WILL POWER, NO. 1 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ABOUT WANTING TO REPEAT AS CHAMPION: "I can’t help but want to win. Your own personal pressure comes with that. Nothing has changed; I feel the same as I did when I wasn’t a champion. I have to go out there and win races; it’s what I want to do."
BUZZ AROUND THE SEASON OPENER: "It’s the most competitive open-wheel series in the world. It’s not going to get any more competitive than this, and with the new aero kits people are taking notice."
ON TEAM PROGRESS: "Yeah, good testing and obviously Team Penske has definitely made ground over the winter over the other teams. I think it’s going to be a pretty interesting four-way battle amongst the team and Scott Dixon is right in there as well. I expect those five to be the championship contenders."
LAST YEAR CAR AT ST PETE VERSUS THIS YEAR CAR: "I think it’s just understanding last year’s mechanical balance of the car with the new aero stuff and just going through basic changes to see what they do. It was pretty straightforward for us. I think we rolled off pretty good with all four cars."
WHICH IS CONTRIBUTING MORE TO CHEVROLET’S DOMINANCE, THE ENGINE OR THE AERO KIT?: "I think it’s both. I think they’re better with the engine and the aero right now. It’s hard to say which is more. I think they did a very good job with the aero kit, Chevy did."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 3 VERISON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: ON ENTERING SECOND SEASON WITH TEAM PENSKE: "Roger (Penske) hired me to get the job done and I do my best to get the job done. I love working for Team Penske and I work hard at it. There’s a lot of anticipation on my side of what’s going to happen with the car. I’m happy because we’re on pace. If you look at last year at the lap times you’d find me quicker if you look for me from the bottom up."
YESTERDAY PRACTICE: "I didn’t even run a third set of tires and I was second (on the time sheet). Helio (Castroneves) and Will (Power) both ran three sets of tires. I think most of them did."
ON COMPARING HOW HIS CAR PERFORMED HERE LAST YEAR AND TODAY: "Last year was a tough year for us at the beginning. We knew that. Normally I’m really good at remembering everything about every track and last year I think this was such a blur for me. I was so overwhelmed with everything that I didn’t really pay too much attention to details. But I felt really good straight away (this year) that all of the work we did over the winter with the car made me really, really happy. I’m really comfortable with the car."
DO ALL FOUR TEAM PENSKE DRIVERS TRY DIFFERENT THINGS DURING TESTING AND PRACTICE? "Each engineer knows what their driver wants and it seems each one is doing his own thing. We have the data there, we have all the information. If somebody makes a change that works, we all know about it. We all drive so different. It’s not so much the driving, it’s the feeling that we want out of the car is so different. You look at us driving, it looks pretty similar but what we want the feel to be is very different. To get that feel, we achieve it in very different ways."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: DO YOU THINK THE TEAM IS MORE RELAXED THIS YEAR?
"I think so. We are all getting along really well. Juan Pablo (Montoya)… no question has always had the talent. He’s familiar now with the car and the tracks. Simon (Pagenaud) has obviously brought his furniture into a new home. He brought his engineer (Ben Bretzman). At this point, we have a phenomenal group of four guys. I know it’s showing out there (on the track today) and I hope it shows all season long."
WHO IS THE TOUGHEST COMPETITOR ON THE TEAM?
"Each one has a quality. That’s why there isn’t one person here who is better than another. I believe for that reason, it makes us all better. In one corner, one guy is better and in another, there is someone else who is better. So this brings the best out of each other. It’s not about just one time; it’s about every practice and every lap. So it’s fortunate having Simon – since our team has had the same cars already since 2012 – to bring another option on setup. Sometimes it’s confusing a little bit but it’s more data."
WHEN YOU TRY IT, DO YOU LIKE IT?
"It depends on the track. At some tracks it won’t work or we didn’t go all the way on the setup. At all these tracks you need to try all these different things."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU’RE DUE FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR?
"I don’t feel obligated. I want it. That’s a different way to put it. Every time you finish second or place in a spot where you know you can improve, you have to go out and think about what you can do to make it happen. Right now we have to be competitive and push ourselves. I want to improve myself. Every time I go out there, I look at where I’m good in areas and where I’m not. Hopefully that mindset will make it happen."
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 22 PENSKE TRUCKCENTER TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: WAS THE OFFSEASON TOO LONG? WHAT WOULD BE THE PERFECT OFFSEASON? "My perfect offseason would be Roger (Penske) to run a rally team in Europe so I could do some rally. Sports cars…I love to be able to do different series and drive with this team in different series. I love rally, Global Rally Cross and sports cars. I had a little bit with the Corvette Racing team and the C7.R. That was fun; I wouldn’t mind more."
PENSKE HAS A V8 SUPERCAR TEAM NOW. WOULD THAT INTEREST YOU? "That’s a discipline where I don’t have enough knowledge to be very competitive. You need a lot of testing, and its very competitive. I’d love to do some, but if you want to be competitive there, you have to be there full-time."
DID YOU EVER DO V-8? "Yes I did. I did two years ago and got a podium. I got a surfboard too. I didn’t get it home though. I gave it away to the team."
ONE MORE PRACTICE BEFORE QUALIFYING. HOW ARE YOU GETTING ALONG? "I feel good. The engine has been really well developed by Chevy. We’ve done a tremendous job during the winter of setting up and making it how I want it to feel in my car. There is a lot of new things. It’s a new crew. It’s a new team, the 22 team. A lot of people expect really high results out of this first race. But we have to be reasonable in the way we think about things. It may take longer than the 1 car because we haven’t been together before. We should be patient. We are there on pace and are fast enough. If everything stays smooth, we should be up there. No big worries. We need to have fun and enjoy what we’re doing."
WAS THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS WITH CHEVROLET AREO KIT THE SAME AS WHEN YOU HELPED DEVELOP SPORTS CAR PROTOTYPES FROM OTHER MANUFACTURERS? "I did a lot of development with Peugeot and also with Acura. It was similar. The only thing is that we have a lot less testing in IndyCar due to the regulations. We only tested a few times and didn’t get to test many updates. The updates were brought up by Chevy with their research. They’ve done a tremendous job at bringing us a product that was on-track and easy to exploit. In that sense it was a bit of a difference experience."
IS THERE ENOUGH TESTING, OR DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE MORE? "It works. The cars are fast. Everyone is doing good lap times. Would I like more testing? Always. If you asked me, I would always ask for more testing but that’s not in my power. I don’t decide these things. I can only control what I can control."