Faustino: Honesty among Power’s strengths

By Dave Lewandowski

Second in a series looking at championship runner-up Will Power and the team
The relationship between Will Power and his engineer, Dave Faustino, was forged during the trying transition days of the 2007 and ‘08 seasons. This year, their first full time with Team Penske in the IZOD IndyCar Series, the dynamic further evolved and strengthened.

“One of Will’s biggest strengths as a driver is being honest with his capabilities — where’s he at in terms of needing to learn a track or needing to understand the car before we make changes. ”
– Engineer Dave Faustino

Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon entry, recorded five victories and a series-record eight pole starts in taking the championship to the final race. He finished runner-up to Dario Franchitti, with the promise to learn from the experiences and challenge again in 2011. Faustino will be among his chief aides and allies.
“It was good because in 2007 we transitioned into that new Champ Car package that we had to work together to try to figure out that car,” says Faustino of the season with KV Racing Technology. “In 2008, we transitioned into IndyCar and had to work together to figure out the Dallara. Those two years were not fine-tuning years, but trying to figure out a car from a big-picture standpoint. We got a lot of varied experience.

“In 2007 we did fairly well. Figured out what Will needed for street courses and road courses, and that’s actually what came to help us so much this year getting back together. We used a lot of our 2007 references at places just for feeling the changes; things that worked there tend to work here as well. It was kind of a continuation of the street course and road course relationship.

“In 2008, coming to IndyCar was a rough ride on ovals. This year, joining this established team with such a strong oval history, kind of put the whole package together. I think the other part of the relationship is we’re just really honest with each other. One of Will’s biggest strengths as a driver is being honest with his capabilities — where’s he at in terms of needing to learn a track or needing to understand the car before we make changes.

“He’ll be honest and say he needs more laps or figure something out before we need to figure the car out, which makes for a good progression. He’ll come in and say, ‘It’s not the car, it’s me,’ or ‘Don’t worry about that, I’ll figure it out. I don’t think we can make any progress with the car until I hit this level.’ With him having that attitude and having that relationship where we’re honest with each other really helps.”
Power, who earned the inaugural Mario Andretti Road Championship Trophy for the five street/road course victories and top-five results at the other four non-oval races, is methodical in his approach to race weekends. Mental and physical preparation are important, and he also enters with an agenda focused on progression.

“Many drivers will come in after practice and write down some things, such as the car is doing this here and this here. You look at it and say, ‘Well, if the car is doing this here and this here, which is the most important?’ ’’ Faustino says. “Will likes to talk about which is the most important. Which is going to get us the best lap time? What can we fix with the car and what can you fix with your driving? That’s another part about the honesty. When we look at the data, I can say ‘I think you should do this a little different’ and he’ll be receptive to it. Or he’ll say, ‘I can’t because the car won’t let me’ or this or that.

“We have two extremely valuable teammates (Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves), which is a huge asset. We can put three lap times together to come up with a better lap time overall. During the season, we try to talk with each other every other day to make sure we’re on the same page. With the limited track time we have now, you have to plan. You have to figure out what’s the most important thing to focus on.”

Faustino says it has been common to receive a mid-afternoon phone call from Power, who was studying video tape of a race in his Indianapolis living room.

“Will will just bounce things off me all the time,” Faustino says. “He’ll call and say, ‘What about this or two years ago when they did this, what happened?’ Or even, ‘Hey, I watched Helio’s race from 2008 and it liked like he had this problem.’ Sometimes he calls me and says the same thing he said the day before. It shows he’s thinking about it and just wants to talk to somebody about it. He’s an intense racer.”

source http://www.indycar.com

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