Continued from part 1 Q: Question for both A.J. and Justin. If the schedule permits, will you run any other races this year in the Daytona Prototypes? A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I would like to, as long as I don't make Mike Shank mad here...
Continued from part 1
Q: Question for both A.J. and Justin. If the schedule permits, will you run any other races this year in the Daytona Prototypes?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I would like to, as long as I don't make Mike Shank mad here and do something completely no right with the race care, maybe he'll bring us back. That would be something that would -- if the opportunity was there, I would for sure like to do. It's pretty much up to Mike first if he wants us back.
MICHAEL SHANK: We have a couple of races that can accommodate another driver. What we'll do is probably exactly what we did this afternoon, we'll do Rock, Paper, Scissors, and that will be the end of that.
Q: I guess that question will best be answered after the Daytona 24-hour. You can always put Paul Tracy on the same team with you, A.J., and then you don't have to worry about running into him, because he would be out on the track when you wouldn't be?
MICHAEL SHANK: The truth is, you don't know how close that came today.
Q: Actually RuSPORT had a great year in 2005. I think both Justin and A.J., you're looking forward to an even better 2006, and A.J. looking for a race win?
JUSTIN WILSON: For sure. That's what it's all about. And we're getting more competitive. Hopefully we can be right up there challenging for race wins, not only on the road courses but also on the street, and that's what we're really working towards.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Justin needs to share his victories more. He has two now to my zero. He needs to evenly spread it around.
JUSTIN WILSON: Give it time.
Q: You can both share a victory at Daytona.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Sounds good to us.
Q: If I might ask one thing on the San Jose Grand Prix. They recently announced major changes. What do the two drivers thought about the -- if they've addressed the rail issue to their satisfaction?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think it's something that San Jose is really working hard on improving the track. During the race this year, they did everything that they could within their power to try to make the track better. They're improving the track a couple of sections out, and more importantly, trying to smooth out leading up to the train tracks.
That's really what was the problem, was the mere fact that we weren't going over them, but it was quite rough leading up to it, so we had a good, nice launching ramp as we hit the train tracks to really send us in the air. They're trying really hard to smooth it out and we won't know until we get there.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think A.J. said it all. He's the one that went down there and saw what they have done. You've got to have faith in what they're doing and just believe it's going to be better and smoother.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Justin, we really need to talk about this whole agreeing with me all the time. We can't get away from each other in lap time. We sit in the car, completely different car, half a tenth again. Now you're sharing thoughts. We order the same thing at every restaurant we go to. So we have really got to talk about this.
ERIC MAUK: We'll have T-shirts made for press conferences next year that say, "A.J. said it all."
Q: I just want to clarify one thing. It's a two-car effort with four drivers? Who goes where? I don't really understand that part.
MICHAEL SHANK: It's a two-car team. Michael Shank Racing is a two-car operation. The car that Justin and A.J. will be on will be the number 6-0 Flight Option Sponsored Lexus Powered car. I have a team car that will have four other drivers. So I have a total of eight drivers.
Q: Patterson, Negri, Wilson and A.J. is one team?
MICHAEL SHANK: Correct.
JUSTIN WILSON: Eight drivers, that's a headache.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: We have a lot of whining going on.
Q: A.J. what is the longest race you've ever run?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: It's a Champ Car race. What was the longest Champ Car race? Just over two hours or rated two hours. That's the longest race I've ever been in. It's a complete new experience. I think Mike said he was going to leave me out from right as it gets dark until it gets morning so the rest of the drivers can sleep. So I think I'll be in the car for nine hours straight. I'm just kidding. But the Champ Car race is the longest I've been in, so I'm really excited about this opportunity, because for me it's something that's completely new.
Q: What are you going to prepare because it is completely new and your mindset has to be completely different?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: It has to be a bit different, but as Justin said earlier, if you watch a Grand Am race and you even watch the 24 hours of Daytona, you do have to bring yourself back a little bit and you're not pushing 100 percent of the car on edge. These guys are -- and Grand Am is so competitive, and the field of drivers is so deep that most of the time they're pushing 95 percent to get everything out of the car.
You know, your mind set is a little bit different. You're not going to abuse the car like obviously in a Champ Car race, but you're still going to be pushing hard most of the time and just set a good pace and run that for your stint. Whether that's an hour stint and they change you, or you do a double stint and it's around two hours, you still have the same mindset.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think the biggest thing to get used to is to deal with the lap traffic. Of course that's a major part in endurance racing, and trying to understand or learn what to expect, is going to be the key factor.
ERIC MAUK: Michael, as we talked about before, you had a team in the Atlantic series a couple of years ago and actually helped launch the career of Sam Hornish Jr., Alex Gurney and some other drivers on their way up. Now you've gone over to the sports car side. You've dealt with a number of personalities and a number of race car drivers over there. Having been on both sides of the fence, what do you see as maybe the biggest hurdle, the toughest thing that these guys have to get acclimated to in running the prototypes?
MICHAEL SHANK: The single biggest thing is patience. They are the GT cars that run around here. Even when you think they give you the lane to take them, they don't actually give it to you sometimes, or they may be running their own race, which they are allowed to do, obviously. The single biggest thing is just trying to pace that pass. And they'll hear about it from us time and time again. And Oswaldo and Negri, also, because everyone has been caught out by it, and it can't always be predicted.
Another thing that will be interesting, and Justin has had a little experience, is that at night you don't know who is behind you or in front you. So it can be interesting, and we'll utilize spotters for the whole 24 hours to help them through that transition. It's managing traffic, I would say, by all means, and the car a bit, because the car goes away a bit as time passes and you just have to kind of deal with it.
Q: A little more question about what it's like to drive that Daytona Prototype. What kind of car in your past does it compare to? I know you only have had limited hours in it so far.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: For me, it's something that -- it's close to a Barber Dodge car in the sense that a Barber Dodge car didn't have a lot of down force in it. The car was fairly heavy. It's probably only 500 or 600 pounds lighter than what the Daytona Prototype is. So it was a fun car to drive because it slides around a bit. It's got good power in it. You can let the car slide and you have the power to be able to pull out of that.
I'm looking forward to learning how to get more laps in and learning what the car really takes to be quick. Like I said, I only had about six or seven laps in it today. It's really close to being a Barber Dodge car. As big as the car looks, it doesn't roll around as much as you think as a sports car would. It's a fun car to drive. I look forward to getting a lot more time in it.
JUSTIN WILSON: For me, it's obviously different cars, but this one is unique and I've never experienced anything like it before. I really enjoyed doing my few laps earlier today and can't wait to get back in.
Q: As far as Champ Car goes, what's your view of the new chassis that's been announced for 2007?
JUSTIN WILSON: We're excited about the new chassis. It's got a lot of potential. It going to help the series, as well. Everyone is looking forward to the 2007 chassis coming out and getting started on developing it. One of the key things, though, it's going to be very limited development as far as spending money. But from the driver's point of view, working on the setup, it's going to be a whole new challenge.
Q: My question is for both drivers. You've only recently been driving on Bridgestone Pretenzas. What's your feeling on the Hoosier tires that you're working with now? And do they have very different characteristics?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: You're giving me way too much stuff to think about. Now you're asking about the tire. For me, I really don't have a great feel for it yet. Today, for instance, I know Oswaldo has ran a lot of laps and he seems like from old tires to new tires, he can run two to three-tenths of each other, from brand new to old tires. It seems like they're good durability. And that's pretty much the sense I got just trying to learn the car. That's another thing, we'll go through Daytona for the test and we'll know more. It seems they can last a long time.
Q: That means they're consistent?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yes.
ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to the Champ Car media teleconference today. Thank you to Michael Shank and A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson. Best of luck as you head down the road for your first appearance in the Rolex 24 Daytona. Again, that race takes place January 28th and 29th. Thanks so much for joining us and have a good day.