in INDYCAR in real life, was really cool, a good way for us to get to know each other as well.
Yeah, we worked hard on the fuel, what we were going to do. To do the two stop I think worked out better for us. Thankfully we got lucky with some traffic and a few crashes behind us.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Certainly feels a lot more real. The feeling is pretty full on. You're pretty excited. Just want to get through the first couple corners unscathed.
It's just cool to be out there and learning I guess some of the craft and stuff like that. Absolutely it's probably going to be a little bit different in real life. But to learn and get to know what's going on in the INDYCAR world is really cool for me.
I think eSports is coming up through the ranks the last couple years. I think this whole pandemic has just accelerated the whole process. I think it's a great thing. iRacing is the most professional platform I've ever raced on on a computer.
Not only in INDYCAR, but Supercars and stuff are getting on top of this because it's such a good way to extend our sports. There's so many different sports that can't provide a product right now.
THE MODERATOR: Your Team Penske teammate in Will Power. Will, if there was a championship points table for this iRacing INDYCAR Challenge you'd be leading it with two podiums from two races. Second today to your teammate Scott. It was a wild race at times. How was it for you?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was pretty normal start. I got a good start. That first stint, you kind of just sat there and saved your tires knowing there was going to be a yellow. Then our plan was to really close on Sage and jump in on a sequence by pitting early. When we pitted early, we pitted into a lot of traffic, lost like seconds in that sequence.
Fortunately Sage must have made a mistake. Felix obviously did a really good job in that sequence. I think he went to the lead. Then he made a mistake. That put me I guess as the leader on that strategy.
I wasn't aware that Scott was on that strategy. I actually thought Sage was still leading. My engineer said, Just focus on your laps, we can still win this thing. I thought he was just being, C'mon, don't worry about anything else. What he was saying was, You need to push out some laps.
Yeah, I think we could have made that a little bit more tight. But still really happy with second. My aim was to be mistake free. Didn't really make any mistakes.
Executed the whole race. P2 is good.
THE MODERATOR: It's a very physical track, albeit less than two and a half miles. You don't quite feel the Gs in the sim at home. How are you now? How do you feel after that pretty frantic 45-lap experience is done?
Yeah, I won a race last night at Indianapolis. I felt like I won a race. I was really happy to win that race. It's like really, really enjoyed it. Man, like I was actually a little nervous before this race today because I always thought it was the danger that you got the nerves for but it's actually the competition. Got butterflies going in to compete.
Before the Indy 500 you're almost sickly nervous, but it's not like because you could have a big (indiscernible) at these speeds, it's because you're competing for one of the biggest prizes in motorsports. That was interesting to understand that mental side of it.
THE MODERATOR: Scott Speed, representing Bryan Herta and Herta Andretti Autosport, when are you coming to INDYCAR for real?
SCOTT SPEED: I don't think it's ever been anything for me honestly. For me open-wheel stuff, it's great. For INDYCAR, the danger of an oval has never felt worth it to me for whatever reason. Like that's for sure a wash, I'd never do it. I'll do the virtual one where I know I'm going to survive at the end of it.
THE MODERATOR: You had a pretty big incident today and recovered very well from it. We didn't get to see it, but our spotters and reporters tell us there was an altercation between you and Josef Newgarden when you were in fifth place and Josef was right behind you. Tell us what happened.
SCOTT SPEED: We were going through the second to last corner, the next thing I know Josef is on top of me. I don't know how it happened (laughter). It was a little bit nice because it spun me around. I was looking right at the pit entry. I just pitted and said this race is a wash.
I was working with my engineer from when I was with Andretti in the past, Graham, and we decided to try to pit before the yellow, hope that I can save a lot of fuel. Somehow I was able to do it.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to the top three. We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Scott and Will, both of you have been using your engineers extensively for this. Talk about how they're able to share some input in this type of racing that is very beneficial even from the real thing?
WILL POWER: We actually learnt something in this last race, is how important the communication is to me. I haven't got the same strategist for this year. When Dave said, Keep pushing or focus on your lap time, we can still win this thing, I thought he meant focus. It wasn't like, Hey, there's still a pit sequence.
After the race we talked about it, that you need to tell me there's still sequence coming on, someone can be coming out in front of you, you actually need to push. It's actually some good learning stuff that we actually will use in real life.
Car setups change on these cars. From a strategy standpoint, you're talking to the guy that you're going to be working with on the real stand. That's a benefit. It would be a big benefit for Scott because everyone is new to him on the INDYCAR side.
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: For me, working with Jonathan was awesome. I haven't worked with him. First time I really heard him on the radio was at COTA. He's not my main guy. I have another guy that helps me out (indiscernible) who will be calling the races if I do one. Jonathan is my engineer.
To be able to communicate to him about the car, where I'm at, was really good. I think that's probably the main benefit of the whole thing.
Q. Scott Speed, drivers like Max Chilton with a road-course-only deal, street courses, let somebody else drive the cars on the ovals, is that something you would be open to?
For me honestly the next thing on my sort of horizon is to eventually try stage rally because that is different than the Rallycross I'm racing currently.
Scott, just a clarification question. Did you say Jonathan was actually in Australia with you or just there on the radio with you to help you out today?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: No, he's in North Carolina, mate.
Q. I know this isn't quite the real thing, I know you don't quite know what your INDYCAR future is going to be, but it's something that you were really passionate about getting into, being able to go toe- to-toe with guys in this series, being able to come out victorious, what does this mean for you and everything you've accomplished in your racing career so far?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: For me right now, I'm doing this racing purely to get to know how these guys race. I know it's a little bit different out there. You get to race people and get to know them, all that sort of stuff. I've really enjoyed that part. That's why I'm up at 2:30, 3a.m. in the morning Down Under.
It's an iRace. At the end of the day we take it seriously. The main objective for me in my life is to be successful
in the real thing. If I ever get the opportunity. I'm doing this iRacing, I'm sure everyone else is as well, is purely to learn and get better and better and better. I really feel it helps me as a driver. That's sort of why I'm doing this.
Yeah, it's up there, a very cool achievement, but at the end of the day I want to do it in real life.
Q. Will, finishing up toward the front the first two weekends iRacing, today a lot more strategy was involved. Was that more enjoyable that you felt like today was a little bit more of a chess match than how much qualification played such a big part in last week's race?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it always depends on where you start. For us, because we started at the front, running at the front, we needed something pretty straightforward.
Yeah, it definitely makes it more interesting for the fans. I think what would have been real cool if they threw a yellow like 10 to go, then some people take tires, some don't, it would definitely create a lot of action.
Yeah, I think that they need to have yellows in these races to make them interesting so it doesn't string out, have a few different strategy options if you happen to end up at the back so you can come through and win. It will make it better for the fans.
We just want to put on a good show. It's obviously online racing. We do somewhat take it pretty seriously because our sponsors are watching, a lot of people are watching. It's about keeping INDYCAR out there and making it interesting for people in this time where everyone is kind of stuck in their house.
Q. Will, it definitely seems that a new age of competitive virtual racing has arrived. Can you see these eSport racing continuing when things finally do normalize?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I do. You see it in other forms of gaming. I think that what is really good for us as a sport is it is pretty close to the real thing. If you're watching on TV, the graphics have got so good, you have to take a second look to say, Is that real or not?
That's what's kind of lucky for us in this time. Maybe it's something that can happen in the off-seasons. I'm sure the drivers aren't going to want to spend the time you have to spend to prepare for these races, but yeah, I think it's great.
I think people start getting paid to do it like they do in other games, it will become pretty big. But I think people will be specialized. I don't think you'll see real life drivers transitioning to sim racing. I think you'll see sim racers actually get paid and a bit more recognition.
Some of the drivers said they get more nervous sim racing than they do actually racing because of how peaceful it is. What is the difference for you?
WILL POWER: It's the same. A little bit more nervous, I suppose more nervous before. The bigger the event, the more nerves you have. Sometimes I get in the real car, zero nerves at all. Just depends on the day and mindset.
Q. Will, you said on Twitter there definitely are still a few wankers out there. Can you name some names?
WILL POWER: No (laughter). I'm glad that they banned me on the microphone. Actually one guy I called a wanker. Well, a couple of guys. When guys spin right in front of you, drive straight back on the track, don't even look, I guess you are, yeah, a bit of a wanker. That's crazy.
Look, I think it will be a real bad idea in the real cars. We always wondered, What would it be like if all the drivers could talk to each other and the broadcast could hear it? I can tell you right now it would not be good. It would be entertaining, but for corporate sponsors, yeah, I just don't think so.
I would find it entertaining. I actually enjoy hearing the banter between people. It's pretty good.
Q. Have you been muted before, Will?
WILL POWER: I have, yeah. I thought they muted the whole field. They just muted me (laughter).
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Everyone sees it when he gets muted, everyone saw he got his voice chat taken away (laughter).
WILL POWER: That's the best. I love it. I'm not going to have a job after this. But I tell you, I enjoyed it.
Will, you talked about the emotions. Obviously once the mic was muted, you were on full charge to catch your teammate. Describe the closing laps.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I was just very focused. I knew that the only way I would get Scott, because you get the dirty air wash, is if he made a mistake. A couple times it happened, but not enough. I thought all I can do is pressure him here. I kind of kept the pressure on.
He never made a mistake. He had a couple little moments, but he was solid. Yeah, probably good thing the mic was turned off because then I wasn't hitting that button, telling people what I was thinking (smiling).
Q. Scott, how excited are you to race against these guys in real life?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I'm beyond excited. I think just to have the opportunity to race in America against some of the best open-wheel drivers in the world is something that I'm really excited about. I've always been an INDYCAR fan. Before I joined Team
Penske I followed Scott Dixon, because he was a Kiwi. I've always been really a big fan of his, watched INDYCAR in New Zealand.
Now to get the opportunity to have a race is really cool. Then, yeah, I think the eSeries racing was just cool, to race against Jimmie Johnson, all those people, a bit star struck by them. They're pretty phenomenal racecar drivers.
Q. Scott Speed, I was a little unclear, towards the last couple laps, when Will and McLoughlin were able to catch you, take us through the last maybe 10 laps or so what happened.
SCOTT SPEED: We had already kind of planned that we were going to save fuel and stop under the yellow. When we got crashed at the beginning of the race, it kind of threw us for a wildcard because you were in the back of the field. We tried to throw a Hail Mary.
After the pit stop, basically every lap, what's cool about what we're doing is I had my engineers back home in Indianapolis at Andretti working with the fuel numbers, checking my fuel every lap, doing quick calculations. It was really just a matter of making sure I got to the finish line.
When I saw those guys, no way I'm going to hold those guys off, try to lose as little time as possible, try to bring it home for a podium.
Q. One question for all three drivers. iRacing has become pretty popular. Do you think it's something that will continue in the off-season since it's becoming so popular?
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN: I think that's preference on drivers, what they want to do. Some drivers like myself, even during the season I'd still do some iRacing and stuff like that, race around. Just depends on what the livelihood is like, right?
I guess if we get made to do it, if it's a thing we should do part of our promotion schedule, things like that, I think you'll obviously see a lot of people doing it.
Sometimes as a driver, you just want to have a little break away from racing sometimes. Maybe it might not, but we'll see.
WILL POWER: I feel like I would not like to have to do a series in the off-season. I'm kind of like Scott. I play it on and off. I have other people that use my cam, like my brother. Get a lot of nasty tweets like, Dude, why did you take me out? Had nothing to do with me (laughter).
But, yeah, I think it will probably definitely be bigger after all this. I don't think many drivers are going to want to do it in the off-season. They like to have a break away from racing. I think the sim racers will do it.
SCOTT SPEED: There is a difference between the guys that have a lot of time to commit to it and guys that don't. It requires a lot of time, especially if you get to the level that Sage is at. He's on the next echelon of speed and ability in this. For the most part racing all year, that's your job, it's a big ask to put that much time throughout an off-season, I would say.
Q. Will, with the fact that all these cars have the aero screen in it, you're getting to do it through all these races, is it almost going to seem natural to everybody once we return to real racing to have that visual effect?
WILL POWER: Yeah, yeah, I do. I do actually. Doing a race at Indianapolis last night, you get the rubber streaks on the windscreen, you get the dirt. Obviously you have the big halo part in front of you, so yes. And the two little things that stick up in the air.
I do think it is actually getting used to the vision that you will see. It's pretty cool iRacing could implement that so quickly.
THE MODERATOR: It was a really enjoyable day. From two permanent road courses, next week at the same starting time, 2:30 p.m. eastern, we'll be at Michigan International. The first oval in this INDYCAR iRacing Challenge.
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