Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
June 15, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everybody, to today's IZOD IndyCar Series conference call. We're joined today by Will Power, the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara and the IZOD IndyCar Series points leader as we head to the Milwaukee mile for this weekend's race.
Will, thank you for taking the time to join us today.
WILL POWER: No problem. Thanks for having me.
THE MODERATOR: As I mentioned, Will leads the points standings by 21 points over Dario Franchitti heading into this weekend's Milwaukee 225.
Will, you got that first win on an oval last weekend at Texas. How much confidence does that give you heading into Milwaukee, a place you say you love?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it's always a boost when you win a race. I'm just enjoying ovals a lot this year. I know the result at Indy wasn't really what we wanted, but still I really, really had fun in the race, felt great in the car. Obviously the same with Texas.
But, yeah, I'd have to say I was very, very excited to get my first win. It was like the first time I ever won a race is what it felt like. It was a very good feeling and it was basically like a home race to me because my wife is from there, all her family were there at the track. Yeah, just a very good day.
THE MODERATOR: The next race is at Milwaukee. You were mentioning it's one of your favorite tracks. Even though you don't have a lot of laps around there in a race, what do you remember about the circuit that can help you this weekend?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I just love it. It's flat. You have to lift. You have to downshift, upshift. I think it's important to have on the schedule. It's a great track, a lot of history. It creates good racing because you can run a couple of lines.
I think everyone's going to be happy. Fans are going to be happy to see us race back there. Hopefully we get a good crowd.
THE MODERATOR: Looking ahead past Milwaukee, the next race is Iowa, a short oval. You can gain or lose a lot of points there. What are your thoughts about the Iowa Speedway?
WILL POWER: Yeah, that was my first oval pole. I had a good race. I think I finished fifth. I have a good idea in my head what I want to do to make the car better this year.
Yeah, I think I'm going to definitely build on that result from last year. Once again, it's a track that I enjoy. It's a short oval. You probably have to shift a bit. You can run two lanes, which makes it really good for passing.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up for questions for Will Power.
Q. Will, I'm doing a story about Oriol Servia. I know you know him as a former teammate. He's been in the top three in points for a lot of the season. Back and forth right now. Was it a surprise to see him and that team come out of the box strong?
WILL POWER: No, it wasn't. Oriol, when I was teammates with him, he's very quick. I think he's also a really good teammate. He's very good to work with, very easy-going. He's pretty smart on setting a car up, as well.
It wasn't a surprise at all. I had a feeling that those guys would be championship contenders. Also, the team having James Hinchcliffe in there, is probably one of the quickest rookies coming in, so it helps it coming along.
Those guys definitely have a chance of winning races this year for sure.
Q. Is that team, Newman/Haas, a best example of how things have gotten in the paddock this year, not so much Penske and Ganassi, it's tightening a little bit?
WILL POWER: Yeah, you get these teams like Newman/Haas, really good teams that are able to get good drivers in the car, it just tightens up every year. Obviously next year is going to be a different story. This is the last year of this car. Everyone has developed it as much as they can. The people that haven't developed it as much as they can are the ones that catch up. Obviously, Penske and Ganassi got as much out of it as you can get out of it. These other guys have caught up. It just makes it, yeah, a very competitive environment.
Q. You said Oriol was a good teammate. How did you work together? Did you know then, even though you weren't in championship-caliber equipment in 2008, could you tell then if he got the better cars he could be a guy that could run up front?
WILL POWER: Yeah, we both thought if they kept us on for another year - they wanted to, but it was for financial reasons, they had to take drivers with money - that we would start getting into a position to win races. We both ended up without a ride, had to find a place to have a drive.
So, yeah, we just thought if we just get the opportunity, given the chance. Actually, I was the first one to get the chance with Penske. I would tell teams they have to give Oriol the go because he was every bit as quick as I was when I was at KV. He's a really good driver.
Yeah, I was really happy to see him get a full-time ride this year.
Q. Will, as an IndyCar star you get to do many off-track activities with sponsors. The average folks probably don't get to do that. Can you share some of your favorite off-track moments.
WILL POWER: Off-track moments? Probably meeting Michael Johnson the other day at Texas. That was pretty cool. One of my heroes, the Olympic sprinter. Some of the IZOD parties, you see some pretty big celebrities, it's pretty cool. It's not a massive deal to me, but...
I'm trying to think of what my favorite one might be, but none of them are coming to mind right now. But, yeah, it is always fun when you get to do stuff you normally wouldn't do.
What I'd love to do is get a ride in one of those fighter jets. That would be cool.
Q. Fans might think you only work about four hours a week. Can you explain what you go through in a typical week.
WILL POWER: Well, I got back here basically I guess Sunday night. I was straight in the gym 8:30 Monday morning. Came home, did some media stuff. Then, once again, did another about an hour-long run in the afternoon. Went cycling today for a couple hours, mountain biking. I'll probably run again this afternoon. Then I'll probably watch the 2009 Milwaukee race to get an understanding of how the race went. So things like that.
Yesterday I had an engineering meeting for a couple hours with the team, then sat down with my engineer after that for a while to go over the plan for the weekend. Tomorrow we fly to Milwaukee. That's sort of a standard week. That sort of stuff is what we do.
Q. Will, all the back-and-forth discussions about the Texas thing, are you kind of tired of hearing about it at this point?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I honestly don't really read anything after races. The only time I hear about articles is if I said something wrong and the team informs me that I said something wrong, then I know about it (laughter). Otherwise, I don't really read any of it.
Yeah, I'm sure after the press conference and what I can sense from Dario, you know, he wasn't entirely happy about the situation. We all knew about it going into it. In fact, I agreed with him. I didn't think that was the best way to do it. But it was what it was. That's how it ended up.
Q. One of the things IndyCar came across was that Wheldon's car in the 500 was essentially an '03 racecar that had been through just about every team in the paddock except yours. It had been Marty Roth's car, Tomas Scheckter's car, Hornish's car. I don't know if you heard that. Does that surprise you that a car in the first grouping that Dallara made could win the 500 about seven years later?
WILL POWER: It does. It does surprise me. In general those cars are probably a little heavier, so you can't place the ballast where you want to place it. Yes, it surprises me. I guess it shows what sort of a job Wheldon did, what a good job he did with that car, setting it up and so on, and obviously the team.
Yeah, I didn't realize that. Wow, that's pretty good. That's impressive.
Q. There are a lot of theories going around about what IndyCar should do should there be another doubleheader. Do you have any thoughts on those theories, like inverting the top field?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think in GP2 they invert the top 10. That makes for good racing because not only do you have a race for the win in the first race, you also have a race for 10th place or to get in the top 10. I think it makes it more exciting, especially if the fans are aware of what's going on.
I'm not sure inverting the whole field is the best idea around that joint because it's so fast, can be dangerous. But I think it would have been awesome with one single race, as well. That place creates good racing.
But, yeah, there's some good ideas. I think the best way would be to invert the top 10.
Q. I know we're focusing on Milwaukee. I'm wondering if you could tell me your thoughts on Portland, which used to race on Father's Day weekend?
WILL POWER: Portland, I wish we were going back to Portland. I love that track. Yeah, man, I don't know if IndyCar have actually spoken to the people who own the track. I don't know the promotor that wants to run a race there. I think at one point they got some pretty big crowds there.
With the right promotion, I would love to go back there is what I'm trying to say.
Q. I would like you to come back, too.
WILL POWER: You need to keep rallying for it, too. We stopped going there in '07 was the last year.
Q. You ran there in Champ Car.
WILL POWER: Yes, I did. First standing start right there. I went from bloody seventh to second or third, an awesome start. It was great.
Q. You were talking earlier about things you got to do. Kanaan ran on Stewart's dirt track race. If you got invited to that, would that be something you would lobby for?
WILL POWER: Most definitely, I would love to do it. I raced on the dirt when I was younger, when I was 16, 17. Yeah, that's something I would do.
Q. Where did you race at?
WILL POWER: I raced in a dirt track series when I was 16. It was actually dirt road courses. They're short tracks. Yeah, it was just good fun. It was great. I love that sort of driving where it's all car control. You're really driving the thing. That's something I definitely would enjoy doing.
Q. Do you feel with the growing field we have, are we having too many cars for the short tracks? The two-and-a-half-mile speedways are fine, but one-and-a-half miles, 30 cars, is that too many cars?
WILL POWER: We'll see this weekend. It's going to be 26 cars here at Milwaukee. You might be right. But I think what it does, it makes the racing probably better because you can't see in traffic and you have to read it well. As long as the standard of drivers is right up there, which it is right now, you can't really pick any bad drivers out of the field.
I guess at some point they can only fit a certain number in pit lane. I don't even know if they can pit 30 cars at Milwaukee. I don't know.
Q. Has your approach to racing changed much from the first year as a pro compared to this year?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think you just get smarter and smarter as a driver. I think you have to if you're ever going to be a champion. I think you just got to continually learn. It probably hasn't changed much from 2007 to now, my second year in Champ Car. My first year was really a learning year.
I just feel as though each year it comes a little easier, especially if you're with the same team, crew, engineer, with the same car. I think, you know, your weekend becomes easy. You just seem to have more time to work on smaller details rather than larger ones when you're trying to learn a lot.
Yeah, that's basically it.
THE MODERATOR: Seeing as we have no more questions for Will, we'll thank you for your time and wrap-up today's IZOD IndyCar Series conference call. Thank you, everybody, for being on today's call.
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