IndyCar Milwaukee Post-Race press Conference
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was interesting day. Certainly very difficult to pass. It's interesting, this place, it's tough because we have a lot of downforce. It's difficult for you to go around someone because of the banking, no banking at all. Everyone using very similar lanes.
But I worked through, able to work through the field. I thought it was a great race, to be honest, because people that used a different strategy, like myself, for example, were able to pass people. It turned out to be a similar situation like Texas. A lot of people with new tires passing and keep going.
So for us, we put ourselves in that position. Great strategy by Roger and the whole PPG boys.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Will Power.
Will, you started strong, finished strong. Talk about today's race.
WILL POWER: There were a few guys that went off strategy like Helio, kind of mixed things up with tire life. People come out on new tires when you're on old tires passing you.
In the end, we had a good, solid run. Kind of got the car sorted by the end of the race. It was a little bit late. But I thought we had one of the strongest cars out there, kind of challenging Helio out there. It was difficult to pass, yes.
But I was very mindful coming on Helio, he's leading the championship. For Penske, it's all about the team. I didn't want to do anything desperate or anything. I want to make sure that he maintains the points lead.
If I could have passed him easy, I would. All in all, very good day. I'm very happy with third.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. (About Hunter-Reay’s pass of Power and Castroneves)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Again, I don't know what sequence of tires he was running, if he had a better tire than us. I think probably he pit afterwards, probably helped us.
Takuma and I, he was fast, too. He was have some big moments. I was just waiting for when it's going to happen. He stop. Fortunately the yellow came.
But he did a good job. He took advantage of the traffic. I think his tires were a little bit better, so he was able to take the lead. The yellow came right away. Everybody stops, got in the same sequence.
It was certainly interesting. Like I said, the whole race was very back and forth. It was a very difficult race because you have to drive the car.
I don't think he did. Did he pass me?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He passed me (laughter).
WILL POWER: I think he was ahead of me. But, yeah, so I don't know. He didn't pass me. He was always ahead of me.
But still, he was obviously fast. We should check what he's got on his car.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You were joking, right?
WILL POWER: I was joking. Very dry sense of humor. Terrible really (laughter).
Q. (About Power’s performance on ovals)
WILL POWER: Like I've always said, never been a lack of pace. In the past years it's always been something really unusual that's happened to me on ovals whenever I'm in a good position.
So, you know, at Texas, we're sitting second in the last stint. Still finished seventh, which is a very strong result for us this year. Very strong all day today.
I like ovals. I really enjoy them. I expect to always be extremely competitive on road courses or oval, as competitive at each.
We're just kind of putting it together. I guess there's not as much expectation on myself to win now, especially kind of not being right in the championship. A little bit more of not a relaxed approach, but methodical, not desperate in any way.
Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: Probably from myself. Like, you know, when you have a real big slump, you have to recheck yourself, get back to what actually got you in the position to be a great team. That's kind of the stage I'm in right now. It's good. You go back to working really hard.
Q. Helio, we caught the tail end of your explanation of what happened with Will there at the
end. Did you see him? You had traffic in front of you. Tell us what happened. He was in the grass, by the way.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, he runs good in the grass. He's a road course guy (laughter).
WILL POWER: I'm a dirt-tracker from way back (laughter).
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Our intention was never to put the guy in the grass. That was my line basically. I was running low, high, basically everything, trying to find grip, especially when I had traffic in front of me. I was trying to stay ahead of that traffic.
Yeah, he took a chance, took a look. (Rick) Mears was saying that he was there. When I saw he was there, obviously I open up a little bit. But we kept going.
It's a tough corner because of that. You're trying to find grip. Sometimes it's on the inside, outside. In that case, it's three laps to go, you want to be difficult as much as you can.
I was just chasing grip. I wasn't trying to put the car in jeopardy. I was looking to the front. That was a little bit of my line. At the end of the day, great performance for both of us. We're very happy. We wanted to be first and second, but unfortunately the yellow car got first.
Q. Helio, coming back from as far back in the field as you did to finish second, probably doesn't feel like a victory, but how close does it feel?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Great result. Extremely excited, to be honest. Adrenaline is still rushing, you're still thinking because it was so difficult. Very similar to Texas. You have to think a little bit ahead, especially when you have so many guys using those same lanes. You have to use the tools that you have in your car.
I should have used a little bit towards the end, but I was concerned and it was too late. For me, it was a very good race because this is the type of things that you have to be patient, aggressive, at the same time know what to do.
Roger (Penske) was great on the radio, great strategy, like I said. The boys did a great job. So definitely is going to be a great Father's Day tomorrow.
Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: Yeah, points lead is pretty far away right now. Our focus is just every weekend having solid results.
For sure, once we start Toronto, there's a bunch of street and road courses that have been my strength in the past. I don't know, I mean, at the moment it's just focusing race by race for me. See how it plays out. That's a pretty big deficit to chase down right now. It's not impossible. Mathematically possible, and if you keep pushing, anything can happen.
Q. Can both of you talk about the package, this style of racing on the one-mile oval? Are you satisfied with the way the car works or would you like to see any changes? Is this all driver skill to get around everybody?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, certainly Milwaukee Mile always gave a fantastic race. I don't remember a time that there was a very difficult one. Probably a long time ago in CART times, Champ Car times.
Right now I feel on the one-mile oval, but also the one-and-a-half-mile oval, we have a good package. We still remember like the side-by-side and things like that. Before side-by-side, it was this style of racing. I think it's even more fun.
We got to go back to what we used to. I think we have a fantastic product right now in the IndyCar Series.
WILL POWER: I agree. This race here, Milwaukee, it would look similar to Texas. The leader took off, a little lap traffic, people are off sequence.
To me in Texas, we had to drive the thing. If the fans knew how hard we were having to push, they did a good job with televising it, telling the story, catching all the passes in the middle of the pack, it would look like a great race.
I just think, like Helio said, when we used to go to Texas, it was pack racing, the leader would stay on the white line, wide open, there would be guys right behind him wide open and never pass. Is that talent? No. Your grandma could jump in and do it.
Now you really have to drive. Everybody that finished that race, Man, had to stay on top of the car. The guy that won drove better than everybody else. Wasn't the best car, no. Now it's the best driver.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Will, my grandma is too old, she can't drive the car.
WILL POWER: My grandma's dead. I do love my grandma.
Q. (About Takuma Sato’s performance)
WILL POWER: He came motoring by. Even on older tires...
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He was impressive. I thought he was very good. Unfortunately he got caught up in the yellow. I don't know. He probably could be a factor in Ryan's race.
I think my car was very good on the long run. I was very, very good on the long run. He seemed to be very fast. It's a shame. They stop early, because we were stopped in the same sequence. He was having a lot of hard moments. Oh, my God.
WILL POWER: This guy can drive a car looser than anyone else, even on a road course.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He catch me so many times.
WILL POWER: It just blows my mind sometimes to see him. He's just phenomenal.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He did a great job.
WILL POWER: That's normal for him. Yeah, he's good.
Q. (About lapped traffic)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: For me in the end it was. We were 10 laps, 12 laps. The problem is, I can see the blue flag. In all fairness for the lapped traffic, they're not waving, they're just put in position. This is fighting for first, second, third. First already checked out. They should be thinking.
Again, it's not the series' fault. Sometimes people need to use courtesy. Kind of like, Hey, let a guy by. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't that case. Towards the end it was very difficult.
Q. (About if he talked to any of the lapped cars)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I have not had a chance yet. I think I need to let my blood pressure go a little bit down.
WILL POWER: You were angry.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I was a little bit upset. It was just upsetting my car a lot. But, anyway, we talk about this at the drivers meeting sometimes. If it's middle of the race, maybe it's fine. But 10 laps left in the race.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Congratulations on a great race.
We're pleased to be joined by Michael Andretti, the winning team owner today. Michael, fifth win for your team here in Milwaukee, talk about today's victory.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: We love Milwaukee. I can tell you that. As a team, it was great. As a driver, it was great for me. Now as a promoter, it's great.
I'm excited about how today went obviously with the win, but also with the people that showed up to support the race. I think it's a great day. I think a lot of people had a lot of fun out there with the Indy festival. Hopefully we can get this figured out and get this thing to stay on the map.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Michael.
Q. For a while, it looked like Marco might be able to give you a Father's Day gift.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: He let me down (laughter).
Q. Are you considering adopting Ryan as your son?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Maybe. He gave himself a Father's Day gift since he's a new father.
I felt bad for Marco. He was running really strong all weekend. I don't know what problem he had. Looked like kind of some sort of electrical problem. It was just a real bummer. It would have been nice to have him up there fighting for the win, as well.
Q. (About team’s success at Milwaukee)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I don't know. I mean, we come here with a philosophy of what I had back when I was driving and we just carry that on, try to stress that to the engineering and the drivers on the way we used to do it then. There's things we used to do that really used to work. Seem to still be working.
Q. (About the overall event attendance)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think it actually ended up being not so bad. We were a little worried because of the weather. The last few days definitely hurt us with the forecast. It was a real shame because in the end, look at the sun shining. I'm thinking it kept some people home and they're going to be sorry they were home because it was such a great event.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: To me it was typical Milwaukee. It's all about traffic. Without traffic you normally don't have passing here. That's been since when I started racing here. That's what makes it exciting, is having a car that works in traffic. That's what won the race, to be honest with you.
Q. (About the start of another championship run)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think it's very possible. We sure hope so, for sure. I mean, we have Marco up there, as well. Hopefully he can get back on track.
But, yeah, I feel good about where we are. I think we're coming up to a lot of strong tracks for us. Like I said, hopefully history will repeat itself.
Q. (About Hunter-Reay becoming a mature, complete driver)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, he's definitely in his prime, there's no question about it. He's at the perfect age. He's got all the experience he needs. He knows exactly what he needs in a racecar. He knows what he needs when he's at certain positions in the race. Those are the things you just learn through experience. Those are things that win you championships.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, I mean, Ryan, he needed to have races where he didn't have mistakes. I'd say in the middle of 2011, from then on it just clicked for him. I think those are things that happen with experience. All of a sudden he just knew when he needed to be aggressive and when he didn't.
That's where it really clicked for me with Ryan, the middle of '11, he just started to see the bigger picture better.
I think he scored more points than anybody since then if you go back.
Q. (About the difficulty of today’s victory)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, actually, I mean, let's face it, Helio got lucky. That yellow doesn't come out, Helio is going to finish probably 15th, 12th maybe. But when Marco brought that yellow out, that saved him because they pitted on that early yellow.
Had that not happened, I think it would have been a race between Ryan and E.J. to be honest with you. The race would have ended up looking totally different and a lot more dominant for Ryan and E.J. at that point.
Q. (About EJ Viso’s performance)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: He's coming on. I just feel like he's going to win a race before the end of the year.
Q. (About Viso’s time with the team)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, I think the team itself, he fit right in. I think he's learning from his teammates. He's learning that his teammates can help him. In return, he's been doing things that have been helping the teammates.
Yeah, he's falling into the system well. I think sooner or later he's going to end up in Victory Lane.
THE MODERATOR: Michael, thank you for your time.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by our race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Congratulations on a great race and important day with the points. Walk us through today.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It was great to do it again in Milwaukee. What a racetrack. Oldest racetrack in the world, still producing such great racing. Every time I had the opportunity to race here, I feel blessed. Such a challenging place. When you get it right, there's no better feeling in IndyCar than at Milwaukee Mile. Indianapolis definitely is right there with it, but this place is very special.
It was a lot of fun out there today. Really happy to get a win on Father's Day with our six-month-old son in Victory Lane. Going to remember that forever, absolutely.
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, it feels great. At Barber that was one of the races that Becky and our son didn't come to. I felt bad because we didn't have the pictures of him in Victory Lane.
This is even better. To do it on Father's Day, to do back-to-back at Milwaukee, you're only as good as the team you're surrounded by, the car you're in.
I've got a great team around them. I'm so proud of them. Thanks to my teammates for working together. That's a product of what we did today, for sure.
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Happy to get it done with them here.
Q. 53 laps to go you picked Will Power and Helio Castroneves off on the same lap. Talk about that move because it determined the race for you.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: We were setting the pace of the race early. The yellow came out. I'm not sure for what. Maybe it was for Marco. That shuffled us back into the field a bit, which gave some of the guys off strategy, Helio, Takuma, et cetera, gave them the lead.
A little later in the race, for some reason we missed the balance. We lost our racecar, where it was really strong before. We lost it. Luckily in the last stint we got it back again.
To your point, I think we had a really good car in traffic. I was able to choose lanes that I wanted.
They seemed to be handcuffed to one lane. That was the difference for me, being able to move around. When I saw what they liked, I switched it up, went the other way, got by them.
Fun on the Firestone tires today. We were sliding around a lot. It was fun.
Q. (About early race between Hunter-Reay and Viso)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, E.J. is always very good here. I saw him coming up from behind about halfway through the race. I knew it was going to be tough. I thought it was going to be between him and I at the end. He was very strong. We really seemed to click getting through traffic at the end of the race better than anybody out there.
It was the product of a really great racecar. I love this place. I love searching around for grip and finding the different opportunities there. Seemed to change a lot all day long.
And the players, who were the players for the win, you really never had an idea. You had to keep your head down and go 110% the whole time.
Q. (About momentum)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, in sports, when you get into a momentum, a rhythm, not something you can put a price tag on or finger on, it just happens. It kind of saturates the team with this feeling that, Hey, we can get it done. If we perform to our best, to our potential, we can absolutely win races.
That carried over week in, week out. We were able to win four more races than anybody else last year. It all started here last year. Great place to start. Andretti has great cars. You put the two together, hopefully it comes out the way we want.
Q. (About catching team owner Michael Andretti on number of wins at Milwaukee.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I don't know. I heard something about Foyt, maybe I'm one behind.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I wouldn't be surprised if you came back and said I'm seven behind Foyt. I don't know.
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I don't know, man, I'm just fighting every week. I'm fighting every week. I love the atmosphere I'm in, the team I'm in. I love IndyCar racing. I'm pushing as hard as I can. Hopefully I'm here racing for many years to come. If that's the case, I'll give it 110% like I did today to make sure it happens.
Michael, AJ, those guys, I'm not in their league.
Q. (About racing well at Milwaukee)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: You mean something about the place?
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, it's an oval. Every driver, you ask them, they respect this oval the most. It's an oval that drives more like a road course. You have to really wheel the car the entire time. That's because the banking is so flat. You don't get the help from the banking.
You're constantly trying to fight understeer, you're fighting loose. It's all over the place.
To get it right, these cars, especially when you want front grip, all of a sudden it goes loose, then you're going backwards again. It's hard to get it right, and it's because it's so flat around here.
What I love about it most is that it opens up to two lanes, a lane and a half, to create some great racing. Looked like it was pretty fun out there. Everybody was dicing it up.
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Practice seems very short compared to the whole race weekend. Seems like it was 30 minutes, an hour session, then a qualifying race. It is a bit of guesswork. You have years past to go on. That's where you make your educated guesses on what you need for the race. It's tough to get it right. If you do go on the loose side, it could be a very long day for you.
We just went a little bit conservative in the beginning of the race, kept tuning on it, made it better and better. When you have a great team that has been fast in the past, it makes it great.
Q. (No microphone)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, you know, he's six months old and has stuff all over the house and can't even pick it up or play with it yet. There's just stuff everywhere.
I'm leaning on my wife to help me sort it out a little bit, get some method to the madness.
But he's a lot of fun. I'm sure we'll have a big spot for it, because that's a special win. Not that many where you get to hold your son on Father's Day weekend in Victory Circle, Victory Lane.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: DHL suit on. If it was a NASCAR race, everybody would say it was fixed.
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: That was great for us, yes. Every time the yellow came out, I was cringing. I wanted it to go as long as it could. Once the grip wore off the new tires, I think we were the best car out there.
I really wanted it to go green longer than it did. Yellows happen. It made for some exciting racing. I really wanted to be in traffic, too. I wanted to be able to come back and catch traffic. That's where I was able to open up gaps, close gaps if I needed to. That was pivotal to our day.
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, absolutely. The number one thing that will keep us coming back here for many years to come is filling up these stands. With the racing we have, we definitely need a big push in attendance next year.
I remember this place in the past, back in '04, the attendance levels were getting up there. Then we had this drought came when the event fell off the schedule. That hurts an event. You need it year in, year out. You need that familiarity of a date that people know to come out and see it.
We really need the support. I thank all the fans that came out today. The top part was packed. We need to fill in the bottom section.
It's a fun race. There's not many other series that put on a race like that. Hopefully this event will be around for a long time. I love it.
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, well, obviously it's general terms that I have to speak in because we race on so many different types of tracks, it's just not one thing or the other.
It's the engineering staff that's doing a great job developing things in the off-season. I think it's really - and I talked about it last year a lot - it's the team atmosphere. When you have a good team atmosphere, four cars all pushing together in the same direction, it makes a massive difference.
You're getting four times the amount of data in one session. That's a big deal.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Ryan. Congratulations. Happy Father's Day.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Thank you.
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