Earlier today, Penske Racing announced that Will Power will be driving the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Honda-powered Dallara full time in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010.
Q: Will, it's very exciting news for you today. Almost like a dream come true to kind of stick with Penske Racing for 2010 full‑time.
WILL POWER: Yeah, absolutely. Very happy to be part of the Verizon Wireless Penske Racing Team. It is a dream come true. It's something I've worked very hard for my whole career to end up in a place like this. I think that we have a very strong driver lineup for next year, and we'll be expecting to win a lot of races.
Q. Tim, what does Will bring to Penske Racing and why make this decision to bring him on board full time?
TIM CINDRIC: Obviously, the results speak for themselves last year. We're excited to be able to give (Will) the opportunity to come on full time, because he's done an excellent job in a very difficult situation. It seems like so long ago that he was sitting here and his fate was depending on Helio (Castroneves') fate. Now he's independent of all those things and continues to perform. It was great that Verizon was able to support us going forward, and we were in a position to be able to keep Will, and that Will continued to believe that this is the place to be, even though he kind of had to wait this out a little bit.
Q. This the first time since the mid '90s, that Penske Racing will field three full‑time cars in the IndyCar Series. Last time you had Paul Tracy, (Emerson) Fittipaldi and Al Unser Jr. Can you tell us why the team made the decision to expand?
TIM CINDRIC: The opportunity was there. It's not every day that you have an opportunity like we have to put three proper programs together with your three very capable drivers. All the moons aligned for us, and we feel obviously that this is a great opportunity for all of us.
Q. Will, last time you were in a car, a little bit of a nightmare situation, getting injured at Sonoma. What is your status? How are you feeling?
WILL POWER: I'm feeling good. Everything's going well. It's actually ahead of schedule the way my back healed. I'm in the gym every day. I'm working out with the PitFit guys. I can't believe in a month, in just one month, how far I've come. I'm swimming. I'm on the row machine, doing weights.
I don't think there's going to be any problem getting back in the car in January. That is sort of my plan. I'll probably be cleared to drive before then, but to get back to full cardio fitness I think I need to wait until January.
Q. Tim, you've got two Aussies now with Will and Ryan Briscoe. You've got three very aggressive drivers, good guys. But how do you temper them or see tempering them next year? Each one will want to win a championship. Will it be team orders or will every race be won on the day?
TIM CINDRIC: I think they are known quantities, which is a good thing. We're not going into a season with three drivers who we haven't worked with one of them or multiple guys. With Helio and Ryan, they've seen two seasons together now to where their circumstances have been different. Where Helio was challenging for the championship in 2008, Ryan had to play a bit of a role there. You know, the shoe was on the other foot at the end of this year.
Those guys I know that they understand what's good for the team is good for them. You know, they also understand – and Will can attest this year with the races that he ran with us – that we were able to supply them all equal equipment, and let the best man win. That's typically been the philosophy.
The number one rule is always, “Don't run into each other.” So, I think that, again, I'm just glad that we're going into a known situation. These are people who have all worked together, and we've been through some good times and some tough times together with all three of them. Last year I think everybody got to put their feet on the ground, and I think we know where we're headed.
Q. Last summer, you said if Roger Penske can't find a sponsor in this economy, nobody can. And you guys ran Verizon on Will's car a couple times. Can you talk about the length of the contract at all? What would have happened if you couldn't have secured a sponsorship with Verizon full time? Would you have still retained Will for six or seven races like you did this year?
TIM CINDRIC: I always hate to speculate, because I don't know how it would have exactly turned out. But we would have done everything we could to keep him in the fold. We certainly would have approached him with, “Here's what we can do.” And we would have done everything we could to at least run him in Indianapolis next year and see if there was something that came ahead of that time, depending on how long he was willing to wait.
But, obviously, with the result that he had last year there's probably going to be more people knocking on his door if they found out that he was available. So we did everything we could on that front. And (Verizon Wireless CEO) Lowell McAdam and everybody at Verizon Wireless, they certainly have really put together a good relationship with Will. They've got a great relationship with our organization, and really this program is an extension of the whole Verizon Championship Racing program that already exists within Penske with Justin Allgaier in the Nationwide Series, and Brad Keselowski in the (Sprint) Cup series.
So it was a great fit for us. Obviously they also were participants in our Grand-Am program last year. So we're essentially running an IndyCar program for the first time full season for them. So, that's how that all turns out. It's certainly a multi‑year extension from the programs he we already have.
Q. Is Will's contract multi‑year also?
TIM CINDRIC: We haven't even talked about that, have we, Will? We're just trying to worry about this coming year. All Will has to do is win races and he'll be fine.
Q. Will is considered to be a gasser, a guy who's not afraid to push it. You have two other guys there who are pretty good drivers themselves. How much do you kind of see the three of them pushing each other and getting all three of them maybe to step up a notch or two?
TIM CINDRIC: It's always a challenge, but it's a good problem to have. The guys, not only the drivers, but the crew itself, you know, we have to remember that we're an organization. We're not three one‑car teams. That's always a challenge.
Whether it's this series or the Cup series or whatever else it is. For us it's pretty easy when you have a guy like Roger, it works for us – or we work for it, I should say. For us when things get out of line, we usually hit the reset button and sit down and talk about it. The good news is we've got the right kind of personalities to be able to do that.
We're all competitive, and sometimes that gets the best of you. But I've seen all these guys in difficult situations that way. They've all come to the right conclusion at the end of the day. You know, that's the respect we have for the guy we all work for.
Q. Will, with the victory that you had at Edmonton and all that, even after you got injured, how confident were you that you were going to be able to stick with the plan and stick with this team?
WILL POWER: It was like Tim said, it was a matter of waiting it out. I think I would have stayed there no matter what, because it was a great situation for me to be driving there. Every time I was in the car, it was a good car. It's no use running around the back of the field with a team that's sort of not up for the job, because you don't do yourself any favors.
But it was for me a great year, although it ended badly, now it's turned out to be, it was just a very good decision for me to go there. I really look forward to it. I'd like to thank Verizon Wireless, and Lowell McAdam, and John Stratton for putting all this together and giving me this fantastic opportunity.