IRL: Indy 500: Penske Racing Media Tour, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: This is for Helio and Sam both. You're the guys sitting in that seat pushing the pedal. Do you get a different response, a different feedback from the Honda engine as opposed to the Toyota or is it pretty much the same...

Continued from part 1

Q: This is for Helio and Sam both. You're the guys sitting in that seat pushing the pedal. Do you get a different response, a different feedback from the Honda engine as opposed to the Toyota or is it pretty much the same situation?

CINDRIC: Different engines.

HORNISH: It's kind of hard to tell because from the time that we ran the Toyota to the time we ran the Honda the first time was like four months. So there was quite a bit -- we couldn't run one one day and then run the next one. The Honda seemed to have very good pickup and felt pretty clean throughout the RPM range, maybe a little more so. But we went to the 10 percent ethanol mixture, we also took away downshift without lift, so there were a lot of things that were changed in the engine factor that would limit it for making a great comparison. But we're real happy to be with Honda. We think we stand a great chance to win, and I think that's about as much as I can say about it.

CASTRONEVES: Yeah, pretty much what Sam said. I remember when I did the pole position in 2003 here, I was shifting probably the same time I was shifting in the road course because of the system that you have, you know. When you're going upshift without lift and down shift without lift, you're able to always keep the engine on the high revs and makes the best out of it. That was what Cindric mentioned a little bit ago. This year is going to be very hard because if the wind change or something like that, obviously you don't have the system anymore. So when you lift to downshift and trying to put the revs up, probably you're going to lose more time doing that. So again, for me Toyota versus Honda, I mean we worked extremely hard the last few years, the Hondas always seemed to be on top of it. Well, I hope like I said, that the work, not only with the engine but with the chassis of the car, will pay off this year. Right now with the Honda engine, we seem to be getting our performance back.

Q: Tim, were you the one who told Helio to drive it like he stole it Sunday? (Laughter)

CINDRIC: Helio has these dreams that he doesn't tell us about until after the race is over. (Laughter)

I told him a lot of things, but -- sometimes I get afraid of the interpretation he might take in a quote like that, so I probably don't go that far because next thing I know he's out there with somebody else's car. (Laughter)

Q: We wondered because we heard it a couple of times at the post. Helio, did you see that on a T-shirt, or what?

CASTRONEVES: No, I was probably watching too many movies. (Laughter) One thing, it worked.

Q: You drove it like you stole it.

CASTRONEVES: He told me another thing, but I cannot say it in the press. But that's why I tried to adapt what's the closest thing. But it turned out to be pretty good.

Q: Tim, a more serious question. You've been coming here for a lot of years since, jeez, when you were a teen-ager when you were down there with Mr. Potter, the whole 9 yards. It's always interesting as guys being outside looking in at the teams how different the team performs and how different the team looks here versus other tracks. St. Pete this past weekend, Homestead before, the expression level seems to change, tension level goes up. Everything seems to be different in that garage area than at any other track. Is that something that you notice? Is that something that's viable as an observation or is it just something that we're seeing with a different team with a big race?

CINDRIC: I think it's something that definitely as I look at it anyway, in terms of the paddock as a whole, I would say that's true. The pressures are up higher because it is the biggest event of the year. You know, I like to think that we approach every race the same way, with the same determination, and our people puts the same pressure on us whether it's here or anywhere else, as do the people we work with. I think I would agree with you that I feel that same thing in the paddock but within our team? I would like to think it's kind of the same situation. There's just a lot more days of it than what we do on a normal weekend. But I don't know if that's what you're looking for, or what have you, but I sense the same thing. But again, we try and approach everything the same way. We're probably not the best judges of ourselves.

Q: Helio, were you a little surprised when you tried to scale the fence that it was as loose as it was?

CASTRONEVES: A little.

CINDRIC: Why did you pick that spot?

CASTRONEVES: I don't know, man. You know me. Sometimes I come up with those things that I have no idea.

CINDRIC: I thought there was a story behind it, somebody drove by under yellow and you saw somebody there and -- (Laughter)

You spent three laps of yellow figuring out where you were going to do it. So it wasn't like you crossed the line and then --

CASTRONEVES: You told me to not celebrate.

CINDRIC: I didn't say celebrate, I said keep the motor under control. (Laughter)

CASTRONEVES: I guess I was, but I realize when it's a street course, you know, that things are not prepared like here, for example. That's why I started climbing being careful until I reached a point until there was no way that I could continue, so I stopped right away. (Laughter)

But the point, I think, to answer your question, when Bryan and I were in the parade car, talking about it, this is a nice area, a lot of people. Yeah, yeah. I think in the back of my head I just decided to stop right there, I don't know why.

CINDRIC: I hadn't had a chance to ask you.

CASTRONEVES: Less time, they were going to go to a commercial.

Q: If it's any consolation, your copycat down in NASCAR probably would have pulled it down as much as he -- (Laughter)

CINDRIC: I'm glad somebody else said that so you didn't get us in trouble.

Q: Talking a little more serious, though. There were six different teams represented in the top seven last week. Is that something we could conceivably see in this race where it's going to be the top five, top 10 is going to be spread out among more teams rather than in the past where we saw basically it concentrated within three teams?

HORNISH: Hopefully one-two will be the same team. (Laughter) Red and white. But, yeah, I don't know, I think you saw a lot of different things unfold down there as far as why that opened up. But as far as if you look at Homestead, I think that was, you know, Helio were in the top five, both Ganassi cars were in the top five. So I think you never know what's going to happen. Things could get spread out a lot, but I think that as you've seen in the past couple years, the guys that generally tend to do well have been out there working with each other throughout the month making sure that their cars handle well. I think that that might be wherein lies the benefit of having more than one car is the fact that you have somebody to work with out there throughout the month and make sure your cars work well together. I think that's generally why you tend to see more cars up there finishing together.

Q: I think this is the last year, if I recall, the federal regulations right, the last year that Marlboro can be the sponsor of the team. Is that the case or --

CINDRIC: No.

Q: So they can still sponsor in '07?

CINDRIC: Yeah, there's nothing that's changed in terms of any federal regulations. You know, we don't foresee -- we see Marlboro voluntarily as they announced in 2001 no longer advertising the brand within our team after '06. In terms of any federal regulations, there's been no change of any kind.

Q: What's going to happen, then? What is Team Penske going to become at that point? Is there any idea at this point who the successor may be?

CINDRIC: I can tell you one thing. We've had a long, long association with Philip Morris, and we'll continue that association going forward. We've had a number of sponsors being Exxon Mobil, Hugo Boss, that has gone on for quite some time. And you look at the other teams and what we've been able to build and the equity that we've put together with Philip Morris. So we plan to be with them for a long time to come. Strategically, what's the right benefit for us and for them as an organization? We're still working through that, but that association will continue, just maybe in a different form.

Q: They own Miller, don't they?

CINDRIC: I'm not sure what the percentage is now. I'm probably not the right guy to ask because I don't work for them. I do and I don't. But they sold the majority of that to a South African company. South Africa, can anybody correct me on that? That's right; I don't want anybody to sell upside down.

SULLIVAN: Fellows, thanks very much.

-ims-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Philip Morris
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske