Indy 500: Pit Stop Challenger winners' press conference

2010 INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRESS CONFERENCE IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge Winners -- Team Penske Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 28, 2010, An interview with: Helio Castroneves Tim Cindric Sean Hanrahan MODERATOR: We'll get organized here and...

2010 INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRESS CONFERENCE IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge Winners -- Team Penske
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May 28, 2010,

An interview with:
Helio Castroneves
Tim Cindric
Sean Hanrahan

MODERATOR: We'll get organized here and get going.

No. 3 Team Penske Racing, congratulations, guys. Magnificent 8.001 time on that final round. Congratulations. We're joined by driver of the No. 3 car, Helio Castroneves; Tim Cindric, president of Team Penske and race strategist for No. 3; Sean Hanrahan, chief mechanic. Sean, why don't you introduce the rest of the team for us. SEAN HANRAHAN: We've got John Haslett, he does the fuel. We've got Pat Husa, he does air jack; Matt Rosental, left front; Clay Turner, left rear; and Eric Prentice on the right rear.

MODERATOR: We'll get to the team here in a minute. A couple stats real quick, this is the 12th win in the pit stop competition for Penske Racing, which is a record, of course. Penske has won the last five pit stop competitions that have taken place. Also the fifth for Helio, which is an all time record.

I think the thing, Helio, you might be most interested, though, is let's see, you won the pole, won the pit stop contest and we all know what happened after that. Talk about what these guys do for you today and what you're looking for for Sunday.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: You saw it out there, they do an incredible job. I do believe all winter work, it's paying off today. Not only today but every race when we're out there. Yes, sometimes I overshoot and I make mistakes but they never see that way, they see it as a good practice to be ready for anything. And today in the pit stop it was just an incredible job. I mean, it's just great. Rick Rinaman used to be with me and now Sean, kind of like stepped in, and what a great opportunity for him. And Rick did an incredible job keeping up with all those guys. And also Cindric, we kind of shuffle people here and there. We're between six and twelve, and it shows whoever you are working with, if everybody get in sync, I can make the job done. So proud of these guys, so honored to be working with this organization and these guys. So today is their day. I just have to sit down and drive the car. But it certainly is great to carry this momentum to the race. Because I know when I go out there, I will rely on these guys and normally, I'm sure we're going to succeed as well.

MODERATOR: Tim, you're an Indianapolis guy, obviously. You've been around this place for many, many years. Do you ever pinch yourself with the opportunity you have with guys like this that make the whole team look good?

TIM CINDRIC: Every morning I put my shirt on and come in this place. I grew up watching Roger Penske do what he does here and to know that I'm sitting amongst these guys, it's a big deal. You know, to come here and have an opportunity to win a fourth with this guy and what is this, ten years? I think we've been here together ten years. I think it's awesome. The only thing, I need a little help on, though, as I was growing up as a kid and I was here at Indy and I watched all the different regimes change and then we had a change here in the regime with Jeff Belskus coming in. He's a great guy and I support him to death, but I need you guys give him a message that these guys deserve a trophy to do this pit stop contest.

I remember growing up all those years and I watching those guys hoist that trophy up and it's a big deal. I'll write the check myself, I just think that each one of these guys deserves something to take home. Because that money, we spend the money but the trophy stays with you forever.

MODERATOR: There's a lot of heads bobbing in this room right now to that. Sean, talk about this team. As Helio mentioned Rick Rinaman, he is pretty much a legend around this track, everything he accomplished, and you obviously have stepped in very well. Talk about the new role for you and what the team means to you.

SEAN HANRAHAN: Absolutely. When I found out I was going to be crew chief on the 3 car, I think my jaw hit the ground. I didn't realize all that was happening at the time. I knew when the time came, I knew I had to put in 110 percent every day, and all these guys behind me are doing the same thing. We work real hard and we're trying to make sure that all of our I's are dotted and our T's are crossed. I can't thank Tim enough for giving me this opportunity, or Helio or all the rest of the guys.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Sean.

Questions? Anything from the media?

Q: Helio, could you talk about just the opportunity to go for four titles here? That would obviously tie a record. I'm sure you've talked a lot about it but how are you feeling going into the race and do you feel four is possible?

CASTRONEVES: I feel great, man. I mean every time we go out there, we continue to work, especially after today's practice, we knew that we've got to continue improving the car. But I feel great. We have 500 miles to go and a lot of people say, OK, it's all taken care of it. Certainly we're going to do everything we can. But we've got to go through ups and downs and that happens before. So certainly, like I said, today it's to talk about these guys because I have to say when I jump into that car, put my belts in, I know everything is going to go smooth. You know, the car is going to go well and if there is something wrong, they're always like ready to rock and roll. I'm so pleased and honored again.

Actually, I agree with Tim. I mean, trophy -- a lot of times I'm kind of upset when we win races and we don't have a trophy or something like that. They deserve it. It's their moment and certainly I back up Tim in case he needs it.

CINDRIC: Always needed.

Q: Tim or Sean, can you explain a little bit more about the individual team members besides their duties on Race Day? What are the roles they play in the team?

HANRAHAN: We do a lot of maintenance at the shop with the cars, the equipment. You know, there's a locality of preparation involved between each race. We're tearing cars down completely, doing complete rebuilds on them, staying on top of anything we need to support what we have at the racetrack. So, you know, what you see at the racetrack is a lot less than what really goes on behind the scenes.

CINDRIC: One thing I think is important to note is as I've had my NASCAR hat on half the time for the past five years or whatever it's been, you know, it's interesting and a lot of it has to do with the schedules and I'm not saying one thing is better than the other, but it's interesting to watch from my perspective how this group has been, growing up around this sport, maybe I didn't have the appreciation that I do now, that this group takes the car from the time it's delivered and follows that car all the way through and determines its destiny all the way to the time the checkered flag drops. So the car is never handed off to anybody else, it's the same group that gets it, same group puts it together, same group that races it, same group that pits it and does it all over again. You know, you watch some of the other forms and it's interesting to me now how you can go through all that effort and then on Race Day in the NASCAR world you're basically handing it off to guys that are just there on Sunday to determine your destiny as the race occurs. And I understand why that is and so forth, and obviously make a lot of those decisions as well. But it's interesting the added responsibility that these guys have in addition to just pitting the car on Race Day.

Q: Helio, just a side note, are you a big ZZ Top fan? (Laughter)

CASTRONEVES: No comment. (Laughter) I wasn't looking, I was looking at the time. (Laughter)

Q: Talk a little bit about obviously what do you think the keys to winning on Sunday are and how important are these pit stops during the race?

CASTRONEVES: The key, sometimes you can't pass someone and they are right there for you to help you out. It changes your race, you know. You can lose so much time behind a slow car, but sometimes you don't want to take unnecessary chance. That's when we need those guys. It happened before, if you remember last year we were shoved a little bit to the back and when I need those guys most, boom, you're right there. So it's extremely important, especially the last few pit stops. I know we have the guys to make it happen again.

Q: Is there any special strategy at Indy for the overdrive and do you try to save some? Talk me through that. To an outsider it seems like a gimmick a little bit. So maybe talk me through that.

CASTRONEVES: Certainly. It's 15 times that you have that. It will be interesting, the fans and the TV will be able to check it out when we're using, also when somebody trying to defend his position as well. And it's interesting because -- actually, all the crew, all the teams will be able to know who is running with. That happens last race in Kansas and it's very valuable. But again, when you have a long race like this, sometimes you can -- it's easy for you to be excited to use that button. They told me they're going to put a tape on me not to use it and just taking it at the end of the race. Certainly it will be necessary, you've got to plan well and I do believe you'll be changing the outcome of the race.

CINDRIC: We asked Honda to put a three-hour timer on it where he could push it all he wanted but not until three hours into the race would it matter for him. (Laughter)

When you look back at it, you know, you described it as a gimmick or what have you, but I think every video game I've ever played has that on there and I think that relating to the generations that are coming up and that's what they're used to now, it's not something that we were obviously used to, but when my father built engines here, it was a different type of thing. It wasn't an electronic button but at that time with the turbocharger you were taking your risk for how much manifold pressure you were turning up in the engine to get that power for a short amount of time and the builders would tell you how far you could push it and how far you could go. They have those tools these guys didn't have. So it's a way of achieving maybe some disparity between the different teams, but I guess I try and put it in that type of perspective anyway.

Q: Tim, what's the secret behind your team's success and to be able to keep coming back doing this year after year? Is it continuity, is it time spent practicing? How do you do it?

CINDRIC: I think the easiest way to put it is obviously it has to do with the people but the people have to execute. Roger has always been someone that's given the team the resources to do it, but it's not simple as that because there's a lot of people here that have come here I think with a lot more or lot bigger budget than what we generate. But it has to do with the quality of the people, but really at the end of the day it has to do with executing and the people have to be able to thrive on pressure. If you don't want to be the guy going for the pole and withdrawing your time, if you're afraid of doing that, you're the wrong guy. I know we got a guy in the seat that you can put in any position, any situation. Days like today, these guys prove -- I know, you know, their heart is moving and all the rest of it but you see some of the best on days like this that don't have their best stops, but these guys continue to put them out.

Q: Helio and Tim, you talked about the push-to-pass earlier, but during practice today and during the 100 race, there was a lot of passing going on. How does that translate for Sunday? Do you foresee a lot of passing? Do you think a lot of guys are going to be stacked up? And do you really think there's going to be that much push-to-pass? I would guess if there is that much passing, they'll want, Helio will want to push the button.

CASTRONEVES: My bad. (Laughter)

Sean, can you fix this? (Laughter) I have enough guys here.

During the practice today, definitely -- well, first of all, the rule that changed with the rain light and the side gurney on the side wings, you know, we used to have that. It makes you follow the car in front of you much closer, which the air is less turbulence so you'll be able to -- that's why you saw so much fast speeds in practice because a lot of people just follow one another much more closer. Now, when you have a push-to-pass, that helps you a lot because you just push the button, now you're so close, you're going to make a move. So I guarantee we will have a lot of passing. Now, the key will be who manages well this thing because it's really easy for you to make a move, but in the end of the race you have only two or three buttons and that might not be enough for you to keep it up. So it will be interesting, it will be fun, will be challenging but difficult. I've just got to listen to these guys here and hope we make a good one.

CINDRIC: I think you'll certainly see more than what you saw last year. But I think last year there was passing there that maybe wasn't recognized in some ways. I know that Helio made a good pass, I know he got passed. I know that, as last night I was at the Old Timers' Dinner and watched the spin and win race. As I watched those races, there aren't a lot of passes for the lead even back then when you look at actual passes for the lead. And the good car in clean air is always going to be good. But I know last year, Will Power passed Scott Dixon for I think it was second. There were passes throughout the day.

Now, when you're not running enough down force and you get put back into sixth, seventh or eighth, you know, last year it was hard for Dario and Dixon and some of those guys to move up from that point in time because you're always balancing at this racetrack how much down force you start the race with. Because if you don't start with enough, you'll be fast out front but once you get in the back, you won't be able to go. It's a constant I guess compromise between how much down force you run and how fast you are relative to how much you want to pass. And fortunately we were able to get him out toward the front at the end of the race. Once you get a fast car out front, it's hard to catch him, for sure.

Q: Helio, just in a general sense, four women in this race, could have been five. I know it's been done before, but do you feel that it's good for the sport, younger generations of women can start driving, brings in new fans? What's your take on the continued success of women?

CASTRONEVES: Absolutely, it's the best thing for the sport. Again, we had before Danica and then "Danica Mania" and then obviously now a new generation coming. So I think it's the best thing for the sport. You're showing that you can have all type of people here, you know. It's great. I totally agree we should have that and now we're proving that women is definitely taking a lot more space than in the past and racing is certainly one of them.

MODERATOR: Last question.

Q: Helio, coming back to the push-to-pass, we know how sensitive this is with the setup of the car. Do you think you can change the balance for your car coming to, for example, Turn One after using a push-to-pass in the straight?

CASTRONEVES: No, no. The only thing you change is if the guy in front of you is not using, you're definitely going to have a run on him. But it's not like the video game that, oh, my God, things will be coming like a tunnel. You're holding and your leg is back here. No, it's not like that, just a tiny bit.

MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Good luck on Sunday. Thank you for coming in.

-source: ims

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Will Power , Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske