IZOD IndyCar Series: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Topics: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
April 15, 2012
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA
THE MODERATOR: We have now been joined by our race winner Will Power of Team Penske. This is the 17th career win for Will Power, his last win was two weekends ago at Barber. Will's last back‑to‑back victories came in Infineon Baltimore in 2010. This is his second victory at Long Beach. He previously won here at the Champ Car finale in 2008, and this is Penske's first win at Long Beach since 2001. Another great race for you. You said earlier never say never. Talk about overcoming that ten‑grid penalty to win today's race.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think it came down to a good call in the beginning there to pit, and then obviously we had to save very good fuel throughout the whole race. So yeah, at the end I was very aware of Simon's strategy, especially after he passed Sato, of the gap and the fuel that I needed to get to the end. We saved enough fuel to be able to push for the last two laps, so I felt we were pretty safe. The only thing was the couple of back markers there on the last. That was the only thing that really concerned me. But apart from that it was just running as hard as I possibly could, getting a good lap time with high fuel mileage, and that was the key to the race.
Q. Two questions: Number one: How far in the field do you have to start before you won't win? And two, if you could talk about when you did come upon Viso, how much of a concern that was and how difficult it was to get around him?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was difficult because whoever was in front of him, they almost got together in the hairpin, so when I got a run, it was‑‑ I got a very slow run. Yeah, it was‑‑ I mean, yeah, the guy was kind of in the way. I don't think it was deliberate or anything. I'm not sure his team informed him that the leaders were coming.
Yeah, what was your first question?
Q. How far back do you have to be in the field‑‑
WILL POWER: Yeah, pole. If you get on pole you won't win. We've experienced that a number of times here and many other tracks.
Q. Under the circumstances of the ten‑spot penalty, how much sweeter if at all is this victory at Long Beach versus the one you had in the 2008 Champ Car finale?
WILL POWER: You know, this was a very sweet victory because I've been on pole here I think '09, '10 and '11, and it just frustrated me that every year something would happen and I couldn't win. I thought, oh, once again this weekend I'm starting 12th. I felt as though that's impossible to win. I've got another bad year at Long Beach.
Yeah, I could not believe it. It was just a good race, pushed hard all the time, no mistakes, great strategy, just a great team effort again. Yeah, it is‑‑ I go into every season thinking that there's no way I can win another race. I don't know why I feel like that, but I do, and that's always my‑‑ I guess I have an insecurity or something or I don't believe in myself enough. Yeah, that's always my feeling
Q. Describe this race for you. We're used to seeing you attack if you have to make up positions, but today seemed to be something where you didn't necessarily attack the whole time and kind of played it smart knowing that you had a long distance to travel.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I passed when I could. Every time I could get a run, I passed. You know, I think that was the key to the victory was making those moves on Sato, I think James, I can't remember who else. But that was a key. And on those laps you use a lot of fuel, so then you've got to‑‑ Tim is on the radio saying, you must save fuel. You have to use fuel to do that but then save extra to make up for the fuel that you used and get the lap time. So it was just a day of pushing as hard as I could while saving fuel. It was a good race like as far as passing and strategy and everything, again, two weeks in a row.
Q. Will, this morning the attitude of your team and yourself going into the race as to what your potential outcome could be, what were your thought processes?
WILL POWER: We were thinking top 5 would be a very good day for points. That's what we were thinking. You always believe that it is possible to win or get on the podium, but it was very unlikely, the fact that it was going to be a two‑stop race. But it was just amazing that Simon did three stops and I did two stops, like two different strategies. Obviously he could run hard the whole time and not save fuel, and I saved fuel and did the best lap time I could. And the result was very similar. There was hardly any time between us as we crossed the finish line.
It's just always a surprise in IndyCar, I think. You can never predict‑‑ you can never assume going into a race. You just have to be smart as it plays out.
Q. Going into the race, how many laps, green flag laps, did you think you could make on a fuel run?
WILL POWER: Well, we were thinking 28. All I know, all I ask the team before every race is what lap number, if the radios go out, will I have to pit, if possible, and they said 28. What's two times 28? I don't know, whatever it is. On those laps you have to pit. I try to work that out in my head when the radios go out. What's two times 28?
Q. So you got 31, that's pretty impressive.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think my engineer says it was amazing the lap time and fuel mileage I got. He said it was very good.
Q. The second question is what did you think of the pits being open immediately not from the standpoint of strategy but in terms of what the pit road looked like relative to open spaces? I know you had the problem with Simon, but basically it's a much cleaner entry and exit.
WILL POWER: It is, yeah, when you get‑‑ but sure enough, there was a guy leaving the pit as we were coming in and they sent him right in front of me and then he hit my tire. I was kind of pissed off after that. I asked the team, did he get a penalty, and they said no. I couldn't believe it because I literally stopped for him as he left the pit, and I just knew that would happen, and I just go back to Kentucky when I lost the championship because of that, someone just sends it‑‑ a team doesn't care, someone is coming and they just send them into you. But this time I preempted it, so I stopped, let him go, and then he hits my tire, so that screws that part‑‑ makes a massively long stop. But I'm aware in pit lane now of‑‑ I've lost two championships in pit lane because of things like that, so that's why I'm so keen on not getting in an incident.
Q. I believe there was a radio transmission as Simon was catching up to you and Tim said go faster but a little bit faster. How did you calculate that, and what's the danger of just getting involved in a fast lap and using too much fuel?
WILL POWER: No, I was very aware of‑‑ I have a fuel number on my dash, and he gave me a number. I was very good at picking a number and understanding how much‑‑ I've got so many different levels of speed and fuel that I can do, and I just slowly picked it up and just used a little bit more fuel, went in a bit deeper everywhere. It's just experience of fuel save, and yeah, just driving. That's where it's at, you know.
Q. About Barber, you thought that was one of the better IndyCar races in a long time. How did you think this one stacked up?
WILL POWER: I think just from what I saw there was a lot of passing and some very good passes in front of me. I didn't know what happened to Marco. It looked like in front of me there was a big crash. But it looked to me, the cars I passed and the passing that I saw, and even the start, I think Bo Barfield did a good job of getting everyone stacked up so it looked like a good start and good restarts, that people weren't going too early. Yes, it was very good racing, again, and I hope it was on TV. I don't know. I can only tell you what I saw.
Q. Both at Barber and here, drivers constantly say the tracks were difficult to pass, but at Barber there was passing like there's never been before, there was times they were three wide going through corners which they've never done before. Do you think this new car is making it possible to do things that you haven't been able to do in the past?
WILL POWER: I think it's the tires, and maybe the new car is quite draggy so it creates a big hole in the air and allows the car behind to get a good draft. But I think it's Firestone having a tire that‑‑ between new and old there's a big time difference, and I think they can go more with that. That's definitely what it was in Barber, but here maybe just the draft effect made it a bit better, too.
Q. Speaking of the fuel mileage, on the cooldown lap you stopped in the hairpin. Were you out of fuel?
WILL POWER: No, there was just a big stack up. No one told me to go the back way. Actually I had enough fuel to get around, no problem.
Q. The last two years you've come close to winning the championship and something happened at the end and you didn't do it. Do you feel like this might be your year?
WILL POWER: After the last two years, I just don't know. But all I know is I'm just going to do my absolute best at every race.
Q. You saved a lot of fuel, which allowed you to go quick at the end, but Simon was really, really closing down. How nervous were you in those closing laps with back markers and such?
WILL POWER: With three to go I had a four‑second gap or three‑and‑a‑half‑second gap. I wasn't worried because I knew I could at least run under a second from him. I could probably equal his lap time if I pushed really hard. We had saved enough fuel to run really hard for the last two laps if we had to. You know, I think it was at six to go, I had a six‑second gap, so I was very aware all the time. I knew how fast he was. I thought it was about a second a lap quicker, and I knew that we'd saved fuel, so on the last two laps we could push if it came to him being right on me.
Q. Penske is perfect on the season, three poles, three race wins. Why do you think that is and what's the mood of the organization?
WILL POWER: I think it's just that they've been probably one of the best prepared with the new car. We did a lot of miles. Chevy has worked very hard, and obviously our first hit of the year‑‑ obviously the ten‑spot grid penalty was a precautionary thing and didn't affect us too badly, obviously. But yeah, to me it was hard work. I think whenever you're winning, the whole team feels very good. I think my guys feel very confident no matter where we start now that it's always possible. I think that's good for them. It's good for all of us. So yes, I think the team mood should be good because if it's not good now, it never will be.
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