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VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES: HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA


April 26, 2014


Helio Castroneves

Scott Dixon

James Hinchcliffe

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Josef Newgarden

Will Power


BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

THE MODERATOR:テつ We are joined by Scott Dixon.テつ
Scott, are you ready to break that second-place curse?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ That would be nice.テつ I think two of the second-place finishes we had before were hard-earned and we were pretty happy with it.テつ The other two we lost on a last pit exchange or a strategy issue.テつ
We started off the weekend really rough, as well.テつ Had an electrical failure on the first practice which we only did one lap, and if you don't do five laps they take a set of tires off you, as well.テつ
This morning was the first time we had a proper, new set of tires.テつ Chasing our tails a little bit.テつ Across the board the team didn't seem that strong, the other three getting knocked out in Q1.テつ The heat was a factor for me.テつ Q1 for me, struggled to make it through.テつ Q2, made a few changes, got better.テつ Q3, set our sights on doing one lap on the reds.テつ We changed front and rear dampers on the car and the grip was really good.テつ
I think we stepped on our foot again.テつ We should have done a second lap, we maybe would have gained a 10th or two.テつ It's tight out there, a lot of competitive cars.テつ As a team, I think we've definitely got some work to do to find some speed for not only this race but the first couple as well.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ You mentioned the heat.テつ When we were here a few weeks ago it was much cooler.テつ Even though you've been here several times before, does that affect yourself and the team's preparation?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Yes, it's very different.テつ The engine doesn't work as well.テつ Drivability is probably not as good.テつ The setup.テつ I think you kind of go down the road where it's 30 degrees cooler, you try to work the tire a lot harder.テつ When it heats up, you're overstressing the tire.テつ I think we had a similar feeling with that this weekend.テつ A lot of our practices we had, especially this weekend, were cool as well.テつ
I think we need to keep up to speed a little bit with the changes and how the track changes.テつ But, yeah, it's vastly different from when we had the open test here.テつ This year we're also three weeks later in the schedule so it seems a lot hotter than typical as well.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ A lot of big-name teams in the top six. テつDoes having a multi-car team with lots of resources help with this particular track?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ I don't know.テつ It's probably our most tested circuit.テつ Across the board, you have to remember, too, the big teams are bigger, have more cars, but you can really only change the dampers.テつ The cars are spec cars.テつ
It's great to see Josef, a hell of a driver, good to see him on top form.テつ Unfortunately he got taken out in Long Beach.テつ But good to see him in the top six where I think he should be a lot of time.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for Scott Dixon.テつ

Q.テつ The IndyCars tested fairly early, 10:00 on Friday morning.テつ Other sessions ran after that.テつ Do you think the different rubber from the other series is making it hard to get a handle on the grip here?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ I think, yeah, there's different factors.テつ You have to remember the last few years it's been a lot cooler because we've been three weeks earlier on the schedule.テつ I think also we've qualified normally around 11 a.m. or 10 a.m. because of the GRAND-AM or sports car races.テつ
The track temperature is 30 or 40 degrees warmer than you typically have.テつ That's a big change.テつ Plus there's small categories, different tires, that make the track greasier.テつ But I think the temperature is the biggest difference.テつ

Q.テつ Scott, you were ninth fastest on Friday, third earlier today in practice.テつ Where did the speed come from today compared to yesterday?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ We finally got a set of tires to put in.テつ We only used one and a half sets until qualifying.テつ Sometimes if you don't do the five laps in the morning practice, you lose a set.テつ People outside the top 10 get an extra set as well.テつ
Just trying to manage.テつ You don't know how the blacks are going to be, so you don't want to burn them up before the race in case you need them.テつ I think it was biggest thing in getting speed for us was just getting a new set of tires on the car.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Scott, good luck in the race tomorrow.テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Thank you.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ We're pleased to be joined by three more of our qualifiers.テつ First, Josef Newgarden.テつ
Josef, it seems every time you come here, you finish higher.テつ What do you attribute that to?テつ
JOSEF NEWGARDEN:テつ I don't know, probably experience.テつ We always find something a little better each year.テつ I think we've gotten off to a good start this year.テつ We've had a lot more consistent speed, which is good.テつ If you have one good session where you're fast, doesn't mean anything.テつ If you're quick in all three practice sessions, it bodes better for the weekend.テつ
For us we found something that clicks better on the racecar and for me.テつ It's hard to do in a small group.テつ We don't want to make any excuses, but we've just been getting better as a team.テつ Everyone works together better.テつ I've been doing a better job of helping the team find what we need.テつ That's crucial.テつ
I feel good about it.テつ Think we have a better package than we've had around here in the past.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Also joining us is Ryan Hunter-Reay.テつ
Ryan, you've been fast all weekend.テつ Were you confident heading into qualifying?テつ
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:テつ No.テつ Cautiously optimistic.テつ With this group of drivers, it's been so tight in qualifying.テつ Anybody can show up.テつ Somebody hanging around P11 or 12 during the weekend, they can show up and they're a player you didn't expect.テつ
You have to be on your game, extract the most from the car.テつ You have to put a lap together around here.テつ It's tough.テつ When we're trying to get that extra 10th, there's such a fine line from getting a lap and throwing it off.テつ
It's definitely tough.テつ But that's what it's all about.テつ It was a good, fun day.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Also joining us is James Hinchcliffe.テつ
James, you had a tough outing here last year.テつ How were you able to rebound?テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ I didn't have an outing last year, so it's pretty easy to rebound (laughter).テつ
It's good to be on the front row for the second race in succession.テつ Kind of feels like always the bridesmaid, never the bride.テつ It's my sixth front-row start and never had a pole yet.テつ
Super proud of the team.テつ Four Andretti Autosport cars in the top ten is huge.テつ Getting two in the Fast Six again is great.テつ Tomorrow is going to be tough.テつ It's going to be a tire game for sure.テつ
I only actually finished this race once when I started second.テつ That's a good sign, so we'll hope for good result for tomorrow.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Helio Castroneves is joining us.テつ
Could you feel more confident coming into this race because you know that Team Penske is so strong here?テつ
HELIO CASTRONEVES:テつ I want to thank the boys.テつ They did a hell of a job this weekend.テつ Unfortunately, I let my boys down in qualifying.テつ We were extremely fast and I take the blame for that.テつ
In the end of the day, it's great that we're right in the top six.テつ It's a long race.テつ Obviously when we practice here, it's completely different conditions.テつ I'm sure they probably said that.テつ
Yeah, no, it feels great.テつ We know we have a good setup.テつ We ran well here before.テつ We're looking forward for tomorrow.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll open it up for questions.テつ

Q.テつ Josef, right before you walked in here, Scott Dixon threw you a compliment.テつ Said it was nice to see you up here because it's where you belong because of your talent level.テつ How does that feel?テつ
JOSEF NEWGARDEN:テつ Well, I don't know, that's really nice of Scott if he said that.テつ I'd like to be up top here a little more often.テつ That would be great.テつ You think you got to work your way up there, for sure.テつ You got to earn your own respect in any league or series you enter into.テつ
It's still early days I think for me.テつ It's tough in this sport.テつ You can be in and out very quickly.テつ A lot of guys didn't get a chance to be up here when they probably deserve to be.テつ You can't take that for granted.テつ
The only thing you can really do is work as hard as you can, try to maximize everything you can as a driver, hope that it comes together one day.テつ
I think that's happened a little bit more for me this year.テつ I have things clicking a little bit better for me.テつ The team has helped me a lot.テつ Not a lot of teams give a driver three years to get good at what they do.テつ It's so critical now in this series, you really have to understand what you're doing.テつ If you don't understand what you're doing, you can't be good.テつ
Doesn't matter how good the team is. テつIf you don't understand what you're doing because it's so critical that the driver helps the team elevate the car each and every weekend.テつ
Even here, I bet everyone feels the same way, but this track has changed continuously over this weekend.テつ It's been very hard to understand what to do with the car each session.テつ You don't want to get too ahead of yourself or get behind.テつ
Just working hard.テつ I hope to be up here more often.テつ I'm enjoying today for sure.テつ It's great to be up here.テつ

Q.テつ You have to feel the performance level you've had on the street and road courses, you're getting close to a possible victory.テつ
JOSEF NEWGARDEN:テつ I hope so, man.テつ I really do.テつ Our car has been really, really great this weekend.テつ It was really good in Long Beach.テつ
Like I said, the key indicator to that is when you see your performance at the top every single session of practice.テつ That's when you can tell you have something working for you.テつ If it's one session where you're quick, you're slow some other sessions, it's generally not a good sign.テつ
For us we've had consistent speed, which is critical.テつ I think we're getting closer, we really are.テつ We're working hard.テつ I got new engineer this year.テつ James stole mine from last year.テつ I kind of want to shout out to that a little bit.テつ I have a new engineer who was my assistant the first two years, Jeremy Milless.テつ I got to tell you, the guy is just super talented.テつ
He's actually never been a race engineer before.テつ He's been an assistant his whole career.テつ He's been around good teams.テつ He's incredibly brilliant.テつ We mesh really well together.テつ He understands what I want.テつ I understand what he's going to give me a lot of the time.テつ When you have that good combo, it's critical within a group that you're working in a cohesive unit.テつ I think we're clicking well.テつ He's doing a great job.テつ He's making me look better so far this year.テつ

Q.テつ You were the IndyCar driver that grew up closest proximity to this racetrack.テつ How big was the Newgarden caravan coming down I 65?テつ
JOSEF NEWGARDEN:テつ It's not that big.テつ When you get to this level, you want it to shrink.テつ You have so much going on, you can't have a bunch of people around.テつ It's almost easier when you're in the junior category to have people come visit you.テつ When you're in IndyCar, if you have three people, it's too many.テつ
It's a tight-knit group.テつ I have my mom, my dad, one of my sisters is going to be able to make it down.テつ That's it.テつ There's no one else that are going to be here.テつ That is all I need.テつ My parents are great to have around, but you don't have time to have too many people around aside from the sponsors and all the commitments you've got going on.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll introduce our polesitter, Will Power.テつ
Will, we were talking to Helio.テつ What is it about Penske Racing that has this track so figured out?テつ
WILL POWER:テつ Yeah, I don't know.テつ I think it's all pretty close, to be honest.テつ I was thinking it was going to be very tough to beat the Andretti boys, they've been so fast around here.テつ But I was able to do one lap each time on my tires, so I had two shots at it.テつ It was awfully close.テつ Nothing between everyone.テつ
But very happy to be on pole.テつ It was definitely the aim.テつ Puts you in a much better position to keep out of trouble on the start.テつ Try to get another win. テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll continue with questions.テつ

Q.テつ James, in three short years you've gone from promising young rookie to winning three races in one year despite some inconsistent finishes along the way.テつ This year you're pretty much regarded as a title contender.テつ What do you think the difference will be?テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ It's an impressive thing to be considered when you're rocking second to last in points two rounds in.テつ I feel like we've worked pretty hard to be second to last in points.テつ That's the really devastating part.テつ
But the speed has been there since the first session at St. Pete.テつ That's awesome.テつ Josef touched on it a little bit.テつ You can have the odd good session, but that doesn't matter.テつ You need consistency.テつ
All across St. Pete, Long Beach, this weekend, the 27 car has been up there.テつ That's what you need to be doing.テつ You need to be qualifying up front.テつ That was a big focus for me during the off-season, to improve that.テつ If you're running up front, hopefully you're finishing up front.テつ
I think that's a good step.テつ I think we're there.テつ Obviously I've learned a lot from Ryan and all the guys at Andretti Autosport over the last two years.テつ Hopefully year three with this team is the year we can put it together and really be challenging going into the last race.テつ

Q.テつ Josef, hate to bring up the painful memory, you sitting next to Ryan, but late in the Long Beach race, you got taken out.テつ My question is more about the emotions.テつ Talk us through the emotions of that brief 30 seconds of elation to obvious disappointment.テつ
JOSEF NEWGARDEN:テつ Oh, great question.テつ Really good question.テつ
You know, yeah, my emotion for the whole deal, because everyone was like, Why weren't you blah, blah, blah, et cetera.テつ I was just sad.テつ It was a sad event.テつ I think it was sad for everyone.テつ
I get it, though.テつ It was just one of those deals.テつ It happened.テつ It's a racing deal.テつ I understand Ryan's position.テつ To me it looked more like a racing incident than anything that just shouldn't have happened.テつ
It's a tough day for everyone when that happens.テつ There's a lot of dudes that got taken out.テつ It was a tough day for Honda.テつ We actually had to visit Honda the next day, which was entertaining in some respects.テつ
But it's a tough situation.テつ It's going to happen.テつ
The one thing I thought about, though, is I'm not that worried about it.テつ I'd rather be up there more often having a day like that than just having one shot to finish on the podium or challenge for a win.テつ
When I looked at it, it was a sad opportunity that that happened.テつ Immediately I wanted to go to the next one, like I think any racer would.テつ I want to be up front again.テつ You don't just want one opportunity to finish well in a race.テつ Over a year you hope to have eight or 10 opportunities to capitalize on it.テつ
No big deal.テつ It's racing.テつ It happens.テつ We're here now and it's turning the page for everybody.テつ

Q.テつ Josef, with your form at Long Beach, you were third quickest on Friday, has the team ultimately turned the page and can you ultimately get a podium here Sunday?テつ
JOSEF NEWGARDEN:テつ You know, I think we have all the capability too, yeah, for sure.テつ We turned the page immediately.テつ I'm sure everyone did.テつ That's what I think.テつ
Yeah, we're here now.テつ We qualified fourth.テつ That's pretty good.テつ Same as we had in Long Beach.テつ We should have a great opportunity to run up front with all the guys here.テつ

Q.テつ Ryan, you had a quick car Friday, excellent car this morning.テつ How do you rate your chances of repeating from last year?テつ
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:テつ I think they're pretty high for everybody up here if you're starting near the front.テつ Everybody is going to be swatting at flies the whole day in the car.テつ Trying to keep it on the racetrack is going to be tough.テつ We're all going to have that.テつ
I think it should be a pretty interesting race because of it.テつ I think it's anybody's race.テつ Trust me, I'll be pushing 110% I am up at the front challenging for that win toward the end.テつ

Q.テつ Will, what was the big change you made in the car to get you to P1 right now?テつ
WILL POWER:テつ The springs we're running.テつ The 100-pound springs (laughter).テつ
Minor changes all weekend.テつ I've been basically chasing the Andretti guys to find how they're going so bloody fast.テつ Obviously in qualifying we did.テつ
I think we got a good racecar from what I've seen on all the tires.テつ So we'll see.テつ Always a lot of action in IndyCar.テつ You survive, have a shot at the win.テつ

Q.テつ Will, are you still making believe you're not the points leader?テつ
WILL POWER:テつ I don't even think about it anymore.テつ I used to care so much about that.テつ At some point you got to be looking at it, but right now just racing to win every time.テつ That's just what it's got to be.テつ Got to be an animal, man.テつ No prisoners.テつ

Q.テつ What kind of animal would you be?テつ
WILL POWER:テつ I'd be one of those honey badgers, man.テつ Or kangaroo, you know.テつ

Q.テつ Helio, you apologized to your team when you first came in here.テつ What happened out there?テつ
HELIO CASTRONEVES:テつ It was a good chance.テつ Certainly we had not only once but twice.テつ When God gives you twice of a chance, you shouldn't give it up.テつ Unfortunately I did.テつ I just went a little bit too deep into the corner.テつ Because the tires were already beat up, the front just didn't control it.テつ
I tell you, it was awesome.テつ Obviously, until that point it was awesome.テつ The car was consistent through the whole qualifying.テつ I knew what we needed to do.テつ I was not expecting that kind of mistake.テつ
That's why I apologize to my team because they did everything right.テつ

Q.テつ How much did the heat cause a problem like that?テつ
HELIO CASTRONEVES:テつ When we tested here, it was about 20 degrees different.テつ It actually got everybody surprised.テつ But it's the same for everyone.テつ I think it threw a little curve ball in everybody's scenario because when we went out qualifying, the first group, the track was extremely difficult to control.テつ As the red tires started coming in, everything is coming in, we never expected one lap only the red tires would be good enough.テつ
So there was a lot of tricks that we didn't expect.テつ But as fast cars keep going, top six, who has the more consistent cars through the run.テつ

Q.テつ Helio, I know you're very disappointed, but you've always been fast here.テつ If you have a fast car, aren't you confident that you can pass?テつ You still made the top six.テつ
HELIO CASTRONEVES:テつ Yeah, no, I'm extremely confident.テつ Today, because of the mistake, obviously I want to let it out.テつ I don't want to hold any grudge for tomorrow because tomorrow is another day.テつ Because what we show and what we saw, my car was extremely fast.テつ I feel that as we heard everyone saying, everybody has a good chance.テつ
It's going to be a tough race.テつ This place is typically not very easy to pass because of the high-speed corners.テつ The tire consumption also is something that could be playing a factor during the race.テつ That's why it's going to be exciting.テつ
It might not be, you know, like Long Beach when we had a lot of people taking a lot of chances.テつ But I feel that it will be more like strategy.テつ That's where it becomes very interesting.テつ

Q.テつ Can you pass here?テつ
HELIO CASTRONEVES:テつ Oh, you can, yeah.テつ Certainly we're going to be in the scenario where one car the tires are going away a little bit faster than others, people will start taking a little bit more chance.テつ It will be an exciting race for sure - like last year.テつ

Q.テつ Will, you've earned so many poles.テつ You're usually the guy it seems is considered the fastest.テつ Is it because you drink a bigger bottle of water than everybody else?テつ
WILL POWER:テつ My sponsor, Evian.テつ Have to drink that.テつ Evian, man.テつ Straight out of the Alps in France.テつ Pretty nice.テつ
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:テつ If you think that actually came from France, you should read that backwards and that's what you are.テつ
WILL POWER:テつ Man, you're smart.テつ I can't believe that.テつ

Q.テつ Ryan, you made it in the top six.テつ I'm going to assume you know that Sebastien Bourdais got a penalty for obstructing you on the track.テつ I think the nature of this track is such that.テつ It's the nature of a fact that a faster car can come up behind you.テつ Did that make a difference?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY:テつ It's not the nature of a track.テつ He was in third gear or second gear in a sixth-gear corner.テつ I came up on him.テつ I knew it was Bourdais.テつ He's pretty switched on.テつ Either he did it intentionally or he had no idea I was there.テつ It was the latter.テつ He said the team didn't tell him.テつ Jimmy Vasser told him, We didn't tell him, I'm sorry.テつ I had to bust out of it with three corners to go.テつ It's all right.テつ We ended up in the Fast Six.テつ No big deal.テつ
I know Bourdais, he's a champion.テつ He's switched on.テつ It was one of those two.テつ

Q.テつ Will, Pagenaud said after Long Beach he's not clear about what is and what is not acceptable on the track.テつ Coming into this weekend, is that something that needs to be clarified or is Long Beach a freak weekend?テつ
WILL POWER:テつ It is actually what they told us pre-season.テつ
Yeah, I think there needs to be some clarification of how far up you need to be, what clean racing is.テつ Like I said, what happened between Pagenaud and myself, I feel bad.テつ He had every right to be really angry.テつ
I think the payback system is not going to work very well for us with these cars and the tracks we go to.テつ It will become dangerous.テつ We'll talk about it in the drivers meeting, come up with some compromise or I don't know.テつ
Whatever it is it is.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Gentlemen, thank you.テつ Good luck in the race tomorrow.テつ

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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