INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
MAY 15, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS – May 15, 2015 – Day 1 of qualifying for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 has been cancelled due to persistent rain. Team Chevy drivers and crews now prepare for a full day of qualifying tomorrow to determine who will be the pole sitter for this season’s Memorial Day Classic.
WILL POWER, NO. 1 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:
“It just happens to be the situation, it’s raining. I think IndyCar has got a pretty good plan to run tomorrow and get everyone through the line and have a fast nine. If anything it will be even more exciting having it all really compressed. I’m looking forward to it. It’s really difficult to see where everyone stacks up, but I felt very comfortable this morning. I wasn’t so much yesterday. We will see what happens.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 SHELL V-POWER NITRO TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:
“That 223 mph number was pretty cool, but it was with a little bit of help. The Shell V-Power Nitro+ guys have really done an amazing job over the last couple of days since the flip. To lose a day and still be on top of the practice speeds today is a testament to how hard they worked. The weather, there is nothing we can do about the weather. We’ll just come back tomorrow and see what’s in store.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 2 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:
“It’s a little bit of a disappointment that we didn’t get to qualify today because the Team Penske cars were very strong in the practice sessions. Hopefully tomorrow the forecast will break up a bit and we can see if the Verizon Chevy has the speed to win the pole position. I’ve been happy with the car even though we continue to struggle a bit with the balance. We are confident that we know what direction we need to go with the weather. It’s going to be a fast, exciting qualifying session, I know that.”
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 6 PREFERRED FREEZER SERVICES/CARPENTER FISHER HARTMAN RACING CHEVROLET:
“It was nice to post a big number in the morning even though it doesn’t really mean very much! It was with a tow, but it was fun to see it pop up on the dash. I still don’t really know where we stack up in terms of our four lap speed, but we’re pretty good. Tomorrow, hopefully we’ll get into the Top 9. If we don’t, I think we’ll be close. That should give us a pretty reasonable starting position for the race. It’s going to be a scramble, but I feel better about it today than I did a few days ago.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 21 CENTURY 21 CARPENTER FISHER HARTMAN RACING:
“We’ll get here tomorrow and try to do the whole program again, we didn’t get it in today. The team looks good. We tried a couple of different things this morning in practice and JR looked really solid. We’re really getting up to speed with our program. If we get all of our details right tomorrow, we should be in the hunt.”
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S VODKA CARPENTER FISHER HARTMAN RACING CHEVROLET:
“Days like today are hard. It stinks for all of the fans. I feel like the Series is just in a funk as far as weather. It seems like it rains every important day or it’s forecasted to be a bad weather day. I really hope this all moves out and it’s a beautiful day tomorrow where we can put on an awesome show for the fans. One thing about today being delayed is tomorrow’s schedule and activities is going to be intense. There’s going to be a lot of pressure. Everyone gets one shot to put it in the Fast 9 and that’s it. You have to balance going fast and being aggressive to get into the Fast 9, but knowing you only have that one opportunity. You can’t too aggressive and overshoot it and have a bad run because there’s no second attempt. It will be a great day, it will be exciting, hopefully a lot of people come watch us!”
TOWNSEND BELL, NO. 24 THE ROBERT GRAHAM SPECIAL CHEVROLET:
“We ran two qualifying stints this morning to get our balance squared away and the car felt good. To be honest, I’m not too disappointed we got rained out. Our car really works well when we have hotter conditions and Sunday is expected to be warmer than today. I just feel badly for the fans who came to see the qualifying. Hopefully everyone can make it out to see a run for the Fast 9 and the pole. I believe we are in the position for a spot in the Fast 9. We were ninth today with the ‘no tow’ speeds. So we are on the edge. I’d love to have our little one-car Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom team slide into the Fast 9 and battle the big teams. So I’m anxious to get going for Sunday with the Robert Graham Special.”
WILL POWER, NO. 1 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
Q. Will, you’re halfway towards the goal you stated early on to win two pole positions in two races. This was going to be the quest for number three. Sidelined a bit by the rain. You’re a veteran; is this easy to sort of put aside and calm your nerves, what they may be, and get set for tomorrow?
WILL POWER: Yeah, absolutely. It just happens to be the situation. It’s raining, and I think IndyCar has got a pretty good plan to run tomorrow and get everyone through the line and have a Fast Nine. If anything it’ll be even more exciting, having it all really compressed.
Yeah, looking forward to it. It’s really difficult to see where everyone stacks up, but I felt very comfortable, and I wasn’t so much yesterday. Yeah, we’ll see what happens.
Q. Ryan‑Hunter Reay had said, because he did go through a qualifying effort, came in and chatted with us. He did say looking at tomorrow, he thought that it was going to be a little bit warmer, and the ‘W’ word might come back, which is the wind, which over the years we’ve heard drives you the most batty when you’re out there on the racetrack. Have you already taken a look at the forecast for tomorrow and pondered what it might look like?
WILL POWER: Yeah, we’ve taken a good look at the temperature, and it’s seemed to affect this car a lot. It was very difficult yesterday for everyone, although I’m not saying this body kit is any more difficult than it was last year, I just think that the teams don’t have much information on this. You literally got it in pieces as the season went on. It’s just a matter of working out exactly where you are on downforce in comparison to last year, and sometimes the numbers don’t quite line up.
So yeah, you know, the speeds, if you look at it, I expect that people will be definitely quicker than last year, if it doesn’t get ridiculously hot.
Q. Scott Dixon has been one of the top really all week long, and you’re certainly cognizant of that, and he popped a 231, at least on that first lap, and we saw some rain drops on the camera lens almost immediately. Is that something that leads you to believe the speeds will be up? Do you think that you and other teams certainly have more to show in terms of your hand when it really gets down to the serious business of qualifying?
WILL POWER: Yeah, actually we were expecting to go faster than that, but yeah, that was kind of the only ‑‑ with the configuration that he was running, we were very interested to see what time he would do, what speed he’d do, and I thought it would be faster, honestly, so that’s good for us.
But no one else got to run, so we don’t know. It’s going to be ‑‑ just like I said before, it’s going to make the day really interesting tomorrow, and the fact that when you do your first run, depending on where you are in the line, it will be quite cool, and these cars are very, very affected by track temp, so if it goes up, you’ve drastically got to change your aero setup. It’s going to be a bit of laying your time down, getting the Fast Nine, and then how much risk do you take. You’ve got to be able to get through four laps, and that was real difficult yesterday when it was hot, which I think will be good for the fans because it’s not going to be real clear‑cut.
Q. Of course you won the pole in the Grand Prix and you won the Grand Prix race. How much more difficult do you think it’s going to be to win this pole and to win the race to complete what you want to do as far as the four‑part thing you wanted to win?
WILL POWER: Yeah, obviously that’s very difficult. It’s possible, obviously, but to get pole here, everything has to go your way, the wind and everything just has to be right, the right day, you’ve got to be the right body fit in your team, just so many little things that matter at that speed aerodynamically. It’s got to be a day there, and then obviously the race, man, it’s a long race. It’s a different style of racing now. There’s a lot of drafting and saving fuel. So yeah, the ultimate goal is to accomplish that, but you know, the ultimate goal is to win every race.
You know, obviously with so many good drivers and teams, it becomes quite difficult, but that is my aim.
Q. You’re also noted as a street course driver. Is that going to make it tougher that this is an oval?
WILL POWER: No, actually my ovals were stronger than my road and street courses last year. I actually had to work on my road course stuff to get it back up. That was my weak point last year was street courses. I qualified like 16 ‑‑ I was nowhere, where ovals I was always pole or on the front row and won or winning or second or right there. The oval thing is not ‑‑ it’s the opposite for me now.
Q. Ryan was in here today, and like you, he’s a guy who’s won a series championship, which is a significant accomplishment. He mentioned if he was earlier in his career or younger, something like this would throw him off a little bit more than it does now with years under his belt. Do you feel much the same, that you might have been affected differently a bit earlier in your career by getting all up for pole day and then the rain coming?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I guess I would agree with that. You definitely become more relaxed and understand the situation better as you get more experience and older. I really feel the most relaxed I’ve ever been this year, and just, you know, using the energy when you really need to.
You know, at the end of the day, you’ve just got to accept what is, what the situation is. That’s the best mental approach you can have.
Q. You said yesterday, I believe, that when it looked to those who could keep you from your goal that some of your biggest competition was in your own camp. Do you still feel that way? Do you still feel your teammates are the drivers to beat?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I do, actually. I think pole is going to be fought out between the Penske drivers, and the race. Obviously the race is a much different story, a lot of mileage to go, but for sure just as far as speed goes, I think the teammates are going to be ‑‑ it’s got to all work for you. You’ve got to have everything absolute ‑‑ like I said before, it’s all got to work for you to get pole here.
Q. How important is it to actually get the pole or be in the top nine because there are some drivers that have won starting in the last row, and the way the cars are now, if you did start farther back you’d have to be able to pass a number of cars.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think ‑‑ I looked at Hunter‑Reay last year, and he obviously had a very strong car and a strong engine. But in a way, it was good for him to have to chop through all that traffic, so when he got to clean air he was just absolutely solid and dialed in and understood how to pass cars.
For him it was almost a blessing in disguise because when he got there, he was ‑‑ no one was going to beat him. He’d had so much practice at passing cars and being aggressive and in really dirty air, so he’d really tuned his car well, so when he got clean air it was just really good for him. There’s that point of view.
And then if you don’t have a good car, you’ll never make it to the front. It’s really difficult in dirty air.
For me, I’d definitely rather start at the front than back there, absolutely.
Q. Now with qualifying you can (inaudible) is it necessary to improve the car before the race?
WILL POWER: Yeah, actually it’s funny, you run less horsepower, more downforce for the race just because of turbulent air. I wish you could trim out and get a benefit from it, but the way this car is, you can’t. The old, old car you could do that, not this ‑‑ not the DW12 but the previous Dallara, you get a benefit from trimming out and actually being able to drive away, but not now.
Q. With the new aero kits, do you expect the same kind of racing that we have seen the last couple of years on race day?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it’s no different. If anything you get closer in the corner, so it would be exactly the same passing for the lead, same stuff. Everyone will be packed up. No different.
Q. Exciting or nerve‑racking?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I don’t know what to think of it. It kind of ‑‑ like I remember thinking the old car, I wish you could draft a little bit better so you could pass, and I think this car went too far the other way where you can’t get away like if you had a good car. It’s tough to find that balance, but whatever it is, you’ve got to learn how to be really good at that and good at the racing if you want to win. Whatever it is, dial yourself in.
Q. When you have a delay like this, does it interrupt your focus, your motivation for qualifying? Do you have to refocus again for tomorrow?
WILL POWER: No, I think if you know what you’ve got, you feel ‑‑ like I feel good about it. I’m feeling good that I can go out there and be pretty comfortable. But if the car wasn’t good and you didn’t get to do a run and it’s not over two days like it was going to be and it’s compressed, it could ‑‑ if you’ve got to make some changes to get there, it makes it tougher for sure to get there tomorrow.
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