Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves participated in a teleconference Wednesday to preview this weekend's IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
Q. Helio, after you finished your season-best second in those Penske Truck Rental colors at Edmonton, so I assume yellow is your lucky color this weekend?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm really excited about this momentum. We certainly had a little difficult and little different start of the season, but we were finally able to be right there in the top three and that's what we're looking for.
Our guys did an amazing job, the guys from Penske Truck Rental represented really well the entire team, so we're really, really excited. It's great momentum from Edmonton and carrying it into Ohio which is a place we really enjoy very much.
Q. You mentioned you enjoy Mid-Ohio. You've had a lot of success there. You won IndyCar races at the track in 2000 and 2001, and have two poles and three podiums in the four IZOD IndyCar Series races at the track. What about it suits your style so well?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, it's a challenging place – up-and-down elevation, and not only that it's very technical as well. Certainly during the weekend it's going to be something else. It seems to be that when you go out there the crowds really, really enjoy to have the IZOD festivities out there. So all the atmosphere is just great. It's not only one thing, it's a lot of things.
Q. Helio, your team made a change with Tim Cindric going over to Will Power's car, and John Erickson coming over to work on your car. What's it like to be working with someone like John after working with T.C. for such a long time?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, certainly the biggest thing is T.C. not only is a good strategist, but he's a good friend of mine. And he knows sometimes when I'm saying the car's OK, and he knows that 'OK' means not so good or maybe 'OK can be like don't talk to me for several laps,' you know? Those kind of things you don't get like in one or two races, but you just get that from several years, and that's what T.C. and I had.
But at the end of the day I understand we want to win the championship, and Will put himself in that position right now. And he has the best chance to do that. At the end of the day, he's going to do what's best for the team, and I am a team player. I totally understand and I have no problem.
Plus, John Erickson is a fantastic guy as well. A great, great guy being in races for a long time, not only now in IndyCar Series or prototype but also in NASCAR. He certainly understands a lot. He does have a unique style, which is a lot of fun, and it creates a great environment for the entire group. So I'm really excited.
Last weekend he did a great job. Kind of like keep the pace and putting the right teams, and that's why we were able to finish with a good result because of that too.
Q. Does a driver drive differently when he's under the eye of the officials? Do you have to drive a different way?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, not really. Every time you go out there, the way I see it. For example, last week after so many unfortunate incidents, I could not take any chances. It would be very tough for me to not have a good result.
But I think if the guys on probation have a chance to overtake, even if it's risky, I would do it without a problem. Hopefully, I would make it because you don't want to crash anyway. You don't want to take anybody out on purpose. Again, you've got to make sure when you do that, you do something to make sure nothing's going to happen.
When you're in that situation [probation], you've got to watch out so you don't get penalized again. But I've been on probation before. I didn't change my style of driving and nothing happened.
Q. Is this announcement of probation (for Mike Conway, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alex Tagliani) the kind of message or direction that the drivers were hoping for?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's a very good question. I think, I think if they are penalized, you know, that is already costing them. Yes, it's unfair for the other person who they end up taking out, but they are penalized.
The way I see it is you give everyone more respect. I'm just not going to put my nose there, because I know if something happens, you'll be penalized and that's avoiding probation. Yes, you have to have some kind of penalty for the guys that do this one, two, three too many times.
I do feel like finally we're about to go in that direction, and we should continue like that. We should be consistent. If it happens again, we should be consistent and not start the season soft and end up playing hardball in the middle of the season or toward the end of the season.
When the drivers know the rules, I guarantee it will be more crystal clear to everybody else, not only for the guy in front, but also for the guy that's trying to make a pass.
• Click here to open the free Mid-Ohio@50 digital special! RACER's digital mini-magazine commemorates 50 years of racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.