Continued from part 1 Q: Regarding the Ford Mustang Challenge race, what is your opinion of that as a development series? SCOTT PRUETT: I like the series, the Mustang Challenge, for instance, where there's only limited things you can do...
Continued from part 1
Q: Regarding the Ford Mustang Challenge race, what is your opinion of that as a development series?
SCOTT PRUETT: I like the series, the Mustang Challenge, for instance, where there's only limited things you can do with the car. I think they change roll bars a little bit, I know they can make some shock adjustments, no weight or body changes. It's a factory spec BF Goodrich tire. When you're looking at new drivers and new talent coming into different series, that's just a natural place to begin to move from there to the GTs and from the GTs potentially into the prototypes. When you have those kind of series, the cream is always going to rise to the top. In a short period of time, what you're finding out, it's truly the driver challenge typically that's going to make those cars win because they're so limited on variations to change the cars. I think it's a great thing. I love the fact that Grand-Am has embraced it and Ford as a motor company has embraced it. They see it not as a factory-supported one-car program, about you here for grass-roots, very competitive racecar that's very affordable. As a new driver getting into the series, especially on a race weekend where they run in conjunction with the GTs and with us, what a better way to be looked at.
Q: Scott, you put your helmet on probably countless times now. When drivers put their helmets on in all forms of sport, do you think their personalities change?
SCOTT PRUETT: We've seen it. I don't know. I think it really dependent on the driver. I think you can look just back through history and see some guys when they put their helmet on they don't get their brain engaged, they get caught up in the red mist and made some bad mistakes.
The reality of it is that a lot of those drivers probably won't win championships and probably won't be around that long because team owners just can't afford them. For the most part, especially at this day and age, I don't care if you're looking at IndyCar Series, NASCAR, or if you look in our series, the drivers, yeah, I think their personality changed a little bit, they get a little more focused, a little more determined. But at the same time there's a lot of smart, very talented drivers out there that know how to get the most out of the car but also how to keep their car going to the checkered flag.
Q: Fans love racecars and sports cars, but most of them never get the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one. Can you describe how you muscle finesse a speeding sports car.
SCOTT PRUETT: It depends on the track really. You go to a place like Daytona, it's very fluid, almost like you compare it to a ballet dance. In comparison you go to some of these tight tracks, Birmingham, very aggressive with the track, very aggressive on with the car, very aggressive on the gearbox, almost like some slam dance. There's a lot more aggression that goes to that.
From a driver standpoint, it's funny, because I got a chance to take a number of people for rides over the weekend in one of the Mustang Challenge cars. From a driver's standpoint, when we get the opportunity to take passengers onboard, it's such a great experience for the passenger because it's one thing to talk about it, one thing to see it on TV, one thing to go to the racetrack and kind of watch it, but when you get in one of those cars with a professional drivers, I know Darren has done it a lot of times, too, when you're done, their jaws have dropped, their eyeballs are big as saucers, and they can't believe we do what we do and how we do it. Most of the time they're going, I didn't think we were going to stop for turn one. I thought we were going to go right off the track and crash. There's nothing more satisfying for a driver and probably almost anybody in any sport when you can get anybody, whether it's the press or just one of the fans in with you to just give them a little bit better understanding of what we do.
Q: Scott, you've been around for a while. You've seen some talent come and go. What does your teammate Memo Rojas bring to the table?
SCOTT PRUETT: A couple things. One, a great talent out of Mexico. Telmex has a whole development group of talented Mexican drivers. Some are coming to the States, some are going to Europe. He's the absolute best of what comes out from south of the border. Also with Telmex and with Memo, now we get a lot of exposure south of the border. Unfortunately we didn't get to go to Mexico this year. I think for a personal opinion, I think it's the danger with the drug wars and so on, just didn't want to put anybody in harm's way or potentially in harm's way, especially our truckers taking everything down there. That's always good from a sport standpoint. Our core is North America but going north and south of the border, especially when you have guys who their nationalities are from Mexico or from Canada, it makes it that much more exciting. Whether it's TV or the newspapers or whatever, they'll continue to follow us race after race after race and keep the fans exposed even though they may not see the race in their country, they will absolutely follow their driver.
Q: Darren, you see Watkins Glen twice during the summer. How much easier does it make it to prepare for the second race when you know you're coming back?
DARREN LAW: I guess it's not hugely different as far as part of the course. But it's a different track. It's a different setup. It's different gear ratios. From a driver standpoint, most of the guys out there have been to both the tracks several times. We feel pretty comfortable getting on and just running. It's a different preparation from the team standpoint and setup. The first time we go to Watkins is a six-hour, the second time we go back with a short race with NASCAR. So it's quite a bit different.
Q: Scott, what do you think about a 50-year-old man winning a stock car race?
SCOTT PRUETT: I thought it was awesome. I got to see the last 20 laps of that race. Mark is a good friend of mine. One I think he's got a tremendous amount of talent. Getting involved with Hendrick, I think all of us saw that as a good opportunity for Mark, but a huge opportunity for Hendrick, with all of the understanding that Mark brings, his focus and certainly his ability to I think help that team, not that the team needs any help, mind you, I'm not saying that. But I think he can just help with a few other things that Mark has learned over the year. One, to see Jeff get to Victory Lane at Texas and then to see Mark get to Victory Lane in Phoenix was awesome for me. I know those guys both very well. Especially with Mark, especially looking at it from my standpoint, which I'm one of the older guys in the sport, I thought it was just awesome.
Q: Mark is considerably older than you, isn't he?
SCOTT PRUETT: He's got to be 10 years older than me at least (laughter). I think he's lying about his age, though. I think he's more like 55 personally.
Q: Now that Grand-Am is under the NASCAR umbrella, with Ganassi you have interaction with those guys, but are you seeing more interest from your sport to stock car racing or more interest from those guys to sports car racing?
SCOTT PRUETT: No. I don't really see that because we already had a lot of that, with Daytona, with Watkins Glen, then with a couple other races during the season where potentially a couple of NASCAR drivers would come over and drive and then Daytona you had NASCAR drivers, ex Formula One drivers, IndyCar drivers. I think all of that just brings more attention to our sport. I think with NASCAR getting involved and branding our sport a bit more has been more from the standpoint where I think people see it, especially sponsors, see the credibility and the excitement of such a motorsport giant that's had so much incredible success over the years that they now have another property which they're going to use the same philosophy with, and from a sponsor standpoint they can see how awesome they've done in these other forums. There's no reason they won't do the same thing here. The entry level cost to get in our sport is significantly less.
Q: Do you have any feelers out for road races in Sprint Cup this year?
SCOTT PRUETT: I already had a point to go race at Sears Point, unfortunately it's a conflict with our Mid-Ohio race. I wish we could get that moved or race our cars in conjunction with the NASCAR at Sears Point, or Infineon as you might call it. Then we'll see what happens later in the year for Montreal, Watkins Glen
Q: How do you feel about the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers participating in the Rolex 24 At Daytona? Is it good for the Grand-Am Series or are they taking seats away from full-time Grand-Am drivers?
SCOTT PRUETT: I think it's great for the series. The stronger we are as a series the more opportunities there will be for drivers because there will be more teams. A lot of that, whether you like it or not, is driven by sponsors which ultimately is driven by the fans. So if the fans support what we do, they like the racing that we put on, they're entertained, they'll then continue to support it. As they support it, more sponsors get involved. I see that as an opportunity from our sport, which I think is just an awesome form of motor racing, just to get more eyes quicker, because some people, What is Grand-Am? Let's go watch Jeff Gordon run the 24, let's watch Jimmie Johnson run the 24, or another point with the IRL guys, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, won a race over the weekend in Long Beach, get them coming to the racetrack or anything else. We saw Daytona at the start of our season this year being one of the biggest races that I have ever seen at Daytona for the 24 Hours. So I think it's an awesome thing.
HERB BRANHAM: Scott Pruett, Darren Law, really appreciate you joining us today. We love these NASCAR/Grand-Am teleconferences. Thanks for helping us do it.
SCOTT PRUETT: Thank you.
DARREN LAW: Thank you.