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October 14, 2011
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
THE MODERATOR: Will is in the media center now. Will will start 17th. He is second in the championship standings, 18 points behind Dario Franchitti. He has eight poles this year and six wins. Will, just kind of talk about your lap.
WILL POWER: There's nothing to talk about, a lap around this joint, because it's so brainlessly easy flat, but what it did do is put us back in the pack, which is not brainlessly easy. That's very tough.
The race around here is going to be really difficult because it's going to be such a pack race, and that's what manufactures -- it's a track that's so easy to drive, it manufacturers really tight-knit racing, which is really quite intense.
THE MODERATOR: And you're going to be starting side by side with Dario. Does it really matter that you're starting that close to him?
WILL POWER: No, we need to be a fair bit ahead of him to beat him in the championship. It's good that he's back there, because if we were back there and he was at the front, that makes things a little bit more difficult. Yeah, I mean, we just have to be smart in the race, have a good strategy, and see what we can do.
Q. You talked about it being mindlessly numb going around this track flat-footed. In pack racing, there's always the danger of people getting really close and not giving any edge to anybody. What does your strategy have to be then starting from where you're starting?
WILL POWER: I mean, it's just something you can't plan when it's going to be so tight, like you say. There's no real strategy. You know, I mean, I think eventually it's going to end up three wide, so it's going to be very deep in the field, as well, and I don't think you can string out much at all. We'll just have to play it the best way we can, staying out of trouble and so on.
Q. You had such a dominant car at Kentucky, and this is another one and a half mile track. I realize it's different, but can you kind of talk about why the results are so different?
WILL POWER: It's just -- I think this racing, honestly, this oval racing, when you're just flat-out 100 percent, which will probably be the whole race, is just kind of ridiculous. If you get a gust of wind on your qualifying lap, you might happen to be on pole, and it keeps coming down to that.
Kentucky was actually a grip-limited track, so you weren't just running completely trimmed out. It was bumpy and it was actually a little harder, so you could make a difference on setup. But this track, for qualifying it's an engine dyno. That's what it is. It's 100 percent an engine dyno and drag. It's all about drag. Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Will, thank you. Good luck on Sunday.
ORIOL SERVIA: He's right. Here is a lot easier, flat. Actually Tony got us by I think a hundredth of a mile, and his track conditions were like 14 degrees cooler he was telling me, so that makes a big difference. So it makes me even more proud of the work the team did. Every session we were T2, and I was saying, I've got a good tow. But when you're up there all the time, it just shows the car is good, and we showed it in qualifying. It was amazing.
Front row is the best place to start for a race as crazy as this one is going to be, so I'm very happy with our position, and I think we have a great shot for tomorrow, Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: Just a couple notes. It's Oriol's third front-row start of the season. He also was on the front row at New Hampshire, and also it's his sixth top-six start of 2011. With that we'll open it up for questions.
Q. Oriol, Will obviously had his opinion there, but isn't it interesting that it used to be if you came to a track like this that was all engineering that Penske was going to win the pole, it was just a matter of if they got the top three spots or the top two. What's changed?
ORIOL SERVIA: I would like to know, but I really don't care, because it's the last race of this car, and we've been trying to figure out, yes, it usually was a Ganassi or Penske pole position for the mile and a halfs because they were the ones spending the most money in the wind tunnel to be honest and development, and it pays off in places like this where it's all about the little details.
But eventually when you have the same car for all those years, either we all learn or the word goes around or people that were working here then worked there, so it's harder for the teams with the bigger budget to keep their advantage after ten years with the same car. I just think that finally we have caught up.
Now next year we're resetting the buttons again, so it's all going to be who has the best budget, the best brains to start working on the new car and figure out what the car needs to be fast everywhere and in places like this. I don't even know what are they missing that they were doing right, but I know we do a lot more things right than we used to do, so that maybe explains.
I'm sure if you look at the field, it's a lot tighter than it used to be. They used to win by a mile because everybody else was very far behind. Now that we're all so close, there's just more chances for more people to make it.
Q. You're starting in the front row, so you'll be on the outside, and I'm wondering what you think in terms of how many lines there are on this track. Maybe you don't have to worry too much, but in terms of just practice, it looked like cars were going three wide. Would you expect to see the same thing in the race?
ORIOL SERVIA: No, I expect four wide, and I'm not joking. I think there's going to be a lot of four-wide action. I think regularly on other ovals it's two wide, here it's going to be three, and when it's going to get exciting it's going to be four. It's not just going to be one row like that, there's going to be many, many rows two, three wide. I expect it to be really hairy and dangerous and in a way exciting for the fans at home watching on TV and the ones here. I'm sure we're going to give you a lot of good material for you guys to write about, and hopefully everybody will be safe at the end and have a clean, safe race.
Q. I recall being here at Las Vegas and watching races, I think it was actually your Newman-Haas team that had two drivers going side by side lap after lap, and the lower, the inside driver, had the shortest distance around, so the outside driver couldn't pass. But that's not going to be the case this weekend?
ORIOL SERVIA: I think still at the very end it will maybe come down to that. But it also will depend if you have a fast car behind you, also helps you. It's going to be a bit of a Vegas lottery or gambling, depending which row you are. If there are fast cars on your row, on your lane, it's going to be your best shot at winning.
Plus Tony got really lucky qualifying. Congratulations, Mr. Kanaan.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our pole sitter, Tony Kanaan. It's his fifth career IndyCar pole, first one in three years since he won at Richmond in 2008. Take us through your lap.
ORIOL SERVIA: Just one more thing. Funny enough, or not funny, just before qualifying, I sent a text to his team owner saying, "Tony has a rocketship." Unfortunately I was right.
TONY KANAAN: Well, we ran together in the morning. That's why you said that.
THE MODERATOR: Take us through your lap there.
TONY KANAAN: Well, I didn't do nothing, just kept it full throttle and turned left four times, and that was it. The car was good from the get-go. Obviously on this type of track you're relying a lot more on your engineers than yourself. Obviously when it comes to Sunday, that's what -- we come to play.
I had a great car from the get-go, and I'm happy that I could have done that. I didn't think I had a car to be on the pole to be honest with you, but I knew I had a good race car. This is a surprise for me, as well, but I'll take it.
Q. Is that far good enough to take you out front and hide from the pack?
TONY KANAAN: I don't know, I don't think anybody is going to hide from the pack, but it's plenty good that we can manage the advantage and just stay about the leaders, stay out of trouble. 34 cars, it's a lot of cars. That was a race, to disappoint some of my fans, they wanted to start me in the back and have me passing a lot of cars. I didn't want to do that because I think it's going to be -- especially the layout of the racetrack it's going to be quite crazy. It's tough to say, but I think I have a strong car.
Q. Tony, did the change in weather help you, hinder you? Did you notice anything different in the car?
TONY KANAAN: I didn't, but for sure when it goes cooler, it helps, like inside of that. So that was one of the factors for sure. The tendency of getting cloudier and cooler, the engine has more power. Drawing a late number definitely helped us a lot, and being delayed all day, as well, so for sure I had the advantage of the guys in the first ten positions of qualifying.
Finally I picked my qualifying draws in the oval this year, it was always in the top 5. So for the first time I picked almost dead last, so I was quite happy about that.
Q. You've been involved in championship races before, and it seems like today the two guys going for the title didn't really qualify that well. Kind of looking at their position and having been in it yourself in the past, what are these next few days like for them?
TONY KANAAN: Well, he's right here, so I can't bash him as much. But as an old person that has been around for a long time, I know this guy way too well to believe that he's nervous. I think he knows exactly what he needs to do, and obviously I am sure he's not happy where he's starting, and neither Will.
But I don't see a problem. Last weekend, two weekends ago, it wasn't a problem. I mean, he took off and went to the lead. Obviously they're going to have to be careful, and hopefully people on the grid will be smart enough to let these two guys play their championship, because that's what -- if they are not capable of being in the championship contention, I don't think they should take the championship contenders out of it. On my end I'll try to do my best and lead every lap and win the race and let you guys fight, and it will be fine.
Q. You've had a lot of success in this particular Dallara car. I wonder if you'll be sad to see it go.
TONY KANAAN: I don't know, I think it was time for a change. Nine years of a relationship, it's plenty. For me, for me, for me, with the car. Laura is here, I've got to be careful, or I'll sleep on the couch tonight. The race car.
It's sad to see it go because of the history. We won everything in this car. I had a deal with Jimmy that he would give me a car at the end of this year so I could keep it. But I think it's time for a change.
THE MODERATOR: We also have with us our points leader, Dario Franchitti. Dario is going to start 18th in the race. Just kind of talk about your lap and where you're starting. I'm sure it's not what you were hoping for.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Geez, my lap, my weekend, I don't know what to tell you. From the moment the car rolled off the truck unfortunately it's been slow. We don't know why. If we knew why, we'd fix it. It has a good balance. Both in race trim and qualifying trim it felt good, it just -- as far as balance there was just no speed there, and that's not something -- we weren't expecting to qualify that well quite honestly just with the speed that had been in the car yesterday and today.
If there's any silver lining, it's the fact that Will is back there with me. Him and I were joking out there saying we couldn't have scripted it better. We're wonder if Randy has got like a volume control for the power on each of our engines and turning them down.
Whatever happens, it's going to be a tough race for us both on Sunday. I'm glad, especially qualifying back here, I'm glad I don't have to try and find those 18 points. But I think both the Target team and the Penske teams are very capable of getting us from that point to close to the front if we can find where the speed has gone in the car. I think anything is still possible.
Q. Before you came on, Oriol Servia said that he thought we could see three- and four-wide racing on Sunday. Will that cause a problem from where you're starting in terms of getting past those cars if they're running that wide?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Absolutely. When they're too wide in front, it's effectively a road block, so then you've got to go three wide, which is a very risky proposition. Four wide I think might be pushing it. I'm sure somebody will try it, but four wide is going to be -- I think you've got to go very, very high, and the distance factor will make it -- will probably mean that you won't be passing anybody if you try that. I think if everybody gets checked up in front, that might be the way to go.
But it's definitely not ideal starting that far back with the road blocking aspect of it, and we'll be definitely doing our best to move forward on the track and in the pits and the strategy and all the things we can do and see how we can go from there.
Q. What about marbles? Have you seen much of that buildup this weekend at all? Normally it would be a factor in this tight a group.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think dust is a bigger problem than the marbles right now. I haven't seen any marbles yet. I think the tire is too hard. The tire is probably as hard as that desk actually, but haven't seen any marbles. I think the first people out there, though, will definitely have to deal with some dust and some crap, so that will eventually clean itself off as the race goes on.
Q. You've often talked about how the season -- when a season starts, you're 24/7 racing and you don't think anything about it, but following up on what was said earlier, what is the next couple of days like for you? Is it really stressful? You've been through it so many times.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I think there's a difference between thinking about it all the time and being stressed about it. I think that's something I didn't make clear the other day. Just because I think about it all the time doesn't mean I'm stressed, especially looking at where we're qualifying. We'll go out there, we'll do our best, we'll put absolutely our best effort into finding a problem with the car, and we'll go from there. And if it works out, great, and if it doesn't, we'll be -- that's it. Not much you can do.
But you go out there, you do your absolute best, and it's probably not the most exciting answer, but that's the way we go about it. That's all we can do. Myself and every member of the Target team just give it our best shot and see if we can win it. When I say give it our best shot, our focus is to win. That's absolutely -- don't misunderstand it, our focus is absolutely to win, but we find the best way to do that is with things within our control, do our best with those.
No use getting stressed about it. Doesn't make you any quicker. But definitely thinking about it a lot, and I know Simmons is going to have a busy couple of days and so are the mechanics, trying to figure out what the problem is.
Q. There's four Ganassi cars in the race. Has there been any discussion of teamwork in terms of drafting to get you up front?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, again, as we were saying with the road blocks and stuff, it's doing to be difficult to do that. But I have a lot of confidence with Scott, Graham and Charlie that if they can help me in any way, they will. Scott did that for me last year.
Obviously things are a little different now, the fact that we're starting so far back. But no, I'm happy I've got those guys, and obviously Will has got Ryan and Helio. But if you look, as teammates we're all over the map, all over the grid. At some point I'm sure we'll be running together, so hopefully we can -- they can help a little bit.
Q. I know you're surprised that you qualified so poorly. Are you surprised that Will qualified so poorly?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I wasn't surprised that I qualified poorly at all.
Q. Coming into the weekend you wouldn't have expected that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was worried about it after Kentucky I must admit, but really, I was not -- we were sitting in the truck earlier, and I said to Ashley, I said, I think, if we get inside the top 20 here we'll be doing well, and they were saying, no, no, no. Trust me, this thing, there's a problem here. So when I saw Will do his lap, how do I put this? I was pleasantly surprised, I guess. I thought, okay.
So yeah, that definitely makes my life a little easier to start with. How we finish is a whole different story.
Q. What did you think of Tony Kanaan's answer to the question about how this was the last race with the Dallara? And what do you think about this being the last race with the Dallara?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I agree with Tony that it's time for a change, absolutely. It's time for all kinds of reasons. It's something for the teams and the drivers and the engineers to really get their teeth into a whole new development process, for the fans something that looks different, performs different, something that's going to have a bit more power.
Engine manufacturers are coming in again, so that's a really good thing, with Honda, with Chevy and with Lotus. I think Tony said it well; for him and I, Dan, there's a bunch of us that have won a lot of stuff in this car, and it's something I'll always -- a lot of people don't like -- I'll look back at it fondly. It would have been nice if it had another 200 horsepower or whatever, but this car really helped the series when people couldn't go buy new cars every year, and Honda did the same. When all the manufacturers got fed up getting beaten by Honda, they all left.
This package has served us well, but I think it's time for something new. As Tony said, he says Jimmy is going to give him a car. Chip tells me he's giving me a car, but we'll see.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Dario. Good luck on Sunday.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports