Will Power: “Yeah I’ve been disappointed with myself for the drive through penalties."
Juan Pablo Montoya - No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish - Team Penske - Dallara/Chevrolet
· RETURN TO VICTORY LANE: Juan Pablo Montoya made a return to Victory Lane last weekend at Pocono Raceway, scoring his first Verizon IndyCar Series win since 2000 – his last full season of IndyCar racing. In the process, Montoya moved up one spot to fourth place in the series standings and he is now just 55 points behind Team Penske teammates, Will Power and Helio Castroneves, who are tied for first place.
· SHORT OVAL PREPARATION: This weekend’s race at Iowa Speedway will be Montoya’s first race on a short oval since qualifying first and finishing 12th at the since-demolished Chicago Motor Speedway in July of 2000. Montoya has tested at Phoenix International Raceway and at Iowa in preparation for this weekend and the upcoming race at The Milwaukee Mile.
· NASCAR SHORT TRACK STATS: In seven years of NASCAR Cup Series competition, Montoya made a total of 42 starts on short tracks under one mile in length, like Iowa Speedway. In those starts he accumulated four top-five finishes, 11 top-10 results and one pole award.
· NEW LEAD ENGINEER: Two weeks ago in the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, Brian Campe took over as the lead engineer on the No. 2 PPG Chevrolet/Dallara team. Team Penske technical director Ron Ruzewski had been guiding the team since the season opener at St. Petersburg while also grooming Campe to take over as race engineer. Since assuming the new role, Campe – who formerly worked as a race engineer in the Team Penske NASCAR program – has led the No. 2 Chevrolet to one win, a third-place finish and seventh-place result.
How did it feel to get your first win for Team Penske? “I’m really excited for everyone in the shop and everyone – including Roger (Penske) – who believed in me and gave me this chance. I know there were a lot of people that thought I would be able to come into the Verizon IndyCar Series and win right away, but they didn’t realize how different the cars are to what I had been driving and what the cars were like in this series when I was first competing in it. I feel really good about the strategy we had for this season and how we gradually built it up over time. Now we are peaking at the right time to push for the championship.”
You started working with a new lead engineer at Houston in Brian Campe. What has he brought to the team? “I couldn’t be more proud of Brian. He and I are really similar. We both came from NASCAR and both had to take our time in getting up to speed with the No. 2 PPG Chevy. Ron Ruzewski (Team Penske technical director) did a great job in mentoring Brian and guiding him through the process of becoming an INDYCAR lead engineer. Ron continues to be an integral part of this team. Brian has done a great job in taking the Team Penske philosophy and putting that together with his own ideas and info that he brought over from stock cars. It’s worked perfectly so far.”
Helio Castroneves - No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
· TIED AT THE TOP: With his second-place finish at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, Helio Castroneves moved into a tie for first place in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings with his Team Penske teammate Will Power.
· HELIO AT IOWA: Castroneves has competed in all seven Verizon IndyCar Series races contested at Iowa Speedway. While he has yet to visit Victory Lane he has been solid at the .875-mile oval. In those starts he has finished outside the top 10 only once. In 2013 Castroneves set the qualifying record with a lap of 17.3324 seconds to win the pole position, but he started the race in the 11th position after the team was assessed a starting grid penalty for changing an engine. He wound up finishing eighth in the race.
· A NICE, ROUND NUMBER: Castroneves is the active leader in laps led in the Verizon IndyCar Series with 4,200. He has led 174 laps in the 2014 season.
· TYING A LEGEND: With his 40th career pole award in the second race of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston last month, Castroneves tied Team Penske legend Rick Mears for fourth on the all-time list. Castroneves is the active leader in career pole positions.
· A HISTORIC WIN: With his 29th career series win in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans last month, Castroneves now has won a race in 14 of the last 15 seasons. Castroneves is again tied with his Team Penske mentor, Rick Mears, for the most IndyCar victories in team history and for 11th place on the all-time Verizon IndyCar Series wins list.
While there is still a lot of racing left in the season, what does it mean to be tied for the points lead? “I have been in this situation too many times before so I’m not going to put too much emphasis on being tied for the lead. We still have a lot of work left to do but to have a solid weekend at Pocono after a bit of a disappointing weekend in Houston is a confidence builder. This No. 3 Hitachi team is putting together fast cars every weekend so we know the speed will be there. We just need to continue to have good strategy and good luck and we’ll be fine.”
What is a lap like around Iowa Speedway, which is the shortest oval on the schedule? "Iowa Speedway is a rush. You can really feel the speed because it is such a short track but it has enough banking that you are basically flat out the entire time. But with the track being so small you have to really stay alert because you are in traffic a lot. One slip and you can easily find yourself behind the wall losing a lot of points. Team Penske has not yet won a race at Iowa Speedway but we’ve had fast cars. I feel like this could be the weekend.”
Will Power - No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
· TOP TWO ARE TEAM PENSKE: Will Power continues to lead the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, just as he has for most of the season. Following last week’s race at Pocono, however, he is tied with a familiar face as Castroneves, Power’s Team Penske teammate, made it tight at the top. With a pair of top-10 finishes at Iowa in the past, Power looks to continue to lead the championship chase at the end of the weekend.
· MEET TEAM PENSKE: Fans will have two opportunities to meet the Team Penske drivers this weekend in Iowa. At 3:45 pm CT on Friday, July 11 the trio will participate in a Q&A session at the Chevy Racing display. They will then appear in INDYCAR Fan Village for an autograph session from 4:00-5:00 pm CT.
· FORMER POLE AWARD WINNER: Power has recorded one Verizon P1 Pole Award at Iowa Speedway as he captured his first-ever oval track pole there in 2010. He also started from the top spot in last year’s Iowa race after Castroneves, the pole winner, took a grid penalty of 10 positions for an engine change.
· MOVING ON UP: At just 33 years of age, Power has already won 23 career races. That places him tied for 18th place on the all-time wins list with Tommy Milton, whose 23 wins came when the series competed under the Automobile Association of America sanctioning body in the 1920s. Power is just seven wins away from entering the top 10 in career IndyCar victories.
· LEADING THE WAY: Power has led 348 of the 1,299 (26.7%) laps contested during the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, easily the most of any driver in the series.
While you are tied for the points lead with your teammate, you’ve also given up points over the last two weeks. How do you get back on track at Iowa? “We definitely have a bit of work to do this weekend. The short ovals are probably the weakest part of my game. We ran really strong at Milwaukee last year so I hope we are turning a corner with that part of the program. You know, I’m happy for everyone at Team Penske – two cars tied at the top and all three in the top four. This is not a time to panic. We still have a lot of racing to go.”
How frustrating is it to lead a lot of laps – as you did a Pocono – and not come away with a win? “Yeah I’ve been disappointed with myself for the drive through penalties. The field in the Verizon IndyCar Series is so tight that you have to look for any advantage you can get. When you are pushing hard like that you sometimes end up speeding on pit road or making a mistake. I know it’s something I need to correct. We’re lucky that we are still tied for the points lead. The good news is that we are bringing fast No. 12 Verizon Chevys to the track every week. When you have speed you are always a threat to win.”