Continued from part 1 THE MODERATOR: We'll go to questions for Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Jimmy Vasser, and Bob Stallings. Q: Mr. Vasser, you alluded to it earlier, you don't get much seat time. Your credentials are second to none. There...
Continued from part 1
THE MODERATOR: We'll go to questions for Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Jimmy Vasser, and Bob Stallings.
Q: Mr. Vasser, you alluded to it earlier, you don't get much seat time. Your credentials are second to none. There may be equals but I don't think many, if approximate any at all, can surpass you in the championships in the races which you've won.
JIMMY VASSER: Thank you.
Q: However, as we all find out, Bob's going to speak to this, Alex and Jon can't other than the fact that Jon's losing his hair, but that's at an early age. When you start getting a bit older, you start losing a lot. And I don't mean any disrespect to you, but you're not a spring chicken anymore. How are you going to deal with the 24 Hour race like this coming up?
JIMMY VASSER: Well, I have to get myself in shape. Just got to dig deep and make it happen. I haven't really encountered like any really big problems in the past races as far as in the seat or pace or anything like that or fatigue. But I'll sure let you know when that sets in. I'll let you know that it's starting to happen. I do have some gray hair though.
Q: Bob, as an owner of auto racing for quite a long time, it's always been my impression that sports car racing was more about the cars than the drivers. I think things have sort of maybe moved to something more even than that. But it's more about cars, what the car is than a lot of other series. You're making this change, the engine change, from Pontiac to Chevy. What is going to be is there any problem there? Is this going to be more of a I think they still call it rebadging or just putting decals on the car? Or is this a really substantive change?
BOB STALLINGS: Well, from a mechanical point of view just in terms of weight and where the weight is in the motor, it will be substantially the same. It will be a different motor in that it will have a very slightly different configuration.
But in terms of the way it will affect the balance and the handling of the car I really don't expect there to be any changes whatsoever.
I'd also like to follow up on what D.C. was saying or his conversation with Jimmy Vasser. One thing I can tell you for sure is when Kyle and I sat down and talked about the driver lineup and when I talked to Jon and Alex about the driver lineup, we had a lot of I guess alternatives to choose from to bring those two fill in, team members, if approximate you will, into the club.
The reason we picked Jimmie Johnson and Jimmy Vasser is because we think that gives us the best opportunity to win. And we really want to win this 24 Hour race. Winning any race in the Rolex Series is a lifetime achievement award. It's just very hard to win.
But having the continuity and four drivers that know each other and get along well with each other are kind of like the same kind of car. And also having the experience of running these races, I think it's a very big advantage. We're awfully excited about all four drivers being in the car this year.
Q: You've obviously looked at a few different engines since Pontiac pulled out. What was behind the decision to go with Chevy?
BOB STALLINGS: Actually took about six months to decide. And we've actually thought about alternative motors all the time we've been in the series. And there are pluses and minuses, frankly, on all the engines. Grand Am has done an exceptionally good job of trying to find balance and parody in terms of power, because many of the engines are so different, it's really hard to get them all to be perfectly equal, if you will.
But all in all we think that the GM has been extremely reliable. It gives us enough power on most of the tracks that we run at to be successful. And I really do think that in 2009, the season, got it pretty close. As you might imagine I don't think we had as much power as maybe some of the other guys did. But we had enough to win. We had enough to win a season.
I'm also kind of a loyal person. I'm definitely hung up on American things. I like American teammates, American drivers, and American manufacturers. And so having an American made car was a pretty big deal for me.
I certainly wouldn't dismiss the idea that Jimmie Johnson has been a very important part of our team for three years. We have much more than a tactical I'm sorry, we have actually a more strategic relationship with Jimmie, and the fact that he's a GM driver and Chevrolet driver certainly weighed into that process.
Q: Alex or Jon, when Jimmie was on he was talking about operating outside of his comfort zone in these cars. I wonder, is he just being humble or has he been a pretty quick study in these cars for as little as he drives them
ALEX GURNEY: Honestly, I think he's being humble. You know, he's taken very little time to get up to speed the last few years that he's done it with us. Especially the first year we were really surprised. Just hopped in and we said, hey, this guy's, you know, there's no worries here at all.
So we've been really impressed with what he's done. He's super disciplined, very focused, and very good in communicating to our engine near and communicating to all of us. In general just a nice guy to be around.
We haven't really found much negative with him. You know, we love watching him kick everyone's butt in NASCAR, too. So a great addition to our team, I would say.
JON FOGARTY: I can echo those comments. I think if you can be comfortable in a draft at the Daytona 500, it's pretty hard to step outside of your comfort zone. So he's obviously extremely talented, and shows us that every time he steps into one of these prototypes.
Q: Alex and Jon, given the different weather environments and conditions and all the things that happen during the 24 Hour race, what do you see as your most challenging parts of the race whether it's the beginning or the end, the darkness or whatever. And do you have a favorite part of the race that you say I really want to be behind the wheel at that point?
JON FOGARTY: Alex's favorite part of the race is when the sun goes down. So he'll be in there during that point.
But obviously the weather conditions vary from year to year, and there are so many challenges and pitfalls and things you kind of need to avoid more so than you need to accomplish.
We just try to keep the car in one piece, and that is kind of the biggest ticket. Only pit when you have to for fuel and tires. So keeping everything in line mechanically is kind of the number one objective. And that's what we're going to shoot for.
But my favorite time of the race is actually in the early morning hours, the darkest of dark. Once the race has settled into a pace and there is a rhythm to it. 3:00, 4:00 a.m. in the morning. It's a bit of a thrill feeling, and while things may appear to have been settled down from a spectators perspective, the teams and the drivers are absolutely going about their business trying to get the job done. You really feel like you're in an endurance event at that point
ALEX GURNEY: I would say a lot of the same that Jon said. I think rely ability is the number one rely ability is the number one thing at Daytona. It's very difficult for the team to anticipate what is going to break on the car. You know, things are going along fine then all of a sudden something creeps up.
So I think it makes everyone a little bit paranoid. You know, the guys on the team trying to think of everything that can go wrong, there's just so many things. The race is so long. The car takes such a pounding that that's the number one problem. As far as what part of the race, I'm hoping this year it will be five minutes to go and we'll have a nice five had lap lead. Just some nice Daytona sunshine and cruise it on in.
Q: Alex, Jon, and Jimmy, when they have the drivers meeting for the Rolex 24, obviously there are so many drivers in it, it is too big for the media center, normal meeting room for drivers at Daytona. My question is what do you guys take away from the specious of gathering with so much talent and competing against so much talent at the Rolex 24?
JIMMY VASSER: It's a bit of a reunion of sorts for some like myself. It's a good chance to catch up with some old friends and really you looked at the room and you see the amount of talent that's in there and the varied variety of disciplines, that it's really cool. It makes you feel proud to be a part of it.
JON FOGARTY: Yeah, I mean, it is. Just great to see those guys and obviously to run against them out on the racetrack. It's definitely an All Star event. You know, a lot of talent out there. There are a lot of guys that I think show up. You know, obviously it's an interesting situation. You have a lot of guys that are just there for the 24 Hour race, and I think their objectives are solely to win the 24. Then you have full time guys who obviously want to win that 24 Hour race, but also have a bigger picture in mind.
It's interesting when you're on the racetrack. You can kind of tell the difference a lot of times between what the objectives are. But it's a just a great time to see a lot of people that maybe raced against or with in the past and catch up, and then go race.
ALEX GURNEY: I would say I'm a racing fan as well as a driver. So I get a kick out of the driver's meeting and seeing the different guys that, you know, you watched on TV over the years, and maybe looked up to. So it's always a lot of fun.
More importantly, to get a chance to, you know, go up against them and mostly equal equipment and kind of compare yourself. You know, there are so many guys in there that have, you know won in every major discipline out there. It's all the top guys. So it's fun to be able to be a part of that.
Q: Mr. Stallings, you're incorrect about your American drivers. Johnson surely is an alien from another universe given his track record in Sprint Cup. Gentlemen, I'd like to know from Mr. Vasser, Mr. Fogarty, and Mr. Gurney as to what their favorite times of the race to drive, what they may be? And who is the one who actually determines that, Bob?
BOB STALLINGS: Actually, the lineup itself is pretty much determined by Kyle. And a lot of that just has to do with getting the right rotation of guys getting in and out of the car. My guess is our rotation will be the same this year as it was last year.
JIMMY VASSER: My favorite time to drive really is, I think my best memories are always when the sun is coming up. When the dawn breaks. If you're in the car at that point in time, it's really a beautiful time.
JON FOGARTY: Like I mentioned earlier, kind of right before sunrise when it's really starting to feel like an endurance event. Assuming you've made it that far. And it's also really cool, I've been in the car once or twice at midnight when the fireworks go off. And that's always pretty neat.
ALEX GURNEY: Yeah, I agree with both of what Jon and Jimmy said. But I hope our favorite time is coming up this year with a few minutes to go.
Q: They've moved the start time of the race around a little bit from I know it used to be noon or 1:00 o'clock. Now it's close to 3:30. Does that change any aspects of the race for you guys?
JON FOGARTY: Not so much. You know, it's a grueling event no matter how you slice it. It's 24 Hours is 24 Hours, really. The amount of daylight versus night isn't drastically altered. A late start like that you're kind of waiting around. You want to get things going. You want to get the race Underway. So I guess pre race, those pre race jitters and pre race time just seems to drag on a little bit longer.
BOB STALLINGS: I would add to what Jon said. I think, unfortunately, that later start time has its most profound effect on the crew members, you know. Kyle, myself and Chuck and Terry who are on the timing/scoring stand. Because while the drivers go back and at least try to get some rest or some sleep in between stints, the rest of us are up the whole time. Hopefully we're awake.
It actually makes it a lot longer day because we're not sleeping any later the night before or the morning before. We're all kind of getting there at the same time, and it adds a lot of time. And I noticed that the crew guys were a lot more fatigued at the end of the race this time than they were before.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Thank you, Bob, Alex, Jon and Jimmy for joining us with the exciting news as we look forward to the 2010 season and the 48th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.