NASCAR/GRAND-AM Rolex Sport Car Series Teleconference January 13, 2010 An interview with: SCOTT PRUETT JAMIE McMURRAY THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this special edition NASCAR Grand Am Teleconference. Joining us today...
NASCAR/GRAND-AM Rolex Sport Car Series Teleconference
January 13, 2010
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this special edition NASCAR Grand Am Teleconference. Joining us today are drivers, SCOTT PRUETT and JAMIE McMURRAY, who will be competing for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Scott has made his mark on the Rolex 24 history book. Winning overall three times, while winning in his class a record eight times. January 30 and 31 Scott will be joined by Memo Rojas, Marino Franchitti and Justin Wilson, in the No. 01 TELMEX/Target BMW Riley.
Scott, what did the team learn this past chilly weekend that will help Ganassi win its fourth Rolex 24 in the last five years?
SCOTT PRUETT: That's a good question. The only thing that we were really able to do over the weekend were get all the drivers through the car. With those crazy temperatures that we had, the freezing temperatures, it was very difficult to do much work with the car, and any work you did was in a situation that you probably wouldn't be the same set of circumstances when you come back for the race, because the temperatures are going to be quite a bit higher.
So we are confident going into it that we were happy to put some miles on the new BMW engine package for us and everything ran flawlessly. All the drivers did a terrific job with Justin and Marino, as well as myself and my teammate, Memo. So that was -- under the circumstances, that was the best we could get out of it. As well as looking at the great picture of the snow men the Ganassi Team made.
THE MODERATOR: JAMIE McMURRAY's only appearance in the Rolex 24 is when he finished fourth with Ganassi in 2005. This year Jamie will co-drive the No. 02 TELMEX/Target BMW Riley with Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, and Dario Franchitti.
Jamie last week's test was the first time in a Daytona prototype in five years. How did it feel to get back and what are your thoughts looking forward to the Rolex 24?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Those cars are so much of fun to drive. It took me the whole first day just to get used to the cockpit of the car. It's so much different. The steering wheel has what looked like 500 buttons on it, but it's only four or five. And the way the tach works and everything, it took me a while to get used to all of that, and where all the switches are in the car, and just get used to the mirrors and everything that's different about that.
But the cars drove pretty good. Like I say, they're a lot of fun to drive around that track, and I really enjoy it. So we had what I thought was a pretty good test. For me it was good to get back in the car and just get some seat time and get comfortable before getting back down there for the race.
Q: Why the switch from Lexus to BMW this year?
SCOTT PRUETT: Well, the biggest reason was that our TMS Team, Toyota Motor Corporation or TMC, decided they weren't going to continue on with the Lexus brand in the Grand Am Rolex Series. And that gave us the opportunity to look around and pick and choose what we felt was going to be our best engine moving forward with the opportunity with that manufacturer.
All said and done, with Steve and his group and BMW looked like a perfect fit. And the guys made -- we made the decision actually quite late. In a couple of weeks we did the changeover from the Lexus to the BMW engine probably late November, into the first of December, and then came for that test the first week of December.
So we've been extremely pleased so far. The drivability is incredible from what we've had. The durability and reliability has shown to be terrific, and we're looking forward to the 24 here in a couple of weeks.
Q: Is there -- you race, obviously you race the top level of NASCAR. But you spend a lot of time in carts. Now you're spending -- you need more time going left to right in here. Do you think that it's a big advantage to you to be doing this? And also, do you think that you're better at adapting to all these things than say the average driver?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I'm doing this because I want to do it, and it's fun. I'm not necessarily doing this to make myself better for the Sprint Cup racing. Though I don't think it hurts to do more road races.
But this is such a different type of race. It's about staying on the track and just kind of putting in consistent lap times, not necessarily the fastest lap times. Then racing with the GT cars, there is such a discrepancy in pace that you spend most of the race kind of judging how you're going to time out those passes. So it's a lot different of a race.
Really I'm doing it just because I want to, and I think it's fun more than anything.
Q: Your full-time job is really adventure on the track. Does that spoil any of the off-track adventure that you've done over the years? All the time that you've been racing cars?
SCOTT PRUETT: Not at all. We're real pleased with -- I'm real pleased with all aspects of the Grand Am Rolex Series, especially being involved with Chip Ganassi which is a terrific organization. It is exciting now to make that new venture with BMW doing the stuff on track as well as doing some stuff off the track for them and with that opportunity and with Grand Am as we've seen.
We all are feeling the pinch with the economy. I've been quite, you know, vocal with a lot of people that I talked to that 2009 is going to be easier than 2010.
There were a lot of carryover contracts for 2009. Doesn't make a difference if it was the Grand Am Rolex Series or Sprint Cup. I think everybody's feeling that pullback from a lot of sponsors. And we're looking to put on the best shows that we can throughout 2010 and we're excited.
Especially with the Rolex 24, because this is a race that everybody wants to come to. You get guys from Europe, IndyCar, NASCAR, just to name a few. And this is the first big event always, Motorsports event always, as we start out the new year. Everybody wants to be a part of it.
It's great fun. It's great racing. It's hard core road racing and getting that opportunity with all these different drivers to really get together and go do it. It's a little bit of a different frame of mind, too instead of just two drivers, now to work with four. It's a true team. I think that element's a lot of fun. Because you get to know new guys or reconnect with other guys that are off doing their thing for the season.
Q: Over the years have you done anything like Brian Vickers jumps out of airplanes. Have you done anything thrilling and exciting? Is it different for you because you do this for a living?
SCOTT PRUETT: Yeah, I think it's funny. We were at dinner the other night and all the guys with Dixon and McMurray and all the drivers were talking about going up in jets and planes and doing aerobatic stuff. That piece of it is still exciting.
You get up in a jet or aerobatic plane, that's still pretty intense. We're other used to working in one dimension. When you go up in some sort of aircraft, you're working in three dimension space, and the G's and what's taking place, it gets you out of your comfort zone, that's for sure.
Q: This is a special race. It's very different because there are so many different people who aren't in the normal series. Does that change the way you want to race this race?
SCOTT PRUETT: No, it doesn't. I think the biggest thing that it does is, actually two things -- one, it gives us the opportunity that I was touching on earlier, for each team to have three or four drivers, and they can be, you know, let's say within their, you know, the Ganassi umbrella, he's bringing his NASCAR guys as well as the IndyCar side of it. And that is a lot of fun.
But there is also an opportunity of drivers coming from Europe and other series to come and get involved. And you work together as a group, those three or four.
I think for the series, not only you know when you get guys like Jamie and Juan and Scott Dixon and Jimmie Johnson and some of the other guys, there are a lot of people who may not see our series or may not pay attention to our series that much. They'll be reviewing it more. We're seeing that every year. More exposure and more coverage and more excitement.
With a lot of the series kind of on the downward sort of growth in 2009. We saw pretty much across the board with spectators and with TV ratings on the way up. It just shows that our series is in growth. And these opportunities to bring in other drivers from other series who bring their own group of followers and fans is nothing but a great time.
For drivers to come and get the year started off with an opportunity like this at Daytona. It's not high pressure. You've got to get out and go and go hard. But it takes place over 24 hours, and you get a lot of track time, and you get a lot of focus of what you're doing, and really get you a lot of seat time. Then you're off and back to the respective series.
Q: In an endurance race, do you race the other cars and the great drivers who are on the other teams? Or do you race yourself and have a pace that you want to go at to get to the end of the race?
SCOTT PRUETT: Well, you race your own pace, but your pace better not be too far off whoever is the fastest.
We've been in a great situation where we've been one of the teams over the last five, six, seven years that are pacing the race on or certainly within the top three. So you need to be in a situation where you are running fast.
That's one of the things we've seen develop over the past, especially within the past three or four years, where these cars have become so robust. In days gone by there was always something you had to be careful with the car.
The transmission you've got to be careful with, the engine you've got to be careful with. Where nowadays, you run hard. You run hard the whole time. You're running 90% the whole time. You need to be careful in traffic. But as far as the car's concerned and how you drive it, and how hard you run it, it's surprisingly aggressive for going 24 hours.
We've seen in the last three or four years that we're doing this with no problems whatsoever. I think that says a lot about the focus of the series and the rules they put in place for these cars.
Q: You're a bit of a race fan also, and the times that you've gone to the Rolex 24, has there ever been a driver that you really wanted to meet and never had a chance to meet and maybe when you met that person you become became a fan and not just a driver?
SCOTT PRUETT: I've been very fortunate to meet most everybody that I've really wanted to. You know, it's been -- whether it's Dan Gurney or Mario Andretti. You know, I think between Dan Gurney and Mario Andretti, I've really been incredibly impressed.
You look at the cars they drove, especially early on -- these guys were men. These were not very safe cars. Incredibly fast. And they were doing it with a complete spectrum, whether they went to Indy or they went to Daytona or maybe off to Europe all in the same year. Driving all different types of cars. I just think that's incredible that these guys did that.
You look back to the '60s, and the '70s. I look at those cars nowadays, I'm thinking I wouldn't even get in one to drive one. They scare me the way they're put together. They're just dangerous. There is either a fuel tank right behind them or between their legs. It's incredible, absolutely incredible what they did.
Continued in part 2