|From left, Kanaan, Conway and Power|
|Phillip Abbott/LAT and General Motors|
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, we will see in you a couple of weeks. Our race winner is shortly going to be into the media center.
We will continue with today's press conference. We are pleased to be joined by our Honda Indy Toronto Race 2 winner, Mike Conway and also team owner Ed Carpenter. Some interesting stats here: Conway has led in nine IndyCar races in his career and has won four of those that he has led. This is his 7th career podium and 20th career top 10 finish, also his second win of the season, previously winning at Long Beach in April. Mike, kind of a not really an experimental season, but just kind of a new situation for you, seeing how things would go. Few wins already this season, and still two more races to go for you. How great is that knowing the hard work has paid off this season?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, you know all credit to Ed to give me the chance to get in the car, and it's been working out great. Can't thank Ed enough and the team for working so hard and giving me the cars to win the races. So, yeah, it's been a lot of fun. I came into this team expecting that we would get good results, and I know the guys are really good and worked with a few of them before, so I knew we could get the results. It just takes us getting out there and doing it. So, yeah, really happy, two wins so far and Ed has won as well. Working out well for us.
Q. Ed, Mike said he expected strong results but did you expect three wins at this point in the season?
ED CARPENTER: You always hope. That was a big part of the reason we brought Mike in, to be stronger all the time. We had won before as a team, so I personally felt like we had better cars on road and street courses than what I was able to show. The cars were better than I was.
We're trying to grow this for the team and get results for our partners, and it's been nice to be able to do that more consistently so far this year. Mike's one hell of a racer. It's about him leading races. When you get him in position, when we do a good enough job or today him making the right call, when he gets in those positions he elevates his game and rises to the occasion. You know, you saw today he drove away from guys that have been fast all weekend, and maybe the win at Long Beach, not the fastest car the whole race, but when he gets in that position he doesn't let go of it. We're happy he's on our team.
Q. Mike, you won at Long Beach, same day as the Masters, and you won here, the same day as
MIKE CONWAY: Hey!
Q. The PGA Tournament is coming up.
MIKE CONWAY: What weekend?
Q. With Fuzzy Zoeller, there has to be something to this golf thing and you winning races
MIKE CONWAY: There is definitely a link there.
I don't know. What can I say?
ED CARPENTER: Can you do more research on that and maybe come to us in Ohio? (Chuckles.)
Q. Mike, can you tell us about what I think was your call to go to slicks? What were you thinking there? Were you anticipating that it might work out the way it did? What was the strategy?
MIKE CONWAY: Just a case of just the track condition, drying in places. It was more dry down in curve 1, down the back straight but the rest of it, there were patches forming. I knew how humid it was and the temperature it was going to dry pretty quick after that point because it normally gets greasy and then you start to see lines and as you saw within a few laps, running on slicks, the lines were opening up everywhere. So I knew I had to make a call at that moment because the wet guys were coming off and they were only going to go slower. So it worked out really well.
Q. Do you think you had the car to hold off Tony if the race has gone longer?
MIKE CONWAY: I pulled away from him.
ED CARPENTER: I would say, yeah.
Q. Mike, this is a weekend where nobody felt confident on the track, conditions kept changing and we had the race that was postponed. Did you ever feel at any point that you could win a race? Like I know you want to win a race but did you ever there was any certainty in your mind that you could win a race?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, you always got to be there at the end to be able to fight for a win. The conditions today were really tricky, with the rain and dry in places. I knew I just didn't want to push too hard or risk anything at that point and I knew people were going to try to get by me, and I was going to fight as much as I could but not have the chance of going off. So I had to play it smart and make the moves when I could and you could see the cars going off and making mistakes, so easy to do here in a 10th of a second too late on the brakes, something can easily go wrong. So I had to be calm and seize my moment.
Q. Seems the drivers were just trying to stay intact and get through the corners. Were you having a hard time getting through the concrete patches around those corners?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, some parts of the concrete were slippery, turn 8, turn 3, we had that transition of tarmac to the concrete, and it's a different grip so that's why it became hard to pass in some places where you would pass before, turn 1 or turn 3, maybe you were on the wrong patch of concrete, it was difficult to pass. So, yeah, but it's one of those places even in the dry you go from tarmac to concrete and then it's it's challenging.
Q. Between Long Beach and here you seemed to have a hard time putting a good run together. Was it something that you consciously changed this weekend that maybe just clicked? Was it just the luck of the draw making the tire change today? Do you feel like you've got your mojo back?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, it was the crash. No yeah, I did make a few mistakes in Detroit and in Houston, as well, and I was disappointed with that as well. And I was just focused on getting good results. Two clean races, really, but, yeah, it all came together today.
Q. Mike, how is your experience in endurance racing helped for a situation like today where it's an impromptu we're racing two IndyCar races in the same day. How would you compare and contrast?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I suppose with having a seat in an endurance car, maybe it's pretty helpful, the changing conditions, but IndyCar is the same thing. And these races are so tricky. The first half of the race you've got to be smart really and and it's so true, you've got to not make any mistakes and let the race come to you a little bit, and it seems to happen that way.
Q. Ed, you commented on this on TV afterwards but can you explain how you have a red flag in a timed race?
ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I mean, we've been in situations, you know, it's worked for us twice now, we won here and I won at Fontana in a red flag situation. It was very difficult circumstances for IndyCar this weekend, but as a competitor we spend a lot of time preparing for different scenarios all the time, and I would just like more clarity on where we're going with that.
If we when did the clock officially stop, when was it going to start again? Those things that I don't think are in the rule book, we need to talk about in the meeting. If there was another accident were we going red again? I don't have a problem with doing that, I think we're here to put a show on for the fans and, you know, the fans were great today. They all came back after a very long day yesterday, so we thanked them for that. We just want to know about that.
Q. Do you think they committed to a timed race too soon? The time of the red flag was 5:23, and the broadcast was going to 6:00 or something like that.
ED CARPENTER: That's one of the questions I have, personally is I don't know in my experience, time races are based on TV windows and if you have more time you should this race is meant to be 85 laps. We just don't know. So just more clarity and understanding of where we're going with this procedure, so teams can be prepared for it and plan for it.
Q. What did you guys do to prep for the race? Mentally? Physically?
MIKE CONWAY: As always, from last weekend to this weekend, the guys were turning the cars around, preparing the cars, getting everything ready for this weekend and the engineers preparing for all the outcomes and set ups, we could possibly try and things like that. I just filled myself in with the information I need to have from the engineers, watched videos from last year and get yourself as much information as you can really and, yeah, the guys have had a tight schedule so they haven't had much time off so this is one for them, for sure.
ED CARPENTER: This is the sixth race in four weeks basically so I think Mike always does a great job being physically prepared, and I asked him last night when the decision was made to do two, and I was like, "Mike, are you going to be good?" And he was like, Yeah, I'm fine."
And we have great management, a great crew chief, and it's been a long stretch but they're professionals and they keep their noses down and get the job done. We're adapting on the fly with the way this weekend went, and, like I said, it was really tough circumstances so the guys were doing what they had to do.
Q. Mike, in a race like this, you make a gamble on the tires, you take the lead, all these flags start dropping, people were going to the pits and you were put in a position to win and you can't screw up. Were you having a hard time in the car when your position changed?
MIKE CONWAY: Well, when I was down there, I saw the red flag had already been dropped, and you try not to think too much ahead of getting to the finish flag before you get there. You know. It's a case of you know what you gotta do, a few laps to go, you put your head down and you go. Once you cross the line you can think about what's just happened but for sure. Down there in pit lane it was like, oh, could be another win on the cards, so, yeah, you got to put that in the back of your mind.
Q. Ed, as an owner, are you satisfied with IndyCar's adaptability over the portion of the weekend?
ED CARPENTER: Third time I've said it, now, it was a tough weekend. I don't think the call yesterday was a bad call. We're here to put on a show, we had a pace car spin out on track. Even though it wasn't rain that go hard and there wasn't standing water, you could see it was really slick. I think the Series made a call that was for the best interest of the fans, the drivers, the owners, and no one was happy about getting cancelled, but I was okay with that call, you know, I just feel like within that, we can do a better job knowing what's going on and being prepared and having plan B, C, D and even for the fans, so they know what's going on. It took a while to know what we were doing today. It's tough to know what's going on especially when you're getting ready for their 6th race in four weeks.
Guys are tired. I'm more agitated now than I was four weeks ago, but it's a hard job, I wouldn't want to have Derrick's job, or Brian's job or Bo's, so I'm happy doing what I'm doing. It's not ultra critical; we all just need to be better. Same way with my guys.
Q. Ed, when Mike called in to say that he was ready for slick tires, what goes on on the timing stand when the driver, first or second, to go to slick tires? What was that on timing? You go with it right away, do you look at each other?
ED CARPENTER: Situations like that, yes, that's different than a fuel strategy type situation.
The rain we weren't totally prepared tort rain today, we thought it was going to be nice and then all of the sudden stuff started showing up on the radar, so when it comes to going to the wets or going off the wets, Mike feels the car, all the drivers have more information at that point than we do, and that's one of the things I told Mike when he got in, it was slick, it was obviously slick yesterday, so it's your call. If it starts sprinkling, and you think you're going to need them, a little bit before you may really need them, it's your call, tell us when you're coming in and it's the same way going back to slicks.
So when he said that he was ready for them, you know, we called him in. He's on track and feels it, so there's really no second guessing at that point.
If it were something like a fuel situation, we have more information, you know, our information is more accurate on the stands than what he has in the car. It just depends but a tire call like that, absolutely, driver makes the call.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We will continue our post race press conference. We are pleased to be joined by Tony Kanaan of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Tony finished second in today's race. This is his best finish of the season, Previous best was third, several times this season, actually. Tony, some early troubles for you in this race, came back from essentially last to finish second. Tell us about how you were able to move up the field throughout the race.
TONY KANAAN: Well, we had a painful start. I gained a couple of positions, and I still haven't seen the tape. Either I went in too deep or the 34 kind of bumped me a little bit. I really don't know. I can't blame it on anybody but the fact is I got stuck in turn 3 and the car died, and I was desperate for them to restart it. So we restarted from that and played a little bit of strategy and came in under the green flag, and when the rain came we took an opportunity to pass some people, and when I got Will, it was extremely slippery in the rain.
I was really surprised how slippery the concrete was. At that point I said, you know what, let's wait and see what was going to happen, Will finally got me, and when it got dry we went for it, and we had a great battle, me and Will and some of the guys up front.
Towards the end, adjusting to the rain tires helped me out a bit to hang on to second place. I didn't have anything for Mike. Great weekend for us, great weekend for Chevy, getting on the podium twice here in Toronto. So we're gaining momentum, hopefully the win will come soon.
THE MODERATOR: Also joined by our third place finisher, Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske entry. This is Will's 6th podium finish of the season and his 11th top 10 finish this season. Will, you were able to close the points gap between you and your teammate a little bit here in this second race. Tell us about the race for you.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I was determined to. I knew we were starting on the front row together, so I thought, I have to I've got to beat him, otherwise the point gap is going to get too big. I've got to finish ahead of him.
I worked very hard on that and got him in the wet there, and then it dried up, and there were all those yellows, and it was slick, then we had a pit, but all in all a good day. Good battles there. I didn't have any Tony and Mike were very quick, and with the drying conditions I had no chance, but I held off Charlie, and third place is really good.
Q. If you had more time could you have made a run at Mike?
TONY KANAAN: I don't know, in the beginning of the race I chose to go to a wet set up because we knew the rain was coming and when it got dry I'm not going to say that. He's good. He got a good jump. We had similar cars, maybe if I had restarted at second I had a chance, but after that, I don't think so.
Q. Will, often championships can be won by the narrowest of margins. When there was a big crash at the end you were able to get through, and Ryan Hunter Reay got involved in it. Can you talk about what you did to navigate your way through that mess?
WILL POWER: We were ahead of that. We didn't even see it because by the time we came back round, there was one car sitting there so I didn't realize there was a crash. I'll watch it on the video.
Q. Will, you banged a few times during the race. Talk about how much you wanted this championship. Obviously you guys (away from mic).
WILL POWER: Yeah, well, you know in the wet it was difficult to actually make the move. You have to be right on and kind of one line that you could take. I can't remember where I passed him. Where was that?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: (Away from mic). I thought you guys were going to hit each other.
WILL POWER: Oh, yeah we did actually hit the flag, it was side by side, but yeah, racing for championships, and on the other side thinking about your teammate, so you gotta be kind of careful, you know, walking the tight rope. But at the end of the day you gotta race and race fair and clean, I guess, with everyone, in particular your teammate.
You know, I was determined to beat him today because I didn't want that points lead to grow to a point where it's just too hard.
Q. After the first race you talked about exhaustion, stamina. How are you feeling right now?
TONY KANAAN: We're tired, man! It was a long day, but we're all here. I think I'm going to feel it a little bit tonight and tomorrow morning. I'm not that young, you know, it takes me a little bit of time to recover, but it was a tough day for all of us.
We had to do what we had to do. It was a very unusual situation, even for the fans, and I appreciate they're staying for two days, but it was quite hard for sure. The rain helped a lot, we don't make a lot of effort in the rain physically, it's just mental, trying not to make a mistake, so it's actually good the rain happened.
Q. Will, this is the first time all season you talked about the championship. To this point you're thinking about wins, the championship may come later. Have you had a change in focus in the last week or two that's brought you to that?
WILL POWER: At the end of the day you're always reminded about the championship by the media and your team on the radio. I've been so many times in a massive points lead halfway through the season, you get into a points race, and it's just no good. You have to think of the task at hand.
So, yeah, for sure today, last couple of races I have been thinking to win a race you gotta finish. At the end of the day it goes hand in hand; you get points if you win. You've got to be smart in certain situations. Today when it was drying, wet, patches around on wet tires you take the risk and maybe you can be smart and finish third, you gotta be smart about it.
Q. Tony, after the two week break in June it's like something clicked for you. You were running third at Houston before Graham got into you, but you've been in contention since that break in June. Is there anything you can say is the reason why things are coming together so much better right now?
TONY KANAAN: I think it's just I had a big responsibility at the beginning of the year replacing Dario. That team was built around him. It was very unexpected, his retirement, so it takes time. Takes time to get to know people, takes time to get, you know, the chemistry together. You know, you have an engineer like Chris, who worked with Dario for the past seven years, like I had Eric for the past twelve. It's taking time. The team was struggling, we found different things. There was a lot of responsibility on our end, because I think Target gave us all the budget to do everything, so we need to perform.
Everybody is working really hard. I'm not going to say it "clicked" but all those things together made it a big improvement. I feel much more confident and more comfortable with the team, working with Chris and those things take time. Unfortunately, time is not what we have the luxury to have in racing.
So hopefully we can keep the momentum up and finish the season strong.
Q. (No microphone.)
TONY KANAAN: Of course, but I mean, me and Scott, it's getting better and better every day; he's part of the team, so yes, of course. Coming into a team that ran different set ups than I was used to, it took me a little bit of time, and Scott is extremely good and strong in some aspects. I cannot get into details and I wasn't. I think he's raising my game big time. It had been a while that I had such a tough, tough teammate, and it took me a little bit to wake up. Hopefully we're closing the gap and together we can make the team stronger.
Q. Did either of you guys plan this strategy based on it being a 65 lap race or as an 80 minute timed race? And were either of you surprised by the red flag called for at the end?
TONY KANAAN: You can't plan a 65 lap race because you don't know it's going to rain and you can't predict anything. Was I surprised by the red flag? Completely. I guess it is what it is.
WILL POWER: That's what's good for the fans, the ultimate surprise, you don't know what's going to happen.
TONY KANAAN: I guess you answered the best.
Q. Tony, talk about having Dario around. It was his team and you stepped in there and he's still here. Talk about the pluses and the minuses for having him here.
TONY KANAAN: I need to correct you; it's Chip's team, not Dario's team. Dario was part of it! (Chuckles.) It's great to have him! You saw our interaction this afternoon when we were sitting there and the time he spent with me, I thought he was honest with me when we were teammates, now I just found out this weekend that he lied a couple of times because he just told me some secrets that I didn't know around here.
it's really good. He's a guy I can go to, he's so fresh, he's driven this car and some of my decisions at sometimes I'm not 100% secure, I always go to him, like, what should we do, should we start with red tires, black? And some of the things about the set up that's awesome. He has a good feel. Yesterday I went to him and he was cleaning my helmet and I said "I don't know what's wrong with you, but this is not right."
But he's willing to help and he helps not just me. He happens to sit in my timing stand but he's helping Charlie, Chris, and Scott as well, so I think it was the best investment Chip made to keep him around and I use him a lot. I really like it. I'm getting used to having him around. He doesn't come to all the races, so I missed him in some of the races in the past but he was a huge help this weekend.
Q. Will, you went to bed last night thinking that you were going to start on the outside of the front row and you got here and found out they were moving you to the back. I don't know you weren't happy about that starting race 1. Things didn't go well for you in that event. Is this what you needed to leave on a high note?
WILL POWER: Yeah, that was very interesting the way they said it would be you would be starting where you qualified for the race and then something changed. I don't know what that was but I came and I was starting in the back, but, hey, if that race had continued yesterday I would have been laps down so I was grateful to be in the race. Yeah, you never know.
Q. Also, both Ryan Hunter Reay and Simon Pagenaud lost ground today. This could shape up to two drivers at Team Penske fighting it out for a championship.
WILL POWER: It's never happened. It will be fun to have people up there at the end. The last race, double points, there will be I'm going to say there will be four people in contention, I reckon. A lot can happen what do we got, five races left? Man, it can turn so quickly, I don't know. I'm sure Helio will be one of the guys that will be in the battle there for sure. Got to put your head down and not think about it and get the most out of every weekend.