MODERATOR:Welcome to today's INDYCAR conference call. We are pleased to be joined by IZOD IndyCar Series driver Will Power of Team Penske. Will drives the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet for Team Penske and enters this weekend's race Sonoma Raceway coming off a fourthâ€'place finish at Midâ€'Ohio earlier this month. Will is the only IndyCar driver to win multiple times at Sonoma Raceway and has won the last three pole positions at the track.
Q: Will, with your past record at Sonoma, you have to be looking forward to getting back in your car for this weekend's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
WILL POWER: Definitely. Especially the year we've had, I can't wait to get back there. It's a track I've had a lot of success on. Although the competition has definitely heated up this year, we still expect to be running right at the front.
Q: There have been nine different winners in the 14 races so far. Would you say that the races at Sonoma or Baltimore, where you've won as well, are your best opportunities to at least challenge for wins?
WILL POWER: I think the next two, for sure, are good tracks for me. Always quick there. Then you've got Houston, as well, and even Fontana, obviously I haven't won on an oval for a long time. Sonoma is definitely a good chance for us. But you know, as you said, there have been nine different winners this year, so it's really hard to predict how fast you're going to be, and you know, who is going to be in the front and who you're going to be challenging.
Q: This year, is a little bit of a role reversal; the last three years you've been right in the mix for the championship, and this year it's your teammate, Helio Castroneves, who is leading the championship. Does that change the way you approach the last five races of the season, or do you just think about what the 12 car can do and score as many points as you can?
WILL POWER: Well, for the 12 car, we have just got to try and win each race and put ourselves in a really good position. If I'm in a position to help Helio out, of course, it's all about team. I'd love to see Roger (Penske) win a championship, and Helio. I would most definitely help him out.
Q: I know you were in Detroit over the weekend for the Woodward Dream Cruise. What was that experience like? I guess you got to do, as they say in Australia, some lapping.
WILL POWER: I was accustomed to lapping growing up in Toowoomba (Australia). That was a big deal. Get your car – well, basically spend money on a car, it's probably not worth much — and go lapping. There were some pretty impressive cars there, and a lot of people. I was surprised how big that Woodward Cruise is; it's amazing. So spent a little bit of time there and got to see some nice cars and I was pretty impressed.
Q: Just wondering, your last win came in SÃ£o Paulo last year, even after that, Penske has had three wins since then. What is happening with the car this year, especially with you, that you're just not being able to get the wins that you normally should get, especially on the road and street courses.
WILL POWER: Well, it's probably a number of things. One is the competition is definitely tougher, for sure. There are some things that were homologated at the end of last year, which gave us a little bit of an advantage and every other Chevy team. The car itself, you're really boxed into a corner as far as setup. There's not much adjustment on this car that you can do because of the way it was designed with this rearward weight distribution. So you're stuck, and you can't set it up to suit yourself. You have to drive it as it is. I think that that itself closes the field up.
Then a few other reasons. Just had some bad incidents happen such as getting run over on a yellow, getting hit in the pits, engine failure at Brazil. And then a few other things to go along with it.
Q: You look at Ganassi, they seem to have sort of found something in the second half, especially Scott (Dixon), who is a little more aggressive than Dario (Franchitti). When you look at Penske, you're more aggressive than Helio. Is there something you think that you can find that will allow you to be more aggressive, and that your driving style will kind of come to the car, or get to the car to come to your driving style?
WILL POWER: Well, actually, we did, we found something for sure at the last test at Sebring, which very much suited me. So we did get to work there, so I just wonder if it's going to be possible on these lowerâ€'grip circuits like Sonoma and Baltimore. But, yes, we are always aware. We saw how dominant Ganassi was at Toronto and they were able to get their car to work very well there. I also think Honda has made a bit of a gain, definitely, but then Chevy has also made a gain recently, too. I think it's obviously changing, but I'm hoping that at Sonoma we get our pace.
Q: Do you feel that if you've been more aggressive, you're penalized more in this car, if you sort of look at Dixon and Franchitti, as well?
WILL POWER: Aggressive, what do you mean, the driving style aggressive?
Q: Like to turn in a little harder, you like to attack the corners a little more than Helio does, and Scott the same way.
WILL POWER: That's actually true. I do drive – I have a very similar style to Dixon, where, you know, Dario and Helio, for sure, like a more stable rear end and a bit of understeer. It's kind of weird, this car. I think you can get it to work for you, but yeah, Toronto in particular, the car has just a lot of understeer, and I'm not sure if that's the car or the tire. The tire might change a bit, too.
Q: Two parts. At Midâ€'Ohio how surprised, or was it surprising at all, to see some of the guys that jumped ahead of you on the threeâ€'stop strategy to be able to push? And secondly, since I know this race you kind of got caught up by strategy in the yellow here last year, do you think you'll be able to do a flatâ€'out run, or have to save it at certain points again?
WILL POWER: Actually, I think it's a pretty clear twoâ€'stopper at Sonoma, so it will be a flatâ€'out run. Whereas Midâ€'Ohio, you could make it in two by saving a lot of fuel and going slow, so that's why you saw what happened, happen. At Midâ€'Ohio, I just had to do what (Ryan) Hunterâ€'Reay did, because it was very difficult to pass there. So if he ran hard and did three stops, we were going to do that; and if he saved fuel and went to two, we were going to do that.
And I think once you had done that first stop, you were kind of boxed in. You had to do it in two, otherwise you're going to lose a lot more, like Dixon did.
Q: And also, this is a race that has not had a lot of cautions in the past. I think there was only one or two the last couple years. How do you play into that knowing that there's unlikely to be a lot of interrupted periods?
WILL POWER: That is the best possible scenario, if there is no yellows, because it means you don't have to plan for anything. Twoâ€'onâ€'two, just a real race there; there's no manipulation by a yellow. That's been the case on quite a few of the road courses in the last couple years for INDYCAR. They have been very green races. Basically, it just shows that the level, the standard of driving, has done really – has gone up a lot. People don't make mistakes anymore.
Q: Over the weekend, and really the last week or so, we've had a lot of talk about a road course race at Indy and it looks more and more likely. How do you feel about that, particularly if it were in May?
WILL POWER: If it brings more people, I think it's a good idea. Provided it doesn't take away from the main race, which I don't think it will. I think the key is to get more people out on those days. Be cool.
Q: Any thoughts, would you have encouragement for (Juan Pablo) Montoya if he would like to look back at INDYCAR again?
WILL POWER: He was obviously a very, very good driver when he came into INDYCAR, or CART, as it was. I love it when highâ€'profile drivers come into the series. It's very good for INDYCAR and it's cool to compete against those types of guys.
Q: I take it you don't see him much?
WILL POWER: No, I don't.
Q: Penske, there's been quite a bit of winning on over there recently like with Brad (Keselowski) and, of course, Helio leading the points and Joey (Logano) just winning, also. Can you talk a little about, I know you have a central location there with the huge shop there, basically. But can you talk about how that feeds over to your side at all?
WILL POWER: The INDYCAR shop, it's all under one roof. I think they do cross a little bit of information back and forth. It's always good for the whole team, you know, the whole shop, you could say, organization, when – because even one portion of it is having success, I think it makes everyone feel better like it should.
Q: And along the way, kind of a corollary to that, as far as when you came up, were there certain people you got advice from or where you watched somebody that really helped you along the way that made a difference for you coming up?
WILL POWER: Mark Webber was definitely pivotal in me being able to continue my career there in Europe, which led to racing over here in the U.S., and a lot of other people, as well. The first guy I drove for was Derrick Walker, and he was definitely a great team to drive for and a good guy to give you the right direction when you're driving for him.
Q: And as far as a young person, what would be your best advice to a young person to be successful in anything? You're a successful guy; could you share a little with any young person out there?
WILL POWER: Well, I think to be successful in anything, even outside of motorsport, it's just hard work, study and really understanding the craft. I think you do have to have some natural ability to begin with, but then after that, it just really does come down to hard work, learning it, and doing as much as possible and finding a way, if you really love it. That's how I kind of got to this point.
Q: This weekend's race at Sonoma a chance for yourself and your Penske teammate.
WILL POWER: This track, I've had success here before. Obviously the series is very tight right now, but very motivated and determined to have another good weekend, because I thought we had a good weekend at Midâ€'Ohio. It would be really nice to get a win before the end of the year. As far as Helio goes, he's in a very good spot to win the championship, and as a team, we'll be doing everything possible to make that happen.
Q: Who would you say you lean on for emotional support or allâ€'around support during good times and bad times?
WILL POWER: My wife.
Q: When you're at the racetrack, besides your wife, like who else supports you and gives that you little motivation to get things done when you're struggling or having good times.
WILL POWER: Basically, yourself. I think if you're needing that support you're not going to last very long in this business. But I think that's motivation, and when you're having tough times, it's really up to your own self to turn that around, because if you can't do it yourself, you shouldn't be there.