Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League, Penske Racing
February 23, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for joining us today. We're going to get together with everyone and talk about the 2010 Izod IndyCar Series season with Team Penske. We're fortunate to be joined by all three of our drivers today, as well as Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing.
We have Helio Castroneves. Returning to the No. 6 car is Ryan Briscoe. Then of course for a full season competing with the No. 12 we have Will Power.
We're going to open up for questions in just a few minutes. We thought we would open it up with a few quick comments about the 2010 season from each first.
We'll start with Tim. A few changes to the team. If you want to review those a little bit.
TIM CINDRIC: Sure. Good afternoon, everyone.
I guess today marks the end of an era. When I look at the red and whit era of Team Penske, today really marks an end to that because this is the first time since 1990 that our team hasn't had the red and white colors. Sitting here today, we're still getting used to it, as well. It's also the first time since 1994 that we've entered three cars full season. So a lot of changes for us internally.
We just wanted to spend some time today talking to everyone and answering your questions about what made the change, why we did what, and how we're going to I guess represent ourselves hopefully in the same fashion as the success in 1994 when we last ran three cars.
But the main reason we changed colors this year is really an obvious one: Philip Morris will no longer sponsor the Team Penske cars. 2010 will be the first year that we really haven't had a Philip Morris involvement really since 1987 when they were part of the tracks and 1990 was the first year they sponsored the race team.
We obviously have a new partner in Verizon for a full season. We also have a new and different association with what's referred to as Altria Engagement Services. That's not just on the IndyCar program, that's across the board. For those familiar with that, they are the organization within Altria that services all of their brands internally with the things they do from a promotional and marketing aspect. So we're excited about that as well.
THE MODERATOR: We'll hear from the drivers competing this season.
First Will Power. Will, great, great opportunity with you. Spent six races getting to know everyone, did a great job before your injury cut your season short.
WILL POWER: You know, I'm fully recovered now and ready to go. This is a fantastic opportunity for me. I think it's going to be a very strong season for the whole team. We have three really, really good drivers. We'll feed off each other and learn from each other and push each other.
You know, I expect to be running at the front all year. Just really happy to be involved with this organization. First time running three cars since '94. Really looking forward to it.
You know, I'm sure we'll see a 1-2-3 at some point during the season. You know, I think it's going to be a very exciting championship.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Will.
Let's hear from Ryan Briscoe. Ryan had a great year last year, finished third in the championship. I know you have big hopes as we enter 2010.
RYAN BRISCOE: Really excited to be here. We had a taste of the three-car operation last year, was really successful. Really happy to welcome Will onboard. He can be a great teammate joining Helio and myself.
For myself, really hoping to build on the successes of last year. I think we had a very strong season, Helio winning the 500, myself taking the championship down to the final few laps at Homestead. It was a big learning year from me. I hope to learn on that. Hopefully we can win it all again this year.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Ryan.
Helio, just talk to us about what you expect from 2010. A little bit different for you. First time you're not coming here in red and white. What are you looking forward to for the 2010 season?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's great to be back again in spring training. Unfortunately, last year we were a little busy. But now we're able to start the season with a whole different new perspective. No question with Will onboard for a full season. Obviously Ryan did an incredible job last year with the championship. Now I'll be able to feed from those guys. Hopefully we're going to have a 1-2-3 finish more often than we expect.
You know, talking about sponsorship and the relationship that I had with Team Penske for 10 years, wearing the red and white, as Cindric said, is the end of an era. But it's a great opportunity for future partners like Verizon. So I'm looking forward to 2010. Can't wait to start the season.
THE MODERATOR: Very good. We'll take some questions.
Q. Tim, you've always been a fully funded and sponsored operation. How does the business side of things work now?
TIM CINDRIC: Just like everything Penske oriented, it's pretty complicated. To go through exactly how our business model works, yeah, obviously we we've had some time to plan for this. It's been an ever-changing legal environment for Philip Morris. You know, they've looked at their marketing programs, and obviously have decided which way they need to go in the future.
From our aspect, we've been able to put together a business plan this year that works. In the meantime, we're going to actively pursue primary sponsorship beyond 2010. Also in 2010, you might see the Penske cars look different.
Q. Helio, as a Brazilian, do you feel you've been invaded by Australians?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's right. It was a great success, and now we have two Aussies over here. But, you know what, I had the taste last year to work with those guys. We had a lot of fun. The results were there, as well.
I do feel we're going to have a good team. It's going to be a competitive team. But that is going to push us to go to the top. That is going to be in the best interest for the team.
Q. Could each driver address what they would like to experience this week.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Being here in Barber Motorsports, first of all, it's a great racetrack. Last time I was here, it was more than a year ago. You know, it's an incredible layout. Certainly it's been a long time that everybody has not been on the track practicing. So this is going to be great to adapt again. For new teams, they'll be able to check the new cars and get used to.
Normally, we're not going to use most of the setup for the first race in Brazil, because it's a street course. When we come back, we'll have a good setup and be ready for the race. Can't wait to be out there. It's been a long time out of the racecar. It's going to be a lot of fun.
RYAN BRISCOE: I'm really excited to be back here. I've tested here a couple of times, both with the IndyCar and the Grand-Am sports car. Always loved driving this track. I'm excited we're adding this circuit to the schedule this year. It's a great chance to knock the rust off again.
I don't think we've been on road courses since August or September last year. So it's a great chance for us all to hone our skills on the road courses and see everyone here together. It's our one and only open test before the season starts. It's almost like a race event. It's exciting.
WILL POWER: I mean, this is one of my favorite tracks. I really love it because it's so technical. You got such a variety of corners, always leading on to something else, you don't really think about it.
I think teams will be really focusing on getting a setup for when we come back here. I can tell that qualifying's going to be very important 'cause it's pretty tough to pass. But, yeah, it's great to have everyone together. This is where you'll see where we are after all the development after the off-season. You know, we'll have a good indication going into the first race.
THE MODERATOR: Will was fastest in last year's open test.
Q. I understand this year you're now going to have reverse in the car. Hopefully you won't have to use it. Are there any things that you can still find with the Dallara?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think, you know, the fact there's been more road courses added, I think the teams in the past have focused a lot on ovals. You know, I think the development has probably slung a little bit more towards road courses. You're always finding stuff. I think the tire may have changed a little bit as well. The track as changed, as well. You're forever searching.
Q. I've heard your team and Ganassi are going to be the top teams this year. How do you feel about that? Do you feel your two teams are the toughest?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Basically last year was a very competitive season. Yes, both teams, Ganassi and Penske, tried to find the small details or everything that we can to find speed in the cars.
But no question, Will winning one of the races last year, showed when you put on a road course, you're still able to find talent, find new teams that are able to put on a good show.
You can't deny the history of racing. When you have a great teams around, those teams always going to succeed. The way IndyCar is, I say it always gives opportunity to everybody. I don't think this year is going to be any different.
But, yes, counting with Team Penske, Ganassi, Andretti, especially the year they had, I think is going to push the other teams as well to keep working and achieve their goals.
Q. Tim, could you provide more details about the sponsorship.
TIM CINDRIC: Basically what we're involved in, and we have been involved in for some time, is the racing school program that we do for Altria Engagement Services. It's not only IndyCar we're involved in; there's also things that happen at the NASCAR events. The biggest thing I can point to, if you were in Daytona, there's a big red tent out there. That big red tent is going to travel to 15 events throughout the year. I think there's 10 NASCAR and five IndyCar events that the big red tent goes to.
Within that tent, if you've been inside, is a lot of Penske's history within racing. But that's not the emphasis. The emphasis is more about the products and the things that are relative to Altria. We just provide a bit of a backdrop and a racing theme to it really. That's the easiest way to summarize it all.
Q. The road courses are on the rise. As a spectator they're more fun to watch. As a driver, are they more fun to drive?
RYAN BRISCOE: I don't know. I think both have the challenges and excitement. I think you probably saw some of the most exciting finishes on the ovals last year.
I think everyone's got their own tastes. I think a lot of fans love the ovals, a lot of fans love the road courses.
From a driving standpoint, it's the perfect mix. It's about half and half. It's got the equal amount of challenge going back and forth from one to the other.
For me driving the car, it's just as exciting, one or the other. And every track is so different, it really mixes it up. It's so hard to just split it, oval and road course, because every oval is different and every road course and street course is different.
I think it's really exciting. It's got the most amount of diversity of any championship I've ever experienced.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everybody.
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