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INDYCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 22, 2015
THE MODERATOR:¬† Welcome, everyone.¬† I was looking at the top two.¬† To be honest with you, all week long it's been Will Power and Scott.¬† That has to be something that you've recognized as well.¬†
WILL POWER:¬† Yeah.¬† I mean, it means nothing really.¬† It's just a big draft.¬† It's more about how you can get through traffic than anything.¬† You know, we'll see on Sunday.¬†
The further back you get in a train, the harder it is.¬† But, yeah, you know, there's quite a few good cars out there that are going to make their way to the front.¬† I think our plan is just to try to stay up there all day.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† This practice session has traditionally over the years been almost ceremonial, an attempt to make sure that everything is okay.¬† Given everything that has transpired, was there any additional pressure or work to be done in this session today?¬†
WILL POWER:¬† No.¬† I think at that point you're pretty set on what you're going to run.¬† You're just kind of doing little tweaks here and there, pit stop practice, practicing coming into the pit off four.¬† It's just those type of things, getting in the groove for the race.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Questions, please.¬†
Q.¬† Will, everybody yesterday seemed to indicate the race would be like years past and nobody would want to lead.¬† You just said you wanted to be out front all day.¬†
WILL POWER:¬† Not out front, up front.¬† You're right, no one is going to want to lead.¬†
WILL POWER:¬† Because you can't get away.¬† In the old car, you could get away, so track position was really important.¬†
Now you sit half throttle on the straights.¬† Last year, no one would pass me.¬† Leading felt like one of the biggest mistakes of the race.¬† You had to pit earlier, you get shuffled back.¬†
Yeah, that's the game till lap 150, literally one stop to go, you're going to be playing that game.¬† It's a real pity because it used to be about car speed and driving well.¬† I wish this big drafting fest, I mean, if you get a good car, you can actually do a good job and pull away in the old days.¬† Now you're a sitting duck if you're leading basically.¬†
Q.¬† Will, is there a speed where the leader brings it down so much it might make sense for somebody to try to jump in front of them, 10 to go?
WILL POWER:¬† We're doing 214s last year.¬† No one passed.¬† That's almost 10 miles an hour slower than what we're doing out there.¬† I know what people in the back of the pack were thinking.¬† I mean, it's kind of ridiculous.¬†
Q.¬† In the practice session this morning, you had 229.¬† Is there another speed or gearing where you feel like, My car is right for the race?¬† If you're running 222, 223 you got to find something.¬†
WILL POWER:¬† 229 obviously is a massive tow.¬† The speed out front would be 223 or something. ¬†You're really geared, if you're going for the win.¬† You only got one car ahead of you.¬† That's what I feel like.¬† Otherwise if you're back in the pack, you're having a bad day anyway.¬†
If you're starting up front, you're geared to race for the win.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Tristan Vautier joins us.¬† Talk to us.¬†
TRISTAN VAUTIER:¬† It was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions.¬† I came before the road course race.¬† I knew if James was getting the deal with them, I would qualify.¬† It was not done.¬† It happened finally on Tuesday night I think before qualifying.¬† That was the first good news.¬†
Then, yeah, on this one, it's not really the way you want to get back in the car honestly.¬† I think Carlos deserves to be racing because he did a really good job in qualifying and on practice.¬† Obviously you can't help but be excited to start your second Indy 500.¬†
It's good to work with the guys.¬† Not a lot of prep for the race.¬† The practice we did last week was aimed for the complete opposite in running by ourselves, setting the car up for qualifying in low trim.¬†
At one hour, we made the most of it and have a direction for the race.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll continue with questions.¬†
Q.¬† Will, you won the most recent race in the Grand Prix.¬† This race is different, so big, its own thing.¬† Does that give you any momentum coming off of a win.¬† In 2012, you came in with three consecutive wins.¬† Does that momentum help into the biggest race of the year?¬†
WILL POWER:¬† It definitely helps as far as the team and the crew guys and everything, to get their first win.¬† A few changes in my team, my crew.¬† It was nice to get that.¬†
You're right, it's a much different race.¬† It's the first oval that we do.¬† But, yeah, I mean, a win is always positive, right?¬† It's not a negative thing.¬† It can only help.¬†
Q.¬† Tristan, many of us were under the impression that you had to race in Europe this weekend.¬†
TRISTAN VAUTIER:¬† Yes, I was meant to race in Europe in the GT Series in Silverstone.¬† Yeah, the team I think was very understanding.¬† I have to thank them.¬† It's Team Akka ASP.¬† We just had a call and they said I could race, seize the opportunity that opened up.¬† They would find a replacement driver so I could race in the 500.¬†
That's really cool from them to let me do that.¬† But, yeah, I was meant to be in England today.¬†
Q.¬† Tristan, you haven't moved here yet.¬†
TRISTAN VAUTIER:¬† I was in Chicago O'Hare when I had to come back.¬†
Q.¬† How close were you to boarding the plane?¬†
TRISTAN VAUTIER:¬† An hour and a half or something.¬† I put my luggage out, went to Alamo and rented a car and just drove back (laughter).¬†
Q.¬† Where will your head be Sunday at noon?¬†
TRISTAN VAUTIER:¬† In the race.¬† All of that is past now.¬† It just changes a bit the way you prepare.¬† You cannot visualize anything anymore.¬† You don't have time to overthink.¬†
I will be just focusing forward on the race.¬† It will be pretty normal once I'm in the car.¬†
Q.¬† Will, you talked about not really wanting to be the leader here because you can't get away from the pack.¬† On the start with Dixon on the pole, you're in the middle, Pagenaud alongside you, do you want to let Dixie lead?
WILL POWER:¬† Yes, basically.¬†
Q.¬† Do you think the leader will use more fuel?¬† You mention you have to come in and pit earlier.¬†
WILL POWER:¬† Yeah, I mean, basically you want someone in front of you, not at the end, though.¬†
Q.¬† Tristan, you've been out there, ran the car Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.¬† You went through the change from the qualifying trim setup then to have to qualify.¬† How different is the car now coming in, because you have the race package on there?¬† You're starting in the last row.¬† How is that going to be to try to make it forward?¬†
TRISTAN VAUTIER:¬† All of a sudden the car feels like it sucks when you have eight cars in front of you and you have no downforce because they take it away from you.¬†
The car in race trim by itself is easier to drive.¬† I think we have a good package.¬† All cars have been strong.¬† James has been strong all practice long.¬† We'll see.¬†
I mean, it's tough to start at the back here because obviously being behind other cars and stuff, you're in the dirty air, you use your tires more, you go back and forth with the balance of the car.¬†
We'll just see.¬† I don't have really time to think too much about it.¬† It's just what I have and we have to make the most of it.¬†
It's a long race.¬† It's a long race.¬† Obviously being in a good train at the start is good.¬† There's a lot happening.¬† Just going to have to be patient, take it one lap at a time, try not to rush anything.¬† Hopefully let the race come to us and have a good result.¬† We'll see.¬†
Q.¬† What day did they call you to tell you to come back?¬†
TRISTAN VAUTIER:¬† I came back first like I was a bit on standby.¬† We didn't know what was going to happen with James' replacement.¬† I was on standby for that.¬† I was here.¬† All that happened later Monday night, once everything was stabilized with James and all that.¬†
Then it was during this week on Wednesday morning that I got asked to stay because there might be something else.¬†
Q.¬† Again, you and Will are on different ends of the grid here.¬† He's wanting to stay up front.¬† How do you expect to progress through the race?¬† Do you have a plan what position you want to be in that first stop or anything like that?¬† Do you want to have five cars behind you?
TRISTAN VAUTIER:¬† I'm not overthinking.¬† There's so much can happen, you don't know how the car is going to feel on race day.¬† Two years ago was my first race.¬† We had massive first two stints where we started basically pretty much last, we were P-12 after two stints.¬† All of a sudden I got a vibration, you're back in P-25.¬† Your race is totally different.¬†
I really don't want to plan anything or say I have to be aggressive or conservative at the start.¬† We'll see what happens.¬† Honestly, only one hour of practice.¬† It went by like it was 15 minutes.¬† Really hard to know exactly where we're going to be at the race, how everything is going to feel.¬†
I really have no plan.¬† Just go and try to passes a many cars as you can.¬†
Q.¬† Will, the Chevys have been fastest all year.¬† It looks like they're fastest again here.¬† Eight out of the top ten were Chevys.¬† What do you think your advantage is?¬† Have there been any Hondas that have paced you at all during practice?¬† Are they able to get by you?
WILL POWER:¬† Yeah, I mean, I think the performance advantage is both engine and aero kit, although Honda is definitely closer here on the oval than they are on the road courses.¬†
Yeah, I mean, the Hondas are difficult to draft, very clean through the air.¬† I think they find the same with us.¬† Just different airflow off the car, so it doesn't draft as well.¬† You have to draft your own manufacturer.¬†
Yeah, it will be interesting.¬† Honda, they turn up on race day some days when you think they've struggled all month with a really fast car and engine.¬† You just kind of expect them not to be here.¬† Wilson is as quick as Honda.¬† I think they'll be up there battling.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Gentlemen, thank you very much.¬†
Scott Dixon joins us.¬†
Made the comment to Will that really when you look at the week, you two have been the fastest.¬† The fact of the matter is you have routinely been in this conference room with Will.¬† You look like going in as two of the odds-on favorite.¬† Do you see it that way.
SCOTT DIXON:¬† I think there's a lot more than us, that's for sure.¬† Yeah, I think obviously Team Target and Penske do a fabulous job with all the entries they have.¬†
With the group of our cars, we're definitely at the point end of the field, which is good to see for the group of us.¬†
It's warmup.¬† It depends a lot on the tow that you get.¬† People are lifting, all that kind of jazz anyway.¬† Take what you want out of it, but I think we accomplished what we needed to with the few basic setup changes, wings, things like that.¬† The car felt comfortable.¬†
Yeah, just another day of waiting, or another two days of waiting.¬† Ready to definitely get this thing kicked off.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Questions.¬†
Q.¬† Scott, this has become a Carb Day tradition.¬† You're normally one of the fastest guys on Carb Day.¬† What is it about this day where you seem to always leap to the top of the tower?
SCOTT DIXON:¬† I think it's been different reasons at different times.¬† I think with the Honda, that one year was definitely a shock for a lot of people.¬†
Yeah, I think this month we've generally been pretty fast.¬† The car's had a lot of speed in it.¬† You haven't had to wait for the perfect tow.¬† You can tag onto something and it's going to put up big numbers.¬†
It doesn't mean a whole lot just because of the style of racing now unfortunately with the draft being so big.¬† It's not like you're going to pull away or anything like that.¬†
Yeah, I think everybody on the team has done a good job.¬† The car seems to be pretty fast.¬† It's better to have the speed in hand than not have it at all.¬† That's a good positive.¬†
Q.¬† You said yesterday that you don't want to lead.¬† Will doesn't want to lead.¬† What happens when the race starts?
SCOTT DIXON:¬† Oh, I'll lead.¬† The only time that it gets to be a bit of a problem is if you get too out of whack on strategy.¬† It only takes one yellow to reset that.¬†
You don't want to do it four stints in and you're eight laps or ten laps out of whack with your competition.¬†
We'll see how the pace is between the front of the pack and the slower cars.¬† Obviously once you start getting into traffic...¬†
For us, we would probably want a lot of green-flag pit stops.¬† One is going to stream the field out a little bit, give you room on a bit of strategy, having to save fuel, things like that.¬†
We'll have to see how it goes.¬† The racing is going to be pretty tight, though.¬†
Q.¬† You mentioned the tow is big this year.¬† Can two guys working together slingshot each other, pull away possibly?
SCOTT DIXON:¬† I don't know. ¬†The problem is at some point you end up lifting.¬† That ruins the momentum.¬† In a perfect world you could hit it right for maybe five laps.¬† That would be great.¬† But it's quite tough.¬† Depending on when you catch the guy, depending on the tires.¬†
In theory, yes, it's possible.¬† Reality, at some point you're going to mess it up.¬†
Q.¬† You mentioned green-flag pit stops.¬† We see how pit strategy always shows its head in this game.¬† It either wins you the race, costs you the race.¬† What are you thinking about going into the race pit strategy-wise?¬† Is it one of your main concerns or something that comes up as the race progresses?
SCOTT DIXON:¬† It can go either way.¬† Sometimes it's going to help you.¬† Sometimes it's going to hurt you.¬† Unfortunately you want it to go for you at this place all the time, because you get one shot a year.¬† It's not like a season championship or anything like that where it kind of evens itself out.¬†
Those situations, you can't do much about.¬† You hope you pick the right strategy.¬† Generally you'll have a fairly good idea of what you need and when you need it.¬† How it plays out for the last couple laps, if it switched 20 laps earlier, it's hard to tell.¬† You're not going to be able to guess that.¬† That's why sometimes it just work out for someone.¬†
We'll be doing our best to be on the right strategy at the right time.¬†
Q.¬† I'm assuming you had an agenda going into this last practice session.¬† Do you feel like you ticked off all the things you wanted to accomplish?
SCOTT DIXON:¬† The big ones:¬† you want more grip, more power, those easy things.¬† But, yeah, you have a small list of options and things you kind of need to feed through, some balance changes, checking the wings, restarts, different gears.¬† The engineers will go through a lot of the data now because a lot of the gears would have been different between the cars, some fundamental setup changes would be different.¬† Try to feed through it all and figure out the best option.¬†
There will be no big change going into race day.¬† The car is pretty much set, comfortable.¬† We're out of practice, it's now the real deal.¬†
Q.¬† Scott, you talked in the past about the challenges of transitioning from the Honda program to the Chevy program.¬† How does that sort of compare with this latest transition with the aero package?¬† Do you feel like you felt comfortable driving last year's car and had to adjust all over or has it been pretty smooth for you?
SCOTT DIXON:¬† It's been pretty smooth.¬† Big credit to Chevy and obviously Pratt & Miller.¬† They've done an in-depth job.¬† It's been well-sorted.¬† The configurations they sent you to run have worked flawlessly.¬† For a team like us, that's kind of what we bank on sometimes, that it's not that sorted, we run through it and get an edge on the competition. ¬†
Unfortunately, Chevrolet has done a good job for all the Chevy teams, which is good for them, but hard for us with the competition.¬†
I think it's more adjustable in finer areas and just getting the balance how you like it.¬† The DW12, you were kind of locked into a corner on how you used that.¬† Maybe it didn't suit your driving style.¬† With the Chevy, all the circuits we've been to, you're able to tailor it to your feel, what would benefit you more, just with how you drive the car.¬†
Q.¬† I asked Will Power before.¬† The Chevys have dominated the year.¬† They seem to be the fastest again here at Indy.¬† You've run a lot of laps in practice here with the Honda.¬† Do you feel they can beat you or is Chevy too strong?
SCOTT DIXON:¬† It's tough to tell.¬† It could be a late strategy.¬† That switches it up.¬† Right now you would say that Chevrolet definitely have an edge on most of the circuits we go to.¬† It's also got the two biggest teams.¬† When you have nine cars between Ganassi and Penske here at this race, it's hard to get on top of that.¬†
Chevy have done well in all there is.¬† They've been credited to it with how they've performed so far this year.¬† All I can say is they've done a really good job.¬†
Q.¬† Can you tell me about drafting between manufacturing.¬† Will said Chevy is better.¬† You don't draft as well against a Honda.¬† Have you been noticing the same thing?
SCOTT DIXON:¬† No, not really.¬† It's always difficult if you get a car right at apex, it's going to be hard whether it's a Chevy or a Honda.¬† Just looking at the Honda, you would think there would be more dirty air behind it.¬† I wouldn't say it's a drastic difference.¬† But, yeah, maybe slightly, more turbulent behind a Honda.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Scott, thank you very much for coming in.¬†
SCOTT DIXON:¬† Cool.¬† Thank you.¬†
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports