Team Penske drivers talk IndyCar at Houston

Power talks about launching his car off the curbing

Team Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano make up the front row for Saturday's NASCAR race in Kentucky. Team Penske's IndyCar drivers stand a good chance of taking the front row at the Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.

Here's what they had to say after Friday practice:

WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET

HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING SPECIAL FOR THE WEATHER THEY PREDICT THIS WEEKEND? “I think you would have had to do that in the off season like just turn up fit. Which I did turn up pretty fit and then maintain it. You couldn’t do much in a two week break. It’s going to be hot for sure.”

HOW WAS THE LACK ON THE CURB? “Uh, that was hard. Man, you think they would at least make tape for that nicely when cars are going to -- oh my God, that was hard. But I kept going.”

YOU’VE HAD BACK TROUBLE WHEN YOU GET A WHACK LIKE THAT… “Yeah I know that is not good. I don’t need it. I know so well when I break my back now because I’ve done it so many times. Usually you get winded and it’s like ‘oh,ugh, uh’. Yeah that is bad to hit that at high speed. Man that would be bad.”

ANY DAMAGE TO THE CAR? “No I was actually at low speed. I didn’t even make it to the wall. It was just violent the way it goes up like that. Just horrible.”

HAVE THE CHANGES TO THE TRACK BEEN SIGNIFICANT CHANGES FROM A YEAR AGO? “Yeah they have totally resurfaced the area there was a big problem with. It’s a lot better.”

WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER SITUATION? IT’S NOT NEARLY AS HOT AS SOME PEOPLE EXPECTED IT TO BE AND IT MIGHT RAIN TOMORROW: “It definitely affects the way the race rolls if it rains during. You just have to be ready for it. You’ve just got to be on your game. If it rains it’s going to make us pit sooner and then go to slicks or wet/dries (tires).”

HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 PENNZOIL ULTRA PLATINUM TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET

ON THE HEAT: “It is challenging. But I think it is more challenging for the mechanics. Standing out there with helmets and (fire) suits. At least, we (drivers) have air conditioning. (SMILES) Just open the visor, and everything is good. It’s a challenge. The drivers are all fit, and really strong. I guess we have to see who is the strongest. Hopefully with a good setup combination, will be in good shape. All the performance for everyone is very tough. We are talking the heat – engine performance, sometimes it could be troublesome. Like I said, in terms of us, pit stops could also be a crucial moment because you are losing a lot of fluids. You have to think of all of the details so when you get to race day, you don’t have any issues.”

ON BEING AT HOUSTON: “It is a great atmosphere. You see fans coming over. It is pretty cool Especially having the Shell Pennzoil headquarters here, it’s awesome.

“It is very humid, and it is tough, but we have trained well enough to make sure we don’t have any problems out there.”

ARE YOU MORE ABLE TO ADAPT TO THE HEAT? “It is hot out there. For Juan (Pablo Montoya) it probably feels more cool, because coming from (NASCAR) Cup when you have the engine in front and the heat comes inside, that is probably nothing. A 45 minute practice is not a practice. But, when you are talking about a two-hour race, the last half-an-hour, when you put full fuel in the car, that is going to be the toughest. Last year unfortunately we were 50 laps down. We had a little break. We intend this year to not have that kind of scenario.”

HOW DO YOU NOT HATE THIS PLACE AFTER LAST YEAR? “You can’t. That is why racing is challenging. Just because something out of your control goes wrong, I don’t want to think that way. I want to overcome that result. It gives me a purpose to come here, and make it even more of…trust me, I want to win as much as anybody. Plus, Shell Pennzoil headquarters are here, and want to make sure their party is complete!”

IS THE TRACK BEING BUMPY THE ONLY CONCERN? “Yes. It is very difficult to pass. I wish we had a little more straightaway. But, it is fun to drive. But at the end of the day, whoever starts in front will have a huge advantage.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 2 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET

THIS TRACK IS NEW FOR YOU, WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THIS PLACE? “I only had 45 minutes out there and out of 45 minutes you probably get 20 minutes on the track and 25 minutes working on the car. We had a lot of issues the car was pulling to the right really bad so we were trying to figure out what it was. Changed shocks, we changed a lot of stuff and it got a little better at the end. I think it’s a process about learning the track and figuring out where to brake and what to do. The left-front tire was locking a lot. I don’t know why. It was making it pretty hard because I was more focusing on not going off than going fast. You get to the braking area the front tires smoke you are like ‘I will get off the brakes’, I overdrove this corner, oh don’t hit the wall, it was one of those days. But it’s okay being the first session it is what it is. You are going to be a little bit behind. I’ve got some time to look at the data and understand a little more what they are doing and how we go from there.”

IS IT AS BUMPY AS YOU HAVE BEEN LED TO BELIEVE? “It’s normal. I don’t see what is the big deal.”

WHAT DID PEOPLE TELL YOU TO EXPECT COMING HERE AND RACING THIS COURSE? “Oh it’s so bumpy, ‘oh my God’. It’s okay it’s just a race track. I don’t know. Is it bumpy? Yeah, but I think it’s fun. I think it’s got a lot of character. The only thing I don’t like is there are no apexes. The apexes are curves not walls. I don’t know why. I think the drivers all complained that ‘oh you don’t see, you don’t see’, but I think that is the nature of a street course. That is where when you have an open apex it’s really easy to commit to the wall. When you don’t have an open apex and it’s a wall it makes it a lot harder for a driver and I think it makes it a lot more fun.”

WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER? NOT THE TYPICAL 110 PEOPLE WERE EXPECTING: “It hasn’t been. It doesn’t look that bad. It’s been nice and windy and I don’t know it’s been okay.”

ON PRACTICE: “Yeah we had a practice. It was okay. It is not as bad as people you hear them talking ‘oh my God it’s so bumpy’. Yeah it’s a street course. I’ve never been bothered by stuff like that.”

ARE YOU HYDRATING A LOT? “Yeah, but I always do you have to.”

IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE IN GREAT SHAPE: “Yeah it’s kind of funny because I was talking to my guys today. They asked me if I was going to be overweight and I said I think it’s going to be up. It’s kind of crazy this week I trained and every day I trained the weight going up. I know I’m hydrating I know I’m training a lot, but it should go the other way and it doesn’t with me. It’s kind of frustrating.”

ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO SONOMA IN THIS CAR? “Oh my God yes I tested there and we run like an extra mile and we run the same lap times as them (NASCAR). Yeah we do the whole course and I think our lap times are within a second or two.”

DO YOU LIKE THE WHOLE COURSE OUT THERE? “You know what is amazing I’ve been out there for so many years in the Cup (NASCAR Sprint Cup) that to get used to the Indy car was hard. Because you see them like they showed (Kevin) Harvick that on-board of his pedals and you see how easy he is driving. In this thing (the Indy car) you are like pedal to the medal you are going. It’s completely different.”

ARE YOU AFRAID YOU MIGHT TAKE A WRONG TURN? “No, because the only place you can make a wrong turn is on top of the hill like 3A or whatever it is. For us it’s nearly wide open so.”

Chevrolet

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Event Houston
Article type Interviews
Tags helio castroneves, juan montoya, team penske, will power