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IZOD IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indianapolis 500

IZOD IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500

Ryan Briscoe
Helio Castroneves
Will Power
May 19, 2012


THE MODERATOR:  Not sure your own teammates saw this coming, no discredit to you, but they didn't see it and here you are.
RYAN BRISCOE:  I don't know how many times I've been here and I've been in both those seats before that we have rolled out feeling good and next thing, Helio goes out and goes a  mile‑an‑hour quicker than everybody.  I'm just glad it was my turn.

Q.  What's it like when you go out and it's your teammate that can knock you out of the top spot?
RYAN BRISCOE:  It's usually like that.  It's usually like that and we prepare the cars so evenly and we always know we are going to head into pole day or race day going up against each other.  It's just part of the game, but what we do is work so hard with each other and help each other throughout all of the practice sessions so that we make that possible.
Because we want to be racing each other for the front, not for mid pack, and I think the team work is how we get to the front.  We have been working really hard together throughout all the practice sessions on race setup.  And qualifying is a bit of a solo deal, but we share all the information.
We talk about how the car feels and how the drop‑off is with the tires and all of that.  It's totally transparent at Team Penske and always has been.  I think that's what Roger and Tim really pride themselves on.

Q.  In many ways, winning the pole for the Indy 500 is going to be a lot more exposure than winning another IndyCar Series race.  Talk about what you have coming up ahead of you.  You're going to be the face of the race leading into next Sunday?
RYAN BRISCOE:  Well, I mean, I've never done so much race work going into a qualifying weekend.  I felt Thursday night, like we had done really, really good work on our race cars.  We are going to do a bit more of that tomorrow.
But I feel like most of the focus has been on the race car.  A week ago, I don't think we thought we were going to have a shot at the pole.  And you know, we have just worked so hard, we have gotten the car a lot more consistent.  Chevy has done an awesome job.  I think this extra boost has certainly favored the Chevrolet cars and we took advantage of it.

Q.  From an exposure standpoint, you're going to get a lot of attention this week being the Indy 500 pole.
RYAN BRISCOE:  Sounds good.

Q.  Talk about what that is like, Helio has experienced it four times, and now you get a chance to experience it.
RYAN BRISCOE:  I'm just going to take it.  We've got a few days off, so you know, the exposure is good.  Certainly the focus is the race, and I'm sure I'll have no problem getting my priorities in line.

Q.  All week long your team was a little bit off the pace.  The whole team was a couple‑mile‑an‑hour off of where the Andrettis, in particular, were running.  About four o'clock yesterday afternoon, you guys went out and gained about three miles an hour, just like that.  Did you find something yesterday afternoon?
RYAN BRISCOE:  I don't know if I ever felt that way to be honest.  I think we have been making lots of small gains but there was nothing dramatic that gave us three‑mile‑an‑hour.  Definitely when we had the increase in boost that everybody got, that was a huge gain.
But we have not been out there all week searching for the big tows and putting the big lap times on the board although it did happen, Helio was second at the end of one of the days and we were second I think at the end of yesterday maybe.
But yeah, I mean, it's been a work‑in‑progress, and here it's all about fine tuning.  You're not doing anything big.

Q.  How confident do you feel with all of the Chevys up front?  I know you benefitted today with the extra boost, but no failures that I know of.  You've just been really superior and it's been the superior program this month, and did you expect that in all of the hearing, wrangling that went on?
RYAN BRISCOE:  We have not been happy about the outcome of the Turbogate.  Seemed like a bit of an unfair rule change but Chevy has worked hard.
You know, we just kept our heads down.  I can't tell you how proud I am to run with the bow tie here.  The history of Chevrolet and their involvement, I mean, it's just‑‑ they are there, every step of the way.  They continually are giving us updates and they just don't stop working.
So you know, we are extremely happy to have Chevrolet engines.  They will certainly, they are certainly the motor to have today, and they have been, I believe, all year long.  We are going to work hard to keep bringing those wins home for them.

Q.  With all of the changes in the car and everything else in the end, it's still Team Penske.  What sets this team apart?  What sets Roger apart from everybody else?
RYAN BRISCOE:  Well, I mean, it's the preparation.  It's definitely the preparation.  But I think it's the experience.  Over 600 years of experience on the team‑‑ that's a quote from Roger.  I haven't done that tally.
But it adds up.  All of these guys with all of this experience, and Roger's own experience; Helio's experience, Rick Mears' experience, all of these guys, all of our mechanics are so experienced.  I think that helps us once we get here to do things methodically, not get ahead of ourselves, never get overconfident and just keep working hard.
But it all starts with the preparation.

Q.  Down deep inside what does this pole today really mean for you as a person?  I know it means a lot for the team but just talk about what it means to you for your first pole here at Indianapolis?
RYAN BRISCOE:  It's hard not to just be thinking about a starting position for the race.  But I guess it's an award where my name will go down forever as something I've won here at the Indy 500.
You know, this race is just so important; it's so big, and I think even just a pole win here is remembered.  So it's a great feeling.  They were four really good laps and I was proud of myself and the team for the setup they gave me today.  They were really consistent.  It was lap four that got me the pole today.  It wasn't the outright speed that we had.  It was the consistency we had over four laps.
It's just a great feeling.  17 poles for Roger here at the Indy 500 and to have my name on the list of drivers that have done that for him, it's a great feeling.

Q.  When you think of all the names that have won races and poles here and now Ryan Briscoe is part of that, that has to really be something that you really thought about when you joined this team was something that you would like to do, but now you've actually done that.
RYAN BRISCOE:  Yeah, I mean, it's great.  It's good.  Thank you.  I don't know what else you want me to say, I've sort of talked about it.

Q.  You talked about how you're all for one, one for all, but how seriously would you have felt if one of your own teammates knocked you off the pole?
RYAN BRISCOE:  Well, wouldn't have been the first time, would it.  So, hey, it's just part of the game, and as I said before, you know, we work together.  We push each other hard all the time, and it's great that we are often competing against each other all the time, whether it's here or the road courses or any track.  We always seem to be going head‑to‑head for the pole and obviously this one means more than any of the others.  But it would have been nice to be sitting here with both my teammates on the front row with me.  But we have got three cars in the front two rows and that's a massive accomplishment.

Q.  Probably would have been more dramatic to go out as the last guy and knock somebody else off, but I take it you were fairly comfortable just sitting in the car sweating while it happened?
RYAN BRISCOE:  Yeah, it was hot.  But I was ready to go.  If we had to go, I was ready to go, and you know, I felt like we could have at least done the same again.  We weren't going to make any changes, but I was ready.  I was focused and that was the big thing just sitting in there for an hour and a half, just trying to keep focused and trying to keep cool.
It looked like second run on the motors, they might have been losing a bit of horsepower, and so I was a little bit more comfortable having seen the Andretti cars go through the second time and not better their speeds.  It made me a little bit more comfortable.
But hunter Ray, he had a good run that last run and I was ready‑‑ gloves on, ready to go.

Q.  Can you even fathom how small, was it three 1,000s of a second is?
RYAN BRISCOE:  Well, I think that's a lesser margin than I beat Dixon to win Chicago a few years ago and that was like crossing the line side‑by‑side.  That's how close it was, if you had the ghost car out there, we would have been crossing the line side‑by‑side.  A hell of an accomplishment by Hinchcliffe.  He did a great job and he may have just burnt up his tires a bit much on the warm up lap.
THE MODERATOR:  Side‑bar note.  His pole speed, the difference of 23 thousandths of a second for four laps, the ten miles, is 9.168 inches.  So over the ten‑mile run, 9.168 inches.
RYAN BRISCOE:  I told him he should have ducked his head coming down the straight.

Q.  The two guys starting to your right are going to be pretty formidable foes.  Talk about how Andretti has stepped themselves up and even Roger looks at them as being the favorites; that they are the guys you've got to beat?
RYAN BRISCOE:  You know Andretti, they are always strong here in the race.  And the surprise was how good they were in qualifying, because normally they are a little bit off in qualifying, but really bring it in the race.
They have been strong in race runs.  I feel like we have been just as strong, though, and I feel like there are a lot of cars out there that have been strong.  I think it's going to be a pretty wild race.  I think nobody is going to be able to pull away.  There's going to be a lot of passing.  It's going to be a pretty grueling 500‑mile race, and it's going to be hard to predict a winner until you see them come out of turn four and maybe even then, you won't know it.
So it's going to be a tough race.  I think it's going to be all about executing on the day, not making mistakes, having good pit stops and keeping your nose clean.
THE MODERATOR:  Will, it's an interesting format, and we have similar formats in the road courses.  Just your thoughts about the day overall, and you made a couple of runs at the top spot and came up just a little bit short.
WILL POWER:  Yeah, it was strange to me, our speed kind of really dived there.  We were wide open the whole time and the car was very comfortable.  You know, this place is very wind sensitive, temperature sensitive.
Yeah, I was happy with Top‑5.  This morning I would have said‑‑ I thought six was about as good as I could get, so fifth is not bad.

Q.  Now over the years, having done a lot of these, we hear a lot of, well, things change but for some reason it seems like we have heard more of that in this press room that things dramatically changed and set up was about the same.  Did it feel that way to you or it just typical Indianapolis from your perspective?
WILL POWER:  Yeah, Indy is funny, every now and then, a guy will do a run and just go much‑‑ go, bam, put out a big time and you'll have no clue why or what happened.  That's what it seemed like today again.  And it seemed like that for me this morning.  I didn't expect to go that fast.
Yeah, it's that sort of place.  I think 2010 Helio punched out a mega time, 28.0.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I don't know, I guess you guys are following me.  You take my thunder away.  But good for him.
WILL POWER:  Sorry.  How was your day?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  My day was actually‑‑ I really pushed, man.
WILL POWER:  Just tell us about the run and your afternoon.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I don't understand, because we were actually doing pretty good, 226 over there and all of a sudden it was 224.
WILL POWER:  I was expecting you to go out and do 26.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Happy for Ryan and happy for the team.  I feel that we both helped in a way because we are always sharing information and that's the way we do it.
WILL POWER:  We really helped in that we were slower, which allowed him to‑‑ (Laughter).
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  But you know, in the end of the day, you've got to have one fast guy, and he was able to make it happen.  So it's a very‑‑ this place, it's very difficult.  You can't understand.  If you think you understand, forget it, because it's going to drive you crazy, and today, it just proved that Ryan, consistent, ended up taking the pole today.
So happy for the number three shopping ultra and Team Penske to have three cars in the Top‑6.
WILL POWER:  Pretty good.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I'm happy; we can win the race starting from six.
THE MODERATOR:  That's pretty strong effort, guy.  We had a little less of an effort from the group we had here.

Q.  So you truly have no clue why your teammate was awhile an hour faster?
WILL POWER:  Man, I'll tell you, conditions change.  Like you get a gust of wind, it's really like that.  But he was consistently quick for four laps.  He went we will over a‑mile‑an‑hour quicker than he had gone all day, or all month.
Yeah, it is a strange place.  I was surprised at how fast I was this morning.  I went out, suddenly 25.9, quicker than I had ever gone, for what reason, not sure.  But that's Indianapolis, and I think it's great for the team to get a pole because I really didn't think we do.  I thought that‑‑
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I thought we had a good chance.
WILL POWER:  Actually I thought you had a good chance.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I never thought we never had a chance.  Never lost faith.  I knew we had three good cars.  I felt like our car was a little bit stronger, especially the many tries that we did in practice above 226 that I felt very strong.  But it wasn't meant to be.

Q.  Knowing Ryan as you do, what do you think the significance of the pole is for him personally and also why is it so important for Roger Penske, this is number 17 with 11 different drivers.
WILL POWER:  For Ryan, it will be a massive deal.  He loves this place.  I think he had a bit of a rough start to the season, so, you know, it all comes around, doesn't it.
WILL POWER:  It all works out in the end.  I think that's going to be a big tick in the box for him.  I mean, he's been searching for that one for a while.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I agree.  For him, it's a big deal.  Pole position, No. 2 of the season for him, and especially here in Indianapolis, a place that he's been second before, and so he knows how to go around for sure.
I'm honestly very happy for him.

Q.  How about for Roger Penske, this is number 17.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Roger, he loves this place, and I have his car that he commands from the race, I think starting from the pole for him is even more special.  You should ask this question for him but from my point of view, he always says, when one guy wins, the team wins.  And today, Ryan is the guy that put the Team Penske up there.

Q.  There's been a lot of talk about the changes that has gone through and the weather today.  Can you give us an idea, your fastest and the changes you made to adapt to the weather?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Yes, when you're running like that in a very limited conditions, we really trimmed out and tried everything we could.  We started going a little bit crazy to a point that it started becoming a little stupid.  We were able to manage all of these little changes.  Like I said, this place, it's amazing.  If you get the right time and have the right equipment, you're probably going to be the guy.
But for me, I'm very happy with the way my car was handling out there for so many runs that I did, and able to go flat out without any issues, for me, I'm very‑‑ I'm looking forward for the race to be honest.

Q.  Was it any easier the second qualifying session than it was in the first?
RYAN BRISCOE:  First of all, this place is never easier.  You can say less difficult maybe.  But certainly, you always have to keep your mind focused on this place.  You can never think, just because you are a mile‑an‑hour slower that it doesn't make a difference.  You know, when something goes wrong here, it goes wrong big.
But in the end of the day, I felt that all of the runs that I did, I tried everything I could.

Q.  Both of you, when you go out in the morning or the early, first qualifying round, do you show everything you've got or do you hold back a little bit knowing you can be up in the first three rows?
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  I show everything I've got to be honest.  I guess that the temperature was a little cooler in the air, so maybe that's why times change.  That's why sometimes it's good for practice because you go and get warm and go again.
But yes, right at this time, I learned my lesson last year playing conservative.  This year, I didn't want to do it begin.

Q.  You've won the pole here four times, so you know what it's like to have‑‑ you're the king of the week and when you ran, you were actually the king for two weeks.  Talk a little about how winning the Indy 500 pole gets a driver probably more exposure than winning another IndyCar Series race.  Talk about what Ryan will have in store for him this week in terms of being the guy that's going to be the face of the Indy 500 this year.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Certainly for him, he's going to have a long week ahead of him, a lot of publicity, which is good, and good for him, good for our sponsors.  Not only that, I don't think he's going to be sleeping very well.  He's going to be very anxious to go to the race, at least that's what happens.  You kind of know that you have a good car and good speed and you have to go for it, but you have to pace yourself.
We are going to practice tomorrow.  He might go out‑‑ and he actually, when we used to have the whole month, we did not practice on Monday.  We just shake down the cars and everything.  So we used to go out and celebrate the Saturday, but I don't think he's going to do that.  Going to have to practice tomorrow, we have to continue working on the race car now.  Focus changes completely.
The only tough part is waking up very early in the morning to take the picture, because you want to stay out late.  But that's a good refresh.  Put it this way, he's going to enjoy it very much, and I'm happy for him.

Q.  As far as the news coverage, he's going to be the guy that everybody is going to be talking about leading into the race.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  Certainly people will recognize much better, you're right.  Anything you do here in Indianapolis, it's bigger than any other race.  Indy, you're talking about Indianapolis, everything knows, everybody heard.
So when you succeed here, it's going to be bigger than any other race.

Q.  I understand that there could be‑‑ the way the car is this year, a boost penalty if you go over a certain amount.

Q.  I was curious if either of you experienced that in practice or if it even happened today in qualifying, and maybe you could describe how much speed‑wise you might be losing, how it would affect you, and I assume it's going to be in effect in the race as well even though you'll go back to the normal boost.
WILL POWER:  It's a big hit if you get a boost penalty.  You lose a couple of mile‑an‑hour on that lap.  It's just how IndyCar polices the amount of boost you can run, so they have a very harsh penalty which if you go over that for the engine manufacturers.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  If you are in the race, if you have that, you might be passed, because it's like you're pushing the brake.

Q.  You've grown up with Roger Penske; talk about why has he been in your mind so successful here, even before you came, and how you've seen‑‑ growing up with him and all of the poles and wins he has.
HELIO CASTRONEVES:  For me, Roger is very passionate about racing.  He's a great human being.  He has not only‑‑ people think it's a hobby for him but actually, it's not.  This is business.  He likes to be involved.  In fact, he was pretty much every day here, and wants to know and be on top of it.  At the end of the day, he calls the shots, especially on the car No. 2.  So when you see someone with that experience and that success, and still with the love for the sport, you start to admire‑‑ that's why we call him the Captain.  Because we are the shirt, you know, like we are really part of the team.  It's not about me or we or Ryan.  It's about Team Penske.
Today when Ryan is in the pole position, we are happy.  I mean, obviously we want to be in his shoes, but you know, we have three‑‑ we are honored to be driving for him, and if we are driving for him, that's because we deserve it.

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