IRL: Indy 500: winning team press conference, part II

Participants: Helio Castroneves Roger Penske Tim Cindric Part 2 ot 2, The debate. Q Paul didn't exactly say the politics would decide this race, but he did say there's always politics in auto racing. Can you understand how people might draw...

Helio Castroneves
Roger Penske
Tim Cindric

Part 2 ot 2, The debate.

Q Paul didn't exactly say the politics would decide this race, but he did say there's always politics in auto racing. Can you understand how people might draw that conclusion coming from this race?

Penske: Well, I guess it's unfortunate that a situation like this comes up, and then people take sides, was it right or wrong. I think the real factor, all of us sitting here today should look at what happened, look at the tape, and we'll all make the decision. I think that to suppose it's politics or suppose we didn't win or not, I'm willing to stand up and look at whatever the facts are. I'm assuming that when they ask us to come in here and tell us we won the race, that the chief steward had looked at that and reviewed the tapes. There's a lot of electronic capability that we did not even have in the past. I can't comment more on that. I don't think there's any politics in that. Obviously, Barry Green and that team is an Indy team and they have run here before. Barry can certainly look at, and I'd like to see it and look at it myself, if that was right, but I've got to go along with the chief steward.

Castroneves: Let me just make a comment on that. I don't understand why people see that, OK, he passed me. The only reason he passed me, it's because the yellow came on, and I lift off. No way he could pass me if it would be outside Turn 3 if we were still racing. So he might have passed me on the front straightaway because I was lifting off. That's why I don't understand why they are saying something about that. Because he didn't pass me before, it was because I was protecting a position. And it's very difficult to pass. And two lines here, it's very tough; he couldn't just pass me. I'm the one that lift off, and because of the yellow. That's the point.

Q Paul maintained that he did not see the yellow until after he had passed you and he was in the middle of the short chute. Could you sort of slow motion down the backstretch and exactly where you saw the yellow? He said you were protecting your position and then he passed you and then saw the yellow?

Castroneves: I can't tell what happened in his car, but I definitely can tell in my car. I was protecting my position, I was inside of Turn 3. And then when I was making Turn 3, it was right on the apex in Turn 3 and still, I could see his rear wheel. Basically, he is like this (indicating). The entry of the turn, you can make, but as soon as you start the turn, I'm sorry, the car is going to start pushing, especially today because the wind was in the opposite way that from every day on the month. I can't just say in that position, but definitely in Turn 3, that's where the yellow came on, and that's why I lift off. Also, I wouldn't lift off if the yellow would come up; and he would have passed me probably, I don't know. Only if I run out of fuel.

Q At the apex?

Castroneves: It's apex. For me, it's an apex. That's when my steering wheel, it came on.

Q Last year with not having to have Marlboro's name on the side, how satisfying is it this year to be able to win and put their name on it?

Penske: I think one of the reasons that we came to IRL was because of Marlboro and Philip Morris's interest to be in a series that would be an international series. Obviously, to be in the Indianapolis 500 was a big driver. So this is a tremendous benefit to our team and certainly to our sponsor.

Q In that moment before the chief steward made his call, there seemed to be some uncertainty about the order of finish, when Paul Tracy came down the straightaway first. Was there any uncertainty in your mind before they made that call?

Penske: All I know is that we had telemetry in the pits and the yellow light went on and it went yellow, and at that point, Helio was in the lead. So I can't -- the fact that people passed after it went yellow, they did that earlier. In fact, if you go back when there was another accident, those guys went ahead and passed each other and they had to wait for those cars. If they wouldn't have slowed down and got behind the pace car, the yellow might not have stayed on as long, so probably hurt them then.

Cindric: At the same time, you don't want to encourage the guys to stay on the gas when it goes yellow. From that point on, I'm hearing in my ear the whole time: "Car three is your leader, car three is your leader," before they even got out of Turn 4, before they even came down the front straight. That decision was made to what seemed in our pit very obvious. There was not any question of time.

Q Maybe part of this controversy, whatever, is something about when Paul sat here earlier he also said that he didn't think you had enough fuel because he noticed you were quite a bit slower on the straightaway, and he thought you were trying to conserve fuel. Could that be playing a part in this? And your other comment, when you said, yeah, you had to fuel, did you really are, or are you saying that just to make us happy?

Castroneves: I don't know if it would be a green flag, I don't know. But I did bring the car to the end, I did do all the 200 laps, didn't I? So I guess I did have enough fuel to finish. And again it's something that we are never going to know. I'm sorry, I can't feel sorry for Tracy. It's a tough decision. And today, we have a system that works to everyone, and I can see --it's a decision that it's not only for one driver, but all 26 drivers. I guess today is my lucky day. Oh, yeah, I was lifting off. That's why I was slowing down.

Q On a different note, Roger, everybody coming in here was talking about what a competitive race this was going to be and that it might be the best race competition-wise in 30 years. So much stuff happened today in this race, so many different leaders, can you just talk a little bit about how this race measures up to those you've seen here in the past?

Penske: Well, I think there was no question it was the fastest field in history. As you look as the race unfolded, there was no question that Junqueira was very quick, and then they had an issue in the pit stop, and they got behind. It was very, very tough to pass. I know Gil many times came on the radio, it seems like it's very tough to pass when the cars are in clean air. We were sometimes 10,11 seconds ahead of the next pack of cars. I thought Scheckter was very quick, there's no question about it. He was running well. Michael (Andretti) came up and then got stuck, I think they had to pit early. Franchitti pitted early. So there was a lot of dynamics within the race that changed it. The good news is, it was a safe race, and nobody got hurt. I think that's point No. 1. I think No. 2, there was a number of leaders. There was good strategy in the race. And I think there was a good feeling, I felt about the start of the race, and obviously, I hate to be involved in a controversy at the end of the race, you all know personally how I feel, but at the end of the day, it was a very competitive race. We really had to be on our toes. The one disappointment I have is that we kept Gil from maybe winning this race by leaving the wheel loose and doing a quick stop there at the end. I'm sure a lot of other people felt the same. Sharp was running well. He had an engine problem. The one thing that was certainly is Tony Kanaan really had command of this race, and unfortunately, when Junqueira lost his engine, it was right in front of you could see the oil on the front of Helio's car that Tony got in that oil and lost control. You know, he was certainly a potential. There was a number of potential winners. I think it was very competitive. It's interesting, you think about last year, three or four of the key people came out of the race. Hornish was a real threat I felt in the race. Certainly Junqueira was, but this race seems to always eliminate four or five of the key people, somewhere within the first 100 laps or so, and I think that happened again today.

Q Tell us what that is in the car that tells you when that yellow light comes on, and is this something that is only in the -- would Paul have this in his car, as well?

Castroneves: It's in the rules in IRL. You'd better talk to Brian or if you want to take anybody's steering wheel, everybody has a system. Mine is in the wheel, but some of the drivers might be on the dash or someplace else in the car. This is the rules. You have to have that working. Otherwise, you're not allowed to race.

Q So when the yellow light comes on, you know it right away?

Castroneves: That's right.

Cindric: There's also a light that comes on in the pits, also.

Castroneves: Sometimes, like this year in Homestead, what happened, the spotters spot everybody calling yellow, but the light was not on; so some people start lifting off, and I was not on and I kept going. That was a learning curve to happen today, so you can't just -- in fact, when Junqueira blew that engine, a lot of people went "blown engine, yellow, yellow," but the yellow was not on, and I kept going. In fact, that caused the leader to crash on the next lap. So I knew that might happen because it was right in front of me. That's why you cannot just wait on the decision of the spotters and that's why we have the light, because in case that anybody, or a spotter has not seen anything happen, you have the wheel or the dash to indicate that the track indicate that the track is yellow.

Q The you've done two in a row and nobody has won three, is that your next goal?

Castroneves: You are a little too fast now. I tell you, I'm going to work as hard as I can because if you guys notice, we play in the IRL league now and with this victory, we just jumped to the championship lead, and it's very important to us because it's not only a race, but also a championship at the end of the year. That's my next focus is going to be now, it's to make sure I can complete it. We are going to go to a lot of tracks that we have not raced yet and we have no clue about it. So hopefully we are going to keep the good performance that we are having. And just a quick note, it's funny, last year, we race in Phoenix and didn't do well, and this year we won the race. Last year we won here, and again, we did it again. So I guess you see that's how important for you guys to understand, when it's a first year on the championship when you do not know the tracks and other competitors does have the data, makes a lot of difference. And again, we are going to keep continuing to try to work hard and make sure that we be consistent toward the end of the day.

Q A lot of people are forgetting that slugfest that was going on with four laps to go when it was your go-karting buddy, Felipe. Talk about that. He tried to set you up, and Franchitti got in his way, and that's when Tracy was able to get a full head of steam past then.

Castroneves: I couldn't see anything that's happening mine me because my mirrors were completely gone. The only thing I saw was very close by was Kenny and Dario and I didn't know if it was Dario or Tracy. And this guy was telling me on the radio: "It's Tracy, so you'd better step on the gas."

Cindric: From my perspective, it was making sure he was as informed as he could be because what we kept doing was turning up and down the fuel. When it got to the point whether Felipe or Tracy were close to him, we would turn the fuel back up. Because at that point, what you don't realize is that a gauge on your dash tells you how much fuel you think is in the car, when you actually fill the car, sometimes you might get a little bit of an expansion, you might not, who knows really how much is in. Sometimes you don't get all 35 in. Sometimes the pressure might give you a little bit more and who knows. So at that point, it was just a matter of going for it when they got close enough, at a point in which they were three cars behind, I just told hem how many cars behind each of these guys were and when it got to the next time was the guy it was time to go. I think all of a sudden, looking around here, a guy like Helio wins the race, I think open-wheel racing what we need to do around here is promote the positive. That needs to be the theme. I think this guy is the biggest cheerleader in what's going on.


Team Penske, part I


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Barry Green , Roger Penske , Philip Morris
Teams Team Penske