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IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Marco Andretti
Helio Castroneves
Scott Dixon
Tony Kanaan
Will Power
Justin Wilson
March 27, 2010


ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA

THE MODERATOR: We are going to go ahead and get started. We are joined by Justin Wilson who qualified fourth in the No. 22 Z-Line Designs, Justin started third is the season opener two weeks ago in Brazil. He started second and finished third in the 2009.
We are also joined by Marco Andretti starting sixth in the No. 26 Venom Energy; Marco last participated in the Firestone Fast Six at Infineon Raceway in 2009. This is the second consecutive race week in which Andretti Autosports have placed two cars in a Firestone Fast Six, the other being teammate Tony Kanaan.
We are joined by our pole sitter, Will Power, who will be starting first in the No. 12 car for Verizon Team Penske.
Guys, if you can talk about qualifying today starting with Marco.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Obviously, you know, looking at our last couple of years, we are to be pleased to be in the Fast Six. I think we kind of did the right thing the first two rounds, but we made a bit of a setup error in the Fast. Six, so unfortunately we weren't able to have a go at the pole.
But I think not a bad effort for the Venom crew. The good thing is I think Andretti Autosport cars are starting to show some pace. We have been working really hard in the off-season on it, so, I don't know, I mean, hats off to everyone.
JUSTIN WILSON: The car was really good; I felt happy with the progress we made in the week's session and I felt we are making progress. It was good. We decided to run on the Firestone Thunder tires, with the sidewall, because we were being a bit too hard on our Red Options, so decided to go in the Blacks and thought it was good.
Came out ninth, went down to 10:10 on my second lap and the brake pedal went all the way down to the bulkhead. I just didn't have enough brakes there, it just got worse and worse as the run went on. Every trip around was an adventure and in the end, I decided to come in and park the car. I couldn't get the job done. Best to not put it in the wall trying to find one position on the grid.
So I'm pretty happy with the way things are going, you know, the whole team at Reinbold Racing is improving and hopefully we'll have a good day tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Will, this is your third career pole in the IndyCar Series, your last pole was in Edmonton where you won the race. Looking ahead to tomorrow, does that give you some confidence and momentum?
WILL POWER: Yeah, been very strong all weekend, really happy for all of the Verizon guys. It's their first full season, so started off very strongly, and yeah, that was hard work in that session. Tried to save the good Reds for the Fast Six and had a light run.
Yeah, very good, obviously the race is what counts. Probably be a bit of mayhem tomorrow with the weather and so on. Happy to start at the front, but a chance to get hit on the first corner.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Helio Castroneves, a first-time winner at the practice. You didn't participate in the race last year. Tell us what it's like to be back here on the streets of St. Pete where you are a two-time winner.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's great. It's great to be back. It's great to see the fans, everybody to kind of give you greetings. For me, it's just saw some, this place, first of all, it's a beautiful city, beautiful place. As you can see, the people from here really enjoy having the IZOD IndyCar Series here.
So, it's great. It's nice to be back on a groove. My plan here with Mr. Power, he has too much power, and I guess he is breaking his back last year, you know, using a little more power, so might break his legs this time. Certainly he's done a great job. We just want him to obviously continue doing well but we can't let him get too many points, otherwise, we're going to be in trouble.
Tomorrow is going to be a good race. I think as long as everybody will be okay on the start, I tried that conversation with Takuma Sato, and it didn't work, so please, here, let's make sure -- (laughter). It was great, it's tough out there, the guys are really pushing as hard as they can to make the Top-6, and for me, it's just much better. Hopefully we collect more points than the Brazil race and keep moving forward.
THE MODERATOR: Tony Kanaan will be starting second tomorrow and is the only driver who has completed every lap in the last five starts at St. Pete. Thoughts on starting on the outside pole?
TONY KANAAN: You didn't ask me a question, did you?
THE MODERATOR: About on starting on the outside pole tomorrow.
TONY KANAAN: It feels good. I haven't started in a while, actually, on the front row. I think we did a great job. We took a gamble on the tires. We went out on the Blacks in the Fast Six, and it paid off. I think once I realized that we are quite a bit away from where -- we might as well just see what we can do and take a gamble.
It's nice to have Michael Andretti there because I was keen to start on the Reds and he said, "No no, going to the Blacks." And we can't say no to the boss.
So I said, "All right, the Black." It's a whole different atmosphere on the 11 team right now. I am enjoying it. Hopefully no one had hits me from behind like in Brazil and we will be able to have a good race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Scott Dixon will start third. Just a note, this is Scott's 34th consecutive Top-10 start in the IZOD IndyCar Series, a record. Scott tell us your thoughts on qualifying and the race tomorrow.
SCOTT DIXON: I think the team did a good job, we had a seventh-place car and worked on it and generally got better. I like to think I generally race better than qualifying, because qualifying has been pretty bad the last few years on street courses.
Looking forward to the race. I think weather is going to be an issue make, too, so might stir it up a little bit like Brazil, but definitely looking forward to it. Should be a fun race. I think everybody had a bit of a problem at start in Brazil. Everybody got hit maybe, but that made it interesting.
I think looking forward to tomorrow, if we can get some good points and try to get a good position for the next upcoming races.

Q. The 6 and 10 are going to be back of the pack; if Scott and Helio and Will can talk about what they expect from those guys coming from the back of the pack on up forward.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think the weather is going to play a big part in the race tomorrow. If it rains, it actually makes it better racing and you can really pass, but you have to be right at front and you don't want that. They will charge through, and you see these races, it almost doesn't matter where you are start because so many things play out during the race, you can be 19th and then win the race.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, as Will says, I think if it rains, it's definitely going to mix it up. We saw that a couple years ago here, we had that, and then obviously in Brazil. So definitely makes the racing a lot more fun and if you have a quick car, you can make your way to the front.
I know Dario had a bit of a rough session there, a bit of a problem yesterday, and he almost made it through on Blacks, but never really gained any time when he went to Reds. I don't know if was traffic or anything like that. He's definitely got the speed in the car, but I'm sure he's going to be pretty pissed, so he's going to be trying to put on a little run.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Same thing. Whatever they say, it's cool. (Laughing).

Q. Will, can you sort of speak to the confidence level you are feeling now in the sense of obviously the way your season started, the way you're progressing? Do you feel significantly more confident as you try to stay more even-keel and not let that stuff affect your psyche too much?
WILL POWER: No, you know, I'm just going through the process every weekend, I'm not really more confident or anything like that. Just, you know, obviously being the in same team for a couple of years helps, start to get the car the way you want to drive it and just clicking with the team and all that and feeling more comfortable. I think that's sort of where people see continuity.

Q. Will, could you possibly talk about the feeling of winning the pole and going in today, thinking about what you were going to be doing and once you got done?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think just paced on the pace all weekend, we would have been disappointed to not get a pole, having a good car and been very comfortable with my pace. And, yeah, very happy to get on pole position, and that was the aim, and the big aim is to win the race. So we will be doing our best tomorrow.

Q. Tony, you mentioned that there's a better feeling this year on the 11 team. What's caused that feeling, and what do you think of the changes over the winter that's propelled you forward?
TONY KANAAN: The only person left on that team from last year is myself. So everybody else is different. Not new people, but we shoveled people around in the team.
I don't know, I mean, it's hard to pick and just to say that, you know, we are changing people and that's why, because the team that I had up until last year was the team that I had when I won the championship in 2004. We felt that it was time for a change, and when it goes right, it goes right, everything, it's awesome.
The atmosphere is better and it's just different people, so we are kind of getting to know each other. The other team, we worked together for seven years, so Michael felt that it was time for a change.
But I would say that the two biggest changes for me was my engineer, big difference, and Michael Andretti being there. It gives me an extra confidence and when we are deciding, making the strategies during the sessions; it helps a lot. I think that's what it is.
And obviously by doing well, the atmosphere on the team is always going to be good. We will see when we struggle if we can keep the same attitude but hopefully we can.

Q. Will, would you mind talking a little bit about the career gamble you took last year taking a temporary situation and what you hope to get out of it, and just what your thoughts were there?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, it was sort of -- it was sort of a gamble because I wasn't really guaranteed to race at all. But it was a foot in the door to a team that, you know, ultimately I wanted to be with, you know, and I thought if I could just show them how I work and how hard I work at it, and that I'm quick enough, then maybe there would be a chance of more races and that's sort of what happened. That's exactly what happened. You know, it's worked out really well, actually, as you can see, I've got a full season and yeah, it's great. Very happy I did it, and you know, I think we are going to have a good season.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in and good luck tomorrow.



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