Continued from part 1 Q: Justin, five of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's eight Champ Car titles came from the split years. Some people might see that, put forth the question whether or not your team is truly one of the better racing teams in ...
Continued from part 1
Q: Justin, five of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's eight Champ Car titles came from the split years. Some people might see that, put forth the question whether or not your team is truly one of the better racing teams in North America. Where do you gauge your team's chances in the long-term as far as proving that Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has and always has been one of the top operations in IndyCar?
JUSTIN WILSON: I don't think it would be fair to judge them on 2008, because we're starting so late in the season. I think what I've heard there's a new car coming out in 2010. So if that is the case, I think that would be the best time to really judge Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. And the same with all the Champ Car teams. Everyone's in the same boat, where we're starting very late in the year with a car we don't know compared to some excellent teams that have had them for four or five years. So it's going to take a little bit of time to catch up. Once we all get the same equipment at the same time I think you'll see a lot closer racing and most of all competition.
MODERATOR: Gentlemen, that's all the questions we have for you this afternoon. Thanks for taking the time to join us and good luck as you get ready for the season.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined now by Jimmy Vasser, Oriol Servia and Will Power from KV Racing Technology.
Earlier today the team sent out a release announcing the change in name to KV Racing Technology, and that Oriol and Will will be the team's drivers in 2008.
Will comes to the IndyCar Series following two full seasons in Champ Car. He was the rookie of the year in 2006 and finished fourth overall in 2007, recording two victories and four pole positions.
Oriol has made 126 starts in Champ Car since 2000, recording one victory, a pole and 16 podium finishes. Last year, his best finish was second at Long Beach.
Congratulations on the announcement today guys. Jimmy, why don't we start with you and maybe you can give us an update of how things are coming together since the unification announcement a couple of weeks ago.
JIMMY VASSER: As you can imagine, having just spoken with Justin and Graham, that all the Champ Car teams are absolutely flat out, it's a huge undertaking, and we're working around the clock seven days a week just to get prepared for first the test at Sebring, which I think we'll make but it will probably be difficult for all the Champ Car teams that are switching over to be there. And then subsequently on the road for back-to-back races at Homestead and St. Petersburg. So it is what it is and we're working real hard.
I think there aren't many people out there that won't agree this is the best thing for the sport of IndyCar racing, for the future. The timing probably wasn't the best, but we have our heads down and we're looking forward to getting on track.
MODERATOR: Tell us about having Oriol and Will as your drivers as you move forward.
JIMMY VASSER: I'm really excited. I mean with that lineup both guys are front runners for the last few years in Champ Car and race winners both of them, great experience. They know what they want out of their cars. We're really excited. I think it's a great lineup.
MODERATOR: Oriol, can you tell us a little bit about the move to the IndyCar series, what you're looking forward to this season and having Will join you as a teammate?
ORIOL SERVIA: I think everybody's kind of on the same, sharing the same view and on the same page. We all know it's a little bit too late or a little late for us, but as I said earlier, to me it's like, you know, when you have kids that have divorced parents and after 12 years of separation they get together. No matter how you look at it, it's good news.
Maybe we were the ones living with the mother, now we're under the same roof and it will take some adjusting for all of us. And we are the ones that have to adjust the most because we're the ones getting to the house a little late. But we're all excited. It's good news for everybody, and as we were saying it's a huge challenge for us drivers and the teams.
I was actually thinking the league always has a special award for rookie driver of the year, which I think Will and myself are good candidates for.
But I think this year in particular the championship should have a special award for the rookie team, because all these teams are definitely having a bigger challenge than ever and just amounts to being ready to be racing and look eye to eye to the other (IndyCar Series) teams is not going to be an easy one.
MODERATOR: Will, let's get your perspective. First of all, congratulations on joining KV Racing Technology, a team you competed against the last few years. Tell us about the team.
WILL POWER: It's been a really long off season for me. I haven't driven a car since Mexico City. And I'm really happy to be joining these guys. They're really professional and I was in the shop yesterday and they have a lot of good resources. And I think they're going to be running at the front of the Champ Car teams and hopefully later on in the year we'll be, especially when the road courses come around, running at the front of the series and hopefully getting a couple of podiums.
It's definitely going to be a tough road, for sure. Having one or two test days before we start racing in the car that we don't know and a new series. Looking forward to the challenge. Just can't wait to drive.
MODERATOR: You kind of addressed my next question there which was goals and expectations. But maybe talk a little bit more about adapting to racing on the ovals. Probably not something you have a lot of experience with. What will that be like for you?
WILL POWER: I've only raced on one oval in Milwaukee in 2006. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it because it was a lot different from everything I've done at that point. It was a totally different style of driving and discipline.
So it was exciting. It's pretty tough to get the hang of. It's daunting driving into a corner flat all the way until the middle. And you really get on the car, gotta be good with the feedback and work hard with your engineer.
My expectation is the first race, Homestead, I'm just planning to finish that. We don't have many spares. We don't have a spare car, so it's going to do us no good putting it in the wall trying hard. It's all gaining knowledge and learning.
MODERATOR: Oriol, you had an opportunity to race on a few ovals. I know Milwaukee, as Will mentioned, and maybe Phoenix and a couple of others. Will it take a while to feel comfortable getting up to speed on the ovals?
ORIOL SERVIA: For sure I'm a little rusty. I must say I was good in the ovals in Indy Lights in 1998 and '99. In CART, we had ovals there. I have good experience in ovals. I always enjoyed them and had a great time.
But, again, it's going to take a little bit and myself and the team to remember all the important things and make sure we don't make mistakes, which is what, in an oval, we'll go through the most.
So I'm excited. I'm excited to start. Maybe I would like, I would prefer to have a street or road course before we hit the oval, but the schedule is what it is going to be. This is going to be our first one. Hopefully we'll be ready. And, like I said, we're not going to make mistakes, which would be the biggest problem for us at the beginning of the season.
Q: Jimmy, this came together obviously at the last minute. But what, if anything, did you and Kevin (Kalkhoven) have in the discussion before all the signatures were signed on the unification document?
JIMMY VASSER: I'm not sure I followed that question.
Q: Did you have any advanced notice?
JIMMY VASSER: No, not really. We're still flat out trying to get the cars on track. And myself and Mark Johnson, who is our general manager of the team, we started to speculate that if things -- because I think a week to 10 days there was rumors and action going on. But it still wasn't 100 percent. So we just started to plan a lot of what-ifs. And just so we knew how to react when the unification did go down.
Q: So Kevin didn't tell you ahead of time, 'Hey, I'm going to go sign this tomorrow?'
JIMMY VASSER: No, no, he didn't tell me that.
Q: Will, you kind of touched on this earlier. Just one oval start in your Champ Car career. Have you and your team kind of flushed out a list of things to check off, so to speak, for the Homestead test? And in your mind what would make a successful test on the oval there?
WILL POWER: I think it's just being accustomed to driving, driving on a fast oval. The aim will be to just go do laps, see what I think, see what I feel. And the second day I guess start working on the car. And it's just going to be a slow process. It will be a learning process. I'll have to ease into it because you just can't afford to make any mistakes on an oval because it costs you a lot of time and money.
And haven't really got any set plan. I just went to the team the first time yesterday and haven't made a plan yet. But we'll have to see how it will be, just ease into it.
Q: You guys are paired up with team Ganassi. A lot of the old Champ Car teams are teamed up with current teams. How has that whole process gone so far and have you had a chance to talk with anybody?
JIMMY VASSER: The process is fantastic, and I think -- I met with Chip (Ganassi) personally on a couple of occasions recently, and they're fantastic trying to do whatever they can to get us up to speed.
I think they believe, unlike some of the other teams I think, meant to help out the transition teams, but they believe that the better we do, the better it is for everybody as a whole. They want us to do well. And really they've had a real open book policy, given it's our first car, and I couldn't thank them enough.
Q: You've been an owner for a while now. How has that change gone compared to being a driver and ever have any desire to get back in one of these cars?
JIMMY VASSER: The desire is always there, but my drivers have been telling me that I'm not really a driver anymore. I'm acting more like a owner. I'm getting to be more like a hard ass. So you're always going to want to drive. Quite honestly, there's no feeling like driving Champ Car or an IndyCar. Throw you the keys to drive the thing and you get it done. Now kind of standing on the outside trying to give everybody the tools they have to succeed is quite a bit different.
I'm sure it will be as satisfying when we start to win. But up until now it's been a real grind trying to get the team to a level where we could really contend for race wins and championships and so that's our goal. We're not there yet, but we're on our way.
Q: Jimmy, presumably you guys will be running at Long Beach as opposed to Motegi correct?
JIMMY VASSER: That's correct.
Q: I just want to get your comments on running at Long Beach and what will be the Champ Car finale, your feelings on the end of an era so to speak?
JIMMY VASSER: I think it's going to be -- it's going to be great. Long Beach is always great. The Champ Cars are a fantastic machine, and it's going to be sad to see them sidelined - the DPO1 and turbo Cosworth. I think it's going to be a little bittersweet. But I think everybody's working hard to make it a celebration race and I'm looking forward to it. But, again, I think it's going to be a little sad to hear the turbos shut down for the last time and to see the DPO1 parked, because quite honestly it is a racing machine. It runs circles around the Dallara. But racing, it's the same thing, it's going to be difficult to run up front in whatever you're running.
Q: Will, you're coming from last season, you had a rookie teammate and familiar surroundings with the crew and the team. And now you're moving to a brand new team with two members you don't know. At least Oriol is a seasoned driver, with experience on ovals and road courses. If you could talk a little bit about what it's like to move into such a brand new situation because you also have new cars and new tracks as a challenge.
WILL POWER: Yes, makes me feel like a rookie again. It's tough leaving a team where you've had a group of guys around you. And the good thing is that my engineer has actually, he's moved across and that will be good to work with him again. But I'm looking forward to the challenge. And I think it's good having Oriol as a teammate with a lot of experience on ovals and road courses.
And I think between us we'll be able to speed up the transition and really get the hang of these cars. So it's all coming together at the last minute. It's going to be tough. But I'm up for the challenge. And at the end of the year I want to be running like the sun.
Q: You've raced against Oriol. Now he's going to be your teammate. And how do you approach working together after being competitors?
WILL POWER: I know that Oriol's a good guy, a great racer, hard racer. He has a reputation as being a very good teammate and fair and gives everything up. Doesn't hide anything. And I'm the same. So I think it will be a good combination. We're both front runners in Champ Car. So like I said, I think we're going to work well together and we're going to work this car out very quickly.
MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations again on today's announcement and new partnership moving forward and thank you for joining us. And good luck in 2008.