Q and A with Will Power
THE MODERATOR: We have several guests joining us. Starting the call with us today is Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter, and in a few minutes we'll be joined by KV Racing Technology driver Will Power.
We are joined now by Will Power. Good afternoon, Will.
WILL POWER: Good afternoon.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for taking the time to join us. Will is a rookie in the IndyCar Series following two full seasons in Champ Car where he earned two victories. This season he finished eighth at St. Petersburg and won the Champ Car finale at Long Beach. Coming off a 13th- place finish in Texas and ranks 11th in points. You and your teammate, Oriol Servia, are the top-tanked drivers who have come over from Champ Car. Can you talk about the season so far and how your comfort level is increasing both with the Dallara-Honda package and racing on ovals?
WILL POWER: I think the biggest thing this year for me the month of May, just the mileage in the car really helped me. There's nowhere faster that we go to. Then went to Milwaukee, seemed a lot slower and you had a lot more grip. So I really enjoyed Milwaukee. I also enjoyed Indy. Even when I went to Texas, I felt very comfortable as soon as I went out.
So, we are progressing. The team is really progressing well with development, and I'm progressing as a driver. So it's all coming together now. We seem to be qualifying a little bit higher, and sort of working out well in each of the races, as well.
We are looking forward to the second half of the season to be honest because you have a mixture of short ovals and road courses, and I think that's going to help us in the points for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Our next two races are short ovals, Iowa and Richmond. What have you heard about each of those places and what kind of racing do you expect to see there?
WILL POWER: Well at Iowa I can see that it's a short-banked oval, and I'm not sure that you are flat all the way around during the race, but it looks like it's good racing because you can run high and low. But also it can catch you out. Until I go there, I don't really know, but I'm looking forward to it because you're running maximum downforce.
THE MODERATOR: You hinted that the second half of the season could play into your favor with more road courses and street courses coming in. Maybe expand a little bit upon that. What kind of opportunity do you think that presents to you in regards to moving up in the points and what kind of finishes do you anticipate?
WILL POWER: Well, it's not just road courses and street courses that we need to get our points on, and in this series, unless you're in the top-five really you're not getting big points. You can finish -- I finished 13th and I think Oriol finished 25th last weekend, and I only got five more points than him. But if you win a race, you get a big chunk of points. You get 50 points.
So it's important for us to do well there, and we can do well there. So you know, I will be putting 100 percent effort into that, and you know, we can get some really good points back and that will allow us to finish in the top 10, if not higher. So from that standpoint, the second half of the season does look good for us.
THE MODERATOR: Knowing where you are now in the points and what's left in the season, two questions for you. At the beginning of the season, what would you have said your expectations were for overall, maybe where you would be in the points standings, and then secondly, knowing where you are now and knowing what the second half has to bring, is there a goal on where you think you should be by the end?
WILL POWER: Well, I think coming into the season, I thought if I finished in the top 10 that's really good. But also, the Rookie of the Year would be a really big deal for me., I think that there's a couple of guys that are going to be really tough to beat, and obviously (Hideki) Mutoh is one of them, because he's on a very good team with a lot of experience on ovals and on the road courses.
So I think he's going to be the main competition there. And you've got some guys like Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson who are also right there.
So, you know, if I can win the Rookie of the Year I'll be really happy. If I finish in the top 10, that's really good, too. I'm just focusing on every single event, every individual event to get the best result possible and learn as much as I can.
THE MODERATOR: A rare off-weekend coming up, and with six races ahead, what kind of plans do you have this weekend to relax?
WILL POWER: Just get back into fitness. It's pretty tough when you're on the road to eat well and have a good fitness routine where you get up every day and get into a good pattern.
So for me, I'm just going to -- I'll be working hard at the gym right until I leave for Iowa.
Q: Texas described this track as really fun, so what made it enjoyable for you?
WILL POWER: Well, Texas, it's got such high banking and progressive banking you can run side-by-side. So the racing, it's fun, but can be daunting at times. It's a unique track. There's nowhere else that you can run as fast and run as close side-by-side with people.
So I think from a fan's point of view, it's probably the best racing they will see on a mile-and-a-half oval all year.
Q: June is the month of short-track racing for the Indy Car Series, first Milwaukee and then Iowa and Richmond. You've had a strong qualifying run at Milwaukee, so what do you feel about the short ovals suits your driving style best?
WILL POWER: Well, it's not only the driving style it's also the fact that you're running maximum downforce. I think where these other guys have got us is all of the work they've done on wind tunnel and wheel bearings, coatings for the gear box and all of those little things that add up to the mile-and-a-half or two-mile-an-hour they have over us on the faster ovals.
But when you're running maximum downforce, that doesn't count. It's more about the car balance, and that's the reason that we can run up front and obviously shorter ovals helps me a little bit, too, because I raced in Milwaukee once in 2006, and I really enjoy running around short ovals, because when you have got full downforce, it's a lot like a road course and you go take a proper racing line, and it's all about just holding it flat and just running the car as free as possible.
Q: What is lacking to see you guys run in the top five like you mentioned?
WILL POWER: You're talking about the mile-and-a-half ovals?
Q: Yeah, overall on some of the longer ovals, too, yeah.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it's mainly the longer ovals. I think that we can be competitive and run in the top five on the shorter ovals.
It's just the development. We're five years behind, and we're about probably $30 million worth of development behind, but we are catching very quickly. To qualify eighth at Texas was really good for us. So we're finding the speed.
It's just a whole lot of little things to be honest. Every time we go to a new oval, we've got a new bit that we put on the car that we found that everyone else is running, all of these fronts-runners are running.
That's going to continue all the way into next year, and beyond. And to be honest, I think it will continue until a new car comes out, because I don't think we can actually catch up to what all of the development that these guys have done. That's just the way it is.
But, I'm starting to love it. It's so competitive and you've got so many cars on the grid.
Q: Is it something where obviously the Champ Car teams are at a disadvantage, like you said, on the larger ovals; are the IRL teams at the same disadvantage when they come to road courses?
WILL POWER: I don't think so. I think maybe a little bit when we go to tracks like Edmonton or the Gold Coast race. Obviously they have been to St. Pete. They would have been to Watkins Glen. They have been to all of these circuits we are going to so they have some good data there.
I think they are right on top of it. I'm sort of worried. We have not done a road course yet so we don't know whether we are going to be behind like we are on these big ovals or not. I think that we will be pretty close there. I don't think that we have any big advantage there at all.
I don't think we have any advantage to be honest, because we haven't got any idea of gears and any of that sort of stuff.
Yeah, it's a lot different. We haven't had five years of development with this car on road courses, so we are still behind there.
Q: And one final question. You think that it's going to be about equal for both sides, Champ Car and IRL teams at the moderate to shorter ovals we are coming up to like Richmond?
WILL POWER: I don't know, because we don't know until we get there. It's like Milwaukee. We weren't sure where we would be at. We were pretty far out of the window when we got there. It didn't take as long to get on top of things.
So until we go there, I don't know, but I suspect that we should be able to qualify somewhere there in the top 10.
Q: What's been the most difficult thing switching from Champ Car over to the IndyCar Series for you?
WILL POWER: Well, I don't think there's one specific thing. I think it's a number of things. Obviously one is being so far behind in development. Two is having to learn how to drive on ovals well and learn what the car should feel like to get the most out of it.
Basically that's it, and it's just a progression now. I'm learning; the team's learning. We're getting development done and progressing forward. I was really happy in the last two ovals, Milwaukee and Texas, I'm really happy because I'm starting to understand what the car should feel like and I'm getting the right feedback we need to get the car to run well. We need to work more on having a consistent car throughout the race.
Q: What's your most favorite, is it still road courses, or are you starting to get the feel for the ovals?
WILL POWER: I'm starting to get the feel for the ovals. Obviously I really enjoy road courses because I've had so much experience on them, and I really know what I want and how to get the most out of the car.
In a year - after this season, I think I'll understand the ovals a lot more and come back next year very competitive. But I still enjoy the road courses the most.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks again for taking the time to join us this afternoon. We appreciate it, and good luck.