Danica Patrick Media Teleconference Transcript
IndyCar Star To Compete In NASCAR Nationwide Series For JR Motorsports
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (December 9, 2009) - Racer Danica Patrick and JR Motorsports co-owner Kelley Earnhardt announced Tuesday a two-year deal for the IndyCar star to compete in a partial NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule starting in 2010. The announcement came at a press conference in Phoenix, Ariz., home to primary sponsor GoDaddy.com. Patrick and Earnhardt joined CEO and Founder of Go Daddy Bob Parsons in unveiling the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet.
The following is a complete transcript of a media teleconference featuring Patrick, Earnhardt, and Parsons.
TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT --
DANICA PATRICK (What are your feelings after this announcement?) - "We're all really excited to finally announce our partnership of me driving for JR Motorsports in the GoDaddy.com car. We've obviously had to sidestep these questions for quite a while, so it's really exciting to finally be able to talk about it and now it's time for the hard work. It's time to buckle down and learn how to drive these cars and it's going to be challenging, but we're ready, and it's time to get going."
DANICA PATRICK (What made JR Motorsports the place for you?) - "There was no mystery that I went to Charlotte a couple of times in the summer and visited with various different teams. But I think this really came together because of how competitive the car is and how good it is, but also the relationship with Bob Parsons and GoDaddy with Dale Jr. and Hendrick. There were a lot of reasons why this came together. It was really for all the right reasons."
DANICA PATRICK (Are there any future plans for you to go fulltime NASCAR racing?) - "I mean, there's no real easy answer. The first step in this whole process is to get out there and just get going. See how it goes, see if I like the car. You know there really are no extended plans at this point. It's to give it a try and hopefully be competitive and have fun. Then beyond that we'll explore from there. But obviously being competitive is an important element."
DANICA PATRICK (How do you define fun?) - "Fun, you know, smile, enjoy it, want to do it. I think fun is obviously experienced differently from all people, but it's those primary things."
DANICA PATRICK (Are you concerned with people making contact with you on the track on purpose?) - "I guess that could be a concern. Let's face it, it's still racing and if people do it on purpose, they'll get black flagged and they'll be punished. So, you can't stop people from doing what they do, but there will be repercussions I'm sure."
DANICA PATRICK (How difficult is it going to be for you to go from IndyCar mode one week to maybe NASCAR mode another week?) - "I think that's yet to be found. Hopefully it will be an easy transition. I think one of the good things is that I've been to most of those tracks in IndyCar now, other than the new ones on the schedule, and probably will have a pretty good memory of how it's supposed to feel. I think we have yet to find out, but as I said, IndyCar is the priority and we'll make sure that I'm fully prepared to do that and go from there."
DANICA PATRICK (How much time will you get to yourself once the NASCAR and IRL seasons start?) - "Oh, if I could show you all my schedule these days. I don't even think I know what airline I'm getting on anymore, I just know what time it leaves. Over the years, my schedule has really grown and grown and grown. You have the previous commitments, and then the new ones that you have, so it just keeps piling up. I think years ago I wasn't prepared for the full schedule and also these races because I just hadn't gone there yet. I talked to Mark Martin a few years ago, I was like, 'man, how do you do it? How do you drive that many races?' He said, 'you get used to it.' And I have no doubt that I will get used to it. I have over the years gotten used to a more and more busy schedule. So, I think there will be slightly more consistency and predictability with this schedule because races will be set in stone and there won't be so many random weekends where things pop up. So, I'm actually looking forward to that."
DANICA PATRICK (Will you be in any Nationwide races during the course of the IndyCar schedule?) - "I think that's something we're going to look at. As I said earlier in the press conference, our primary focus is going to be before and after the IndyCar season. But we will look at some options to running some throughout the season possibly, yes."
DANICA PATRICK (What were the snags that prevented you from maybe announcing a couple weeks ago that you were ready to do this?) - "It's just a complicated process, with two series and all this different stuff. It's just complicated so that's really the best way I can explain it."
DANICA PATRICK (Have you had the chance to maybe pick Dario Franchitti's brain a little bit?) - "I did ask him a few questions for sure. But he said he had fun. He said he enjoyed it. I think there were some things that could be learned from his experience. You kind of have to find out for yourself as well. I don't think you can always expect the same issues."
DANICA PATRICK (Do you hope that this is something that will eventually propel you to a Sprint Cup ride or, and/or can you do both?) - "Well, quite a few conflicting weekends. Complicated is an understatement for that. I think that it would be very nice to have the option. And then we'll cross that bridge when it comes.
"It would be very nice to have the option. It would be nice to do well enough and have the opportunity and we'll just see how it goes from there."
BOB PARSONS, CEO & FOUNDER of GO DADDY (You're already sponsoring Danica on the IndyCar side, and you're well entrenched in NASCAR with Mark Martin and your JRM relationship. Some might wonder that this might be a little bit of a redundancy to also sponsor Danica in NASCAR. What are the advantages to doing that from the GoDaddy perspective?) - "Well, Danica is racing on Saturday, and not Sunday which Mark is. And Danica's not going to be shy about doing things like trading paint and that sort of thing. I think it's going to be larger than we suspected. I believe we're going to be pleasantly surprised and I believe that we will be rewarded greatly as her sponsor."
BOB PARSONS (I understand Danica's slated to drive for JRM in 2010 and 2011. It seems like that the stars are aligning for possibly a Go Daddy ride for her in 2012 in Cup. Is that something the Go Daddy side would be interested in?) - "You know, just to think about it makes my eyes twinkle. But I can tell you that's the sort of thing we would have to look at when we got to that point to see how we've done, what we're looking at, and what our other obligations are. Yeah, so it's a possibility."
DANICA PATRICK (What do you get out of this opportunity?) - "I think how exciting the racing looks to me. It's very side-by-side, lots of passing, lots going on all the time. I enjoy that part of IndyCar racing. So it's really an extension of that. Obviously it's going to feel much different, and that's part of the process of learning. I'm going to have to figure out what that means [and] how that translates into a feeling for me. It's going to be a challenge. There's no doubt about it. But that's one of the things I'm looking forward to, the racing." (Is seeking out challenges one of the things racecar drivers look for?) - "I think as a naturally competitive person - you can pretty much ask anyone - you're always looking for the next challenge. There is still plenty of challenges in IndyCar. I want to win a lot more races, and I want to win the Indy 500. But I've had the ability to go beyond that right now, and I think that's really exciting."
KELLEY EARNHARDT, CO-OWNER & GM of JR MOTORSPORTS (How does bringing Danica over benefit JR Motorsports and NASCAR?) - "Well obviously, we're very excited about the relationship with Danica. It brings a whole new level of eyeballs to JR Motorsports, the Nationwide Series, and to NASCAR. We have a lot to learn about her brand, and where she wants to go and what she wants to do. We look forward to working with her on the things we can do together with her and Dale Jr., and how that can help JR Motorsports. It puts us in a great spotlight with the announcement today, and that's always exciting."
(Is there anything you can merge between Dale Jr. and Danica, or are they too distinct to put together?) - "I think they definitely have their differences, but I think they have a lot of similarities with how they connect and resonate with the fans. So there is lots of things you can do from a marketing standpoint there. We'll see how different they are once Danica gets on the track and makes her mark on the sport, and go from there."
(Is Dale's words on the change of ownership at JRM coincidental with this announcement?) - "It is coincidental that Dale announced it at the same time we were doing this. Actually, it's been on the plate for about four months that Mr. Hendrick and Dale Jr. offered Tony [Eury Jr.] and I, ownership interest in JR Motorsports. We didn't want to announce it until the end of this year. It's really effective January 1 of 2010. So we didn't feel the need to really make that announcement. It's coincidental that we're doing it all together, with this announcement and Dale's comments last week."
DANICA PATRICK (How much of participating in NASCAR right now is because you can?) - "I guess part of the reason it's happening is because I can, yeah. I mean, I think they go side by side. The option is there, the opportunity is there, the support is there with Bob [Parsons] and Go Daddy. It all came together. I think it's part of it, but I think it's just part of the reason."
KELLEY EARNHARDT (You're used to the circus surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr. Is there anything you've learned from that experience which can help Danica?) - "Yes, I guess we can pull from our experiences with Dale Jr. Obviously, I've worked with him for the past eight years, so I have a lot of experiences to go by. What it's like to deal with someone who is very popular, and who people always want things from. We can share that experience with Danica, but I think she's pretty used to that where she comes from. It will only be heightened on the NASCAR side. Our fan base is extremely loyal. It will bring a new level of attention to her that she's probably not dealt with on the aspect of NASCAR. But I'm sure she's used to a lot of it."
(What are your plans with the No. 7 car for the races that Danica won't run?) - "The No. 7 car basically takes the place of the No. 5 car at this point. We'll be running the schedule with Danica, and Dale Jr. will also be running probably two to four races with JR Motorsports. We haven't talked about his number, so we're still working on that."
DANICA PATRICK (What makes you feel like you can succeed in NASCAR?) - "First and foremost, I'm going to be able to drive for a great team. There's the adequate and proper support. I do get nervous before anything that I do, [but] I do believe in myself. That's important. You have to be there. It's easy to get down sometimes if things aren't going well, but I always try and stay positive, and know that I can do the job. My Dad reminds me every now and again if I get down, that anytime I jump in a car, I always do a great job. It's about bringing everything together. I think that's really what we were able to do on the front end of this, to drive for a good team and have the right support, which is what every driver could hope for."
(How did Michael [Andretti] take all of this news?) - "I think the best answer would come from him, really. But what I've heard him say is that he respects that I want to try something else. He remembers what it's like to be a driver and want to do that, and he supports that."
KELLEY EARNHARDT (How do you expect Danica to be greeted in the garage by her peers?) - "I expect her to be respected right off the bat. I've already talked to a lot of different drivers and team owners, and got congratulations on this deal from various people. I think everybody is excited about her entering the sport. It's good for our sport. It's good for NASCAR. It's good for our fans. I think she'll be welcomed, and I think people will want to help her succeed. It's really good for everybody."
DANICA PATRICK - "I can say one of my greeting moments. I was talking to Tony Eury Jr. who is going to be my crew chief, and I had never had a Krispy Kreme doughnut. I was getting ready for a photo shoot a few weeks ago, and I couldn't eat the pizza that was there. So he said, 'after your photo shoot, I'm going to send you some Krispy Kreme doughnuts'. And sure enough, I was at a photo shoot the day after and I had eight boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts [show up]. Eight boxes!"
DANICA PATRICK (How would you characterize your relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr.?) - "It's good. Actually, we met under really funny circumstances. We went and shot Jay-Z's Comeback video in Monte Carlo, and that was the first time we were able to meet. Jay-Z had asked if I'd ever met him before, and I said no. And he said, 'well, glad I could facilitate that for you'. So we met under odd circumstances, but we hit it off really well. He's a really nice guy. I have a lot of respect for him, and I have a lot to learn from him. We get along great."
(Can Dale Jr. help you deal with some of the aspects of the NASCAR circus?) - "Well, as Kelley had touched on, I have dealt with this on some level. I don't think there is any way to guess what it will be like for me, with IndyCar and then NASCAR on top of it. I'm really fortunate. It's a great opportunity. But I'm sure there are some little things that are different, with maybe the places that fans are allowed at the NASCAR tracks, and how to maneuver about in the pit area, so I can do my job. But outside of that, I think a lot of it comes from being surrounded by good people, like my family, my husband, and good people like Kelley and all the mechanics and the crew chiefs. So I try to keep my head on straight with good people around me."
KELLEY EARNHARDT (How much pressure do you think will be on Danica during this transition?) - "Obviously, Danica is coming over from another form of racing, and she hasn't been in a stock car at any consistent level. So it's definitely going to be a challenge for her. But like she said earlier, she believes in herself, and has the confidence and competitive nature to get on the racetrack. I've driven before [and] I know what that's like. I know the feelings that come with that.
"From a JR Motorsports perspective, we're just really thrilled to be partnered back with Go Daddy, and continue that relationship, and bring Danica into NASCAR. It will be what it is. We'll give her everything there is to give and all the resources to get out there and do a good job. We'll see what that looks like. But there certainly is pressure for all of us to perform, no doubt."
DANICA PATRICK (Do you think you have to win over NASCAR fans?) - "I think it's an interesting subject to touch on. From my experience, a lot of times there are IndyCar fans, NASCAR fans, and then there are just pure racing fans. But I hope that it will be a warm welcoming. I hope that they will understand running in both series, and be excited that there is more of Danica to watch on race weekends. I try to do the best job possible with the fans at all times. It has to be understood, I am there to do a job that weekend. But with my spare moments, other than working with my engineer, or my crew chief to make the car as good as possible, and eating meals, I try to take as much time as possible for [the fans]. Especially the kids, they're so impressionable."
(When do you begin working with Tony Eury Jr.?) - "Tony Eury Jr. is the crew chief, and I'll work with him. Our plan is to hit the ground running at Daytona for the ARCA test leading up to the February 6th race at Daytona.
"There are no plans right now for [additional tests]. We're going to see how it goes in Daytona at the end of the month, and then take it from there. I know that Kelley has been great, and she said that anything I need to be ready for that race, and beyond, is what we'll do. So we'll just have to see how it goes."
(From afar, you seem like a driver that won't take any crap from anyone. How will you approach that in NASCAR?) - "I'll just explain how I went about it in IndyCar, which is how I'm going to go about it in NASCAR. Look, I'm the new kid on campus. I will respect them completely, all of them. And we'll go from there. I'm going to start by giving them all respect, and if they don't play fair out there, we'll address it as needed. In IndyCar when I started, I started off by not really even talking to anyone because I was just quiet, and just observing. I had so much respect for all these drivers that I'm not going to come in and try and pretend I'm something that I haven't yet proven to be. So I'm going to play it cool, play fair, and have fun."
KELLEY EARNHARDT (Does getting together with Danica give JR Motorsports the potential to go Cup racing?) - "I mean that would certainly be nice, but I don't think any of us know that now. We've talked about entering the Cup Series before, and it is something we look to do. If this is the right fit, it's the right fit. But I think we'll find that out."
BOB PARSONS (You've got a lot of NASCAR drivers under the Go Daddy umbrella now. How do you want to utilize them?) - "It really is driven by what our creative happens to be, and the medium that we're advertising on. We expect to use Mark [Martin]. We have used Brad Keselowski, and we've used Dale Jr. But as far as our main ads are concerned, things that are Super Bowl level, Danica is our star."
DANICA PATRICK (Do you find it interesting or unusual that you and Mark Martin represent the same brand?) - "I don't, no. He's a great driver. He has done incredibly well, and he is well liked. I think that is a great machine to drive Bob's business even higher."
(Do you expect more distractions, or a steeper learning curve getting acclimated to stock cars?) - "I'm sure it's going to be a steep learning curve. What that slope looks like is yet to be determined. It probably won't even get determined, maybe until the first six months. It's going to be challenging and we just don't know where it is going to fall. But hopefully it will be good from the get go. I'm set up as well as I could be for success, [in] that I have the right support and the right team. So we have the best chance.
"I really feel like I have a great team of people around me to grab those distractions and handle them. So as my business grows, I've acquired more and more people to start handling it. It's leaving me with more time to just drive the cars. It's a good situation."
KELLEY EARNHARDT (What was the most challenging thing for creating the Danica package for JR Motorsports?) - "I don't think there was anything that was the most challenging for us. Figuring out what Brad [Keselowski] was looking to do, and once he made the decision for him to go to Penske and Cup, it opened the door for us to really evaluate the opportunity with Danica, and get really serious about that. So that was kind of late in the game for the year. I didn't find anything really challenging about it. We hit it off from the first time that we met. Obviously, we've been partners with Go Daddy, so we know how they work. Just getting all the variables together on how she wanted it to work and how Go Daddy wanted it to work was really the challenge. You do that with every sponsor and driver."
(Can you talk about the No. 7 car? Will it race full time, or will Danica have to qualify on speed?) - "At this point, we don't have it identified for JR Motorsports if we'll be running two full-time teams. I really can't answer that at this point. As far as qualifying on points, she does have the opportunity to make the first races, if she drives in any of the first five races in the series."
(Can you talk about how you might appeal to new fans in NASCAR with a women owner, women driver combination?) - "Well, I think that is what's really exciting about it, is the female aspect. Obviously, there are lots of demographics in NASCAR. Females are the ones who are buying products and taking care of the homes, and supporting a lot of the brands that are in NASCAR. I'm excited about the young girls and bringing them up as fans in the sport, and really just the power of women in general. So they can look at somebody like Danica, or myself, and say, 'hey, that's something I want to do'. They can see that it's feasible for it to be done. I think that is what's really fun about it. The way the young females can gravitate toward it and it can open up a door for people to become fans of NASCAR motorsports."