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A Conversation With ... Team Penske

MODERATOR: OK, as is the usual procedure here, we'll introduce the participants and get the questioning going, then open it up to you. Again we have to move this along rather quickly because everybody involved up here does have another commitment at 11.
Starting the introductions from the far end, we all know the 15-time Indianapolis 500 winner going for another one this year, Roger Penske. The president of Penske Racing, Tim Cindric; team adviser, four-time winner, Rick Mears; Mikaella’s father -- is that a good enough intro? Three-time winner going for four, Helio Castroneves; Ryan Briscoe, who was in the championship hunt right until the final race last year and the current points leader in the IZOD IndyCar Series; with a great start to 2010, Will Power.
Roger, with 15 wins, is the 16th just going to be another ho-hum race and win for you or are they all important?

ROGER PENSKE: I don't think you can come to this racetrack and think it's ho-hum. One of the things we say to our people is that we come here like it's the first time. The thing we do have is the experience. I've said it before, some 600 years of experience are in that garage of running at this track. You know, it's a constant challenge for us as a team, for me personally, and I think that the people that we put together for this year, the three drivers, are the very best, you know, I feel in the whole group of drivers that are here with experience. Obviously, Will, he's not had the experience on the ovals but seeing what he's been able to do here in the last couple of days; Helio, and also Ryan, I think we've got the guys to beat.

But again, we have to execute, it's got to have good strategy on Race Day, and we certainly have to get through this qualifying procedure the next couple of days.

MODERATOR: Tim, are there new challenges this year because for the first time in a long time this is a three-car team and not a one or a two?

TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, I think that obviously we've been through this together last year. You know, at Indy anyway, but the full-season challenges, there's some. But the good news is we all know each other. This condensed format obviously makes the first week much more difficult, especially with the weather situation to where you're trying to get ready for race setup, at the same time you're trying to figure out how to qualify on the front row.

MODERATOR: Rick Mears, a four-time winner and could welcome a new member into that category a week from Sunday if Helio can win. Rick, will you welcome him or would you just as soon keep it at three?

RICK MEARS: I quit helping about three weeks ago. (Laughter)
No, definitely welcoming. If I could be a part of him getting a fourth, it would be fantastic. That's what we're here to try to do is win this race, and if he can get his fourth win, it would be great.

MODERATOR: Helio, you have the fastest laps so far during the month. Was that in race trim or qualifying trim, or what was going on on the track when you did turn that lap?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, it was perfect timing. TC is saying all along, but we wish. But it's one of those things when you get perfect timing, you have traffic. It seems with the -- this year with the rules change we can follow much closer than last year and previous years. That's why you see a lot of high speed, you know, times. So hopefully today we will focus on qualifying, if the weather permits, and tomorrow you're going to see some interesting times, as well.

MODERATOR: In the news conference that was just concluded with members of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing, most of the questions related to tomorrow and the new qualifying format.
Ryan, do you have any opinions on that right now the day before?

RYAN BRISCOE: I'm excited about it. I think as far as the driving standpoint, we've just got to be ready to go, and we could be having as many as five or six attempts tomorrow. Hopefully we don't need that many. But I think it will be exciting. I think we'll keep the spectacle going on all day long. I think there will be attempts whether to be in the top 24 or the top nine. People will be trying to better their times all day long and you won't have the down times of maybe just practicing like we've seen in the past. But I'm excited; I'm looking forward to it.

MODERATOR: Will, you've been rather quiet this month after a great start for 2010. Is there a reason for that?

WILL POWER: No, I've just been plotting away. It's still hard to tell until I think today where everyone's at because you're not sure whether people are getting big tows or they're on race trim or qualifying trim. I'm very happy with the car. This is the first year I actually feel as though I have a chance of challenging for the pole. So, you know, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.

MODERATOR: Helio, with the fact that you are now a father and with the possibility of winning the fourth a week from Sunday, has the possibility of retirement ever entered your mind?

CASTRONEVES: Wow, that's the first time I heard. Is that the way you started, Rick?

MEARS: That's the way it started. (Laughter)

CASTRONEVES: No, not really, to be honest. I'm actually full of energy. I'm still pretty much having a lot of fun. I did talk to Rick when I first started at Team Penske, when do you find out to retire, and he said when the fire inside you goes away. So somehow after last year, I'm burning myself here. So I'm just ecstatic just to be back again at Indy, what a great opportunity that I'm at. And having a baby, so it just gives you more enthusiastic -- more adrenaline for you to go out there and hopefully make my daughter feel proud of her dad.

MODERATOR: Roger, you've long been an advocate of making the races and qualifying more exciting for the fan. Given that, what are you anticipating tomorrow? And do you think there will be a lot of strategy involved from 11 to 6 or 4 tomorrow afternoon?

PENSKE: I think if you take, we start at 11, go to 4, you're probably going to be utilizing as many cars that are here -- typically we haven't had 36 cars take time prior to qualifying day or at least be prepared to. So I think we're going to see most of that time taken up. So I don't think we're going to be able to wait to make a qualifying run. You're going to have to get in line and make your run. If you want to make another one you're going to have to get back in line pretty early because I think it will close up.
Certainly if you're fortunate enough to get in the top nine when you look at the time, five minutes, if you've got nine people, that's 45 minutes, so it gives you just a little more time to go again. So it might give you two shots to go for the pole.

But the main thing you've got to remember is that No. 1 pit is so important in this race, so we're really going to be putting pressure on ourselves to be sure that you can be the quickest in the first session because based on the rules yesterday, the first one through whatever it is, get the pit selection irrespective if you were second, third, fourth or fifth or ninth, you know, in the second round. So that puts a little more pressure on us for the first round.

MODERATOR: Tim, is there anything that challenges you technically about tomorrow's procedure?

CINDRIC: The weather is always the thing that our guys chase throughout the day. It's going to be a little bit different than in years past because in years past you determined when you were going to run throughout the day, you see us get in line, pull out of line, that type of thing, whereas tomorrow is going to be a bit more dictated in terms of the time limitations that you have throughout the day.

MODERATOR: Rick, you were always known as a great qualifier. Is there something about this Speedway and qualifying that you liked?

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