DP champion contenders teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Quick question for Wayne. You said Magnussen is going to be back with you this weekend. With him having been gone for several races, is it particularly a challenge to get him back into the car and get him up to speed...

Continued from part 1

Q: Quick question for Wayne. You said Magnussen is going to be back with you this weekend. With him having been gone for several races, is it particularly a challenge to get him back into the car and get him up to speed or has he got enough experience with you guys that that's not a problem?

WAYNE TAYLOR: Well, there's really no problem at all. The guys that we hire are all professionals and they should be able to perform in any situation. And he ran well there this year I think in the Corvette. He knows the track, he knows Max, the team knows him, so there's really no issue there. He will be up to speed very quickly.

Q: Wanting to know, at least initially, Scott, from you, what are the parts and pieces you're getting from Lexus? Are they new, are they from the Toyota Cup program? Are you afraid of them breaking? Are both of your teams going to run them? And how much more horsepower are you going to be making with them?

SCOTT PRUETT: You know what, those are all great questions. I'm not sure I have answers for very many of them. They are not pieces from the Cup team, for sure. They're totally different engines. I would love to have a Cup engine, they produce I think a couple hundred more horsepower, but I think that would be a little too over the top.

But I really don't know. I know that they have been working hard doing a lot of durability testing on the dyno. And they, TRD and Lexus, have no questions at all about the integrity of the engine -- if they had any question mark about putting anything new that they didn't feel would go the distance they wouldn't do it.

As far as where they came from, I believe they're the same head, and I just think that they made the valves a little bigger. And I'm not absolutely sure what else is taking place. I tried to call them a couple times and when I do, they're in the dyno shell working, which is where they should be. And I'll catch up to them this weekend and find out exactly.

Q: Wayne, Alex, Jon, what do you hear as far as horsepower, how much more is Scott going to be making and are you worried?

JON FOGARTY: I have no idea what I heard. I heard 20. That could be completely off the mark. And I honestly don't know where I heard it. But obviously we can't worry ourselves too much with it at this point, just got to go out there and do the best we can do. If things have been imbalanced, it's really not our job to sort that out. We can certainly make noise about it, and push as hard as we can. But we're just going to go out there and give it all we got. I think it will be a great race no matter what. So that's where we're at.

Q: Alex, what do you have to say?

ALEX GURNEY: I agree with Jon. I'm sure it's nothing more than a hundred horsepower. (Laughter.)

SCOTT PRUETT: I hope so. (Laughter.)

ALEX GURNEY: No, like Jon said, we just run our own race and we know what we're doing by now and all we can do is the best we can do. And so far this season it's been pretty stout. That's what we're going to do, just try and execute.

Q: Wayne? You got any thoughts?

WAYNE TAYLOR: I'm sure it must be around 150, because they have obviously had this deficit all year and they've got to help him at the end. So it's got to be at least 150 horsepower.

JON FOGARTY: They have that huge deficit in the points. One point.

WAYNE TAYLOR: And Scott has just been really lucky, you know (laughter). I mean, same thing, there's nothing we can do about it, the decision has been made and we just have to work harder and see what happens.

Q: Do you guys know off the top of your head what the points differential is like between first and second in terms of what they pay? What the points pay?

SCOTT PRUETT: If you did win you get a gold Rolex. The driver, if it's second, it's nothing. So it's winner take all.

MODERATOR: This is the moderator. Obviously the drivers have a good sense of humor, but there has been some bad information out there, a lot of people who aren't really familiar with the details of recent technical bulletin that went out, I just want to make it clear that this was not an overnight occurrence that was decided to be made going into the final race of the year. Parts are frequently submitted by manufacturers, and if there's room for improvement within our 500 horsepower cap, we're obliged to look at those parts at Grand-Am. And that's essentially what we did with the Lexus, as well as some of the other engines that were also given adjustments in the most recent technical bulletin.

Simply stated, the Lexus changed to the five liter power plant last year and within that change there was some room to grow to meet the 500 horsepower plateau. So they submitted parts earlier this summer, we put them on the dyno, went to the necessary approval process, and in keeping with what we have done in the past, when the parts were approved and ready for competition, we authorized their use. That happened to coincide with the final race of the year, but again if you look at the technical bulletin that is available only our web site under competitor info you see that the Lexus wasn't the only engine.

And for the record they have to be available to all Lexus entries, so it's not just the two GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing cars, they also have to be available for the other Lexus cars as well.

Q: Question for both Alex and Scott. Just wondered, both of you, if I recall, were here last year at Miller Motorsports Park. What effect will kind of that one year of experience have as far as on this track and if also you could talk about some of the nuances or some of the things you learned last year on the track for the first time.

ALEX GURNEY: Actually, I have to say first my teammate Jon Fogarty was also with me there last year, so we both have experience at the track. And it is very long. That's one thing we learned.

One quick story to I hope he forgives me for it, Jimmy Vasser, who joined us last year - this is an indication of how long the track is - one time at practice he was approaching a corner that looked similar to one maybe 20 corners later and he thought it was a third gear corner and it was a hairpin. So he just flew right off the track.

So one of the things is actually remembering where you are on the track. And it's very long, very flat, so a lot of the corners look similar. As the race wears on, you just have to be aware of things and remember where you're going. It's one of the things we learned last year.

SCOTT PRUETT: For us this is going to be a two hour shorter race than last year. We won't be going into the dark. Because when it got dark, it got black out there. You couldn't see hardly anything. And so the track itself - just like Alex was saying - you really have to know where you are at on the track. Last year we had a very fast car, we qualified on pole, ran strong all race until we had a little mechanical issue at the end. But for the most part it's a fun place to drive and it's a real rhythm place, it's a real driver's track. I think every guy that goes there they say it's a challenge learning it because it's so long and so many aspects of it look similar but once they do learn it, it's a fun place to drive. So I'm looking forward to it. We're going to have some fun.

Q: In some of the previous races that have been run in the late afternoon and evening some of the drivers have talked about driving into the setting sun and how that's kind of been a factor. Do either of you drivers remember that last year especially on that straight away heading due west, was that a factor at all or do any of you recall that?

JON FOGARTY: I recall it from practice and then the ensuing discussion of who was going to have to drive at sunset. So, yeah, it was a little bit of a hassle and you're on that straight away for a good long while. And the longer you are out there, your windshield gets all pitted out and the glare is pretty horrible. Actually I haven't looked to see when the sun was going to be setting relative to when potentially the race might end, but if it's down low, it's bad. But fortunately it's only really just turn one. So hopefully Alex will be in the car at that point.

ALEX GURNEY: I think the race will end a little bit earlier this year. So I think we should be okay on that.

SCOTT PRUETT: And looking at the forecast it looks like it may be a little overcast too. Depending upon how it all plays out. That's also a big factor too if there's any clouds out there.

Q: Scott, the whole Lexus thing, making this horsepower and increasing the size of the intake and exhaust ports - by the way, just for your information, the whole thing is 19 horsepower and I think you gained something like 25 points foot pounds of torque. But at any rate, here you spent a year working with Memo, getting a guy used to a car and now you're throwing a car at him that's going to be different, aren't you?

SCOTT PRUETT: No. No. As a driver, in all the years that I've been racing, engine manufacturers are notorious for telling you, "Oh, we picked up 50 horsepower, we picked up 30 horsepower." And you get in there and you might have picked up some, but unless you're running those engines back to back at the same time in the same condition, when you're talking about that small of an improvement I would say you, as a driver, wouldn't even notice it.

I mean, what you'll notice is the engine might be just a little sharper or something like that, but you certainly won't notice, "Wow, this car's different to drive and we got to change this that and the other." It's more like, "Wow, I think they might have made a change, but we're not quite sure."

So it usually takes 50 to 75 horsepower to really start feeling a difference in, at least for me. I mean, in the IndyCar days especially, they would pick up five or 10 or another 15 here and I go, well, maybe you did, but man, I certainly don't feel it. So I doubt that from our standpoint, especially going to Salt Lake, because the altitude and stuff, the engine performance is down anyway, so the cars almost feel slower than usual because of the lack of horsepower at that altitude.

Q: Scott, let me start with you, but I really would like everybody to answer this thing when you finish with yours. When you look at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, what did you feel like where you were at with regards to the championship now that we are here? How did you feel situated for it I guess would be the better way to put it?

SCOTT PRUETT: I knew that it was going to be a challenge with a rookie teammate. It's a huge task for Memo. And a huge task for me. When you're in that situation, you haven't been to a lot of the tracks, so a lot of the tracks we have had to give him more track time, so it's taken away from working on the car and its performance. I think we have given up a lot of points all year long just because of that. It's been a huge, huge thing to ask of him to be teamed with me and what we have done over the past few years to step up to that mark.

It doesn't make a difference if it's him or any other rookie, it's very, very difficult. When you look at the guys that we're racing against, the guys that we know or Magnussen or some of the other guys, they have a lot of experience, they had a lot of experience in these cars, and so you can just plug them in a car and they just do a fantastic job. And you can just focus on the business at hand: making the car go faster. So coming off Daytona I was excited about the win, but knew overall that this was going to be a challenging season.

Q: Wayne, how did you feel when you came out of Daytona with regard to the positioning for the championship?

WAYNE TAYLOR: Well, we competed for the championship in 2006 and in 2006 we only did four hours of the 24 Hour. But we gathered it back and got down to the same situation at the end of the season that we find ourselves today. So honestly, I thought we would be in better shape, to be honest.

Q: Jon?

JON FOGARTY: At the risk of sounding uneducated about my profession, at the time of the 24 I wasn't aware of how difficult the Grand-Am points structure made it to come back from a DNF like that. So we had run strong up until we started having issues in the race, so my outlook for the rest of the season was still very positive. I knew we had speed, I just didn't realize at that moment how difficult it was to come back from a DNF with this point structure.

But to a certain extent I guess that was a good thing because I was able to go into the following races just looking to win. Not being too concerned about our position.

So next year if something like that, God forbid, happens again I'll be a little bit more bummed out. (Laughter.)

Q: That was a fire that you needed. Alex, weren't you a little bit more concerned about it though?

ALEX GURNEY: I have to say, a similar comment to Jon, that Jon made. I also didn't realize that the points structure was that difficult and that it really rewards really not getting a DNF more than anything else. I certainly wouldn't have expected, we win seven races and we only got a one point lead.

But anyway, at the time we were pretty disappointed, we came in with guns blazing and got the pole and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. But it's a very difficult race. I think we lasted something like 22 hours. And that was tough on everybody, very tough on the equipment. We went through a lot of our stuff. So we were pretty disappointed, but he was still optimistic at the time, unaware of the points. We knew we had a fast car and that we were going to be a force all year. So that's where we were at.

SCOTT PRUETT: Just a quick note to that, I experienced that same thing last year, because we had a DNF last year at the 24, and I think we won four races last year, and ended up second in the championship. And like Jon was saying, you struggle every week and every point you get was so valuable to try and rebound from that was difficult. But it keeps it exciting. I mean as much as I don't like it, I hated it last year and this year I like it, so I don't know what to tell you.

Q: Just for the sake of noting, the sunrise is at 7:08 and sunset is 7:37 p.m. in Salt Lake City, and the race is going to be over about 6:30. How about that?

Alex, real quick, there was another 99 car in the early '90s that kicked some major tail that had the last name Gurney affiliated or associated with it, do you recall that car and how strong that car was and how many races in a row that won and have you heard people compare the car you're in right now to that car? Have people talked about that at all?

ALEX GURNEY: A little bit. I think that when originally I think that I had some conversation with Bob about the number and he always liked the number 99 and we talked about that my dad had the Eagle GTP cars from that time and they were number 99 and 98. They had a very good run there for awhile. I think they won 17 in a row or something. It might have been 21 in a row.

Q: All I could find was 17. But I like the 21 number. Never let the facts get in the way, right?

ALEX GURNEY: It was obviously a really special car, that one was. And now we're trying to make our own bit of history with our 99 car also.

Q: Do you guys have a name, a pet name for your 99 Pontiac GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac?

ALEX GURNEY: I think Jon called it the Red Dragon which I kind of like.

JON FOGARTY: That's a nod to Will Farrell in Old School. I don't know if you recall the scene, but it's pretty classic.

Q: Scott, what about you, your car, you got a name for that?

SCOTT PRUETT: Nope. (Laughter.) She's got no name.

Q: Wayne, what about you?

WAYNE TAYLOR: Nope. (Laughter.)

Scott Pruett: You enjoy the manufacturer that Gurney was with back in those years ago? The manufacturer that won all those races, do you know who that was?

ALEX GURNEY: Yeah, I remember them. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Gentleman, we want to thank you, we have been at it for almost an hour today. Wayne, thanks for filling in for Max. It's going to be a great battle at Miller Motorsports Park this weekend as we wind down the season.

Just as a reminder, the race will begin live on SPEED at 1 p.m. ET, with the action continuing to the checkered flag beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.

-credit: garra

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Bob Stallings