INDY CAR MEDIA DAY
February 19, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
THE MODERATOR: Helio Castroneves joins us.
At the end of last season, coming up short in the championship, you put that away.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's gone. Yesterday's news. Now we're in 2014. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We're ready. We're starting some few testings already. We're going to be testing Thursday in Barber, then Sebring before the spring training, then the race.
I'm excited and ready, to be honest, to start the season because it's been a long off-season in a good way.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dive right into questions.
Q. What are you going to have to do to win that first championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't know. I have the right line with God, to be honest, and with the Pope, too, especially with John Paul. He said, When the time comes.
I just got to push it. I just got to keep pushing. You can't waiting for something to happen. You have to continue giving yourself an opportunity. Well, it may be this year.
Certainly we did our job last year. Unfortunately circumstances outside of our control, didn't happen. But right now that's the attitude I'm going with 2014, give ourselves an opportunity, that door will open one day.
Q. Juan, we were talking about how you didn't like each other earlier in the careers.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think it was more rivalry. I don't think it was personal. We cross our path many, many years, including the beginning, middle and end of the stage. Now we're literally together.
I feel we're in a different phase of our lives, there is a lot going around, we accomplish a lot in our career. I guess you can call that mature.
All of this, it's part of life. Honestly, it's amazing to have him in our side. He's been an incredible addition, and I mean that. He's definitely going to be a tough competitor. Most of what I noticed, which I knew he would be quick adapting on the car, but most of it's the information that he brought, that I was very surprised and happy about. Certainly it's going to make our cars better.
Q. Last year with AJ, you, Will and AJ bonded quickly and became very close. Can that same relationship happen with Juan, the three of you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think so. Right now that's the way it is. We went to many trips together, all of us getting along very well. One thing is testing, another thing is competing.
In my end I feel that so far myself, Will, even Juan, we know the type of person he is. I know him very well. Anytime he step on somebody's toes the wrong time, it's going to be bad. What I'm actually happy about so far, we seem to be speaking in the same way, which is one way: win for Roger. We want to win this title as bad as anybody else.
Q. How different is this series going to be without Dario?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question. Dario, for me, I can't say for others, but for me he was certainly an amazing competitor, an amazing driver first of all. Second, my competitors, they make me better. Not having Dario, for sure I'm not going to be as good as I was before.
However, he accomplished so much in his career. For me at least I'm going to be happy to see that he's still here with us, not racing, but at least around. That for me, it's happiness. It was a scary accident. He's going to be able to tell stories to his kids or dogs or whatever, and I feel that at least for us -- it was shocking for me. I'm glad at least I'm going to see him around.
Q. This year is the 10th running of this race with IndyCar. As the driver who has won it the most times, what can you say about this race, not just what it means to you, but to IndyCar?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, there's several things. The first thing is after a long season, we starting in St. Pete, so everybody's fresh, everybody's ready. Second is the atmosphere. I mean, the weather is great. The fans are amazing. Over 120,000 people over the weekend. It's becoming part of a big party in the town. Hen you put all these things together, it's becoming a great event.
Plus the track. The technical side, it makes between the street course with an airport involvement. It's not always a 90-degree corner like a typical road course has. You have high-speed corners, things like that.
It's only four hours' drive from my home. So everything counts. Plus, when the place suits you well, you tend to enjoy much better.
Q. What can you say about some of the young, up-and-coming drivers keeping the IndyCar Series fresh?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Briscoe is already old (laughter). But it's great he's landing in a good team like Ganassi.
I think the young generations is always going to have surprising drivers. Last year we have several new winners, might not be young drivers, but new winners. I think when the series, Indy Lights could be better in 2015 with new cars. That could become something more important for the new generation.
On the other side is leadership now with Derrick Walker and Mark Miles, it shows at the least, the meetings we had before, it shows leadership. Maybe that's where we were at the weakest point, and now we see a lot of positiveness.
I feel great about the series getting in their feet, getting back the way it used to be. It's been a long time I haven't felt that positiveness in the series. I'm exciting. I'm honestly really exciting.
Media say, They always say the same thing. But this year with Derrick and Mark Miles, good things for the series and could create a new generation of drivers.
Q. At this stage of your career, what would mean more, the fourth Indianapolis 500 or finally getting your championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: For me, Indianapolis 500, if you got to win one race, that's the race you got to win. Especially the position that I'm at, it's a great opportunity to join an incredible club. Yes, that would probably be the biggest accomplishment I could do it.
The championship certainly is personal. It's just something that I didn't get yet. It's like one track I didn't win. That's the way I see it. There are several places that I finish, like Milwaukee is one of the place that I'm always fast and I always finish second or someplace else. It's a something that I want to accomplish and win the championship. I'm going to do everything I can to make it happen.
Q. Driving for Roger all these years, was there any thought of driving the Daytona 500 and win both of them?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I asked Roger if I could try a different car, he said no. I asked again, he said no. The third time he said no. So it's not a lack of trying (laughter).
Q. Did you space it out?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I space it out. I been there 14 years. It's no. I think I got the message (laughter).
Q. 14 years in any form of motorsports, that's an incredibly long time. Could you speak to that association.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, I feel it's a great marriage for me and for the team. Right now both of us working together, we have the same goals, we have the same accomplishments that we want to make happen.
When you have that kind of a marriage, everybody is happy. We want to make it happen. Last year was a big prove that we want to make it happen.
Q. Expanding Team Penske up to three drivers, do you know who your race strategist is going to be for this season?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes. Do you want to know?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: RP is going to be my strategist. I'm super happy. First time I had him was last year and I'm happy to have him back.
Erickson is now selling motorcycles in Detroit. If you need a motorcycle, Indian motorcycle, help him out.
Q. Roger said before he would be your strategist, if you didn't win the championship, it would be his fault. Was there punishment?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No (laughter). Roger does not make mistakes, if you know what I mean. No, like I said, I'm just honored to have him on the radio and happy to have him as the strategist.
Q. Did I see a picture of you on Twitter with Brad and you were wearing the yellow suit?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes. That was Cooper Standard group that they sponsor him at the Truck Series. It was me and Chelsea doing a presentation for them. I tried to bring Brad to do a little moves. Looks like he was having an oversteer problem there. Wasn't quite sexy.
It was a lot of fun. A great event for his sponsors.
THE MODERATOR: Helio Castroneves, thank you very much.