P.J. Jones, who will celebrate his 49th career Champ Car start this weekend in Milwaukee, and the entire Patrick Racing team look to build on the success and promise that the team showed in their second place performance at Nazareth one month ago.
P.J. Jones, who will celebrate his 49th career Champ Car start this weekend in Milwaukee, and the entire Patrick Racing team look to build on the success and promise that the team showed in their second place performance at Nazareth one month ago. Statistics and genetics are on Jones' side. His father, Parnelli Jones, drove his Ford-powered Lotus to victory in 1964. Of the 303 wins Ford has amassed in Champ Car racing, 34 (over ten-percent) of them have come at the historic Milwaukee Mile. P.J. and his father Parnelli talked about the challenges of racing at Milwaukee, what kind of driving style it takes to win, and the role that Parnelli plays in P.J's racing career.
P.J. JONES -20- Visteon Ford-Cosworth -- MILWAUKEE IS GOING TO BE YOUR 49th CAREER CHAMP CAR START. HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS WHERE YOU ARE IN YOUR CAREER? "I feel confident in where I am and where I am going. Obviously I would have liked this opportunity with Patrick Racing to have come along a few years ago but it didn't work out that way. Sometimes you just have to take things as they come. The Patrick team is great to work with. We have scored points in the last four races and I think we are on the upswing. Milwaukee has always been a good track for me. I have always done real well there. Even last year I was running as high as seventh before we had some problems. I enjoy going there."
P.J. -- YOU SEEM TO DO QUITE WELL ON THE ONE-MILE OVALS THAT CART RACES ON. IN NAZARETH YOU SCORED A CAREER BEST SECOND PLACE FINISH. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE SMALL OVALS THAT SEEM TO SUIT YOUR DRIVING STYLE? DO YOU THINK YOUR EXPERIENCE ON DIRT OVALS PLAYS A PART? "I think my dirt track experience definitely plays a part in it. I think that's a reason I have always been strong at places like Milwaukee. But, in the past I have not been in the position to really show it. Some of my most impressive runs have come in Milwaukee and I think I have a good feel for setting up the car there and I think that place suits my driving style. Obviously it's going to be a lot different there this year because we are running the small wings so we may have to try and re-learn things again."
P.J. -- THE SUPERSPEEDWAY WINGS DON'T SEEM TO BOTHER YOU AS MUCH AS THEY DO SOME OF THE OTHER DRIVERS . . . "I don't care what kind of wings they put on the cars. I just want something that we can race with. I think (the superspeedway wings) are slowing speeds down a little bit, which is good, because I don't think we needed to be running as fast as we were. The feeling we got with the big, high-downforce wings were a lot better though. To tell you the truth I don't really care. It doesn't bother me to be sideways going through the corners."
P.J. -- YOUR DAD (PARNELLI JONES) WON AT MILWAUKEE IN A FORD-POWERED LOTUS IN 1964 AND FORD-POWERED CARS HAVE AMASSED MORE WINS (34) AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE THAN AT ANY OTHER TRACK. THE NUMBERS SAY YOU HAVE AN EDGE, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "You will take any kind of help you can get. The only down side is that we didn't do any testing there so we are going to have to get setup quick. But I am hoping that we can do well there."
P.J. -- MILWAUKEE IS THE ONLY PLACE REMAINING ON THE SCHEDULE THAT YOU AND YOUR DAD HAVE BOTH RACED ON. MIGHT MILWAUKEE, WITH YOUR DAD'S PAST SUCCESS THERE, BE THE KIND OF PLACE WHERE HE MAY BE MORE APT TO GIVE YOU SOME POINTERS? "Absolutely. He won a lot of races there and has had a great deal of success there too. He has been able to tell me things that have helped me in the past at Milwaukee, especially when I ran the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks there."
P.J. -- HOW MUCH DOES HAVING A FATHER WHO HAS RACED AND KNOWS WHAT IT TAKES HELP? "It helps a ton. It's like living with a teacher. No matter what you do you always need help and someone to bounce things off of such as ideas and different racing lines and he is the one I do that with. He is always there to help me."
PARNELLI JONES -- MILWAUKEE IS A PLACE THAT YOU HAVE RACED AT AND WON AT BEFORE. HOW MUCH HELP CAN YOU GIVE P.J.? "It's a real drivers' track and obviously you need a car that works but I think he will do well there. Last year he ran quite well there. P.J. passed a lot of cars but then the car went loose on him. It's a good drivers' track. Although they took a lot of downforce out of the car with the new wings I do think it puts a little bit back into the drivers hands."
PARNELLI -- MILWAUKEE WILL BE P.J.'S 49th CAREER CHAMP CAR START. LOOKING BACK, HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR SON'S RACING CAREER TO DATE? "I don't really think he had much of an opportunity to show what he was capable of until he came to the Patrick team. Not taking anything away from where he was before, but they were still in a development stage there. P.J. just got really complacent over there. In my mind success breeds success and failure breeds failure and not just from the driver's standpoint but with the whole crew. You have to have some feeling that you are going to do well and have something to get you pumped up and that's what I mean when I say that success breeds success. When you are not doing well and know that you don't have much of a chance how could you get pumped up. I don't want to bad mouth the team he was at before because they are showing some really positive signs of improvement and competitiveness now but when P.J. was there they were still in the development stage."
PARNELLI -- P.J.'S BEST CAREER CHAMP CAR FINISH CAME AT NAZARETH A MONTH AGO. NAZARETH AND MILWAUKEE ARE SIMILAR IN THE FACT THAT THEY ARE BOTH ONE-MILE OVALS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE SMALL OVALS THAT SEEMS TO SUIT P.J.'S STYLE? "I'd say that it's his car control. He has got a great feel for the car. I think he is a great race driver. You can see by the times and everyone fighting for times and track position that this is pretty keen competition over here. I think P.J. would tend to shine on a course more so like Milwaukee, although he is a pretty good road racer. He came out of the IMSA series where he won a few races and won the Daytona 24 hour race."