Continued from part 1 Q: AT LOUDON YOU SAID YOU BROKE OFF TALKS WITH PARTNERS AND WANTED TO GO IT ALONE. WHAT'S CHANGED IN THE LAST MONTH? ROBERT YATES "I've learned a lot in a month. I made statements about those guys not really ...
Continued from part 1
Q: AT LOUDON YOU SAID YOU BROKE OFF TALKS WITH PARTNERS AND WANTED TO GO IT ALONE. WHAT'S CHANGED IN THE LAST MONTH?
ROBERT YATES "I've learned a lot in a month. I made statements about those guys not really contributing to anything, but I was probably wrong about that. I apologize. Actually, somebody put some words in my mouth and I let them roll off and they quoted me. Again, we were looking for people that could help us race better. NASCAR is very attractive, but we wanted somebody that could help us race better and it's not just cubic dollars that helps us race better. We have more responsibility to these guys because they want trophies and wins than being responsible to somebody that gives us a lot of money. Again, Carolyn is still gonna be shopping, I'm sure, but this is about people that want us for the right reasons. The financial side usually takes care of itself when you run good, so I was almost burned out talking to people about buying something and trying to do all these numbers because everytime I ever sat down in my life and said, 'I'm gonna win this much money money,' you'd spend it before you win it and you usually don't win it, so it's very distracting. I've learned a lot. I've learned a lot about business and I learned that if you're gonna play this ball, you better keep your eye on it and I was very unfocused. That's really when I made the statement where I didn't want anybody to come partner with us just for the money. I think it's wonderful that these guys tapped us and said, 'We want to do it with you and it's all for the right reasons."
Q: WHO MAKES THE FINAL DECISION ON THINGS?
ROBERT YATES "I always told people that when I worked for myself I'm lazier for myself than I was for John Holman, Junior Johnson or Bill Gardner. If that holds true, I'm gonna work harder than ever because I've got a responsibility to this long list of names and these wonderful people. I'm gonna be challenged to be not in the way, but to contribute. Certainly if my contribution is not strong enough, I may not be this or that. The way we'll engineer it will determine what my role will be and I'm not gonna determine that."
Q: HOW WILL THIS CHANGE THE SPORT?
DAN DAVIS "You've got two teams here that are winners. Here's a situation where we have an open-wheel team where aerodynamics and race craft, and some of the things that they have to do in order to compete are totally different to how NASCAR has operated in the past. The NASCAR vehicles, you're starting to see the mechanical and the aerodynamic interaction start to happen. You're starting to see laboratory testing taking the place of on-track testing. You're seeing cars show up at the track ready to go and be competitive right away. That's what this activity has had to do for the last umpteen years. They don't test. They have engineering resources in place to simulate their vehicles. They have to understand the interactions between the aerodynamics and the mechanical and the grip and the tire and it's a very complicated world that they have lived in, but they've got engineers that are trained and do this for a living everyday. On the NASCAR side of it, there is a lot more testing and a lot more empirical trial-and-error sort of things in the past. You can't compete like that any longer, in my opinion. So the reason this is gonna change is that you have an activity that's done this for a living for a long time, merging with an activity that knows the vehicle, knows tracks, knows a lot of things. We've got something coming together here that's very unique and I'm excited about it. It's gonna be exciting to see how well we can merge this because it isn't gonna be easy. There are going to be conflicts and differences of opinion on how to proceed, but we've got the fundamental things in place here to try it and that's why I think it's gonna change the game a bit."
Q: THE CARS ARE SO DIFFERENT FROM STOCK CARS TO OPEN WHEEL. THAT STUFF DOESN'T TRANSLATE VERY WELL DOES IT?
DAN DAVIS "I'm not sure who told you that, but they all have engines, they have four tires, they have aerodynamics, they fight grip. Really, in my mind, the issues are the same it's just that they're two different kinds of vehicles. In one case you've got wheels that aren't covered, and in another case wheels are covered, and one vehicle is bigger than the other, but they've got four tires, engines -- all of the elements are the same between the two. Our challenge is, how do you take the elements of open-wheel and all the things that come with that, and translate that into the stock car world. But, in my mind, all the engineering principals are identical."
MIKE LANIGAN "There's no question that if you take a 3400 or 3500-pound car with fenders on it and a 1500-pound car, certainly there are a lot of differences, but I think the journey starts at the same point and that is you start out with standard parameters. Like Dan said, there's grip, there's balance, there's dampers, there's aerodynamics. It's a different path, but it's the same destination."
Q: WILL THESE OPERATIONS BE MOVED UNDER ONE ROOF LIKE PENSKE JUST DID?
MIKE LANIGAN "In our conversations, we're definitely gonna be involved heading up the technical side of it, whether it be chassis, aerodynamics, whatever it may be."
PAUL NEWMAN "A Champ car will stick to the ceiling at 150 miles an hour. We hope to do that with a stock car (laughter)."
ROBERT YATES "I'm not gonna cheat that much."
(more laughter) "Let me see if I can put it in my words. The reason you can't go off in an engineering room and put the engineers together on a stock car of yesterday is that if you take the geometry NASCAR gives you and you build a car, and they've worked on it, and Todd Parrott dropped it two inches further than there's anyway humanly possible that you could make it travel two inches more, he'll slide the hood over four inches more than your rules would allow and the car goes around the corner 10 times faster. An engineer can't keep up with it. You almost have to know what you can get by everyday with. NASCAR has hired more policeman and more policeman, but they never stopped the other side. They pushed it up, they pushed it down, they never captured you. They realize now they've captured the deal. It can travel two-and-a-half inches or the white smoke comes off the splitter. You can move the back until it comes off the back of the splitter, but you're living in a world that you can engineer now. You can put an aero map to it. We would change the car, or other teams would, so much that you could never use an aero map. Heck, we changed it so fast. So that's why the new world can be engineer driven because the guy that used to sit in Detroit and fuss at me, 'Guys, you can't do all this crazy stuff.' Well, if I had a stopwatch and if it worked, we just did it. It's hard to explain. I tried to understand it, but now with the new car, the car of tomorrow can be engineer driven."
DOUG YATES "What he's trying to say is that the car of tomorrow coming into NASCAR is really perfect timing for our partnership with Newman/Haas/Lanigan because they come from a world of splitters and wings. We feel like NASCAR has put a closer tolerance on the bodies, so now you can engineer the car and get some results that may make some sense. As far as your question, we haven't discussed that. I don't think they're gonna move their shops to Mooresville. Our focus right now is getting our Cup program working right. They're gonna head up our engineering department. They have a very brilliant engineer that has been down. We're starting discussions on how we move forward from here, but that's what they do. They come from that world. Their world is engineering, our world has been NASCAR and together we hope that we can take this company blending the old and the new to a new level."
Q: THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF TEAMS THAT HAVE COME TO NASCAR FROM OPEN WHEEL RACING -- RED BULL, CHIP GANASSI, TOYOTA -- AND THE RESULTS HAVE NOT WORKED VERY WELL. WHY WILL THIS BE DIFFERENT?
MIKE LANIGAN "First of all, I don't think Red Bull has won anything yet in all honesty. I understand what your question is and we're not necessarily saying we're better or smarter than a Ganassi or a Red Bull, but I think you'll find we're much more dedicated to it. We truly do believe we can get there piece by piece. It's not gonna happen tomorrow morning, but if there's a will and a want, we're gonna get there. If we take it in small steps, that's how we were successful in Champ car, and we're dedicated to doing it."
Q: HOW CAN YOU MAKE SURE THAT THE ACTIVITIES THAT YOU ARE DOING ON THE STOCK-CAR SIDE DON'T AFFECT THE OPEN-WHEEL PROGRAM?
MIKE LANIGAN "I think on the sponsorship side it's going to enhance both of our entities, in all frankness. We can offer our sponsors some value added because it's a different market for Champ Car versus NASCAR. As far as the engineering side, we'll dedicate some people on a full-time basis to get where we need to go in NASCAR."
Q: THE ANNOUNCEMENT IS TODAY. WHEN DOES THE PARTNERSHIP TAKE EFFECT?
MIKE LANIGAN "It starts today."
Q: WHAT CAN YOUR SIDE DO AT THIS TRACK THIS WEEKEND FOR THE 38 AND THE 88?
MIKE LANIGAN "I think it would be foolish to say we can do anything this weekend, in all frankness, because we just really got the partnership agreement done this week -- actually, it's been days since we first started talking about it, so it's been on a fast track. But the beauty about how I feel about it is that we have the same philosophy in this business. Robert and Doug want to win, we want to win. We know it's not going to be easy. We're going to dedicate all of our resources on both sides of the fence to get to where we need to be. But, we're just at the beginning of the journey."
Q: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK AT INDY?
PAUL NEWMAN "It's wonderful. Why shouldn't it? This doesn't in any way diminish any feeling I have about open-wheel racing, it's just that we've got the people, we have the departments that are working. We just wanted to stretch our wings a little bit. We're very fortunate to have found a formidable partner."
Q: WILL THIS IN ANY WAY IMPACT WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION'S COMMITMENT IN CHAMP CAR?
PAUL NEWMAN "No, it's just broadening our horizons."
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON NASCAR'S GROWTH?
PAUL NEWMAN "The ascendancy has been extraordinary. I take my hat off to them. They didn't do anything wrong."
-credit: ford racing
Please see also, a special one-on-one with Dan Davis and Robert Yates
Davis, Yates one-on-one