Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Teleconference Transcript
December 16, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Welcome everyone to this Chip Ganassi Racing teleconference. Our guests today are Chip Ganassi, drivers, Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball and Mike Hull. The big news today as everyone probably knows on this call is that Chip Ganassi Racing is expanding by adding two new teams, Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing with Graham Rahal in the seat, and Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing with Charlie Kimball in the seat. Both competing in 2011 in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Chip, Graham, Charlie, Mike, thank you for joining us, we appreciate it.
Chip, question for you, you've always said that you've been open to expansion, and if the timing was right and if everything was right to do it. What made the timing right, and what made this the right time for Chip Ganassi Racing?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I think that's a good question. I think it was -- it's really the level of excitement and momentum, I think, that's in Indy car racing right now. I think you have to start with that. That was probably the impetus for it.
You're seeing a lot of interest right now with a lot of new teams coming on. I think now we're going to have six American drivers next year in the series, which is a great step forward. I think it's because a lot of the work that Randy Bernard has been doing.
And we're starting to see -- there are five inches of snow in Indianapolis, so you're starting to see the snow ball getting a little bigger and bigger as it's coming down the mountain here with Indy car racing.
I think to have Charlie and Graham is a big, big shot in the arm for our team. I'm certainly not throwing out Dixon and Franchitti by any stretch. But I mean, these guys probably represent the next the next generation of drivers that are coming in and going to be around IndyCar Racing for a long time.
So what better than to get started now from a couple of guys that want to learn like two veterans like Scott and Dario. It's just a good opportunity for us.
THE MODERATOR: Little background on Graham Rahal before we introduce him. Graham is 21 years old from New Albany, Ohio. He's the youngest race and pole winner in IZOD IndyCar Series history. He made his season debut after a year in Champ Car. Graham is the son of 1986 Indianapolis winner Bobby Rahal. And Graham has followed parts of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder to come to the IZOD IndyCar Series. He's made a start in Firestone Indy Lights and he also raced in Star Mazda.
Graham, talk about the opportunity, this great opportunity not only for you, but also for your sponsors Service Central. What's it mean to both you and Service Central to be aligned with such a strong team like Chip Ganassi Racing?
GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I think first of all it shows a great commitment on the sponsors that I have to put themselves and myself in a position with a team like Chip Ganassi Racing to succeed. It shows they're here to win and succeed.
I feel like especially coming off the year that I've just been through, it's a huge relief to find a home with a team of this quality. Certainly time and time again has been the best in this series. And as Chip mentioned, to have guys like Dario and Dixon to learn from, I don't think there is a better combination. You have five championships and countless race wins between them.
It's a huge relief, and it's a great step forward in my career. Certainly now that the work really starts as far as making sure that we can not only fill the shoes that have been left before us here. I know it's an expansion team, but certainly the success that this team has had speaks for itself, and will certainly make our sponsors proud.
I feel like these next few months are going to take forever until we get on the racetrack once again, but I really cannot wait.
THE MODERATOR: Little background on Charlie. Charlie Kimball is 25, he's from Camarillo, California. He finished fourth in the Firestone Indy Light standings in 2010 in a very consistent season. It was his second season in Firestone Indy Lights. And Charlie has moved up through the ranks in a variety of American and European series. In Europe, he raced in such prestigious series as A1GP, Formula 3 Euro Series, and World Series by Renault, and Formula Ford.
Charlie, you're bringing a unique sponsorship to the IZOD IndyCar Series with Novo Nordisk, and it also has a very personal sponsorship for you. Could you talk about that?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Definitely. Today's a dream come true for me personally. Moving up through the pinnacle of motorsports in North America, here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crown jewel of auto racing, really, with the Indy 500. It's a dream come true to step up to that series. And to do it with a team like Chip Ganassi Racing, legends in their own right with the opportunity for me to learn from the champions they've had on their roster the last few years with Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, and also to take advantage of Graham Rahal's experience, it's a great opportunity for me to learn and try to help me up the steep learning curve in INDYCAR.
Being able to bring my partner, Novo Nordisk is a diabetes health care company that produces the insulin Levemir and Nova Log that I use every day to manage my diabetes is a great chance as well.
Together, Novo Nordisk, Chip Ganassi Racing and myself are out there to prove that diabetes doesn't have to slow you down, and even with the condition you can do anything you want in life.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, managing director Mike Hull of Chip Ganassi Racing. Mike, if you could talk about the distance and how the two teams will function and operate, give people here on the call an idea of how things will function in 2011? You're going from two drivers to four drivers and it's definitely growth for the team. How will you manage that?
MIKE HULL: To answer your question directly, our plan is to manage it as two and two. First in terms of being able to manage the people part, there will be a share of resource and information between the two teams because that's what the culture of Chip Ganassi Racing is all about.
Also you could say it's two, two and two because we also manage a Rolex Sports Car team in Indianapolis, and those two drivers participate equally in a lot of the things that they do collectively in the building.
So we're all about partnership. We're all about sharing. We're all about open communication, because we feel like there are only so many hours in every day. So let's make sure we understand where we all are on a daily basis, and that's the way we'll operate.
Q: Chip, my questions are expansion questions. What was the genesis of the two teams? Was this something that you wanted to do a long time ago, and it now became possible or did someone bring you this sponsorship? And for follow up, I wanted to know your reaction. Today the president of Ferrari says it would be nice to see a third Ferrari fielded perhaps by a private American team. I'm thinking a team like Chip Ganassi.
CHIP GANASSI: OK, as to your first question, I think a lot of the -- we always look at growing our business, and I think we want to grow it in the right manner. I think there is a lot of momentum now in the IZOD IndyCar Series that presents opportunities like Charlie and Graham here. So, I mean, start with that.
Then you sort of layer on top of that, and you say, gee, do we really want to have a four-car team? And I'd have to say the answer is no. We don't want to have a four-car team. But will we entertain two two-car teams? The answer is yes.
So I think that I would characterize it much like Hendrick racing where they have the 28 and the 48. The 24 and the 48, and the 5 and the 88. They sort of have two, two-car teams is how they manage it. So I think that was probably the template, if you will for the four cars.
I certainly don't want to take anything away from Scott Dixon or Dario Franchitti. But at the same time, we have to develop and keep a keen eye on the next generation of guys coming along and what better way to do it than to have our finger on a few of them.
Q: The second part was I was wondering if you had heard that Ferrari said it would be nice to have a third car fielded by a team like yours?
CHIP GANASSI: I took that as a compliment to Mike Hull and I told him that when I read that. And that's exactly what that is. Please tell Mr. di Montezemolo, you can pass along Mike's phone number to him.
Q: Graham, just talk a little about the opportunity that you have here. I'm sure that coming up a couple years ago when you were at Newman Haas and Champ Car, that was a tremendous opportunity. Now you're moving up to a team that Chip Ganassi is going to own and run with all the resources and assets that they have. Just talk about this opportunity, and then I have a follow-up for Mike. Graham?
GRAHAM RAHAL: It's a dream come true. I think everybody can understand and appreciate that. Certainly at the time when I joined Newman Haas they were the top team in Champ Car. Unfortunately, as things transitioned Champ Car only lasted a year while I was there.
And now we're here and this is actually -- I mean, when you look at the history of this team, there is no one that's been better. So for me, it's the perfect opportunity to come in and hopefully expand on a very young career. I hope that I can be here a long, long time. Of course, you need to succeed to do that, and I think that all of the tools and the people are in place to make that happen.
Now it's the team work and the dedication and things like that are what is going to ultimately lead to the success. There is just not a better place that you could be. I think that it's an honor to get the opportunity.
Q: Mike, just the logistics of managing two two-car teams. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Graham's team and Charlie's team is not going to be located near where you're presently at. What's it going to be like to be in two places often at the same time?
MIKE HULL: It's going to be a case study for the Harvard Business School. What's good about Chip Ganassi Racing is the fact that we have really good people that work for us. Our system is a very clear and distinct pyramiding management system.
Mitch Davis has rejoined our race team. A fantastically qualified individual with enormous enthusiasm and a team player. He fits very well with Barry Wanser, Scott Harner, who work on the present Indy car operation in senior management roles, and Tim Keene who works for our Grand Am team does exactly the same thing in the same manner. So that is the way our system will work.
The question was asked earlier about communication, believe me, the communication flows immediately between us, because the way news travels at Chip Ganassi Racing, it's good news and bad news travels at the same rate of speed. So we'll be interconnected, and we feel that it will be a relatively seamless transition to make this happen.
Q: As far as two, two car teams, I imagine on race weekend though that all four drivers will have opportunities to debrief with each other; is that correct?
MIKE HULL: That's our intention and plan. What's made us good for so long in every category we race whether it be NASCAR with Jamie (McMurray) and Juan (Pablo Montoya), whether that be in INDYCAR with Dario (Franchitti) and Scott (Dixon), whether that be in sports cars with Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, wherever it is, each driver supports the other driver. We learn from each other. We win with each other. We applaud each other when we finish at the front.
Two drivers, and in this case, four drivers working together climb the ladder easier and in a quicker manner. That's for us how we want to be defined.
Q: Graham or Charlie, there have been a lot of positive developments over the off-season for IndyCar, but there are still plenty of improvements that can be made. From the driver's perspective, what does IndyCar have to do next in order to keep that positive momentum going?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think one of the things that we've seen in the last week, two weeks is that building of momentum. And now I think we'll see as the race season develops what else we have on the cars.
Randy Bernard, the CEO is doing a great job, and rebuilding the mystique and the power of IndyCar Racing. It's a perfect time for it with the centennial era here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the 100th running of the Indy 500. It's going to take time to put that momentum in place and see growth. The new cars, the new engines, the aero kits coming out in 2012 are another opportunity for IndyCar to build that momentum and bring new developments to the table.
Q: Graham, you basically got this sponsorship deal set up back late last part of the season. Did you target, pardon the expression, Ganassi Racing only or did you have an open mind? When did you pretty much seal the deal with these guys?
GRAHAM RAHAL: First thing I'll say is I was first exposed to them with Sarah. Sarah introduced me to them to try to come on board and help us during the Indy 500 when Jay Howard didn't make the field.
Unfortunately, that didn't come together during the month of May. But Service Central and NTB specifically came on board for mid-Ohio and then Kentucky.
But while I aligned myself, really I could help point them in a direction, but they still did the sponsorship side of it, and identifying the team. I think they met with -- they met with a ton of different teams, but certainly there was only one place that we all thought we needed to be. To succeed, you've got to be with this team.
I think you and I have certainly talked about it before, that time and time again, when it comes down to it, Chip Ganassi Racing has proved that they're the best. You can look just briefly back to Homestead this year. When they needed to show up, they certainly did, and so it makes it a great place to be.
I just can't wait to get started. I know that Service Central and all of those guys are as excited as I am to get the 2011 season going.
Q: Mike, from your vantage point in the pits, what is the attraction of Graham Rahal? What does he in your opinion bring to the table for you guys?
MIKE HULL: The same thing that all of the champions that we have been lucky enough to have race our cars do well. He has passion for Sunday. Sunday's the most important day in his life. If you have someone who is totally unselfish of themselves and want to win, that's everything for us. That's what he possesses. Besides the ability to drive a race car, he has everything else that it takes.
Both he and Charlie have demonstrated that for us, and we're extremely excited about the fact that they can add to what we've done.
Q: You've obviously had big success across several series this season. How much did all of that play into what you're doing with the expansion, and have you been able to do any kind of marketing work with the fact that you've stacked up all these wins, big wins in these major series?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I mean one of them, obviously having the kind of year we had in 2010 we had a lot of great results. Throughout 2010 we've been talking about and sort of feeling the momentum that's been building in IndyCar Racing throughout 2010. I would say it's I guess a combination of the two of those things has led us to this point.
Probably more so though the momentum that's in IndyCar Racing now, because I think you can be as great a salesman as there is. But if there is not real interest on the other side of people wanting to get involved in IndyCar Racing, then your sales effort is going to fall short.
So I think we owe a lot -- I shouldn't say we owe a lot to -- I should say we all feel, all of us in the industry right now, feel the momentum of what's going on in IndyCar Racing. I just read somewhere where we're going to have six American drivers next year, which is a big switch.
You're having some new sponsors come into the sport. Some others that are getting bigger in the sport. You know, I don't know about you guys in the media, but that is a breath of fresh air for us on the team side. When the interest level goes up, that's good for us and good for the sport. This is really in a large part a result of that momentum.
THE MODERATOR: Just as a follow-up to what Chip said, the series has added 14 new partners in the last 12 months. There's been a lot of growth.
Q: I guess question to Chip, I saw something where you had said you sort of had an eye on Charlie for a while now. I wonder if you could elaborate on that. And also in context of this is not the first time that you've brought on fairly young drivers in. In the past it was guys from Montoya to Vasser and Zanardi, just your philosophy on all of that?
CHIP GANASSI: I'm trying to remember your first question. Obviously, had a working relationship with Gordon (Kimball), his father from back in the 1983 Wildcat and the '82, the car that he sort of helped out a little bit with, the Phoenix chassis in the wildcat.
Q: I believe a team called Rhodes Racing or something like that?
CHIP GANASSI: Yes, with Jack Rhodes and later with Patrick, so I had a working knowledge of Gordon. Then throughout the years while he was in Europe we stayed in contact from time to time. Then really as a -- having and being in a business that employs a lot of engineering skills from time to time, our paths crossed frequently over the years with Gordon.
As Charlie was coming of age and becoming a young race driver, we sort of had an eye on him from afar. Mike sort of fingered him as one of the guys coming along, so we were able to help him with a little bit of sponsorship while he was in Europe there.
We said, hey, some day when you're back in the states, maybe we'll talk about something. Obviously he came back and did a very good job in Indy Lights and here we are?
Q: Sort of the larger question was that people might -- that this is not the first time you've kind of taken a look to the next generation of talent, whether it was a herd a, a Vasser, Zanardi or Montoya, and even looking at NASCAR in terms of Jamie McMurray, a guy that wasn't necessarily at the top of everybody's list for this year. But going for young talent is in the DNA of the organization.
CHIP GANASSI: No question. I think I said earlier, I'm not interested in pushing Dario or Scott out the door. But I think you need to keep an eye on who is coming in the door. And what better way to do it than to have two of these guys on your team understanding your system, understanding the people, and being able to work alongside Scott and Dario and getting a first -- getting firsthand knowledge as opposed to from afar or being outside the organization.
It's a good opportunity for us. Fortunately, there is a lot of momentum. We keep using this phrase today. It's not false at all. There is a lot of interest swirling around people like Graham and Charlie we also think it's a good time for our business to grow a little bit?
Q: Chip, looking ahead, is this a single-year deal, multi-year deal, are there options involved?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, appreciate the question. I would tell you that maybe these young guys don't know this yet. But we don't really talk about our contracts in the media and the length of them or the amounts or, you know, I've always made it a coo kind of policy of mine to not discuss those things in the media. So I apologize. If you have something else you'd like to talk about, I'm happy to discuss it.
Q: Mike, looking further ahead how will this expansion to four cars fit with the new technical regulations coming for 2012 and the development that will take place with the new cars?
MIKE HULL: That's a great question. I wish I could answer it. We haven't seen a copy of what the rules are going to be. We felt it was really important to be in a position to be ready to race the way we want to race in 2012 with this dual set of entries rather than wait until 2012 begins to get started.
So in a way we're trying to be ahead of the curve here a little bit. We'll put the process in place. Tony Cotman we know is pretty close to putting out a real set of regulations to which we can study. We can truthfully and truly answer your question.
I bet you in a few weeks Tony will be on a teleconference just like we're on with great detail about the rules.
Q: Where are you in terms of putting together your Rolex lineup and is there a chance we may see Graham and Charlie?
MIKE HULL: Historically what we've done there is we've always had a press conference at Daytona. During the weekend of the open test this year I believe we'll have a press conference there as we have in the past on Saturday, where we'll announce the sponsor group, the drivers, and our intentions for this year's race.
Q: Chip, you've talked a little bit about the American aspect of these two young drivers. Could we specifically talk about how much of a driving force it was for you to try to get two talented young Americans into this new operation of yours?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I think the keyword you use there is talented. I've never been the most nationalistic guys. We always went with the talented guys first. I didn't care if they were from Italy, New Zealand, San Francisco, could be any country.
I think talented is the start. You know, it just so happens that there is this surge of American drivers right now that are guys that have been coming along and are ready to make the next step. These are obviously two of those guys. We're very proud to have them as a part of our team, and look forward to getting our arm around them as we go forward and helping them understand what our team and this industry is all about. At least the way we look at it?
Q: Graham, I don't know if Bob Crostarosa is standing by there, but Service Central has a big environment in drag racing as well. Do you know if you have any cross-promotional plans in the works with the drag racing people?
GRAHAM RAHAL: As of right now nothing that I can speak to certainly. I know that the drag racing is a big part of what they do with the Gator Nationals being right in their backyard. But we have not discussed anything like that. Bob could speak more to that.
But really, as I said before, right now the biggest thing for us as a team is we've got to focus on the task ahead. It is a couple of months, three months until St. Pete, but there's a lot to be done before then. As far as any cross promotions or things like that, I would think that Bob would be the guy to speak to anything like that.
Q: Chip, two little questions for you. You talked about the surge of American drivers. I wonder what you attribute that to and what forces have been kind of behind that? The other question is a drag racing question about Don Prudhomme being your landlord. I presume they're right across from Prudhomme's old snake racing, I think that's where this team is going to be, I'm not sure. You can correct me on that. But how will snake otherwise be involved?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, let me start with that. Yes, Snake's our landlord. It is in his shop there, his place. You're correct, it is right across the street from Forrest's(Lucas) out there in Brownsburg.
Yeah, you'll have to ask him. He's going to be involved one way or another with us somehow. He's been hanging around Indy car racing, and I think maybe his eyes are on 2012. But you never know. Don's a friend and he's welcome any time with us. In effect he's our landlord and we'll probably be seeing more of him than I care to, to tell you the truth (laughing).
Q: What about the surge of Americans driving? What entities have been behind this surge of American development?
CHIP GANASSI: Let's face it, these guys that are coming along, they may have burst on to the media scene in the last year. But the fact of the matter is they've been hard at work at their careers for many years.
Charlie's as good of an example of that. I hear these other kids names like Hinchcliffe and Hildebrand and one or two others, their names escape me at the moment. That's more indicative of what's happened four or five years ago than maybe what happens right now.
I think it became fairly evident that there was a place for young drivers to go that maybe didn't involve NASCAR of all things. I think nobody believed that for a while. It's taken this crop of guys to come along that can show that there is actually other exciting racing venues to be involved in in other series that Americans can excel at.
Q: It's not a big deal to you, necessarily, because you want the talented ones. But it is a big deal to the fans, and that is a big part of what you guys are doing out there.
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I think it is. There is certainly that group of fans that have for many years been saying we need more American drivers. I think there is a whole flock of them coming in right now that have the talent and the abilities to be in this formula for a long time.
Q: Can you just kind of describe the challenges of competing at this level when you have diabetes? How that kind of ties in with your sponsor from the standpoint of you, you're working arm in arm with your sponsor and what needs to be done to make things as comfortable for you as possible?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think the first piece of the puzzle is that I think I've got one of the best health care teams out there as far as diabetes management. My endocrinologist Dr. Anne Peters out of USC Medical has worked with Olympic Gold Medalists, ironmen and women, she's helped athletes be successful with diabetes in things that I think are more physically demanding than racing in Indy car.
Having said that, she's working very closely with me and the team to develop protocols and techniques so that while I'm driving, I don't have to worry about my diabetes. If the preparation that I do from the moment I get up in the morning on race day until I climb in the car as far as checking my blood sugar, taking the two insulins I use, Levemir and Nova log, as soon as I get in the car I'm good to compete from Green to checkered. I proved that in the last three years since diagnosis.
In fact, my first race back with diabetes, I finished second in the formula three Euro series event. So I have some tools in the cockpit to help, but it all happens largely before I get to the race weekend, and then the active management that my health care provider and I have worked on during the race weekend.
Q: Lot of announcement in the IndyCar series right now. How important that you're making this announcement with Chip Ganassi Racing, a big brand name in the sport.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: As we talked about earlier, for me, stepping up to the IZOD IndyCar Series I'm facing a huge learning curve. The opportunity to move into the series with a team like Chip Ganassi Racing, their years of history and success and now with the current champions they have on board with Scott Pruett and memo Rojas in the Rolex program, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti in the IndyCar program, there are a lot of talented drivers to help shorten my learning curve. Having Graham as a direct teammate, his proven track record already at the top level of Motorsports. I can lean on their experience to move me forward quickly.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I think for any driver to succeed, you have to do what can you to align yourself with the best, and that's what both of us have done. I can tell everybody after a year like this year, the one thing you do learn is it's not a lot of fun going racing when you don't have a shot to learn each and every weekend. So the one thing you realize is you want to do whatever you can to be in a position to be successful and to be competitive every single weekend, and we both done that here.
As Charlie said, the group of drivers here are certainly, I would say, of a team the best, possibly the best in the world. Even if you look at he named the four that are based in Indy, but you look at what McMurray and Montoya have done. Certainly Montoya's experience in IndyCar Racing, there is a lot of experience to draw on inside of this team. And I think that's going to help us, because even though I've been in IndyCar, I can promise you the learning has just gun.
Q: Does that add more pressure to you?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I don't know. There is always a lot of pressure. But I think I can tell anybody the most pressure comes from within as far as the desire and the fire inside to succeed and to win. I think every driver puts that on themselves that they want to work and get the maximum out of themselves so that they don't let their team down. I think that's where I stand.
Everybody's asking me about the pressure of my dad, and I'm sure the pressures of being associated with Chip Ganassi Racing. But everybody seems to keep their ahead down and focused and I think success will follow.
Q: I believe this is the first time that Ganassi Racing, since your formation in 1990, this is the first time you guys have plucked a driver being Charlie Kimball, straight out of the feeder series into your big car program, whichever that was in Indy car. Is that a statement that you think the Indy Lights series is now capable of producing drivers that can compete at the top level of IndyCar?
CHIP GANASSI: We're not the first to do it, certainly. And Indy Lights is a wonderful training ground for drivers in North America to understand how to race on racetracks, and ovals with the INDYCAR brand. I guess what's going to happen now for us is we're going to take a driver like Charlie Kimball, and move him to the top tier of the ladder series, and we're very excited about doing that.
Q: The program that you'll be running, were you required to acquire new chassis for them, or will they be running some of the chassis that Scott and Dario have been running the last couple of years?
MIKE HULL: I wish it would be that easy, but we've acquired equipment, and we're going to work on acquiring more equipment. The biggest thing is all of our cars are the same. Here's an interesting fact for you.
The car that Scott Dixon won the Homestead race, the last race of the year, that car has 19,000 miles on it. 19,000 miles. It won the Homestead race. I think that's probably the true definition of equipment that we run. We continually refurbish it. There are components on that car that don't have 19,000 miles on it, but the (indiscernible) does.
We'll work to make sure everything is identical as it can be from car to car as we always do.
Q: You had a good year last year, and maybe that's a great accomplishment for you to move on into something a little harder for you to do. How do you prepare for this season?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I've got a little bit of time over the winter to work on it. I think the preparation that I do physically, I'll work closely with my doctors on the diabetes side. I'll work closely with my trainer here in Indianapolis and also work closely with the team so that I'm best prepared and ready to make that step and jump into the big cars.
I keep reiterating I'm not underestimating the challenge I'm facing, and the tools I have here at Chip Ganassi Racing will make that easier than it would be otherwise, but it's still going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of experience and knowledge to gain.
Q: Graham, as far as most of you guys would race every week if you could figure out a way to do it. For you to go through a year like you did, you mentioned what that was like. But as far as your coping skills in dealing with that, the circumstances that were really out of your control can you define was there something that that you said this works and it helped you get through the next moment that you had to get through?
GRAHAM RAHAL: That year like this, there are two ways you can approach it. I feel fortunate that I got to compete. I want to say in 12 of the 17 events, which was a lot better if you had asked me in March. I didn't even think I was going to make St. Pete let alone do 12 others. So I feel like you do learn a lot.
You see a lot of different mentalities, a lot of different work ethics, and a lot of different race shops. Different approaches towards what you do. And I can tell each and every one of you that that is what makes this so special.
When you find yourself in a position like Charlie and I are fortunate to be in with a team like Chip Ganassi Racing, it truly is an honor. Because as I've said, I've experienced six other IndyCar teams now, and I guess five other IndyCar teams, but anyway, you see a lot of stuff. When you can come to a shop where your one and only concern is to be the best that you can possibly be in and outside of that car, that's a joy. When you go through a season like this, it just makes it feel so great to be able to announce something as special as we've announced today a.
Q: I know you mentioned in the press conference that it would be an open book between the two teams, but what do you expect in terms of personal interaction between the two groups of drivers? By that, are we going to see Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti take on a mentorship role for Graham and Charlie, or are Graham and Charlie going to do their own thing? What do you perceive?
MIKE HULL: We all live inside this corral called Chip Ganassi Racing, so there will not only be a lot of interaction between not only Charlie and Graham, Dario and Scott, but all of us that work together. That's what we're all about.
If you had to sum up in one sentence who we are, communication is king, so there will be a lot going on there between all of our drivers in support of each other.
Q: Graham and Charlie, if you two could talk about along with J.R. Hildebrand joining the series, what is it like to be part of this American revolution?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think Chip talked about when asked the question about bringing young American drivers or talented young American, you focused on the talented part of it. From my side it's really special to be a part of the new class, so to speak, to be able to talk about the program, announce it today, and look to the future.
Personally, I love racing here in New York, having spent time in New York. It's neat to get in front of a home crowd. The races in Southern California, especially the Long Beach Grand Prix is extra special. It's a race I went to as a kid.
So being a part of the American revolution, as you put it, is a great opportunity to continue to do what I love and drive race cars, yet connect with a lot of the people that make this series great, the fans. To be able to be out there and connect on a national level is a great chance, and one I'm looking forward to wholly embracing.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I would say much of the same as far as it is cool to see a lot of the young Americans coming up. Quite frankly, a lot of us go-cart, went go-cart racing together many years ago.
As Chip said, it's a product of lots of years of work. This is what our fans have been saying they want, more Americans and more Americans in cars that can win. So now it's time. I would certainly challenge the fans to embrace this, because there are several of us that are going to get a great opportunity next season to succeed, and so I think it's great to see the Americans there and hope that people embrace it.