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IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Japan 300

IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300

Helio Castroneves
Tim Cindric
April 22, 2006


THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Dan. We're joined by Helio Castroneves and by Penske Racing president Tim Cindric.
Helio, tell us about your run out there today.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, basically the race was flawless. We had a super car, team did a hell of a job all weekend long. I was basically make sure I don't commit any mistakes. Car felt great, a little difficult in the beginning, the new tires kind of loose. After that, after the tires come in, my car was very fast.
I was just made sure I keep away from the guys. I noticed that the car -- every time I kept going fast and saving more fuel, we were actually going faster than anyone. Basically, I did what we supposed to do, what I came here to do. I'm very happy. Let's enjoy the moment.
THE MODERATOR: Tim, from your perspective in the pits, would you talk about today?
TIM CINDRIC: First thing I'd like to say is that Helio drove a great race for us. We got caught in lap traffic there at the beginning, which is really the only time we lost the lead. Our pit crew put us out first again. We put ourself in a position to win today.
This race is usually a fuel mileage race. Helio was able to save fuel and stay out front. Even without the Giaffone yellow there, we were going to be good to go to the end.
We had a lot of things going for us. He drove a great race. I think it's the first time he's won two races in a row. We're out to win three in a row, for sure.
Q. At Homestead you led for a long time, then Scott ran you down, you were second. Was that in your mind at all today? Did it influence the pace you set in the last stages of the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I didn't last long enough that I wish, like Sam did in Homestead. He led probably 130, 140 laps. You're right, towards the end I was leading the race.
But, no, I wasn't concerned. It's a different track. There was nothing to do. Homestead, I did what I could do to win the race, and he did a hell of a job to make a move in the end and win the race.
That was in the past. I wasn't even thinking about. I was just make sure I have a very good restart and supposed to do what I supposed to do, bring it home.
Q. You just beat Dan. He's been a Honda specialist here in Motegi. You just took over now. Are you much more confident now with the Honda engine? Are you able to win three consecutive, four consecutive races? When Dan was getting very close to you, were you not concerned that he'd come much closer?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'll go with the second one. The second one, I was saving fuel. That's probably why he was getting close. Suddenly he start catching me. I was saving a lot of fuel, by the way. That's why I believe they catch me. But I wasn't worried about those guys. To be honest, I was worried more about the track, to make a move, when I decide to pass them, I think I had the timing right.
With Honda we have a good success in 2000 when the team was champion with Gil de Ferran. 2001 again with Gil. I won my first race -- actually, 2000 I won my first race. But we continued winning races with Honda.
Again, with Toyota we worked extremely hard in the past two years. Honda obviously was dominating. Now that Honda is the major supplier, it's nice to be back again for the family. We very happy to be with them again. I think it's a combination which work in the past and is paying off this year.
Q. Do you think you're ready to get the series championship now, being much more competitive?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's just beginning, but we're looking good.
Q. When could you recognize that you be the winner in Motegi? When were you confident you would win the race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Obviously, the car got out of the plane, we went out, the car seemed to be very, very good. As soon as we look in the times compared to the other guys, we noticed we had a gap. But we always work together, between Sam and I, to make sure we can get the best result. Sometimes fit me, sometimes fits him. But the way it happens, I think both cars were right there. I felt very comfortable.
Always when I go to a racetrack, I feel I'm going to win. Unfortunately, sometimes things are outside of my control that stop that.
Q. You've been to Motegi so many times. For some reason you were not lucky enough to climb the fence. How do you feel now?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Just proves that you can never give up. You always have to keep positive.
Q. This weekend you were particularly strong. You obviously have a great season going. Emotionally how much does that help you now going to Indianapolis with this kind of momentum?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's too early to get emotional, to be honest. It's only third race of the season. I've been in this team, the guys know me, I know them. Just a matter of finally everything gets going towards to our direction.
Obviously, next race is Indy, which is for us part of the championship, but it's not. Whatever you need to take to win the race, you're going to go for it, not thinking about points or things like that. Right now I just would say it's a combination with a lot of hard work from everyone back in the shop and here. It's finally coming together.
Q. Mr. Cindric, Sam was not -- do you think the accident and his being on the (indiscernible) car influence that he was not able to come to the top?
TIM CINDRIC: No, I don't think so. I think there was just a little something we missed all weekend, even with the primary car. We pride ourselves in trying to be prepared with all four cars.
I think if that were the reason, maybe we weren't doing our job correctly. I feel we came as prepared as we could. Some days you get it right, some days you don't.
Q. What do you think of the fans here in Japan for the Indiana race and for you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Incredible. They seem to enjoy the racing. They seem to come back every year. They seem to come and enjoying the drivers and obviously the race.
I just -- not only myself, but everyone always enjoys to come over here. Every year I learn a little Japanese word, which I cannot tell right now (laughter). It's always fun. I like it.
Q. How good was the car today out of a hundred percent? Out of all three races you've done so far, how good is it?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's a tough question. But definitely today we had a very strong car to lead basically the entire race and be strong, be driving the way we were driving. I would say today we're not close to a hundred percent because you want to lead all laps, but we were right up there (laughter).
Q. How do you look forward to Indy?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Everybody on our team is really looking forward. The task we need always seem to be very strong. Again, we have a long month to work, everyone. We're going to continue think like that and hopefully the result pay off the way it's paying off right now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. See you in Indy.

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