Michigan: Pat Suhy - GM wake-up call

NASCAR NEXTEL WAKE-UP CALL WITH PAT SUHY PAT SUHY, GM Racing group manager for NASCAR On the Car of Tomorrow: "I was going to say basically the same thing that Greg said. We were happy to see a lot of Chevy teams participate in that because...


PAT SUHY, GM Racing group manager for NASCAR

On the Car of Tomorrow:

"I was going to say basically the same thing that Greg said. We were happy to see a lot of Chevy teams participate in that because I think that the limited testing. the guys that do the most on-track testing with the package both on the short track stuff that we've done and the bigger tracks that's coming up, it's going to be important to get a lot of test laps in. It's nice to see a lot of Chevy teams participate. Like Greg said, with the limited testing and the aero package adjustability, rather than spending a lot of days in the wind tunnel trying to figure out how to balance the car for Jeff Burton vs. Kevin Harvick, there will be more of a menu that says "we're going to run this wing configuration and splitter length and this end-plate configuration." It's been a good process too the way NASCAR and the manufacturers have worked together and a lot of the things that we expressed concerns about, a lot of them got laid to rest at Charlotte and a couple of them came to light as legitimate concerns. And everybody's working together to try and address those so that the next test goes smoother and in the beginning of next race season we don't have any issues."

On expectations for the season and moving into the Chase:

"I'm really happy so far the way the Chevy teams have performed. Seven races out of the first 15; certainly we're happy with that. We've got seven drivers in the Chase which I think is a flip-flop from where we were last year vs. Ford. We're obviously very happy with the way the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS came out of the chute and has been a very successful platform for our teams to build on. I think as we get into the Chase and we get closer to the Chase, you're going to see a lot of teams work hard at picking their games up. You know, anyone can rest on their laurels at this point. It's going to be a pretty tight race from 10th place or 11th place on back to get into the top 10. I expect we'll see some shuffling here the next several weeks."

On the brand identity of the Car of Tomorrow:

"I think from the manufacturer's perspective also, like Greg said, getting the identity into it is an important part of it. The cooperative efforts that we've had here has enabled us to get with our design staff and say 'well, we want to make this look more like a Monte Carlo, what can we do?' And we can take those thoughts back and factor them into our negotiations with NASCAR and the other manufacturers. Everyone did that to a certain extent and it was to all of our benefit. You're going to have cars that look more like the street cars that they represent and that will make everyone at this table and people not at the table happy."

On Toyota as a threat to other manufacturers:

"I would say it doesn't put in doubt at all whether we're in this sport for the long haul. We've shown our commitment to it over the years and we expressed it here when this whole question came up earlier in this season. As far as driving the costs up, I think that's happened every time a manufacturer comes in. When Dodge came back in in 2000, there was obviously a greater demand for fabricators then there were fabricators because they were bringing new teams on. That's a natural part of supply and demand. I guess we expect that to happen. It's not necessarily a good thing, but NASCAR has done a great job with putting a rules package together both with the current car and with the Car of Tomorrow that limit the effectiveness of spending incrementally more dollars. We've got a number of well-funded teams here - Ford does and Dodge does - that spend all the money they get on racing. It's not like in the Truck series where you can bring another 20 percent of the budget and make it go 20 percent faster on the track. I think the effectiveness - and part of that is the rules package - spending incrementally more money is less and less. I don't expect to see a huge impact through that, certainly it will mean they are more flexible and able to do different things but I think we're just going to apply all the resources we have to it and keep doing the things we've been doing for 50 years.

"It's obviously important to have our drivers in the Chase but one of the nice things about having the depth we do is that if Jeff Gordon is having an off-season - which so far, they've struggled a bit - we've got guys like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch and Stewart and Harvick to back that up. We don't rely on one driver or one team to get it done for us. That's one of the benefits of having the depth we have. As much as we'd like to see all of our guys in the Chase, that's not going to happen every year. The competition is too tough."

How difficult is it to market the car the way it looks?

I agree (with the fact that the wing makes it look more like our street cars). It gives it more of a contemporary look as far as race cars go and with the splitter in the front end, it really frees up the top part of the bumper back to the windshield. You can put more identity in it and that's one of the benefits of having a splitter. That dominates downforce production so the top isn't so sensitive and we can make it look more like what we sell. I think that the front three-quarter view really does it and the wing gives it a cleaner overall look.

-gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch