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April 18, 2015

Helio Castroneves

Scott Dixon

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Juan Pablo Montoya

Josef Newgarden

Simon Pagenaud


THE MODERATOR:  We're pleased to be joined by one of our front row starters, Juan Pablo Montoya.  Juan is a former race winner, won here in 1999. 
Juan, you were 15th fastest overall in practice, so some things came together before qualifying that put you on the front row.  What would you say those things were.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  I think yesterday we were pretty good.  In the first practice we were really good.  I mean, I had a couple of laps, had tons of traffic.  Went one direction for the second practice, went slower.  Tried something this morning, went even slower.  I'm like, Put it back.  We put it back. 
We spend two days trying to figure out.  We just put it back the way we started and it was good.  Welcome to motor racing (laughter). 
But it's good.  I mean, I made a mistake in the last corner.  Just too greedy. 
THE MODERATOR:  Your team obviously is very strong. 
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Will had a problem in the first one. 
THE MODERATOR:  Will is obviously a staple kind of in the Fast Six.  Will it be strange for you not seeing him up front? 
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  It's a long race.  Tim Cindric is really good at calling strategies and those weird things.  I'm sure he's going to be there at the end somehow. 
It's funny, sometimes you when you start at the back, you can figure out a race strategy.  When you're in the front, you're kind of tight to protect that lead.  When you're in the back, you gamble.  A lot of times it pays off.  Look at last week.  We did everything right, but we threw it away. 
THE MODERATOR:  Questions. 

Q.  You won here before.  Obviously you're disappointed with not getting pole.  What do you take from your previous experience here?  Do you feel like you're back 100% now? 
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  Yeah, I feel pretty good.  I mean, speed-wise it's pretty good.  Actually bounced off the wall today in qualifying, but I was pretty good.  I was very proud of that.  Always that close, but today actually I did bounce it twice.  It was good.  Not hard, just bump.  You know what I mean?  I mean, when you can do that and produce lap times, you're doing a good job. 
It's coming.  I mean, it's not that I forgot to drive, it's that I haven't been in open-wheel for so long.  You adapt to the cars.  Last year was a big transition year, understanding setups and things. 
If you look at my setups, I told this before, if you look at my setups compared to the other three cars, it's completely different, but it works for me. 

Q.  What do you think of the aero package here?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  I think it's great.  I mean, honestly the cars drive so much better than last year. 

Q.  What about turbulence and things like that? 
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  It's the same thing.  I don't think it's that bad.  NOLA was fine, St. Pete was fine.  I could follow Will pretty close. 
I mean, I think it's okay.  Chevy keeps doing a really good job.  Everybody at Team Penske and my Verizon car is pretty amazing. 
THE MODERATOR:  We're also joined by Josef Newgarden who will be starting sixth. 
Josef, you have two top-five starts here and a best finish of 13th.  What is it that's so challenging about this race? 
JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  Well, geez, I don't know.  Trying to get through turn one in the first lap.  That's normally the hardest thing here.  I've not had much success around this place in the race.  I always have something come up.  Just didn't fall our way. 
But we always seem to be pretty quick.  We had a pretty disastrous practice one here.  We tried something different and it didn't work.  I thought we recovered really well as a group, got ourselves some speed again, luckily got in the Fast Six. 
I think we've got a fast car, just not quite quick enough on older tires.  I think we need to work on that for the morning.  That's what's going to be difficult for our team going into tomorrow.  We can be quick, when we go to old tires, it's been a little difficult for us.  Q2, we were faster.  Couldn't hold that pace with old rubber. 
That's going to be our challenge tomorrow.  I think if we can stay out of that, I think we have a chance of fighting for a podium or a win tomorrow. 

Q.  Did your teams find any difficulty in adjusting to the regulations based on the tethering of the wing parts, any of the adjustments they mandated?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  I don't think you notice it that much on a street course.  A road course would be a much bigger impact.  We're trim here.  It makes a little difference.  But it's what it is, you know.  I'm sure Chevy will figure out a way so that we can win again. 

Q.  Juan, Coletti was running a pretty good clip, then clipped the wall.  Can you relate to when you get greedy for a lap on a street circuit? 
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  You just got to know.  If you think you're going to hit it not hard enough, keep your foot on it.  Most of the time when you think you're going to get it wrong, pretty sure you're going to get it wrong.  At this level, you get into a corner, the thing gets sideways.  There's a little time in the braking zones, you go, Oh.  You already know there's no way.  Don't even try.  We've done that already. 

Q.  Juan, track record fell today.  Can you compare and contrast the different cars here?  Different package entirely. 
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:  I think this car just drives so much better.  The technology in the cars, it's amazing.  What Chevy and Honda have both done with the smaller engines.  I mean, we got a ton of power.  We make a lot of power. 
The acceleration of these cars is amazing.  Big difference with the old engines.  Was pretty similar acceleration, but it kept going a little further in the straights.  But the cars didn't brake nowhere as good as this.  They had no stability like we have nowadays.  It's a big difference. 

Q.  Josef, only non-Penske, non-Andretti car in the Fast Six.  Is this earlier than you thought you were going to get into the Fast Six or was this when you were hoping to get in here for the first time?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN:  I think Penske looks really good.  Honestly, I know Juan is here.  Let me tell you, Juan, you did some amazing work over the off-season.  I'm sure your contributions were amazing, too. 
Seriously, though, I think Penske looks the strongest.  They've really got a strong car looks like underneath, they have good power down.  We've been inching towards that.  We started off a little slow.  We found some setups that get us closer.  So I think we can challenge. 
For instance, today in Q2, we were really strong.  We were right behind Simon there, just a nick off of him.  I needed new tires to be able to do that.  There's a little bit of a gap there when I start to wear the tires out.  Can't quite keep the grip underneath me.  There's something there that we need to tweak a little bit more, then I think we'll be closer to Penske. 
Right now we're close, but there's still a little bit there that we're searching for.  Obviously Ryan has done a good job.  Andretti is getting a little bit better, too. 
You're going to see that.  Penske came out of the gate strong, but everybody is going to close the gap throughout the season.  No one is going to stay ahead.  Each weekend you have to be fighting to find more and more out of the car.  It's crazy.  You think you find a setup, it works well, you keep running it, it's successful.  That's not how it works.  You need to keep pushing forward, not big chunks, but you have to keep developing.  Everyone is doing that, too. 
I think you're going to see more competition for the Penske guys as the season goes on.  You're not going to see anybody run away with it. 
THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Scott Dixon, starting third in tomorrow's race. 
Scott, you have a best start of fifth here, best finish of fourth.  Tell us how conditions were in qualifying today and what you think we can expect from tomorrow's race. 
SCOTT DIXON:  That's a good start.  12 years, maybe my best starting position.  That's pretty good.  I'm finally learning how to get around this place. 
Yeah, as you said, statistically and race-wise it's not been a strong track for us.  Start of the season, whatever, it's been a tough one. 
Car rolled off.  We were quickest in practice one.  Practice two we had some issues with the engine and some wiring things which we didn't get to run.  For today the car seemed good on black tires.  I was really surprised the times we could do on the blacks.  I guess our downfall was maybe not gaining the full amount on the reds, which was a little bit frustrating. 
All in all, third place, good starting position.  Obviously in the starting position to have a good crack at winning this race, which is obviously our main aim here. 
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Scott. 

Q.  Scott, a bit of a slow start this season.  This is nothing new.  2013 same situation, then you saw what happened.  Put in context where you are at the moment, what you expect to see developing over the next while. 
SCOTT DIXON:  A little frustrating.  I think St. Pete, that was just a situation that we couldn't get around, trying to compete with no rear jacks, it's like running with three wheels.  It wasn't a possibility. 
NOLA was frustrating for everybody involved.  It was frustrating.  Tried to be a little overcautious.  It was not a race towards the end.  Real frustrated there because we tested there a lot.  The car was super fast.  It's just one of those things. 
It's a rough start.  I think we're 50 points back already.  A big margin that we need to regain.  But it's the early part of the season.  Hopefully we can turn it around. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll introduce Simon Pagenaud.  Simon, you were fastest in overall practice.  Been a strong start to the weekend for you.  What's been going right so far in Long Beach? 
SIMON PAGENAUD:  It's been good.  We've been fast in every practice.  Congrats, Helio, good job.  Team Penske is doing a great job.  Personally we picked up a sudden understeer, don't understand why, in the last qualifying session.  Overall it's been a good weekend so far.  Hope it stays that way tomorrow. 
THE MODERATOR:  Also joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Last year's pole winner, also won this race in 2010. 
What are some things you can tell us about what we might see in the race tomorrow and what makes this track so challenging? 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  First of all, congrats to Helio.  I think he won the pole here in '85 or '86 (laughter). 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Good news is I won again (laughter). 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  That's impressive after all that time.  What was it honestly, '01? 
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  It's great to be back in Long Beach.  Obviously we're all kind of sorting out the aero kits, trying to get it figured out. 
As for us, we're trying to just cut into that gap with Ganassi and Penske.  We're trying to understand what we need from this aero package, what we need from the engine. 
We're making steps, but we're not there yet.  So hopefully we're closing the gap. 
THE MODERATOR:  And last but not least, our polesitter, Helio Castroneves. 
Helio, you set a new track record in qualifying today.  Did you think you had the speed to break that record today? 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Well, we were going for it.  Every time I go to the racetrack, I think we have not only a great speed but a great team.  That's what it's all about. 
Ryan, just to let you know, you guys keep me young.  You guys keep me pushing.  That's why it's fun, because I not only have you as a competitor, but I have inside my team Simon, Will, and Gordito Pablo, which is okay.  But we still kicking ass, both of us.  We're first and second in the championship.  We're starting first and second.  Guess it doesn't matter, age or size (laughter). 
The thing is, that's what keeps is fun in our team.  We feed from each other.  In my team, to be honest, the group, the caliber of drivers in my team is awesome.  Will, Simon and Juan Pablo.  I mean, the talent that they have there. 
For us, it's great because we keep pushing.  Yesterday wasn't the best.  AAA guys did a great job changing a lot.  This morning we started the weekend.  That's why for me it was great because my engineer, and Roger with the strategy, it was spot on.  So now we got to finish the job. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll continue with questions. 

Q.  Helio, based on your opening comments, do you think that Juan would have an advantage with the extra downforce? 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  No.  I tell you, sometimes it's good.  In the rain, yes (laughter). 
No, but all jokes aside, we knew this year Juan Pablo would be really strong.  It was impressive winning a race.  And for us, we speak from all the entire guys, we're pushing.  I believe the result that the team is doing well, it's because of the pre-season that we were pushing. 
Nobody has an advantage at the moment.  You see it.  Everybody's pretty consistent.  Now we just got to keep going.  We're really focused on giving Roger again the championship.  Obviously I want to do myself after finishing second so many times.  But at the end of the day I want to put Team Penske in the number one spot. 

Q.  How would you say the difficulty of the track has changed from last year till now?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  The track is pretty much the same in terms of layout.  The cars have changed.  We're talking about the aero kit, that we are one second quicker than last year.  That's the things that have changed.  All of a sudden the brake marks become very short.  Not much time for me to thinking. 
Those are the difficulty challenges that I think every one of us having right now.  But the track, it's pretty much the same. 

Q.  For the Chevy drivers, do you really miss the rabbit ears on the car?  I don't know if that is extra drag down the long front straightaway.  How is it affecting the way you run?  Is it a qualifying or race issue? 
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  All I can, yes, it did affect us.  It's part of the aero kit.  But in the end of the day we understand that the series decided to make a decision and take those off.  We got to dance according to the music, let's put it that way. 
THE MODERATOR:  Gentlemen, congratulations and good luck in the race tomorrow. 

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