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IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Toronto

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda Indy Toronto

IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Toronto

Will Power
Graham Rahal
Alex Tagliani
July 11, 2009


THE MODERATOR: Guys, we appreciate your time.
We're now joined by our second, third and fifth-place starters for tomorrow's race, Will Power, Graham Rahal, and Alex Tagliani. Graham has one previous start here in Toronto. Alex, this is his fifth start of the year, his best start of the year. He has eight previous starts here in Toronto. I think that's the highest number in the race for tomorrow. And then Will Power, his fourth start of the season. His previous best start this season was the pole in Long Beach, and he won the race here in 2007.
Graham, why don't we start with you. Talk about your day out there.
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah, the McDonald's boys worked extremely hard today. Yesterday we certainly weren't very pleased with the car. We were struggling quite a lot. We came out this morning, saw the weather and decided it just wasn't worth running. Was hoping it was going to clear up. Fortunately it did.
When we went back out, right away in the first segment of qualifying, the car felt much better. You know, definitely got a good time out of it. Kind of carried on from there. Made some changes for the second segment. We went quick, but we kind of struggled a little bit at the beginning of that segment. So we were lucky. Put the reds on in the end, made a couple changes, got I think a 61 flat out of it. Then the Fast Six, we just tried to run the used reds, which I think pretty much everybody did. Just couldn't quite put the lap in that I had expected. I had one time where I was actually a little bit quicker than my 61.0, but I lost it all the time on the back segment. Couldn't quite manage to put a whole lap together. That's how it goes, unfortunately.
I think overall the McDonald's team is pretty pleased to be where we are because, as I said yesterday, certainly felt like we were a long way from being competitive.
THE MODERATOR: Will, I guess for you it's good to be back in a car.
WILL POWER: Yes, excellent to be back in the car. It's been tough watching, to be honest. But, you know, it's a great team to be involved with. I'd rather be doing a selected race with them than running at the back somewhere.
You'll see my car. It's the brightest car on the track (laughter). Looks wicked. So does my suit. I look a bit like a banana, yeah. Very happy with the results. That's what we're looking for. We wanted to get into each round. It was really tough today. You know, had to change the car a few times throughout.
But, you know, end result, starting on the front row, I think we can have a good day tomorrow from there.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, the same question for you. Welcome back. You haven't been in the car for a couple weeks.
ALEX TAGLIANI: I agree with Will. It's very tough to watch. So, yeah, I mean, first of all, I would like to say thanks to a bunch of local companies that have been supporting us, starting with Sears and Craftsman and The Keg and King (indiscernible) has been an experience we've been having with them since Indianapolis. You know, like I said, there's no words to describe what you feel when you're at home on the couch and watching everybody race.
But I think realistically with our team, we need to look at financially what makes sense. We know now that we're doing a partial season, so the races that you select are important. Obviously, the two Canadian races for me are important. And coming here and showing what we did today, I think it's a great tribute for the quality people we have onboard.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Alex, you were talking about being a spectator at home on the couch. Will, you still attended the races, doing duties for Penske. Did that make it any easier or did it make it worse?
WILL POWER: It made it worse. I went to all the races, tried to learn as much as I could and be around the team. These are the people I'll be working with when I'm running. You know, my crew come from the sports car side. But just to get in with the team, show support all the time because I want to be in this team for a long time.

Q. Alex, you talked about the struggles you were having. At what point in the session did the light go on that you had a chance?
ALEX TAGLIANI: On the second lap. I think yesterday we ran with one set of tires all day. We really I think didn't show what we had. But it's difficult when you go back into the trailer overnight, saying, We would have. There's a little bit of anxiety until you put the car on the track. This morning it was wet. When we did our second lap, you get a feel of the car that you're gonna have for the day and you know it's going to be a competitive car with the amount of grip you have and the balance.
It took us two laps to realize we were going to be into it for a tough fight. Like Will said, it was not easy. With running the tires twice sometimes because you're going through all the segments in qualifying, you need to make sure your balance is there. For us, we lost a little bit of our balance when we went from qualifying two to three. We couldn't really match our time. Like Graham, we didn't have a very great lap, but it was tougher to do it. So we can match our 61 flat.

Q. Will, aside from following the team to the races, what, if anything, did you do to keep in shape? Did you race around the baseball field in Moorseville? Did you give pressure on yourself because you have such a short schedule this year?
WILL POWER: I worked really hard in the gym. I was working with Pit Fit in Indianapolis. You know, I'm really fit at the moment. But there's no substitute for miles in the car. So I'm a little bit sore today.
But no, I'm just approaching these weekends probably more relaxed than I've ever been 'cause there's just something about this team where you feel very comfortable working there. Often when you're with a teammate, you feel a lot of competition from them. It's a very fierce competition. But there you don't feel that.
I've been relaxed and happy this year just in the position I am. It's a great break for my career to be with Team Penske.

Q. Will, on that sort of same line, it still has to be sort of gratifying to be up at the top ahead of your teammates. Ultimately that's how you're sort of measured. You qualified ahead of Helio and Ryan. Your thoughts on that?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, the car's been good since we rolled it off the trailer. It was the same deal at Long Beach. I haven't made any big changes. I love road courses and street courses. That's what I do well on. I love ovals, as well, now. Ovals became much easier in a Penske car for some reason (laughter). So the Indy 500, it was great.
But, yeah, I'm just doing my job.

Q. Alex, how does it feel to do well in front of the Canadian fans? As one of the smaller teams out there right now, how does that feel to do so well, especially in that Q2 qualifying lap, which was very good?
ALEX TAGLIANI: It's very rewarding for everybody onboard of the team. Will is in front of his two teammates, but he's in a Penske car. We're at Conquest, so we feel pretty good to out-qualify two Penske cars and a Ganassi car. That's the reality right now. The Canadian races are important in the schedule. We have to be very grateful that the series is giving as much time for the Canadian market. There's not a lot of drivers in the series that can say they have two races in their country. Very grateful of that.
For our team, everybody, the crew, the engineers, everybody has to go through a lot of sacrifice because sometimes we know that we're going to go racing on Tuesday before the weekend, so that's tough for everyone. At the shop there's not much like development on the car. We're waiting, trying to save every bit of money, and spending it on weekends where we think we're gonna do good. Like I said, doing selective races that are important for us, the visibility of the team, and the sponsor as well.
I think it's a good tribute for the quality of people we have onboard. And when you come here, you know, last minute like this with very limited running, you need to put everything on the line to try to do very well.

Q. Will, how well have you meshed with John as your pit strategist there?
WILL POWER: Yeah, really well. That whole team, bam, we were meant to be together. It's great. Every time we run, we're doing well. I've enjoyed every race I've been with those guys.

Q. May be a new paint scheme for you, but there's a lot of historical significance for that. Big L won for Roger with that. It is kind of a retro paint scheme, although it's new to you.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I loved it from the moment I saw it. I loved my suit. I even got a new helmet painted up in those colors. I think it's awesome. I wish I could run that the whole time.
ALEX TAGLIANI: That's a nice advantage. I keep adding patches. My suit gets heavier.
WILL POWER: I have like nine suits in my closet now because I've changed them so many times (laughter).

Q. (No microphone.)
GRAHAM RAHAL: I guess, what, 23 years later. I hope Rahal can find Victory Lane here. This place has actually been pretty good to me in the past. I was on pole here in Atlantic. Champ Car we struggled. The team's got a lot of history here. I think there's no reason why being up front at least we can have a pretty normal strategy versus what we had to have last week in Watkins Glen.
So I think that we've got a good opportunity ahead of us. If the team does their job in the pits and I do my job, there's no reason why we can't be right up front and hopefully fighting for a win.

Q. (No microphone.)
ALEX TAGLIANI: I think we just have to do our job. That's what we've been doing. We went to St. Pete last minute again, qualified seventh. I mean, we've done pretty good on road course. There's no guarantee we're going to do good tomorrow. We just have to stay out of trouble.
So far I think the team is showing that they have some strength. You know, we're already working hard on some 2010 programs and sponsorships. So obviously good result would help. But it's not the end of the world. We have just have to stay focused, not thinking about what's going to happen tomorrow is going to be our future. Just think about tomorrow as tomorrow, it's another race. I think we're doing good so far.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much.

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