IRL: Team Penske Indy 500 Media Tour transcript, part 3

2004 Indianapolis 500 Media Tour Transcript Wednesday, March 24, 2004 Marlboro Team Penske: Helio Castroneves, Tim Cindric, Sam Hornish Jr. Part 3 of 3 Q: Tim, how close is your organization to being the prototype that organizations win ...

2004 Indianapolis 500 Media Tour Transcript
Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Marlboro Team Penske: Helio Castroneves, Tim Cindric, Sam Hornish Jr.

Part 3 of 3

Q: Tim, how close is your organization to being the prototype that organizations win championships or organization breeds winning? In a good deal of sports, there are individuals who stand out. What it is about the type of component that you have been running the top three teams out here that breeds success?

CINDRIC: I think Roger says it best; it's really the human capital. You can talk about resources, and you can talk about sponsors, and you can see in all forms of racing or motorsports or even athletics where the all-stars don't always win the games, and the people with the most money don't always win the races. Believe me, every weekend we look for how to improve. But I think the thing that I really came to realize moving, not just from my previous organization, but any organization I've been with, whether it was athletics or racing, was really the quality of people that not only work for the race team but work for Roger, in general. He demands that and weeds that out, and it's an attitude, it's an approach. He's not the highest-paying guy out there; he's a lot of different things. Some people really don't, you know, see the whole side of it. I've always said it's either a team you love or a team you hate. You know, I can see after being there how things are a lot different inside from maybe what they appear outside, good and bad. I mean, we have our bad days. We find ourselves fumbling around trying to change a rear wing on Sam's car that should have been changed a lot more efficiently, a lot better, and we weren't prepared for that. We take that to the bank that the next time it won't happen like that again. You know, it comes down to not making the same mistake twice and trying to be prepared for whatever it may take. That obviously takes resources, as well. You have to have the tools to do your job, and that's what Roger tries to give all of us, and at the end of the day there's nobody that expects more results than he does. So it's a give and take, for sure.

Q: Helio, after Homestead when you were in the media room, you had said that somebody asked you, how did you like your result, and you made the comment you were going to call Sam on a regular basis to see how he was doing, how life was treating him, try to get into his head. Did you do it? Did he get a lot of phone calls from you?

CASTRONEVES: Hey, I just got his cell phone number. He doesn't know that he gave me. Not yet, but hold on, give it a time. We're going to have a month here in Indianapolis. (Laughter)

KING: A lot of late-night calls?

Q: Helio, you've been to Ohio, have you gotten Sam to Brazil yet? What would you show him there if he gets there?

HORNISH: I was told I'm not supposed to go to Brazil with Helio. (Laughter)

CASTRONEVES: What did you hear?

CINDRIC: It's in his contract that he can't go. (Laughter)

CASTRONEVES: What's up, guys? Come on. I'll show the good stuff, the Brazilian beach. Now you're going to get married, man, so I'm sorry, I can't show you.

Q: Have you been to Brazil, Indiana?

CINDRIC: They don't let Brazilians in Brazil, Indiana. (Laughter)

KING: Helio, it's a little town about 30 miles west of here, Brazil.

CASTRONEVES: Oh, Indiana, no. Gil used to translate those things to me. Sam, you need to do that, all right? Don't forget it.

Q: Tim, going back to a previous question, when you get -- when it comes to team improvement, when you get someone in like Sam who has been successful with another operation, do you put the new person through any sort of debriefing or whatever to see whether they have ideas that can be carried over and transferred into the Penske organization? Or do you have your ways of doing things that sort of preclude that?

CINDRIC: I think the answer to that question is not in a formalized way. We don't sit down and interrogate him and put the bright lights on like you have to do. (Laughter) But certainly we go through a process where we try and whether it be strictly the engineering front, the management front, just the guys in general, the PR, the marketing, Phillip Morris, we try and take someone like Sam, and I think he'll speak to this in the first couple months, and expose him to a lot of different things but not really expect a reaction, just absorb it all, see how it goes. And then I think as you get more comfortable, those thoughts will happen and that process will occur. I think I know for certain that I've seen that with Sam. It's not all going to happen in the first week or the first meeting or the first month, but things will start to come out where, hey, you know, we can maybe do this a little different or a little better or what have you. I'm sure he can speak to that much better than I could, because I don't see that firsthand, I just know that my job is to, number one, make him feel welcome in the team, get him acclimated with the different people, have it to where he has one-on-one time with his guys, with his engineer, with Roger and I, with Helio, and just try and bring that continuity because it's really that strength that maybe sets us aside from some of the two-car teams as we try and work together as a team. With Marlboro, that's certainly the way, they emphasize things and they want us to look as Marlboro Team Penske, not just this guy or that guy.

HORNISH: My opinion? I mean, totally, that's one of the biggest parts is just we've made four seats in the offseason, two for each car. But just in doing that, I mean you get to know the guys a little bit better and just to be able to go there in the shop. You sit there, they've got the car up on high stands and they make the seat and you have to sit in it for about 25 minutes to a half an hour, and for the second time I look at all the pictures on the wall, all the Indy 500 wins. It's great to just sit there, and they've got all kinds of little bits of history, and I sit there and I read about, you know, the team or Roger. I feel like I do very little because the schedule is so busy, and you look at all the things he's done. But I mean I've had a great time getting to know everybody. If we're going about something with the setup, I might say let's try this, you know, this is something that I've done in the past, but I firmly believe that these guys know much more about setting the car up than I do. That's their job to do it. So I just tell them what I feel about the car and if I can think of anything that we may have done a little bit differently in the past from radio conversation to actually how the car is, we might try it. But a lot of the things that I found out that we just end up going back to their way of doing it because they've got, been at it for 30-plus years. So there's a lot of know-how and a lot of things they've just perfected over that much time.

KING: Sam, when it comes to -- Helio's got two Baby Borgs back in Miami sitting at the condo, he has the champion ring that he always wears. Do you talk to him about winning this race or, you know, Rick Mears I know said that he was going to spend a lot of time talking with you trying to get you over the psychological hump of excelling here. How much conversation is there between either you and Helio or you and Rick pertaining exclusively to this place?

HORNISH: We haven't talked too much about it yet. I think that's something that's kind of getting saved until it's time to come and race here. As far as having a psychological hump or whatever, I don't know that there totally is, it just hasn't happened yet. It hasn't been the right time. I mean, I've pushed hard, and I've got away with things at other tracks that I just haven't been able to get away with here. I kind of look at this track a lot like Phoenix. I don't know, I don't think I ever finished a race at Phoenix until the first time I won there. Johnny Rutherford told me, "It took me 10 years before I ever finished a race at Indianapolis, and I won that race." I thought, "Boy, I hope it doesn't take me 10 years." (Laughter) But I think that there's going to be -- and during May, you know, even just the time that we have been able to spend here, I'm going to try to be learning as much as I can, and Helio has got probably the best record of any person at the Speedway, and you might want to retire while it's still like that. Give me a better chance, but I'm sure he's going to be tough to beat.

CASTRONEVES: So you listen to me, OK? (Laughter)

Q: Helio, there's a lot of competition in the IRL. There's a lot of drivers out there that you got to battle with every week. But the rivalry that you've had with Sam, you know, the two of you are going to be the two guys going at it probably for the rest of your careers. How much do you look at Sam and kind of use him as kind of like a competitive yardstick for what you've got to go out there and do?

CASTRONEVES: Well, as all competitors, as you just said, Sam is another one, obviously. Being specific in the same team, you just have to learn where the strong way and learn where is the weakness way and obviously in those situations is the same way you learn with other competitors, but you just learn with other competitors driving. And I think that happened between Gil and I in so many race. So obviously I see Sam, again it's a great American talent, driving very fast, and that's where we need to find out where we're going to help you and benefit to carry you on and be competitive. When teammate push you, it's good because you don't let the guy and, OK, that's it, and the guy goes ahead and does whatever he's going to do, and I don't care. The way I see, it's going to work and trying to find other ways to beat the teammate, you know, and the same way as I always did with Gil. If both cars are battling at the end of the day, it's just going to be like the rest of the field in the back, and that's what we reach for.

Q: Does it appear that your careers could be on path with like it was with A.J. and Mario? Are they pretty much -- there's other guys and drivers --

CASTRONEVES: I hope, I hope. I just hope we'll be like that forever, you know. And we're going to be all the best friends or the best enemies. (Laughter) So far we're getting along OK. Here, you tell that.

CINDRIC: I said if he's as famous as A.J. and Mario, you'd know how to say his name now. (Laughter)

CASTRONEVES: He said that.

KING: By the way, it's Helio.

CASTRONEVES: That's OK, guys.

Q: Have you ever thought of doing stand-up? You've been firing one-liners.

Q: I'm curious, during a normal week, if there is such a thing, how much of your time would be spent with sponsor commitments?

CINDRIC: These guys?

Q: In particular the drivers and you, too, Tim.

HORNISH: Sponsor or PR? There's a big difference. So far this week about three hours. I mean, it's not -- everybody told me, you go to Marlboro Team Penske you're going to be working all the time, flying here, flying there, doing all this. I think I had more stuff to do last year, but it's -- not that I want more.

CINDRIC: It's coming. (Laughter)

HORNISH: It's great. Everything that we do --

CASTRONEVES: Susan, did you hear that? Listen. (Laughter)

KING: Susan (Bradshaw Crowther, team PR rep) is making notes.

HORNISH: Everything that we do is very worthwhile, and it's right on track. Everything is very organized.

KING: We've got to wrap it up here in a second. It's 3:30. Sam, real quick, you and Crystal, your fiancee, you're going to be getting married the Saturday following the 500. Now, thinking back to my wedding -- and, let's see, Helio, you're not married, so you can't do that -- Tim, are you married?

CINDRIC: Yeah. (Laughter)

KING: OK. You remember what it was like the week or two before your weddings. How are you going to manage this? Is it going to be tough?

HORNISH: In what sense of the word?

KING: Getting set to get married, and you're going to be here the entire month.

CINDRIC: You're a guy here; you're not helping.

KING: Yeah, I'm just wondering because it could be a distraction, I guess.

HORNISH: I've got a lot of things working on my side. One, I've got a fiancee that's very organized. Everything is taken care of. She has all the invitations ready. They haven't been sent out yet, but everything's ready. The hall is booked, food is pretty much taken care of, everything is right on track. I get to be in Indianapolis all month of May and hopefully, if I win, I get to go and do all the other stuff while she's fretting over the last couple of days. I get to show up on time. (Laughter) So I've got three good things working on my side right now. I'm very excited about it.

Q: Helio invited?

HORNISH: I'm going to make him sweat a little bit longer.

KING: Gentlemen, we appreciate it. It's 3:30, we've gone on a bit over our allotted time. Thanks to Marlboro Team Penske.

Part 1

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Rick Mears , Sam Hornish Jr. , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Team Penske