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A Conversation With ... Roger Penske, Tim Cindric, Rick Mears, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Will Power

MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Merrill Cain with Team Penske. Thanks for joining us today for the annual Indianapolis 500 Team Penske press conference. We're privileged today to be joined by the key players of the most successful team here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Team Penske.

First off, let's welcome team president, Tim Cindric. Next to him, of course, Roger Penske. Next to him, a man who needs no introduction here at the Speedway, Rick Mears; three-time winner Helio Castroneves. Next to him, driving the No. 6 IZOD car, Ryan Briscoe; and, of course, IZOD IndyCar Series points leader, Will Power is here with us.

Tim, we'll start with you. Obviously, it's a great opportunity to be back here at the Speedway, 100th anniversary of this race and a lot of history going on here over the next week or so. But just talk about, I guess, the lineup, the changes that we've had in sponsorship and some of the new partners that we have on board and what we're looking forward to here in the next week or so.

TIM CINDRIC: Well, from my standpoint it's always great to come here and represent Roger and the organization and everything that he's accomplished at this great race. To be part of Helio's chance to run for a fourth, this is the second time we get to try this again. I think we were so close last year, and I think we'll have a great opportunity to maybe accomplish that feat at some point in time. And having Shell on board, you can see what they've done not only at the Speedway but around city of Indianapolis and through national promotions. They've been a great partner of ours.

Ryan and Will, these guys have every opportunity to win this race, as well. I would give anything to see any one of these guys in Victory Lane. IZOD, nothing would really finish their whole process here like having the IZOD car in Victory Lane at Indy with their support of the series. I think that would be a great show as well. Obviously, Will has put the numbers on the board all year long. And Verizon's support of this program, I'm sure that should the Verizon car be in Victory Lane, they would blow that out, as well, as far as a promotional aspect. Again, thanks for having us and it will be interesting.

MODERATOR: Roger, some thoughts from you, and maybe even talk about some of the partners. We have a different looks with the fire suits with the drivers this year.

ROGER PENSKE: First, I want to say it's always a thrill to be here again to race at Indianapolis, as you look around the track and the things that have taken place since we were here back in the late '60s, there's a lot of change. You know what strikes me the most is this is the 100th anniversary, 41 or 42 cars with drivers, we haven't had that for probably 10 years. The competition is tight as it's ever been. And I think that the new qualifying format with the Fast Nine and then going for the pole will be very exciting tomorrow. I think the diversity of the whole field is amazing with the women drivers have shown such good expertise -- sorry about the accident yesterday, obviously. Sarah Fisher being a team owner, I think these are things so good about our sport. That's what's great about being in America, people who want to compete can do that and there's no better place, a platform to do that but here at Indianapolis. Because, you know, the notoriety you get here is amazing. I would say that over the last, you know, four or five decades that I've been involved, it's helped us build our company, our brand. And then to be able to sit up here with Rick Mears, a four-time winner, and Helio, three, and certainly with Ryan and Will, we've got a great group of guys this year. Only one can win. But the transparency we've had with the drivers this month and also for the series, the first four races has been terrific. I think we're in good shape. 

There's lots of competition, obviously. You know, Ganassi won this race a year ago, they're strong. Dixon and Franchitti, you've got young Rahal and you've got the Andretti team and many other strong cars. Tagliani showed a lot of speed. So you could have a surprise winner here.

So to me, we've got to stay focused tomorrow, not make any mistakes because it's going to be key because we want that pole position.

MODERATOR: Rick, you have a dual role this month as a four-time winner but also still heavily involved as an adviser and spotter on Race Day for Team Penske.

RICK MEARS: Yeah, it's great. Obviously, just great to be here and still be involved with everything and the team. The team has been doing a tremendous job so far this month. Roger has pretty well covered it. I think the competition level this year is just outstanding. Should make for great qualifying tomorrow if the weather holds out for us, should be a really exciting show. Obviously the race itself should be exceptional with the amount of cars we've had. There's going to be some good cars and teams not make the show, and that's -- it's good to see but bad to see. But we're just looking forward to a great run this month and wish everybody a lot of good luck. Thanks.

MODERATOR: Helio, you can join Rick as a four-time winner and just general impressions of this place that have been so special to you.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, certainly I'm so honored again to be in this opportunity, especially with Shell V-Power, Pennzoil Ultra. Having new colors here, I'm really excited. Rick the other day kind of whispered in my ear, said, "If you have the same luck I had with this car, you can become a five-time winner." I'm like, "OK, Rick, let's get first fourth and then fifth.”

Right now, it's great. We stick to the plan before we start going for qualifying. Today is the Fast Friday; we're going to see some pretty good numbers. It's difficult to have a clean lap because we have 41 cars, which is very impressive. All my experience here, I never had this type of a scenario that have so many cars around the track, which shows the series is getting stronger every year. It's going to be fun and can't wait to go out there and try the qualifying setup, and hopefully good numbers will be good enough for tomorrow.

MODERATOR: Ryan, you've always been quick here, but you want one of those rings that Rick and Helio have.

RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I want it so bad. I feel really prepared this year. Obviously, there's a lot of focus in everything you do around this place, and it feels great to be back in Indy. Our cars are fast. The team has done an amazing job over the offseason, and with IZOD coming on board, we've got so many good people behind us, pushing us forward. You know, motivationally I've never been so motivated to go out and do a good job and make no mistakes. I think that's going to be key this year at the 500, to be flawless on the track, in the pits and everything we do. You know, hopefully as a team tomorrow we can all be right up there, hopefully sweep the front row. That's certainly the goal. I think we're capable of it, and then we just need to keep all three cars up during the race.

MODERATOR: Will has won the pole at every IZOD IndyCar race this season. He started second last year, was very strong on the racetrack, and quick yesterday. What do you have for us this weekend?

WILL POWER: Yeah, hopefully more of the same. We've all got very good cars and two very good teammates. I mean, the good thing about having three cars is that we can all run different setups and probably can come to a very good setup, optimum setup. So, yeah, this is definitely a pole position I would love to get. You saw last year it was on the ovals that's where we lost al

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