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IZOD IndyCar Series: Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT

IZOD IndyCar Series: Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT

Will Power
Ryan Hunter-Reay
September 2, 2012


THE MODERATOR:  We are joined by Will Power of Team Penske who leads the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship Series points standings by 17 points as we head into the season finale at Fontana in two weekends.  Walk us through your race today.
WILL POWER:  Yeah, it was just, the weather, you just can't‑‑ it's just hard to make the decision which way to go there.  Yeah, so basically, there's a bit of confusion on the radio.  I said I'll pit and then I said I'll wait one lap and in the meantime Tim was saying pit.  I think we were talking at the same time and he told me to pit and we missed that; I think that would have helped a lot.  It's just unfortunate.
But yeah, it's every weekend, we are the quickest.  Every weekend we are not just the quickest, but by a bunch, and circumstances seem to prevent us from winning.
So that can become frustrating when you're the quickest guy in town.  When you look at the last three races and even when you look at the run total leading, Edmonton we were the quickest and got the engine change and got back to third, so was a good day anyway.  Mid‑Ohio, pole, quickest again, lots in the pits.  Sonoma, lost iton the yellow.  And today lost it with the weather.  (Laughter).
But then again you look at it, it's all good points though.  It's all good points.  Keep getting points but not to get those wins, if we would have thought winning three races in the beginning of the year in a row and not to win another one, we never would have thought that.
But, we are here and we are a 17‑point lead and it's‑‑ yeah.  It's going to be interesting, 500‑mile race.  Maybe it will be the first, last race that I finish, because every year, I get crashed out.  So I'm determined this time to just finish the last race and finish it as the leader of the championship.

Q.  Your frustration levels here, how do you manage that between here and Fontana?  Do you let this bleed off or do you let the frustration stay there to keep you motivated?
WILL POWER:  Yeah, it's really just, need to forget about this, and not‑‑ you know, if we thought three races to go we would have a 17‑point lead, we would actually be pretty happy, so it not that bad.  Everyone's just looking at what the potential was, and the potential was‑‑ potentially, winning the last three races.
So you know, it's actually not bad.  Good news is, if I take Hunter‑Reay out in the last race, we crash out together, I win.  So let's go side‑by‑side.  (Laughter).  Good job, man.  Had a feeling you would come back‑‑ (off mic).
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  On the restart thing, every time I came out of the chicane the flagger was sitting there getting ready to wave it and they were waving it ‑‑ right as the first row paired up, they were waving it, especially later in the race.  And I knew that.  I came out of the chicane and got right next to Briscoe, and boom, the green was out and I think he was looking out his peripheral at me and waiting for me‑‑ the flag was green.
Definitely jumped out and I'm happy about it.  But you know, it sucked for him for sure.  I don't know what happened behind me today but I want to commend the drivers that were running up front.  We were wheel‑to‑wheel the whole time, really late passes but everything was clean.
One of those restarts I almost didn't come out of turn one.  That was really close.  But that's what I had to do to keep the guys behind me.  On the double‑file restarts, you're just a sitting duck when you're starting up front.  When you have a single‑file restart, the leader has the advantage because he can jump whenever he wants to. 
But on the double‑file deals, everybody behind you, knows when you're going and they are going to be drafting you.  So you're pretty much a sitting duck.
What a day for Andretti Autosports.  It's an Andretti Sports Marketing event, and we need to do it now, for sure.  Can only imagine what if; we need to do it.  We need to go do it at  Fontana.  I think we are going to have a great car there.

Q.  The one thing that Briscoe plained most about was that you never got paired up.  Did you think you got side‑by‑side with him for the restart?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  We are not going to go through my data but you can see in my data that I lifted off and then my back right, so I came next to him, listed up and went right back to.
It might have seemed like one motion to him because granted he's waiting for me to catch up to him so I could see how he would think that but I came off the throttle to wait for a moment.  I was just staring at the starter and not even looking at him because I knew how early they were throwing it.
Yeah, I got the best of that.  That's where Simon went from 7th to whatever, or 6th to first on one of those.  He just came out of the chicane and went and I said, okay, I'm going to start doing that now.

Q.  What did you think about the way the starter was flowing the green flag?  Aren't they supposed to wait until at least a few of you are out of the chicane before they lined up properly?
WILL POWER:  Basically a leader has a zone to go from a first cone‑‑ there's a cone distance, and if the leader has not gone by the last cone, the green is thrown.  That's why it was absurd what happened, how it was happening. 
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  I liked it, though.
WILL POWER:  I think Pagenaud did, too.  I didn't see the cones much.

Q.  Talk about how formidable your foes are.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  Will and I were talking about it the other day, the bad luck I've had the past couple of races; this guy knows the bad luck, too.  I mean, he was leading Kentucky when he was fighting Dario last year ‑‑ last year, right?  Man, it seems like a long time ago ‑‑ when he had an incident in pit lane while dominating the race and got taken out of contention.
You know, so he kind of feels how I felt at Sonoma.  You know, I it's tough.  That's how racing is.  So many factors play into it.
And Will is absolutely, you know, one of the best drivers that's been in IndyCar in a very long time but I really believe in my team and I believe when it comes to race day, we may not be the highest qualifiers all the time but the guys do an awesome job on stops and you know I'm a 110 percent every lap.
It's a great group of drivers.  The Top‑10 in this series, I couldn't say enough about them.
WILL POWER:  I've always rated him very highly.  It was a matter of time before he got in a good team situation where he could win consistently and be up there consistently, so I expected it.  He's probably the best all‑around driver in the series because he wins at every discipline.
So, yeah, he's a very tough competitor and yeah, we understand, we both understand the bad luck thing.  It can be so cruel; what happened to him last week, to be sitting‑‑ to have done such a good job and be taken out on the last restart, you know, it just‑‑ like you said, at Kentucky last year‑‑ that sort of thing, but that is racing.
That's the guy who has the least amount of those sort of days wins the championship.  And that's just how it goes.  You can be as upset as you want at the time and say it not fair and bad luck and all this, but at the end of the day it kind of all works itself out by the end.

Q.  Have you raced at California?  Have you tested?

Q.  Not driven a lap?
WILL POWER:  Never, no.  We have two tests before we go.  We'll get to understand.

Q.  Going from being dry and then wet and some guys didn't switch out like Will's guys waited to switch out the tires and going through the course, what was the most difficulty today?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  I can't describe how nerve racking that is when it rains on a street circuit and you're on slicks and you know the championship is on the line; and if you get through this thing, you're going to have a great race.
Unbelievable emotions in the car, just trying to tip‑toe through some of those corners.  But these cars are very stiffly strung and they are 700‑horsepower, and putting that down on a city street when it's wet is one of the tougher things in racing I think.  I'm just glad I got through that.  That was very nerve‑racking. I enjoy racing in the wet but I prefer rain tires when it's wet for sure.
It was good but we made it happen.  We thought that it was just going to sprinkle and that I would have to live through a little bit of a wet track and hopefully that sprinkle would end, and it did.  We never came in for rain tires, I think that was absolutely critical to our win today.

Q.  Although after the race on pit lane, Will kind of criticized the restart thinking that you may have jumped the restart; he admitted at the end that given the circumstances he would have done exactly the same thing.  When you know the race victory is on the line and your championship could be on the line that was pretty much the only move that you could make.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  Well, that and everybody had been jumping me.  So it's like, I don't know, what am I going to do.  I just came down there, and I feel for Briscoe's situation, because he's the leader.
But the rule is that when the green flag is waving, and that's what I was looking at.  This is a rare circumstance.  Usually you're cued up on the other guy next to you or in front of you depending where you are on the grid.  But I knew they were going pretty early on the restarts.
And that's not a criticism to IndyCar.  The problem is, if you go too much later than that you have everybody come through the chicane, and then the first five rows stack up and then you have 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, all of them are coming through in third gear on the chicane.  And they just never lift the whole time and never get a run on anyone else and you have a huge accordion effect.
Before we criticize IndyCar on throwing an early restart or an early green, you need to look at all the factors involved.  Certainly I had my eyes glued on the starter and that inside was going to be mine, no matter what.  I was not going to let that up, because I knew Pagenaud was coming.  My tires by the end of the race were square.  I looked up so many times going into turn one.

Q.  Michael ended up making a brilliant strategical call in terms of what tires to take.  Were you following his call and didn't think about the ramifications or did you think that if this doesn't payoff, you might be screwed?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  You never like being out there in the wet on slicks.  Especially through the fifth gear, turn 11, when that's wet, oh, my, that was crazy.
But you know, he said let's just see‑‑ he said to me, he said we are going for the championship.  If we are going to do, it let's do it.  Coming in fourth or fifth is not going to do anything for us.
I really look up to that.  That's a pretty brave move and it worked out.  I had to keep the thing off the walls as long as it was drying and when it started drying, I had a big smile on my face for sure.

Q.  If you were to step back and sit where we are sitting and you think how this went today, would you say, no way, this really can't happen; would you almost describe it as an unbelievable day?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  It is, man, I'm so happy to be a part of it.  So cool.  It is really‑‑ it is an unbelievable day.  We had one thing we could do to keep this championship and that's win, and we did that.
Now we get to go to Fontana, which is an absolute crapshoot.  It's wide open and anybody's race.  Granted the usual suspects, Ganassi and Penske, usually are very strong on ovals, especially the Super Speedways.  Too bad we are not going to a short oval right now.
We are going to go and test, and I have not done a lot of testing in Super Speedways in the past before the races so this is going to be a unique opportunity.  Like I said I believe in what these guys can do, and you're right, though, it's an amazing day.  Couldn't write the script any better other than finishing in Sonoma.

Q.  Points have shrunk between you and Will.  Do you go into the next race solely concentrating on the next race or all‑or‑nothing?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  The championship was on the line today and that's really the only thing I'm fixated on winning.  This is all I've worked for my entire life and to come this close, I haven't been nervous at all or anything.  I've just been enjoying it and driving 110 percent and really getting along with the cars and feel like I'm in rhythm with the car.
Hopefully we'll have that at Fontana, too.  I'm enjoying it.  I'm glad I don't feel really nervous between races or on the race weekend.  Haven't had any of that.  We have been keeping it light and having fun.

Q.  Speaking of storybook endings, you have not had an easy career, you have lived through teams that dissolved, teams that fell apart and didn't have it together and now this year is the magic year.  Do you at some times have to wake up in the middle of the night and think, my gosh, it's all happening and if so, how do you keep that emotion in check?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:  I'm certainly very thankful for all of the opportunities that I've been given in my life and racing.  I've had the opportunity to drive a lot of different formulas and a lot of different race cars.
All things happen for a reason and if you keep working at something it's going to come good; and if you believe in it, most of all, if you believe in it, it can come good and that's how I have just gone about it.
The period from the end of 2005 to 2007, those were the longest days of my life not having a ride, an answer, not having anything.  That was a long time period.  I just kept my faith at the racetrack and kept working at it.
Just like life in general, the more you put in, the more you get out of it.  Every day I show up on the job, I have a beautiful Indy Car sitting there waiting for me, and that's my job to drive it, I mean, how cool is that.  That's awesome, awesome.  Couldn't think of anything better.
THE MODERATOR:  We appreciate your time today.  Congratulations.

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