IZOD IndyCar Series: MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships
Topics: MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships
September 14, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Ryan, talk about today's qualifying effort.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Today we didn't concentrate at all on qualifying. We went out there kind of not knowing what we had. I was one of the first team cars, had a massive imbalance that they learned from. That's the downside to going first. I knew with the lift I had in qualifying it wasn't going to be a good one. It's a 500-mile race. At the same time you don't want to be buried in traffic either.
All the Andretti cars have been trying different setups. Tonight we'll put that to use, shake it down, get a good feel for it, put it on track for tomorrow night.
A good racecar around here is one that's well-balanced and stays under you over the long run. That's what we're looking for.
THE MODERATOR: We've also been joined by our points leader Will Power.
Will, talk about today's qualifying run.
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was very unpredictable. I was the first of my team's cars, too. Wind changes, the whole track changes. I had totally different balance to what I had all weekend. Yeah, I mean, man, I got hard limiter both laps down the back straight on a bump.
Yup, starting grid. Sometimes I'm glad when I start on pole. Every time, if I start on pole, it's bad. Start back in the pack, it's great. Hopefully that's true here (laughter).
So, yeah, it is what it is. It's a 500-mile race. It would have been nice to get the point. Yeah, we'll see tomorrow. Just hang in there, just stay there and hopefully have a shot.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Does it really matter in a race like this if you start in the back or on the pole?
WILL POWER: Honestly, the only thing that it's good for is to maybe be keeping out of if something happens. Apart from that, you can start a lap down, still come back and win the thing. You can be a lap down halfway and still come back and win.
So, yeah, it's not a big deal.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I agree. I think Will should start a lap down (laughter).
You know, it doesn't matter because it's 500 miles. If you have a well-balanced racecar, it's fine. You don't want to put yourself in a position to be buried in traffic, like I was saying before, have to deal with cars that might have handling issues as well.
It's always better to be up at the front. It's usually drama-free. We'll be looking to get up there as soon as possible.
Q. We like these things when combatants are a little bit nasty with each other. Do you consider yourself friends? Have you done anything together?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I hate him (laughter). I don't show it, but I do hate him.
Yeah, I mean, we both want to beat each other more than anything in the world. That's the biggest thing for me, is I want to win this championship more than anything else.
WILL POWER: Thing is, I don't have to beat him.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Like you said in Baltimore, if I'm next to you, you can just take me out and it's done, right?
WILL POWER: That's right. I'll remember that tomorrow night. Don't squeeze me (laughter).
No, honestly, I've always rated Ryan real highly. It's no surprise that we're fighting it out right now. We've always raced well together. Obviously championship on the line. Both of us want to win it.
Q. Have you done anything together?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: No, we haven't.
Q. I know you're going to be doing a night race, but so far in the practice and qualifying you've done, can you determine what kind of grip you'll have?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: This track has been changing every session, every lap. With the heat today, we didn't have that yesterday, I mean, this is like Vegas heat. It's just constantly changing.
One thing for sure, it's going to be cooler tonight. I think everybody will get the best read tonight. I think that's when you're going to see who is racy.
Q. Boys, how much work do you have to do tonight for your race setup? How confident are you going into tonight? How much of a question mark do you have?
WILL POWER: Like Ryan said, it's constantly changing. I'm hoping to finish tonight thinking, Okay, we're in good shape. But just based on today alone, after running two days of testing, suddenly everything has changed again.
Yeah, it's 45 minutes. We'll try to make the most of it.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Tonight's going to be important for us, our whole team, because we have to get a good feel for where we are. The fact that it's been changing is really the underlying factor, so...
Q. Will, in case you win the championship, what does it mean for your country? Will you overtake your countryman Mark Webber in popularity?
WILL POWER: It's impossible for me to know. I don't know. I've never even thought about it.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: A lot of happy Aussies, that's for sure. I don't want to hear that.
Q. It's hard to see what it's going to be like to pass here. Do either of you have some kind of sense, having practiced like Wednesday night, if overtaking is going to be a big deal? Is it going to be like the last oval, it's going to take a lot of laps?
WILL POWER: It seemed like if you're struggling, you went backwards real quick. If you had a good car, you were motoring forward.
It being a handling type of race, I think that will be the case. Maybe it will grip up at the end with an hour to go and be quite fierce.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's definitely going to change and throughout the night the track will change as well. Got a good feeling for where I want to run on the track during the race. What worked for me in Iowa I think could work here as well. So hopefully we'll use that.
Q. If you had to give the new car a grade, what would you give it?
WILL POWER: B plus. It's been good. It's been good racing. Definitely the beginning a bit rear heavy, still is. Yeah, I think it's been successful safety-wise, too, with the wheels closed in. I definitely give it thumbs up.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, from where we came from the beginning of the season, from pre-season testing till now, definitely a big improvement.
At first it didn't seem like it had a shot at being a very nice car. Now, yeah, I'm enjoying it, especially on the road and street circuits. It was fun on the short ovals. You know, on the big tracks, we've had some of the best races we've ever had. I think it's maybe an A minus, right in there. I need a little less understeer right now and then I'll give it some more.
Q. Anything else you'd change on the car?
WILL POWER: Carbon gearbox.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: The drivers would like more horsepower. We've always wanted that. That's kind of nothing different. Another 100 would be nice.
Q. Comments on Mike Conway's decision?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I look up to Mike. He was somewhere mentally that he didn't want to be. He was man enough to say, Hey, this is not working for me right now.
Instead of going out there and being in a bad place mentally in one of these cars, which is a very dangerous thing to do, these cars are dangerous enough, racing on a track like this is dangerous enough, but to be in a bad place mentally and do it is not right. That's a smart decision from him. If he doesn't feel like it, there's other days to fight this whole thing out. He chose to do that.
I really look up to him for that. Ovals haven't been that nice to him either, you know, especially with Indy.
WILL POWER: I can understand how he feels. If the car's not right around here, you don't even want to be out there. Yeah, that's ballsy to say, Hey, I don't feel comfortable. Full credit to him. Yeah, he's a great driver, too. He's one of the quickest guys on the circuit. It's just the circumstance.
THE MODERATOR: Will, Ryan, thank you so much for your time today. Best of luck tomorrow.
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