Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
September 6, 2012
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today's IndyCar conference call. Like our guests yesterday, Michael Andretti, today's guest will play a key role in this weekend's IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship deciding race, the MAV TV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. We're pleased to be joined by Tim Cindric, the president of Penske Racing. Tim, thank you for taking the time to join us today.
Under Tim's leadership, Team Penske has scored three IndyCar titles, 2000 and 2001 with Gil de Ferran, and the 2006 IZOD IndyCar Series title with Sam Hornish Jr. The team has five Indianapolis 500 race wins, recently with Helio Castroneves in 2009. And Tim serves as the race strategist for Will Power who leads the championship point standings by 17 points over Ryan Hunter‑Reay.
Tim, this is the fifth year in a row you've joined us for this call. A Team Penske driver is battling for the series title again, and I seem to ask this to you every year, but what is it about Team Penske that teams putting drivers in position to win the IZOD IndyCar Series title?
TIM CINDRIC: I think we've been able to consistently continue to win races and that type of thing. But for whatever reason, the last five years or whatever we haven't gotten the job done at the end of the season for different reasons. And hopefully this year will be different, but having a chance every year is something that you can be proud of but at the end of the day you got to finish it.
THE MODERATOR: They say you have to lose a championship sometimes before you win a championship. I know Will's been in this position the last two years and come away finishing second. Is he much different as a driver than he's been the last two years?
TIM CINDRIC: He's been through the different experiences of the highs and lows. He continues to perform better and better in my opinion on the ovals. I think this year in Texas he got a blocking penalty, and he was definitely the car to beat in Texas.
I think Fontana's going to be a similar race to Texas. Probably different in some ways, but I think his frame of mind and he's been through and understands what that all means to come down to the last race. I think there is certainly progress on that front.
Q. I know you're out at Fontana right now for a test with Will. With the aero package, do you think you'll see a race kind of like Texas with the cars coming to the front and then fading?
TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, I think the initial indications are it's definitely going to be a handling race, so I think it's no different than Texas. It's early because we've only run here for a couple hours, so I think this is the worst case. I feel like it's been almost the aero configuration right now seems the new tires and the cars are pretty good and pretty stable. As you get throughout the run. Again, we're not running fuel in them either, so as you get throughout the run, it becomes a bit more difficult. So I think you're definitely seeing a handling race at this point.
Q. Going into this race in Fontana, how much of your team strategy will be focused around helping Will win the championship or is it similar to another race where it's every driver on the team for himself?
TIM CINDRIC: It will certainly be something that we consider throughout the race. I think our number one goal, obviously, is to win the championship. The other two guys have things that they're trying to accomplish as well. I think Helio realistically is racing for third, and Ryan has an outside chance of being in the Top 5. So the better his teammates run, the better it is overall. So there is really no reason not to run well.
Q. I'd like to know, when you're sitting on the pit stand, how much do you watch what Will's doing and calling that race as opposed to what Ryan Hunter‑Reay will be doing or some of the other guys racing pretty hard for the win?
TIM CINDRIC: I think you're typically always watching whoever your competition is, whether it's for that race, who you feel is most competitive for that race or for the championship. So I think you always have one eye on your car and another one on whoever you feel like your competition is, whether it be for the championship or the race win itself.
I don't think that mindset is a whole lot different. But it is a little bit different than normal because the race really isn't important to us as far as Will's concerned. It's just a matter of insuring that we beat Ryan at the end of the day.
Q. Following up from the test site you're at right now. I know you mentioned you felt the new car was running on the track with the limited time you have there. What kind of speeds do you think you'll be seeing on the track?
TIM CINDRIC: The conditions right now and really the teams haven't taken a lot of the drag out for qualifying, so I think it really depends on what the final aero configurations are. I think you'll see close to I would say 220, 218, 220 in that range is what the initial indications are. I think the top speed today is 217.
So when it comes to qualifying, I think it's going to be close to 220, but it's early to make that judgment.
THE MODERATOR: Tim, we appreciate your time and wish you the best of luck for you and Will Power next weekend at Fontana.
TIM CINDRIC: Thank you for having me.
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