DETROIT (Nov. 7, 2000) - After seeing its ranks swell to its largest size in 10 years during 2000, Pontiac Racing is looking ahead to the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup season knowing it will be smaller, but expecting to be just as strong. Pontiac...
DETROIT (Nov. 7, 2000) - After seeing its ranks swell to its largest size in 10 years during 2000, Pontiac Racing is looking ahead to the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup season knowing it will be smaller, but expecting to be just as strong.
Pontiac will be led by the return of four of its top five teams in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings and will also be joined by two new driving talents. Those six teams will have big numbers to try to back up in 2001, after producing Pontiac's most successful season in recent memory. But those involved with the program see plenty of promise in the leaner, quality-laden lineup.
THOUGHTS FROM JEFF CHEW, MARKETING MANAGER, WINSTON CUP ACTIVITIES, GM RACING
.is Pontiac concerned about having fewer teams committed for the 2001 season as compared to this year?:
"For 2001, we currently have six teams committed to run Pontiac Grand Prixs in Winston Cup competition. While it would appear that a 40 percent reduction in the number of teams fielded would be a cause for concern, if you look at the Pontiac teams remaining and correlate that with our overall on-track performance in the win category and manufacturers points accumulation, the core nucleus of what has become a very successful program remains.
"Pontiac is quite comfortable with what we expect to be another season of exciting, high-visibility on-track performance."
.what is more important on the racetrack when it comes to meeting the end objective of selling cars in the showroom?:
"The 'quality versus quantity' issue has come up as a point of contention throughout the 2000 season. You' ve got to realize that the success of the program - whether it's a sponsor, a team or a manufacturer - has to be measured by the amount of quality exposure you receive. Obviously that is obtained primarily through your on-track performance. Pontiac has several, top-producing teams in place that will ensure we receive tremendous exposure, as well as continue to strengthen Pontiac's association with these successful organizations. "You also cannot discount the celebrity endorsement value in being associated with successful, high visibility drivers. The fans are loyal to the drivers and we're fortunate to be associated with the high-caliber competitors that we have currently driving the Pontiac Grand Prix."
.what are your expectations for some of the teams that will be running for Pontiac in 2001?:
"For 2001, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Pontiac's overall on-track performance won't improve relative to this year. Obviously, we've got a rock solid base with the Joe Gibbs Racing operation and their two-car team. The new two-car team of MB2 and MBV has already shown flashes this season of what should be a very rewarding year for them in 2001, and both A.J. Foyt Racing and Eel River Racing have made positive gains - including their announcements of new drivers for next year - as the season has unfolded.
"I think one of the most important things to look at is that all six Grand Prix teams that are set for 2001 have gotten stronger during the second half of the season. Momentum obviously has a lot to do with success in this sport and that bodes well for Pontiac as a whole next season."
.does Pontiac expect to be able to improve the support it provides to its remaining teams in 2001?:
"The reduction in the number of teams that we're fielding will allow for our engineering and technical staff to spend more time with each team that we've got during the 2001 season. The support we provide to our teams is delivered in a number of different ways - it's not just one-dimensional - and overall, this gives us the benefit of being able to channel our resources in a more focused manner. That's another reason, in addition to our team's improving their operations, that we feel very good about heading into 2001."
.with all that Pontiac has accomplished in the last two seasons, have you seen any change in the division's approach to racing?:
"Pontiac's performance heritage is an integral part of the division's marketing strategy. Obviously, success in NASCAR has certainly contributed to this and will increasingly be included in various brand marketing activities for next year and the years to come. Pontiac is 'Driving Excitement,' and when we go out and achieve success on the racetrack - be it NASCAR or NHRA - it adds credence to that image. It does nothing but reinforce the fact that Pontiac is all about performance.
"Obviously, the brand is increasingly utilizing their presence in NASCAR to market the Pontiac Grand Prix. The 'WideTrack Attack' is part of their 2001 strategy and has become a very important part of their marketing plan."
THOUGHTS FROM JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 AARON'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
.how do you feel about Pontiac Racing fielding fewer teams in 2001?: "I don't think it can be anything but a positive. It doesn't matter what you're doing - if you're in racing or you're in farming - the more you stretch yourself out, the harder it is to focus on the main objective. I think it is going to be good for us, for sure. I think it is going to get us more time in the wind tunnel, more time with the engineers and more interest in what we're doing. Not that they've ever short-changed anybody on that intentionally, but when you get strung out, it's kind of hard to focus your attention the way you'd like. I think it's going to make us, as a Pontiac-support group with all the teams, be a whole lot stronger."
.is information only shared among teammates or is it shared among all the Grand Prix teams?:
"You start with your teammate, certainly, but there is always somebody that can trade you something. The barter system in this garage area is still unbelievable. It's nice to be able to draw from some other sources, but there is no reason to have 15 teams to draw from. You can do the same thing with five or six, so that part of it will be good."
THOUGHTS FROM JIMMY MAKAR, CREW CHIEF, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
.how do you feel about Pontiac Racing fielding fewer teams in 2001?:
"From our perspective, having less Pontiacs in the field is not going to really affect our race team. Between the '20' and the '18' car, we learn enough between each other to not necessarily have to have a large group of other Pontiac owners and teams in the sport. There are still going to be several of them out there, and we're still going to try to work with those guys that are still involved, but I don't see it being a problem at all to Joe Gibbs Racing. I think we'll be able to be just as strong as ever."
.do you see some positive benefits coming out of the smaller effort?:
"Certainly. With fewer mouths to feed there should be more resources to go around for the teams that are involved with Pontiac and that's a positive, for sure. Anytime the technology that comes out of General Motors and Pontiac can be divvied up to a fewer number of people, I think we'll see more benefits."