Helio Castroneves won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 for the fourth time on Saturday. That ties him with A.J. Foyt and Rex Mays, and puts him two behind the all-time record of Penske's current team advisor, Rick Mears. It was the 16th Indy pole for Penske Racing.
Q. Was the strategy about going out first in that last session to put up big numbers and deflate everyone else? What was the thought there?
TIM CINDRIC: There's a lot of different ways you can look at that. We knocked it around internally as far as when we go, what we do.
A lot of this place has to do with what you think, what you believe in, when you know the driver is ready to go, that's more important to you than a few degrees of track temperature. I knew our driver was ready to go.
Q. I asked Tim this on pit road. But were you kind of surprised that you did go out when you were already on the pole? Tim said he was very cognizant, didn't want to make it look like it was poor sportsmanship. He said the way the rules are, if you're in line, you may as well go ahead and make the attempt. Was it a situation where you were surprised you went out?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I had no idea about the rules. If you go out, it means you take your time out. That's what I thought. Certainly I'm not the one reading the rules.
TIM CINDRIC: Did you do OK in school?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: We never talk about that.
TIM CINDRIC: Did you read the instructions?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: As you know, I don't read a lot of stuff. You know what happened last year (laughter). Anyway, my book has a lot of pictures.
TIM CINDRIC: Just drive it today.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You did say that. I didn't know what was going on. I didn't want to go out because I didn't know that my time would stay. That's why I was kind of like arguing with him, "No, don't put me out." If I knew that...
TIM CINDRIC: I'm glad he didn't know that.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly when he said that, I was just trying to go and fix the car for the second run. In fact, I made a little mistake on the open lap. But, you know, in fact, after that, Brian (Barnhart) sent the No. 9 car out there. He caught me a surprise. I had no idea what was going on. I was completely lost.
But in the end of the day, kind of turned out to be a favor for us. That's a good day.
TIM CINDRIC: Just to clarify. The reason why you do that at that point in time, the line game, 15 minutes to go, there's four or five cars behind you. If you pull out of line, at that point in time you're not going to have any time to defend your spot. At that point you either have to go or just say, Hey, we're not going to run the rest of the day.
You have all these cars lined up behind you. You can't pull out of line and go behind them anymore because you're out of time. We were asked if the polesitter was there. There was one car that had a chance to go. They were going to let the one car go. I knew there was more than one car that had a chance to go after Helio. I waved it off because I knew he wasn't going to be better from his time.
From our end, you're in a Catch-22. You can pull out of line or try to improve your time. We're here to sit on the pole. I said, Let's try to improve our time. If it's not good enough, we'll wave off so the rest of the guys can go.
Q. Helio, I asked this question to the two guys alongside of you in the front row. Did you feel you got your money's worth today?
TIM CINDRIC: We did. Roger (Penske) did.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think I need a raise after today (laughter). Man, let me tell you, it was the hardest thing to go out there. The second attempt was really crucial for us. I'm like, Dude, we won here not starting the first pit. He knows. That's why he's the strategy guy. That's why I trusted him. It's a good combination.
From that we learned a lot. We made some adjustment on the car. When we went out there on the Fast 9, it was just perfect. A great credit for Ron, because he was looking at data probably more than anything else in the world. So great job.
Q. It looked like you blew everybody away in the Fast 9 shootout. Did you expect that or was that kind of a surprise?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: This place, you got to expect the unexpected, my friend. It was a great result. It was the right thing to do. As Cindric said, I was ready. I didn't want to keep waiting to see other times. I want to go for it.
By this time today he just know when I'm ready. He asked for two numbers, first or last. I said, "You know me, just pick whatever decision you think is right." He was right again. See, that was good.
TIM CINDRIC: I like it. Thank you. Thank you.
Q. Helio, the new format, how much more physically and mentally demanding is it on you? Same question for Tim.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly, is very mental. Physically, this place is already very tough. You know, if it's good for the fans, it got to be good for us. It's very tough to compete in this level of teams and drivers, to go there sometimes over the limit in this place. It is very, very difficult.
Sitting right here, it's fun. But sometimes today it was not fun. But you got to do what you got to do. That's why you running in a great team and in a great league.
TIM CINDRIC: From my perspective, it's a lot easier when you know you got a guy in the seat that you can put in any situation. This is our 10th year together at Indy. We've been through basically every situation here. You know, I know that I've got every confidence in him in every situation.
I think a lot of people don't realize that last year's format, if you whiffed, you took your time off the board, if you had the fastest car in town, you would probably start 12th. Today you started 25th if something went wrong. 12th and 25th are two big different things on race day. Those are the risks that you're taking.
You don't see it, because it didn't turn out that way. If something goes the wrong way, you got to know the guy in the seat really well, have confidence in the crew that you're going to get the four laps in.
I have every confidence in him. You know, as you go through, for someone in my position, you have to be on your toes all day long. If you miss one little thing, one opportunity, then you can't get it over again, you can't get that time of day back, you can't get that situation.
You try and pick the right time. You got to roll the dice here. Here that risk and reward, it's big.
Q. Helio, can you describe the difference between a 225 or 226 and a 228? How much prayer and faith is involved to get to that 228?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I was joking with Dario. I saw Jesus three times out there. Dario said, Well, I spoke with him many times (laughter).
Just to show you, it's tough. It's tough. From 225 to 227, it's a big difference approaching turn one. You guys know this turn one is the toughest one on the track. People try to explain, I'm not here to explain, it's very difficult. Somehow the wind was change. The top nine, the wind seems to be dying. I'm like, Come on now, you playing on me?
It was certainly a big difference. That's why you saw increasing on time on the Fast 9. But you got to have a good car and a good team and good setup to make sure that can happen. You can just not go the wind minus whatever and just go. You got to make sure you know your car very well.
For other guys out there, you can see sometimes they struggled. But it's tough. It's not easy.