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Will Power and Roger Penske, Penske Racing - Q&A

7 October 2013

Speaking after taking his second win of the year after holding off Scott Dixon in the second race of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, Will Power was joined by team owner Roger Penske taking questions from the press, in a media appearance somewhat overshadowed by the violent last-lap crash involving Dario Franchitti.

Q:
We have the winner, Will Power, from Team Penske. This is Will's second victory of the season. He won in Sonoma in August. It's his 20th IndyCar win. Congratulations. Talk about the race. The move you made to get past Scott on Turn 3 in the restart.

Will Power:
Yeah, I could see - the restarts are slippery anyway. But I could see he was struggling a little bit, having moments everywhere, and the apex at the corner. He had a big moment in 3, saw that good run, and I went up the inside of him on 4.

From there, it was just a matter of trying to keep him behind. I was pushing as hard as I could. He was still staying there. At the end there, when I went full, I was able to pull a little gap. I think I was a tenth or a couple of tenths quicker in the lap. So I was able to get that gap and win the race.

Q:
Talk about the difference in the weather. Yesterday really hot, really humid. Today rain in the morning, maybe washed off some of the rubber, a lot cooler. How did that change the performance of the car?

Will Power:
Actually, it wasn't that different, as far as the wheels degraded in the same way. The cars, honestly, it was more comfortable to drive. We weren't getting the fatigue in the car. That was the biggest difference. But the car felt very similar.

Q:
Roger Penske, the winning team owner. Roger, talk about the emotion of today, winning the race in a tough weekend and day for Helio and how hard the team worked to get him back out there to get one point, which could prove pivotal for Fontana.

Roger Penske:
Obviously, it was a bittersweet weekend, which was the issue yesterday. We thought we were in great shape. I guess Will - or Helio went wide on the 10th lap, and the car was a little heavier on fuel and launched it and came down, and we broke the gearbox away from the engine. So it's just one of those things.

Obviously, with Will out there battling with the #9 car and taking some points away was key for us. So he got his job done. That was what we had talked about earlier.

And we got the car back in, which is a credit to our guys to be able to go back there. They worked all night to get the car ready from yesterday and make that move.

Look, the racing isn't over. We know that. We've seen this thing go up and down the last several weeks, and I think Will's performance today shows the speed that the team has to get their car. Dixon is one of the best guys out there. To be able to stay ahead of him and not make a mistake in all the restarts.

I think it was a great race. Sorry about the accident at the end. I hope Dario's fine and that people are fine. But overall, we've been there before, and what we have to do is go to a track that we like. It's a track we built in California. Maybe it will bring us some luck.

Q:
Does your approach change at all going to Fontana now that you don't have the lead, that you are chasing for the title?

Roger Penske:
I think the big thing there is our engine is right at the edge. We've got 200 or 300 miles left on it. We'll probably have to change an engine and take a ten-point grid penalty so we have a good fresh engine for the race. It's a long race when you look at the race there, and we're going to go for it.

Q:
Will, what did you see when you went through the scene of the crash in terms of the damage to the fence, what was being done to spectators in the grandstands, if you noticed any of that as you were going through there. Scott Dixon said it reminded him a lot of Vegas.

Will Power:
Yeah, actually, I just saw - I didn't see him go up in the stands. I just saw Dario's car and him sitting in it with a lot of damage. And, yes, that's what it reminded me of, that I'd seen that.

Man, we try to keep these cars on the ground. I think they've done a great job with the floor, where now we can hit and don't interlock wheels, and I think that's prevented a lot of accidents in the last two seasons. But obviously, we need to have a good look at how he got up there.

The main thing, I hope he's all right. Someone told me up there that he's got a bit of back pain and a sore ankle but he's talking and all that. So that's great to hear.

Q:
Will, obviously, protecting as much - getting as many points as you can for Helio is the top priority. But how do you - obviously, winning is important, as well. How do you go about balancing those two things? And if I may have a quick followup to Roger. You mentioned the engine being on the edge. I'm assuming that engine is for the #3 car?

Roger Penske:
Yes. You have to change the engine after a certain time, or you can take a 10-grid penalty, which is what we'll do on the #3 car, correct. That's the plan right now, as far as I know.

Will Power:
Yeah, today my plan was, obviously, to try to beat Dixon or just do the best I can to try to beat Dixon, and obviously you saw what happened with Helio, very unfortunate going into Fontana. It's all about Helio winning the Championship, whatever I can do. Obviously, Helio needs to win the race, and I need to be somewhere in between him and Dixon. So that's what we're aiming for.

Q:
Roger, you mentioned about an engine change. As I understand the rules, when you change engines, you could have an update to that engine within the rules, certain parts can be updated. Are you hoping for more horsepower for Helio for Fontana?

Roger Penske:
I hope we get more. I don't know. Obviously, there's standard engines. We pick them out of a batch, but this is nothing different than the teams have done all season.

Q:
First question is for Roger. You said on Lap 10 you thought the problem happened with Helio. Dixon had been complaining for many laps that he was shooting oil out, and he thought he saw it happen under a yellow after the first aborted start. You don't think it was then?

Roger Penske:
It could have. We have to go back and look at the telemetry. But on that lap, when the car hit the ground, something came out underneath it. I think it broke something out of the back, and at the same time, there was so much force because he was running fine. I know that I heard they were talking about some oil coming out. We'll look at the telemetry, I know, but there was definitely a big impact on 10, on lap 10.

Q:
Is it strange to you that in this season where Helio had been the only driver to complete every lap that he has bad luck two days in a row?

Roger Penske:
It doesn't make sense, does it? As far as I'm concerned, our guys have done a terrific job. The reliability and durability, that's what it takes. Dixon's got some bad luck, but when it's time to go, they know how to make it happen.

We'll just have to see what happens at the end. Helio's done a great job, and it's a disappointment, but the fact is it's a little bittersweet with Will winning the race, and he did what he had to do. He was aggressive at the beginning. He started back in ninth or 11th and came up and was battling right away. To me, the cars had speed. It's just we didn't execute with the #3 car.

Q:
Will, I asked Dixon, sort of, as the race went on, he got to a point where maybe he should just settle for second place and take the points. He said, I was having fun messing with Will there at the end and trying to force him into making a mistake. Did you sense that out of him? What's kind of going on between the two of you lately? It seems like there's a little bit of a back and forth.

Will Power:
Yeah, it seems like we're battling every weekend. Sonoma, Baltimore, this weekend. He's just very quick.

At the end there, actually, I was probably screwing with him a bit because I thought Tim (Cindric) said one to go, and it was three to go or four to go at that time. I backed up, and he got close to me, and then I pulled a gap again when I realized there's three to go.

I've never driven so hard these last three races or these last three weekends we've had in battling with him. It's been absolutely flat out, not any fuel saved. We've just been going at it and equally as quick.

We give each other respect. Obviously, what happened at Baltimore is very unfortunate. We've raced together for quite a few years and never had incidents. That's the first one. Yeah, I mean, he's a first-class driver, and I enjoy racing him. He's very, very, very quick.

Q:
Will, I think James asked you about this yesterday, but your strengths compared to Scott's strengths yesterday and today around the track. Seems like you were having a struggle in that left


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