An interview with: RYAN BRISCOE, No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet and WILL POWER, No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet
THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined by Will Power of Team Penske. Not only did today's second-place finish extend his points lead from 5 to 36 points, he took home his first title of the season, the Mario Andretti Road Trophy.
Walk us through the race.
WILL POWER: It started well all the way to the last stop. I had the quickest car, quite easily keeping a handy lead. Yeah, went yellow. We had a slow stop, probably lost four seconds there, then came across a bunch of guys on the track who just doddled all the way back. I don't know who those guys were. That's when I was using the word 'wanker'. Cost me the race.
But I couldn't be happier for Ryan. He really needed that win. He's been strong all weekend. But, yeah, I can't help but be a little bit disappointed but happy because I got a good points buffer. Yeah, I think it was a good race. Don't know what else to say. We led heaps and then we didn't.
THE MODERATOR: Can you talk about those restarts with your teammate.
WILL POWER: Yeah, they were fine, good, clean. 'Push to pass' as usual doesn't work. The speed limiter would engage. If you saw a couple times, Ryan would suddenly pull a big gap, I'd hit the pit speed limiter and it would just die. Dario would almost get me. I don't know what he's thinking. He must have been thinking, What is this guy doing?
Yeah, good day all in all. Congratulations to Chevy to wrap up the manufacturer's championship. Now we just have to do it for the driver's championship.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: I'm in win mode. I just want to win another race. You know, every time we've been there, like Toronto, then a yellow comes and ruins our day. An engine change at Edmonton, get back to third.
Obviously that pit exchange, had to go around Dixie. Guys were there all the time. Wins are right there, but we're not getting them. You have to think of the championship, as well. If we have the car to win, we go for it. Obviously, as you get further into the season, you become more aware of what these guys are doing, if they're behind you or in front of you, and know how aggressive you've got to be.
Q. (Question regarding pit stops this year.)
WILL POWER: Yeah, I haven't seen what happened. It was more the people holding me up. We had an eight-second lead. Probably lost four in the pit stop. The rest was at the track.
I do understand that you kind of want to go slow where the accident was, it was a big accident for sure. But these guys, just a whole lap. I don't know whether they're told to do it because maybe they're a rival team. Yeah, it cost us the win.
Q. Let's look forward to Baltimore a little bit. The track changes and stuff like that, have you had a chance to look those over, start thinking about how you're going to attack that place?
WILL POWER: We got a good idea when we actually get there. I have an idea of what they're going to change. I think it's going to make for better racing, so on.
Amazing, three races, we've had one yellow. I have to say that just shows how the standard of driving in this series is so high right now. There's rarely mistakes. I think the series should be proud of that. We're racing on these tough tracks, and there's one yellow in three races. Pretty impressive.
Q. You're probably thinking about winning the race, but as far as the points, the key to one of your competitors, Scott Dixon, was getting hit in the first lap. Your teammate, Helio, bumped into him. What is your reaction on that? Is that just race luck?
WILL POWER: I felt that a couple times from Helio myself (laughter). That's racing. I mean, I think what happened was Helio was on red tires, Scott was on blacks. He probably had a little bit more grip, thought that he needed to get him early.
I haven't seen it. I don't know what happened. But that is racing.
Q. You seemed to have the advantage today over everybody else. Is that setup or engine?
WILL POWER: I just think in the past, since I've been at Penske, we've had an advantage at this track. This is a very grip-limited track. This car has a lot more grip and downforce. This is the first track you come to where your tires actually last. In qualifying, you do your out-lap, we don't have tire warmers, you go one lap, you have one lap to really do your time, then it falls off. So it's a setup thing, in my opinion.
I haven't felt, you know, Honda has been lacking. It just hasn't seemed that. You don't see it in the sectors. Chevy has done a fantastic job. As the year goes on, we keep improving. Reliability also keeps improving.
Q. Briscoe pitted after you did, like a lap later, on the first stint. Second stint, you came in before the yellow. He seemed to come in during the yellow. Did that in any way give him an advantage? Did you notice anything?
WILL POWER: I had a slow pit stop because we had the eight-second lead. Had I not got held up on that out-lap, I don't think he would have got us.
You know, that's what I was saying before. These guys, when the pit is left open, doddle around, because they're a lap down or whatever, cost me dearly. You can't pass under yellow. I would have gotten a penalty if I went motoring by these guys.
That's racing. I think in the drivers meetings, maybe race control needs to be more adamant about when it goes yellow, there's an accident on the track, you have to be cautious in that zone. But this is a whole lap.
Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: Well, that's the rule change this year. Race control calls pits open or pits closed. It would have worked really well for me if the pits were left open. It's hard to make strategy calls based on that because it's an unknown. We kept pitting early so we wouldn't get caught out by a closed pit. That's what happened at Toronto. I had a big lead. Went yellow. Everyone else had pitted. We stayed out saving fuel, which was good for strategy. We basically got put to the back of the field because it closed.
It's just one of those things. You just got to get a feel for how Beaux Barfield makes the calls. Is he going to leave it open or is he going to close it? There's so many factors that go into it, it's just something you can't predict.
Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: Well, it's funny that these (indiscernible) yellow caught me out today. Yeah, I see what you mean. They had to go full-course yellow to clean up the mess. I don't know what they do in Formula One. I don't know what they do.
At the end of the day, the guys out on the track have an obligation to get back and around the track or into the pits to make a stop. They just back off, it doesn't matter. You're not going to lose any positions. So, yeah, I'm all for pure racing so there's no manipulation by a yellow. Usually that means leaving of the pits open all the time no matter what happens, unless there's something unforetold and the whole track is blocked.
THE MODERATOR: Will, thank you for your time.
WILL POWER: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by today's race winner, Ryan Briscoe. It's his first win of the season. His previous best finish of the year was third at Texas. His last victory came in 2010 at Texas. Ryan finished second in 2008 and 2009 in Sonoma, third in 2011, now the top spot.
Walk us through today's great race.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, pretty clean race actually. We were kind of expecting it to possibly go green from start to finish like the last two have done. So sort of in for the long haul.
We started on reds. The car was really strong. We were just trying to get a fuel number where we knew we were going to be safe for the rest of the race and not burning too much early on.
I was holding ground with Will at the start of the race. We went to blacks for the next two stints. The car just wasn't quite as good. I was struggling to maintain speed on the black tire. Then we got a timely yellow. The 12 car guys made a little mistake in the pits. We got the lead and finished the race on the reds.
The car was awesome again. It was the best it had been all day. Just put my head down and held the guys off behind me for the win.
Really proud of the whole team. Flawless in the pits. Roger, with the strategy. I don't know if any of you could hear our radio, but Roger was on it today (laughter). He was probably talking to me six times a lap for the whole race. He was definitely excited.
We always get excited when we come to this race. For whatever reason it is, Team Penske cars are always strong. Will and I kind of dominated all weekend. So hats off to Will, as well. Chevrolet, we got the championship this weekend. Big hats off to everybody there. It's been a strong season. They've been working so hard with us. Every race we get updates and improvements. It's been a fierce battle with Honda. So a great welcoming back to IndyCar this year.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.
Q. Ryan, I counted before I came down, 813 days since your last win. What do you take away from here, satisfaction that you won or the fact you're going to close out the season in style?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean, it feels good to finish the season strong, for sure. A lot of those days, unfortunately, are off-season. I wish we had more races. We have like five months on, seven off. That's my excuse. It was only last year (laughter).
It's great to get the win. You get into a slump, you know, you think, Man, am I ever going to win again? So this is definitely lifting, a confidence builder.
We've been fast all year long. I don't know how many front-row starts we had, so many, just had struggles executing in the race for whatever reason, whether it's been bad luck or whatever.
Today just fell into our hands. We raced hard, ran strong. Hopefully it's the start of maybe a couple more wins in the next two races. We'll see.
Q. I know we talked a couple weeks ago about next season. How much do you think this provides help for a little more security in putting a deal together for next season?
RYAN BRISCOE: It never hurts. Who knows what it means for next season. I just want to go out every weekend and do a good job, be professional and strong, do my job.
You know, we're sort of working hard on next year, and hopefully have something in place here soon.
Q. Go back over the restarts, how you were able to gun it, stay ahead of Will.
RYAN BRISCOE: You know Will on those restarts, he was exactly where I was for the start of the race. I knew the advantage that I had being on the left-hand side. The restarts are pretty early, and you have sort of one, two, three kinks to the left before you brake up into turn one. It's a lot shorter distance.
For me it was about gassing it, making sure I had the rpm right, wasn't going to wheel spin, be nice and clean. It went according to plan and we went from there both times.
Q. Looked like Hunter-Reay tried to push you on one of those restarts. Was that a concern at all?
RYAN BRISCOE: No, I didn't feel a thing. I could see Will on my outside. Knew that once we hit the hill, it was turning, he was going to have to lift and get in line or end up out in the dirt.
You know, I wasn't too worried. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't making a mistake. That was it.
Q. The fact that it was your teammate you were racing against on the restarts, did that give you a little more confidence than if it was somebody else pushing for the lead?
RYAN BRISCOE: I don't know. Will was trying as hard as anyone to try to get me on the start. There's not much you can do from that position. I think you're sort of relying on maybe the polesitter to make a mistake really. There's not much else. You can't cross the start/finish line in front of the leader.
You know, I was pretty confident with what I needed to do. Wouldn't have done it any different if it was Franchitti on my outside.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, congratulations on a great race. Thank you for joining us.
RYAN BRISCOE: Thank you.