Q&A with Ganassi racing's Mike Hull Target Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull will oversee the testing program of the team's two cars at the March 22-23 Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park. Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, who will have competed against each other in the 12 Hours of Sebring a day earlier, will participate in the exercises.
Hull provides a preview of what a team seeks to achieve at a road course test.
Q: What about the layout at Barber Motorsports Park does Target Chip Ganassi Racing hope to develop/test?
A: TCGR has a test list for Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon for the two days there. It will help us with direction for the natural road circuits on our schedule. Since it is the only road track test for us prior to the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, it's a good starting point for 2009. It helps us to measure where our guys stand in relationship to the other IndyCar Series teams.
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Q: What did the team learn the first time out at Barber during the October 2007 compatibility test?
A: First, Mr. (George) Barber's attention to detail and personal pride is very evident. It's a great natural-terrain road racing circuit. It is representative with some similarity to tracks like Road America, Watkins Glen or Mid-Ohio. In terms of feedback, it's about matching Dario and Scott with comparative analysis to have a greater understanding of how to push their drive-style with data, so it's a great opportunity for growth.
Q: If it were up to you, would you put Barber on the schedule right now?
A: What are needed are racetracks that have promoter strength that push the IndyCar Series brand to a wider audience.
Q: Sum up your thoughts on the oval test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Secondly, how important is this road course test with the first two races of the IndyCar Series being held on street circuits?
A: Anytime that you have the opportunity to participate in an Open Test, it's very important. Although you need to be very careful not to be preoccupied with the stopwatch, at the same time the track conditions develop in a very similar manner to a race event and that has greater benefit than a private test where the track is mutually shared by a couple of teams. Barber is not a street track layout, so it is not suited for the development of a St. Pete or Long Beach set-up.
Q: Does the previous success of Chip Ganassi Racing's Grand-Am sports car series program at Barber offer TCGR any data, or advantages?
A: One of the biggest things that we have seen at Barber is the fan and spectator loyalty and support. There is a passionate road racing fan based that has been evidenced each time that our Rolex guys have raced there. In terms of data, the cars on the track are very different in terms of braking, grip, and cornering efforts, as was evidenced when we did the IRL evaluation.
Q: What are your thoughts so far on having two proven "multi-dimensional" drivers in Dario and Scott? How will they push each other? What was it like to have a front-row seat to their battle for the IRL championship in 2007?
A: The front row seat in '07 was a bit heated at times, but racing head-to-head with Dario and AGR was fun. The first thing that was demonstrated was to become a true champion your program had to be strong on diverse racetracks. It pushed us hard in the winter of 2007 to be better prepared for 2008. AGR is a great race organization and continues to be very competitive with the representation of the IndyCar Series brand on and off the track. Our team is better as a group because of the 2007 race season. It showed us how hard you need to work and how quickly that you need to recover. The demonstration of teamwork, dedication to improvement, and consistency of performance were enhanced by what we needed to do to race against Dario in the '07 race season. It will be great for Dario and Scott to push each other at the Target Team this year. IndyCar.com