This Week in Ford Racing October 23, 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series Scott Roembke, the long-time General Manager of Team Rahal, was elevated to Chief Operating Officer at the end of the 2000 season. Since joining Team Rahal in 1992, Roembke...
This Week in Ford Racing
October 23, 2001
CART FedEx Championship Series
Scott Roembke, the long-time General Manager of Team Rahal, was elevated to Chief Operating Officer at the end of the 2000 season. Since joining Team Rahal in 1992, Roembke has been one of the driving forces behind the success of the Hilliard-based organization. Roembke oversees the day-to-day operation of the 90-member Champ Car team, which is owned by three-time CART champion, Bobby Rahal, and his partner, talk-show host David Letterman. Roembke took some time before departing for Australia to chat about Team Rahal and Kenny Brack's chase for the CART FedEx Championship Series championship with just two races remaining in the 2001 season.
SCOTT ROEMBKE - Chief Operating Officer, Team Rahal
COMING OFF KENNY'S RESULTS AT HOUSTON [7TH] AND LAGUNA SECA [25TH], WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP HEADING INTO THE FINAL TWO RACES OF THE SEASON?
"Obviously we'd like to be in the [points] lead or closer to the leader [Gil de Ferran] than we are, but we struggled in Houston and Laguna Seca. This late in the championship you don't want to go out on the first lap like we did at Laguna Seca and you don't want to have a car that wasn't competitive like we had in Houston. That said, those were just two races out of 20 and we're very confident going into Australia and Fontana that we can run up front and win both of the those races. Certainly Gil and the Penske guys are the ones to beat and we're going to throw everything we have at them to try and beat them."
WHAT WILL BE YOUR STRATEGY FOR THIS WEEKEND'S RACE AT SURFER'S PARADISE?
"I think our strategy for the last two races of the year is not unlike the strategy that we've used all season long. We're going to go out and try to win both races. We've said all along from early June when we were in the championship lead that you just run as hard as you can, use your head and try to win as many races as possible and at the end of the year they'll add up the points and we'll see where we come out. I think that if you try to get too cute, that's where you can fall into trouble."
DO YOU FEEL THAT THE CHAMPIONSHIP WILL BE DECIDED THIS WEEKEND IN THAT KENNY HAS TO COME AWAY WITH SIGNIFICANT POINTS AND HOPE THAT DE FERRAN DOES NOT IN ORDER TO HAVE A SHOT AT THE TITLE IN FONTANA?
"I think that if you look at the points, obviously we need two races to make it happen, but we also need to have a good result in Australia. Going into Australia this year we're a little bit closer to the [championship] lead than we were last year and we had a chance going into the season finale at Fontana. And I think that's all you want, is to have a chance to win it. Last year that chance was pretty slim and what we'd like to do this year is to go into Fontana with a good chance to beat him."
KENNY HAD A GOOD RESULT IN AUSTRALIA LAST YEAR [2ND], SO IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DRAW FROM THAT EXPERIENCE TO HELP YOU THIS YEAR?
"I think Australia is a very unique circuit, and I don't think it has a lot in common with a lot of our street circuits because it's so long. You get to the chicanes and then you have long straightaways and I think that favors our motor because the Ford-Cosworth engine puts out a lot of good power. It's kind of unique, and it's a track where both Kenny and Max [Papis] can hustle the car and is a bit more forgiving in that regard than say, Houston would be. We've run well there with Max the year before last, we ran well with Kenny last year, Bob [Rahal] always ran well there, so I just think it's a drivers circuit. It's a circuit that a driver can make things happen and has a bit more openness than most other street circuits."
KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE TO SCORE POINTS THIS WEEKEND IN AUSTRALIA, DOES THAT FORCE YOU TO GAMBLE MORE IN YOUR RACE STRATEGY?
"The strategy for the race, we always analyze that stuff to death for weeks upon weeks, and then the race starts and all that stuff goes out the window. I think you just react to what happens on the track with the yellows, and I think Max and his guys did a masterful job of that at Laguna Seca two weeks ago. They didn't have a car that was going to drive through the field and win the race, but they certainly took advantage of the situation that came to them and at the end of the day they won. I don't think they went into the race planning to stop five times, but it just happened. That's what we try to do with every race; to see what the situation dictates. In our situation it's usually pretty simple because when you're running at the front, most of the guys at the front do the right thing. It's when you're in back during certain situations that you have to maybe get more aggressive with the strategy. Hopefully if we do our jobs down there we'll be running up front and everything will be much more cut and dried."
IT THERE ANYTHING THAT CONCERNS YOU HEADING INTO THIS RACE, SUCH AS YOUR PREPARATION OR TEAM FATIGUE BEING THAT IT'S CLOSE TO THE END OF THE SEASON?
"Oh, I think it's the same for everyone. All the teams have been through it and it's been a long year, but our guys are in the championship hunt, we've won six races this year and our guys are pretty pumped up. They look at this as an opportunity to win two more races with both teams so if that's not enough to carry you through then you're probably not doing the right thing."
IN YOUR DISCUSSIONS WITH KENNY, WHAT ARE HIS THOUGHTS HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND'S RACE?
"The last time I talked to Kenny was immediately following Laguna Seca and obviously he was disappointed with the outcome as you'd expect and he's gone off to Australia early to rest and recharge. But I know that he'll show up Thursday morning ready to go like he's done every other race and we'll approach this event like we've done for every other one."
HAS THIS BEEN A SUCCESSFUL SEASON FOR TEAM RAHAL REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"Well I think it's been a successful year by the numbers, but we started off the season wanting to win the championship and we're sitting here with two races to go and we still have that opportunity. When everything is said and done, certainly the number of pole positions, laps led and race victories that we have is very gratifying, but we want to win the whole thing."