|Race winner Carlos Munoz|
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our Verizon IndyCar Series post race press conference.
We're pleased to be joined by Simon Pagenaud who finished third. This is Simon's third podium finish here, including his first career win in 2013. Also the 11th podium finish of his career.
Simon, you put yourself up on the podium for Team Penske at your team's home race. What is that feeling like?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Great. Very happy to get a little bit of luck today. We haven't had much luck this year. It's nice to get some and represent Team Penske.
Like I've been saying, Roger has such a great dedication for this city, is trying to promote it for as much he can. For us drivers, we want to show well for him.
Obviously we always want to win, but P3 is a pretty good result considering the situation, the weather. The car was really good. Of course, strategy was a key part. It was the right call from the 22 team.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned strategy was a large part of this race. What were your team's thoughts, the strategy that you were running throughout the race, especially when it was wet at first, dried up, then wet again at the end?
SIMON PAGENAUD: That's the biggest thing for us. On the 22 side, we're a brand-new team. We're just getting to know each other. Ben Bretzman is my engineer. We have a new crew around working on the timing stand.
Today was awesome. Obviously Indianapolis 500 went really well. Today on the road course, it was tricky conditions. All about communication on how the track was, how wet it was getting, what tires I needed at what time.
At the time they called me in, I said, No, I want to stay out a little longer, I think I can handle it.
They said, No problem, stay out.
They called me in later for rain tires. We jumped to P3. It was a really good call.
It's awesome when things go so well in communication within the team. That's when you start seeing the light. So that's pretty cool.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q: When you're in a situation like that, where you're on dries and it's raining, is it kind of like racing on eggshells: delicate but fast at the same time?
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]SIMON PAGENAUD: Yes. It's my favorite conditions. I've had a lot of luck in these conditions, whether in sports cars or IndyCars.
Yes, you have to take a little bit of chances. Staying on the dry tires on wet conditions is always tricky, but you can gain three to five seconds on someone else with rain tires on the dry track.
It's all about deciding at the right time when to go to the next tires. Today was about making that decision at the right time. It wasn't easy.
Q: Simon, how did you know when the right time was today? 47 laps and they call it. Did you feel lucky? What was the sense at the end there?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Like I said, I've had quite a bit of experience in this situation, although it changes city to city, and it changes country to country.
I mean, the thing is, at the end of the day the team tells you when they think the rain is going to appear, number of laps or number of minutes. You have that in the back of your head.
Obviously next is what you see, how the track's changing, where is the cloud, if it's getting dark, things like that. When you start seeing drops on your helmet in certain corners, you start getting ready and you tell the team it's starting to rain.
It's all about how heavy it gets, how quickly it gets rained out.
Q: Incredible conditions, difficult. How did the track feel with all that water on it? It's been resurfaced. The drainage has improved. Did it hold up okay?
SIMON PAGENAUD: It was actually quite good. I mean, at the start it was pretty rainy. There were no puddles. The Penske organization did a great job at preparing the backstretch, for example. It was very raceable. It was still raceable when we went red flag.
Of course, when we stopped, it rained more, and it was probably getting tricky. It was certainly very slippery, but it was good racing, good fun.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by our race winner, Carlos Munoz, his first career win. Previous best finish of seventh here.
Carlos, obviously strategy was a huge component of this race. What strategy were you and your team on? What is this first win like for you, probably coming differently than you expected?
CARLOS MUNOZ: Before the race, we knew it was going to be a tricky race, wet conditions, dry conditions. My engineer is very good. He studied this kind of stuff in university, the weather.
When it rain a little bit, everyone came, and smart call, Simon and I still on the track. I knew for sure it would rain. We stayed. I had more fuel than Marco. I could push three laps harder than anyone else. That's what make the gap so big.
In the rain, after the rain, I was feeling really comfortable. I was pulling like two seconds a lap in the rain. After they say to slow down a little bit.
My first win in IndyCar. Not the way I wanted to win. I want to win like 100%, all the laps complete. But a win is a win, like Marco says.
Now tomorrow we have to start all over again.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned your teammate Marco, and team owner Michael Andretti, what did they say to you?
CARLOS MUNOZ: You see my face. I'm more happy for my crew than myself for the victory. They say, A win is a win. This is racing, this is what happen.
Michael, in the beginning of the race, he just told me to keep the nose clean and you will be up there in the end of the race.
Marco did a great race, especially at the beginning with that call going dry tires.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q: Take me through the gap. Marco pits, and you did two more laps. You did 14 seconds a lap quicker on slicks. Could you have stayed out a little longer or did the fuel bring you in?
CARLOS MUNOZ: Yeah, I had more fuel than anybody else. They told me five laps. When I saw Marco, I said, Should we come in next lap on the pits?
The guys say, No, push hard.
The track actually at the beginning was more wet, then it was getting drier again. When they say pit, I was in turn 11, it starts to really rain a lot. I changed tires, put the rain tires.
I start to push really hard. At the first my team said was 10 seconds difference. I push really hard. Actually it was 26 seconds and I put it to 30 seconds.
I knew the conditions were more tricky in the wet compared to the beginning because the rubber was on the track or something. The conditions were harder for sure in the end than in the beginning.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Marco Andretti, who finished second here. The 19th podium finish of his career.
Marco, we heard the radio transmissions, the strategy back and forth with you and your team.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Sorry (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: What was going through your mind? You were very set that you wanted to stay out.
MARCO ANDRETTI: It started earlier than that. I was confident I wanted to come in and get slicks on. This was early on. I guess the consensus on the timing stand was the opposite.
But I said, The guys better be ready because I'm coming in.
To me, it wasn't really a gamble. I was ready to go to slicks. I thought the track was there. I knew there were going to be a couple laps under yellow before we went green. With the concrete, it dries quick. Tomorrow might be a little different with the temp change.
I don't know, yeah, that's where it started. It was sort of a blessing and a curse. He was able to do it a couple laps after me. That's what allowed him to run a couple laps longer at the end. That was a bummer, but a heck of a finish for the team, for sure.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions.
Q: Simon, it was getting wet, maybe it made sense to stop at that point. But it did stop raining. I know there's the reality of the television window. Would you have liked for the race to continue? It was a strange race up to that point. Would you have preferred to have had a chance to do more racing?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, IndyCar sent a memo before the race. We all knew if it was going to rain heavily, it would be a time race.
Like they said, the first thing that was going to occur, whether it was 36 laps or one hour, it was going to be the checkered flag if it was to go red flag.
I was ready. I knew because of the memo it was a possibility. They respected what they said.
I don't know, I thought that was the right call. Obviously, I always want to go racing. But it is what it is.
Q: Carlos and Marco, Honda teams have been taking their lumps this season. How important is it, even if it is a rain race, that they have a 1-2 finish in an IndyCar race?
MARCO ANDRETTI: I keep telling Carlos a win is a win, so enjoy it. I would take it. I've lost a lot of races, so I'll take any win, any way I can get it.
I agree with Carlos. We need to be doing it off of pace, outright pace. Having said that, I think we mastered today's conditions. That's why he won the race.
Yeah, I mean, it's definitely been a tough road. I think both Andretti Autosport and Honda are up to the task. We're not giving up.
CARLOS MUNOZ: You always say the fastest guys don't always win. I think that was our case. We started 20th with the qualifying or the problems or whatever. We have to gamble. When you're in the back, you have to gamble. We gambled.
It's true that Honda is making a lot of work to catch up to the Chevy. Still a long way to go. I think we have to still work a lot. This is IndyCar, everything can happen. But we have to work a lot. We have to finish really well.
Our team, we have to be the fastest Honda as well. We are not right now the fastest Honda. So we have to work especially hard, after this race, because tomorrow is rain. We'll see what happens.
Q: Michael Andretti told you after the race, you said you were sorry it couldn't have been a full race. He said, No, go out and own this victory. How important is it to hear that?
CARLOS MUNOZ: Because, like Marco said, they don't see me smiling a lot, but I'm really happy for my crew. Last year we were just there in the doors to a win, to podiums and everything. I think finally come true.
Coming from Marco and from Michael, it's always really nice.
Q: Marco, it looked like near the end of the race, your car went into limp mode.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, we need to really figure out what happened there. It's definitely concerning, whether it be my doing or something else. It cut out, surged, went again. I don't know if it was with the moisture. But we definitely need to get to the bottom of it. I thought my day was done.
It turned out that didn't affect me because the gap he pulled on me was more than I lost there. I thought, Man, it would be a bummer to go out of the lead like that.
Q: Marco, you were confident in the switch to the slicks. Can you describe the first few laps, how hairy it might have been or not. Did you think it might have been a mistake? At the end it started raining, how did that go for you?
MARCO ANDRETTI: The only time it's a mistake is when you're in the fence. We knew that was the goal, to keep it going forward.
There was plenty of dry line. I knew I had two laps of yellow to get plenty of temp in the tires. It worked out for me. We went green for a couple laps, then there was a yellow. Everybody else went on the tires, I was the only one who had temp in my tires again.
It worked out. I've gotten bit by doing it too early, just off of pace. I haven't crashed it. But half the goal is just keeping it off the fence. Once that happens, I was asking for pace all the time to see if I was up there. Once it came in, it was game on.
Q: Marco, I think you thought you had a pretty good hand going, then all of a sudden it didn't work out for you. What goes through your head?
MARCO ANDRETTI: It was a bit of a rollercoaster today. That wasn't a gamble. I was ready, the track was ready, no question.
From that point on, it was about trying to stay in the lead, trying to lead at halfway in case there was a shortened race. We knew there was always that chance because of liability with lightning. We tried to lead.
I thought our entire race was done at the power surge. Then I was like, I am not coming in. I'm going to wait till the car is on fumes. That was the only way I was going to beat Power.
They were trying to call me in then. I was like, Why?
Q: Despite your teammate taking first, are you feeling frustrated knowing you could have come out on top?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I mean, you want to win. But frustrated, I don't know. I think we need to keep hammering on these good results.
Yeah, I mean, I wish I had more wins in my career, there's no question about it. But, you know, I'm not giving up. I'll be as persistent as anybody out there. Hopefully I'm still early in my career.
Q: Carlos, two years ago you nearly won your first IndyCar race in the Indy 500. You got a taste of what it was like to almost win, but how much did that drive you?
CARLOS MUNOZ: On Monday after the race, I already forgot about that. I didn't cross the finish line first, so nothing I could do. Everything can happen. We saw like this year, the fight.
I forgot about the result. I had two more chance to win it. I was always there close.
This year with the package, I wasn't really fast, but I was there the whole race in the front. I show I can win someday this race. I have the potential to win it.
I'm just 23 years old. Juan won it with 40 years old. He's almost 20 years older than me. So I have hopefully 15 years to win it.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Be nice to Juan.
CARLOS MUNOZ: In a good way (laughter).
Q: I'm not sure two Colombians have won back-to-back races.
CARLOS MUNOZ: It think it is great for Colombia. Motorsport was really high when Juan was here in the beginning, and then the Formula One. I think now it's getting back like really hard. You see a lot of races, a lot of Colombians here. Pocono last year, there was more Colombians, Marco, than Americans.
After the race, it was like a stadium, Colombian, shouting Colombia, Colombia. Hopefully it's going to be bigger with good results. At one point we had five Colombians on the grid.
Everything is good for Latin America. I think it's a great market for IndyCar.
Q: Simon, I don't want to call you a veteran, but I'm going to. You've been around for a while. What is it like when you see a young kid get their first win? Are you excited for them?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I can remember when it happened to me. It's good memories. Just make sure you enjoy it, man, because it's tough. This series is very competitive. Like Marco said, it's not that easy to get a win. When you get that one win, make sure you enjoy it. Save it in your memory because you going to enjoy this moment. It's your day.
Yeah, for sure I'm happy for him, definitely.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]