Detroit GP Sunday Press Conference
1st HELIO CASTRONEVES,
2nd WILL POWER
3rd CHARLIE KIMBALL
THE MODERATOR: We'll begin our Verizon IndyCar Series post race press conference. We're pleased job joined by Charlie Kimball.
Charlie, a grueling race out there on a doubleheader weekend. How rewarding is this for you?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: It feels really good. Obviously qualifying this morning didn't really go our way as a team, to have three of the four cars outside of the top 10 is not ideal. I didn't think I would have been able to end up on the podium having used reverse on lap one to get out of that melee in turn three.
The one thing is it set us up strategy-wise. It gave us some options because we didn't have anything to lose. My engineers and strategist, Tom and Brad, were able to roll the dice in a couple places.
The nice thing is when we had clean air, the car was really quick. All I had to do was put the lap times in to move forward.
I didn't know how the strategies were going to play out. I didn't know if yellows were going to help or hurt us. All I know is the guys were telling us, When you have clean air, go hard, when you are stuck in traffic when, you save fuel, and it opens up some options. I was able to get really good lap times.
A lot of credit has to go to the Chip Ganassi Racing guys because not only did they do good work in pit lane, but before we got to the race today they did a great job with the setup, just working through and keeping their heads up, coming into the race fighting rather than giving up starting 20th.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Charlie.
Q. Typical answer when people are asked about team orders is: Don't wreck each other. When you make a late-race pass on a teammate, what goes through your mind?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: If this goes wrong, the boss is going to call (laughter).
In all honesty, when I went by Scott, he had gotten offline. I could see him struggling with the car a little bit. Talking to him after the race, it sounds like he had a couple of brake issues. Sounds like the brakes got too hot on the second-to-last yellow. When he went into three, he ran a little wide. He was gathering the car up all the way through.
Will was sideways through most of four, five and six. He had a run on Will into seven, but just slid past the corner.
It wasn't really an out-braking or traditional overtaking maneuver. I was just inside on the line and out-accelerate him up to turn eight.
It gets really tight in there. I didn't want to clear him too hard and knock his front wing off or ruin the end of the race there. So you're conscious of it, for sure. But at the end of the day you're still out there trying to get the best result possible.
Q. How about the battle with Hinchcliffe on the last lap?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: It was a lot of fun, yeah. I don't know if I was in James' shoes I would be saying it was quite as much fun.
But I knew I had one less overtake than he did. I learned yesterday about how and where to use overtakes to the best advantage.
My team was doing a pretty good job of telling me when James was using the overtake button. Those last couple yellows gave us the fuel to be able to use the overtake, and fuel wasn't a limiting factor.
I used my last one headed into turn three to send him on the button as well. He had one more in the tank as we got on the back straight. My team said he was on the button, so I descended to the inside knowing if I could hold the inside line up to the brake zone, it was a question of him trying to make a move around the outside. While the grip was good out there, it wasn't that good. So it was definitely a wheel-to-wheel battle.
A lot of credit to him for racing me clean. In those last 20 laps when I was running with Hinch, Dixon and Pagenaud, all those guys around me, I knew the racing would be clean and hard-fought, for sure.
Q. You referenced the poor qualifying results for the team. I thought I heard Dixon say that Chip had a little discussion with the team.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: It was a pretty good little pep talk. I think we're calling it that now (laughter).
It was just an affirmation of expectations, of what we're here to do. I think we all knew it, but sometimes it's nice for the boss to come in and tell us what we're here to do.
We knew that to be successful today we had to have a fighting race. I think maybe he lit a little fire under all of us, not just the drivers, but engineers and team managers, as well. We all knew we had to dig pretty deep, and we did.
So, you know, however it works, it works.
Q. (Question about how he feels after the doubleheader.)
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I feel pretty good. One of the things we focused on in training this year was knowing that the doubleheaders are tough physically. It was a little easier last year because the temperatures were down.
It's part of the job. You got to be ready to go for two races.
Mentally I think it was harder, especially because today there were times I didn't know if I was 10th or 20th, 5th or 15th, if my lap times were good enough. Every time I would ask, my team would tell me my lap times were good, I was quicker than the guys behind me, catching the guys in front, and making good fuel mileage.
Staying mentally focused was the biggest challenge. Physically I feel pretty good. After today's result, and we finished 9th yesterday, 3rd today, I'd like to go do it again tomorrow. Anyone else up for that (laughter)?
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Charlie.
We'll continue with our second-place finisher today, Will Power.
Will, very strong weekend for Team Penske in qualifying and the race. What did the team give you?
WILL POWER: Yeah, actually I made a change this race. My car was definitely better than yesterday. I think the biggest hit was a drive-through penalty. Still I was surprised to end up in second. I didn't know where I was the whole race until it went yellow and suddenly, Oh, there's only one car in front of me, wow.
Yeah, it was just a good day for Roger. I think on the last restart, last two restarts, I wasn't going to attack Helio too hard. You know, last thing Roger would want to see is two cars in the wall. I was going to be nice there unless he made a big mistake.
Yeah, just over the moon for Chevy and Roger.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Will.
Q. What was your reaction to the penalty? It looked like you could have turned right there a little quicker.
WILL POWER: If only (laughter).
I was actually surprised how he came across. Obviously he didn't see me because he must have had someone on his outside. I have to look at the replay before I comment on it.
You know, I've been on the good side and the bad side of the penalties. You know what I mean? I'll take it. I'll go to race control, watch the replay with them, yeah, give my explanation.
Q. I think you jumped back into the lead for the championship. A good day for you. Couldn't be much better.
WILL POWER: Yeah. If you look at points, I guess you could say it's a good points day. I don't even look at it anymore. Try to just have good days, have fun and try to win. That's all we can do in racing.
If you want to be a points racer and feel conservative all the time, it sucks. I've been through that three years in a row, so I'm not doing it anymore.
Q. On your second and third pit stops, you came out of the pits and got into the 117s quickly, Helio was doing 118s. Faster on cold tires? Did you know?
WILL POWER: I did not know what was going on. I didn't realize Helio was behind me at any point in the race until he told me on the podium, I was behind you.
So, yeah, it's one of those races, team just tells me what fuel number, how hard to go, yeah. My guys, you know, I have so much faith in my engineer and Tim Cindric, all the guys on my car. I feel comfortable they'll always put me in a good position. Rarely will they put me in a bad position.
In practice, qualifying, any time, just a very solid team. Yeah, love working with them.
Q. You alluded to what this weekend means to Roger. What does it mean to get back-to-back wins like this?
WILL POWER: Yeah, like I said, it's just great. Roger loves this city. We run Chevrolet engines. These are the days Roger just loves. He's an out-and-out racer. To have his cars finish 1-2, win yesterday, win both races, that's what keeps Roger going. I think he just loves it.
I've never seen someone so enthusiastic about racing. I mean, he'll fly to a NASCAR race, next day he's going to an IndyCar race, he calls Helio's race. The result like this is just great for Roger.
Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: We're never told that. C'mon, you know, you're given such a good opportunity. Roger is a racer. Never team orders, never. He would have been happy with me. He wouldn't have said a thing if I attacked Helio, went hard at him. I know the worst thing that could have happened was both of us end up touching. Helio was tough anyway. It would have been tough to get by him.
No team orders. He's an out-and-out racer.
Q. As a competitor, as a teammate, how happy are you to see Helio get a victory?
WILL POWER: Actually happy after the 500 because I felt he drove a race to win it. Both him, Hunter-Reay and Helio, phenomenal, putting everything on the line there. I think Hunter-Reay just had a little faster car. What a performance he put on.
He was just on fire from the moment he first practiced, first lap. So I think it was deserved.
Q. Will, even though you're not looking at the points, do you feel you're getting some real momentum up now?
WILL POWER: Yeah. Just getting solid results every weekend. Trying to be mistake-free. Trying to forget about the championship in every race, just try to do your best. That's really all you can do. Try to keep out of trouble. Obviously drive-through penalty is not a good thing today. Same at Indy. But, yeah.
Q. Do you see Helio coming into contention?
WILL POWER: Yeah, he'll be there. I mean, he's very consistent. He's got better in his old age. I don't know how (laughter). Gives me hope. I got a pretty long career. But, man, since I started, he's kind of changed his driving style. More similar to the way I drive now.
He's just very strong. He's gotten strong. The guy has passion for winning and motorsport itself, which this sport is very tough on you. A guy like him that hasn't won a championship, he's been so close.
Yeah, he'll be a contender this year. He's relentless. To me he's better than when I first turned up on the scene for sure. Definitely better.
Q. Fontana is two miles, Texas is one and a half. Your confidence level going into Texas next Saturday night?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I definitely want to do a better job than what I did last year. We got a bit more downforce. My teammate absolutely destroyed the field last year. No excuses on the car front. That is just confidence on ovals. It's a very light downforce we run now, and you're lifting.
Yeah, we just got to turn up there, see what we got, try to have a good weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Will, we'll see you next weekend. Thank you.
WILL POWER: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with our post race press conference. We're pleased to be joined by today's winner, Helio Castroneves.
Helio, talk about your win here.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, no, for me, coming out of a tough weekend, but good weekend in Indianapolis, coming out here, we turned the page. We're like, Okay, guys, it was a good weekend. Unfortunately we didn't win. We were close, showed potential. Let's keep going.
My engineer and I worked extremely hard. Even when the race was over in Indy, we were already working on Detroit. I said, I want to win this race as bad as anybody.
As soon as it came out of the truck, the Hitachi car was outstanding. Whatever you guys did, don't touch it. Literally we massaged the car just a small bit, and it was absolutely perfect.
Race number one, unfortunately the yellow didn't play in our favor. But we had the car, the strategy, but it didn't work that way. We at least were able to carry on the Team Penske flag.
Today, man, I knew we had the car. I said, We've got to keep going. Can't just give up. That's why Team Penske is one of the best. We never give up. We push as hard as we can. It was pure racing. There was no fuel strategy, no playing games. I love it.
It was perfect. I knew exactly what I needed to do. Winning was what we wanted to do.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Helio.
Q. Talk about how important it was to have your team up on the fence with you, and have you done that before?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, that was really cool. I did not expect that, to be honest. That was a very touching moment.
They deserved it. They did so well. I mean, in the beginning of the season to now, they're pushing so hard. Those guys, people don't understand, but since Indianapolis, the Grand Prix, they're flat out. I speak on behalf of everyone, every mechanic here, everyone is really flat out, fixing cars, putting together, converting from oval to a street course.
It was great. It was great to see them there. Very pleased to be able to win today.
Q. What was your strategy on the final two restarts?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, the whole time when I was about 12, 15 seconds, that's what Roger at least was telling me, I was pushing, but I was under control.
In fact, it was about 15 laps, I'm just going to take it easy, because even if I lose a second a lap, it won't be a problem. So I was really managing the distance.
When the yellow came, that was exactly my experience, you got to have the tires and the car and myself ready to go. That's exactly what happened.
So as soon as they going to go restart, I wasn't even looking to the mirror. I don't want to sound cocky, but I was very confident. I had the car with me. I just needed to deliver. It was just absolutely perfect. So I wasn't worried.
Q. On your second and third pit stops, you were doing 117s, but at first they were 118s. Will was doing 117s while you were doing 118s. Was it cold tires? Did anybody tell you to speed up?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: The last pit stop?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I was opening the gap about 13 seconds. When we stopped, we came out about 11 seconds, and he dropped down to 9 seconds.
Definitely was the set of tires. Temperature was still coming up. The guys told me on the radio, Listen, I'm having a little bit of handling here, which I didn't have. The temperature's coming up. After the temperature came up, I started doing the 17s back again.
Like I said, that was the point I was like, Don't need to risk, don't need to push, 15 laps to go. When I need it, I'm going to save my 'push to pass'. I knew I had more than him.
So I was just taking it easy. If that will come out to one second... Roger was kind of telling me like nervous. I'm like, Relax. He needs to chase me. I did say that on the radio.
I think he understood the message. It was good. Everybody was in sync.
Q. With what Detroit has been through and what Roger's done to this island, could this be one of the most satisfying victories for you on behalf of him?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, for me, being biased, because this is where I get my first win, and having Roger on my radio, knowing how important it is for Detroit, for Chevy. In the beginning of the season, Chevy said, We want to win the Indy 500 and Detroit. We were close to the Indy 500, but we were able to deliver two wins here in Detroit.
For me, having a lot of friends already here in Detroit, mutual friends from Roger, for being so many years with him, it's just special. You see the crowd. You see the volunteers. In fact, I want to thank them. Every time you come over here, there's not one single person upset. In fact, everybody was really happy.
That for us as a driver, team personnel, that's the best you can have. You see the island every year. Now next year they say they going to make some improvements. This is the jewel of Detroit I heard many, many times, and I agree. This is a great island to have a racetrack, to have a family coming. Honestly, the weather was perfect.
So all these things combined for me, it's a very special day.
Q. Does it feel like it's been 13 years since your last win here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, no, actually it does not. To be honest, the win feels just like 13 years ago. They're great. They're awesome. The crowd was great. The only thing, I need to hold my emotion better because I'm getting old (laughter). But it was just like 2000.
Q. This is a great victory to celebrate. Next Saturday night you're going to one of your best tracks at Texas. Do you have a feeling this could be the start of something big for you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, we are on it. We are not playing around. I'm very confident with my team. The Hitachi car, we know what we got, especially after Indy. Ovals, we improved quite a lot.
We need to know what kind of rules they going to have in terms of downforce. But we are ready. We are definitely ready. I'm already thinking about Texas, to be honest.
Q. Power says you're probably driving the best he's seen you. Do you feel like this is the best part of Helio's career?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think I'm becoming wiser I guess with the age. But I be able to pay attention in details that I haven't seen before, able to work with engineers better than before. I think this is the second year in a row I have the same engineer, same crew. Crew actually changed. First time I had Roger. Last time I had part-time Roger. When you go from that kind of changes, it takes a little time for them to understand, for you to understand, and everything is clicking the right way, especially Jonathan. Everybody knows engineers is the key to keep you going. When you have a guy that understands what you're saying, it's great. For me Jonathan is doing an outstanding job. He gave me an amazing car today.
Plus the rules was changed from the past. Now the rules is going the way it's supposed to be. Those I believe are the things going in my favor.
Q. Are you a better fence climber now than you were?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah. Before I was just going and running out of breath. Now I'm able to at least take my time, not rush into it, have time to talk to the interview after I come down from the fence (laughter).
So, yes, I am a better fence climber.
Q. You had a really emotional whole month in Indy. Now you come here and you have two races in a row. Talk about how tough it is emotionally and physically to do back-to-back races after the whole month at Indy.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Emotionally we were able to control ourselves. Like I said, for the car that we had in Indy, we felt we had the best car out there. But it wasn't our day. We were able to compose ourselves, come back here and focus.
The first day, Saturday, it didn't go our way, even having the best car. Today, just never give up. We proved today it was perfect.
Physically, yes, it's tough, especially coming from one month at Indy, then to come back here in Detroit, which is a very physical place. But today is a statement of my trainer, Carlos Bailly, we were spot on. I sweat, but not that bad. I felt good all day, all the time, and I'm ready for Texas.
THE MODERATOR: See you next weekend.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you so much, guys. Appreciate it.
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