Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2003 Jamie McMurray and Chip Ganassi CHIP GANASSI (Car Owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RECENT POST-RACE ACTIVITIES? "I had a call yesterday with all our ...
Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2003 Jamie McMurray and Chip Ganassi
CHIP GANASSI (Car Owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RECENT POST-RACE ACTIVITIES?
"I had a call yesterday with all our drivers and I said I guess you don't want to be the leader or second place at the end of a race. You want to be about third or something. I think the sport is growing. I think that's no secret, and I think NASCAR is moving in a direction to try to limit this kind of thing. I think they've got to come down a little harder on some guys. If my crew guys were jumping all over somebody's car there'd be a lot of people in trouble I can tell you. It's got to be careful not to look unprofessional."
WHAT PLAN DO YOU STRESS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR ORGANIZATION?
"I just sent out a note to everybody in the company about a week ago and somehow we want to be, at some point we want to be the most admired team in racing somehow. It's start with people. I'm here at Indianapolis today and as I speak we have about 20 of our managers from Indianapolis and Mooresville here in a management training session that's going on right now right underneath me. That's a very good example. That's a very apropos question for the morning."
WHAT DO YOU THINK POST-RACE PENALTIES SHOULD BE?
"I think one way to stop this would be to decide what the penalty is and let everyone know what the penalty will be the next time something happens like this. That would be one way to stop it I think. I don't run the races, and I don't want to run the races, so it's kind of easy for me to sit back and say how it should be done or whatever, but I would be in favor of a more heavy-hand as opposed to a light hand."
HOW DO OTHER SERIES HANDLE DISCIPLINE?
"I'm don't know that CART is the model of what you want to pattern yourself after or IRL. I just think it takes a heavy hand. Car owners, all they want from a sanctioning body is leadership and direction. Nobody wants a ruling to be wishy-washy. They want it to be clearcut. All we want is an even hand. All I want is to be treated equally among the other owners. I don't care what the punishment is as long as it's the same for everybody. It's easy to take potshots at leadership, but they're doing their job week in and week out. It's not an easy job or everybody would be doing it, I guess. I think NASCAR does the best job of it. I'm not saying they're lacking leadership. All I'm saying is that I wouldn't mind a heavier hand with some of these things."
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WITH FUTURE SCHEDULES?
"I've got a whole new respect after getting involved in NASCAR the last few years, racing week in and week out. It doesn't sound like much to the outside world, but I tell you those Sundays off are very much looked forward to and very much needed. I wouldn't mind seeing two or three more of those (Saturday night races) well placed throughout the schedule to get a day of rest here and there. I wouldn't mind some more Saturday night races. I would even think in the summertime you could get away with a Monday night race to take a cue from Monday night football maybe, once a month or something. It does seem to be a night that people do look for their sports whether it be on television or whatever. Years ago I met a guy that was running Porsche cars. I asked him how many cars he knew to make and gear up for. He said we want to make one less car than people want. We figure what the market is and we make one less car. I think you always keep it where people want to have races. I don't know that you want to saturate the market with races or venues. The way the workload is right now, I don't know how you would do more than 36 races. Having said that, if they went to some two-day weekends, maybe you could add more races. There's only so much people can do, and I think they're sort of at the limit right now. If they did away with a lot of three-day weekends and maybe had two-day weekends, maybe you could add a race or two. I don't know."
IS TIME MANAGEMENT A PRIORITY?
"Of all the driver we have, Jamie probably gets the most requests of things during the week. I would say our team is known for not taxing its drivers too much. At some point I wouldn't be opposed to telling Jamie and the people around him that handle this sort of thing to tone it down a little bit. This guy has been sick the last couple of weeks here, and I think it's obvious that the guy could use some rest. I'm sure in the coming weeks we're going to curtail his schedule a bit to get him healthy again."
WHY ARE YOUNGER DRIVERS GETTING THE CALL?
"They're a lot less expensive than the older guys (said in jest). If any of you guys write that, make sure you say I smiled and laughed after that and so did Jamie. You certainly cannot discount the enthusiasm that these younger guys have. That goes back to that 36-race schedule like Jamie said. This is what he does and he enjoys it. I think it goes without saying for those of us that have been racing for many years. Obviously when you get knocked around every weekend for 20 years, you don't find the enthusiasm in it that you once did. Maybe that's what we like to see out of these young drivers coming in. They're so filled with energy. It energizes me. I know that. That might be one reason I would think. I think there's a lot of media that follows NASCAR these days. Maybe everyone always wants to have the story. I would argue sometimes, and this is certainly not one of those weeks, but some weeks we don't generate enough news for you guys. Now, this week is different, but a lot of weeks we don't generate enough news and people are looking for stories. The young guys are an obvious news story that no one else has yet. That might be part of it. The fact of the matter is these young guys coming into the sport today are better prepared than say when Sterling came into the sport. They have many more races under their belt. Even when I drove, which was 15 years ago, you didn't start racing... If you started racing before you were 20 years old, that was unheard of. Now, drivers that are 18 or 19 have hundreds of races under their belts already. They're starting them younger as they are in most sports today. Unfortunately, the flip side of starting them younger, they're going to be ending their careers sooner."
APPARENTLY THERE'S NO BREAK NEXT SEASON BETWEEN SONOMA AND DAYTONA. IS THAT A PROBLEM?
"I guess Sterling and Casey and Jamie will be driving the trucks between the races just to get 'em there. That's better answered by Andy and Tony and those guys there at the shop."
IS PULLING ON PIT ROAD AFTER A RACE A PROBLEM?
"Some places you pull on pit road and most of them you just go back to the truck after a race. That might be a small cure, but as I said, I think the rule needs to be some clarification before it happens and this is going to be the punishment and make it with a heavy hand. That will stop it."
COMMENT ON RUMORS ABOUT YOUR TEAMS
"Where does that stuff start? I've never even talked to Dale Jr. I met him about five years ago in New York one day, and I haven't said 10 words to him since. There's no truth to the rumor that he was in our shop, I can tell you. Keep those rumors flying. Maybe it's because I'm not down there every day. Every car owner is always looking to talk to great drivers, but that doesn't mean I've talked to him or anybody else for that matter."
DO YOU DRAW INFORMATION FOR NASCAR TEAMS FROM IRL TEAMS?
"Sometimes there is an exchange of information and other times there's not. I think the difficult thing is for me anyway, you go through a period of getting your arms around another series, and I'm still in that phase. It's a tall order to be in these different series and understanding the strategy involved with each one. I would always encourage Richard (Childress) or anybody else to get into open wheel racing if they want and vice versa with open wheel owners to get into NASCAR, but it's a tall order. I'm fortunate that I've got some great people around me and some great drivers on both sides of the fence. That makes it a lot easier. It's more difficult than it appears."
COMMENT ON CONTRACT DISCUSSIONS WITH TONY STEWART
"This call is about Jamie. They asked me to be on it. This call is about Jamie and Dodge, and I don't want to talk about Tony Stewart. That's sort of old news now isn't it? Basically, I'm giving the answer. Basically the reason I didn't get too hot to pursue Tony Stewart was I don't want to hinder anything I've got going on with Jamie McMurray right now. He's a great driver. I think for the time of term Tony Stewart was talking about in his contract, I think I've got a better investment in Jamie McMurray."
DO YOU THINK WEEKLY NASCAR PRESS CONFERENCE IS STILL A GOOD IDEA?
"I tell you who does a good job of that, the NFL. They have their coaches come on every week in every town. In Pittsburgh we have Bill Cowher and he comes on every week and has a little press conference. All of the media types get to ask him questions, and it really takes a lot of pressure off the athletes having to answer questions they might have an opinion about but they don't really know what's going on at the front office per se, and the sanctioning body. I would encourage that. I think it would quite take a load off the athletes. That's something I encouraged with my little involvement with the Pirates. Baseball doesn't do that. The NFL does it and baseball doesn't. Why don't they do that? I don't understand that. I talked about it with Jim Hunter, and he was encouraged by it. I think I'm already available on a regular basis. Very rarely have I told any of you that I don't have time to talk or anything. If you want to talk you know how to find me. I think having a regular weekly conference, maybe someday. I don't see that happening right now. Again, I don't think we generate news fast enough for a lot of media a lot of times."