Photo Courtesy of IndyCar Series
A New Chapter For Team Penske
An interview with:
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA
THE MODERATOR: Juan, good to have you back in an IndyCar. Had a pretty good 2014.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, it was okay. At the beginning we sucked, I knew we were going to suck, so that was okay. At the end of the year I felt I was doing a really good job. Still felt like we were miles off in qualifying. I have to really work at that.
I thought our race pace was good. Just need to put it all together.
THE MODERATOR: You got the championship. Had a white-knuckler a couple years in a row. Had to be a great relief and you claimed the top spot in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
WILL POWER: Look, I like to make it interesting for people. The previous three times I just kind of had to keep them interested. I thought, I better finish it off this time. You have to keep people guessing, keep it interesting. You can’t go straight out there and win it.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I did that.
WILL POWER: Yeah, and it was boring, nobody liked it. Then you just left the series (laughter).
Getting back to real life, yeah, super satisfying, something I worked really hard for for the last 15 years. To finally get it, get the monkey off the back, yeah, it’s given me more motivation this year. I don’t have to worry about that. I know I can do it.
Man, just really cool. Really good feeling. Hope to back it up this year.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, is this your 15th 500?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Is it?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Can’t be. You started in 2001. Oh, yeah, it will be.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Last year was exciting, really cool. Hear so many people saying about what a great race. Yes, the end was terrible, but the race was really cool. To be in that challenge, fighting for the win, have that opportunity, it was just awesome.
Hopefully we don’t need to be 6/100ths behind. But I think with the aero kit, it’s going to differentiate a lot for the fans trying to see. I think it’s going to be fast. It’s going to be cool. I can’t wait to start 2015, to be honest.
THE MODERATOR: Let’s open it up to questions.
Q. Talk a little bit about what it’s like to have a four-driver dynamic. Has it changed anything?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think it’s been exciting. I think the timing of the body kit and the fourth car is really good. I think all four of us understand number one is Team Penske, the team winning, working together to get that. It’s all about developing the car.
It’s just an extra tool, extra information. At the beginning, I’ll tell you it’s a little bit hard because you have that much more data to look at. There’s more reference points. It’s pretty exciting.
Personally, I think it’s a great addition to the team.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, Simon is very good technically. He brought some really good stuff with him. I think the combination of all four of us, we have very different driving styles, so we all learn off each other. Like Juan said, when the body kit comes in, it just makes it that much easier on a short weekend when you have hour-long practices to try a lot of different stuff.
Yeah, it’s great. I think it’s going to be a tight inner team battle honestly. I think the team is going to be the strongest it’s been for a number of years this year.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Pretty much the same what they said. I hope the French side of him doesn’t get in front of us (laughter). The Pepé Le Pew. I guess he knows what trouble he’s getting into, the rookie on the team, so now we can play tricks. I’m excited about that. I’m really looking forward to play some tricks with this guy. It will be really fun.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It’s a good dynamic on the team.
WILL POWER: What I love is when you hear one of us giving one of these two grief. Juan’s ears just really perk up. He really loves it.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That’s his goal.
WILL POWER: He just loves it.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He’s like, I want you to hate me.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Exactly.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: When he does more of this stuff, we kind of like him more. That’s why it’s back firing on him.
No, we’re having a great time right now. I think his engineer, as well, coming to the team, it’s another addition. It’s another information, more data. I do feel for 2015 we going to have another great chance here. Hopefully we’ll be 1-2-3-4.
WILL POWER: Not you, Juan.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: You heard him. Not you, Juan (laughter).
WILL POWER: That’s what I’m trying to say.
I think we’re all fired basically.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think we’re really excited.
Q. Simon, coming into a team that’s so successful and well-established, what do you think you can bring or add to the team for this year?
SIMON PAGENAUD: That’s a really good question. I mean, what do I bring? Fresh blood, I guess. I’m very motivated. Like Will said, I’ve personally been working hard to get to this in my career. I’m here now and the pressure is off. I want to enjoy it.
Technically, I would say that’s my strength. If I can bring something there, I would be really happy to help that way.
But, yeah, like Will said also, we have very different driving styles all of us. It’s very interesting actually to see how much you can see on driving between all four of us. If you had to pick the perfect driver, the lap time would be a lot quicker, so there’s a lot into us. That’s very interesting.
Q. Juan, regarding the aero kits, do you think you enjoy an advantage over your teammates with planes, building and flying them?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No. But from Formula One it does. Formula One, every year you had a new aero kit, new suspension, you had to adapt to that. I’m really good at adapting.
I think we’re going to have enough testing before the first race that we’ll be all on the same page.
One of the things that’s cool with all four drivers, each one goes its own little way. Somebody gets it wrong, somebody gets it right. You can learn a lot from somebody that gets it right. I think we can develop the car a lot quicker than most people.
Q. The red flag last year, how do you feel about that? Do you think it should be used on serious accidents in the future here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: We all agree the right thing to do, especially here at Indianapolis. I don’t think we should agree it has to be all the time. Depends of the circumstances. Also last year everything play so nice, the way it supposed to be. It worked out.
But right now, not only as a driver, but as a series as well, we all agree that it depends of the circumstances. But if we start putting it as a rule, it probably is not going to work out the way it worked out here last year.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Personally I’d like to just focus on driving. There are people in place so they can decide these things. I just drive the car. Whatever it is.
Q. Will, you think of the competition level that you had to battle for the championship. All you have to do is look to your left and right. Do you feel you’re surrounded by the guys you’re going to have to battle with for the title this year?
WILL POWER: Absolutely, I think you’re right. I mean, the whole series is so competitive. You just see that in the last two years, how many different race winners there were, how many different polesitters there were.
There’s nothing worse in a series where the same people win over and over and over, there’s no competition. That’s what is cool about IndyCar. You can be 22nd one week, then you can be winning a race a next week. I think that keeps the fans interested. That’s how a series should be.
Q. As a team, I’m not sure if all four of you tested the Chevy aero kits, but they change the parts on you when they go to the next track, do you think that’s given you any advantage of trying to work with the new business and pieces?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think the aero kit we tested is different than what we’re going to have now. They changed. We have an idea of how it might be, but no.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: We helped develop where they are today. We kind of gave some output, some areas we felt would be good. But I don’t think it’s going to create any advantage to us.
Q. Juan, you have two other Colombians in the series. Have they come to you for advice?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Depends what the advice is.
Q. About racing.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I mean, I tell people, one of the harder things is, we run these springs, those shocks. They’re on a different team. I’m racing with Team Penske. If it’s something I can help with them, like race lines, I’ll help them. I’m pretty open about it.
At the end of the day, number one, it’s making sure that we win. Muñoz, he’s at Andretti. They’re the number one Honda team. If you ask Chevy, I don’t think they’d be too happy if we were helping him. So, no, I can’t. Helio said no (laughter).
Q. Simon, you said earlier that you bring fresh blood to the team. Are you saying these other three guys up here are stale?
WILL POWER: Are you saying we’re stale because you’re bringing fresh blood? He’s trying to stir the pot, mate.
SIMON PAGENAUD: I mean, look at our hair, look at his hair. I don’t paint mine (laughter).
No, I mean, I don’t know. I said that because I feel fresh. I’m happy.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think we all feel fresh. I’m like wine: it gets better with years.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good, I’m older, so I’m better.
WILL POWER: That’s true, Helio. You’ve gotten a lot better.
Q. This is obviously the most senior team in terms of experience, Champ Car, Formula One, NASCAR. You can tell there’s a different feel and a different dynamic in this group of guys. With all due respect to the other guys racing with other teams this season, do you think you’re sitting next to the guys you’re going to be racing for the championship at the end of the year?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think so. I think we have a very good potential here to do something very nice. Very strong. Obviously in racing there is a lot of variables. At this point Team Penske is prepared as much as they can to do what we did last year.
I do feel we have a strong team here so we can battle each other for the championship.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll let these guys take that party somewhere else. Thank you, gentlemen.
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