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May 9, 2015
THE MODERATOR:¬† Another podium finish for Juan Pablo.¬† Good solid finish.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Yeah, it was good.¬† I mean, we ran good all day.¬† We pushed really hard.¬† I got behind a little bit at the start.¬† Behind but not behind.¬† I was on the outside.¬† There was really nowhere to go.¬† Dixon spun in front of me.¬† I avoided that.¬† I thought that was really good.¬† It was really good I didn't get tangled with anybody.¬† But we lost three places.¬†
Made it tough because you're behind.¬† Our first pit stop, we had a problem with the right front, so we lost a little bit of ground.¬† I stayed behind Simon and Bourdais, made it a little tough.¬† But after that, you know, the next one I passed them.¬† Rahal was the one I didn't manage to get.¬† I thought we had the same pace.¬†
We saw somebody slowing down on the backstretch, so we decided to pit just for safety.¬† That way we thought we would be ahead of the curve.¬† Thought a caution would come out, but it didn't.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Graham, you were here the other day as the banner carrier for Honda.¬† I don't know if you or others thought you would be here among the podium, but you are.¬† Terrific race.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Yeah, it was a good one today.¬† I think a lot of things went right for us.¬† Obviously the start was pretty good.¬† I think from the start we went from 17th to sixth.¬† From there really we just got everybody in the pits.¬† The guys did a phenomenal job.¬† I think on the first stop we went from sixth to second.¬†
The Honda had really good fuel economy today.¬† When the Chevys were pitting, they told me I had eight laps left before I had to pit.¬† We were having to cover, as Juan said, to pit.¬† We couldn't afford to get a yellow and get caught out.¬† All day long we played that game.¬†
It's hard.¬† The Chevy was definitely pretty quick on the straight.¬† But we were able to just kind of hang even.¬† Juan and I had the same pace.¬† Will, it was hard to say.¬† I was catching him a little bit.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† I think at the end he was pushing.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Last handful of laps he was pushing pretty hard.¬† But he and I were just the same.¬† I think I was catching him a 10th or two a lap, but I needed to catch him a lot more than that.¬†
This is a good day for Honda.¬† But if we want to win, we've got some work to do.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Questions.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, you finished second at Barber, you finished second here.¬† How important was it to have two strong races together?¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Well, we're right there in points.¬† Obviously I think Juan, and I don't know how Helio did today, and Power, those guys are off in the distance there a little bit.¬†
We were pretty close to fourth in points.¬† We had to have a good day compared to Hinch and Newgarden, and we did.¬† The biggest thing in this championship is you can't have an off day.¬† Even if you don't win every race, you got to be in it every time.¬† The last couple races we've been there.¬†
There's a lot of work to be done.¬† But it feels good.¬† We definitely have momentum on our side going into the 500 here.¬† Hopefully we can put a quick car on the track and have a good day there.¬†
Q.¬† Juan, you have the points lead by winning the first race of the year, and you still seem to have a lot of momentum going into the biggest race of the year.¬† How important is the Indy 500?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† It's exciting, to be honest.¬† My goal this year was not to lose that many points coming to Indy.¬† I know our strong part of the season should be the ovals, you know what I mean, some of the road courses.¬† I was looking forward to not be that far behind because I know once the ovals start I can make up some points.¬†
Having the points coming into Indy, it's encouraging.¬† We were fastest in the open test.¬† The car felt really good, too.¬† I'm pretty happy.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, you spoke a week ago about how badly you wanted to get a win.¬† You seem more upbeat than I expected.¬† Just the aftermath of the race or...¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† A podium is a podium.¬† It feels good.¬† I feel like I'm always second every time I'm on the podium.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Some people would kill for a second, believe me.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† I know.¬† It's only been like seven years for me, so...¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Look at the bright side.¬† It wasn't luck.¬† You had luck a little bit at the start, but you had the pace.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† We were pretty good.¬† I feel good about it, okay?¬† I think in the last two weeks combined, we've come away from finishing first by three seconds combined or something.¬† Pretty close. ¬†
At the end of the day this tiny little one-car team is fighting with Penske.¬† That feels pretty good.¬† We're not them yet.¬† Feel like we got a good group.¬† As I keep saying, I'm really proud of the people in this organization because the last couple years weren't so hot.¬†
We got a team together now that I think you guys can see is working really well together and I'm just proud of 'em.¬† Momentum is on our side here a little bit.¬† We're kind of carrying the banner, the flag for Honda at the moment.¬† I think once we can get a little more there, we'll be looking pretty good.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, could you explain the start.¬† How much of it was skill, how much of it was just closing your eyes?
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Honestly, it played out perfectly.¬† Honest to God, I said to my dad before the race, he said, What are you going to do at the start?¬† I said, I'm going to go as far left as I can.¬† When they all crash on the inside, I'll be on the outside, so I will have a great angle to cut to the apex.¬† Worst comes to worst, I'll have to do the shortcut.¬† Rather than being inside and getting collected in the whole deal, it's going to be fine.¬†
It literally worked perfectly.¬† I saw smoke everywhere, then next I see him.¬† I got Hildebrand going into four.¬† But it kind of just worked.¬† As Juan said, part of this deal is luck.¬† We had the pace, for sure, but that definitely went our way.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, your dad says this is the best you've ever driven.¬† Agree?¬† Disagree?
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† I think Juan can tell you this from his years of racing.¬† When you have a team that gels so well, that works so well, that you're so confident in, and giving the driver a better car, it breeds confidence out of your driver.¬† You can drive better and harder.¬†
It's not that this person you see driving today isn't the same guy that drove last year.¬† But the car I drove today is better than what I've had.¬† I've been able to attack a lot harder.¬† I'm very proud of my team and confident.¬† Today I wanted so badly just to win for them.¬†
When I saw Will, I was just like, Try as hard as you can to chase him down.¬† Like I said, we didn't have it.¬†
It's not just the driver.¬† There's so much more that goes into making everything go.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, I know Newgarden frustrated you a little bit.¬† How much do you think he slowed you down?
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Look, the rules are if you're a lap down...
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Glad somebody is more pissed off than me (laughter).¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† ...you get out of the way.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Even if there was no rules, if you're more than one lap down, you shouldn't be getting in the way of the leaders.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† For 20 laps.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† The guy won last week.¬† He should know better.¬† If they did it to him last week, he lost the race because of that, he would have been crying and moaning.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† You get 10, 12 car lengths back, you can feel the air.¬† I was five car lengths back for five or six laps in a row on his tail.¬† You know, it was like I didn't exist.¬† That's pretty frustrating.¬†
But it worked out fine.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, it seems like you and your little tiny team seem to be the only ones getting the Honda to work so far.¬† Could both you guys give your take on the parity or lack thereof between Honda and Chevrolet right now, how you're managing to make it work.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† You know, I don't know that there's any secret to it.¬† I think what we're finding with the Honda, there's an inherent weakness, which is that the car is pretty pit sensitive.¬† It likes to be sideways a lot.¬† We've changed a heck of a lot, and it doesn't make a difference.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† It doesn't make a difference, but it's quicker.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† All I do for the race is make it do one thing a little bit if I can.¬† For qualifying, obviously you got to drive it on the ragged edge a little bit.¬†
I think the difference is that it's a little bit everywhere.¬† As Juan said, he thought we were better out of the corner than him.¬† The Chevy on top speed, 'push to pass', I was on the rev limiter, I couldn't catch them, they were pulling away from me.¬†
They both have their strengths and weaknesses.¬† I think we got to get a little bit more drivability out of the car.¬† In the very flowing section, it's hard to flow speed because it's always wanting to be sideways on you.¬† You never know when it's going to.¬† That's the difficulty of it.¬†
We're going to keep working hard, try to tame it.¬† I know HPD, everybody is trying equally as hard.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Are you going to share setups with everybody else?¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† No.¬† Hunter-Reay already asked me about the spring race.¬† I told him to get a life.¬† I told him 4500 pounds, that would be good (laughter).¬†
Q.¬† Juan, yesterday I asked you how you felt you progressed from last year to this year on a track like this.¬† Now that you finally made the Fast Six and the podium on a road course, do you finally feel like you're turning the corner?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Yeah.¬† I'll be honest with you, we struggled a lot.¬† We were miles off on setup.¬† If you look at NOLA, look at Barber, we were off the pace.¬† Finally learned what we need to run in the car.¬† We figured out the street courses, we're really strong there.¬† We found it here with the road courses.¬† It's pretty good.¬†
I'm really happy with where we stand right now.¬† Something that we have that really helps, being with Penske, you have four strong drivers, four ideas, four directions.¬† Somebody's going to get it right.¬† It makes life really cool.¬† It means 90% of the time you're going to have a fast car.¬†
It's good.¬† We're really encouraged.¬† I don't know what happened to Simon there.¬† He was running right there with us.¬† It was good.¬† It was fun.¬†
Q.¬† Juan, if you can take the people who were in the first lap contact out of it, when the third place car hits a second place car, should that be a contact penalty?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† It's the start of the race.¬† Get over it.¬† You know what I mean?¬†
You put us on the longest straight you can think of, you put a first-gear corner at the end of it, what do you think is going to happen?¬† We're not that smart (laughter).¬†
Q.¬† Graham, you're champing at the bit there.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Hey, I liked what I saw today.¬† It was great (laughter).¬†
Q.¬† You said you have tomorrow to feel what you did today, but then the 500 faces you right away.¬† How quickly do you make the adjustment?¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Start turning left, I guess.¬†
I tell you the truth, I don't think about it.¬† Just get in the car, drive it, see what it does.¬† Make it better, go through the program.¬† We plan really well what we're going to do every day.¬† We try to achieve that program.¬† That's it.¬† That's all you can do.¬†
You can't go, Oh, this is Indy.¬† It's the same guys we run today that you're going to run with the 500, plus seven or eight more.¬† That's it.¬†
For me personally, I try to downplay it completely.¬† Just drive the thing and see what it does.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† For me, my little sister's graduating from Ohio State, from The Ohio State University tomorrow.¬† I have to go see her graduation.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: ¬†I got Mother's Day, so...¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† I got my mom, but she'll be with me.¬† Last year was worse.¬† It was literally the next day.¬† You got out of the car Saturday and ran on the oval Sunday.¬† At least we got a day off.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, if you had your frustrations here in the past, personally how big of a run was it today to get a result on the board, be able to think coming into Indy two weeks from now that if things go your way, you can get a good result here?
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Well, I finished third in the 500 before.¬† I haven't won the darn thing, but I've been close.¬†
Again, it goes back to there's a lot of factors that go into the 500.¬† You got to have a good car.¬† The driver has to be on top of their game.¬† Pit stops have got to be good.¬† I think our guys have done a great job with pit stops, really stepping up their game lately.¬† We haven't had the best oval cars the last couple years.¬† Hopefully we can sort that out.¬†
We have an engineer from when we finished third, Martin, back onboard, Talbott, all those guys.¬† The strength of our team is the engineering corps that's come onboard.¬† We've been looking at setups.¬† Hopefully we can be a little bit better.¬†
Things are going pretty well.¬† The 500, that's what counts.¬† That's our focus from here on out.¬†
Q.¬† Yesterday, Faustino and Will Power called the road course here the crown jewel of road courses.¬† Do you believe it's achieved that type of status?¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† When you're on pole, you can call it whatever you want.¬† It's a cool road course, you know what I mean?¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Crown jewel is Road America, I think.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† I'm with him.¬† The problem is we don't go there.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† As far as how nice it is.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Tell you the truth, it's a really good road course.¬† I've run here in Formula One.¬† It was awful, awful, awful.¬† They changed it, made it into a really good one.¬†
We're really happy with it.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, was there ever a thought to going off sequence when you were stuck behind Newgarden or would that have jeopardized your strategy?
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† To be honest, like I said, the Honda fuel mileage is pretty good.¬† I could have gone a lot longer.¬†
You have to be very careful of trying to go too long, then you stick yourself out there.¬† In case of a yellow, you're absolute toast.¬†
We were kind of trapped behind Newgarden.¬† Unfortunately it seemed like when we decided to pit, he decided to pit.¬† Luckily, coming out of the last stop, he was on blacks and we had a little bit of a quicker stop.¬† I was able to kind of catch up in the pits a little bit, get enough to get ahead of him.¬†
I mean, that was like 20 some laps.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Tell you the truth, I passed him in the out lap.¬† He got out of the way.¬† I was really pissed.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† I figured after I got him, he wasn't going to block you.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† I was on the button and he didn't back off at all.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† These things happen, unfortunately.¬† Couple tough ones out there.¬†
Q.¬† Graham, with Ricardo on the radio with you, how much of a difference has that made?¬† Your dad is just watching.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† I've said this all along.¬† Dad is excellent at strategy.¬† To not have dad is not like it's a great bonus.¬† Things are probably a little bit more calm.¬† Dad is a pretty emotional guy, gets pretty fired up.¬† When he tells me I need to go pass people, I'm sitting out there driving at 11/10ths, it ticks me off a little bit.¬† It's probably easier when he's not saying those things.¬†
I think everything's just working smoother now.¬† Again, there's a lot of factors to that.¬† Having dad just watch the race isn't necessarily all of it.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Thank you very much, guys, for coming in.¬† Congratulations.¬†
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA:¬† Thank you.¬†
GRAHAM RAHAL:¬† Thank you.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Good to have you, the winner of today's race, Will Power.¬†
Got the pole, got out front, stayed there.¬† Can't get much better than that.¬†
WILL POWER:¬† No, it was exactly the race we asked for.¬† No yellows.¬† Very straightforward.¬† Knew we would be in good shape.¬† Had a very good car, good stops.¬† Just super determined to make it happen.¬† I know Rahal was closing pretty fast at the end when I had to save fuel.¬† I had to pick up the pace and get that fuel number.¬†
Yeah, feel like that's the most physical race I've done all year.¬† It was hard work, it really was.¬† But just great start to the month.¬† I'm halfway through what I want to accomplish this month.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† What makes it more physical than the other places?¬†
WILL POWER:¬† I think it's the long loading corners and it's got massive braking zones.¬† It's just a lot of g-forces.¬† A lot of heavy steering, a lot of grip.¬†
I was pretty mentally drained because you keep pumping out laps non-stop.¬† A lot of fun.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll take questions.¬†
Q.¬† Faustino called it flawless.¬† Would you go that far?¬†
WILL POWER:¬† Yeah, that was as good as you get as far as no mistakes, good start, good restart, good stops, good out-laps, good in-laps.¬† Just did everything we needed to do to win.¬†
I think back, I can't think of anything that I felt was wrong with that race.¬† You don't often get that in IndyCar.¬† So, yeah, it was a very good day.¬†
Q.¬† With the championship last year and the resources you have at Penske, the win today, do you feel that makes you the favorite for the 500?
WILL POWER:¬† I don't think that makes me the favorite for the 500.¬† But what I will say is that I've got more focus on the 500 than I've ever had.¬† I've won a championship now.¬† It's kind of pushed that aside, and now the main focus to me is the 500.¬†
The first thing for me to accomplish was winning a championship just because it's the best driver over a whole season.¬† I mean, that was a big deal to me to have won that.¬† Now it's just absolutely the 500.¬† I really, really want to win that race.¬† We'll see how it all shakes out in the next week with the body kits.¬† I think Honda will be much closer to the Chevys with what they've got.¬†
Take it as it comes, each day, each session, just do everything you can.¬†
Q.¬† With that in mind, yesterday we talked about how the Chevys were up here and the Hondas were down here.¬† Where do you think Graham Rahal got his pace today?
WILL POWER:¬† He's been really strong in all the races.¬† This guy has done a real good job.¬† Definitely the class of the Honda teams.¬†
Yeah, I mean, you'd be worried if he was in a Chevy.¬† He would be absolutely a championship contender.¬† He is now in a Honda.¬†
He's obviously got a handle on it.¬† That team has done a really good job.¬† He seems to be there in each race knocking on the door.¬†
Q.¬† After your pit stop you went back quickly to the leading position.¬† What was the traffic situation with overlapping drivers?
WILL POWER:¬† Lapped cars, definitely difficult there.¬† Trying to keep Hildebrand behind me and also pass two of the Schmidt cars.¬† These cars can fight to stay on the lead lap now.¬† It's a rule we talked about in driver meetings earlier in the year.¬†
It can be really frustrating at times when you have a fast car and you just can't get by a guy who is about a second off the pace.¬† In a driver meeting they said you can fight for position.¬† They go ahead and do that, you know.¬†
It's fair enough.¬† Truly, if it does go yellow, those guys get to come back to the back of the line and make a pretty good day out of it if everything fell right.¬† It's just a game that we play right now.¬†
Q.¬† Talk about your thoughts after Dixon had his issue at the start.¬† Did you have relief knowing he wasn't there on your rear-end anymore?
WILL POWER:¬† No.¬† I got a good start.¬† I just protected the inside, and I went out, looked in the mirror to make sure he wasn't on the outside.¬† I just saw him spinning.¬† Kind of felt bad because he'd been talking about that when we went around the parade lap prerace.¬† He said he was really worried about the first corner.¬†
Sure enough, exactly what he said would happen happened.¬† I'm sure he's pretty angry.¬† I don't know what happened.¬† Obviously he got turned around.¬†
Q.¬† Were you surprised either by the lack of yellows or by the fuel mileage that Honda was able to make with Graham running longer on the stints?
WILL POWER:¬† We pitted early not because of fuel mileage.¬† We pitted early because we heard a car was slowing on the track, not to get caught out by a yellow.¬† I don't know how much longer we could have gone.¬† He took a big risk.¬† If it did go yellow, he's at the back.¬†
Yeah, maybe.¬† I don't know.¬† I don't know.¬† I don't think I took a full stint.¬† I don't think I took it to the absolute limit.¬† The last stint was probably it.¬†
Q.¬† Roger Penske has 15 Indy 500 victories, one NASCAR Nationwide victory here, and now this, he calls it win number 17.¬† How does it feel to give Roger Penske a win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway even though it's not the Indy 500?
WILL POWER:¬† It feels very good.¬† It's funny, I came in this month determined to have a good month.¬† I haven't had that for so long.¬† It's working out.¬† It's just awesome to win at this place.¬† It just is.¬† I mean, you know, you look at the event, you look at the facility itself, it's first class.¬† The road course is phenomenal.¬† It's smooth, technical.¬† Then you have the Cathedral of Speed, you could call it.¬† It's just an unbelievable month for motorsport.¬†
Yeah, I mean, it would be very cool to get the double.¬†
Q.¬† Your previous Indy 500 experiences, how would you assess them?¬† Were there times you felt like you were a contender?
WILL POWER:¬† Absolutely.¬† 2009 and '10 were years I felt I had a car to win it.¬† Especially 2010, it was an unbelievable car.¬† Just something would happen every time.¬† The last couple years, last year was my mistake getting a drive-through penalty.¬† I have to put myself in that position to challenge at the end of the race.¬† I'm really determined to do that this month.¬† I really want to get it right and win that race.¬†
Q.¬† You mentioned in yesterday's press conference you wanted to win four sections in the month of May.¬† How difficult do you think it's going to be?¬† Do you think it's possible?¬†
WILL POWER:¬† It's absolutely possible.¬† You have to think that, because it is.¬† It's possible.¬† I'm going to try to do everything to make that happen, yeah.¬†
Q.¬† When it comes to qualifying, that's the next big one.¬† Do you look at the biggest threat being on your own team?
WILL POWER:¬† Yeah, I do, for sure.¬† Seems to be every year, this year in particular with four very good drivers, that's going to be the case.¬†
With qualifying here, it's just got to fall your way.¬† The wind has to be right for your run, the temperature.¬† It's really funny, this place.¬† It's so particular.¬† If the sun goes behind a cloud, suddenly you pick up half a mile an hour or something.¬† That's the type of thing that's got to happen for you.¬†
Q.¬† A technical question.¬† When the aero kits were launched by Chevrolet, does Team Penske have a technical facility to make simulation work?
WILL POWER:¬† Like doing wind tunnel work?¬†
Q.¬† Simulation work.¬†
WILL POWER:¬† Yeah, I think all teams do simulation stuff.¬† They all do it.¬† You know before you come the gears, downforce levels, drag. ¬†Chevy does their own development on that, gives you the numbers.¬† Everyone has their own tools for that on the computer.¬† I'm sure they all do simulation work.¬†
Q.¬† You've had a chance to test the aero kit one day at the Speedway for the oval.¬† Do you have any idea what we might see as a pole speed for the Indy 500?
WILL POWER:¬† What was it last year?¬† 31.5 or something.¬† I think it will be in the 33s, 34s.¬† It will be interesting.¬† It's going to depend on the weather, as well.¬† That can help a lot, too. ¬†If you get 35, that will be pretty good.¬† That would be a pretty big gain.¬†
I think we would have, had they not had that hole to stop them flying, took a bit of efficiency away.¬† Definitely knocking on the door of the 35s, I think.¬†
Q.¬† I'm looking at the selfie you took in Victory Lane.¬† As much as you want the 500, do you think you'd have the presence of mind to get the phone out in Victory Lane?
WILL POWER:¬† Yes.¬† My wife gives it to me.¬† It's actually her phone I took it with.¬† Imagine that.¬† Now that's a selfie right there (laughter).¬† You're there with the milk.¬† Ain't got anyone else on the podium, just you and the milk.¬†
Q.¬† The pace car driver, can you give me any assessment whatsoever about the job he did driving the pace car today?¬†
WILL POWER:¬† Absolutely terrible (laughter).¬† Did he do the whole race or just the warmup lap?¬† He said, It's not going to be me on the parade laps.¬† Don't judge me, dude.¬†
Q.¬† The first lap, he did all right?¬†
WILL POWER:¬† He did a good job.¬† Someone must be telling him the lines here.¬† Usually people are way out here.¬† Gee, that's not the racing line.¬† He wasn't bad.¬†
THE MODERATOR:¬† Will, congratulations.¬†
WILL POWER:¬† You got it.¬† Thank you.¬†
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports