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March 14, 2010

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Vitor Meira

Will Power


THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone for joining us today for the IZOD IndyCar Series post-race press conference for the Sao Paulo Indy 300. We are pleased to welcome today's race winner, Will Power, driving the No. 12 for Verison Team Penske. This is Will's first race back since a season-ending back injury last year. I also understand you overcame some gear issues from this morning's practice. This is Will's second career IZOD IndyCar Series victory. His previous victory was Edmonton in 2009.
We are also joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay, making his debut in the No. 37 IZOD car for Andretti Auto Sport. Ryan finished second in last year's season opening race last year in St. Petersburg.
And finally, we are joined by Brazilian Vitor Meira, another driver making a comeback. Vitor's last race was Indianapolis in 2009, again another back injury that he overcame, and this is his best finish since Indianapolis in 2008.
So welcome, guys, and congratulations.
Very interesting race out there today, and it certainly created a lot of opportunities for passing towards the end, if all of you guys can just address that there, starting with Will.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was probably the most mixed-up race that I've ever been in. But it created an opportunity for me to come back to the field and end up winning the race. The improvements that they did to the track last night, it was like night and day. It was not a problem at all going down the front straight.
And you know, I think it is just a really good day for racing, because if you with are fast, you could pass, because they have such a good track layout here. So, you know, I'm pretty sure it was an exciting race for the fans.
THE MODERATOR: For Ryan, if you can talk about your first race here with Andretti Auto Sport, your second podium in the season opener, talk about the momentum that gives you going into a new season with a new team.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: First of all, it's great to have a race in Brazil. This has been a long time coming and the fans are so passionate about the racing, it's great to do it here. And that was a great show we put on. That's what we need on these street circuits and road courses is a lot of passing like that. We definitely had the tools to do it with. We had two straightaways that were pretty long, and provided pretty good passing zones.
And you know, just the only shame about the whole race was that it went red for some puddles, because there were a lot of big dips out there, and our cars hydroplaned very easy. It would have been great to get some good rain racing in. Maybe next year we will fill in those things and see where it goes. It was just great to get the IZOD car up, up on the podium, second place, start out the season. So it's a good start.
THE MODERATOR: Vitor Meira is a native of Brasilia. Give us your thoughts on finishing for the podium, our first race in Sao Paulo, your home country.
VITOR MEIRA: It could not be much better than that. I think Will can relate with the back injury and all of that. It gets pretty uncertain sometimes, and having a team behind you, making sure that the seat is available and that they are waiting for you, it makes a big difference on recovery. That's just I think the start of a big thank you I have to give to A.J., and ABC Supply. I hope we get better.
We overcame a lot here, as they said before, it was a mixed-up racing. And I think whoever kept their nose clean and was fast enough to make a position on all conditions, came out with a good result, and that's what we did. I mean, I know I wasn't the fastest car on normal conditions, but when the conditions became adverse, our car came alive and we started to gain position. I'm glad it was mixed up the way it was.

Q. Will, is this a little bit of vindication from Australia a couple of years ago when you were leading the race, and it went away, and then your teammate had some trouble at the end of this one; do you feel vindicated to get that one back?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I saw him really saving fuel at that point. So for me, I was just hanging behind Ryan, and Ryan, you know, just watching. I wasn't really going to attack until I knew that I could run full-ridge.
You know, I saw Ryan make a mistake. At that point, I wasn't even sure how many laps to go or whatever. I thought we had another pit stop, because we had bad radio communication. And then they were saying six laps to go on the yellow and I was like, is that six laps to the pit stop and they said no, that's six laps to the end of the race, that's all right, I've got to go. We went for it.

Q. A strong point could be made that all of you are having a comeback, the two of you from back injuries and you kind of from last year's uncertainty what you were going to be doing this year, just talk about how important the season opener, to be able to do what all three of you guys did today is for each one of you.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, first of all, it's great to see these two guys up here after going through what they went through, neither wrecks were they fault and they both ended up on their back in the hospital, and to see them back here running as fast as they do on a bumpy street circuit like this is definitely a testament to these guys, for sure.
But as for coming back here, there's so much uncertainty lately in open-wheel, not so much in the series, just for finding a ride, finding a job, keeping your ride, keeping your job, and I was fortunate enough to pick that last-minute ride up by Tony there at Vision. Very appreciative of that. And then filling in for Vitor last year with Adrian, very appreciative of that. And now Andretti has put his faith in me, Michael and the whole team. We have a partial season right now, hopefully it will turn into a full one. All we can do is just put one foot in front of the other.
WILL POWER: Also, the first test of the year was important for me, just to be confident that I was as quick as I was. I didn't have a head injury or anything, but you know, I did -- it always helps with confidence when you have a great result. You know, when I got back in the car, I really didn't give my back a second thought. It has not given me any pain. Just really happy to be given the opportunity from Verizon and Team Penske to run a full season, and it's the best way you could possibly start.
VITOR MEIRA: Yeah, the three of us here are in very neat situations. It's not that we finished last year with a ride secured and waiting to get back; I mean, we all have our -- we had our things that we had to deal with, which were very difficult through 2009.
So, again, I feel great. This is good for the team. As A.J. Foyt racing is not one of the biggest teams out there, a result always helps to keep people happy and everybody happy; but the people that support us, because they put their faith on us, and we have to return that.
And having a result, it makes us very, very happy. I hope that their March comes and the team is upbeat which helps, also. It's a long season and we have to improve. Right now we finished third, but we have a long way to go to catch the big ones. So I hope that this great atmosphere we will be able to take advantage of.

Q. Do you have a better sense for what happened on the first lap, and how much your car got -- did it get in the air a little bit, a lot a bit?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I just got hit from behind. I don't know who it was. Do you know? I got hit from behind and they said, you have a tire going down, so I had to pit. So, yeah, it was surprising for the first corner of the first race. But, you know, these things always happen.

Q. And Ryan, could you talk about the exchange, both of Briscoe, when you had to give the spot back, and then how strong did you feel Will was when he got you?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: As Will was saying earlier, we were having to save fuel at that point. I wanted to get a good jump, get out to a good lead and really start saving fuel. We had to get more fuel saving done than we had wanted. It was pretty disappointing, but I was having a lift almost halfway down the straight just to get the numbers just to make the race. That's why they caught back up. But they were saving fuel at the time.
But I was saving a bit more, I think. I had a six-second lead and that came right back, and Ryan Briscoe went right by me on the straight and I -- or I went by him again into turn one, and then he got back by my again, and I kept looking at him in the braking zones, and I think that might have made him look going into five, and he looked out right front and kind of went on.
So then it was down to Will and I, and I ended up just trying to use up all my push-to-pass, and I guess -- well, there's a time-out, I forgot about that, there's a time-out in it to where you cannot use two clicks in a row. So I clicked it on the front straight, not knowing that I was not going to be able to use it on the back straight and then Will went by me, but to his credit, when he went by, he was definitely marching. He was pretty well up the road.
So, you know, it was a great race to get us backup there and first time with this team. It was excellent to really start there. We were having a great time all weekend. We were not all of the Top-6 all weekend. I just wish we had got some more wet weather racing in there, rather than just going right back to slicks.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us. Congratulations on a great start to the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season. We'll see you guys in St. Pete.

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