Powers' crew chief pitches in

Will Power is congratulated by his crew after winning the pole position during Honda Indy Edmonton...

Will Power is congratulated by his crew after winning the pole position during Honda Indy Edmonton qualifying on Saturday. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)

CRASH CAMERON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:25 AM ET

Doesn’t becoming a crew chief mean you no longer have to change tires?

“Oh, I enjoy it,” was the enthusiastic response from Billy Vincent, crew chief for Team Penske’s No. 12 car, driven by Will Power. 

“If I wasn’t changing tires, it wouldn’t make the race as fun. You’re just so excited for the car to come in,” said Vincent, the guy you will see out front waving Power into the pit.

“It’s not until you step back (behind) that wall, when you start breathing again. The whole pit stop, I don’t think you even breathe. It all happens so quick. But it’s a good time.”

There really can’t be much to this racing thing.

Power drives six races for Penske in 2009, gets a full-time ride. Vincent crews during that deal, and gets the crew chief gig. 

They win the first two races of the 2010 season and next thing you know, they are off and running towards the season title. 

Pretty simple, really. And Vincent kind of agrees.

“Yeah, I got pretty lucky, ending up on this car. And been lucky enough to be on the best team in motorsports, with the best guys. I’m just riding their coat-tails, man.

“It’s these guys that deserve the credit,” he said, pointing towards the No. 12 as it is being torn down after Power used it to qualify for the pole of Sunday’s Edmonton Indy feature.

“I’m over here doing the interview and, as you can see, they’re over there doing the hard work, right now.”

Rumour has it that Penske has had some success in developing their Indy cars.

“So, really, it was kind of a turn-key operation for me to step into.”

One of Vincent’s functions is the go-between from the timing stand where longtime Penske man Clive Howell operates as race strategist alongside race engineer David Faustino for the newest and third team for the IndyCar wing of the Penske racing empire. Faustino (enough with the Bud Bundy jokes, please — he’s heard them all) worked with Power during the Walker Racing/Team Australia days in ChampCar.

“The car chief’s role is sort of the in-between of the car and the engineer. The engineer talks with Will and decides what the car should be doing, the adjustments that need to be made, and the engineer will give me the sheet and say, ‘I want to do this to the car, and this to the car.’ And I make it happen,” said Vincent.

So he’s a bit of a translator.

Does that mean he had to learn Australian to communicate with the Aussie driver?

“Some of his lingo, every once in a while, I won’t understand, but it’s no problem,” laughed Vincent.

For Power, he likes Vincent’s approach.

“He’s very good with the guys, very calm guy in most situations,” said Power.

“I think that’s good — motorsports is such a tense sport. He’s pretty calm, but he gets the job done. I think the guys under him appreciate the way he treats them.”

For Vincent, so far, it’s all good.

“Lots of smile and good times. Lot of laughs. But I guess it’s easy to do that when you’re winning.”

david.cameron@sunmedia.ca


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