Q: When do you start doing the math in your heads? Dario, when do you figure out you really don't have to win the race to win the championship? Will, you talk about you need to win the race, but that may not be enough….
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's what the guys on the stand are for. I'll leave that to them. I'll just drive the car and do very much what I'm told. I think the easiest way to do it is to head out there and try to win the race. If we can do that, it would definitely take care of everything else. I am definitely glad at this point. I don't have to find those points that I did last year. Definitely, I think it puts us in a stronger position.
WILL POWER: Yeah, to us, it's very obvious what we have to do. Like Dario said, the guys on the stands will be watching the whole time. Obviously, if Dario gets taken out somewhere in the pack or something like that happens, they will be letting me know exactly where I need to finish.
But the safest place in these races is out front. In these pack races, if you're at the front, you're in the best possible spot.
Q: Are either of you concerned at all that with so many cars entered for this race, that the championship could end up being decided by some kind of incident on the track involving a lapped car or maybe some run‑in on pit road, something similar to what happened to Will with Ana Beatriz [at Kentucky].
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think, if you look at the season as a whole, we've both had incidents like that as the season's gone on. It's part of racing. You just accept that. The fact that we have 34 cars will make it more difficult if we do get shuffled to the back, but it's all part of the game and part of what we've got to deal with this weekend.
In a lot of ways it's great. It shows the health of the series. But it definitely makes the job a little more difficult.
WILL POWER: The number of cars can either help you or hurt you. In my situation, I kind of like the idea. We've got 34 cars, but it's just like you saw in Kentucky, anything can happen at any time. That's the beauty of the sport, too. You don't know – it's not over till it's over.
I had a car in Kentucky that, even if we didn't get the gas on the side, I'm sure I could have driven all the way back to the front. In one way, it gives you a lot of hope that we can still pull this thing off.
Q: There's no question the tension is ratcheted up as we've gotten closer and closer to this Las Vegas conclusion. During this week or even since the checkered flag in Kentucky, has this duel become almost all-consuming, a 24/7 thing that you guys think about all the time? Or do you just try and keep the normal routine? How does it work in your mind as you get closer and closer to going to Las Vegas?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: This is obviously not the first time we've been involved in this situation, myself or my team. But for me the whole season – in some ways it's fortunate, but in other ways it's unfortunate. For me, the season is all-consuming. Whether it's the first race, the fifth race, the last race, it really makes no difference. I do think about the last race, the upcoming race. I do think about those a great deal during the year.
WILL POWER: Actually, I've never been so relaxed. I don't know why. I guess it's because we've put in all the hard work the last couple of weeks with the car. We've done everything we can think of. We've done everything to the cars now also. To me, I haven't thought about it much. I've just gone about my fitness regime, and I've never felt so relaxed going into a race.
It's funny. I sometimes think, “Should I be more tense?” I feel very relaxed and confident, actually.
Q: Will, Dario seemed to indicate that he's feeling some confidence because he's got 18 points as opposed to just a few points on you. You're feeling better about your ovals, but in some sports they say the guy who wants it the most wins. Is that at all true in car racing?
WILL POWER: Absolutely. I think it is. Over a whole season, it's usually the team and the driver who's worked the hardest who wins. You work as hard, or sometimes, I think, harder in this sport than anywhere else. As a driver, you've got to be unbelievably fit, and you've got to be very intelligent about how the car's setup and the direction of development goes. So it's the team and the engineers. To me, the harder you work, the more chance you have of winning.
Q: So is there anything going into this race that gives you more confidence than you might have had last year, or is that just asking too much?
WILL POWER: I can say that we've done more this year, definitely, than we did last year at this point. Last year, the three ovals before the last race, we actually had an edge. We were faster. We had chances to win. Where this year we felt that we weren't strong enough on the ovals. So for the last two, after the test in Kentucky, I just said, “Hey, the car is just not good enough. We've got to change our philosophy here.”
We went away and had a good think about it. So I would say that the boys have done everything. We've put everything that we can into this. I feel as though that's the difference from this year to last year.
Q: Will, you just mentioned that the team has really done a rethink about the oval setup and how you approach the ovals. But how much has your comfort level and your development as a driver on the ovals helped you guys close the gap in terms of ovals to Dario and Target Chip Ganassi Racing?
WILL POWER: I would say just my understanding of the setup, understanding what the car needs, and it takes time to get that because oval weekends are very short. You don't get to test in this series. So as you go through all these different items and understand what they do to the car and how they make the car feel and what it does to the speed of the car, that takes a long time.
It's just like a bank that's continually building up with me. Kentucky was another big step because we got the test there, and it gave me a very good idea of a direction that we needed to go. But Vegas is another story. It's a very different circuit.
Q: Dario, is there any chance that you could take anything for granted on Sunday?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I don't think so. You've got to be on your guard the whole time. You've got to do the same job as you would any other race, and you can't let your concentration drop for a second. Myself, the guys in the pit stops, the guys doing the strategy, you've got to operate at least to the same high standard as you would normally do. And if you can find a little extra, it's all good.