|Ed Carpenter takes the checkered flag just ahead of Will Power and Juan Montoya
|Harry E. Walker/LAT for Chevy Racing
An Interview With:
1st Ed Carpenter
Anton George, Team co-owner
2nd Will Power
3rd Juan Montoya
THE MODERATOR: We'll start our post race press conference coverage. We're joined by tonight's winner of the Firestone 600, Ed Carpenter, driver of the Fuzzy's Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy. Your third career victory here in the Verizon IndyCar Series, first at Texas Motor Speedway, second win of the season for Ed Carpenter Racing. You led 90 laps tonight. Coming off a disappointment at Indy, talk about this run and what it means for you and the organization.
ED CARPENTER: It's just good to bounce back. Nothing really totally makes up for a missed opportunity at the speedway, but at the same time it always feels good to win, especially at a place like this. I've enjoyed coming to this racetrack for a long time and appreciate the job that Eddie does here for our series and the drivers. This is a big win for us.
THE MODERATOR: What is it about oval racing that brings the best out of you, a win here at Texas? You had success here last year, too.
ED CARPENTER: Yeah, we've been pretty fast here the past couple years. I've always liked this place and ran okay, just haven't had good luck here to be honest, so it was nice to finally break through tonight. The team gave me a great car. They've been giving us great cars all year for myself and Mike, so it's nice to be able to deliver, just really proud of the whole team and the effort and proud to be able to represent Fuzzy's and do a good job for them with how much they've supported us the past two and a half years. It's good for everyone involved.
Q. Tony George, talk about the win tonight, what it means for your organization, two wins already on the win.
TONY GEORGE: Well, I'm very proud of Ed, obviously, and this whole team led by Tim Broyles and Bret Schmitt and Matt Barnes. They're a great group of people, and our plan this year was to be competitive every week we showed up at the racetrack. This is a great win for Ed in 2014, and we think we can win more with Mike and Ed, and our intent was to show up this year prepared to contend every weekend and try to win the championship.
Q. When that last caution came out, what was going through your mind?
ED CARPENTER: On one hand I was nervous, just because I wasn't sure what the right decision was for us to make. It's hard to pit, but we were pretty far into our tires, and you know new tires are going to be strong. I figured we'd stay out with that few a laps left. I wasn't sure how many guys would pit. I knew some would, but just fortunate there were three laps left, and we were able to get a good enough restart. Montoya stays out on old tires, I think Dixon was behind him maybe, opened up enough of a gap that the rest of the guys couldn't get close to me that had newer tires. I'm guessing probably many more laps left than what we were going to have, we probably would have had to have pit. It was a handful the last couple laps, but you get in that position I've got to make sure I bring it home for the guys because they did such a great job all night with the changes on the car during the race, the pit stops, I felt like it was our race to win.
Q. A lot of drivers have had frustrations from Indy and were able to race them out last weekend at Detroit. You were up there on top of the pit box watching Mike Conway racing. How comforting was it to get back at it and get beyond the frustrations you felt at Indy?
ED CARPENTER: It felt good. There's no denying the fact that I was really mad after Indy. It's not that I'm still mad at Hinch, but I'm still mad at the situation and that we lost an opportunity. I want to try to win every session, every race that we go to, whether I'm driving or Mike is driving. We're just going to try to keep the intensity up and try to keep fighting for wins. The team is certainly capable and they give us cars. Just got to put it all together week in and week out.
Q. Juan Montoya was a little miffed about the restart. Can you talk us through it, how it was for you?
ED CARPENTER: I figured he'd be miffed. I was kind of sick of him. He was lagging back, trying to lay back, so yeah, I was slowing down because he was lagging back. I didn't want him to get a jump on me. I'm the leader of the race. You're not supposed to lag back. We talked about that in the drivers' meeting. If he wants to talk to me about it, I'll be happy to. He ended up finishing third anyway, right, so it doesn't matter.
Q. Will said before he thought it was perfect tonight. What was your take?
ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I thought it was really good, especially by the end of the race when it had finally cooled off, I thought the track was very racy and the tires were degrading but not as much as we'd seen in the past. We had one tough stint early, but I liked it. It's still really challenging, yet we were able to go out and use multiple grooves pretty much the whole race, especially towards the end. I thought IndyCar did a good job. I think Firestone did a great job with the tire. So yeah, they always do.
Q. With as good as Power was early, what did you do to keep your focus that you could really need at some point?
ED CARPENTER: Well, most of the race he had the benefit of clean air. It seemed like throughout the race he would kind of get a bit of a lead and then when he would get into lap traffic the group would close in on him, so I felt like maybe he was struggling a little bit in dirty air, and that's when I was finally able to get by him was in lap traffic. He got caught out by some guys and we were able to time it right and get by him and then kind of open up a little bit of a gap. You know, his car may have been a little bit quicker than ours, but I don't think it was as good as ours all around through a whole stint in clean air, dirty air. Really happy for the guys.
Q. With one more lap do you think Power would have gotten by you?
ED CARPENTER: I don't know, I don't know how big the gap was. When I crossed the line I was just trying to get every bit of speed out of my car as I could the last couple laps. I felt okay about it after the first lap because I got a big enough gap on Montoya on the restart. Yeah, it's hard to say how many laps it would have taken for Will. Certainly new tires are a pretty big advantage when we were about 30 some laps into mine. They definitely drop off quite a bit right around the halfway point. Certainly wouldn't have been able to hold him off much longer, but there were only four laps to go, three to go when we took the start, so the guys made the right call.
Q. Tony, with what Texas Motor Speedway has meant to this series from '97 there's only been two tracks on the schedule to post a race every year, Indianapolis and Texas. How big a moment is this for you to get a victory at Texas for what it's really meant to the current series?
TONY GEORGE: Well, and until this year, Texas was the only one who had hosted two races in a year. But I always enjoy coming here for the same reasons Ed has mentioned. Eddie does a great job. He is very much a part of the IndyCar Series, the Indy Racing League from its very beginning, and the track is very challenging, so it's a big kudos to this team for being able to be the best car this evening.
You know, over the time the track has changed. It's got more difficult to come here and be good over the course of however many laps the race happens to be, and tonight was our longest, and this team did a great job, Ed did a great job actually. A lot of credit goes to him for managing the whole race. I wasn't sure the strategy kind of kept changing and weren't sure where we were going to go, but we did have to pit early once but that kind of caused some other dominos to fall, and it was a big win for us here at Texas. I'm glad Ed finally was able to post a win here.
Q. You and Eddie Gossage, looked like you had a pretty good time in victory lane. What was going on?
TONY GEORGE: Well, I haven't seen Eddie very often when I come to the race. I've been to every race, but in the last five years I've only run across him a couple of times, and I'm glad to see he's doing well. I love Big Hoss, and we were just kind of sharing some ideas. He was giving me a hard time. I think Ed told him about an encounter I had with Fort Worth's finest this afternoon just trying to get back to the hotel. But it was nothing, we were just kind of joking having a good time.
Q. Ed, you're in contention at Indy, you come here, you win. How do you stay so sharp at ovals with such big gaps in between? What's the secret?
ED CARPENTER: I don't think there is one. I work hard all year round. I train in my office and in the shop every day. I mean, what I said before Indy, no one had run an oval since Fontana, and we'd tested as much as anyone. I'll be testing twice this week. So just because you're not in a car doesn't mean you can't be prepared. I'm engaged with the team every day. I don't feel I'm missing anything. I mean, I'd like to run more races always, but I'm happy to run the ones I am and want to make the most of it, and like I said earlier, every time we get in the car I feel like Mike and I both have a chance to win right now with the job the team is doing for us.
Q. Ed, I just wondered about Fuzzy's. You guys made the decision to bring in Mike Conway. I'm just wondering what that does for a sponsor that's stood behind you?
ED CARPENTER: I hope they're happy. You can never speak for anyone else, but Stewart, one of our partners and partner in Fuzzy's is here somewhere, he hasn't been able to make it down; he was up in a condo in Turn 2, so I'm sure they're having a good time tonight. Hopefully this is just one of many more to come.
Q. Mr. Carpenter, your oval prowess over several years, no matter the cars, no matter the aero package has shined despite never having driven for Andretti or Ganassi or Penske. Do you attribute any of that success to your experience in the U.S. Auto Club, and if so, what would you do to encourage more of those young men and women in those ranks to pursue a career in American automobile racing?
ED CARPENTER: I certainly think it did. I learned a lot, driven in all three divisions. I ran there when they did Midget, Sprint Cars, Silver Crown. It has changed a lot from when I ran there. There was a lot of pavement races, a lot of dirt races in all three divisions, and there's no pavement Sprint car races anymore, which I think is a travesty. I think they need to have some pavement races back on, too. The Silver Crown races were great for learning how to manage tires. You're running one set of tires, one tank of fuel for 100 miles, I think I learned more about patience and managing a car and dealing with something that's not perfect all the time in the Silver Crown races, and those have kind of all gone away as far as pavement racing goes.
I'd like to see them get into more of a schedule like when I was there and Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart and those guys were there, it's just their schedule has changed and it's going to make it harder for those guys to go anywhere.
Q. Ed and Tony, everyone talks about the big three with Penske, Ganassi and Andretti, so I'm curious now that both you and your teammate have won a race this season, where do you see you guys ranking against those three, and is there a timetable in place to maybe find another driver or a primary driver who can go chase a driver's championship?
ED CARPENTER: I mean, we'd love to go to a team when we have the opportunity, but at the same time, we want to be able to grow at our own pace and do it in a way that's going to allow us to continue to do things the way we're doing them now, which we feel like is working. You know, I wouldn't trade any one person on our team for any other person up and down pit lane. We've got a good group of people, and I think we're able to show that on track right now. Like I keep saying, really proud of the whole team, the whole effort, the whole group. It's a great team to be a part of. We have a lot of fun, and it's even more fun when you're winning.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll continue with our post race press conference. We're joined by tonight's second place finisher of the Firestone 600, Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Third career top five finish here at Texas Motor Speedway. Bright side of things you're still the points leader, 43 over Helio Castroneves, you led 145 laps, unfortunately had a pass through penalty. Talk about your evening and fighting back to get that second place finish at the end.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was a lot of fun, awesome. We changed the car a lot from last night because we struggled in practice, but man, what a great run, enjoyed it a lot. Really disappointed I did that again. That's four drive throughs in five races. Got to stop doing that. It's ruining our chances of winning. But an awesome call at the end by the team to call for new tires and obviously got back to at least where we were, one more lap and we probably would have had it.
But yeah, very good day. Great day, really enjoyed it.
Q. With the penalties you just talked about four in five races, is there something you can change in the car to cut down on that?
WILL POWER: I'm just going too hard, obviously the pit thing and obviously last week with the contact early in the race. Like I said, I just go for race wins. I'm not looking at points, I just want to I just enjoy racing, and you do it for fun and try to get the most out of it, but those mistakes are just not good enough at this level. I've got to stop it. I've got to just take it a bit easier.
Q. Juan sounded unhappy about that last restart.
WILL POWER: I don't know, I was just going for it. I don't think you need to see the car to know it's fair. Restart, he went, and there was no games, I think. I don't know.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the high line that developed throughout the race if there was one, because I noticed that it was being used up a lot more than what we saw in practice.
WILL POWER: Yeah, the high line was definitely at the end of a tires stint, yeah, very good. Definitely good for me. I had a really strong car at the end of a stint, I'd run up high and early on it probably wasn't that fast. He'd be flat on the bottom. But as you got in the traffic you had to decide just work out where to run and the quickest way around that traffic.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by tonight's third place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy. You led 13 laps tonight, best finish of the year, best finish here at Texas Motor Speedway, including your 14 starts here in the Sprint Cup Series. Talk about your evening.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was good. I was recovering from a flat tire at the beginning of the race. We recovered and we did a good job there, and just a little mad at the end. I don't know, I want to go talk to IndyCar and clarify why the cones are there for the restart if you don't have to use them. I don't know. I understand if you wanted to go a little early or a little late, it's okay, but like 200, 300 yards before we get to the cones and he was already going, I was kind of disappointed with that, that he got away with that. But that's what it is. But overall for the Verizon team it was really good. It was fun. What a handful. Oh, my God. To be good here it's got to be a handful. We crank wing and crank wing and the more we cranked the better we got. It was fun.
Q. Given what happened at Indianapolis with them red flagging the race with seven, eight to go, with the position that you guys were in, were you kind of deep down inside hoping that they'd throw the red flag out, and have you two been told this is when we will throw it and this is when we won't throw it?
WILL POWER: I think they'll only do the red flag thing at Indy. To throw a red flag every time there's a yellow during a race is kind of
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think it would be cool if they got to a green white checkered.
WILL POWER: No, not in IndyCar.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Why not? It sucks if you're winning but it's better here for the fans. I don't think any fan here wants to see a race finish under caution. Honestly as a driver it sucks
WILL POWER: 600 kilometers, I think I'd rather red flag. Similar, I guess.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: So if you have a red flag and wait, then that's okay.
WILL POWER: No, I don't like that, either.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I agree with you, that red flag at Indy was kind of weird. It made the race better and everything, it put a better show for the fans that we need, but I don't know.
Q. When there is only two or three laps left to go, kind of describe to me a little bit how frantic are these, and if we had a green white checkered how scary would that be for drivers?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: That was a green white checkered right there, wasn't it?
WILL POWER: Yeah, pretty much.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: That was it, you know what I mean? I don't know.
WILL POWER: Yeah. Depends on the track. You know, if it's like two pack racing, green white checkered would be pretty bad.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, if you had fair restarts, it would be fun. (Laughter.)
WILL POWER: In IndyCar, you've got to be ready, man.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: You've got to be ready to cheat?
WILL POWER: Last week he started way he was starting in the last corner.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: If he was doing that, then somebody should have said something. For me, especially coming from NASCAR, you have the lines and you've got to restart if you want to jump it a little bit you can jump it a car length or two, but 200, 300 yards, are you kidding me?
WILL POWER: Well, I never even saw when there was a restart I never knew where they were.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: We were still on the bottom before you go into pit entrance out of 4, I mean, he was already gone.
WILL POWER: I actually went then, too, because I couldn't see the cones. I didn't know where they were when I started and restarted.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: There's a sign, big Verizon sign and cones and they're 10 feet off the ground.
WILL POWER: I never looked at the wall, man. I never looked at the wall. I guess you're right. Rules are rules, right?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Honest, if you're going to make the rules like, we always complained, we didn't want a zone, just let us restart and they say, no, we want to let you have the restart in a zone, then
WILL POWER: I think they should take the win off Ed and award it to the next car, yeah?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: If that's the case, I don't care, if it's you or whatever it is, but if you jump the start the rules are rules, right? I think there's got to be a clear cut penalty that if you go before the cones, you've got to get a penalty and the penalty is a drive through and at the end of the race you're going to get a time penalty on your result, and it's that simple. If the guy knows he's going to get a five second penalty for jumping the start at the end of the race, he wouldn't jump it. But he jumped it because he knew they were never going to wave it off because if you wave it off the race is over. Fun times.
Q. Tire degradation, was it better or worse than expected?
WILL POWER: It was actually better, wasn't it?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know, I don't know what to compare it to, but it was freaking awesome.
WILL POWER: It was the perfect amount of downforce right there.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The downforce was good. I felt that one of the cooler things about it was if you looked up to the tires, you had a massive benefit at the end of the run. You could really control the race and the pace and the benefit of it, and you could run high, you could run low. It was fun. I mean, I had huge slides a couple times. I didn't know you couldn't get on the brakes hard on these cars when somebody wrecks. That scared the hell out of me. I went, whoop, and I went through the apron and everything.
WILL POWER: I did that at Fontana. AJ Allmendinger crashed
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I'm like, ahh, I'm crashing. I'm trying to get away from the cars and I'm actually crashing. Great.
Q. Will, the decision to pit, you may have already talked about that, but in the end that might be a championship saving move right there, and also, when you were out ahead with that big of a lead, did you almost think this is just going too easy?
WILL POWER: No, it was just focus. It's not like it used to be when you were just wide open. You had to work the grooves and work the traffic. It was just fun all the time. You never stopped focusing. But the old style of racing where you're just wide open, it was wait until the pit, the in lap, and that's where you maybe make some time on somebody, but this way you drove it just great, great style of racing.
Q. And in the picture how that pit stop may have received your championship.
WILL POWER: Yeah, looking at it, great call by the team. Just raced again tonight just get a race to win.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: How many cars were on the lead lap?
WILL POWER: Six.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: That was a no brainer.
WILL POWER: That was a great call, right?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: But he told me to pit, and then said do whatever the leader does, and I did what the leader did, stayed out.
WILL POWER: Ed wasn't going to pit because he wouldn't have got to him, unless everyone went new tires, he would have been screwed.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, but if he would have pitted he would have been okay because he would have had eight cars gaps so he could have a bad pits and been okay.
WILL POWER: Yeah, one more lap and the guy with the tires was going to win.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I don't know.
WILL POWER: Next time, Juan.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I'm getting better. I had a hell of a race. I'm happy.
WILL POWER: Right there you had weird things happen, but
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I had a freaking flat tire in lap 2. I was kind of lucky that the caution came out.
Q. Juan, you've been able to drive here in NASCAR and IndyCar now, complete your first full IndyCar race now here at TMS. Can you talk about the difficulties in comparison between tonight and driving a NASCAR race?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's completely different. NASCAR is back off the entry, back off the entry. This you've got to drive it, you've really got to drive it. It's hard because you've got to drive it so hard and they're so honestly you're 40 cars behind somebody and you already start feeling the effect of the car in front, so you've really got to find ways to pass them. It was fun. I mean, it's kind of fun because if you need to pass somebody then you go in the other groove and you just drive it in wide open, wide open, wide open and get there and lift, and even if you have a bad exit you got there. I'll tell you the truth, I haven't had this much fun in a long time, even though somebody jumped the start. (Laughter.)
WILL POWER: How much fun was it, like the whole race? Crazy good. Man.
Q. Juan, do you feel like you're back at home in the open wheel series, and do you wish maybe that you might have done it a little bit earlier?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No, I had a great time in NASCAR. I really enjoyed myself. I learned a lot. I wish we had too many ups and downs with those cars. When we had good cars I had a blast there, I mean, I really enjoyed myself. I mean, but having the opportunity to run for Team Penske here in IndyCar is a dream come true for anybody and have Will Power as a teammate.
WILL POWER: Having Juan Montoya, my hero, is not a kid, but as a Formula 3 driver, he can say, is also a dream come true.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Oh, my God, we're going to hug. We do have a good time together.
Q. Juan, everybody else in the series supposedly has next weekend off, but you don't, you're going to Michigan.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I'm going to Michigan, yeah.
Q. Talk a little bit about that.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know what to expect. It's going to feel weird. I mean, it's going to be fun to have the opportunity again with Team Penske cars, you look at Brad how he they qualify in the top 10 every week, so there's a little bit of pressure. It's going to be interesting. I had only one day of testing in Nashville, so since Homestead I have driven the car once, but felt within five laps, I felt at home. They're a great bunch of guys. We're taking actually a really good car there. Talking to them they're really excited about the car. Get it in the race and go for it.
I got a lot of advice. It's hard to keep up. I'm being honest.
Q. Have you thought about maybe doing a morning talk show?
WILL POWER: Yeah, we are, actually.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The biggest problem is if you bring Helio, as well, these two start singing everywhere. I'm telling you, everywhere, every appearance.
WILL POWER: (Singing) same song, too. I don't know another song.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The problem is I've got kids so I learn ABCs and Barney songs and stuff.
WILL POWER: Yeah, but seriously we are going to have a talk show, so listen and watch.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.