As the first day of on-track activities for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg comes to a close, the Chevrolet-powered cars of Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, and Ryan Briscoe, No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet, turned in the fasted times in the combined results of the two one-hour practice sessions.
Following practice, the Chevrolet drivers commented on how practice went for the first competition practice sessions as well as the transcript of the fastest-two driver press conference:
CHEVROLET DRIVER POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA CHEVROLET: “It was an okay day. Obviously, we would like to have a smaller gap to the front guys. We just need more laps and more things to work on. But we have a direction to go which the team feels good about. I think we’ll make some good changes tonight and be ready to go on Saturday. Despite being our first race together, the guys are doing a great job working as a unit. I’m very pleased with the team coordination. We are sorting out the bugs with so much new stuff that has been thrown at them. All in all, I think our program is going really well.”
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET: “We felt really good out there today. One of the things I felt like was good for us this year coming into St. Pete is that we have a pretty clear idea of what we need to do with the National Guard car to go faster. The new car has been really responsive for us and being able to start fresh with a new chassis, new Chevy motor, new everything has been a nice change of pace. We’ve still got a little bit of lap time to find, but the other thing that’s been nice for us here is we’ve been able to repeat our quick lap time when the tires start going off. All and all we’re looking all right right now."
E.J. VISO – NO. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET: “The first day of practice in St. Petersburg is always nice and refreshing. I ran some laps in this beautiful place. The morning session went pretty well. Then in the afternoon we tried some things with the car that didn’t work out the way we hoped, but at least we know what direction to go in for tomorrow.”
TONY KANAAN – NO. 11 GEICO | MOUSER ELECTRONICS – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY W/SH CHEVROLET: “It was an interesting day. We tried a lot of new things to make the car better. It was a typical first race of the year, but with a new car, new engine and new team. It is the same name, but a lot of new people, so everybody is getting used to everything. At least for me, it was a positive day and we can use the good things that I did to help my teammates and then tomorrow we can put the three cars in the top-10.
RUBENS BARRICHELLO – NO. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET:
“With the problem we had this morning, it was pretty much a setback. I spent the afternoon session learning the track, while everyone else was now improving their cars. I was playing catch up big time that’s for sure. Hopefully tomorrow I can improve a little more from today.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 TEAM GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET: “I think certainly the Go Daddy car saw an improvement from the first session to the second today which is what we are here to do. If we can improve a little each session, then when it matters we’re going to be there. We’ll just keep chipping away and hopefully get the No. 27 Chevy in the Firestone Fast Six by tomorrow afternoon. This track is fun, as you know, it’s my first time here in an IndyCar and it feels a lot tighter in this car than it did in a Firestone Indy Lights car! The car has a decent amount of power and grip to hold onto the (green) track the way it does. Overall, it’s cool to be here at the first event and I think everyone is excited that we’re finally racing.”
“We have a brand new tire compound this year for street circuits and the tires are really, really good when they’re new and it feels like we have a ton of grip and the balance is really good. But it seems like compared to last year they are degrading at a quicker rate. Maybe that’s intentional – I think Firestone was maybe asked to do something to spice up the show a bit. When the tires fall away sooner it will definitely make the racing better. With the limited time we’ve had on the tire so far it’s just up to us to figure it out, get a better feel and learn how to keep (the tires) under the car a bit better and longer.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28TEAM DHL/ SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CHEVROLET: "No doubt we could have had a smoother day, but we're still trying so many things with the car, the engine - the entire setup. It's all new, so you have to expect that on the opening day. We were much better in the second session (than the first), but we still have a lot of ground to make-up to be where we want to be for qualifying."
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM RC COLA CHEVROLET, NO. 26: "I'm pretty excited about qualifying because we didn't get the most out of any our runs today on new tires. Every time we went out with fresh tires, someone would spin or the caution would come out and we weren't able to get a clean, fast lap. Each of those laps would have easily been much quicker than what we ended up with."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 SHELL V-POWER PENNZOIL-ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: "It was definitely a good first day for Team Penske. The Shell V-Power Pennzoil-Ultra car was very promising. Our second session was much improved and the guys did a good job. I'm very encouraged about our chances for tomorrow and in Sunday's race
WILL POWER AND RYAN BRISCOE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT:
POWER - WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE NEW CAR AT ST. PETE? “We sat most of the session. We just did two three-lap runs. We definitely made improvements from the first session. The car felt better. I think we definitely need to make more changes overnight. We basically saved our tires. We are pretty restricted on them for tomorrow’s practice and also the race.”
POWER – YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO PICK WHICH GROUP YOU WILL QUALIFY WITH TOMORROW, WHAT WILL BE YOUR STRATEGY IN THAT DECISION? “We will definitely pick group two, because that just allows us to see times and understand the track a little bit better from what group one does.”
BRISCOE – TALK ABOUT TODAY’S SESSIONS: “We were pretty good. We were working through a lot of the set-up changes. Good to be getting some pretty consistent reads on the changes we’ve been finding in post-season testing. Almost feel more ready for this race than we have in the last few years because we have done so many miles in pre-season testing. Feels good. I feel race-fit and ready to go. The car is pretty strong. I still feel like we have to make it better. It is always difficult on a street course because you are making changes, the track is getting faster, the rubber is getting laid down and you are always kind of chasing the track. I feel like we have unloaded with a good baseline and we’ll just keep working on it into tomorrow.”
BRISCOE - WILL HAS WON THE LAST TWO POLES AT ST. PETE, WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BEAT HIM? “We’ll see. Hopefully we will have all three Team Penske cars up front. We’ve been working hard in the off-season. It will be an interesting match-up against the Ganassis (cars). I think they have led all of their test sessions; we’ve led all of our test sessions. I’m sure it will be a good fight against the year. Certainly the goal this first race of the season is to try to come out of here with good points. Obviously we want to win. The race will be tough I think. Firestone has provided a tire that’s very soft. We’ve sort of been pushing for that. It is going to make it hard working the race because of the configuration of the tires. I think management of that is going to be key. Will is already thinking about that and not running much today. That is certainly in the back of all of our minds.”
POWER – HOW IS IT THAT DESPITE ALL THE NEW ASPECTS THIS SEASON, AT THE TOP OF THE LEADERBOARD IS STILL PENSKE AND GANASSI. WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT TOO? “Just to better teams. I mean, they have more resources; more money. They are able to employ the best drivers and the best people, so they are able to get on top of things more quickly. That is the reason they are always at the front.”
BRISCOE – TURN ONE LOOKS BUMPY. IS IT GOING TO BE AN ISSUE? “It looks bumpy. I was riding around on the golf cart yesterday, and I think it might have been even bumpier on the inside. I didn’t really run down there today. It is bumpy. Turn one is always a mess here. I think we’ve gotten a better handle on the double-file restarts since we were here last year, so hopefully it goes a bit smoother. The bumps certainly add to the unpredictability here of getting into turn one; especially when you are running side-by-side.”
BRISCOE – WHAT ABOUT THE NEW CURBING? “I think they have done a great job putting in permanent curbs, because the bollards were coming up and getting loose bolts which was certainly a hazard. I think this curbing is an improvement. There were a couple of corners where you just want to stay off them. I guess we will have to see in the race if that becomes a problem or not. So far, just for running and putting in lap times, I think they are quite good and you can make them. You can use a couple around the track. We were a little bit worried yesterday, talking about turn 12, the high-speed chicane, because if you get forced onto that one, it might send the car into that outside wall, which might be a bit dangerous. But, that was the only one we were a little bit skeptical about.”
POWER – IS TODAY THE HARDEST YOU HAVE PUSHED THE CAR? “No, definitely not. We pushed it really hard in testing. As the track grip comes up, you push accordingly and lap times drop. I think you push it as hard as you can every time it goes out.”
POWER – WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE MORE HORSEPOWER? “No question. I think we would like to see more horsepower. Something like it was in Champ Car because the car actually has a lot more grip now. It probably has a little bit more top-end horsepower. I think this car can handle a lot of power. Another 150 I think.”
BRISCOE – WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE MORE HORSEPOWER? “Until you are not wheel spinning before the brakes are on, you don’t have enough power. So, we will take as much as you give us.”
BRISCOE - THE FACT THAT THE TEAM PENSKE/GANASSI DOMINANCE CONTINUED TODAY WITH THE TOP SIX TODAY. ARE YOU EXPECTING THAT STILL COULD CHANGE SOME DAY? THERE HAS BEEN SOME TALK THAT WITH ALL THE UNPREDICTABILITY THAT THERE COULD BE MORE UNDERDOG STORIES EARLY IN THE YEAR DO YOU THINK THAT IS STILL A POSSIBILITY FOR SOME OF THESE RACES? “You never know in the race. I think no one has really expected anything less than seeing Penske and Ganassi on top. We don’t know there are a lot of things we are going to learn this weekend in the race with this new car. There is no doubt there is a lot of stout competition out there other than the two teams we are talking about. I think we sort of, at Penske and Ganassi, are always the teams setting the standards and the goals for everyone else to reach.”
POWER - FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND IS THAT THE OVALS WILL HAVE 550 HORSEPOWER AND THE ROAD COURSES YOU WILL HAVE EITHER 700 OR 750. I WAS CURIOUS IF YOU ARE GETTING WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO GET OUT OF THE CARS? “Oh I don’t think anyone knows the numbers. I think that is just a rough estimate of what the series wanted. I think these engines are probably getting close to 700 on the road courses, maybe.”
BRISCOE: FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND IS THAT THE OVALS WILL HAVE 550 HORSEPOWER AND THE ROAD COURSES YOU WILL HAVE EITHER 700 OR 750. I WAS CURIOUS IF YOU ARE GETTING WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO GET OUT OF THE CARS? “Running less horsepower on the oval that is just a direction of the series, so that we will run less downforce and get the speed back with less drag. The goal is to run similar speeds to what we have been. To achieve that with less horsepower and make us drive the cars a bit more on the ovals.”
BRISCOE - HOW GOOD DO YOU THINK THIS PACKAGE IS GOING TO BE ON A NATIONAL TERRAIN ROAD COURSE LIKE MID-OHIO? “Oh it will be fast. I mean the car has a lot of downforce, good brakes. I believe we will be setting track records all over the place this year.”
POWER: HOW GOOD DO YOU THINK THIS PACKAGE IS GOING TO BE ON A NATIONAL TERRAIN ROAD COURSE LIKE MID-OHIO? “I mean, just with the testing we have done there is no question it is faster in the fast corners. I mean, it’s just like Ryan (Briscoe) said it will be breaking lap records everywhere.”
POWER - THE CAR LOOKS SMOOTHER GOING THROUGH TURN 10, IT JUST LOOKS MORE STABLE AND SOLID DOES IT FEEL THAT WAY? “It feels that way just because its downforce. It is just more ‘stuck’ easier to drive no question.”
BRISCOE - WITH THE NEW BREMBO BRAKES SITUATION HAVE YOU GUYS HAD TO CHANGE YOUR STYLE OF ATTACKING THE CORNER USING THIS TYPE OF BRAKING? “You just have to adapt to the different power from the brakes. They have a higher performance throughout the brake zone and you just have to adjust accordingly. In the beginning of the year we sort of had to think about different master cylinder sizes and stuff. But, the brake is very solid it’s a very durable brake with high performance. It’s good from cold to hot and it seemed to last a long way. The brake package in my opinion is very strong.”