Team Chevy Racing Long Beach race report

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Team Chevy Racing

Will Power Wins on the Streets of Long Beach to Give the Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar Third Victory of the Season

Will Power, Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 15, 2012) – Maximizing a two-pit stop race strategy called by race strategist Tim Cindric, Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, took the lead on lap 70 of the 85-lap Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy and never looked back. It was the second IZOD IndyCar Series victory for Power in as many weeks and the third consecutive win for Roger Penske’s Team Penske in the young 2012 season.

“After last week you can never say never,” said Power from the Winner’s Circle. “I thought it would be very tough to win the race. Once again good strategy we ran hard when we had to run hard. The end there we had to save so much fuel to get there, but I’m so happy for the Verizon guys and the Chevy guys. We worked hard we got a penalty and we overcame it. I’ve been trying to win this race for four years and now I’ve done it. That was just one of my best wins, I love it.” Power’s trip to Victory Lane gave the Chevrolet V-6 Indy car its third win of the season.

Following today’s win, Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing IZOD IndyCar Series Program Manager said: “Today's four of the top-five including the victory and seven of the top-10 finishes by our Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar teams in the Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy is a testimony to the determination, talent and spirit of cooperation of Team Chevy in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

"Each one of our Chevrolet teams and drivers put forth their best effort to overcome the adversity of their starting positions. It was an amazing race to watch and a great show for the fans.

"Congratulations to Will Power on his second win of the season and to Roger Penske on his third victory this year."

James Hinchcliffe, No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, stood in the third spot on the podium, his first of the season, at the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course.

Tony Kanaan, NO. 11 Mouser Electronics | GEICO – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, garnered his best finish of the season, taking the checkered flag in fourth position.

JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet, completed the top-five, also scoring his best finish of the year.

Completing the Chevrolet drivers in the top-10 finishing positions were: Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Andretti Autosport Chevrolet - Sixth; Ryan Briscoe, No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet – Seventh And Rubens Barrichello, No. 8 BMC | Embrase – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet – ninth.

After a week off, the Series heads to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the running April 29, 2012 running of the Sao Paulo Indy 300.

CHEVROLET V-6 DRIVER POST RACE QUOTES:

WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, RACE WINNER: WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – WINNER: DID YOU STILL THINK YOU COULD WIN THIS RACE STARTING SO DEEP IN THE FIELD? “After last week you can never say never. I thought it would be very tough to win the race. Once again good strategy we ran hard when we had to run hard. The end there we had to save so much fuel to get there, but I’m so happy for the Verizon guys and the Chevy guys. We worked hard we got a penalty and we overcame it. I’ve been trying to win this race for four years and now I’ve done it. That was just one of my best wins, I love it.”

I GUESS CHEVY MADE THE RIGHT DECISION BY GOING AHEAD AND CHANGING THE ENGINE THEN? “Yeah, no question. It was precautionary and we had to do it. We did our best.”

HOW DID YOU SAVE SO MUCH FUEL? “I actually used some fuel to get around people. Then Tim (Cindric) would tell me you’ve got to save fuel. I just did everything I could to be as quick as I could while saving fuel. That was the result.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 TEAM GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 3RD: YOU HAD A STRONG RUN PRETTY COOL TO COME BACK AND GET A PODIUM? “Yeah one hundred percent, I feel really bad for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) because he drove such a great race. I mean I owe him a lot. I was following through a lot of those passes he was making. He sort of helped me get up to that spot. It sucks to get it at the expense of him. Great day for the crew, it was really the calls. They made great calls all day. Those yellows early sort of threw everybody off. It was just awesome for the GoDaddy crew. The car was great. I think my fastest lap was the second to last lap of the race. We were pushing at the end. Somebody just reminded me that I made a bet with Wade Cunningham that my first podium I would have to come to the next race clean shaven. I guess for Brazil you guys are going to see baby-faced Hinchcliffe coming out.”

TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 4TH: YOU STARTED 19TH AND FINISHED 4TH TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY: “It was a great strategy. I was committed to do a three stop race from the get go. We started in 19th. I chose the blacks (tires) to start with. I said ‘first window we have to get off of them let’s get off and try to get some track position’. My race was really fun because I pushed the entire race. I qualified the entire race. I passed six or seven guys, a couple of guys crashed, a couple of guys had to pit. It was great. Coming into Long Beach dead last in the championship that had never happened to me. I had to take myself out of that.”

“It was a great day for the MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO Team. After two very bad races, it’s great to have momentum going into Brazil. We have moved up in the points quite a lot, which is very important. It was a fun race. I got to drive fast and it was a fantastic result for us.”

JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 5TH: ON HIS RACE: "I’m pumped for the Panther Racing National Guard guys. We had our own trials and tribulations throughout this weekend so far, with the penalty and I slapped the wall in qualifying and screwed up our starting spot anyway. The car was really good, the guys made some changes this morning and it really livened the car up and we had great traction all day. The guys picked a two-stop strategy and we had really good pit stops and I ended up having to save more fuel at the end of the race than some of the guys around us and we lost a couple spots. But we’re just stoked to be able to come from that far back through some on-track passes and good strategy. And what a great job by Team Chevy after we had to make an engine change. We’ll take this and move on to Brazil.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH: ON HIS RACE: "I drove really, really hard all day, and it was a tough race. I had a lot of good racing today with a lot of different drivers. These kind of (fuel strategy) races are hard on a driver because I'm just out there pushing as hard as I can and I had no idea where we're at compared to the guys I'm racing. It's like a book with no ending, and I have to really trust my team. They had the right strategy and it's always an honor to drive such a fast car.

"I feel bad Sato ended up in the tires, but I knew he was saving fuel and I came up on him really fast. He let off early and when I went for the gap, he came across the nose. It's a shame because my team really deserved a podium finish. They did a superb job all weekend. It's frustrating to end on that kind of a note, but we're upbeat going to Brazil (the next race). Points are so critical each week, and we need to just keep pushing hard and scoring well each week."

RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 2 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH: ON HIS RACE: “We had an awesome car, the quickest car out there today and just couldn't get clear of traffic. Obviously the ultimate strategy of the 12 car (Will Power) was the way to go.”

RUBENS BARRICHELLO, NO. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH: ON HIS RACE: “Honestly I had a good race today. There were so many yellows the team used a strategy that had me saving fuel. Once we knew we were going to be short, I started to push hard. I would just like people to have more respect for each other on the track. I was hit on every side of my car. .Apart from that, I enjoyed myself today. To start so far back and finish in the top-10 again shows I am getting better and better, so hopefully I will have my best result two weeks from now in Brazil.”

E.J. VISO, NO. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 12TH: ON HIS RACE: “I am really disappointed with how the race went. I think we had a good opportunity this weekend because of the strong pace we showed in every session including qualifying where we were actually fifth before the penalty moved several cars back on the grid. In the race, we used a strategy that didn’t work out the way we hoped. Then I had some bad situations occur in the race. On my first pit stop the entry to my pit was blocked by Graham Rahal. However, the main problem occurred when Alex Tagliani made a very dangerous move passing two or three cars heading into the hairpin turn which is a very awkward place to overtake. I saw what he was doing and moved out of the way, but he was sideways coming out of the hairpin and when I attempted to pass he blocked me and I hit his tire and he spun. Because of the contact I was given a drive through penalty, which I feel was very unfair. I want to thank my crew for all their hard work. They gave me a fast car this weekend and hopefully we have an even better one for Brazil.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 AUTO CLUB TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 13TH: ON HIS RACE: "The AAA machine, we started very cautious. Then one of the strategies came out and we played the strategy. Unfortunately when we came out back to the track, we got traffic. We were faster, but never fast enough to make and overtake. Basically we lost tons of time out there behind traffic. We just have to try to do something else. Finally we were able to pass, but I had a little damage on the front wing. From there on we kept coming, bringing the car as fast as we could to see if we could get in the top-10. But we moved back to the 13th place. We got penalized I guess. It is a shame because we definitely had a better car than that, but we got caught in those scenarios. We got to keep moving on." ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 14TH: ON HIS RACE: “It feels good to finish a little better today. It was a tough day though for the Fuzzy’s team. We didn’t have the car we had at St. Pete. I felt like the race could have been different for us. I think we should have been waved around under yellow when the leader pitted. Unfortunately, we had to ask for a wave around and then the green flag was thrown less than a lap later. So I felt that cost a chance for a better finish. It’s too bad we had to bring it to the officials’ attention. We’ll put this race behind us and pack up for Brazil now. We have an experienced crew for packing and traveling down there. It will be my first time in Brazil. So it will be completely new for me.” MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, FINISHED 25TH: NOTE: Andretti was not seriously injured in a crash on lap 23: ON THE RACE: "I'm good... I'm sore, but OK. We hit really hard and I'm glad I didn't get upside down. That would have been big. It's a bummer because we had moved up to 14th place, our strategy was good and we were flying. We were doing exactly what we needed to do."

ABOUT THE CRASH: "He (Graham Rahal) just caught me off guard. I was inside of him making the pass and then I took a big hit. It was such a surprise; I was still accelerating while I was in the air. I hate it that it costs us more points. We would have been good."

POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: WILL POWER AND JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:

An Interview With:

WILL POWER JAMES HINCHCLIFFE

THE MODERATOR: We have now been joined by our race winner Will Power of Team Penske. This is the 17th career win for Will Power; his last win was two weekends ago at Barber. Will's last back to back victories came in Infineon Baltimore in 2010. This is his second victory at Long Beach. He previously won here at the Champ Car finale in 2008, and this is Penske's first win at Long Beach since 2001. Another great race for you. You said earlier never say never. Talk about overcoming that ten grid penalty to win today's race.

WILL POWER: Yeah, I think it came down to a good call in the beginning there to pit, and then obviously we had to save very good fuel throughout the whole race. So yeah, at the end I was very aware of Simon's (Pagenaud) strategy, especially after he passed (Takuma) Sato, of the gap and the fuel that I needed to get to the end. We saved enough fuel to be able to push for the last two laps, so I felt we were pretty safe. The only thing was the couple of back markers there on the last. That was the only thing that really concerned me. But apart from that it was just running as hard as I possibly could, getting a good lap time with high fuel mileage, and that was the key to the race.

Q. Two questions: Number one: How far in the field do you have to start before you won't win? And two, if you could talk about when you did come upon Viso, how much of a concern that was and how difficult it was to get around him?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it was difficult because whoever was in front of him, they almost got together in the hairpin, so when I got a run, it was I got a very slow run. Yeah, it was I mean, yeah, the guy was kind of in the way. I don't think it was deliberate or anything. I'm not sure his team informed him that the leaders were coming.

Yeah, what was your first question?

Q. How far back do you have to be in the field?

WILL POWER: Yeah, pole. If you get on pole you won't win. We've experienced that a number of times here and many other tracks.

Q. Under the circumstances of the ten spot penalty, how much sweeter if at all is this victory at Long Beach versus the one you had in the 2008 Champ Car finale?

WILL POWER: You know, this was a very sweet victory because I've been on pole here I think '09, '10 and '11, and it just frustrated me that every year something would happen and I couldn't win. I thought, oh, once again this weekend I'm starting 12th. I felt as though that's impossible to win. I've got another bad year at Long Beach.

Yeah, I could not believe it. It was just a good race, pushed hard all the time, no mistakes, great strategy, just a great team effort again. Yeah, it is I go into every season thinking that there's no way I can win another race. I don't know why I feel like that, but I do, and that's always my I guess I have an insecurity or something or I don't believe in myself enough. Yeah, that's always my feeling

Q. Describe this race for you. We're used to seeing you attack if you have to make up positions, but today seemed to be something where you didn't necessarily attack the whole time and kind of played it smart knowing that you had a long distance to travel.

WILL POWER: Yeah, I passed when I could. Every time I could get a run, I passed. You know, I think that was the key to the victory was making those moves on Sato, I think James, I can't remember who else. But that was a key. And on those laps you use a lot of fuel, so then you've got to Tim is on the radio saying, you must save fuel. You have to use fuel to do that but then save extra to make up for the fuel that you used and get the lap time. So it was just a day of pushing as hard as I could while saving fuel. It was a good race like as far as passing and strategy and everything, again, two weeks in a row.

Q. Will, this morning the attitude of your team and yourself going into the race as to what your potential outcome could be, what were your thought processes?

WILL POWER: We were thinking top 5 would be a very good day for points. That's what we were thinking. You always believe that it is possible to win or get on the podium, but it was very unlikely, the fact that it was going to be a two stop race. But it was just amazing that Simon did three stops and I did two stops, like two different strategies. Obviously he could run hard the whole time and not save fuel, and I saved fuel and did the best lap time I could. And the result was very similar. There was hardly any time between us as we crossed the finish line.

It's just always a surprise in IndyCar, I think. You can never predict you can never assume going into a race. You just have to be smart as it plays out.

Q. Going into the race, how many laps, green flag laps, did you think you could make on a fuel run?

WILL POWER: Well, we were thinking 28. All I know, all I ask the team before every race is what lap number, if the radios go out, will I have to pit, if possible, and they said 28. What's two times 28? I don't know, whatever it is. On those laps you have to pit. I try to work that out in my head when the radios go out. What's two times 28?

Q. So you got 31, that's pretty impressive.

WILL POWER: Yeah, I think my engineer says it was amazing the lap time and fuel mileage I got. He said it was very good.

Q. The second question is what did you think of the pits being open immediately not from the standpoint of strategy but in terms of what the pit road looked like relative to open spaces? I know you had the problem with Simon, but basically it's a much cleaner entry and exit.

WILL POWER: It is, yeah, when you get but sure enough, there was a guy leaving the pit as we were coming in and they sent him right in front of me and then he hit my tire. I was kind of pissed off after that. I asked the team, did he get a penalty, and they said no. I couldn't believe it because I literally stopped for him as he left the pit, and I just knew that would happen, and I just go back to Kentucky when I lost the championship because of that, someone just sends it a team doesn't care, someone is coming and they just send them into you. But this time I preempted it, so I stopped, let him go, and then he hits my tire, so that screws that part makes a massively long stop. But I'm aware in pit lane now of I've lost two championships in pit lane because of things like that, so that's why I'm so keen on not getting in an incident.

Q. I believe there was a radio transmission as Simon was catching up to you and Tim said go faster but a little bit faster. How did you calculate that, and what's the danger of just getting involved in a fast lap and using too much fuel?

WILL POWER: No, I was very aware of I have a fuel number on my dash, and he gave me a number. I was very good at picking a number and understanding how much I've got so many different levels of speed and fuel that I can do, and I just slowly picked it up and just used a little bit more fuel, went in a bit deeper everywhere. It's just experience of fuel save, and yeah, just driving. That's where it's at, you know.

Q. About Barber, you thought that was one of the better IndyCar races in a long time. How did you think this one stacked up?

WILL POWER: I think just from what I saw there was a lot of passing and some very good passes in front of me. I didn't know what happened to Marco. It looked like in front of me there was a big crash. But it looked to me, the cars I passed and the passing that I saw, and even the start, I think Bo Barfield did a good job of getting everyone stacked up so it looked like a good start and good restarts, that people weren't going too early. Yes, it was very good racing, again, and I hope it was on TV. I don't know. I can only tell you what I saw.

Q. Both at Barber and here, drivers constantly say the tracks were difficult to pass, but at Barber there was passing like there's never been before, there was times they were three wide going through corners which they've never done before. Do you think this new car is making it possible to do things that you haven't been able to do in the past?

WILL POWER: I think it's the tires, and maybe the new car is quite draggy so it creates a big hole in the air and allows the car behind to get a good draft. But I think it's Firestone having a tire that between new and old there's a big time difference, and I think they can go more with that. That's definitely what it was in Barber, but here maybe just the draft effect made it a bit better, too.

Q. Speaking of the fuel mileage, on the cool down lap you stopped in the hairpin. Were you out of fuel?

WILL POWER: No, there was just a big stack up. No one told me to go the back way. Actually I had enough fuel to get around, no problem.

Q. The last two years you've come close to winning the championship and something happened at the end and you didn't do it. Do you feel like this might be your year?

WILL POWER: After the last two years, I just don't know. But all I know is I'm just going to do my absolute best at every race.

Q. You saved a lot of fuel, which allowed you to go quick at the end, but Simon was really, really closing down. How nervous were you in those closing laps with back markers and such?

WILL POWER: With three to go I had a four second gap or three and a half second gap. I wasn't worried because I knew I could at least run under a second from him. I could probably equal his lap time if I pushed really hard. We had saved enough fuel to run really hard for the last two laps if we had to. You know, I think it was at six to go, I had a six second gap, so I was very aware all the time. I knew how fast he was. I thought it was about a second a lap quicker, and I knew that we'd saved fuel, so on the last two laps we could push if it came to him being right on me.

Q. Penske is perfect on the season, three poles, three race wins. Why do you think that is and what's the mood of the organization?

WILL POWER: I think it's just that they've been probably one of the best prepared with the new car. We did a lot of miles. Chevy has worked very hard, and obviously our first hit of the year obviously the ten spot grid penalty was a precautionary thing and didn't affect us too badly, obviously. But yeah, to me it was hard work. I think whenever you're winning, the whole team feels very good. I think my guys feel very confident no matter where we start now that it's always possible. I think that's good for them. It's good for all of us. So yes, I think the team mood should be good because if it's not good now, it never will be.

THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport; James is also having a career best finish today. His career best finish was fourth, which he did several times at St. Pete, Long Beach, New Hampshire and Kentucky. In three starts this season James has yet to finish outside the top six. First podium. Walk us through today's race if you can.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I don't know where to start. It was a bit of an eventful race, but man, I know from my seat it was certainly exciting. I bet it was from the outside, too. It's cool to see some exciting racing back in IndyCar. For us, clean start, didn't have the greatest first stint, kind of got held up behind E.J. (Viso), he was struggling with the balance you could see, but ultimately it came down to the Andretti guys making the best calls on the pit stand. They've been doing that week in and week out this season. It's cool to have such a great team behind you supporting you and making those right decisions because that's what makes IndyCar racing so cool is you can start 16th and still have a crack at this thing if you play the strategy right. Credit to them. The GoDaddy car was strong right up to the end. I think my fastest lap was the second last lap of the race. Didn't quite have enough to catch Simon and Will, so congrats to them. I do feel bad for Ryan because obviously we finished fourth on track but with Ryan's (Hunter-Reay) penalty, and I only got there because of Ryan. He was punching holes left, right and center and I was just following him through for a lot of the race, so big thanks to him as well. Hopefully it's not the last time I get a trophy in this series.

THE MODERATOR: What is this we hear about seeing baby face Hinch in two weeks?

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, I may or may not have foolishly made a bet with Wade Cunningham and the best was my first podium I had to show up to the next race with a completely clean shaven face, and that's not happened since about 2004. So I guess in Brazil you're going to be seeing baby face Hinch show up, and I'm not thrilled about that.

Q. James, you get your first career podium. I'm wondering, are you celebrating it or you sort of got it by something happening in front of you.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: No, you certainly any competitor wants to earn it. I would have rather have done that pass on the track to get the first podium, to get any podium, to get anything. You don't like being given stuff like that. But at the end of the day, it's a function of racing, and it is what it is. Sometimes those things work for you and sometimes they work against you, so it all sort of balances out, and you just have to take these little things when they come.

Q. How does Long Beach compare to other races on the circuit?

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: How does it compare? Long Beach is fantastic. I mean, this is a race that everybody looks forward to coming to every single year because it's selfishly from the driver's point of view the track is a lot of fun to drive. It usually produces really good races. And then from the fan point of view, the atmosphere, the environment, everything about this event is just so cool. It's been around 37 years now, and there's a reason for that 38 years now, I stand corrected, and there's a reason for that, still. And yeah, it's a favorite among drivers, it's a favorite among fans, and I love coming back here. It's always treated me pretty well. I wished we raced here three or four times a year selfishly.

Q. How did the new rules with keeping the pits open during some of the full course yellows affect your race?

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Sort of like Simon said, I don't know exactly that's a tough question to answer without watching the race. But our strategy seemed to change lap by lap. It was pit in five laps, pit in four laps, pit in two laps, pit now. It's sort of a bit of a bouncing ball for us. I think what is cool about this new rule is that it's not a guarantee. Bo has the right or the prerogative to close the pits under a caution if it's a severe enough accident and he doesn't want people at speed trying to catch up or in pit lane. It just throws another element in there, another unknown, and I just think that's great for the racing, spices things up a bit.

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Tags andretti, chevrolet, hinchcliffe, penske, power