NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - David Donohue
January 27, 2009
An Interview With:
ASHLEY JONES: Thank you, good afternoon, everyone. We are joined by our Rolex 24 winning co driver David Donohue. Sunday's victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the end of a seven year quest for David Donohue and Brumos Porsche to win America's biggest sports car race in a Daytona Prototype.
David has been with the team since the beginning of the Daytona Prototype era in 2003. He won three races and finished second in the championship that year with Sunday's victory his first in six seasons. Donohue's Teammate Darren Law joins him as the only drivers to compete in every Daytona Prototype race. The two have been regular co drivers of the No. 58 Porsche since 2004.
Sunday's victory also marks the anniversary of his father's victory in 1969 24 Hour event. The late Mark Donohue also won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race, Indianapolis 500, and championships in the Can Am and Trans Am series all from Penske Racing.
David, thank you for joining us today. How draining was your intense final hour battle with Juan Pablo Montoya, and has the fact that you've finally won the Rolex 24 sunk in yet?
DAVID DONOHUE: I don't think so, to be quite honest. It's a bit overwhelming coming home to so many well wishers and people wishing me congratulations and so forth.
It's quite a team effort, you know. I got a lot of the spotlight since that last hour was pretty dramatic, and I just would like to really highlight the amount of effort it took just to get the cars to the track and how great the team had been to get not just our car into Victory Lane, but both cars on the podium, really is a testament to the effort that Brumos has put into this.
Q: I just wondered when you did take the lead, how confident were you that you could hold it on Sunday?
DAVID DONOHUE: I was pretty confident. We had overtaken both Ganassi cars several times throughout the race. We overcame a three lap deficit at one point through the luck of yellow flags, and just hard running.
We had initially set a fairly brisk pace, which only seemed to get faster early on in the race. Our intent was to baby the car and not run over the curbs and so on and so forth to get it to last. The result was fairly early in the race. We were pretty much flat out. It wasn't really much left in the car in the car.
We were mostly able to stay in front because I knew we had done it before. Just the challenge was negotiating traffic. Well, the first challenge was getting by him in the first place, which had to the only way I could do it is manipulating traffic. But it seemed I was getting bogged down in traffic every third lap or so.
Q: In terms of excitement, where did that finish rank for you?
DAVID DONOHUE: Well, mostly in retrospect it ranked pretty darn high. At the time everyone would say to me how excited they were, and they were yelling at the TV and all of that. But I have to be perfectly honest, I didn't care who was driving the other car. I was just driving my heart out, and mostly for my late boss, Bob Snodgrass, who passed away two years ago.
But he was really the father of Brumos and the passion behind Brumos and the reason I'm part of the team. I had met him back in '93. And I was really driving for him, and for the effort that our guys had put into this. Because they've really been in the bottom of the barrel, so to speak.
We were saddled with some uncompetitive equipment in '04 and '05 and early '06. And these guys just stuck to it. And Brumos Racing stuck to it. And Brumos Porsche. And Porsche stayed with us the whole time. And to lift ourselves up, you know, to plagiarize some words, dust ourselves off and get right back at it, it's just I couldn't be more proud. I'm more proud of what our guys have done than anything I could have done individually.
Q: Was the plan all along to pull Garcia out of the car for the last ten and put you in? Or was that a response to circumstances?
DAVID DONOHUE: Oh, you know, I couldn't really answer that. I wasn't really asking too much questions, to be honest with you, towards the end of the race. We were all on the edge of our seats as much as a lot of people were. I know the last stint, Buddy and Antonio and Darren, they couldn't even watch the race. They were behind the pit stall behind the tent, not even able to see the track where they were having a conversation among themselves.
But I was at the ready. They knew I was at the ready. You know, I was worried that they were going to put me in solely for the privilege of being the last driver, but I think Antonio said he was getting a little bit tired and he was wearing them down. If he had an option, he was going to get out. We had practiced driver changes. We knew they were pretty quick. It was a little bit of a risk to do the driver change because we had to get out in front of the 59 car to have a sincere shot at it.
Q: That was my next question. Could you have gotten out ahead of Juan Pablo had you not made the driver change the same?
DAVID DONOHUE: I don't think so. Because I was ready to go. I waited for the car to leave. They had to put water in the car. We were losing a lot of water. We were losing a lot of oil. So the car was quite literally on its last leg. And Porsche did a wonderful job with the engine, but what a lot of people don't realize with Porsche, is they're well renowned for their reliability. But they tend to design things to last just enough. Just enough is perfect. Which means 24 hours is 24 hours. 24 hours and 30 minutes or 30 seconds, rather, is too much. And I think that's what this thing had in it. If they tried to start up right now it might not last, who knows.
But we were not easy on the equipment at all since the beginning of the race. We really revved the thing out as high as it will go, and really beat the car up very, very hard, and I think so did the other top four finishers. We just happened to not break like a lot of the other cars had a little misfortune.
Q: You watched this thing, as you know, since the DP first hit the track. I was there for that test in 2002 in which you participated. You not only have been there for every race, but every test with the exception of this past winter, I guess, or fall.
DAVID DONOHUE: I missed one.
Q: When you had your shoulder worked on. But you were unusually confident coming into this race. And I don't wish to take anything away from you or the program prior to this, but I felt a sense that either the 58 or the 59 would end up in first place, and at the end of that turn would have to be the 58 more so than the 59. But yet you had that confidence. What gave you that confidence, David?
DAVID DONOHUE: I think a couple of things. You know, we did a ton of testing. Which it was something people don't realize. We did a ton of testing at Daytona in preparation for this race. I say that kind of tongue in cheek. Darren did all the driving, of course, and development work along with Joao and J.C. and Hurley, you know, the key drivers of the team on a regular basis. And our engineer really refined a good mechanical set up as well as a good aero package that was raceable and fast.
We've had some management changes within the team. Management moves, not changes. It sounds like we've cut people loose and got new people; I think they kind of moved people around and got things working a lot better. The organization has just gotten better.
It was just I believe attitude is contagious to a large degree, and if we all had a winning attitude, went in there with confidence and didn't give up.
My dad won this race in '69. They had an hour and a half stop to weld up some broken exhaust manifolds. I said that to some of our guys probably Thursday or Friday before the race. When something goes wrong, and it will go wrong, which it did for us at one point, don't give up. Just keep plugging away, because we'll come back at this thing. We've got a great car and a great crew. You know, it worked out.
Q: I want to point out even though he won that race with an hour and a half in the pits, you still did it by 30 laps at the end. And that was hardly the case here. I noticed also something about your crew. They really performed pit stops, over the wall stuff as good as I've ever seen them do it. Hasn't that become as much a critical factor in a car winning a race like this as anything?
DAVID DONOHUE: Absolutely. I'm glad you brought that up. Because that's just another feather in their cap how much work they've put into this. They did a lot of work on the pit stops and getting them fast and getting them efficient. Being calm while doing it.
And I think as a team, we spent less time in the pits than anybody else. I don't know that for an actual fact, but I'm told if not the least amount of time in the pits, we're one of the least. And that hasn't always been the case for us.
Q: That's an act of accomplishment when you consider you were going up against guys like Penske who pride themselves in that, and people like Chip Ganassi who I know have an actual practice set up, a fake pit, if you will, in their facility in Indianapolis where they test going over the wall and swinging out and such. That's pretty good.
DAVID DONOHUE: Yeah, I cannot be more proud of our team. I say "our team"; it's two cars, 58 and 59. They both did just a tremendous job. You know, case in point is both cars on the podium after 24 hours within 10 seconds of each other, and it's not because of some lame late race yellow. That was a duel to the finish.
Q: It was one of the most stirring finishes I can ever remember seeing, absolutely. We all know what your dad is to this sport and this stuff. But I want to know, have you been able to put together what this means to you not in not relative to any other factor? What does this victory mean to you?
DAVID DONOHUE: Easily this is the biggest career achievement that I've had so far. And I hope to repeat. I hope to get a championship and repeat along with Brumos. And for me it's it's fulfilling a dream of Bob Snodgrass's and I just wish I could have seen his face, that's all.
Q: There was a question I wanted to ask in the news conference but refrained from doing so. However, at this time, here it comes. When you look at what I was thinking back in '99, was it?
DAVID DONOHUE: '98?
Q: '98 that your team's car won first, and you took second or third was it?
DAVID DONOHUE: Oh, that was probably 2000, I think, yeah.
Q: Okay. At any rate, your average speed was much greater than theirs by well over a mile and a half per hour. When you look at the advancement of the Daytona Prototype, and they have been considerable, not altogether unexpected, but truly there had to have been times when you sat down and wondered if you would ever see this day or even not even this day, but in a day which you would win. Did that ever occur to you?
DAVID DONOHUE: Yeah, often. It's a very cruel sport. And this race in particular is a very cruel race. A lot of teams I keep reiterating how great our team is. But there are a lot of great teams that put a lot of effort into it as well. And this race is truly, more so than any other, a team race.
Only one guy can lose it. Or one guy can lose it, but no one guy can win it, one person on the crew. It just is a collective effort. That's why I said I feel a little bit strange, because I'm in the spotlight here because I finished the race and I put it on pole. But all I'm doing is showing off all the hard work these guys have done to get that car in front of the public.
You know, I am just so privileged and honored to be able to get that part done. Truth be known, Darren and Buddy and Antonio could easily have been in this very same position. The dice roll in my favor, and I happened to be in the seat at the right time.
Continued in part 2