Target Chip Ganassi Racing Press Conference Transcript 2008 Indy 500 Media Tour Wednesday, April 9, 2008 PAT SULLIVAN: Chip, as I watched these individuals coming forward, including your managing partner, Mike Hull, and those two talented ...
Target Chip Ganassi Racing Press Conference Transcript
2008 Indy 500 Media Tour
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
PAT SULLIVAN: Chip, as I watched these individuals coming forward, including your managing partner, Mike Hull, and those two talented drivers, that's a reason for a smile to come across your face. That's a pretty formidable team.
!@CHIP GANASSI: It certainly is. You know, we had a good start to the season down there in Homestead and a couple hit a few speed bumps there in St. Petersburg, but I think we're up, we're certainly up for the challenge of the season and what it will bring. I think, all these guys to my left here I think have their heads in the right place as we look forward to this season, you know, and they've driven accordingly so far.
SULLIVAN: They certainly have. Scott Dixon, of course, a former series champion and almost a two-time series champion, just needed a little bit of fuel. Dan Wheldon has won this event, he has also been an IndyCar champion.
Mike Hull next to Chip. Mike, first of all, just in terms of Target Chip Ganassi, congratulations on the fact that you have already put a couple of Grand American Rolex victories into the win column and also that opening round at Homestead-Miami. That's always a good way to start any racing season.
MIKE HULL: I think the Indianapolis team, whether it be sports cars or whether it by IndyCars or, for that matter, whatever we set our minds to do, we work hard to win. It's great to start the year; it only means that you've got to follow it up. But we certainly are off to a great start, and we're happy to be part of the IndyCar Series, especially now. Winning now is even more important than it was before.
SULLIVAN: Dan, you've won this event, got your face right on the Borg-Warner Trophy, it will be there forever. Among many of our current drivers, I think at times you've been the one who has said more than any driver the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis 500: You always seem to have a very sharp focus on this event.
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I think for me it's definitely the biggest event of the year. You know, there's a lot of history behind it, but there's a lot of reasons why I'm so passionate about the event. I think obviously, you know, it's the one event where you get to be in the car nearly every day of the month. That's something that I love to do. The history and tradition and the fact the track is such a challenge. It's one of those tracks where we can run the wing angle of our choice, and if you do it a good job, you can actually get a very good mechanical balance and have a very fast race car that's very rewarding to drive. But it's a great facility; it's never the same any one particular day. I've been able to see what it's done for my career by winning the event. I think, you know, I'd love to have that feeling again.
SULLIVAN: I'm sure you would.
Scott Dixon, first of all we haven't seen you, congratulations on your marriage.
SCOTT DIXON: Thanks.
SULLIVAN: Also, as I think about drivers and drivers' careers, one of my friends in short-track racing, a driver has to learn with good times and deal with bad times and both require some work. You've had your great days in this sport, you had a valley in this sport where it was difficult to get back into Victory Lane, and you really came back, along with the team, with a vengeance last year and began the year with a victory. I imagine your optimism has to be pretty darn high going into the month of May.
DIXON: Yeah, I think all of us are very motivated. I think with the team missing the championship or coming runner-up the last two years in a row and both of us being in the top four in points is extremely frustrating. Dan missing by one point and me missing a little bit of fuel makes it very tough for us to swallow. We really want to seal the deal this year. We want to come away with a win here at the "500" and also the championship. I think we're going to be trying extremely hard. I know the team's prepared, you know, more than any other year and already for this race. Dan, I'm sure, wants to win it again and, you know, I'd sure like to taste the milk and try and win here for the first time. As far as that goes, I think that both of us are going to be pushing extremely hard to try and win this race.
SULLIVAN: Good deal. Let's open it up to questions.
Q: This is for Chip. Chip, you alluded to the strength of the team, but when you hear a guy like Bobby Rahal who has certainly done a few things as an owner, a driver, a team manager even, say a few moments ago Chip to me is the best, what does that mean to you personally? Not the usual team stuff, but to you personally.
GANASSI: Takes one to know one, "Bones." (Laughter)
Yeah, I joke about, you know, Bobby and I being here as rookies in 1982, but we've always had a great relationship over the years off the track, and I think we raced each other clean when we were on the track. I bought a few cars from him over the years. I'm really just warming him up because I need a new car. (Laughter)
I'm trying to get on his good side. But, no, you know, we obviously have a lot of respect for each other and each other's careers. You know, we both pretty much -- (inaudible)
(Note: Power failure occurred at this point throughout Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Loss of amplified audio created some inaudible portions of comments for transcription service. We apologize for any inconvenience.)
This is pretty much done -- we still want to be here, and we still want to come back here and do well. So it's nice to get those kind of accolades and things from time to time. But that's not why we're here; it's about the teams and our drivers and our effort.
SULLIVAN: It's great that Bobby is joined with you, and perhaps at this moment we can ask for a loan to get the electricity back on.
Q: Chip, what kind of branding are we looking for the third car, is that going to be under the Target brand or are you going to put something else on there?
GANASSI: You'll still see something else on it. We're currently in discussion with well over a hundred companies.
Q: We're going to get a whole bunch of little stickers?
GANASSI: We'll have something on it by the race, I'm sure.
SULLIVAN: Got three people lined up, I'll start here.
Q: Question for Scott. Scott, being a triathlete, that's a very important part, cardio and performance aspects of racing. How do you (inaudible) for swimming or running?
DIXON: I think it's more for enjoyment, to be honest. It's just another competition. For me, combining the three of those is something very tough and something I should work at extremely hard. But yeah, it's basically just another form of competition, something I enjoy and I think it helps me in racing. It's not something I do that I have to do; I do it because I enjoy it.
SULLIVAN: I've seen him at NIFS downtown and I try to say hi to him, but he's pretty quick.
Q: Alex, last year and a half or two years the races have been a hundred miles, the first one out of the box is 500 miles. What are you doing to prepare yourself to run 500 miles? It could be hotter than blazes here.
ALEX LLOYD: I think the Daytona 24 Hours was a good start, and my first stint there was three hours running, which definitely helped prepare you for it. I think I'm going into it with the idea of, A, learn as much as I can throughout the month from talking to guys like Dan and Scott and everybody else who has been there before, and Bobby and whoever I can really, to get as much information how to approach the race, but I think it's going into it with a patient attitude. It's a long race, a lot can happen, and to make sure that I'm there in that final 50 laps and then really go racing and try and be in the front group, hopefully. So, you know, I think driving in this -- I haven't driven an IndyCar on this track (inaudible) it's more physical than a mental challenge, and I'm sure the Indy 500 is going to be like that, as well. But yeah, it's going to need patience and keep that on top of my mind throughout the whole month.
Q: This is a question for Chip. With you and your team being so involved in so many different series, where does the open-wheel series fall now that the unification has happened?
GANASSI: That's a good question. I mean, you know, I don't think there's any -- you know, people ask me all the time, "Do I like one better than the other?" My answer is probably, you know, they're like children. You know what I mean? You love them equally but sometimes you love one more than the other from time to time. But at the end of the day, you care for them each just as much. So I don't really -- you know, if I say I like one better than the other, I'm going to have a lot of people mad at me.
Q: Question to Dan Wheldon. During the last time you saw a lot of transition in open-wheel drivers, especially in (inaudible) -- have you got this on your mind as well for this transition?
WHELDON: There was talk about it last year, to be honest. I personally don't get distractions, but there are people from the outside that often think that. In terms of the second part, last year did not finish the way that I would have liked it to, so I'm really going to focus on this season and put myself in a strong position for the end of the season and really not worry about that stuff, just worry about the two jobs at hand, and that's primarily to win the Indianapolis 500 and the championship.
Q: Dan or Scott, the last several years you're used to running a certain number of cars, and now that number has jumped. Have you had to maybe adopt more of a patient attitude or is it more business as usual?
WHELDON: I think there's a difference depending on where you're at, but certainly on some of the ovals we're going to go to, you have to consider you're going to be amongst more traffic, and that changes your strategy, I think. With the depth of competition now, you seem to be running a lot closer to cars. I have to say the last couple of years there was rarely traffic. The traffic you came up to you could get by so fast that it wasn't really an issue. I think that's something you certainly have to bear in mind. I think the biggest thing is from not just the drivers but for everybody in the team, you have to be so dedicated throughout that weekend because if you lose time in one section, it can be very difficult because of the depth of competition.
That's what's going to make the series so strong. I think everybody knows this -- even at Homestead, it was very difficult for the transition drivers coming in, but by the end of the race they definitely had picked up the pace, and from what I could see I thought they did a fantastic job and will get stronger and stronger.
Q: Mike or Chip, in this new arrangement with Rahal, will you be exchanging setup information between garages or is that going to be kept to your own?
HULL: I think that -- I'm not sure who, I think it might have been Chip or Bobby at the beginning of the press conference did say that we were going to help each other a bit. By that, our side, Chip Ganassi Racing is going to provide help and input to help their two-driver team because we feel it's important. We feel in our own sense with Dan and Scott that the more we help each other there, the higher up the grid we are and the better opportunity you have to win the race in the end. Seldom do we have to flip a coin as to who it's going to be. And in Rahal Letterman's case, with two drivers on the same team, they have a much better opportunity to work themselves up to the front of the grid and also up to the front at the end. Because we're very supportive of Alex, we'll be very supportive to help him with that team. So there probably will be some information that will be gained from each side as a result of that.
SULLIVAN: OK, we've got a game plan and that is the power is out everywhere, apparently. So what we know, some of you are concerned about sound, we're going to have these individuals available spread out for one-on-ones and move the program in that direction. We apologize, but that's all we can do.