2007 ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE Saturday, July 28, 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Reed Sorenson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, Chip Ganassi MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined in the Economaki Media ...
2007 ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE
Saturday, July 28, 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Reed Sorenson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, Chip Ganassi
MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined in the Economaki Media Center by our second-quickest qualifier for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, and that's Juan Pablo Montoya driving the No. 42 Texaco Dodge. And Juan, talk about that run out there today. I know in 2000 when you won the Indy 500 you were on the outside pole. Talk about your qualifying lap.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The lap was pretty good until Turn 4. We were right there with Reed and got a little too loose coming out of 4, and I had to get on the gas. I think the lap was pretty good. Reed did a pretty good job, and the whole Ganassi organization did an amazing job. They've been stepping up the game every week. It's good to see a team going in the right direction, and actually to get the front row here at Indianapolis I think is a big deal for Chip and everybody.
MODERATOR: Let's have questions.
Q: Juan, now that you know you're going to be starting on the front row, how key is it to have that track position early?
MONTOYA: I think we just got to be patient, work with the car and see what happens. I think tire wear is going to be a big thing to start with. I think my tire wear was pretty good in practice, so just got to be patient and just try to run a good, clean race and see at the end whether you have a chance of winning or get really good points. For the whole team it's important to score really good points; and being up front, it's a big deal.
MODERATOR: Do you have a question? Anybody else here?
Q: I heard when you came in, you're a rookie supposedly, but how do you compare driving an IndyCar and winning the 500 to driving a Cup car here at the Speedway?
MONTOYA: I think they're very different cars. Both are a lot of fun. You know, when you come to the Indy 500, you've got like three weeks or four weeks or whatever just to keep working on the car, fine-tune it here, fine-tune it there, do long runs, short runs. By the time you get to the race, if you do good work, you're going to have a really good car. Where here, you know, I'd have been here running the oval for seven years, the only time I run it is when I did the Indy 500. You get two-and-a-half hours of running and that's it, one-lap qualifying and getting to the race. So we start a little bit behind in practice, like today was hard. We were struggling. We made a lot of changes, and I thought our car at the end was pretty good.
MODERATOR: Anybody else down here have a question for Juan? We're good. Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
MODERATOR: OK, got everybody gathered in here. Sorry for the miscommunication and appreciate Juan coming back here in. We've got Juan Pablo Montoya joining us again, our second fastest; and also have our third fastest, and that's Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 alltel Dodge.
I'm going to have Juan take a few questions and then we'll release him since he's been here before.
Anybody have any questions for Juan.
Q: Can you just take us through that, you and your teammate in the front row, Chip Ganassi and everybody hugging down there, and your lap?
MONTOYA: It was good. I thought I had a chance at it, and I thought it was going to be very close. Coming through the last corner, I went wide open a little bit too early, and the car stepped out and I couldn't keep it wide open. Everywhere else I managed to keep it wide open when it stepped out and just was a little too greedy. Reed has been really fast all day today. We started really far back, we struggled. And my whole Texaco team did an amazing job bringing the car to a competitive stage, and it's good. It's good. I think we should have a very competitive car tomorrow. So I think it's great. It shows, you know, you can start seeing indications where the team is going, where the team is heading. There's going to be great weekends; there's still going to be some bad ones. But it's nice to see, to show everybody what the team can do.
MODERATOR: Question in the back.
Q: Some people talking about how your experience with the Indy race a few years ago might translate to today. Do you hold anything to that or is this a whole different animal for you?
MONTOYA: Completely different animal. It probably helped me a little through Turn 1. I changed my line for qualifying a little bit, and it paid off. I was really bad getting into the bottom, I was really loose. I just run a groove higher, and it really worked pretty good.
MODERATOR: Other questions for Juan?
Q: You said you've come to appreciate your 500 victory a little more as time has gone by. Have you also gotten a better appreciation for what this place means to Chip?
MONTOYA: Yeah, I think it's a big, you know, a big deal for everybody coming to Indianapolis, a big deal. I think the six years I was here coming to Formula One, it was funny, most of the years we came here, we had great cars and had the worst luck. So, you know, being competitive again is great. You know, we did it with the 500, and, you know, hopefully either of us or any of the three drivers can win tomorrow. Of course, I would rather it be me than anybody else; but if it's not me, hopefully any of the other two Ganassi cars.
MODERATOR: Any other questions?
Q: It's been said at Indianapolis that this is really a road race with no right-hand turns, at least you try not to have too many. Is that what your experience has been, that this is more of a road course feel than an oval feel?
MONTOYA: Not really. It's the same feel. The feel is the same feel I had when I came here and drove the open-wheel. It's four corners, each one is a little -- they're supposed to be equal but each one is a little different, and each one has its little tricks. In open-wheel, it's very good around this place, and I'm still learning a little bit where to go and where not to go and what to do. There's a lot of transitions in the racetrack that are very important to run good, and we're just learning them.
Q: Knowing that you do have a good piece now, does your outlook for having a chance to pull this off change?
MONTOYA: I don't know. I really don't know. (Laughter).
I think the guy to beat tomorrow is going to be Reed, to be realistic. I think he would do a good job through the day, and we might have a chance. But he was just very quick in practice, and, you know, it's good to see him do it well. He won last weekend, and it was great for the team and for the whole organization. To be competitive again, it's great.
MODERATOR: Any more questions for Juan before we release him?
Juan, thanks a lot, thanks for coming back.
Pleased also to be joined by third quickest, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 12 alltel Dodge. Congratulations on a great lap out there. Talk about it.
RYAN NEWMAN: The biggest thing was the fact that we picked up so much time from practice. The alltel Dodge was, you know, 34th or whatever in practice and the guys did a good job. Did one qualifying run, we worked on race trim the entire time. Got one qualifying run in at the very end, and that made a big difference. For me just to be able to get a feel for what the car was going to be like and to make some changes on the car and work with what we learned from Kurt and the 2 car were doing to make improvements on the car was definitely thankful and paid off. So to pick up seven-tenths in worst conditions was a great run for us. Wish we could have been a little bit better. Been on the front row here before, so third is a good starting spot. Where we were at many points today, it was a great improvement and the guys did a great job hustling with the car.
Q: Ryan, which of the Dodges have the '06 nose?
NEWMAN: I believe the Ganassi cars and the Penske cars, to my knowledge. Outside maybe of some single-car teams, I think that's it. I think Petty cars and Evernham cars have the '07 nose, but I'm not 100 percent sure on that.
Q: What do you feel different in the car with the old nose?
NEWMAN: I think the old nose made more downforce, but the percentage wasn't correct, especially for race trim. So I think we made the right decision, obviously, to bring the '07 car here. And outside of that, either car is legal, doesn't really matter. Just a matter of who's there on Sunday and who's standing in Victory Lane.
MODERATOR: Other questions for Ryan?
Q: I'm wondering if you could be the person to beat? Do you think Sorenson is not the guy to beat tomorrow as Juan just said?
NEWMAN: Everybody is the person to beat. Track position is so important. We've seen in places like Richmond even where just a mediocre car gets out front and the guys that are good most of the day get in the back and they can't pass. Everybody is a competitor and you can be your own worst enemy. So we have to stay focused and do our things right and hopefully we're in the right position at the end of the day to capitalize.
MODERATOR: Other questions for Ryan, anyone? Go a question in the back.
Q: Ryan we heard a lot about tires earlier today. Kind of relate tires to the weather conditions and how things changed as the day went from earlier to later.
NEWMAN: The idea was we wanted to have -- I guess they gave us a long practice session to fill the rubber in on the racetrack and the grooves. Honestly, I'm not sure why the racetrack is the way it is, the grooving and whatnot. I assume it's to make the track smoother but it's definitely made it a different situation with the tires. Obviously Goodyear has a tire that was the same compound that we had here last year. There were a couple incidents in the race, but outside of that, it kind of is the way it is. I still anticipate seeing the competition at some point tomorrow just because no team out there has done a fuel run in practice and we were all seeing corded tires. But the weather itself, you know, having three-and-a-half hours today to practice or whatever it was was plenty of time to be able to get tuned in. The guys tuned in tomorrow did their work today. It should be business as usual once we get past either the competition caution or the first fuel tank, fuel run.
MODERATOR: Any more questions? Ryan, thanks for your time. Good luck.
NEWMAN: Thank you.
MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined in the Economaki Media Center for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, our pole sitter for tomorrow's race, first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series pole. He drives for Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates Racing. Congratulations to Reed Sorenson, driver of the No. 41 Target Dodge.
Reed, your emotions about being on the pole for the Brickyard.
REED SORENSON: It's obviously an awesome place to get our first pole. First pole got in the Cup car for Target for me. I'm pretty excited. I know it means a lot for Chip and everybody involved. Hopefully we can stay up there all day tomorrow. I think we've got a pretty good race car. It was really good in race trim and then we put it in qualifying trim, and it was really good, as well. It should be pretty good.
MODERATOR: Chip, your thoughts. You've got top two qualifiers today, your thoughts about that coming in tomorrow's race.
Just the team's worked hard, we continue to work hard week in and week out on a lot of things. You know, while we can work hard back at the shop to come up with great equipment, you still need drivers to push the button, and certainly the two guys on the front row tomorrow pushed the button today when it came to doing the lap, and doing what's important. Now it's just a matter of focusing on the race.
MODERATOR: We'll take questions for either Reed or Chip.
Q: Reed, you're obviously confident about your race car, but Juan was in here a little bit ago and sort of declared you the guy to beat. Do you feel you want to argue with him? (Laughter)
SORENSON: I think both of our cars is pretty good. He thinks his is good, as well. It's hard to tell lap time-wise because there's no rubber on the track, and nobody could do a long run. It's going to be hard to tell, we'll have to wait and see tomorrow. All we could go on today is what the cars felt like. Lap time-wise, we looked really good and so did my two teammates. So we don't know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow. We ran in a little bit of shade and a little bit of sun. I think the sun is going to be out pretty much all day tomorrow, and we'll have to see what the tires will do once we put rubber on the track and it changes the way things are.
Q: Reed, we caught you just as you were coming back toward the garage area. You weren't too sure that time was going to hold up when we saw you earlier. Was there a point, and Chip same for you, was there a point as the line-up kind of dwindled down that you felt pretty comfortable that you were going to stay on top?
SORENSON: The two biggest threats we had were my two teammates. Once Juan went, he ran a really good lap, that made me breathe a little easier. And David had a really good lap, and I breathed a little easier. But I was nervous the whole time because going out second, we knew we could lay down a good lap but we were nervous about it getting cooler. The sun stayed out for us, which was good. I was nervous all the way down to the last car. Once the last car crossed the start/finish line, I felt better.
Q: Two-part question for you, Chip. This has got to feel a little like deja vu having the Target colors right up front again like in 2004. Are you ready to start fielding the questions from the other manufacturers about Dodge being up front like they are with one, two, three and many other spots?
GANASSI: Yes, certainly it is deja vu having the car up there again and obviously it's even better to have his teammate alongside him, and David 10th, as well. You know, we just seem to have something about this place that our team likes. You know, while this is certainly a high point and certainly a huge accomplishment to have the two cars up front there and all three in the top 10, you know, it's a tough question because we're trying to build our team week in and week out. We're trying to get better, better, better each week, and you get better in this business one brick at a time. You don't lay up a whole wall at once and make a big move. You make incremental steps week in and week out. And this is just another step and, you know, it's nice to know that our cars are good, our engines are good, our drivers are good. And, you know, while that sounds like a small thing, it's really not.
You know, Reed can tell you, we've been working on this for a long, long time to get our team in a position. You know, you have one car up there or, you know, we qualify -- I can't tell you how many times we qualified seventh, 22nd and 33rd, you know. You kind of think what kind of team is that, you know. We showed up here today and all our cars were quick and we were working as a team, and it paid off when it had to.
MODERATOR: Question in the back.
Q: Chip, I take a look and I see a Penske, and No. 2, I see Ganassi or in the third position, the two Ganassi cars. Then we also see a merger this week between Robert Yates Racing and Newman-Haas. You've already been in that position with the open-wheel cars as has obviously Penske. Are you benefiting from the cross-pollination between the engineering staffs and the things that go with it or is this such a dramatically diametrically opposed racing series that there is no carryover?
GANASSI: There is certainly some carryover, and I think more teams that combine like that will figure that out. But I still think you've got to look at it on a case-by-case basis. You know, we've been beating our head against the wall for a long time in this business, and we're going to continue to do so, and wherever that takes us. But there is some benefit of having just more heads in the game that you can get an honest answer from.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the momentum you have right now, Reed, after winning the Busch race? And also talk about the fact that you got this pole at Indianapolis and what Indianapolis means to you. This is a very big day.
SORENSON: Yeah, we had a great run last weekend winning, and I don't know if it's just coincidence, everybody on my Cup team was pumped up about the win. And as soon as I got here, all those guys were talking about the Busch win. It got them excited, and this will definitely get everybody pumped up on the whole team, not just mine.
So I'm pretty excited about everything from this point on. We've had some things happen this year we didn't want to, but we got a lot of stuff to look forward to the rest of the season. So everybody on the team is pumped up. This is a great way to start the weekend, and hopefully our car is good all day tomorrow and we'll finish it out.
Q: Can you talk about Indianapolis?
SORENSON: You know, I don't think it matters where you're from when you come into this place. It kind of opens your eyes up a little bit. First of all, how big it is. and it's been here for so long. And I've watched some races, IndyCar races from the '40s here, and this is just a really historic place. To have your name in the record books here means a lot. You know, it's just really neat to be here and to be able to do this.
MODERATOR: Other questions for either Chip or Reed, anybody?
OK, gentlemen, congratulations and good luck tomorrow.