Chip Ganassi Racing Daytona Test press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 MODERATOR: We also would like to welcome Salvador Duran. A1GP experience, also British Formula 3 experience. How much sports car racing experience have you had? SALVADOR DURAN: None before yesterday (laughter). It's a...

Continued from part 1

MODERATOR: We also would like to welcome Salvador Duran. A1GP experience, also British Formula 3 experience. How much sports car racing experience have you had?

SALVADOR DURAN: None before yesterday (laughter). It's a very nice car. I want to thank Ganassi and TELMEX for the opportunity. To come here and drive for one of the best teams in America, I think the best team; it's a big, big chance with drivers like Scott and Juan Pablo. I mean, it's like a dream come true. I want to do it the best possible and try to do a good job like they always do.

Talking about the car, it's awesome. It's a lot of fun. It's difficult to drive. There is nothing easy. Using the banks first time for me in ovals, I love it. I just like it a lot. Like I say, I'm working hard. I don't want to let anyone down so that they trust me and I didn't do it well. I want to do it my best. I'm working hard to do it.

Q: Juan Pablo, Long Beach, Indianapolis, Monaco, Monza, you obviously have impressive credentials. What does it mean to race here at Daytona? You'll be here for the Rolex 24, the Busch race and the Cup race. What would it mean to win here?

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think it would be great. It's nice to know coming here with a car that you know you can win and won last year, a team that won. It makes it really exciting. Yes, I won big races and everything. But Daytona, especially in America, is a big deal. It would probably be a very nice win if you could win it before the 500, come here with the 500 with the 24-hour win, would be pretty cool.

It's going to be--you can't really say you're going to win it before you even start it, but so far everything looks pretty good.

I don't know. It's exciting. The place is outrageous. I'll probably be living here; this is going to be my home for the next two months. My motorhome will be here in a week. I've got three days of Cup testing, three days of Busch testing, the race, the other race, practice. It's non-stop here.

Q: Juan, is this a nice break from what I'm assuming has been an intense stock car testing schedule. Can you update us on how your stock car tests have been going?

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's good. In December we did a road course test at Road Atlanta. That was a lot of fun. It was hard. I think we were pretty competitive, but it's hard to be consistently quick. It's a lot of work, the car. It moves a lot more than anything that I've driven before. Then we went to Lakeland. I thought it went pretty well. We ran pretty close together with (Ganassi Racing NASCAR teammate David) Stremme. We were both pretty close lap times. I was pretty comfortable with that.

I think at this point with those cars, it doesn't matter so much the lap time; it's how you can make the car more competitive. At the end of the day, once we get two mile and under racetracks, where everybody is going to have the Car of Tomorrow, it's whoever did the best job in testing, is the team that is going to be ahead. We need to focus on that, make sure when we get there, we got the best package.

Q: Chip, you've got quite an array of drivers sitting there. How do you pick them? What qualities do you look for when you choose a driver for your team?

CHIP GANASSI: That's a good question. I think at this level, at the level of drivers that we have on all the teams, all the drivers are competitive. They're all race winners, championship winners, what have you.

I think probably what I look for most, I think these guys will probably laugh at me, but is you look at what's in their heart. They all have the talent. They can all go fast. To me it's more what kind of person they are, what's in their heart.

Q: Juan, talk about your experience so far in the car, what it's been like to get used to.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's a lot of fun to drive. It's really hard, you know, in the first two laps how far you are off the pace. You're passing three, four, five cars per lap. There's traffic that you lose a tenth, some you won, but some you lose two seconds. A fast lap is a 44, 45. You're doing 48. It's like, what am I doing wrong? Suddenly you have a clear lap, you run a 46, and you kind of get an idea where you are.

Up to a certain point, 90 percent of the limit of the car is very easy to drive, it's very predictable. From there on you need to work it a bit harder. They're fun. They're very easy in power. The brakes are really good. I was very impressed with the braking of the car.

Q: Scott, you're familiar with what it takes to win here. You've been involved with the Grand-Am all these years. When you have such a deep entry and each year you get better cars, better driving teams, during your stints in the car, what is that going to mean this year? Will you have to do anything different or better in order to win?

SCOTT PRUETT: I think it's doing the same thing we always do. I mean, at least everything within our team, all of us train hard. All these drivers up here do a lot of training continually, not just leading up to a race, but it's continual year-round, watching all those things that you do to make yourself as good as you can whenever you're in the race car.

Part and parcel of that is, you know, having a team, which we've had, that gives you the equipment where you can run hard. You can run the car hard, make those laps after lap after lap after lap that are going to be pretty quick. With this level of drivers in the 02 or the 01 car, all the guys can run a very strong pace. You're not going to know--a lot of times you might come here, at least I've been here in the past, you came here with four drivers, one of those drivers you knew was going to give up some amount of time on the track because he's one of those guys that either was paying some of the bills or was a sponsor, whatever the case might have been. Now you don't have that. It's very much a situation where you have three top guys in the car running at 95 percent every stint, getting out of the car, then having the experience and understanding when you're out, you got to hydrate, get some sleep, eat the right food, doing all those things while you're out of the car because you're going to be back in in two to three hours.

I'm looking forward to it. This is what it's all about. You're no better with than your competition. With the depth we've seen, especially with the Prototypes, it has been tremendous. The driver lineup, the caliber of drivers, the caliber of teams, when you come away here with a victory, each year it gets tougher and each year it means that much more.

Q: Scott and Dan, what is the single biggest adjustment if you had to pinpoint one that you've had to make to adapt to the series and this car?

SCOTT DIXON: I think most of it is actually getting used to the car to start with. For us, it's the traffic. Throughout the race, even through the night, it's quite a big toll to try to remember which cars you can dive under and which you can't. I think that's the biggest thing, I have to take time to get used to when I'm here, even in testing, is to get used to how you got to pass these cars, to remember to give them room actually because in the IndyCar Series or other categories I've raced with before, you know most of the people. In these cars, it can be any one person at any different time. That's probably the biggest for me.

DAN WHELDON: I think the biggest thing for me is not having him on the outside of me for the whole race like he was at Chicago. Like Scott said, I think the traffic is the main thing, being patient, especially in the evening. I think some of the guys that you can be down the inside, especially in the GT cars, you think they know you're there, but sometimes they don't. That's certainly an adjustment. It's just making sure you hand the car over to your teammate without trying to damage it too much. I have a tendency to be a little hard on the gearbox, which I'm going to try to temper for this year.

Q: Juan Pablo, when was the last time you drove a sports car and where?

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Back home. There's a six-hour race there. I raced in Sebring in '92. I did another race in '96 or '97. That's it. I raced a little bit back home.

You know, there's nothing to compare against this. This is an awesome car to drive. They're quick. They handle well. You know, you can play with them. In a way it's easy because it helps you pass people. It's not like a one-line race car that you're just hanging out the whole time. You can play around, move in, out. It just helps a lot.

Q: With all of the testing and races at Daytona, by the time the 500 comes around, are you going to be glad when this is over?

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: In a way, you're going to be glad it's over and you're into business. All this testing before the 500, yes, it's good. But when you run the Cup here by yourself, two days of running by yourself, sometimes you do a little bit of handling here and there, but it's minimum.

The key thing there is what is the car going to do once you get into traffic? The key thing is, do you have a good car in traffic? We have a new nose, we haven't even tried it yet. That should be pretty good.

Q: You won this race last year, how does that motivate you to do it again this year?

DAN WHELDON: I think it makes you more determined to come back and get another Rolex for your other wrist.

I think what you can draw from last year is the experience. We have that at least--we know what we did last year to win the race. The competition is going to be determined to beat us. We've got to up our game. I think that's obviously what we're going to try to do, is maximize everything we have. Like I say, if we do that, I think we'll have a good chance.

SCOTT DIXON: I think every year helps. The more you can run here, the better off you are, just knowing the process of how the race is run, driver changes, all those silly little things that sometimes you might forget.

I don't know, this race is so hard to win. There's so many different obstacles that you have to overcome throughout, even practice, then the race. So much of it is outside your hands with the team, how the car is reliable. There's not one thing that I think helps, apart from coming in and doing the process each year.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Chip Ganassi , Salvador Duran
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing