JIMMY MAKAR, CREW CHIEF, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE WAY THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS UNFOLDED WITH THE NEW PONTIAC GRAND PRIX? Yeah. I think we've got a nice car there. The character of the car is...
JIMMY MAKAR, CREW CHIEF, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE WAY THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS UNFOLDED WITH THE NEW PONTIAC GRAND PRIX? Yeah. I think we've got a nice car there. The character of the car is really neat. It looks a lot like a Pontiac and has all the right looks to it. It looks like it's going to be a good, little race car. We've got the kind of downforce and drag numbers that are close to what we're looking for. Obviously, we've got a lot of work to go to fine-tune it, but I think all the potential is there for it to be a really fine race car."
DID YOU TRY TO SPECIFICALLY ATTACK SOME OF THE PROBLEM AREAS IN THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS OR DID YOU JUST FOCUS ON THE OVERALL PACKAGE? "You sort of do a little of both. It's not like you have a clean sheet of paper to build this car from, but we had some ideas of what a car like that should have been, as far as downforce on either end of the car and the aerodynamics of it - what the ratios should have been - and that's kind of what we set as a benchmark. We worked towards that and the car got to the place that we thought it needed to get to. I think it will be extremely competitive next year."
JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE WAY THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS UNFOLDED WITH THE NEW PONTIAC GRAND PRIX? "We're real happy with the race car. It's not necessarily a 'common template' race car. It just brings us more equal to what everybody else has got out there. For us, it's something to look forward to. The first one out of the box at Daytona next year is not going to be the best one we ever build. We've got room to improve every week. Pontiac has done a good job, Joe Gibbs Racing did a good job and the guys at MBV/MB2 Motorsports did a good job. We're extremely excited about the opportunity to go run a new car next year.
ON HAVING THE POTENTIAL TO IMPROVE WITH A NEW BODY "What we've done with the current model is we've definitely maximized the potential of the car and we kind of put ourselves against a glass ceiling. In doing that, we've still got a car that is pretty competitive with the other makes out there. But, next year we're going to learn things. The year after that we're going to learn things. If you compare it to the current model, we've got seven years worth of development to put into that car before we're into the same boat again. I'm sure as we go, there will be more changes made sooner that what there were with the last model. But, it just opens up a whole new animal. In the same token, there are a lot of things that we've got to go re-learn - things that we know about this car, as hard as we've worked on this car - it doesn't necessarily apply to that car. We're going to have to work extremely hard. But, anytime you work really hard it makes you smarter and sharper and keeps you on your game a little bit better, so we don't get complacent. It's going to be fun, but it's also going to be something that gives us the opportunity to go win races and that's the business we're in."
HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE NEXT 20 WEEKS, AS FAR AS GETTING NEXT YEAR'S CAR UP TO SPEED? "The car being approved now is a big deal for us. We've got a 20-race stretch here that we've got to go finish the year out. In the same time, we've got go build cars for next year in the middle of this 20-race stretch. But, I think we've done a good job at MBV/MB2 Motorsports of setting ourselves up to have the people in place to be able to go do that while we continue to race without it being a distraction. We're working hard with our engineering department right now, trying to boost that and make it stronger to where it doesn't really bother us. We can go do the things that we need to go do on a weekly basis and the big picture things are kind of happening behind the scenes.
"The reality of it is that we've been working on this car for a year now. We've been involved for a year with Joe Gibbs Racing and we've already got a pretty good grasp on the car. We're probably a little bit ahead of the curve compared to the other Pontiac teams and, for sure, as compared to the other guys that are going to come on board as Pontiac teams.
"It's extremely important (the next 20 weeks), but it's no more important than what we do weekly. We've got to be the best we can possibly be week in and week out. Now, it's juts added incentive to go get better and try to win the Daytona 500 next year."