IndyCar MavTV 500 post-race interviews

Will Power gets his first Astor Cup.
Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing

Participants:
Will Power
Roger Penske
Tim Cindric
Tony Kanaan
Helio Castroneves

THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined by Will Power, Roger Penske and Tim Cindric. Tim, this is the team's first championship since 2006. 13th IndyCar championship since 1977. Talk about finally getting Will a championship and finally getting the team another championship.

TIM CINDRIC: Without a doubt, it's kind of been an odd few years, because it's not as if we weren't winning races or winning poles. We just couldn't for whatever reason be sitting here today.

For quite a while we were the ones to beat in terms of championship and that went away for a while. And with Will, if there's a guy that deserves it, it's absolutely Will Power. When you look at the number of places he's won, number of pole positions he's won in the last four years, it's been phenomenal.

As a team, I'm glad to say we finally can get him that one and hopefully it's the first of many.

THE MODERATOR: Roger, question for you, several seasons finishing second in the championship. Finally making it up to the top this season. Tell us what it means to you and what Will Power means to Team Penske.

ROGER PENSKE: No question that Will deserves this championship. As Tim said, he won a number of races, a lot of poles and really brought some momentum to the team. I think his working with Helio and obviously bringing Juan on this year made us that much stronger. He deserves it. He was obviously the best road racer, won that championship a number of times.

To see him operate on the oval this year, the way he ran at Milwaukee showed me what he's got. I think for me from my standpoint Tim and the team have done a lot to grow this business as it has with the series so much better and the competition you see it tonight.

I don't think there was one car dropped out. So the reliability and the racing is clean. And it's very, very competitive. So for me and from the team perspective, it was a big win and obviously for Will it's something that he's worked hard. I think he's got the monkey off his back now.

THE MODERATOR: Will, I have a long introduction for you. First IndyCar championship. Finished second in points from 2010 to 2012. Fourth in points in 2013. For the season, three wins, four pole positions, seven podiums, eight top five finishes, 15 top 10 finishes and 11 races led. Throughout his career has 36 career poles and 24 career wins, was either first or second in points all season taking over the points lead for good this season at Mid Ohio.

Taking that all into consideration, tell us about, firstly, the race tonight. And then, secondly, just what it means to get your first Series championship.

WILL POWER: The race tonight was surprising, it was so green. And starting the back there, it didn't we just slowly picked people off and we would pit early and get more people on the out lap and get good air.

There was a point in the race where I thought I'd really have to go for it. That's when I was about sixth or seventh, I think I passed Munoz. And I said okay it's time to really get myself well in the top 5.

And also on that restart, I've got to lead a lap and not go backwards. So that was the key to the race. No mistakes. Just keep on top of the car and very good strategy. Very good stops. And it was honestly to win the championship it's 15 years of hard work for me. Started back in 2000. And just to get the opportunity to drive for Penske and to finish runner up three times, it's such an emotional win for me. But I'm just so grateful to have this opportunity and like Roger said, I think the team this year has been phenomenal with Juan and Helio.

And I think the great thing about driving for this team is whatever you want as a driver, whatever direction you want to push the development, you can.

And that's what we've done. And I think Tim Cindric is a very good leader as far as the shop and the team goes and that's why we won the championship. That's why we won two and four in the championship.

Q First of all, Will, when you see your brother's video online you're going to be mortified. Secondly

WILL POWER: Just keep in mind he's a comedian. So I don't think he was drunk.

TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, he's just jealous. He's asking for a loan.
(Laughter)

Q Secondly, was the fear of the unknown, I don't want to say self doubt, because you're a very confident driver, but the fear of the unknown your biggest foe going into the race?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it was you think of a 500 miler. You think of the previous years as being six or eight cars finish. So in my mind, it just shows how good Chevy is and the reliability of the team itself.

That's obviously, there's a lot of variables that could have gone the wrong way. But just shows that absolutely not a problem. And that's the team for you.

Just awesome to be here.

We watched you racing in this country for quite a long time. Would it be fair to say the end of last year was kind of a transformation or even last year as a whole was a transformation? You seemed to relax so much more?

WILL POWER: Yeah, I think the fact that I wasn't in the championship chase made me realize how aggressive I truly could be.

And I got back to how I raced when I was young which is attack, not be conservative. I think the three championships we lost was me kind of on being conservative in certain situations.

And now I just feel like I've raced naturally. And it was a change, just because I was put in the position not to protect the points lead.

Q Will, all week long you've been taking questions that started with "You've been in this position before." Now you've been in this position before is going to be champion. How does that feel?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it hasn't sunk in that I've actually finally won the championship. Get a lot of questions before the race. And I just try to keep everything else out.

Kind of weird. Didn't even think about the process of the race or anything. Just was two weeks of not much sleep and stress and all that sort of stuff. Keeping my wife up at night. And just when I got in that race car just kept my mind on the job, focused and this is the result.

Q Last week at Sonoma you ran toward the back, but you worked your way up on a road course to finish very well and keep the points lead. Today you started very much in the back and yet you ended up as a champion. What is your mindset when you do that? And my second question is how much has Tim helped you in mentoring throughout the race?

WILL POWER: Having Tim on the radio, I think it's been three years now was it four? I can't remember. Three and a half.

But, yeah, he's very good on the radio. Very calming and only tells you what you need to know, and always puts me in great space on the track, when to pit and when to send me out. The last week, took me by surprise.

TIM CINDRIC: It was last weekend where it all started at Sonoma was the fact we could be out of the pits. We made a mistake during the pit stops. Took three seconds longer than it should have.

Our strategy was to come out on black tires, which was going to be difficult against the reds on a restart. We knew Dixon would have blacks behind us and the red tires would attack Dixon at that time.

The key to that whole strategy was the fact we didn't execute on the pit stop. We put in behind Dixon. He was the one that got attacked. At the end of the day, the team was what put him in that position. Looking at it, it was all of us. It wasn't just him. Like I say, we're in good shape.

Q You get to celebrate a championship night with Will. But your driver has another disappointment. What did you say to Helio afterwards?

ROGER PENSKE: Helio said, "Can you imagine second again?" I think if he sat back and the way he ran and his run at Indianapolis, he'd have to say this was a great year.

Before the race, the entire team said, look, one is only going to win here tonight but it's a team effort. And it was all of us and everyone had something to do with the championship.

And obviously Will gets the championship ring for winning it. And to me it's something that Helio had a big part of and also Montoya. You can see how hard he ran tonight. So having that kind of staple of drivers is going to give us some great opportunity in the future.

Q Will, talk about the sequence when you did go to the lead. You ran the bottom for a while. Looked like you were wearing out your tires a little bit. Did they get a little

WILL POWER: Yeah, that car was very good on fresh tires at the beginning of the stint but faded a little bit at the end. Yeah, I thought more people would go to the bottom. It surprised me that it's clear and it's clear air.

You lose 30 percent of your grip behind the wake of another car. So just be in clear air and the bottom short distance yeah, use your tires up more and it's a bit more of a risk that you guess the game position.

Q Looked like on the last stint you were maybe struggling with the car a little bit. Was there an issue with the car or were you being conservative?

WILL POWER: Just being conservative when Helio, no need to just take it easy.

Q Will, given the number of kind of iconic names that have won championships for Roger, have you begun to think about now I'm on this list now?

WILL POWER: I haven't. It hasn't sunk in. I'm sure it will.

TIM CINDRIC: (Indiscernible).

WILL POWER: Exactly. When you're in the short days, Indianapolis wins and everything that's been achieved at Penske Racing, is just so great to be a part of it.

Q Win the championship at the track that you put together yourself, do you want to talk about that?

ROGER PENSKE: As I said earlier, in coming in here, seeing the track something we spent years building and to think that we could win the championship here was pretty special because California Speedway certainly was a track that we tried to build out here and bring this open wheel sport to fruition out here. So to me it was pretty special to see us win here. It was terrific.

Q Will, I noticed after you went to the Verizon podium, behind the podium you were also congratulated by Derrick Walker, what did that mean to you after the transition of Champ Car and then coming over here to IndyCar?

WILL POWER: Derrick was the first guy I drove for over here. He ran a very good team. He worked for Roger for years. And his organization is very similar in the way that Penske organization is run. But Derrick's been a mentor of mine and he was very happy to see me win.

Q Tim, obviously after the poor qualifying of Will yesterday you took a very conservative approach. During the race, was there some moments when you were thinking maybe it was a little bit too conservative until that 175 or 176 which was always caution free. And second question for Will. Will, in the past you have seen that quite a few make IndyCar make their way to Formula 1. What will be your reaction, and will we get the surprise call from a leading Formula 1 team?

TIM CINDRIC: I'll take the first one. With regard to qualifying, I think it was exactly the opposite. We were probably too aggressive in qualifying. Because we were trying to fit it in on the poles.

And probably just were a bit too aggressive in terms of the setup and where aero balance was and we ended up where we ended up really because we had a difficult first lap there. But it wasn't for a matter of being conservative at all.

And the race itself, I think once the race started, I feel like Will was as fast as anybody on the racetrack. It's just difficult to continue to go forward. We started out the first stint, I think we were about 23, 24 seconds behind the leaders once the start, and then each sequence that we came in pit stops, we picked up probably three to four seconds on the leader.

So I felt like throughout the race if you looked at the lap times we were actually faster or as fast as the leaders and gained on. So I don't think it was a matter of conservativism really until Helio had his drive through and from that point on I would say it was a matter of being smart the rest of the night.

WILL POWER: Yeah, the Formula 1 question. Formula 1 is not realistic for me at my age. And to me IndyCar racing is the best racing in the world. I don't think you see close, more competitive racing anywhere especially for open wheel cars. I love racing IndyCar, and it's a very good group of teams and drivers right now.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by our race winner Tony Kanaan. This is Tony's first win of the season, his 17th career win. Last win was at the 2013 Indianapolis 500. His six podium, six top 5 and 12 top 10 finishes of the season. Also the sixth race he has led laps this season. Five of those were on ovals.

Tony, the final race of the season, able to get a big win for yourself personally and for your team. How rewarding is this for you after a fairly long season?

TONY KANAAN: Big time. It was a long time coming. Obviously the good thing about winning the last race, you get seven months to brag about that. Nobody's going to beat me into St. Pete.

Extremely happy. I think the team we struggled in the beginning of the year and we showed mid season how strong we were. We won the last three races between me and Dixon.

So extremely happy. Long time coming for me again, and it's a big pressure in that 10 car to give Chip and Target the win. It's a car that has won a lot of races in the past. We finally did it.

Q: Take us through the race. What were some of the challenges that you guys faced throughout the race?

TONY KANAAN: Obviously the temperature changing, the track was changing a lot. It's a very difficult track between the seams and the dust that comes from the mountains. It makes it extremely difficult.

So it's a 500 mile race. I wasn't really trying to ride in the beginning of the race. We were running between fifth and seventh. And I was just hanging in there, waiting for 70, 50 laps to go to just make a move.

The guys had a great stop. When they put me in the lead it was a little earlier than I expected, which was good. And we just went for it.

Q: When is Lauren due?

TONY KANAAN: January 23rd, hopefully we'll have a baby.

Do we know whether it's a boy or girl yet?

TONY KANAAN: No. We're not going to find out, I think.

Q: You had a tense battle with Hunter Reay. He ended up spinning right behind you. Can you talk about that a little bit?

TONY KANAAN: I actually don't know what happened. Because I was actually holding my line. But it was a racing battle. We're both here to win the race.

I feel bad for him. I really don't know what happened, to be honest. I think he spun behind me. He was trying to go to the bottom which was extremely slippery. I wasn't trying to run there because of that.

So I think that's what caught him by surprise.

Q: You and Dario had a moment in victory lane. Can you share with us a little bit about what that was?

TONY KANAAN: I was just thanking him for being my biggest supporter on the team. He helped me adapt to the team really quick.

I actually dedicated this victory to him. He went through a tough time. He's a guy that's extremely healthy, extremely capable to still drive a race car and he was forced to retire. I was grateful for what he's done for me this year, being with the time we spent. And I said I hope you feel proud of this. I know you're not driving it, but you won the race as well.

Q: Yesterday on pit lane after qualifying you seemed very quiet and confident. What was it about going into this weekend why you felt like this was your chance to win?

TONY KANAAN: I knew I had a car. I took a very conservative qualifying run. I wanted to stop in the top 6. Didn't work out quite that much. We were seventh.

But I wasn't just quiet. I was just really confident. And I kept it to myself that I knew how many things had to go right from end to end to win it. So I was really focused.

Q: Now having had a full year with Ganassi where you're fully integrated with the team. You have a handle on the Chevrolet engineering, et cetera, how much more comfortable and kind of focused are you going into the offseason and heading into '15?

TONY KANAAN: I'm extremely confident. I think the team showed the potential when we're struggling how quick we can turn situations around. Next year is a whole new ballgame.

We have new aero kits coming up. We have a lot of work to do. But it's really good to win the season on a high note, the whole team spirit is going to be good through the winter.

But honestly we'll celebrate today, tomorrow at the banquet, and Monday we'll go back to work. We have six months to figure out how we're going to win the championship, Indy 500 next year.

Q: You've won now. You've got this off your back. Was your car performing flawlessly and how do you feel about this race with so many cars on the lead lap when it finished? It was quite a safe race. Why do you think it was so successful?

TONY KANAAN: My car wasn't like perfect. I mean, race car drivers are never happy with the race cars, but I remember at one point I was complaining on the radio. They said I was as fast as everybody else.

So your perception sometimes it's not what it seems. So the car was okay. I think the quality of the drivers and the quality of the equipment that we have, it's making the racing seem extremely tight.

Compared to last year, we had five cars in the lead lap and nine cars that finished the race, I think. So I think the quality of the field is much higher. So it's really hard.

Nowadays you have to finish a race before you could afford to make a little mistake, still finish in the top 10. Nowadays if you don't finish the race like you're not on the top of your game you're going to finish 22nd.

Q: It's weird to say that Ganassi was flying under the radar this week with all the stuff, the Penske stuff. Was that an advantage for you guys going into this race?

TONY KANAAN: You get to the end of the season, honestly I'm the last to be the center of the attention, fighting for the championship. But when we were not, we take advantage of that.

We had nothing to lose. All we did when we realized, me and Scott, we couldn't win the championship. We sat down in the team meeting and said what's the best we can do. And I think it was Scott to finish third and me to finish sixth in the championship. But the best thing to do is winning races.

And yeah, I mean, they got the attention that they deserved because they were going for the championship.

Why are people going to worry about me or Scott? Obviously that was the big news, but they had a lot of pressure on their plate. They have a lot of pressure on their hands. And we just surprised everybody and won the race. We'll still get to celebrate the championship. So really it is the way it is.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

An Interview with:
HELIO CASTRONEVES

THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with the second place finisher in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship, Helio Castroneves. Another second place finish coming off last year. Talk about your night.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was an interesting night. The AAA Shell car was actually pretty good. Not stellar, maybe the fastest guy out there, but we were able to manage pretty well, stay in the top five, top three, I think.

Pit stops, we were doing great. And I think the biggest, not only on the tire change, but also on the in and out lap, my first one was really bad. And I made myself improve here and we made huge improvement on the in and out.

In fact, one point they put us in the lead and I was just cruising. The yellow came in, did not want to do that because then when we had the pit stop for the lead, went up to third and it was just chaotic.

After that pit stop, my car changed a little bit I was getting a lot of understeer. And the last pit stop, I thought the only chance for me to get it is to do another mega in and out.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]And unfortunately I believe people confused think I speed, that I crossed speed limit. I didn't go fast on the speed on the pits.

I actually went over the line on the apron in between turn 3 and 4. So that's a penalty. If they say it's in the pit lane, it's not because I was not fast on the pit lane.

And then if you cross over, that's the right to penalty. Unfortunately, like I said, with the spinout, and I tried to control it. Unfortunately, when you touch the wheel, the line, the car pulls away and I was two wheels over actually.

So that's what put us one lap down. And after that it was just bring it home. And another great successful season for Team Penske.

This time at least we have two chances to win a championship. And one finally we got it.

Will did hell of a job. He's the champion. Congratulations. Hope when I sleep in his house, now the rate not in his house, the hotel, doesn't go up. Hope it keeps the same rate.

I'm proud of the team. I'm happy. I'm tired. And, well, it's another second place we collect in our trophy collection.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?

Q: In all the years of watching this, I've never seen that particular pit road penalty. Were you aware of that before you got run through for it?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, they said that would be a penalty drive through if you go over the line. Unfortunately, all the drivers I mean, we're all trying to make sure that we pit on turn 4 and we end up the decision was to pit on turn 3 and so that we did not have a situation like maybe last year end up having cars going down to the pit and cars on the fast lane.

So it was a decision that the series took. We all knew it. All the drivers knew it including myself. And it just, it was a mistake.

Q: Did you feel that you still had a car capable of winning the race and does this get a little bit more difficult to take considering Will's last pit stop, the handling on his car went away from him and he was struggling to keep it up in the top five?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, our chance to pass people, no. But once you're in the lead, I think the way the tire degradation, we had a chance to do it.

Like I said, you could the good news the car was able to give me an opportunity to take some chances in different lanes.

And that's why, when Tony took the lead and he was he was really fast in the end. So maybe he'll be really hard to be between the two Ganassis. I'm sure third place, it was not a problem because that's where we were most of the day.

And but, yes, that's why the only chance for me to be in the lead, it would be through the pit stops. That's what we were doing, we were doing great pit stops this last race, and it's a shame I made a mistake.

Q: Given everything and how long you've been at this, is this the worst one, worst second place finish?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Stings a little bit. But that's what motivates me. Because it's good. It's good to be upset when you finish second in a championship, which gives me another reason to come back stronger next year and fix it, what we can fix to win a championship. So I do believe all three drivers work extremely well together.

We put ourselves to being in this condition. And at the end of the day, two races that we had that probably cost us, and it put us in this position.

But I'm happy that we're still pushing as hard as we can. And certainly stings a little bit.

Q: This race is at night. The other two during the day. Seems like this was a physical, exhausting, demanding race. Is it harder than the other ones that were even at night?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes, first of all, it's always very difficult. And especially when the tires were there was a difference on new tires versus old tires. Which actually is challenging. To us, you have one lane to run. Sometimes you could take a chance on the middle lane high.

That was kind of like difficult to adjust. But I think it was fun. I don't know from a viewer perspective, my view was actually I had to focus big time in finding little details on the racetrack so that I can fix the car while we were running and changing. And so I think that's part of the veteran, going that direction. And very happy that we were able to find that kind of condition. But it was very tough on everyone.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

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