Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
March 24, 2010
PAUL KELLY: Welcome, everyone, to the Indy Racing League teleconference today in which we will take a look at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this Sunday on the Streets of St. Petersburg. The race telecast begins at 3:30 on ABC. It's our first race this year on ABC.
Our guest today on the teleconference is Will Power. He's driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. Will leads the IZOD IndyCar Series standings after winning the season-opening Saõ Paulo Indy 300 on March 14th. Will is a native of Australia. He's driving for Team Penske in a complete schedule this season after driving for the team in a limited schedule in 2009 in which he won in the Airport Course at Edmonton.
Will, thanks for joining us today.
WILL POWER: Yeah, no problem, thanks for having me on
PAUL KELLY: You've had emotional victories before, obviously your first win in Champ Car, and last year winning for Penske in Edmonton. But this was different. This was different at Saõ Paulo because of the injury that you recovered from that you suffered at Infineon. Explain the emotion of your victory in Brazil and how it differed from other wins.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was quite emotional to be honest, you know, because when you have an injury like that and you have a lot of downtime during the recovery period, you know, you can become a little bit uncertain whether you'll come back as strong as you were and whether you'd be as quick as you were, and that was just confirmation that everything is back as it was and just helped with my confidence to be honest.
PAUL KELLY: And again, this was a victory for you on a temporary street circuit, and you have a reputation as being quite the road warrior as far as on these street circuits. What is it about street circuits, and St. Pete also coming up is a street circuit, but what about street circuits suits you or do you like?
WILL POWER: Well, I think the wall, there's a limit, and I'm not sure what it is about street circuits, but there's a lot more challenges on a street circuit than there are on ovals or road courses, you know, with uneven surfaces, bumps, different surfaces, grip level-wise, and you've got a wall. So you can't make a mistake. You've got to creep up on it all weekend. The track is constantly changing because the rubber goes down over the weekend because it's just a street during the normal day, and it's just all these little details that count to be quick.
Q. Talk about the importance of getting a victory right out of the box.
WILL POWER: Well, I think it's -- you know, it's important for any victory during the season, but I guess it just gets the season kicked off in a good way. You know, you get pit out of the next race, which is St. Pete coming up, and it just -- I think it gives the team, which is a new crew for me, confidence in me, and I have confidence in them that we can win this championship, we've just got to keep it together.
Q. And also the fact that Team Penske has such a great record at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Pete, that's got to give you added confidence that you'll be one of the guys fighting for the victory at the end of this race.
WILL POWER: Yeah, that's right, they have had a lot of success there. Just, you know, exactly that. We've got to be one of the guys fighting for the win there. I think we, of course -- I'm certain that we will be up front there. You know, just got to be mistake free. I think that's the key to winning a championship. You've just got to -- to me I think you've just got to just drive, do what you do. If you try to be too conservative, that also can cause you to be taken out, and if you try too hard, you end up in the wall. So you've just got to do what you do and just let it come; don't force it.
Q. Can you tell me a little bit about Team Penske? Just talking to Helio and Ryan and working with the team, how has that improved your driving?
WILL POWER: I think when you're running in a three-car team like that, you have a lot of data to feed off, and you've got your teammates pushing you. So basically there's no stone unturned, because if we put all our combined laps together at the splits around the circuit, there's always a couple of tenths left on the table, which is good news. There's always something you can find driving-wise, and setup-wise you can try three different things straight out of the box, and I think you come to a conclusion quicker than you would if you were a two- or one-car team.
So it's good. We all work well together, and I think that's going to be a strength during the year for sure.
Q. Can you just tell me a little bit about the injury, the rehab? What was the rehab like, and are there any lingering issues with you right now?
WILL POWER: No, there's no lingering issues. You know, it's like a -- it was basically the whole six months until we restarted the season or testing, just a gradual process of each week being allowed to go a little bit more and just pushing a little bit more until I was at the point where I was doing everything that I had before I broke my back, and now I'm back to hardly even feeling it. The only time I ever feel it is if I really bend over and stretch it out.
I was actually surprised how well it's healed. I really thought I'd be in pain during the season, but yeah, it's like it never happened.
Q. Is that pain you're going to live with for the rest of your life then, or is that going to go away, too, when you do the deep bend?
WILL POWER: I think it'll eventually go away and you won't even feel anything. I always had a bit of a bad lower back anyway, and you get that from racing, all the bumps and just the way that you sit in the car. So you know, it's about where I was, really.
Q. A couple of quick questions. I was wondering if you've looked over the proposals for the new IndyCar, and if so, do you have a favorite there?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I haven't really taken too much notice of it because I think the selection process is totally out of my hands, and whatever it is, you've got to accept. You know, I think the most radical design there is the delta wing.
I think they have the right idea to make a cheaper, more efficient car for sure. That's obviously the direction they need to head in with the way the economy is these days and make it easier for team owners. But I can't say as I actually have a favorite.
Q. I was talking to Marcos Ambrose in NASCAR, and he said his NASCAR driving, despite all he had done in Australia, has actually raised his profile there, and I was wondering if driving in the IRL has the same effect on your reception when you get back home.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think it does. Obviously when we had the race in Australia there, there was obviously -- that certainly gave me a lot of coverage. But I wasn't like Marcos where I had raced in super cars there and become quite a hero like he did, you know, a big name. So there's nothing really to judge on there.
But I think that Australia will keep on eye on any of the sports people racing internationally.
Q. You finished sixth there last year; Ryan Briscoe is the defending race winner; your other teammate has won there twice in St. Pete. Can they give you the secret as to how you can get into victory lane on Sunday?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I don't think they're going to give me the secret, but it's something I've got to find out for myself. You know, last year I was in a good position, made a little mistake when I pitted in the wrong pit, so each year -- I think I finished eighth the year before and sixth this year, so I just keep moving up there. I'm going to do my best. I'm quick around there, and hopefully I can join Ryan and Helio and be a winner there.
Q. I'm just wondering about your experience on the ovals. I think you were fifth at Indy last year. But clearly you have more experience on the road courses. Tell me what the learning curve is like right now on the ovals for you. How is it going and what do you need to work on?
WILL POWER: Well, I haven't driven an oval since Kentucky last year. You know, on the two ovals I did do last year I felt very comfortable and did well, and you know, it's just something I've got to keep at and working on. On the ovals, to me it feels as though it's 90 percent the car and 10 percent the driver on these mile-and-a-half ovals. I think around Indy it's definitely more about the driver than the car. I mean, it's a lot more driver. You have to work pretty hard around there.
I've got Helio and Ryan who have both had -- especially Helio, a lot of experience on ovals, and just keep learning and do my best when I get there. I think I'll be running at the front, I really do. I think they've got good cars, and I'm really looking forward to the day I win my first oval race.
PAUL KELLY: Quick question about St. Pete. What is the key to a quick lap around the streets of St. Petersburg? Is there one thing? Is there a balance?
WILL POWER: No, it's just like I said before, it's a balance, you know. You've got to get all of the details right, read the track grip well and get the most out of your red tires to be the quickest there. That's the key.
Q. At Saõ Paulo obviously the Brazilian drivers got most of the attention from the Brazilian spectators. Were you almost kind of amazed at the level of personal security that Helio and Tony Kanaan and those guys kind of really had to have at that event?
WILL POWER: No, I wasn't amazed, considering some of the stories I was told about -- yeah, it's good to see how much support those guys had. Great for the series.
Q. And also as far as any of the stuff that you had to do that was different than a normal race, and also, what's it like the times when you raced in Australia?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I know when I raced in Australia, the amount of PR I had to do before, it was a whole week's worth or even two weeks' worth of just going around and doing -- promoting the event. I think the Brazilian guys had a few more guys to spread the workload. But yeah, it's always great when you race in your own country. It's just great to be in front of your home crowd and have all that support, and it really motivates you to win.
Q. I'm just flipping through my media guide here. They changed the rules for the Push-to-Pass this year; is that right?
WILL POWER: Well, they just increased the Push-to-Pass. I don't think there's any rule change. The biggest change is they don't have the fuel miles anymore so you can't save fuel by turning on the steering wheel. You have to save by manual means. You have to do it by yourself.
Q. What are your thoughts on that change and just on the principle of the Push-to-Pass? Is that good for the series?
WILL POWER: It is. I mean, you could see in Brazil the good racing, and a lot of those passes were made with Push-to-Pass. Yep, it made it definitely more exciting. You had to really think about when you used them up and be very smart about saving them until the end of the race.
Q. How much of a role does it play in determining who's going to be the fastest out there on any given day, especially in the road courses?
WILL POWER: Well, you can't. You can't use it in qualifying and practice. I mean, you just have to -- you only get it for the race. You know, you've just got to drive smart when you use it in the race, you know, depending on your position.
PAUL KELLY: Will, we will say thank you, and we appreciate your time, and we wish you the best of luck this weekend at St. Pete.
WILL POWER: Perfect, thanks very much for having me on.
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