Houston GP Race 1 post-race press conference
1st. CARLOS HUERTAS
Team Owner DALE COYNE
2nd JUAN PABLO MONTOYA
3rd CARLOS MUNOZ
DALE COYNE: It's great. He's done a steady job all year. He's never crashed, he's never spun, he's never gone off in the runoff area, but he's been very steady and very fast. He gets mad in the race car once in a while, but that's good, and he performs.
We used a good strategy today to get him to the front, but then he showed he can stay in the front. We put him up there and there was a lot going on behind him, and as soon as Justin had to pit, and as soon as that happened he was able to pull away, so it shows what he's made of as a driver.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and welcome Carlos Huertas. This is Carlos' first career Verizon IndyCar Series win. His previous best finish was eighth at the first Belle Isle race and the first race that he has led laps in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Carlos, talk about your win today and how you were able to get through all the chaos and all the action at the Grand Prix of Houston here today.
CARLOS HUERTAS: Yeah, it was a really long race and I really struggled on the wet. I had no pace, so I decided to stay very calm, and normally I'm calm but today I had to stay more calm because people were passing me, and I just didn't have any grip. Then when it started drying up, I thought maybe we had a chance, and then I kept asking how many laps to the end of the race because I thought we could make it on the fuel. Funny enough, before the race on the strategy meeting, I asked the team if it was possible to do the race with just one stop, and they started laughing, and they said, if you have a pace of 80 seconds, then for sure, but I wouldn't recommend it.
But yeah, it was a great day. I was worried when Justin wasn't pitting because I think he was trying to make it to the end, but then they realized they couldn't make it. I'm very happy I won. In every series I've won at least once, so it's great. And winning in a professional series like this one is incredible.
Q. Carlos, can you take me through that final restart when you had your childhood hero behind you and you were getting ready for what looked like a one lap dash?
CARLOS HUERTAS: Yeah, I was warming the tires really well and the brakes, and then I saw him in my mirrors. He got really close, and then I just second gear, full throttle, I had a good gap, and as soon as I came out of the corner, he did the overtake, and I knew he didn't have anything left. There was a big gap, and then they said yellow came out, and I was like, I have to do this again.
It would have been nicer to win the race full speed, but anyways, it's a victory, and I'm happy.
Q. Carlos, we asked the other Carlos this, as well. Is it a thrill to beat Juan Pablo, someone you grew up watching?
CARLOS HUERTAS: Look, like it's beating any other driver, just you guys and obviously the fans, they know what he has done and they keep reminding us. I already know it. It just shows the level of series, that if I do a good job and I beat guys like that, it's amazing. I have huge respect for him, and to beat him shows that I've done a good job. But my objective is to beat all the drivers, and I treat them all the same, otherwise it wouldn't be the same feeling.
Q. And also, this race ended just a few minutes after Colombia's win in the World Cup, and then three Colombian drivers win the podium. Is that a big deal to you?
CARLOS HUERTAS: Yeah, it's great. Obviously the football, as you guys say it, soccer, is huge in Colombia, and I was there last week for every game, and every time the game starts, like the whole country stops. People don't even work. My win is just a little bit, I hope they're happy, and the people that watched it back home, my girlfriend, my friends, my family, my mom was sitting there watching it, I hope they're very happy, because it means a lot to me. Maybe you guys don't see how happy I am, but believe me, I'm happy.
Q. Do they play tomorrow by chance?
CARLOS HUERTAS: No.
Q. How prepared were you for the changing positions today, and is that something that you anticipated coming into this weekend?
CARLOS HUERTAS: I was a little bit prepared. I spoke with Juan before the race on Thursday, and he said, prepare, because Friday and Saturday is going to be really wet, and I was like, really? It's really hot here, I don't believe you. And then yesterday was dry, which was nice, and then today I knew even if it rained we would have had half the race dry, and that's what happened. I'm used to it. In Europe I had races like that, especially in British Formula 3. I didn't do any mistakes, and it was easy to do that, so hopefully we don't have another start like today where I couldn't see anything.
Q. Dale, I guess nobody can call you the little guy anymore. Talk about that accomplishment.
DALE COYNE: I think it shows the depth of what we've put together. A lot of things changed this year from last year, but we were still able to put together a great group of guys. I think we had a very, very good strategy today. That strategy comes from years of being here, so in the interview I said people forget how to run a timed race. I was all excited when they said it was a timed race, open the pits on yellow we'll really show you how to do this thing, but those strategies have been around for years, so I think all that helped. Obviously both guys could run strong, and again, Carlos, he runs so clean, and able to run strong when we put him out in the front. Sometimes it takes strategy to do that. We've done that a couple times this year, and it's worked out well. So we're very, very pleased and we've been close to getting a race win earlier this year or two, so maybe we can do more than one this year.
Q. Carlos, Juan has always been a big hero to you, the satisfaction level of being able to beat Juan Pablo Montoya in an IndyCar race.
CARLOS HUERTAS: It's great. He's the best Colombian driver. He's been one of the very best in the world, past world championship races, everywhere he's been, and nearly won the F1 championship, as well, has won in NASCAR, and then he comes back here and he's competitive straight away.
It shows that I did a good job today. The field is very, very strong. He said before, if you have a mediocre day you can easily be lost, which is a second off, which is not bad, but you're last. It says a lot about the series, how competitive it is, and also the circuit, being the lap time is so short, makes it even tighter. You have to be on top of your game every session, every qualifying and every race.
Q. Carlos, last race at Texas there was a discussion between you and Juan, I guess you guys spoke it out afterwards. Can you speak a little bit about that and what went on afterwards?
CARLOS HUERTAS: Yeah, he was really angry because he lost the race, and I did a little mistake which I agree 50 percent as I told him. We tested in Pocono. It wasn't a good day for me. And then we had dinner. We spoke about it. We had a little fight in a nice way. He told me, look, you have to do this, and I said, yeah, you're right, but I didn't touch you, you touched me, and then he goes like, oh, you broke my front wing, and then we came in front of his car and the wind was okay, and I said, I'm really sorry. But it's racing. He wants to beat me, I want to beat him, and he knows a lot. He knows everything. He's raced against many, many people. He's always giving me good advice, helped me a lot. Sometimes people have the wrong impression about him, but he's a really, really nice guy. If he can help you, he does it.
Apart from just telling me things about the racetrack, about the car, on the personal side he's helped me, and we've spent some time together, joked a little bit. So it's been good.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with today's post race press conference. We're please to be joined by Team Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya who finished second in today's race. We are very pleased to have three Colombians on the podium so they will be accepting questions in both Spanish and English. Juan, a second place finish here. This is Juan's best finish since returning to the Verizon IndyCar Series. His previous best finish this season was third at Texas. So, Juan, the state of Texas has been very good to you. How excited are you to get another podium finish here?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's exciting. Our Verizon Chevy was very good. Yesterday was a difficult practice. We really struggled in the morning. I had a lot of braking issues, and we fixed them. In the afternoon I felt like we made good gains. Qualifying was good, and I was kind of mad we put black tires on the dump truck. I was going on the radio going what are we doing, what are we thinking? Everybody was passing us, so that wasn't the best. But it is what it is.
I was kind of amazed nobody took that caution. When it's a timed race, you look at it, I mean, why? Why wouldn't you? You know what I mean? You could make it to the end, and I passed Tony I really felt I was going to be racing with Tony for the win, and I passed Tony when I needed to pass him, and with Huertas, a couple of times I could have passed him, but I just don't risk the car. It's pointless, and then we're here and he won the race.
THE MODERATOR: We're also pleased to be joined by Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport. This is his third career podium finish and second this season, previously third at Long Beach. Also, his third top 5 finish this season and he now has four career top 5 finishes in 12 career Verizon IndyCar Series starts.
Carlos, another notch to a really impressive rookie season for you. Tell us about your race today.
CARLOS MU¥OZ: Yeah, for me it was a caustic race. You know, I had to drive through and then I had to come in and chase the front wing because of the position I had in the beginning. But that's IndyCar. The traffic here is a lot. I've been saying the last couple of races, I said my strategy is always the wrong one. The other people are just doing better. We're losing all the positions, we're losing in the pits. The luck was on our side this time.
In the last part, I struggled with the black tires, also. We changed to black tires to remain the whole last 30 laps on them, and that's very well in the beginning that I was very fast. It's good for the championship points, for the rookie points. Now we have to concentrate on tomorrow because we struggled a lot in qualifying this morning along with my teammate, so tomorrow is another day.
Q. Juan, did you think that you were in the position for the win I guess before the caution, and then under caution what was your plan going to be if you had one lap was green?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I was going for it.
Q. How do you go for it?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I felt like I had a hell of a restart. Like oh, I'm there, I'm there, and caution came out, and I'm like, oh. I thought the caution came out because he jumped the start a little bit, but it seems you can jump the start here.
Q. Did you have any did you not know what Huertas had?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No, I never thought he could make it to the end. On the radio it was like I mean, those two haven't pitted, they're not going to make it, we're good. You've only got to protect from behind, and then they said, oh, I think you might want to try to pass Huertas, and I said, I think I'm out of tires.
It's good. We got another good finish. It's something we can build on. I thought we had a pretty good car at the beginning of the rain and I was very cautious. Here you've end of losing your place and taking your time than stuffing it in the wall or spinning or anything. When we went to black tires I was running sixth or seventh or something and they went on like an anchor. When it was completely dry, it was okay, but whenever it was damp it was like oil on the track, and everybody else was like beautiful. It was kind of frustrating.
Q. Juan, you had some complaints about restarts over at Texas and possibly here with Huertas jumping the restart like you just said, but you had a pretty good start on him. Do you feel like there's an inconsistency there with restarts?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The line is in the middle of the corner, and when we passed the entrance we were wide open. He wasn't as fast he jumped it by 50 yards or something like that. I don't mind that. In Texas it was like 300 yards and he was already wide open, I'm like, you know I talked to IndyCar, you were a little bit behind. I said, look, if you think I'm trying to tag him, then penalize me, too, but two wrongs doesn't make one right.
Q. This is for both of you. Juan, the winner and the third place finisher all say that you were their idol when they were coming up racing. How do you feel
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: They should have respected me and let me win.
Q. How do you feel to know that you've kind of had this type of influence on a lot of the guys that are getting to the point where they can win races here in IndyCar?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: When I grew up, I had Guerrero, he was the only guy racing. He made Formula 1, he made it in IndyCar. He was on the pole in the Indy 500. He was really good. So for me, apart from Senna, I looked up to him. So when I went up, karting and racing in Colombia was there, a couple people tried it but nobody ever thought you could make a career out of this. I've been racing for so long at a top level, you know what I mean, I've been lucky enough to have a great career, great teams, people start realizing, I want my kids to do the same thing with golf. Here Tiger Woods, everybody thinks they've got to practice when they're five years old every day, 20 hours a day to hit golf balls and one day the kid turns 14, looks at a girl and throws away the golf club. It's definitely that kind of deal.
CARLOS MU¥OZ: I was not five years old, I was eight years old. Yeah, I grow up looking at Juan Pablo how to be a professional race car driver. Also I had some contact with him when I was small. Sometimes he was going to the races with his go kart, so I started looking up to him. He's always been an example for me and also for a lot of drivers growing up, and all the time I remember always you saying you have to be a team, you have to arrive into Formula 1. But anyways, it was nice to have when I was small as an example, and right now competing against him at the track, he's very good.
Q. Colombia won their World Cup match right before this race ended. Are we making too much of it?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Oh, it's going to be a huge day. Three Colombians, I think the first time in the history of motor racing in the world that three Colombians are on a podium top at the IndyCar level, a top motorsport level, it's unbelievable. It's really exciting. On my team, I think they've got a good shot at the World Cup, as well. They're playing really well, and yeah, next match is against Brazil, so that's going to be fun, having Helio as a teammate and kicking his ass.
CARLOS MU¥OZ: I think right now we're really lucky to be here in America, not in Colombia. I think right now Colombia should be really crazy to go out in the streets and celebrate. It's been a big deal for us this year. Today was a big day for Colombia, for the first time 1 2 3 on the podium in IndyCar in a motorsport race, and the first time we go to quarterfinals. So should be a really fantastic day. We show what Colombians are made of. I think we show the bad image people have, because they don't know about Colombians, they only know about one thing. You know what I mean? Finally we showed that we have plenty of talent in Colombia, not only in motor racing but there's a lot of Colombians in other sports.
Q. Carlos, did you ever think you'd be on a podium with Juan Pablo, and Juan, do you feel like an old guy?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I am old. I don't have to feel like. Compared with them, yeah.
Q. All these kids grew up idolizing you are now beating you.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I'm OK. If I don't do a good job I deserve to be beaten. If I do a good job, I'm going to kick your ass. It's normal. That's what we're here to do. It's about getting the job done, and I feel I've come up and proven that I can get the job done here, and every week it gets better and better. We have really good days. We keep building on it. We keep getting better. It's just a matter of time, you know what I mean? I think the wins are coming, and I think once it clicks, it's going to click pretty well. Finally starting to get the overtaking. I felt I made a really good move on Kanaan today. I was smiling in the car when I passed him. Yeah, it was pretty cool.
Q. Could both of you talk about how sloppy the race ended up being? It seemed that obviously when you go to the slicks you're going to have some sloppiness, but the driving today had a lot of moments that could have been avoided.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know, it's just racing. It's hard because only the race line dries. It's very hard to make any moves because every time you get to somebody you've got to stay in line. You can't get into the damp and say, oh, here I go because you're probably not going to make it. I think every time somebody tried it, that's what happened.
CARLOS MU¥OZ: I think when we started the race, it was good. This is for sure going to be a lottery race again, all the wet races are lotteries. I was pretty fast in the wet conditions. I thought I was pretty strong, and then I knew it was drying up. On the black tires, it was tough. So many people passed in front of me. Like Will Power I made a mistake, was in front of me. It was really easy to make mistakes today because one part was really dry, but the others, they stayed wet all the whole race, especially on the straights between 8 and 9 there was a big area of water, so that was difficult for sure and easy to do mistakes.
Q. Juan, the last time that you raced in Houston you finished second. Would you say that it's a lot different now emotionally considering you've been away from IndyCar so long that it's a lot better today?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I'll tell you, the last time I finished second here, Jimmy Vasser was the guy who beat me and it really sucked and finishing second place really sucked.
Am I happy? Yeah, I'm happy I finished second and I've shown that I can get the job done and everything, but it still sucks. And I think that's why I can get the job done. I really want to win. It's all about performing, and I'll tell you, this year right now in the IndyCar Series is really tough. Our Verizon Chevy is really good, and even having such a good car, you're off a little bit and you're 15th. You know what I mean? It doesn't take much to be nowhere.
It's great racing, but you've got to be on your game every day.
Q. Speaking about every day, what about coming back tomorrow? Do you think each of you can get back on the podium, maybe you'll get your win, and just how you feel physically going into tomorrow?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think the rain really helped everybody. The only thing was like I have leather gloves, and they were all wet, but my hands are fine. I'm sure tomorrow when we get in the car, you're going to go, oh, that hurt. Like your elbows like the elbows, the only thing you can feel all the time here from racing when you're turning is your arms are bouncing, like hitting against the chassis. Really, can we stop bouncing, please?
CARLOS MU¥OZ: Yeah, for sure the rain helped a lot today, for everyone it was wet, but still all the sweat you had in the car, even though it was wet, you have to drink a lot. There's 90 laps, and if there is no yellow flags, because today we had a lot of yellow flags, but tomorrow there's not going to be yellow flags and it's going to be really, really tough physically.
So tomorrow I hope for the same, that we can easily control, show prepare physically differently, so everyone is the same.
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