IndyCar Rev GP post-race press conference


  • 1st – Alex Palou, Ganassi Honda
  • 2nd – Colton Herta, Andretti Honda
  • 3rd – Will Power, Penske Chevy

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Joined now by the champion of the 2021 Rev Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Alex Palou. His second career win based on the fact you won the season opener back at Barber Motorsports Park. The 10 car has now won two in a row here at beautiful Road America. Chip Ganassi Racing has now won three races here in a row at Road America. Tell us about your day.

ALEX PALOU: Thank you so much. I don’t know, it was a really good weekend overall. We started not super, super good, but we made some progress, and I feel like we always are really good when the weekend ends, and we were getting — every run we were doing with the reds, with the blacks, we were getting even closer to Josef. So I was really happy.

And then yeah, I don’t know what happened to him, but we took the lead, and that was super exciting, and yeah, we had good power, we had good car setup, and yeah, just super happy.

THE MODERATOR: Were you looking forward to a battle between yourself and Josef at the end?

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, we tried. I think it was on the second or third restart that I tried on the inside in Turn 1. It didn’t really work because I had somebody in front and I couldn’t go deeper, and then in Turn 2 the same.

I was trying to battle with him, but he had a bit more pace than we did at that point, but I was waiting for the last four or five laps. I had a bit less Push-to-Pass than him so that was going to make our race a bit more difficult to battle, but I knew we had a good car. I knew we were a bit faster than him on the straights, so our team did an amazing job and at the end we took it before Turn 1.

Q. On the restart you pass him pretty easily and maybe in your rearview mirror you see that he’s in trouble. What are your thoughts when that happens?

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I didn’t really look at my mirror, I just went for the outside. It was quite close. Even if he was a bit slower, I was super close so I had to just turn in quite aggressively, and then I just ran. I didn’t know if my tires were good enough to keep the lead. It was only two laps, but those two laps when you’re in the lead, they can take forever. But no, the car was really good, and we actually took some of that, so yeah.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: A win is a win, and it always feels awesome even if it’s your lucky day or just because you have really good pace, but for sure the first win, it’s always awesome just because it’s the first one, and you knew you could win but you never really know if you can win until you win it.

But yeah, this feels super special, as well. We’ve been close. Indy road course, Detroit, Indy 500, and today I was like, oh, no, we need to get that win.

It was good, but yeah, as I said, a win is a win. It’s always the best thing.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I think so just because you can have a really good day, like maybe Barber, we had an amazing weekend where we were dominant I would say all weekend except for qualifying, and here we’ve been struggling. We struggled to get into Fast Six yesterday. We got into Fast Six, but we didn’t really have the pace.

Today we started struggling compared to Josef, so he was super fast. He was flying. But by the end I was able to be there with him, so I think we had the faster car at the end. I knew that we had a bit better straight line speed. I think HPD did an amazing job for this weekend, and the car was good. I was comfortable, I just had a bit less Push-to-Pass than him, and I couldn’t really overuse my Push-to-Pass, so I was saving it for the end.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I don’t know what to say. It’s an amazing team that they work so hard on all the cars. You could see we’ve had four wins this year already in three different cars, and we are always up there fighting for the wins or fighting for the podiums every time.

The job that they do back in the workshop and every weekend, it’s amazing. It’s tremendous. Yeah, they deserve it.

Q. This place a year ago, how important (indiscernible)?

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I think last year this place was the place that really changed a bit just because I trusted myself that I could be fighting for podiums in INDYCAR. It’s true that we had a really fast car. Every strategy and pit stop was amazing, but yeah, coming back here and being able to not only score another podium but being able to win, it feels awesome.

Q. Does it help you in this situation?

ALEX PALOU: I think yeah, but no, just my confidence of knowing we were really good here, but yeah, this year, to be honest, I’m going to every track knowing that I’m going to have a good car and I’m going to have all my tools to be able to win.

It’s more special this place just because I love it, but we go to Mid-Ohio and I think we’re going to do the same.

Q. How much does that help you?

ALEX PALOU: A lot. I guess a lot. But most of the Indy 500 qualifying from last year helped, as well. You never know, maybe you should ask Chip if he was already looking at us here last year here or it was later. But yeah, for sure it helped. A podium is a podium, and we got the podium last year on the third race in my INDYCAR career.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I think you can see that our performance during more weekends, it always comes more at the race, just because we have more time to develop the car and for me to get used to. I’m not a rookie anymore, but I’m still kind of a rookie.

Yeah, we just prepare. The good thing is that Chip Ganassi won two races here last year. I had the best data I could have with the on board, so we’ve been working a lot with the data from last year.

Q. Are you in a hurry to get back?

ALEX PALOU: Yes, I need fried chicken.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Okay, I need somebody to tell me a place, okay.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: We were — I had a good restart, let’s say. It’s always hard going out of Turn 13 just because you have the dip there, but I was good. I was on my Push-to-Pass, and as soon as I saw I was in fifth gear and I saw I couldn’t get him, I saved my Push-to-Pass, and as soon as I saw that there was something weird, like I was getting a lot of tow I thought, I pressed it again and said, oh, wow.

So I didn’t really see if he had an issue or not. Obviously I saw later, but at that moment I just thought, oh, wow, we had a lot of power, so I was like, oh, yeah.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I don’t know. It’s always tough to say. I thought we had a chance, but yeah, you never know what could have happened. I think he had a really strong performance during the weekend and also in the race, but we were getting closer each restart, so yeah, I was hoping for a good chance.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I thought during the whole race we were quite strong on the straights, so yeah, I don’t know because we have a really old engine, but HPD did an amazing job of getting that old engine running so fast because we were super strong on all the straights. I knew I could pass him either in Turn 1 or before Turn 12, I thought that was my chance also because it’s a really long straight and I could get a big tow. But I don’t think without the issue he had I would have overtaken him in Turn 1 at that moment.

Q. You looked stronger under braking in Turn 3. Was that the case?

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, we were super strong on straight line and braking, yeah, that’s true, but he was super strong in traction, so it was like a — yeah, that’s two different cars and two different drivers, right? That’s what you get.

Yeah, I thought we were in a stronger position to fight, just because when you can attack the braking and you arrive to the braking with higher speed, you’re going to have a better chance of — yeah.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I said it before even the first test we did, that that was like a relief for me knowing that I had a strong team around me that I didn’t have to think about the car. I know that the car is going to be the best or the second best or it’s going to be there to fight, so I don’t have to worry about that. I just have to worry about myself.

Yeah, the only issue is that Chip is only happy when we win, so that’s why we have to keep it up all the time. So yeah, I will try to keep it up.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, Mid-Ohio is my second favorite place, so I like it.

Q. Why is it your second favorite?

ALEX PALOU: Because I have my first favorite and then my second favorite. Yeah, I don’t know. I love the place —

Q. The chicken is excellent there?

ALEX PALOU: Is it? Fried chicken is excellent everywhere. Yeah, I’m going to have fried chicken. I didn’t remember that until you said it.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: No, because we had the double-header, so first race it’s true that it didn’t really go so well for me. I think we finished P12 or something like that, but the second one we were starting P3 or P4 so that was going to be a good race, but I don’t think so. Every year it’s new for everybody, so yeah, I’m not really — I’m not thinking, overthinking too much about that.

We know we have a strong car there. Last year they were super strong, and my car, the 10 car was involved in the accident, as well. So yeah, I’m sure we’re going to be fine.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: No, I think you — I’m super happy. But I don’t know, I’m fortunate enough to be working as a racing driver. That’s all I wanted when I was a child, and I’m part of the best team in INDYCAR. I’m living the dream. That’s why I’m always happy even if things go bad. I know that the next day they’re going to be better or maybe worse, but then the next day is going to be better.

So like Detroit, it was a super bad day, but we kept our heads up. We were working a lot, and the next day we had the podium.

Yeah, you cannot get super excited when you win because now the guys that finish in second, third, fourth, they were not doing a press conference, they are working, so that’s why you cannot get super excited. We have another race in two weeks, and we’ve got to get there.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: No, I don’t think so, no. You have to be aggressive, and especially here in INDYCAR, it’s so competitive. If you’re not aggressive, there’s going to be another car that’s going to be more aggressive than you. I’m just going to drive as I’ve been driving. I think it’s been working out. I was able to overtake when I can, and I just stayed there without doing stupid passes.

But yeah, no, we’re going to try and be aggressive still.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: I mean, we take a look at the points, obviously, every race. Like we need to know where we are, if we are good or if we are bad. But that’s not changing our motivation or our work ethic. Even if we win, we’ve got to continue to be performing to be P1, otherwise we’re not going to last too long there. Three races, I think it’s a lot of races. I think until the last race, this championship, it’s not going to be decided.

Even if you think a lot about the championship, you have to be here to score those points to still be there. I’m going to look at the points tomorrow, but yeah, I was in the lead after the 500 by 36 or 37 points, and two days later I was one point back.

There’s a lot of movement on points, and it’s going to keep it going until the last race, I think.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, lots of stuff. I’m not going to say it because probably my competitor are going to listen. But yeah, I learned a lot of stuff, and you win championships by winning races and then staying consistent. If you have a car to finish second, you finish second. You don’t have to go and try and win that and end up in the fence.

There’s going to be days where we have a car to finish fifth, and that’s the best we can do, but when we have a chance to win, we have to take that. That’s what I think that Scott has been doing for the past years, and he’s the best at it, as we can see.

But yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough to be consistent here in INDYCAR. It changes so much. Just one lap in qualifying can get you from like P15 to Fast Six, and that changes all your race or even one strategy.

It’s tough to be consistent. But yeah, we’ve been good so far.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Absolutely, yeah. You can ask him if you want.

No, I know that they are — especially Scott, he’s not really like methodical on that. But yeah, I keep asking them a lot of questions. You can ask them.

Q. Being in a points race with Scott Dixon, that’s pretty elite company right there. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: I don’t know what he’s going to do. I know what I would do if I was in his position, and that wouldn’t help me. But yeah, I think he’s at the point like he won six championships, so he doesn’t have to show anything, and he wants the team to be up there. If I go well, he’s going to go well, as well, because that means we have a good car.

I don’t know if going into the last race and we are matching points, maybe then he’s not going to talk to me, like that would be obvious. But yeah, I hope that happens. That would be amazing for the team.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, it’s amazing. I think I’m in like the best position. I’ve been super lucky in my life to be able to be here. That was my dream, like not 10 years ago, it was like two years ago that I was in Japan looking at all the races in INDYCAR and asking myself if there was a chance I could be here. It’s not like it’s been work that’s been in the works for like 20 years. It’s been like super recent.

So yeah, I’m super happy to be here, and it’s crazy, I’m coming from a really small town. I don’t know how many people, but I can name some of the people, like it’s super small, and it’s amazing to be here.

Q. How much confidence does this win give you now?

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, it gives me a lot of confidence, really. Like four podiums this year, four or five, which it’s amazing. Yeah, it gives me a lot of confidence to get that second win. You need wins to — I don’t know, you get a different energy, and all the crew gets to be in Victory Lane, get all the photos, so it’s awesome for all the group, and yeah, gives confidence enough to do it again.

Q. Have you been irritated at all by the praise that Pato O’Ward sometimes gets, and now you have done just as well as Pato so far, and now you’re in the points lead?

ALEX PALOU: No. I mean — no. I’m not that kind of guy that likes to be like all the time like oh, yeah, this — so no. I’m actually happy that they talk so good about Pato and about Colton going to Formula 1. I’m like, yeah, just take them to Formula 1 and leave me here alone.

Yeah, I’m happy to see that, and I’m really calm here and I’m super happy to be here. But yeah, I’m not that type of guy that is all the time —

Q. You could go that direction?

ALEX PALOU: I’m super happy here. If they would go I would be happy.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: About me? That I’m just a normal person, that I had a dream of becoming a race car driver, had some luck. Lots of people was helping me and had lots of dreams, and yeah, was able to be racing in Europe, then in Japan, because that was what I had, and then I was lucky enough to come here in America last year.

One of my dreams, a part of being a race car driver, was to live at some point in America. I didn’t know where, when or why, just wanted to live here and to experience living here.

Yeah, I’m enjoying it a lot here.

Q. (No microphone.)

ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I always do, and I always — if you look back at my Twitter feed in ’17 or maybe ’18 or ’19 — no, it was in ’19 before the start of the 500, I tweeted something saying that yeah, Alex, don’t worry, one day we’ll be there.

Yeah, I think you have to think that you’re already there to be able — that you are there.

Yeah, the first dream was to be part of INDYCAR. You cannot win a championship without being a part of INDYCAR. But then I don’t want to be around here doing laps, I want to be here competing and winning.

Q. After the caution did pit strategy play a part in your win?

ALEX PALOU: I think we were already like up there. I think we had more to lose than to win with the pit strategies and yellows like we saw five or six laps to go. We were not in the lead, let’s say, or top two. Yeah, it was a bit scary, if there was another yellow or something that could potentially put other drivers in front. But everything worked out. We had an amazing pit stops all the time. We didn’t really have the pace of doing an overcut. We tried, but it didn’t really work out. But yeah, for sure the pit stops helped us.

Colton Herta

Will Power

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Colton Herta, a winner earlier this season at St. Petersburg and now his second podium here this season. Tell us about the day. It was a long and interesting one, wasn’t it.

COLTON HERTA: Yeah, it finally happened. I’ve been struggling to get on the podium when I’m not winning, so it feels nice to finally get one, or my second one in my career. Yeah, it feels good. Team did an amazing job. We seemed to lack a little bit of pace to Alex and Josef. They seemed to be the guys to beat.

You know, so I think we had third place pace and that was where we were going to finish until Josef had that problem. Car felt really good. Guys did an amazing job in the pits to gain me a few spots on track and put us on the podium in the second spot.

THE MODERATOR: This track is four miles long, but you guys are battling throughout this road course nonstop today for sure.

COLTON HERTA: No, it’s definitely — you could see it in qualifying with how close the gaps are even though it’s a four mile long track, which is really impressive. And yeah, it’s a good little mix of racing, especially when you’ve got guys on different downforce settings that struggle through the back and were really quick on the straights. It can make it very difficult to pass but also very fun to pass when you get it done.

Great job today by everybody on the team. I had a lot of fun and super happy about it.

THE MODERATOR: The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Will Power, also joins again, the second podium this year after a second place at Barber Motorsports Park. Big bounce back in Detroit. You guys needed this.

WILL POWER: Yeah, we did. I just think about Indy and Detroit, like two massive results of points there. Those two results have put us right back in the championship. Stoked to be third. Pretty fun race, to be honest. It had a bit of everything and good racing and a bit of roughing up.

THE MODERATOR: Was there more beating and banging going on out there than you can remember?

WILL POWER: There was a little bit. Drivers have good memories — no, just joking.

But yeah, solid day, fun racing and restarts, and dealing with deg, big tire deg and different levels of downforce, made for probably a pretty good race for the fans.

Q. Shocked about what happened to Josef?

WILL POWER: Man, you just don’t know what it is about our team right now. We almost have a win in the bag and something just ridiculous happens, like just something that — I don’t know what it was, but things that you couldn’t prep for, something that you couldn’t avoid. It’s like my thing was just a switch, just a weird glitch in the system in Detroit, and I don’t know what his was this time. But yeah, unbelievable. And maybe it wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a restart, but you don’t know.

Q. Was there anything that you could have done differently (indiscernible)?

COLTON HERTA: I don’t think so. It was just one of those days where we just didn’t have enough pace. We were down two, three tenths of a lap to Alex and Josef. Especially at the beginning of the race we were struggling. Once the kind of grip came in and our car tightened up a little bit, it helped, but we were still lacking to them.

You know, I think we kind of maximized what we could have done, but yeah, today for sure wasn’t a day that we were going to win on pace.

Q. (No microphone.)

COLTON HERTA: Yeah, that was close. I thought Will was going to leave the room, and he came over —

WILL POWER: Where was that? On the first lap? Did I push you wide?

COLTON HERTA: No, I was here when you came down and then I switched —

WILL POWER: Oh, yeah, so that was actually close. I thought I had a good gap. I thought I went to your inside, no wonder you pushed me away.

COLTON HERTA: Then I got him the next time. Yeah, the lockup, we had a really big vibration. I didn’t see what tire I locked up, but it definitely affected my red tire pace because you see I was just terrible and I had a big vibration on one of the front tires. Definitely lacked pace on there, but once we got the blacks on we seemed okay. Like I said before, we didn’t seem as good as other people, but we seemed good enough to kind of be in the mix for a top 5.

Q. (No microphone.)

WILL POWER: No, no, no problems today. Pretty solid. Everything was good. Thank God we didn’t have the red flag. We had to restart the car, but…

Q. (No microphone.)

WILL POWER: They were all things that are not things that have been repeated, know what I mean? Like they’re not constantly the same things, so it’s really hard to — I’ve seen this through the years. It’s just one — you hate to be the pioneer of things that go wrong and then they fix it, which that was me in Detroit. Had a glitch in the system. It hadn’t happened to anyone else, but you being the one to find it really sucks.

Q. (No microphone.)

WILL POWER: Well, yeah, the same thing, you’re not doing a very good job. This team, again, a problem we fixed immediately and it won’t happen again. But I just can’t believe the luck that we’re having as a team right now. It blows my mind.

Q. (No microphone.)

WILL POWER: I think so, actually.

COLTON HERTA: I still struggled.

WILL POWER: They went on, but yesterday when it was hot they went off ridiculously.

COLTON HERTA: It’s also like the more rubber you put down, too, makes it a lot easier, so going into that last stint, it’s a lot easier.

Q. Colton, you said at the start of the season you wanted top 5s and podiums. Was today perhaps a sign of things to come?

COLTON HERTA: I sure hope so. We definitely have had the speed to do it everywhere that we’ve gone, which is nice, but we just haven’t executed every single part, whether that be strategy or pit stops or me making mistakes on track. Just it hasn’t all come together. It came together today, but we need to be doing it more consistently because we do have really fast race cars and we have the pace to be up front every single weekend.

It’s just a matter of if we can get it done in the race and have perfect races to get it done every weekend. We’re working on it. It’s getting better. This will be a big confidence boost for everybody. Fourth place last week in Detroit and then come here and get a second, we’re definitely on the ball. We’ve just got to keep doing it.

Q. Colton, going back to the tire deg a little bit and the reds, were they unexpected, or after three days, three practices were you able to figure it out?

COLTON HERTA: No, I think everybody knew that this was going to be a deg race. You know, my situation was a lot worse than everybody else’s because we had that vibration on the front tires, and that just degraded all the grip for a moment. Then I was overslipping them because of this, and all the grip went away really quickly.

It seemed like it wasn’t like completely awful like I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be really big, and it didn’t end up getting like that. But yeah, for sure you needed to be conscious of it and do some small minor changes to your driving to kind of execute and really square off those corners so you’re not putting too much G on the rears.

Q. You go back to Mid-Ohio, you’ve had some success there, so maybe this is a sign of things to come for you guys?

COLTON HERTA: For sure. I’m really looking forward to getting back to Mid-Ohio. It’s a track that I love. It’s a really good racetrack for INDYCARs, and they always put on a good show there. It’s going to be an amazing weekend. I’m sure it’s going to be hectic and there’s going to be a lot of people there, so I can’t wait for that. Yeah, thank you.

Q. Will, do you feel this result will give you some good momentum heading into the second half of the season?

WILL POWER: Yes, I do. Even Detroit last week, sixth I was really happy with coming from 21st or 20th or whatever it was. And yeah, I was really happy to get my Fast Six this weekend, and I thought this morning if I can get a podium, I’ll be really happy. So finished on the podium and start heading in the right direction.

Q. What was Josef Newgarden’s advantage this weekend? Did you adopt his setup at all?

WILL POWER: I actually adapted his driving style and setup, yeah. I started perfecting it during the race but certainly got halfway there in qualifying.

Q. You’re being serious? You changed what you did, doing what he did and that sort of thing?

WILL POWER: Yep, I changed the way I drive, yep.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.