Pruett, Rojas - NASCAR teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: What I'm interested in knowing is that the span of time between Rolex and Homestead and now Homestead and Barber, what do you do with all of your time, and what do you do to keep mentally attuned to racing, whether...

Continued from part 1

Q: What I'm interested in knowing is that the span of time between Rolex and Homestead and now Homestead and Barber, what do you do with all of your time, and what do you do to keep mentally attuned to racing, whether using computer simulations or whatever.

SCOTT PRUETT: Well, I do a lot of work in my vineyard and we just got done bottling and we are actually introducing the first Pruett-labeled wine at Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, the same weekend at Barber Motorsports race, which has been big.

Been heavily training, whether it's at my own home gym or whether it's at the club or any of the other things I do. And also, on a simulator, I continually work on the sim and you know, try and just keep sharp. I mean, it's always a challenge having this much time between races, and actually, it's less this year than last year. We had a bigger break last year, so I appreciate the fine-tuning of our schedule.

So it's crazy, every day goes by and I seem like I wake up and I'm going to sleep and my day is full of all kinds of stuff that I can't quite keep up with, as well as chasing kids around.

Par you know, I think it's all of those things together. But the simulator, and certainly the wine side of it has got me incredibly busy this time of year.

MEMO ROJAS: In my case, well, I spend a lot of time training. I probably work out from three to four hours a day, in the mornings and the afternoon. That's helped me a lot the last few years, and it's part of our job to stay physically fit.

And I'm not fond of simulators. I don't get the -- it's not the real thing. I like simulators for when you don't know a track. But now that you know the track, I actually enjoy spending more time training in my go-kart. I'm actually on a go-kart track now, so we are going to spend some time today running.

And when we have these gaps, I go back to Mexico City and spend time with the family and in the summer I spend all of the time in Indy training and working out, and I'm obviously, you know, with my team trying to just improve. It seems like the day is never enough.

Q: You talked about your vineyard, can you give us a capsule of how many acres and cases of wine and grapes that you have?

SCOTT PRUETT: At the house I have two and a half acres of syrah, multi-clones. This is the first vintage that's going to be called Pruett. It's actually called Pruett Vineyard, and it's, as well, if you wanted to pick up a little more information. And this will be the first time that we feel that we have the quality fruit to come through and have an absolutely wonderful wine.

And through that process, I have gotten involved with probably the biggest food and wine event in the United States, which is called the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, and that happens Saturday and Sunday, the same weekend as Barber. So after the race, I'll be flying back out to Monterey and participating in that and promoting our Pruett Vineyards syrah and Sunday.

Q: The issue with Impact Racing, with some of their safety equipment getting de certified through the lawsuit, I know you're one of the drivers in the GRAND-AM series who uses the equipment. Do you know if you're going to have to change equipment, and if you do, when that's going to have to happen?

SCOTT PRUETT: That's a very good question, and I don't know. The only thing that I use from Impact is the suit. So gloves are Oakley; helmet is Bell, shoes are adidas. So from my standpoint, I know the team is on it. Ganassi Racing is incredible and they are on it.

So I'm not sure how far it will see this go through but as a team we will certainly do whatever we need to do to keep the drivers safe. Whether it's on the IndyCar side or NASCAR side, on the IndyCar side are I believe on the same suit. It's up to the drivers for the rest of it. So I'll guarantee you that the powers that be will make and do whatever it takes to keep all of the drivers in the safety equipment they need to be in.

Q: This year seems to be a banner year for Penske; Ganassi got a win in NASCAR, and you guys got a win, and you're to the doing all that bad in IndyCar, also. The question I have is really from a fan who wants to know, are you guys doing anything differently, do you think that Penske is doing anything differently?

SCOTT PRUETT: I think that from our standpoint, you know, our biggest difference has been BMW, which has been a great change for us. Steve Dinan has been just incredible and given us good reliability and given us an engine that we feel has given us very good compatibility.

And you know, it's interesting, because racing wants teams to be this singulatory-type thing; and I was just telling Chip last year, literally you have a team owner who was in the running for three different championships, a NASCAR championship, Indy championship and our championship, which I thought was incredible.

So I think great teams continue to do what they do. When you look at Penske and his victories, and you look at Ganassi and I think those two, you have to say coming to mind, just kind of globally from North American racing. And then from there you look at Hendrick and what they achieved on the NASCAR side.

So, they just keep building on their success. They already have this incredible momentum going, and they just continue to fine tune it and get better at it.

Q: Memo, do you have an idea, also?

MEMO ROJAS: Yeah, I'm on the same page as Scott. I think on the GRAND-AM team, the only thing apart from the engine is we have a few personnel changes that it's always interesting adapting to new people. But the way the team works, I mean, we have the same car because the World Series has not changed the chassis for a long time. So we just try to maximize what we have got. You know, we have learned from little bits and pieces and tried improve the car. So I'm happy with it.

Q: I understand you're starting to convey possession of some your Rolex watches to other people; may I please have one?

SCOTT PRUETT: Well, you have to be part of the family, so when my oldest daughter turned 21, she got one and quite a step, I have a 10-year-old and 12-year-old, and they will get one when they turn 21. It's a memorable piece from their old man and his racing. So I'm not sure if you quite fall into that position, but if I have any left over, I will send one your way.

Q: A serious question I've got is: When you get in a car, you seem to turn your quickest lap while you still have a relatively full tank of gas, why does that happen?

SCOTT PRUETT: I'm just anxious to go. Again, got to go, got to go. You know, it's funny, I don't usually -- I don't know -- I don't know why. I just feel like any moment that you can gain time, you gain time, whether you're trying to catch up to them or whether you're trying to hold your lead. You just can't give up any time at any point. So I just try and every time I get in a car, just try and make it happen.

Q: Are you aware that you do that so early in your stats?

SCOTT PRUETT: Not until you said it --

Q: The vast majority of drivers get their fastest lap when they are nearly empty, within a couple of laps or three laps or four laps from pulling into the pits, where you get yours within the first five to six laps, top. I find that rather fascinating that you run-up so quick, and then I just wondered if there was some strategic aspect, but nonetheless we'll follow-up on that at Barber.


Q: With the flipover of the order of the races with Barber coming earlier in April and Virginia International Raceway coming later in the year, does that change your strategy going into either race?

SCOTT PRUETT: I don't think so. Typically the first few races, you are just -- that's a time of the year where you're looking to see who your competition are, who the major players are, what new teams that are out there that have got into the series like we saw Penske join in last year; what teams really stepped up their game this year that we have to be aware of.

But usually those first, you know, four or five races -- but, quite frankly, the fact that we are going to Barber when it's not going to be somewhere between 95 degrees and 100% humidity, you just ran them into it the ground. You just had to gear up for that race knowing it was just this horrible set of conditions.

So I think that's my viewpoint. I'm looking at this being, wow, this is going to be great going to Barber where you are focused on not just survival of the heat, but going racing.

Q: With the change over of some of the manufacturers this year with Pontiac of course gone and the Chevy Camaros coming into in the GT series and other changes, is it too early to tell it will have any effect back on the track?

SCOTT PRUETT: You know, the Camaros seem to carry really good speed into the turns. So the differential between the GT and the Camaros, that's been a bit of a challenge I think on both sides.

But I think, you know, end of the day, you have to put on a great show, because if you're not putting on a great show, the fans don't want to watch. And I think that is paramount and I believe this, wholeheartedly that that is what the root of GRAND-AM is, we have to go out there and put on a great show whether it's DP's fighting against DPs or DPs cutting themselves into the field of GTs and, quite frankly, I have lost races because DPs have won and lost, I should say because GTs have got in our way depending on the situation.

But I tell what you from a spectator point of view, I get calls after that race: "Wow, that was a great race, it's so exciting, you guys cutting away and all of the passing." And that's what we need to do.

As long as we can keep doing that and have this freshness to it, so we have the Corvettes and Camaros, we made the change to BMW; I think all of that even in this market has been pretty tough financially for a lot of people. The economy has not been exactly what we have wanted to see but at the same time we are still seeing some pretty exciting things in GRAND-AM. So you know, I love it. I'd love to see it.

Q: Earlier you mentioned about the change in the schedule and the cool temperatures that we are going to have here, that you get a lot more grip during the race. How have you approached racing at Barber?

SCOTT PRUETT: Well, typically, you know -- memo, you've been to those race, sometimes it's so hot, it's just oppressive. In those conditions -- two things. One, you lose the efficiency of the engine, so you lose more power from that side and two, because the air is thinner, you don't have as much energy to generate more downforce.

And so both of those things together and cooler temperatures with the tire, I think all of those pieces, we are going to see higher speeds. And with that, potentially, there's differences with the car that we are going to have to address, where it's a spring shot combination type issue or whether it's a downforce issue, but overall, in cooler conditions, especially at Barber where you are so commanded on downforce and acceleration, I think we are definitely just going to see some higher speeds.

Q: Do you think it will be an improved passing situation?

SCOTT PRUETT: If you're passing at Barber, you have to take some pretty big chances and there's just some really thin ground where you can get it done, and I don't see that changing. I do see the higher speeds, though, and you never know. Potentially maybe you could pull off a move on a second line that we haven't experienced before because of the ability to get a little more grip.

Those are the kind of things that we are going to find out in coming weeks.

THE MODERATOR: We have a question from our Facebook page viewers: If you had a chance to drive in the vintage event at Watkins Glen International and given a chance to drive any car from any series, from any era, what car would it be and why?

MEMO ROJAS: I would drive a car Formula I car from the Indy, when they have the turbo engines when it picked up I think more than 1,000 horsepower. I think it would be blast to drive those cars with the horsepower they had in those days.

SCOTT PRUETT: Well, I forget the number, but it's the Mercedes Group C car from Europe that Schumacher won the championship, I got a chance to drive the car in Daytona and was just a tenth of a second off the overall track record just messing around. I think with serious effort, that thing had so much horsepower and so much grip, it was just an incredible car to drive. Getting something like that around Watkins Glen would be just the ride of a lifetime.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for joining us.

-source: nascar

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Series Grand-Am
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing