Daytona 500: Ganassi - Dodge Saturday interview

CHIP GANASSI (Owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) HOW IS EVERYTHING SHAPING UP FOR THE 500? "Our cars are good. Our engines are good. If we make it to the finish we'll be fine. I don't want to make it sound like we're not going to...

CHIP GANASSI (Owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)

HOW IS EVERYTHING SHAPING UP FOR THE 500? "Our cars are good. Our engines are good. If we make it to the finish we'll be fine. I don't want to make it sound like we're not going to make it to the finish, but when you look at our drivers they're still young guys and they don't have as much experience as some of the drivers. That's not to say they're inexperienced, but they just don't have as much, so if we make it to the finish we'll be fine. It's not just Juan. It's Reed and David, too. The last thing an owner wants is a driver who has to prove something. On the other hand, you want a driver that wants something and wants to work to get that and wants to make the effort and do what it takes to be a winner and a champion."

HOW HAS MONTOYA FIT INTO YOUR ORGANIZATION? "Even with Juan's lack of knowledge with these cars, he's ascended quickly to a leader with our young guys. He's older than Stremme and Sorenson. He still has the maturity of a veteran driver, and he's got his arm around these young guys bringing them on. They work with each other, and it's great. Any time you bring somebody new into your company you think about that, whether it's a driver or crew chief, a team manager. You're always concerned about personalities meshing."

COMMENT ON MONTOYA RUNNING BUSCH RACES "It wasn't a hard sell to him at all. It's the same tire, and it gives him more track time at some of these places where he's going to need it, He was up for it. He's going to be here on Saturday anyway, so at least for the first year we decided to give it a shot."

DID MONTOYA SURPRISE YOU IN THURSDAY'S RACE? "Yes. There were two things about that race that I thought was great. About three or four laps into it, someone pulled out and Juan was in the middle of it all. Harvick came up and was right there with him and didn't leave him hanging out to dry. I thought that was really a special moment. I thanked Harvick for doing that. About three or four laps after that Juan was close to the front and Kyle Busch pulled out to go around him and Juan pulled out next. It wasn't like they went and Kyle followed him. Juan came over and got the push from him. That was a real veteran move. Obviously he's got a lot of those left to learn. There's more driving in the rear-view mirror in plate racing. Only here and Talladega do you do that. I don' t want to say he's got it nailed yet, but it sure seemed like that Thursday."

COMMENT ON YOUR MOTOR PROGRAM "We had a good off season with our motor program. On one hand I'm proud and on the other hand I'm pretty embarrassed about the fact that the changes we made in our motor program, relatively speaking, we made some inexpensive changes to increase our power. They were very obvious things right in front of our eyes. We could have made those changes last year or the year before, and I'm pretty (upset) that we didn't."hey

DO YOU SEE OTHER TEAMS TAKING ON MAJOR INVESTORS? "What you're seeing is simple. Whether it's taking on owners or investors, however you want to define it, ownership isn't what it used to be. That's the key thing there, and I think that's something the powers that be have to look at. On one hand they're saying we don't want owners to have more than X amount of cars and we don't want this and that. What they're getting because of all these "we don't wants" they're getting owners that are squeezed on both sides. You have increased costs on one side of the ledger. On the other side you have sponsors and partners that are pushing back saying we need to be more efficient with our spending, we need more for less. We need to be careful how we're spending our marketing dollars. I don't think the increases are there that once were on the revenue, but the increases continue to skyrocket on the expense side. Owners are getting squeezed in the middle and the only way out is to have partners, investors, things like that. That's something Felix Sabates recognized years ago, and that's how we got together. I think you're going to see some sort of consolidation among owners. This is the beginning of consolidation. I saw Jack Roush yesterday and said, 'Jack, you're pretty tall when you stand on your wallet.' He laughed

"What concerns me is I'm one of the young owners. I don't see other young owners coming along and that concerns me a little bit. Where are the young owners coming from? Who is the competition going to be in 10 years? "

WHAT IS INCREASING COSTS SO MUCH? "It's salaries, expansion. We're on the back end of expansion now, but you had new teams. Any time new teams come in you're taking a group of people and dividing it further. You're having further dilution in the talent pool. It's like pitching in baseball, the more teams, the less good pitching. It's the same in racing. You have more teams and it's the same talent pool of people, so it's diluted that. On the heels of expansion, we have the car of tomorrow. For us it's a million and half per team per year. You're not only developing the car of tomorrow, you're still maintaining the development of your current car. You can't just put your current car aside and say we're going to put all our development into the car of tomorrow. It's killing us as owners. At the same time you have transportation issues. This business should be called NASCAR transportation and racing. You've got people issues. The biggest problem facing this sport, we're still the only major league sport that doesn't have a defined number of players on the team. You don't have a roster limit. I'm not worried about a salary cap. I just need a roster limit right now. We just keep getting more and more people and the more people we get the more people we've got to bring. The more people you've got to bring the more hotels you need. The more hotels you need the more cars you need. It's crazy. If you think about it, this is the only major league sport where there is no defined number of players. As long as there is no limit on that, costs are going to increase."

WHAT IS THE BREAKING POINT? "I'm not smart enough to tell you what the breaking point is. My team is in one of those positions now where I'm working hard to keep up with the Hendricks and the Roushes."

WHY NOT BRING THE COT IN ALL AT ONCE? "Phasing it in slowly was a chance to give everyone a chance to absorb it. If you did it all at once it would a three or four million dollar shot per car per team and teams can't swallow that. If you divide that over two years it's a little easier to swallow."

COMMENT ON THE PENALTIES "I applaud the officials for finding cheaters because everybody wants a level playing field. At the same time I'm a little concerned if that's the story we want to hear on a national level. We're all down here in Daytona and we're all caught up in the thing. If you're in Los Angeles or New York or Chicago, I worry that the big story out of Daytona is cheating. It is and do you want that to be your lead story at the beginning of the year? That worries me a little bit. It's nice we have Juan. That takes the heat off a little bit. I applaud them to keep getting more stringent in their penalties. There's a difference between blatant cheating and somebody being a millimeter off on something. That's not blatant cheating."

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT TEAM MEMBERS THAT WERE SENT HOME? "I said this last year when they sent Chad Knaus home. Sending a guy home could almost be a benefit for a team. A guy goes home he gets rest, he gets to work on the things at home. You'd love to keep a lot of your key players at home a lot of times. You just can't afford to do it. I would argue that that could be turned into a benefit easily. They need to put these guys in jail where they can't do anything. To go home is a plus."

COMMENT ON THE 500 "There's no question that some guys are better than others. This is points racing and the points are the same at Daytona, Fontana and Bristol. You've got to look at it over the season, but some guys have more talent at plate racing. All these teams are so competitive and so close. It doesn't take much to spark a team. You've got 43 cars sandwiched within four tenths. It doesn't take much to put somebody over the hump. If you're over the hump you're not far over it, but it has a huge impact. That's why having a guy like Juan is such a spark for a team. He perks up the mental side and it doesn't take much to have an impact. It sure is great when you have one."

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR MONTOYA GOING INTO A 500-MILE RACE? "He's been in 500-mile races before, but\ it's been awhile. Since he's been with our team he's matured a lot in a lot of great ways. I don't know if it was taking up golf or having kids or what. Who am I to say I can tell Montoya anything about racing? What am I going to tell him? I guess I can tell him about what I've seen in the past or some things to watch out for. I told him the dos and don'ts. If I can tell him all of the don'ts he can handle the dos. I just tell him the don'ts."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Chip Ganassi , Jack Roush , Chad Knaus , Felix Sabates , Kyle Busch
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing