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September 19, 2010
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our post-race press conference. We are joined by our third place finisher Will Power, will now leads Dario Franchitti by 12 points in the championship Chase as we head into Homestead. Today was Will's first race here at Motegi and you put it on the podium. Talk about the experience.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was a tough race because we lost a lot of positions because we thought it went yellow and I backed off and it didn't go yellow and that's when I suddenly went back a lot of positions. So, you know, all of the places I got were done by the guys in the pits. They did a great job, fantastic, you know, it was great to get back up to third. I think we needed to. And of course, we would go into the last race not with 14 points, no. It would be 12.
So if he happened to lead the most laps, get the pole and win the race, he would win by one point. It's almost like it's staged. How is that?
THE MODERATOR: I think you alluded to this after the podium, but the opportunity to hopefully at Homestead finish ahead of Dario which you haven't done this year on an oval.
WILL POWER: Never finished ahead of him ever. Only time I finished ahead was when he didn't finish at all, his gear box broke, but he was going to finish there. I'm getting closer, definitely getting closer. I really want to finish ahead of him (chuckling).
Q. Explain that caution coming out, you thought it was a yellow. Did you miss-hear what he said or did something happened you thought was going to create --
WILL POWER: I think something must have happened. The spotter saw it. I guess someone was up or someone was stalling or something happened and he thought it was yellow, and I think Rolin (ph) was the same, got the same call. So something did happen, and obviously, you know, I backed off -- through Turn 2, and it did go yellow eventually but yeah, definitely lost a lot of positions there.
And you know, the team did such a good job in the pits today, I mean, man, to get back from where we were, I came around, I think we were ninth or something at one point. To get back to third, very good, very good.
Q. What happened, your problem at the start?
WILL POWER: Yeah, the start, I got pushed. I ended up out in the marbles a little bit and lost a couple of positions. Yeah, my start and the restarts were are not very good today. I didn't -- none of them were very good. I've got to be better than that if I want to win an on oval.
Q. Is it kind of frustrating in that Chicagoland was really something out of your control and now today it was also something out of your control with the yellow?
WILL POWER: Well, yeah, you know, over a whole season, people have their good and bad races, and you know, this is a good day for us on our best finish ever on an oval. We had a great car. It's just impossible to pass in traffic.
And yeah, Dario's just -- yeah, within three races, he's clawed himself back to a 12-point lead. So great for the championship. And you know, look forward to a tough fight at Homestead.
Q. Are you going to be able to test at Homestead? And when you do that, is there anything in particular you're working on? Are you going to start when you practice your restarts or anything?
WILL POWER: I'll be working just hard on making sure I've got a very good race car. I don't know that track that well. I haven't really raced there. So I'm hoping that we get a day and hoping that it's not raining or something like that. I really need to get some miles around there, otherwise it will be Dario's advantage.
THE MODERATOR: Just a note Will will be testing next Monday at Homestead.
Q. How physical was the event today? You mentioned being tired coming in here.
WILL POWER: Yeah, because I think it was hot. Yeah, a very physical race. It was actually about like the 500 this year, it was a similar feeling. I think had you're running in the traffic there, you're a little bit more tense in the car and use a little bit more energy. It was hard. It was tough for everyone.
Q. But not being here before, what did you think of this track in the race?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think we need -- well, it was really hard to pass, but we need more. This is built for IndyCar. All of the other tracks we do go to, including Homestead, there's massive banking and built for NASCAR. When we come to this track, it's great because you've really got to drive it. It's enjoyable. You're not just flat-out.
Q. How is Motegi after 200 laps?
WILL POWER: Yeah, like I said, it's a great place. I think you need to do something more for the passing, but it's a good track. You've really got to drive around here.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the podium here and we'll see you in Miami.
We are now joined by our second place finish, Dario Franchitti City of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
A couple notes, the second-place finish, matched a career best for Dario, he finished second here in 2000 and 2009, and the second place finish also earned Dario the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series A.J. Foyt Oval Championship title. And as we mentioned earlier, Dario now sits second in the overall championship, 12 points behind Will.
Talk about today's race and how important it was to finish ahead of Will.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it was an interesting race. This is a great track. It always produces pretty good racing, especially on the starts and the restarts. You know, both Ryan and Helio were clearly very fast today. I was able to -- I was a bit better than those guys on the restarts, but then they were a bit quicker after that, certainly Helio was.
But I had some very interesting times with Ryan through turns three and four running side-by-side and that was pretty exciting and he was absolutely -- well it was great, 100% fair and we were inches apart.
That's what it's all about. That's part of the fun of being here and doing that.
Yeah, through the race, I managed to get up to second, and Helio was clearly very, very quick. And it was looking, at one point under a yellow, will told me it was ninth or tenth, and I thought, that's a pretty good points spread and see if we can get Helio and make even more points up but it wasn't possible.
I think Will's crew did a pretty good job and got him back into the running there. And at the end there I was kind of trying to manage the tire a little bit, and I was able to kind of stay about four car lengths ahead. He got a little close one time, but then he was back.
Yeah, not a bad day. Not a bad day. I think the Target guys did a good job. I think we made one small mistake with the setup that maybe ultimately cost us some overall lap time, but it's all to -- it's now all to play for in Homestead.
THE MODERATOR: And I know that right now you guys are focused on the overall championship but I do want to get your thoughts, especially someone who appreciates the history of the sport, winning the inaugural A.J. Foyt Oval Championship.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I'm very proud of that. It's a great thing to share with my team and especially something with -- the fans voted for A.J. for the oval trophy and Mario Andretti for the road course, and I can't think of two better champions to name the trophies after. So I'm very privileged to have won that award, and now we have got to go after the big one.
Q. You talk about managing the tires, can you describe more about how you do that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Just the balance of the car. The tire works very, very well but if the tire is slightly out of balance, if the front is sliding or the rear is sliding it can cost you a lap time. So the trick is really to get the car as close to neutral balance as you can and I was just working with that and trying not to sort of abuse the tire when the car was slightly out of balance today.
So yeah, that was a challenge, and then it the back markers were pretty interesting, they seemed to want to let you through right in the middle of turns three and four, the one place in the track you can't go side-by-side, so I'm not quite sure what some of them were thinking, but anyway. That was the hardest part of the day.
It's funny with, this track, it's every time you come down turns three and four, you're trying to make it as perfect as you possibly can, the perfect entry, the perfect line, get back on the power, exactly the right spot, and then just balance the car all the way out to the wall. And every single lap you come down and you're just focused on making it right and that's the key to this track. Great track. A lot of fun.
Q. Will Power never raced here before and was able to get a third place finish? What do you think of that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I think Will did a good job today.
Q. But I mean, this is a tough track, for a guy to come here the first time out. What was it like when you came here the first out?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The first time I came here there was though hotel here. I came here in 1997, the first time I ever drove for Team KOOL Green was here, we tested when the track was first opened. So been coming here a while.
Q. As far as Ryan, how big of a relief was it to have him behind you, because there was more points that Penske could have probably helped Will with?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Would have been nice if he was between Will and I.
No, you're just going for every single position, aren't you, and that was key today. Ryan and I, as I said, had some great races today and some really close battles. Yeah, it was a lot of fun.
Q. Will has never actually raced at Homestead, and you've got experience there. I mean, I know anything can happen, but how confident are you and will that give you much of an advantage?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think it will. You know, when you get to this level, you've got to be -- you've got to be able to speed up very quickly. It was like last year I went to Edmonton, first time I had been there and a lot of guys had done quite a lot of races there, so you've just got to get out there and get on the pace quickly and Will has done that here. I don't see any reason he wouldn't do that at Homestead. We've just got to make sure we beat him.
Q. 12 points, does that make you feel better going into there?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Better than 17, not as good -- it is what it is, and you've just got to -- it's a mountain to climb. It's an obstacle to jump over, or whatever. It's there in front of us and we are going to try and get ahead of him by the end of the race at Homestead.
Q. Those qualifying points could be huge --
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Who knows. Who knows.
Q. You have a lot of experience at Homestead, do you have big advantage for Will Power?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think we already answered that.
Q. How do you need something to do for Homestead, for your team?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We are testing there a week -- a week tomorrow, actually, we are testing there. Hopefully we'll get the answers then.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, congratulations on the win. Talk about today's race, you seem to be in a class of your own in terms of speed.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly Team Penske, he gave me a fantastic car. As I said yesterday, a big credit for the guys in the shop and great pit stops, Ron Ruzewski, my engineer, gave me an incredible set up this morning, and then the entire group on the number three did a hell of a job.
Q. Did you ever feel challenged out there today? Not the track, but your competitors?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Not really. Certainly I was very focused, but there was one point that two or three drivers were out of sequence, and I had a big moment on the restart on turn four. That was the only issue that I had during the race, but as soon as my boys put me back in the lead in the clean air, I was very comfortable there.
Q. Why do you go so fast than other cars?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was good work between me and Ron trying to find that fine spot. And this car was very similar than 2006 when we also had a similar result and very strong performance. So we are able to find the right spot and that's why I was very fast.
Q. Were you completely focused on your own race or were you advised of what Will was doing in the championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I was only focused on my race.
Q. The 12-point advantage --
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's better to be a 12-point advantage than being 12 behind. He still has a 12-point advantage. I feel he show a great performance today and finished third, and it's going to be a great battle. So anything we can make to bring this championship to Team Penske, we are going to do it.
Q. For Will, the goal of the team is going to win the championship at Homestead and he's going to be testing in about a week, he said; is there anything in your experience as a driver, since he's never raced at Homestead, is there anything that you can help Will with his race craft?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He's certainly come along very good on the ovals. Not only myself, but Ryan, we kind of give him tips. But Will has an incredible talent as we see on the road course. So the driver, when you get to that point, he picked up fast. So we don't need to keep like in his ear and do this, do that.
He learns very quick, and he's showing out there, too.
Q. Do you change the settings when you do pit stops? Do you do any changes in the car setting?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No. Just minor things, tools that I have inside the car, and I think when you do that, I was very comfortable with what the car was doing today.
Q. You're kind of on a roll, do you feel like that and is it kind of coming to you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, I certainly want to carry this momentum for next year and I certainly feel that next year is going to be even greater for the team. But certainly, it was a great work for the entire team having three cars and help us tremendous.
Yeah, I feel a good momentum, especially my guys, the number three group, but again, we still have a job to be done, which is bring this championship to Team Penske.
Q. Please explain your feeling at being here the second time, describing with the fans here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Fantastic. Thank you so much all of you and I can't wait to come back next year.
End of FastScripts