ROGER PENSKE (Chairman Penske Corporation) OPENING REMARKS "Motorsports is a big business today, and I think you have to maximize all of your resources. We did that when we were in the speedway business. We certainly had the chance to partner...
ROGER PENSKE (Chairman Penske Corporation)
OPENING REMARKS "Motorsports is a big business today, and I think you have to maximize all of your resources. We did that when we were in the speedway business. We certainly had the chance to partner with Bruton and obviously Speedway Motorsports. Today I think it's about technology transfer. We hope with the amalgamation of all of our teams here at this shop in Mooresville (N.C.) we'll be able to see the technology transferred from NASCAR to Busch and Indy car. When you look at a NASCAR car and you put a decal on it for the headlights and a couple of other things that make it a car, but underneath that body there's a lot of work today. I think the real key to all racing teams' successes when we moved into North Carolina we saw Hendrick, Roush, Ganassi and many other people who have been so successful. The Wood Brothers, Leonard and those folks have been my friends forever. We wanted to come here also and take advantage of a great work force and have the opportunity to go racing. We really have a great team of drivers. When I think back Ryan (Newman), that new point system would have been pretty good for us a couple of years ago. Rusty would say the same thing if he were here tonight.
"I look at the 2007 season and we're going to compete in 90 races with 159 entries, obviously expanded schedules with our IndyCar Series and American LeMans Series. Sam (Hornish) will be competing in a broader program. He'll be competing in some Busch Races. He had an opportunity to find out what it was all about last year. We cut it short and sweet, but that's how it starts. I'm sure Kurt knows what that's like. Helio (Castroneves) is going to compete at Sebring, and we're going to be busier than ever. I think it's important when we think about the ability to build a shop like this and bring great people in it's because of our great sponsor teams. Longevity is certainly a key for us as we go forward. We've got to make commitment to our drivers and other people on our team, and we can't do that is you don't even have a sponsor at the end of the year and you're looking at January and February going to the first race."
COMMENT ON COT "I've said it to a number of people. I think what it's going to do is it's going to take some cost out. Obviously there's a cost of developing. We were able to test that car for three or four days at a short track, take the car to Daytona and run 191 mph). When NASCAR gets the rules just right, we're going to see a safer car and one that we can take to multiple types of circuits. You walk around and see the cars we have, hopefully we can reduce that by 50 percent. The good news is we're supporting it (COT) and I like the conversation about the car. We're in the game, and we think it will run a lot of people closer together."
DO YOU SEE A FORMULA ONE START IN YOUR FUTURE? "I don't think you'll see Penske Racing, in this decade, in Formula One. You never know though, but I doubt it very much."
COMMENT ON NEW POINTS SYSTEM "Taking the 400 point cap off doesn't make a lot of difference, but the fact they're going to have 12 competing will make it better and also for our sponsors. When you're not in it, it puts a dampener on some of the things you might be doing with your sponsor. On the other hand, it gave us a chance to try some things. Mike Nelson had a chance to crew chief a couple of the races. We use it as a proving ground if you're not in it, but I think the change is very good and I take my hat off to Brian (France) for making a few course corrections and not overhauling the system."
COMMENT ON BUILDING A TEST TRACK "Our goal here is to take the roughly 70 acres out back and we build a test track. We're in an exploratory stage today. I'd like to see an oval with a big skid pad, also a road course would be intermingled within the oval side. I think the cost we have to go to tests and the fact we can use this for customer entertainment, for our sponsors, maybe police academies. It's like when we built the wind tunnel people said no one would use it. I can tell you it's being used every day. I think this is an opportunity for us to extend our commercial relationship within the sport. We really haven't said how big it is, but it'll be bigger than a half mile. Let's put it that way. Maybe we could build a Bristol here, but I don't have enough room for the stands. I'm not going into the track business. Don't get the wrong idea. This will be a test facility."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
OPENING REMARKS "It was a pleasure to drive the car that fast (at Daytona), to be able to do homework with NASCAR on the car of tomorrow, it's a pleasure to assist them and to work for such a great organization as Penske Racing. With our new Dodge Avenger and Charger, we've got quite a bit of work ahead of us getting the car up to speed. We continue to gain speed in each of our test sessions. With Mike (Nelson, No. 12 crew chief) and Roy (No. 2 crew chief McCauley) working and burning the midnight oil, it gives Ryan and I confidence to know when we show up at the race track the cars will be closer. Everybody continues to pull in the same direction, it's a great motivation. The speed we're carrying showed at Daytona. I'm impressed. I can't wait for Las Vegas next week. We'll get to see all the teams and how the stop watches click off there. Then we head back to Daytona for Speedweeks. We've got some important things ahead of us. We look forward to the challenge."
WILL RACING THE COT SO EARLY BE AN ADVANTAGE? "I think so. They're going to hand out points at the end of the race and they're going to hand out a trophy. Going to victory lane is key for everybody at Miller Lite and Penske, so when you keep a position attitude you can't help but work harder after each race. I ran three tests in a row with the car of tomorrow in the off season and then jumped back in the regular car and I felt like I was too far to the left. We went to one composite seat at Penske Racing. If Ryan, Sam or Helio want to drive, they're in. What we do is change foam, and me being the skinny guy, I get the most movement with the foam. I can move myself back to the left a little bit and get that nice cushioning on the right side of the car."
COMMENT ON POINT SYSTEM "My take is a positive one on how the sport has changed itself when we did introduce The Chase for the Cup format. It creates a playoff atmosphere to invite more teams in. It helps with the percentages. In the NFL you have eight teams that go to the playoffs, but you have 30 that actually put their helmets on and go compete. At NASCAR we have 43 teams that compete for a win, for a title. With 12 spots open you have a better percentage for more competitive teams. To have a win means something. To have multiple wins, that should separate you and give you an advantage going into the playoffs. It's almost like you're the No. 1 seed and you're playing the No. 6 seed. I like the difference in it, and I think it will only add to the aggressiveness on the track."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN LAST YEAR? "Sometimes you add all the ingredients into the same box and you can come out and dominate like five freshmen in NCAA basketball. The success could go straight through the roof. You're going to have your good times and you're going to have your bad. For us we started strong. We ran well at Daytona and had a win at Bristol early on. That was somewhat the adrenalin rush of switching to Penske Racing. It's a better program. I'm completely satisfied with my change. What we learned from last year, we developed our setups and got them up to speed. There's no telling where we were at the beginning of the season, but where we ended up and not making The Chase, advanced us to 2007 -- especially with a fresh outlook on the car of tomorrow. We've come a long way in one year, and those are the victories we took away from last year, obviously developing a crew chief. When you can get over that chemistry, you have the comfort zone to go out and know what each other is thinking all the time."
WHY ARE YOU SO HAPPY ABOUT THE COT? "It gives you an opportunity to look at a new car and what can it do to help us get to victory lane. The car is not going to do it on its own. We have to develop it. We have to test it, and other teams have to do it as well. If we've got two cars here, we've got to put that much more emphasis on it because we're competing against teams that have four cars or five cars. We won't take the COT to Vegas. When the season starts at Daytona during Speedweeks we'll probably drop down to Lakeland, Fla., and do a test with our COT. We've got a stiff agenda, and we are sticking with it. Each time we go to a new track we're faster."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
OPENING REMARKS "We put a lot of time in testing this off season, just trying to work out some kinks we had last year. The car of tomorrow has been good from a testing standpoint. The COT has been a good experience from a testing spointpoint. I think we've got seven or eight tests in it. We've had some good tests in it. I think for the first time ever the 2 and 12 took the same car to Phoenix one week to Daytona the next week. It's probably been about 20 years since this has happened. It's been good -- the reaction of the car, it's a little bit different from the aerodynamic perspective than the car of yesterday. Everything is good. We had good intermediate testing in the off season. I look forward to the entire situation. We've made some improvements."
COMMENT ON NEW CREW CHIEF MIKE NELSON "We've worked together for the last six plus years. Whenever we made a decision about the race car it was all three of us, me, Matt Borland and Michael, in the same room talking about the setup, talking about air pressures and whatever else. I've got a great relationship with Michael. I've never had to deal with it myself, probably the easiest transition a guy could have in my position to go to a new crew chief. I extremely look forward to it. He's done a great job assembling people and making the racecars go faster. That checklist will be very short by the end of the year."
COMMENT ON IMPROVEMENT "I thought we did a good job working as a team, but in the off season we got a new outlook on the situation. Michael and Roy McCauley are working great together. The engineers work great together. I thought we were doing things good, but now we're doing thing great I feel. Both on the racetrack and off I think we'll look stronger and be stronger."
COMMENT ON DAYTONA TESTING "We had the same cars as we did last year. We worked on 'em. Fortunately, I made it through most of the crashes last yeas, so we were able to massage on the cars we had.instead of building new cars. Sometimes that just creates another situation. Still a big thing at Daytona is what's underneath the hood, and our Penske/Jasper horsepower should be good."
COMMENT ON OFF SEASON "I'm a little relaxed. I'd still like the off season to be about a month longer, but that's just because we're building a house and have a lot of things going on. We want to be 100 percent prepared for the season. The Vegas test will be a big eye-opener for everybody."
WILL YOU MISS MATT BORLAND? "I'll miss him as a friend do bout. We'll have Michael there, and Michael isn't replacing Matt Borland. Michael Nelson is Michael Nelson. We're going to go out and do our best like we always do. Roger Penske has a saying that effort equals results, and we're putting a lot of effort in."
HAVE YOU REMEMBERED HOW TO DRIVE? "I remember how to drive. The tough part about a season like 2006 is getting the confidence back on the team. Last year was fun for about three weekends. Hopefully 38 weekends will be a lot of fun this year. I guess part of fixing the problem is understanding it and where it's coming from. Everything goes in a cycle. We've got to put the work in and make an effort."
-credit: dodge motorsports