IndyCar Milwaukee Sunday Press Conference

The podium, from left Montoya (2nd), Power (1st) and Kanaan (3rd)
Russ Lake/

1st Will Power
2nd Juan Montoya
3rd Tony Kanaan

THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined by the winner of today's race, Will Power. This is Will's first win here at the Milwaukee Mile, his 24th career win, third of the season.

Will, a great race for you starting from pole. Tell us about how much confidence is built for you heading into the last few races.

WILL POWER: It's a race I had in my mind all year that I wanted to come and win, definitely. I thought last year I had a very strong car. I was at a point where I really wasn't in the championship hunt. I had Helio in front of me, so I didn't want to make a move.

Just one of those days. A perfect day. Really good car. Worked hard on it in the test, then came back here. I was just really determined to have a very good racecar and this is what we got.

THE MODERATOR: Your team was strong here. Obviously you have a teammate, two teammates in championship contention. Talk about the strength of Team Penske this season.

WILL POWER: It's great. I think Juan brought a lot to the team. Helio, he has the last few years had a new engineer. He's really strong everywhere.

Between us all, I think it's really a strong combination. Both guys are really good to work with, too.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Will, how do you feel now that you’ve won on every type of racetrack?
WILL POWER: It feels great. I really love winning on ovals. They've become my favorite tracks. This year every oval I've gone to, like Texas I had so much fun, felt we should have run that race. Got a bloody drive-through. Pocono, as well, felt I should have won that race as well. Strong enough, led a bunch of laps. Indy was the same, another bloody drive-through. This one I didn't (laughter).

I really enjoy the ovals. They're great fun.

Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think you got to turn up to every track, doesn't matter what it is, and know that you have a chance to win. I just think that's how you become a champion. I'm very determined for that to happen this year.

Q. Did you really have to go to INDYCAR Medical to get cream puff out of your ears post-race?

WILL POWER: I did. Poof, it went in. Cream puff, all that stuff coming out. That's good. My ears are clean and dry now. That lady was there for a while like squirting, squirting, squirting. Doctor is looking in my ear. Yeah, it's clean (laughter).

Q. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but it seems like you feel like you could be a champion.

WILL POWER: Do I? Yeah, but I've been in this situation before. The difference is that I don't have a weakness anymore. I said it before we went to the past few races, in past years of the ovals have been, I don't know. Last year ovals were very strong for me, and this year even stronger.

I have the whole package. It's just a matter of executing on the weekend. There's no doubt in your mind you can do it. You know you can do it. You just have to be very focused and get the job done.

That gives me confidence, for sure.

Q. Can you take us through your battles with Kanaan and Montoya and if you were worried about them?

WILL POWER: Yeah, for sure. It was a good battle there for a few laps with T.K., going side-by-side. Once you get to traffic, you've got to be able to get through it, which was difficult today. Definitely at the end my car was good through traffic. Juan was closing. I pushed hard to get through a couple of guys and get a gap, which I was able to do. I wasn't quite as good in traffic.

Yeah, serious threats, for sure. We just made the right calls with not pitting, confident in the tires. Even though they were only 10 laps old, I felt we could hold off T.K. on old tires.

It was just one of those days where you start the race, kind of like Texas, you start the race on pole, you wonder how good the car is going to be. It keeps unwinding all the way to the end. You realize you got a really good car. A day like that. Obviously in Texas we didn't finish it off, but here we did.

Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: Yeah, the fuel save was tough, for sure, the last two stints. You had to make enough to pit and make the whole last stint. They gave me a number. I was kind of working out how to save fuel and go fast enough to keep ahead. I kind of worked that out.
Anytime I had a gap, I really saved, which means I could push harder when they got to me. That was the last two stints, pushing when you could, saving as much as you could at other times when you had a bit of a buffer.

Q. Who were the culprits behind the cream puff attack?

WILL POWER: Montoya and T.K.? That's two veterans just telling me, You can't come up on this podium without us giving you the workover. I had a bottle in the front and the back. That never happened before (laughter).

Q. Was it strange to you that there was only one caution?

WILL POWER: Only one caution? Yeah, you know, you would expect two or three cautions here. I don't even know what the caution was for.

It set everyone on the same strategy to finish the race basically. It was, yeah, unusual. You would never expect that here.

Q. Kanaan and Montoya mentioned problems with traffic. Did you experience those as well, or did your car handle well through traffic?

WILL POWER: I got through traffic very well at times. At the end I am glad I had a gap. Pagenaud, I don't know what he was doing, but… He'd probably take me out. I think he might have been saving fuel or something. It was weird. He was taking strange lines, lifting early. He was maybe trying to make it.

Apart from that, everyone else was not terrible. I mean, that's what short-track racing is. You're always going to be encountering lap traffic. That's the key, if you get a car that you can get by.

Q. Do you get more discretion from lapped traffic because you’re the leader?

WILL POWER: Not anymore. I mean, no, not anymore. These guys fight really hard to stay on the lead lap with short-track racing, which they're entitled to. With 10 to go, they're not. They're in their own battles, too, so you can't be harsh on them. I understand
Pagenaud's position. He's battling someone himself, trying to make the end.
That's just short-track racing, how it is. You know you're going to be fighting back markers hard because they want to stay on the lead lap, and they're entitled to.

Q. (No microphone.)

WILL POWER: Yeah, you know, those penalties, all of them except one, I recovered to at least second. I guess Indy and Pocono were bad hits. I've just been calm all year, plodding away, doing my job.

Q. (No microphone.)

WILL POWER: Yeah, I think the easiest way to fight that, like this weekend, qualify at the very front. It's tough when you qualify back and you're in that position. That's when it's kind of like, ‘This is the time I have to attack,’ but you always have the points thing as well.

When you're at the front, it's about winning. You start at the front, your mindset, the team's mindset is, How do we win this race, because you're in position to? The key is to get yourself up front, avoid a bit of that.

In every situation, no matter what it is, even if you're a lap down, you've got to be smart and let it unfold. It's going to be what it's going to be.

Q. (No microphone.)

WILL POWER: Yeah, like this is the first year I can say to myself that I'm a better driver. I felt 2007 was a year where I felt I was like at my absolute optimum. I can really say this year I feel as though now I am just a better all-around driver, without the massive intensity.

It's funny, you drive with very low emotion. Just kind of like a computer, you know what I mean? That's how I seem to find myself a bit more these days. I guess it just comes with age.

Q. What have you learned specifically on ovals that has taught you to become a better oval driver? Can you give a few examples?

WILL POWER: Definitely I understand when the car's bad, you're not a bad driver. That's a thing that you start to lose your own self-confidence. I think you just kind of really learn to work on the car because you know you can do it once you've won a couple of ovals, once you've had a good car.

You realize you really have to make sure you've got a good car, then you know you can do it.

THE MODERATOR: Will, we will see you next week.

WILL POWER: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Juan Pablo Montoya.
Juan, tell us about your race today.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know. Really pissed off, disappointed. I mean, I don't know. I felt we had such a good car yesterday, we made some changes today, it wasn't as good as we wanted it to be.

I think everybody was with a green racetrack. I think we over adjusted at the beginning of the race to try to compensate for the setup. At the end had a little too much understeer on the car. But it's OK.

Kind of frustrating with the traffic. Really got to come up with a formula. It's understandable at the beginning of the race that you want to stay on the lead lap. When you have 20, 30 laps to go, you're just in the way. You're about to hit the wall every lap, it's kind of embarrassing. But that's what they did. I was pretty mad. Sorry.

Tell them how you really feel.

THE MODERATOR: Tony, we talked a little bit yesterday about how strong the team was here at the track, how strong your car was. Tell us about your race and another podium finish.

TONY KANAAN: It was OK. Like Juan said, a little frustrating. I don't think towards the end we had the car to beat Will. I think we could have been a lot closer if we didn't get the interference from traffic.

I think when you're two or three laps down, there is no point of you holding people up for position. I just don't understand that.

But it is what it is. I know who these guys were. What goes around comes around. Hopefully I won't be in that position to hold anybody up, two laps down. But it's really frustrating.
I understand if you're fighting to keep yourself on the lead lap because you haven't got a lap down. But you're like two, three laps down, 30 laps to go, why you want to get in the middle of first, second and third place to affect the race, which nothing is going to change for you?

It was really frustrating. They're trying to prove a point in the end, which in the end there's no point to prove.

It is what it is. I think Will had a great car. Congratulations to him. For us, we'll go home sad. Second loser, third loser, here we go.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I'm glad I'm not the only one pissed off.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Will you confront the drivers that were holding you up in traffic?

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: People that don't learn will never learn. If you had a bumper, move them out of the way a couple times…

Q. Yeah, you had that [in NASCAR] but you gave it up.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I used it a few times. It's just frustrating. I think that's where the people calling the race, they should help the drivers, say, Hey, you just went a lap down, this is second place coming. You know what I mean? I don't know.

Q. How did the race compare to the race you won here in 2000?

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: To be honest with you, I don't remember. I'm getting old (laughter). You were here, do you remember?

TONY KANAAN: Yes. I remember you won.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: We were really quick. I mean, it's funny because you have to brake a little bit more back in the day so you could accelerate quicker out of the corners.

I do remember we [griped] about traffic the same way. It's just hard. With a flat racetrack, so many marbles, it's what the track brings. I think in a place like this, the officials have to come up and do something a little more aggressive.

Once the leader gets within a second, give him five or ten seconds to stay there. It's different than a street course. A street course is a long way around. Here, you get a caution, you'll be behind the same guy within 15 freaking laps, Here we go again. Sorry.

Q. (No microphone.)

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No. I had a really good car. But I really killed my tires trying to pass traffic, my front tires again. I started gaining on him. We got to Marco. Then Hinch came out of the pits right in front. I'm like, Thank you, again, another one.

You start sliding those front tires, they never recover. I don't know. It's kind of funny. If you asked me at the beginning of the year if I was going to be mad for a second-place finish, I would say, ‘You're crazy.’ But here I am.

Q. (No microphone.)

TONY KANAAN: Yeah. But, you know, to be able to win, you've got to finish in front. That's what we've been doing. I think we showed how strong we are. We're there every weekend. Unfortunately we made our own mistakes in some of the races. In others, it was just luck. I mean, Iowa was unfortunate.

It's hard enough to win a race in this series, it's so competitive. We've been there. We've been on the podium the last four, like we said.

Yeah, like I said, you can hear our interview. I don't think anybody here is happy about it. Yeah, it's better than finishing 10th, but I'm still looking for that win. We have two more tries. I think they're two good racetracks for us. We'll do our best.

Q. (No microphone.)

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's just the nature of the racing, you know. I don't think there's anything wrong with the racing. The runs that you get, 'cause the motors are restricted for the ovals, the runs you get are too short. You don't get a big enough tow out of the corner. You can come right off of somebody's tail, you can barely make it there. Unless they make a mistake and lose momentum, it's pretty tough.

Q. (No microphone.)

TONY KANAAN: I don't think it's the package.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think it's the person behind the package.

TONY KANAAN: You have to realize you're not having a good day. That's pretty much it.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The problem is when you have street courses and road courses, it's a lot closer, everybody seems to run a lot closer on setups. I think the ovals, the better teams understand. The drivers, you can tell the difference between a really good driver and an average driver on an oval. This is the hardest thing we do. These are the fastest corners we take. It's one after the other after the other after the other. You can see the guys that have the talent and the guys that don't.

TONY KANAAN: You have 22, 23 cars in one second on a mile track, it equalizes everybody like if you tried to put a fast lap together. But like as Juan says, the talent comes out when the green flag drops, how you keep the momentum up. The talent drops, too (laughter). That was his quote. I just repeated it.

So I really don't think it's a package problem. I don't think it's a track problem. It's not a blame. I don't think it's a blame. It's just frustrating because I don't think I would do that. If I was having a bad day, I wouldn't do that to somebody else if I'm two, three laps down.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The 67 had to come in for a stop. If you look at my data, (indiscernible) ran into the back of me. I got out of the gas on the straight to let him go. I did the same thing with Dixon. He got there, I just got out of the way.

People a lap down will race you all the way into the corner. It's like I got inside the 67 once. I let him go afterwards. He drove me nearly over the curb in one and two. I was there.

What do you do next time you're beside him? You go all the way to the marbles. You want to stay there, knock yourself out.

Q. (No microphone.)

TONY KANAAN: We had the same problem, like he said. I remember us complaining about it back then. We always had.

But the discrepancy between the equipment, it was much, much bigger. You remember, it was four, five, six engine manufacturers, two tire manufacturers, different chassis. It was a little easier to pass the back markers.

I remember, it would get really tough. You could race side-by-side at one point before the Handford device. But I think it would get really tough when you got into the top 12. It wasn't the entire field.

I think the packages are a lot closer. The quality of the drivers nowadays, it's actually a little higher. Before you had four, five, six guys that were really good, good teams. You also had good guys with new engine manufacturers that were not good enough for them to do anything. There was a little bit of discrepancy.

Right now there is none. It's equalizing everybody. It's tough. It gets to a point that we can't do anything.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I agree with that.

Q. (No microphone.)

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: How many Helio had? 80, 90?

TONY KANAAN: Will knows that.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Helio knows that, exactly.

Personally, I'm OK with that. Honestly, I think we deserve the championship this year. It's not like we've just been scoring points. We've been good everywhere we've been, ovals, street courses, road courses, we've always been there. We've always given ourselves a chance to win.

To me to be fifth the first year back, I'll take it.

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