IndyCar Kohler GP Post-Race Press Conference


From left, Hunter-Reay, Newgarden and Dixon
From left, Hunter-Reay, Newgarden and Dixon

1st – Josef Newgarden (Penske Chevy)
2nd – Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Honda)
3rd – Scott Dixon (Ganassi Honda)

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the race winner, Josef Newgarden, driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. His first win here at Road America. His third win of the season. His 10th career win.

Josef, after a few difficult weekends for you, how great does it feel to come in here and have a pretty much dominant weekend?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It feels really good to get this day over with, the race for sure, not because you want the weekend to be over, it's been an amazing weekend, great fan turnout, incredible atmosphere. I took my time on the cool-down lap because of how packed the place was. I wanted to kind of enjoy it because it was just an amazing atmosphere.

It was a difficult one. Hard to keep Ryan behind us the whole race. I knew Dixon was right behind him. We had our work cut out for us today. Ryan had really good pace. We had to be perfect. We had to be perfect on our fuel mileage, on our pit stints as far as the pit stops themselves, they had to be perfect.

I think the team did a great job. Team Penske had a great strategy. I think our Team Chevy engine made a big difference today. I had good power, good reliability, certainly had the fuel mileage that we needed. You had to have all those factors today I think to beat the competition.

It's a big day. Glad to have Verizon on the car, running fast. I'm happy we sealed it off after yesterday.

THE MODERATOR: It seemed from far away to look like a fairly effortless win. We all know that's not the case, especially with Ryan Hunter-Reay in your mirrors most of the race. What were your thoughts running into all the laps where you had Ryan basically right behind you?

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was really tough. I was working hard. The beginning of the race was really difficult. We needed to keep to our strategy and save fuel. But Ryan was so quick that it was tough to just stay in front of him and try to work on my race. He was really pressuring me. Finally got a little bit of breathing room. But that breathing room wasn't very much. It was like half a second, you know, three quarters of a second. It wasn't much at all.

Just working really hard today to try to get that gap built. Finally I felt like those last two stints we were starting to get to where we needed to. Felt really good on the reds today, from Firestone tires. That's the tire I preferred to have at the end. Seven or eight to go is when I started feeling comfy. I felt like we had the gap to finish it off.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Josef.

Q. You came here last year not on a rough streak, but after Texas, were able to bounce back, take off on the championship. You won today. Do you feel like you can put that same streak together like you did last year to make a run at the championship?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think we just take it one race at a time. It's a long way to go. I don't know if we need that streak. We need to be more consistent than what we have the last four races. It's just a rough patch that didn't help us in the points.

I thought Texas was going to be a good weekend for us. It was looking really good until a quarter of the way through the race, then it sort of unraveled. I think we need to keep doing what we've been doing, take it one weekend at a time. That's what Roger told me to do, take it one weekend at a time and we'll be here in the end.

I don't know that we need necessarily the exact same sort of stretch as last year. But a good, consistent five or six races, that will put us up nicely to challenge in Sonoma.

Q. What kind of outlook did you have coming to Road America when your last five races have had three double-digit finishes?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No concern. Just ready to go win. That's what I thought. I mean, I was ready to win in Texas. Our outlook didn't really change. We were ready to get back on the board, try to seal off a race weekend. We struggled to seal it off.

The 500 wasn't a disaster for us, but it wasn't great. You would say an eighth is pretty good at the 500. For us, where we thought we could be, that wasn't great.

We just came here trying to get back on track. I think we had pace right from the beginning, which really helped. Then it was just a matter of managing it, making it a normal weekend. We sealed it off nicely at the end.

No reservations coming in, just ready to go ahead it going again.

Q. (Question the track fitting his driving.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think our road course cars have been really good. With Team Penske we've had really solid road course cars. We've had positives and negatives. 500, good car there. Short oval cars have been okay. Our street courses probably need the most work.

I think from a team standpoint, this has been a strong track for us. I think Team Chevy did a great job, made a big difference for us today with the work they put in for the fuel mileage and the power. That kind of carried us to some success today.

Looking forward, yeah, just excited to try and work on our weak points, then hopefully capitalize on our strong points with some of the road courses coming up. This is a great track. I took my time on the way in just because of how packed the place was. It was special to see just the energy.

Q. How special is this place? How impressed were you that it's risen so far in the IndyCar schedule in stature?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't know if I'm surprised that it's turned into what it has. I don't think many are, because it's Road America. This is an IndyCar track. You got IndyCar fans up here. You talk to anyone, they know what's going on in the series, they're excited to be here, they like this type of race weekend. You even have fans that aren't diehard IndyCar fans, they're casual fans, like to camp, have a great weekend at Road America. Whether you're a hardcore race fan or enjoy a camping weekend with good weather, this is your track.

Really sad it wasn't on the schedule when I first got into the IndyCar Series. Now that it's back, I don't think anyone could imagine it going away again. I don't think that's a surprise to anybody.

Q. You looked like you were having some fun on the podium with the champagne. Any story behind that?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: On the podium? No. I wish we had bigger champagne bottles, to be honest with you. That's my only gripe, is we need more. We need to somehow lengthen that. It was good to celebrate with Ryan and Scott. It's pretty fun talking to them.

Someone took the bottle and started spraying me, too. That happens. You just got to expect the unexpected in Victory Lane is what I would say.

Q. Talking to Tim and Roger, they all use the word 'flawless' today. In your mind was this a flawless race for you?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't know if you can have a flawless race, but it was pretty close to it. We didn't make any mistakes. I tried to not make many in the car. I had little moments here and there, but there were very few, which I needed to not make mistakes because Ryan was on me the whole time.

We had no mistakes in the pits. Guys were perfect. Strategy was perfect. Fuel mileage was just perfect. Chevy engine was just perfect. Yeah, for the most part pretty well-executed today. I think if we had one bobble, we lose that race. Ryan was there to pounce when he needed to. We needed to be perfect to stay out front.

Q. In turn one at the Josef Newgarden garden, do they need to rename it the Josef Newgarden victory garden?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I like the setup. I went to see those folks last night at the campground. These people had a professional setup with little baby Josefs growing. It was kind of cool. I'm actually very disappointed they didn't win the whole camp crown competition. The judges were there. I tried to slip them the 50. They weren't having it.

But I think just on execution, those guys killed it. They had my vote. I wish they would have won. Either way, really cool to see. That's what Road America brings. It brings those kind of fun things. Hopefully those guys come again next year and do the same thing.

Q. After qualifying to the warmup, did you make any changes or the identical car into the race?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: We went pretty much with our car we worked on on Friday. Different weekend because we didn't have a warmup. We actually prioritized more race running on Friday because I was so happy with the car right out of the box. Seemed like it had natural speed. We went straight to work on the racecar because you didn't have a warmup today.

Yeah, just pretty much bolted on what we learned on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, rolled with that. It seemed to work out okay. I think there's some things we can improve on for next year, but that's always the case whenever you finish a race. You always feel like you learn something. I think a pretty good job doing what we needed to do today for the most part.

Newgarden leads up the S/F straight hill
Newgarden leads up the S/F straight hill

Q. How frequently in your career have you had a race this close to perfect?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't know. I'd have to think about it. This was a pretty sorted out day. I think Barber was similar earlier in the year. We started from pole, didn't have any real misses, a couple close ones, but no mistakes really. Yeah, probably Barber would be the next closest.

You always hope when you start on pole that you can sort of finish things off. You feel more pressure I think when you start on the pole. You almost feel a little bit more at ease when you're fourth or fifth because you get in attack mode, I just got to go forward, get past people, figure it out. When you're on pole, you feel like you have more to lose than to gain. I think it's a little bit more pressure from that standpoint.

But, yeah, I don't know how many times we had a day like this, but I think Barber is the next closest.

Q. You mentioned a couple of small moments today. Do you recall any of them?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I just noticed I was very good in the Carrousel, at least my perception was we were better than Ryan in the Carrousel. I think he was better to start the lap. With the way I was saving fuel, he was good in one and three. He closed the gap in five with the draft. Once we got into the sixth through the Carrousel section, I thought I was good through the Carrousel. I was really pushing the issue, sideways half the time, nearly wrecking three or four times through there just to make up time.

A couple of those scary moments, but I think you got to push, attack in these cars if you want to stay focused. As soon as you kind of take it easy, that's when mistakes happen. I stayed on it all race. You can get sideways as heck. Actually I had one that was worse in turn one. I was, like, full opposite lock, way out past the rumble strips. It could have been bad. It was okay. Probably lost a couple 10ths, but you can do that with this thing.

You don't want to push your luck too far because eventually it will bite you, but you can get away with a lot in this racecar because it talks to you so much than the last one did.

THE MODERATOR: Josef, thank you very much.


Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We are joined now by Scott Dixon, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished third in today's race. This is Scott's sixth consecutive top-five finish here in 2018, including two wins at Detroit and Texas.

Scott, you started eighth, the lowest you ever started here at Road America, but were able to work your way up to the podium. What did you and team work on during the race to get you in that position?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today. The PNC Bank car had good speed. Qualifying was bad placement, that's what it came down to. Went out of the pits, five cars left in front of us, had the 10 car coming on the lap behind. It was hard to get position. Had to wave off my first lap, then the car wasn't up to temp for the second.

We struggled. Should have started a lot further up. Will had a bit of a problem. We were on the outside lane. Everybody lost momentum in that. Unfortunately when I looked in the mirror to the right, lost quite a few positions.

We had to fight to get through. The car was pretty good on the long stint. I think for us the saving grace was probably the black tire stint two. We closed a hefty gap there. We were able to save fuel early in the first stint, which enabled us to go a lap longer than everybody, had the overcut for the rest of the race.

I think speed-wise we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into 14, got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.

All in all, great points day for us. Lead in the championship, which is important. We've definitely got to get our act together in qualifying.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Scott.

Q. You were talking about the chance for Hunter-Reay. You're saying 14 after he came out of the pits or when he was coming out of the pits?
SCOTT DIXON: I got to him on his out lap. It was his out lap in 14 where I was very close to him, going into 14. Just went a little too deep, got sideways, when I was on trail break, lost momentum. That would have been a good shot. He was struggling a little bit during the race on 14. I think our car was very good on 14, 1 and 3. Yeah, just got a little aggressive there, lost momentum.

The start
The start

Q. Earlier in the lap you can make the pass, no?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, there was too much of a gap. The undercut, it was the first time we tried to go the other way. We tried to undercut the leaders on reds. We thought it might have been quite good. Still getting up to speed on the out lap is not as fast as your rolling lap, even at the end of the stint.

We had to try and close that gap. I had a pretty good run on him going into Canada Corner as well. We just kept closing the gap. Tough to get close, best option would be front straight 14.

Q. How great was a caution-free race physically?
SCOTT DIXON: It wasn't too bad. I think everybody is pretty fit this stage of the season. The straights here are very long. On the physical side, I didn't find it that bad, to be honest.

Q. Was it very enjoyable being at this track?
SCOTT DIXON: I think as far as configurations here and IndyCar Road Course are as close to the packages we had last year, because we were trimmed so much in last year's configuration. I think it was a difference only of a few hundred pounds.

Here and IndyCar Road Course is the closest we had to match to last year. So all in all it still seems like people are taking a big step. Some guys were quite trim. The hard part with this aero kit is that the trim levels are pretty coarse. It's not really fine-tuning. I think that's good, because sometimes people just get it really wrong, and we saw that today.

Yeah, I don't know. I'm still not totally sold on the low downforce situation. I think the front wing needs to go through a bit of change to make the racing a little bit better. It seems like it's quite inefficient in traffic. I know everybody's working on that and looking at that for the future.

Q. It seems like in recent races, whenever you come into the pits, you come out either ahead of somebody or having knocked off 10ths if not a full second. What are you doing there? There's been a noticeable change. Is it an actual change or…
SCOTT DIXON: I think it's something our team focuses on a lot, pit stops. It's something for me as a driver, you can pick up spots very easy. Easier to do it in the pits than out on the track. Phoenix was the first big one this year. We had a horrible qualifying, but gained several spots on the first pit stop. That was pretty significant.

Yeah, I think they're just extremely consistent. They're not trying anything fancy, they're just making sure they get through it. Over the course of a race, that really adds up.

Yeah, I think strategy has been part of it, too. The pit stop guys have been phenomenal this year.

Q. When you were coming down the frontstretch, first and second, Newgarden and Hunter-Reay were coming out of the pits, did your eyes get big, did you think you had them?
SCOTT DIXON: I knew the undercut was going to be difficult, especially with everybody going to new reds at the end. They come in really quick. The blacks for me at least, the first couple laps in the high-speed corners were very difficult to get the front to bite.

I actually preferred the blacks. I felt like our black stint was very strong, but the first two or three laps, you lost a ton of time.

I knew it would be interesting. But obviously, you know, two big talents in front, trying to get by them, it's going to be something else.

Q. Josef won, Chevrolet, seven out of 10 Hondas. What's the difference on a course like this between the two?
SCOTT DIXON: I think they're pretty evenly matched, to be honest, at the minute. They do it in a different way. I think the Honda's fuel mileage and general race power is strong. Peak power on the other side is maybe a little bit better. On the long straights here, we saw them come back, whereas Detroit they struggled a lot more with the midrange.

Yeah, I think outside of the Penske cars, the other manufacturers struggled pretty big this weekend, which is good for the Honda camp. Hopefully it carries on throughout the rest of the season.

THE MODERATOR: Scott, thank you very much.

SCOTT DIXON: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: We welcome in our second-place finisher, Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport. A new best finish here for Ryan, also his fifth consecutive top-five finish, including a win in Detroit.

Seemed like you were going to contend for a win with Josef there throughout the whole race. Did you feel like you might have had something for him, things just changed throughout the course of the race event?

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I felt like we had the pace for him, especially the first two stints. I really felt like it was going to be a really good race between us. Whether it be first, second, third, fourth stint, I didn't know when it was going to come.

In hindsight, I should have pressured him a bit more in the first stint. We were focused on a fuel number at the time. Unfortunately that Penske fuel number comes into play, can't really go hard.

In the end, I thought the last two stints, he did a very good job. He turned it up a bit. When he was on his reds and my blacks, I couldn't keep up with him, especially in the dirty air. We were pretty evenly matched in the last stint. Right at the end I got a little bit loose. He started to pull away a little bit more. I think the damage was done at that point.

I thought the first stint we were going to have a really good race between the two of us.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ryan.

Q. He led 53 of 55 laps. You think must have been an easy day. Is that selling him short? How hard was that to accomplish what he did?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I mean, he had a good car, stayed up front, great racecar driver. That's what he drives for Penske for, that's what he's hired to do. It wasn't easy.

We were pushing each other 110%. Then with Dixon behind us on hot tires as we came out of the pits on cold, definitely the money today.

I was hoping to make it more interesting not for TV, but for fans here. I felt like I could give him a run for his money early in the race. Just never came to fruition. I was hoping for a yellow to mix things up. Had a yellow come out, he would have been the car coming out punching the air like you see on an oval, car behind is going to have to pop out and pass somewhere. I was hoping for that scenario, but never came, though.

Q. As you continue with these consecutive top-five finishes, you're moving up the standings. What does this weekend mean to you in terms of the championship?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Very fortunate. That's Josef's third win of the year. That's unfortunate. Once you get into a three- and four-win category, that's where you look at past championships and usually they have three, four, five wins in them. He's getting in that territory now. We're going to have to start raking in some more wins.

Yeah, being there, being second now in the points, continually moving up, I think back to, like, Long Beach, electrical issue we had at Indy GP. Doesn't happen. Man, we'd be way up in front.

Just got to keep pushing. Just got to keep pushing. We're going for race wins. Hopefully we can get back on our stride like we were '12, '13 and '14 at Iowa, make something happen there. That's my objective at the moment.

Q. You've had such a strong performance at Iowa. Heading into a weekend like that, what are your thoughts knowing that you're coming off of such positive momentum?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's a new car, so you don't know what you're going to have. I love that racetrack. Now if we can only add the Milwaukee Mile back on, I will be a happier person. We can put the Milwaukee Mile at the end of the season, I don't know how we do it, just to get the two, Road America and Milwaukee Mile, away from each other on the calendar.

I think I'm dreaming.

Q. When you're coming out of the pits, here comes Dixon at full speed, did your eyes get real big thinking, Oh, no, he's got me?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I didn't think he got me. I knew I was going to have my hands full. Scott Dixon is not to the guy you want to see coming out behind you on hot tires when you're on cold. I could see his hair on fire.

I knew I had to be patient, put the car on the marks, hit my apexes, put my power down when I needed to. We had loads of overtake left. I had a lot of (indiscernible) to go on the wing. Unfortunately I didn't get to use them on Josef.

Q. A lot of drivers describe this as their favorite track. How rewarding is it to be able to push as hard as you can and still come up with a good result like this?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, it's nice for sure. Starting third, I'll tell you, going green the whole way was a lot of fun. Like I said, I thought we'd be a bit better, knowing how the first outing went, the first stint went, how close we were with Josef.

Getting around here for however long it was, a full race distance, going 100%, add Road America in and IndyCar doesn't get much better than that for a driver.

Good, fun day. One position short.

THE MODERATOR: Ryan, we'll see you in Iowa.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Thank you. Have a good day.

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