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August 1, 2015

Sebastien Bourdais

Helio Castroneves

Scott Dixon

Charlie Kimball

Josef Newgarden

Will Power


THE MODERATOR: Helio, tell us about your qualifying time.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it was very good. I wish it was stronger through the whole weekend. Unfortunately the lap time sheet that you guys have been seeing over the weekend unfortunately were never able to get a clear lap, which actually was good, because it kind of like hold us a little bit back, but at the end of the day, it was a great effort from my engineer Jonathan Diuguid. He was on it. Super cool, collected, and when you have people around you with that kind of coolness, it just makes you better, and for me it was perfect to do those good laps there, and it was tough. It sure was very tough, but we've got to keep going for tomorrow, another good result.

Q. Your teammate, Will, helping Team Penske in the Fast Six, but we're seeing two Team Penske drivers, which I guess says something about the strength of the team. Has it been a challenging weekend?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, well, Pablo unfortunately had issues in the first session yesterday. Simon has issues this morning. In all fairness, those guys, they are kind of a little bit behind, and it's a shame because obviously this place is not about the firewall there. There was a lot of momentum, there was a lot of little details that should get you going, and for sure the team is doing a great job. Obviously Ganassi is another strong team and they have like KD and Carpenter there now, so I think that that is going to be another tough‑‑ not only mentally but physically because we were able to be pretty fast out there.
THE MODERATOR: Joined now also by Charlie Kimball, who starts sixth in tomorrow's race. Charlie is the 2013 race winner here. What do you remember from that win and what have you been able to take into the following years? Seems like a strong track for you.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I remember how much fun it was. It was something I was reminded of, that usually we have the test day here and you show up on the test day and it's kind of quiet, and you show up on that first run and remind yourself how much fun this racetrack is. I got the opportunity yesterday morning, I came in, and it's just a lot of fun around here, and then I looked at the time sheets and had quite a bit of work to do. So overall today the progress has been really good. We were fairly quick this morning in third practice. The Novo Nordisk team has worked really hard. Obviously having the data from Scott to look at and learn from, because he is pretty special around here consistently, has helped, and we've learned from that, not just in the data for me but also the setup stuff that he and Chris do. It's nice to see a couple of Ganassi cars in the top six.

Q. Helio, the speeds today broke the 1,000 horsepower days of CART. Did you ever think that these cars with the vision and capacity that they have would be able to top those old CART records?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, obviously straight line speed is not the same as what it used to be in the past, but the cornering is just incredible, especially with the Firestone tires, the Red Firestone tires. No, I did not think that that would be able to happen, but with the aero kits from Chevy and Honda, today it was possible to break a record.

Q. Helio, you've been here a few times. How different does it feel, the corners with this car from a physical standpoint?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Unbelievable. Obviously, right now like I said, I'm not sure how many G's we're pulling, but it's much more than it used to be, especially last year, and again, remember, this track always keeps changing, and that's I think most of the challenge. When you have circumstances like this and you go out there in the morning, first practice yesterday I was 65s an hour, 64s, and it just keeps getting faster and faster, and the cars kept attacking. You're pushing as hard as you can, and you're just like, I don't know where is the limit. Those are the things that‑‑ and it's all tricky, as well. It's not only about go fast because sometimes obviously you do too much and the car do something, but to put everything together is just very tough.

Q. Charlie, you've won here, but what do you think makes Scott so good here? What is it that suits him? You're in meetings with him and stuff.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I don't know. I ask as many questions as I can.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Does he know what you're having for breakfast?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I don't know what it is, but he really‑‑ part of it is just how smooth he is around here. He really‑‑ as Helio mentioned, the way the track changes continually evolving, I think he does a really good job of staying on that edge and never getting far from the edge of the track. And even lap to lap as guys put new tires on the groove comes up lap by lap, he manages to stay close to that edge and make improvements all the way through. So when he puts a set of new tires on, he doesn't take a huge step, he's just running at that edge the whole time.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We're joined now by Will Power and Josef Newgarden. Will, another front‑row start for you this season. Also another strong track for you with a best finish of second on the podium. What's it going to take to get up to first?
WILL POWER: It's going to take a normal day. I think obviously Dixon is really good around here. He knows how to win, and you know, I just think if everything falls our way, we can definitely win. There's no question we need to because it'll put us right back in the hunt for the championship. That's my goal. Hear that, Newgarden?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I heard it.
WILL POWER: Don't try barreling down inside in Turn 4, mate.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: You'd better watch yourself out there. You'll see me in your mirrors.
WILL POWER: What are you starting?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Don't try to block because I'm coming.
WILL POWER: What are you‑‑
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Five. I can get there from fifth.
WILL POWER: You'll take a few people with you when you do it.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: You're second, right, so you can get pushed out at the start. Someone can run you right off in the grass.
WILL POWER: Oh, no, no.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Dixie might do that‑‑ no, he's clean. Dixie won't do that.
WILL POWER: Yes, he would.
THE MODERATOR: Josef, you're consistently finding yourself in these good starts, good finishes. How are you and the team able to keep the momentum going track to track?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think we're doing a good job just executing for the most part. You know, we might not have had the ultimate speed. I definitely didn't have Dixie's speed. I think we were probably a little better, maybe third would have been possible with a couple of tenths. I think we had another tenth or two in it, I didn't get it out of it when I needed to. But Dixon's lap I think was out of reach for us.
You know, we're there. I think we're in that top group with these guys, we're just probably not at the top spot of it. But we make sure to execute really well each weekend and we find ourselves in the top five, top six, and then we do a good job on race day generally. If we can keep that up for the rest of the year, I think we're going to be looking in good shape, and that's really all we're doing. We're just trying to be there and capitalize on making mistakes and opportunities, and so if we have a good day tomorrow and the opportunity presents itself, I think we're going to try and win it.

Q. Josef, you ran well here last year. Things didn't work your way. This season has gone well. How much more confident does that make you coming into this race than perhaps in years past, best finish 12th?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, the good thing is I feel confident everywhere we go. I mean, I really do. Everyone asked three races to go, where do you think you're going to do well, what's your best shot at winning another race, and I think any of them. Here, Pocono, Sonoma, I think we're going to be good at all of them. We've qualified well here now. I feel confident in the team. I mean, I think we've just refined everything compared to last year. We just execute better. Last year we just weren't able to fully execute on wins, and this year we've executed pretty well, and we've gotten a couple wins. We continue doing that, I think we can get a couple more before the season is over. I do feel confident. I feel great with what the team is doing. We've got everything we need to execute tomorrow.

Q. Will, can you qualify or put into terms how critical tomorrow's race is for you, like you said, making that move in the championship?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it is actually‑‑ that is the turning point right there, so if we don't have a good day tomorrow, it's pretty much over as far as the championship. Well, obviously it's mathematically possible. It's not over. Yeah, it's like every race; they're all super important, but definitely tomorrow for me is really important.
THE MODERATOR: Joined also by Sebastien Bourdais, who already starting third in tomorrow's race, last year's pole sitter, best finish of second here, also Sebastien's best start of the season. You've been able to get some great results in the later half of the season, two race wins, now your best start of the season. What's been adding up to all this recent success?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You know, it's racing. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. But overall it's consistency, hard work, and a good group behind me. We're all having a good time, we're working hard, having fun, and it's paying off, so hopefully we keep on showing stronger in the race than in qualifying, and have a good one tomorrow.

Q. This being August 1st, maybe the start of silly season, could each of you talk about next year and whether there are going to be negotiations for next year?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I'm perfectly happy where I am. Usually it takes time to build a program. Sully, Jimmy and Kevin have done a great job to keep the wheels spinning, and hopefully we can just keep building off of that, but for the moment it's still building, still waiting to see how things shake out.
WILL POWER: Pretty happy where I am. I'm all good.

Q. What about you, Josef?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I mean, I'll be happy if I get hired again. If I'm in an IndyCar, I'll be a happy camper. But I've been lucky enough to have four years. If I get fifth and another one, I'll be happy. I'm enjoying it, man. I've got a smile on my face. I'm so skippy down the paddock. I've got a contract‑‑ I don't know if I'll get another one. You never know.

Q. Sebastien, you were the king of Champ Car. Today everybody broke the old record for horsepower. Did you ever think that was kind of possible with the engine package that they have here?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I mean, you see the car that we had was fast in previous years, and we knew it was going to be the downforce that was going to be reached from this year with the Firestone red tires. The cars are really fun to drive and really challenging, so it was a lot of fun in qually today. You never know how it's going to go. I think the balance of the cars overall and mostly that everything has improved so much that the cars are handling a lot better. Back then‑‑ well, Scott can talk about it because I wasn't driving 900 or 1,000 horsepower car, whatever, 750, 800, so not really much more than we have now. But back in those days, they really had to be more centric with rear grip and traction and with really anchoring with how much cornering you could carry and everything. Now the cars are really flowy, just carry a lot of speeds through the corners, and coast a lot and let the cars do the job. So it's a lot of fun, but it's very different driving.
THE MODERATOR: I'll quickly introduce our pole sitter, Scott Dixon, who set a huge track record of 1:04.5814. Scott is a five‑time race winner here at mid‑Ohio Sports Car Course. Started last last year en route to his fifth victory, but I have to imagine it feels better to be starting from the No.1 position rather than starting last?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it feels a lot better. I think last year was just potluck, and a huge thank you, obviously, to Hunter‑Reay for causing the yellow when he did, but that was really all we had. It shifted the strategy to exactly what we needed. But last year was my mistake, and the car was really quick, I think around the top two or three position last year, as well, and I spun in qualifying and caused a red. That was that year. But yeah, the car feels good.
We rolled off fairly good and made a pretty good change second position yesterday, and the car has been really nice to drive and just more adjustments to get the balance right. Qualifying we got just kind of got into a pace that we needed to set. I messed up actually‑‑ the quick lap in 12 and 2, and then we were starting our last lap and the team told me to wait. The car definitely has got some good speed in it, and hopefully we can stay in this position. It's going to be our only kind of chance with the championship right now, and obviously you can win from anywhere. I think it's been proven in years past here, so we'll just have to try and keep clean tomorrow and try and get some good points.

Q. Scott, does it feel like you're going to be starting with almost a head start compared to what you did last year starting from the back?
SCOTT DIXON: Put it this way: I'm much happier starting on the pole than where we did last year. As I explained, it was pure potluck to get the chance at winning, and I think even Josef probably was going to win this race had they not messed up a pit stop. The stars aligned last year, so hopefully we can hit this similar, starting from the front.

Q. Scott, I think I've asked you this four or five times before, but why are you so good here? What is it about this place that suits you, suits your temperament, suits your style, whatever it suits?
SCOTT DIXON: I think a lot of it's the team. The team has been strong here. They've had 10 victories here. Seven of the last eight with Dario and Charlie and myself. It's similar to Penske at Sonoma. They just qualify strong and they're very strong, and teams have those tracks. You know, it's a track that feels natural for me, and obviously with the results that we've had here in the past, the confidence that‑‑ not just for myself but for the team and the engineers and everybody just coming in, everything just kind of flows a little bit better.

Q. Today with all this downforce and stuff, we were talking about the difference between the power in the cars 15 years ago they were driving here and now. How different is it to drive around this track in the corners? You feel them a lot more, the grip?
SCOTT DIXON: It's different. The tires are part of it. The downforce is part of it. The power‑‑ my memory is not so great these days. I remember it was fun to drive back then, but I can't remember things exactly. But you know, the straight run speed we were probably doing 20, 30 miles an hour plus faster on the straits. Maybe not that much, but a large amount on the back straight we were a lot quicker. It's just a different way of doing it. But lots of things come into making that possible, but obviously the aero kits and Chevrolet have done an amazing job this year, I think, across the board on ovals and any kind of configuration to help that course.

Q. On this start you start on the back stretch. I don't know if that's between 4 and 5 or something over there. You know, the front row is you and Will. Is there one side of the track that's better to be on than the other to get the lead?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. You know, you obviously want to start on the inside, I think. We'll just see what happens tomorrow. I don't think you have a choice anymore. You used to have a choice‑‑
WILL POWER: Yeah, you've got to start on the inside. No, I think the pole is the outside (laughter.)
SCOTT DIXON: You might be right.

Q. Scott, I was just asking Will, how critical is tomorrow in your championship hunt?
SCOTT DIXON: I think for all of us, you know, it's pretty tight around second, third, fourth, fifth, even going down to the sixth, I think, at this point. You know, all of us have got to have a good run, and hopefully the 2 has a better one. That's what we can hope for. I thought we had that shift two weeks ago at Iowa, but unfortunately we had a mechanical problem, too. Yeah, it's important, but you know, the season hasn't come down to this race, and this race counts for everything. It's the whole season where we've made mistakes or not capitalized where we should have, and it's going to play out over this.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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