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IZOD IndyCar Series: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

IZOD IndyCar Series: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Will Power
August 22, 2010


SONOMA, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: Dario, Scott, thank you so much. Congratulations on today's podium finish.
We're now joined by today's race winner Will Power, who also was crowned the Mario Andretti Road Champion today, the inaugural one.
Will, talk about today's race. You certainly know how to come back, lead the pole, lead the most laps, win the race and get a championship.
WILL POWER: Yeah, unbelievable. I watched this race from the hospital bed last year. You know, I said it all year: I'm coming back to win this thing because I thought this track owes me after what happened.
You know, I just went about my business, put my head down and did absolutely the best I could on every single lap, with fuel mileage, everything I could do.
So, yeah, very happy. Very happy.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and open it up for questions.

Q. Will, last year the terrible accident that you had, injury. Any thoughts about that as you were out there today or this weekend? Were you successfully able to completely block it out?
WILL POWER: No, every time I go over that hill, I see some dust. That's what happened last year. So, in fact, that was my slowest sector in qualifying. Not that it had anything to do with the crash, it was just funny that it was.
But, yeah, I think you remember things like that. I don't think you ever forget it. But you just put it down to experience. I think you understand more what can happen at high speeds, when something unexpected happens like that. It obviously didn't slow me up this weekend.

Q. Will, you and Helio really left everybody at the start. Did you talk about the start, the two of you? Did you have a strategy?
WILL POWER: Yeah, we did talk about it before the start. I thought if I went too late, Dario was going to get by Helio. I wanted to ensure that Helio could slip into second place.
Yeah, it worked out. Did exactly that.

Q. Can you talk about the confidence that Roger had in you. This time last year you mentioned you were watching it in a hospital bed. You had to be thinking, Am I going to be able to drive let alone get a full-time ride?
WILL POWER: The sort of the guy Roger is, he called me probably not long after I arrived at hospital and said, Look, don't worry about it. We'll look after you. We'll have something for you next year, even if it's not full-time. That's just the sort of guy he is, the sort of team he runs. It gives you confidence as a driver because I've been in so many situations in my career where you don't feel that.
I can't thank the whole organization, Roger, Tim, the Verizon guys, for sticking by me, giving me a chance. We're going for the championship. I tell you, at the end of 2008, I was almost ready to go home to Australia and race V8s. Had I not gotten this opportunity, I never would have known what my potential was.

Q. Will, the red tires didn't last all that long. It created a lot of interesting racing. I don't know how many fans were aware of that. Did you find they went away earlier than normal? There was a lot of good racing going on because of that.
WILL POWER: Yeah, the last five, six laps for me, it was really bad, the front tires. I think that's great that Firestone makes a tire that's very sticky and very high grip early on, and there's a variance then between the speeds. It makes for good racing.
You know, Firestone deliberately do that. It's a very good tire, but it's not as durable. I think we need that in this series. It rewards guys who look after their tires more, but it makes for great racing. If you're on reds, somebody else is on blacks, there's no passing. If the reds go off, there's more passing again. We need that.

Q. At the end, Scott Dixon was pushing you harder than anybody pushed you all day long. Did you feel that pressure? Up until then, he was kind of catching you, running faster laps than you. At the end you seemed to pull away just a little.
WILL POWER: Well, when he was catching me, I was aware every lap of the gap. I was just managing the tires. Being aware of what happened in the first stint, I thought if I pushed too hard, I can allow him to catch me 3/10ths a lap here, he'll wear his tires out more, I'll go at the end.
At the end, he pushed really hard on his tires and destroyed them, and I was able to pull a gap.
It was about tire management. I could have gone a lot faster, but I would have been 10 laps to go with tires that were junk.

Q. Could you talk about how you came to be named Will Power.
WILL POWER: I was named after my greatgrandfather William Steven Power. My name is William, but everybody called me Will. Everyone called him Will. So it's Will Power.
It's amazing. No one ever gave me crap at school (laughter). They just called me Power or Will. But, yeah, it's only when I became a race driver that people started to catch onto this 'Will Power' thing. No one calls me just 'Will,' it's 'Will Power.' I have a younger brother named 'Honda' (laughter).

Q. 40 years ago the first open-wheel race was held here at Sonoma. Mario Andretti was on the podium that day. The entire purse was $53,000. What does it mean to you to accept the Mario Andretti trophy from a legend like that today?
WILL POWER: It's exactly that, you're accepting an award from a legend, one of the greats of the sport, a guy you look up to when you're a kid. I mean, it's fantastic.
Was that the purse, 53 grand that many years ago? Nothing's really changed (laughter).

Q. When exactly did you start to feel comfortable on this racecourse again?
WILL POWER: I always liked this racecourse. Do you mean after the accident?

Q. Yes.
WILL POWER: I mean, pretty much when I got straight back on it. It's just one of those things. It was an unfortunate thing that happened, bad set of circumstances.
I just got down to business when I got out there. When I go over that hill each time, I'm aware. When I saw a little bit of dust or anything, I was a little bit hesitant. I just put my head down, did my job.
I think as a driver, you need to learn to shut those things out and not let it affect you because you're going to have a big accident, you're going to have something happen during your career. It's just part of what it is.

Q. Easily the most animated we've seen you in one of these interviews. Do you feel like a big weight has been lifted off you're shoulders and this championship is almost yours?
WILL POWER: No, I don't think this championship is almost mine. There's a lot of racing to go. Four races, a lot can happen. Really, whatever it is, the buffer, 15 or something points, you can lose a lot of that in just one race.
We're going to work really hard. I'm going to race those ovals like I want to win the championship. I think I got enough experience now and I think we'll be very strong.

Q. Scott mentioned your teammates did a really good job of keeping that gap for you throughout the race. How aware are you of what's going on with your other teammates, what the strategy is?
WILL POWER: Well, actually I wasn't really. I just went, did my job. I didn't even know what my teammates were doing. I think we were all out there to do the best job possible, hopefully get a couple of my teammates ahead of the Ganassi guys.
Yeah, I haven't even spoken to them. I'm not even sure what happened, how it all played out. It was very quiet on the radio today. Gave me a fuel number, go for it, get the best lap time with that fuel. Yeah, only time I was aware of someone behind me was the first few laps and then the last few laps.

Q. Will, you led every lap except when you pitted. When you're leading like that, is it easier or more difficult for the race?
WILL POWER: For me, I really like leading. I always have. Whenever I lead, I'm always able to pull a gap, be very aware of saving my tires, saving more fuel. I'm a driver; of course I love to be out front. It is good for me. I can't stand being behind someone getting held up.

Q. Were you surprised or happy to see it was the 9 car in your rearview mirror at the end of the race rather than the 10 car?
WILL POWER: You know, I was just happy that someone on reds was behind me because I was just -- I asked, Is Dario on blacks? Yes. Okay, got to be very smart with saving these tires. They said, Dixon just passed him, he's on reds. Good. I'm on par with this guy, I think I can out-race him.
So, yeah, on the restart, that last few laps, it was just about driving as quick as I could with what I had, keeping him behind.

Q. On the racing out front, is a part of that because of the clean air, no disturbance? Does that enable you to push harder?
WILL POWER: Yes, clean air is always better. But sometimes following someone on tracks like this, if you're saving fuel to go a lap longer, it helps you save fuel because you're not pushing as much air.
It can work both ways. You can sit behind someone and outsmart them with fuel, go a lap longer. But it wasn't the case today.
THE MODERATOR: We'll wrap things up. Congratulations on the win.



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