Lexus driver Scott Pruett is the defending champion at the Rolex 24 -- and the event's all-time leader in wins with seven. He recently had a chance to sit down and talk about this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona where he'll co-drive the ...
Lexus driver Scott Pruett is the defending champion at the Rolex 24 -- and the event's all-time leader in wins with seven. He recently had a chance to sit down and talk about this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona where he'll co-drive the #01 TELMEX/Lexus with Juan Montoya, Dario Franchitti and Memo Rojas for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Moderator: Scott, the Chip Ganassi Racing team has a chance to make history this year in becoming the first team in history to win the Rolex 24 three straight years. How will you and the team prepare for this year's race?
Scott Pruett: We'll approach this race the same way we have for the last two years. It's all about preparation and it's about team work. A lot of it goes into the cars before we ever get to the race track. There's so much to making sure that we have good data on all the pieces and parts, to know that they're going to be able to go the distance. I consider that to be about 70 percent of the equation. If you do proper preparation before you get here, you've got a shot to win -- and Ganassi has shown that continually year after year. Even before we won the past couple of years, we had great cars for the race.
On the track, we'll just continue doing what we've been doing. We have a great driver line-up with a lot of talent in both cars. The key is be smart, be steady and keep our noses clean so we can get down to the closing hours with a chance to win. And at that point, if we have to go racing, we will.
Moderator: There's so much new development in the series this year in terms of equipment with new chassis, new bodywork and new engine developments. How do you think that will affect the race?
Scott Pruett: Unless it's proven, you'd be crazy to put something new on the race car here -- or run a new race car here. We had the option to change to new bodies for this race, but it's just so much work. All the effort that goes into fitting and finish in an attempt to make a slight improvement in lap times that you really don't see over 24 hours, just doesn't make a lot of sense. Coming with a completely new brand of car, just seems crazy. The more things you can run on your car that you have data on suggesting it can run the distance, the better off you are. We know where our car is. We absolutely know it inside out. We know the aero capabilities. We know where the center pressure is. Everything is fit and finished and now the entire team can focus on the other things -- making sure that every piece on those two cars is as good as it can be.
Moderator: You mentioned the driver line-up for the Ganassi Lexus team, can you go in-depth on the line-up in your #01 Telmex Lexus?
Scott Pruett: It's a great line-up and it's an exciting line-up. Juan Montoya did a fantastic job last year. Dario Franchitti is very smart and very fast. He's a great addition to the team. Both of those guys, along with Memo Rojas and myself are going to be good solid, top guys. They've already shown so far that they're both fast and they're smart. It's going to be a tough combination to beat.
Moderator: The field at the Rolex 24 appears to get stronger every year, how do you see it?
Scott Pruett: I think what Grand-Am has continued to try to do, like NASCAR, is keep the competition as close as possible. People don't watch racing to see a boring race where cars win by two or three laps. NASCAR has set the standard where everything else pales unless you're running wheel-to-wheel, side-by-side to the checkered flag and that's what Grand-Am continues to try to do. When you look at the line-up coming in here, the #10 car with Wayne Taylor will continue to be tough. They also bring a team car with Penske Racing that will be very good. The Samax team ran really strong last year, they were one of the cars we were fighting for the win with until the very end. They have two cars and a very tough, experienced driver line-up. Then you have the Brumos team, who always seems to run strong here. It's tough to name all the top teams. Right off the top of my head, I can easily think of 10 cars capable of going the distance that we could be running with right to the checkered flag.
Moderator: Scott, last year you earned a record seventh Rolex 24 class victory, has that accomplishment sunk in yet?
Scott Pruett: When people talk to me about records, I always say, maybe when I'm older and sitting with a glass of wine on my porch I can look back and reflect on those records. But right now, we're just here trying to win another race. For me personally, it's just exciting to be here with Chip Ganassi Racing, a first-class operation. Lexus has continuously shown that they are not only fast, but have great durability with their engines. If we do things right, we'll put ourselves into position to win another race.
Moderator: Scott, what does this race mean to you personally?
Scott Pruett: Well, it's a chance to win another Rolex watch (laughing). Seriously, to me it's exciting because it's truly a team effort. A lot of the times, the fans will only see the drivers at the forefront, but anybody who's been to this race -- and I encourage a lot of people to come see this race -- knows that it's just the epitome of a team effort. It's all the drivers working together as one, all the mechanics working together as one and having good calls from the pit box, making sure that everything is calculated out properly. It's not a two-and-half-hour sprint race where you can go get it done with two or three sets of tires. You can go through 20 sets of tires, with 20 to 25 stops and three or four drivers who are in and out of the car constantly. And more than anything else, it's having a car that can go the distance without any major problems. That's what we saw last year. Of all the times I've been to this race, truly last year was the first time that I ran this race without a single problem to the car. It was just phenomenal and a true testament to both Lexus and the entire Ganassi team.
Moderator: You've been coming to Daytona for a number of years, did you ever imagine you'd see a time when 50,000 fans would attend a 24-hour race like last year?
Scott Pruett: No question that it's exciting. Every driver wants to come and be a part of it. You see guys from the IRL like Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Helio Castrovenes, you've got a lot of the NASCAR guys like Jimmy Johnson, Kurt Busch and a number of other drivers; and you also have some of the CART guys who want to be a part of it. And with all of those drivers, it draws a lot of excitement, a lot of attention and a lot of fans.