Continued from part 1 Q: Knowing what you guys did two years ago and almost ideal perfect conditions when the car set up just right and you guys were on your A game and then last year, also being able to win overcoming all that mother nature...
Continued from part 1
Q: Knowing what you guys did two years ago and almost ideal perfect conditions when the car set up just right and you guys were on your A game and then last year, also being able to win overcoming all that mother nature threw at you, how much confidence does that give you guys coming into this year knowing that any kind of condition you guys are pretty well schooled for Mid Ohio, then?
ALEX GURNEY: Yeah. Obviously gives us a lot of confidence. Anytime you can win, that does it for you. Coming off of Watkins Glen, the Ganassi car, the '01, had a pretty big gap to everybody else qualifying in the race a little bit, too. So that concerns us a little bit.
We're trying to do a few things that hopefully push us forward a little bit more. But that's probably our number one focus. We think they're going to be the guys in the end fighting it out for the championship. So we need to keep our eyes on them and just keep pushing this thing forward.
JON FOGARTY: I mean, it's nice coming to a track where you've had success. As Alex said we have history at Mid Ohio that goes back beyond the Daytona prototypes and Grand Am. So it's nice coming to a place you're familiar with, but again the competition in Grand Am is tough and they're never standing still and they're always pushing forward, too.
So you're never not worried about it, that's for sure. You know there's going to be a fight. But you kind of feel like you might have an upper hand.
Q: Tell me, guys, tell me about I guess the emergence of the new chassis in the series. They've been there for a while, but seems like between Krohn becoming a stronger threat with his Lola chassis and Dalara and such, seems like Riley is being giving the hardest runs for its money in a long time. What's the difference that you see between your Riley on track, when you're either chasing down or trying to pass the Lola or the Dalara?
JON FOGARTY: That's a good question. Both the Lola and the Dalara did make motor change, I believe, in the off season. And that's helped those guys out a little bit. But there's definitely the Dalara seems to just turn very well. I think that car they don't have a problem with the understeer that I can see. If anything, it's quite the opposite.
So on certain tracks that really helps them. They're pretty dominant at Sears point last year and they're definitely quick at the Glen.
So they've got that going for them. And then for the Lola I think the thing makes a lot of down force and brake zones, faster corners, that kind of thing tends to stick pretty well.
So I still think the Riley has a much better sweet spot and is adaptable to more circuits. But it's a great thing, I think, that there's different chassis that are now viable for winning.
Q: I spent some week last week with your HPR man, Adam Saal. He was taking care of some guy named Patrick Dempsey. Feeling like he's two timing you, loving you when you're acing but two timing when you're not; what's that about?
ALEX GURNEY: No, Adam does a great job. And he's on Facebook all the time, so we got some Lamar updates when he was out there.
JON FOGARTY: Alex and I are just angling for some cameos for Racing in the Rain when it comes out.
Q: The ups and downs of racing like falling out of the points lead, is there a best way you think for you guys to switch emotional gears and is there any way that you can work on that and move on?
ALEX GURNEY: I don't know. I don't find it that difficult. The driver can only do so much. We try to work as well as we can with the team. Just stay focused on going fast and getting the most out of the car and getting the most out of each other, Jon and I. It's not that hard. Our team is fully behind us, and that's always a great feeling. There's no ill feelings in the team. You see some of that sometimes with other teams and Jon and I always feel fully supported and that's a great thing. And we can go into every weekend with a lot of confidence and just get down to business. If we come off a bad weekend or a good weekend it doesn't seem to matter. We're just always trying to stay focused on winning. Maybe the pressure's ratcheted up a little bit because there's only seven races left. Seven or six. Seven races left, I think. The championship is starting to tighten up.
JON FOGARTY: Yeah, I mean, like you said, the ups and downs in racing and the highs and lows are extreme. I think drivers just inherently tend to have a fairly they're pretty good at dampening those things. We just focus like Alex said on getting the car to go fast and not worry too much about that. Pretty amazing how quickly things can change. But I didn't expect this championship to be a cake walk by any means. Yes, we were leading the championship but the competition was right there all along. Things will average out over the course of the season and we just hope to average out better than than everybody else.
Q: One thing we know about looking a bit ahead to Daytona, one thing we know for sure it's going to be hot and humid in July in Daytona. Do you guys do anything special to prepare for that, or is it just part of the routine?
JON FOGARTY: Yeah, there's nothing you can do. It's like literally it would be tough to replicate the conditions of a Daytona prototype cockpit. Even if you could, you'd have to be a serious masochist to subject yourself to that. Just hydrate. It's going to be a one day event this year. It's going to be a tough day. You're not going to have the it won't build over the weekend. So just sack up for that one day and get through it and get the job done.
ALEX GURNEY: We've done a lot of work with our car over the years to keep it cool. And definitely made a lot of in roads on that last year especially. We feel good about it. We should be a lot cooler than Kyle Busch and Scott Speed.
Q: You guys are running a new car as of a few races ago. What's the difference between it and the old car?
JON FOGARTY: Yeah, we're running an old car. It's a chassis that has run before. It was our '98 car from last year that I think Christiano da Matta and Jimmy Vasser at Laguna Seca. Does not have a lot of miles on it. And we've done a lot of little detail changes that my engineer would kill me if I told you what we did to it. But just a lot of things, a lot of ideas that they've had that over the years that they've wanted to do.
And they've had time to do those things separately of our 99 car. And first time we got it on track it was definitely an improvement.
So we're very happy about that switch. And pretty much all the things that they had planned for the car seem to have borne fruit.
Q: Also we talked about the thunderstorm in the first hour last year. With the forecast calling for chance of storms and stuff again this weekend, can you use any of the experience from that, from last year this year?
ALEX GURNEY: Oh, absolutely, yeah. I mean the driving wise, we learned a lot about the different lines. When it's super wet and when it's drying, you know where we have to position the car driving wise.
And setup wise we learned some things too. We changed some things in the middle of the race. And so we kind of know or we have a good idea of what it's going to be like from the different levels of rain and the different lines you should take around the racetrack.
Q: What was worst, last year's storm or racing in just horrible conditions in New Jersey this year?
ALEX GURNEY: I think Jersey was probably worst. Maybe Mid Ohio was slippery, but Jersey was just more rain, more standing water, I think.
JON FOGARTY: I had a much more difficult time at Mid Ohio. It definitely was more slick. The surface, for whatever reason, at New Jersey, it's newer. It still had some grip when it was wet. But at the same time we did have visibility problems at New Jersey.
So each one had their own demons. But New Jersey it was a more steady rain, whereas it was just a deluge and really sudden at Mid Ohio. So difficult either way.
Q: There was a lot of wind last year at Mid Ohio. With the cut backs in GM have you guys had any effect from any of those?
ALEX GURNEY: Not yet. Although I think that's a developing story there. So we'll have to wait and see. Everything's fine right now and we have good motors and I think everything will be okay this year. We'll just have to wait and see how things unfold there.
Q: What track that we don't race at now would you guys like to race at in the prototype?
JON FOGARTY: There's two. But I think Road America would be heck of a place to go.
ALEX GURNEY: I think Elkart like could be a great race for Daytona prototypes. There will be plenty of drafting and passing chances and just a great track. Long and a little bit of everything. Very fast corners and kind of picturesque, I think.
Q: 2007, you guys came into Mid Ohio on a semi roll at the very least. 2008, you guys came into Mid Ohio wondering what the heck. And now it's been kind of an interesting season, because you've been so far on a kind of semi roll, and now all of a sudden you're coming into Mid Ohio kind of in the what the heck. Aren't you?
JON FOGARTY: We've had a bit of a roller coaster, really, this year. It's a little bit frustrating, because, again, the Ganassi guys are sneaking under the radar. They've been finishing on pole just about every race. They're the ones that I would say are on a roll.
But we've definitely been in position to win. We've had some things go awry. So I think performance wise we probably feel more confident than last year. But, again, it doesn't almost matter. Because the competition is so tough; they're right there.
Yeah, we know where we're at. And we just need to get those things like what happened to us last weekend at the Glen out of the way.
Q: As we look ahead to Daytona, as if you didn't have enough to contemplate already making a 10th of a second better to get a step higher on the podium, what kind of a wrinkle does Ganassi's second car bring? And, in general, considering you've had a NASCAR guy as a teammate a couple times, what do they bring to the table as race car drivers?
ALEX GURNEY: I can answer that. Well, first off, I think it's great what they're doing. I like it that those guys are going to be in the race, Kyle and Scott Speed. I think they'll bring some attention and hopefully will put on a great show on that Saturday.
Championship wise, yeah, it could be difficult if they managed to squeak in there. They'll obviously be fast, I think. That car was very good at the 24 hours, and I think they've made a pretty large step forward since then.
So I expect them to be very quick. I don't know if they've had a chance to test at all. It will take some adjustment to drive the car. But we know from when Jimmie Johnson has run with us, he's just a class act all around and super fast and super focused.
You know, if those guys are anything like Jimmie, then we'll have a hard time. We love having Jimmie there. Obviously that will be great if we can get him back again for next year, for the 24th.
Q: Brief follow up for both of you. Knowing what you've had to go through, and as you said earlier, knowing the adjustments you've made to help your car cool better, what are these guys faced with having to run the Rolex Series race and that evening come back and do a 400 mile stock car race, in your opinion?
JON FOGARTY: It's going to be brutal. It's going to be tough. I know the Ganassi guys obviously have their cooling system figured out pretty well, but it's really all relative. It's still hotter than you know what inside that thing.
Those guys are going to have to be careful. They'll have to make sure they don't develop any cramps and stay hydrated. That's going to be tough.
ALEX GURNEY: I agree with Jon. I think it was 2005. I had both my helmet air and we didn't run a cool suit system. I was in really deep trouble by the end of the race. So if they do run into trouble it will be very difficult. And I know those guys are fed and they do very long races. So maybe they.won't have a problem. But it is definitely hot in there.
JON FOGARTY: I know that Jimmie was hurting after he ran in the 91 car in '07. I remember talking to him about that. He said that he suffered a lot. And it basically said he didn't want to have to do that again. So you've got that to look forward to.
Q: I'm curious, what in your estimation is that or define that larger sweet spot in the Riley as compared to pick a car?
ALEX GURNEY: I've seen both the Lola and the Dalara look very fast on a given weekend. But it seems like it's more up and down. So having not driven those cars, it's hard to say. But it seems like there's always a Riley up there. And maybe that's not the case for the other two.
So maybe they're still learning their cars. I don't think the difference is massive. But maybe that's, give a compliment to Grand Am for getting the rules right to where the cars are actually very close. So it's hard to say without driving those cars. But there seems to be a Riley up front. And every once in a while the other two will look very good and sometimes not.
J.J. O'MALLEY: Thank you, Alex and Jon.