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A Conversation With ... Helio Castroneves, Tim Cindric and Sean Hanrahan

MODERATOR: We'll get organized here and get going.
No. 3 Team Penske Racing, congratulations, guys. Magnificent 8.001 time on that final round. Congratulations. We're joined by driver of the No. 3 car, Helio Castroneves; Tim Cindric, president of Team Penske and race strategist for No. 3; Sean Hanrahan, chief mechanic. Sean, why don't you introduce the rest of the team for us.

SEAN HANRAHAN: We've got John Haslett, he does the fuel. We've got Pat Husa, he does air jack; Matt Rosental, left front; Clay Turner, left rear; and Eric Prentice on the right rear.

MODERATOR: We'll get to the team here in a minute. A couple stats real quick, this is the 12th win in the pit stop competition for Penske Racing, which is a record, of course. Penske has won the last five pit stop competitions that have taken place. Also the fifth for Helio, which is an all time record.
I think the thing, Helio, you might be most interested, though, is let’s see, you won the pole, won the pit stop contest and we all know what happened after that. Talk about what these guys do for you today and what you’re looking for for Sunday.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: You saw it out there, they do an incredible job. I do believe all winter work, it’s paying off today. Not only today but every race when we’re out there. Yes, sometimes I overshoot and I make mistakes but they never see that way, they see it as a good practice to be ready for anything. And today in the pit stop it was just an incredible job. I mean, it’s just great. Rick Rinaman used to be with me and now Sean, kind of like stepped in, and what a great opportunity for him. And Rick did an incredible job keeping up with all those guys. And also Cindric, we kind of shuffle people here and there. We’re between six and twelve, and it shows whoever you are working with, if everybody get in sync, I can make the job done. So proud of these guys, so honored to be working with this organization and these guys. So today is their day. I just have to sit down and drive the car. But it certainly is great to carry this momentum to the race. Because I know when I go out there, I will rely on these guys and normally, I’m sure we’re going to succeed as well.

MODERATOR: Tim, you’re an Indianapolis guy, obviously. You’ve been around this place for many, many years. Do you ever pinch yourself with the opportunity you have with guys like this that make the whole team look good?

CINDRIC: Every morning I put my shirt on and come in this place. I grew up watching Roger Penske do what he does here and to know that I'm sitting amongst these guys, it's a big deal. You know, to come here and have an opportunity to win a fourth with this guy and what is this, ten years? I think we've been here together ten years. I think it's awesome. The only thing, I need a little help on, though, as I was growing up as a kid and I was here at Indy and I watched all the different regimes change and then we had a change here in the regime with Jeff Belskus coming in. He's a great guy and I support him to death, but I need you guys give him a message that these guys deserve a trophy to do this pit stop contest.
I remember growing up all those years and I watching those guys hoist that trophy up and it's a big deal. I'll write the check myself, I just think that each one of these guys deserves something to take home. Because that money, we spend the money but the trophy stays with you forever.

MODERATOR: There's a lot of heads bobbing in this room right now to that.
Sean, talk about this team. As Helio mentioned Rick Rinaman, he is pretty much a legend around this track, everything he accomplished, and you obviously have stepped in very well. Talk about the new role for you and what the team means to you.

HANRAHAN: Absolutely. When I found out I was going to be crew chief on the 3 car, I think my jaw hit the ground. I didn't realize all that was happening at the time. I knew when the time came, I knew I had to put in 110 percent every day, and all these guys behind me are doing the same thing. We work real hard and we're trying to make sure that all of our I's are dotted and our T's are crossed. I can't thank Tim enough for giving me this opportunity, or Helio or all the rest of the guys.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Sean.
Questions? Anything from the media?

Q: Helio, could you talk about just the opportunity to go for four titles here? That would obviously tie a record. I'm sure you've talked a lot about it but how are you feeling going into the race and do you feel four is possible?

CASTRONEVES: I feel great, man. I mean every time we go out there, we continue to work, especially after today's practice, we knew that we've got to continue improving the car. But I feel great. We have 500 miles to go and a lot of people say, OK, it's all taken care of it. Certainly we're going to do everything we can. But we've got to go through ups and downs and that happens before. So certainly, like I said, today it's to talk about these guys because I have to say when I jump into that car, put my belts in, I know everything is going to go smooth. You know, the car is going to go well and if there is something wrong, they're always like ready to rock and roll. I'm so pleased and honored again.
Actually, I agree with Tim. I mean, trophy -- a lot of times I'm kind of upset when we win races and we don't have a trophy or something like that. They deserve it. It's their moment and certainly I back up Tim in case he needs it.


CINDRIC: Always needed.

Q: Tim or Sean, can you explain a little bit more about the individual team members besides their duties on Race Day? What are the roles they play in the team?

HANRAHAN: We do a lot of maintenance at the shop with the cars, the equipment. You know, there's a locality of preparation involved between each race. We're tearing cars down completely, doing complete rebuilds on them, staying on top of anything we need to support what we have at the racetrack. So, you know, what you see at the racetrack is a lot less than what really goes on behind the scenes.

CINDRIC: One thing I think is important to note is as I've had my NASCAR hat on half the time for the past five years or whatever it's been, you know, it's interesting and a lot of it has to do with the schedules and I'm not saying one thing is better than the other, but it's interesting to watch from my perspective how this group has been, growing up around this sport, maybe I didn't have the appreciation that I do now, that this group takes the car from the time it's delivered and follows that car all the way through and determines its destiny all the way to the time the checkered flag drops. So the car is never handed off to anybody else, it's the same group that gets it, same group puts it together, same group that races it, same group that pits it and does it all over again. You know, you watch some of the other forms and it's interesting to me now how you can go through all that effort and then on Race Day in the NASCAR world you're basically handing it off to guys that are just there on Sunday to determine your destiny as the race occurs. And I understand why that is and so forth, and obviously make a lot of those decisions as well. But it's interesting the added responsibility that these guys have in addition to just pitting the car on Race Day.

Q: Helio, just a side note, are you a big ZZ Top fan? (Laughter)

CASTRONEVES: No comment. (Laughter) I wasn't looking, I was looking at the time. (Laughter)

Q: Talk a little bit about obviously what do you think the keys to winning on Sunday are and how important are these pit stops during the race?

CASTRONEVES: The key, sometimes you can't pass someone and they are right there for you to help you out. It change

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