An interview with: JIM CAMPBELL, MARK KENT and RANDY BERNARD
THE MODERATOR: In 2012 the IZOD IndyCar Series marked the return of engine manufacturer competition with Chevrolet and Lotus joining Honda as the engine suppliers for the field. Today's win by Ryan Briscoe clinches the manufacturer's title for 2012 for Chevrolet. It was the eighth win of the season for a Chevrolet-powered IndyCar.
We're pleased to be joined by Jim Campbell, US vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for Chevrolet, and MARK KENT, director of racing for Chevrolet, and IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard.
We'll start with you, Jim. Talk about this incredible accomplishment this season.
JIM CAMPBELL: Chevrolet has a long history in open-wheel racing. We are proud to be back in IndyCar racing. We've been focused all year long on developing this engine to deliver that combination of performance, durability, fuel economy, really work with the drivers and teams and work on the drivability of the engine package.
It has taken a total team effort with all the teams, the crew chiefs, the drivers giving us great feedback, engineers on the team, our partners from Ilmor, Hitachi, Pratt & Miller. We've had a whole host of folks that made this job possible. It's still not done. There's still work to do with two races to go.
But we're very proud to win the manufacturer's championship and proud to be racing in the series.
THE MODERATOR: Mark, as Jim alluded to, it's not done. There's been a lot of work this year. Can you talk about how pleased you are with the performance this season to date?
MARK KENT: We're very pleased where we are, to come back into this series and go against formidable opponents like Honda and Lotus. It's a tremendous accomplishment. It's something we don't take lightly.
Every series in which we compete, the manufacturer's championship is the most important championship to us. We respect what it takes to be here. We're humbled to be here, as well.
As Jim said, we're here because of the efforts of a lot of people. From day one when we started off the program with our single Dallara DW-12, we had members from all of our teams working together collectively on that program. From day one, today, everybody has contributed to this success. We're pleased to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Randy, in an era of new competition, can you talk about how pleased you've been with the performance of the new car/engine combination and the racing it's provided?
RANDY BERNARD: First of all, on behalf of the IZOD IndyCar Series, I want to congratulate you.
When we started 26 months ago, any of you that think that IndyCar can't keep a secret, we kept a pretty good secret for a while.
From the very beginning, these guys have been first class to work with. I mean, to see this race season go so Quickly, to see the competition that both you and Honda have shown, I think it's been just outstanding.
So back to your Question. I think this year, the engine, primarily Honda and Chevy have come out and dominated and shown such great racing. When you look at our racecar this year, we have seen better speeds than last year. I think that's very important. I think the fact that we've seen 26% more lead changes on road and streets, and 50% more on ovals, is fantastic, too.
I think the car and the engines has just been a great story. I'm very proud of our first year with this new car.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to Questions.
Q. Jim, can we expect more promotions around your achievements?
JIM CAMPBELL: I would say any of our race programs, but particularly with our IndyCar effort, we're focused on tech transfer, what we learn on the power train development around direct injection, turbo-charging, boosting, making those direct applications to the production side is really priority one.
Secondly, obviously when you get a chance to win a race or a championship, it does give us an opportunity to elevate the image of the brand. That's positive, because what happens there is more people put you on their shopping list.
Finally, we have an opportunity to interact with current and prospective customers. A good example here at the track today. Every race that Randy and his team put on, we have an amazing opportunity to interact with customers. We'll continue that.
Finally, it's a great place to train engineers from the production side over to the race side. We'll be on these programs for a couple years then right back to production. You'll see more of that from us, as well.
Q. Would you say the level of effort you had to put in this year was greater than you expected or about where it would be? We've had some revisions. Did you expect that? Has it been a lot of work to get here?
MARK KENT: It's been a lot of work. We knew going in it wasn't going to be easy. We know how tough this series is to compete in. This is top shelf across the board. We got the best drivers, the best teams, all new car. We knew it was going to be a tremendous undertaking.
But we also had a team that was up for the task, between Chevrolet's engineering organization, Ilmor, Hitachi, who has been a tremendous help with us on the program, and again with all our teams, we're here today because of their efforts.
We're looking forward to continue to work, looking forward to wrapping up the season here. There's a couple championships still out there, the oval championship, which I think Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay are tied for, then the overall championship. We'll keep going through the off-season and look forward to 2013.
Q. Chevrolet and Penske have a long and storied relationship. How special is it to win the manufacturer's championship today with Penske?
JIM CAMPBELL: Clearly Chevrolet and Penske have a long relationship, one that's been going on from the moment he first became a Chevrolet dealer in Pennsylvania, obviously has a lot of stores around the country as well. It's very special. For us to return to IndyCar with Team Penske, as well as working with the Ilmor organization, it's been a great combination. I think we're really pleased with the results. But always pushing.
Roger was really happy out here for Ryan, for what happened with Will to pick up a little gap in the points, and for Chevrolet to win the manufacturer's championship. You know him, he's pushing immediately for more next week, as we are.
Then just one other thing, as Mark said, we have an amazing lineup of teams: Team Penske, Andretti Autosports, Panther Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold and Panther teamed up, we have Dragon Racing, a couple others. KV Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing. Fantastic. Think about that combination. They have been a key part of our success.
What we do in all of our racing programs is what we call key partners' approach. We work on common issues together and knock them down as fast as we can. We really believe this approach works. It works for us in other series. We are so pleased it's working so far in IndyCar and look forward to the last two races of the season.
Q. Randy, can you use Chevrolet's championship to entice our friends at Ford and Dodge to turn this into pony car wars?
RANDY BERNARD: I don't think I'm going to comment on that (laughter).
We're just excited to have Chevy here. It made our racing better this year. That's exciting. I'm very optimistic about next year right now. We're working a lot on next year right now.
Q. With Lotus not being able to answer the bell the way everybody was hoping them to, how stretched were you for resources? Are you prepared to go just Chevy and Honda next year? There's more out there that really want to get in.
JIM CAMPBELL: We truly hope there's three engines here next year. If not, we have the resources to take our fair share of the field. There's only one Lotus car out there today. It's not much of a stretch. We hope there's more cars next year so we have to stretch a little bit further.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the manufacturer's title and best of luck in our next two races.
Source: Team Chevy Racing