While the IndyCar Series made its debut at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, one man stole the headlines before race day - and wasn't even present for opening practice. Helio Castroneves, however, remains one of the iconic figures of the IRL, and his flight to California following acquittal in a Miami court attracted a lot of attention.
On behalf of Penske Racing, I'd like to welcome everybody. I'd like to introduce everybody on the podium, beginning with Roger Penske. And, Roger, your thoughts on the last 24 hours here.
Well, I think we won one of the biggest races that we've ever had to get Helio back in this car. As you know, we've stayed together as a team for many months. And we talked about this when it started and obviously stayed in contact as he went through the ordeal. And I just have to say that I'm proud to see him be able to walk out and be able to get in the #3 car. It's amazing what happens in your life, and certainly Helio has gone through a chapter I'm sure he wants to close this book, this chapter in the book.
But to me. it's over. He's back where he wants to be. He's a great race car driver. He's been a great ambassador for our team. I've said to many people, he doesn't have a bad bone in his body. And to see him back here is just tremendous. And I appreciate everyone that's written to us, his fans, my friends, the press that has supported us during this very, very tough time. And it's behind us now. And hopefully we can move on. And certainly today Will Power jumped out of a pretty good car, but it was great to see him jump in the #12 car and put up a good lap time. So we've got three good bullets for tomorrow.
Helio, welcome back.
Thank you, everybody. It's been a very interesting situation and a mix of feelings, obviously. It feels like I just woke up from a nightmare [cries]. I'm sorry, everybody. Everybody knows that I'm a pretty emotional guy. And to go through this with my family, it was very difficult. But the family, not only the family but the fans, they were amazing. As Roger said, so many people sent messages. So many people sent prayers through Facebook, through the Internet, through my website. And I tell you one thing: I never lost faith. Sometimes I questioned it a little bit, but those prayers that people were sending me, it kept me really strong. It kept me really focused. And without everybody, without those prayers, it would have been very difficult to go through what I did.
But, again, my message is believe the guy upstairs, believe in the Lord, because he will not let you down. And today just proved that he did not let me down. So now, it's turn the page. I'm going to write a book now, and put that in the book. Not me, somebody write a book. Again, I'm just so happy to be back to hearing words like I did coming in, take the slap, and things like that. And enough of 'objection' and 'sustained' and 'overruled' for me. It was a little bit difficult to understand.
But after seven weeks I want to forget about that; and, again, my life definitely is starting all over. I can only thank my team for being incredible. Roger and Cindric, you guys have been amazing friends. Besides being my boss, but you guys have been incredibly supportive. And I don't think I have words to describe through this whole six, seven weeks how much your small words, small notes, it means so much to me.
And when you guys told me about Monday or Tuesday that you guys were taking the car over here to Long Beach, it made me believe even more that I can be here or I could be here. And here I am. It was incredible to be running today. It was difficult to just understand everything. Seems a little bit like a rush, but I tell you it feels like riding a bicycle, and I could never ask for a better way to forget everything. Of course, the scar is going to be there but this is the best way to go back and continue with my life.
Tim, we had you in here yesterday after the decision had come down and Helio was making his way here out from the east coast. Your thoughts on seeing Helio again and seeing him getting in the car this morning, if you could share some of your thoughts on that, please.