An interview with
MARK KENT, Chevrolet
ED CARPENTER, CFH Racing
SARAH FISHER, CFH Racing
WINK HARTMAN, CFH Racing
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, CFH Racing
TOM BLATTLER: Hi, this is Tom Blattler. I wanted to welcome everybody today for the CFH Racing announcement. We have a host of guests that will be speaking today including some very prestigious folks from up in the Detroit area, and wanted to first introduce from Chevy Racing, the U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Jim Campbell.
JIM CAMPBELL: Good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us. We are very proud to announce that the newly formed CFH Racing will compete with our Chevrolet Direct Injected Twin Turbo V6 with the Verizon IndyCar Series beginning 2015. We're very excited to partner with Ed Carpenter, Sarah Fisher, Wink Hartman, and also want to welcome Josef Newgarden to Team Chevy.
Ed and his team last year delivered three wins with Chevrolet in the 2014 season, and Sarah and Chevrolet have a history together, and she raced with Team Chevy in 2003.
Wink, it's going to be great working with you, and we're very excited to be working with Josef Newgarden, a great addition to the lineup all together.
With that, I want to turn it over to Mark Kent, our director of Chevrolet Racing, for one comment about the partnership.
MARK KENT: Good morning, everybody, and thank you, Jim.
We realize teams have choices to make when it comes to engines, and we are very happy that CFH Racing has put their faith in Chevrolet to provide them the engine and aero kits that will put them in the winner's circle. As Jim mentioned, we've been a partner with Ed Carpenter Racing for the past three years and their contributions have been tremendous, both on the track and off the track as we develop our engines and chassis. We've had the opportunity to look down pit lane at what Sarah and Wink have been doing over the last few years, and we are very excited now having them with the Chevrolet engine in their car and having Josef piloting that car.
So we are very pleased with the selection of Chevrolet as their engine, and look forward to a championship here in 2015.
TOM BLATTLER: Thank you very much, Mark. I believe everyone's very excited with the new affiliation.
Let's move on now to Ed Carpenter, owner/driver of the Ed Carpenter Racing 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet, and Ed has had four wins with his team in three years, including three this year, two with Mike Conway, and Ed won at Texas.
Would you talk about your relationship with the Chevrolet folks and how this all came together?
ED CARPENTER: Just finally happy that the day is here that we can publicly talk about the fact that CFH Racing is going to be teamed up with Chevrolet for the future, which is something we're all really excited about. I started my IndyCar career with the Bow Tie and the past three years returning to the Chevy camp has been a great working relationship, and obviously, we've been able to get some results along the way with the wins and Indy poles, and with the new development of CFH Racing and all the hard work that's going on to bring our two teams into this new team is really exciting.
I feel like we make progress every day, and we're going to be on the track soon, which is very exciting and really just can't wait to get to next year and try to add to the win total that we've had over the past couple years, and work on getting Josef his first win and continuing his development as what we feel is one of the top drivers in the sport.
TOM BLATTLER: Super, thanks, Ed. Appreciate it. Let's move on to Sarah. Sarah has had a long relationship with Chevy back in her early days, including Sprint cars and World of Outlaws.
Sarah, could you talk about your past experience with Chevrolet as well as the new actions with the team?
SARAH FISHER: Thanks, Tom. I certainly do have a history with Chevy. I just want to make the comment that being reintroduced to their IndyCar program through the new CFH Racing association, I have just been extremely pleased and excited about their professionalism and their commitment to our sport. That is very clear in everything that they do and how they approach their methods and their on track performance. I'm really excited to have the power of the Bow Tie behind our team.
I know it's had a lot of commitment throughout my career, and to be able to continue that relationship now under the CFH banner is one that I'm extremely happy about.
So I've worked with Mark and Jim before, and I'm really excited to continue that relationship. Like Ed said, build on the wins and work on getting Josef his first.
TOM BLATTLER: Wink, you've been involved in racing now for a while with Sarah's team and been very successful. You're were the front row four times this year and finished second at Iowa. Can you talk about your excitement in the team coming together?
WINK HARTMAN: Sure, thanks, Tom.
The thing that I'm so excited about is when I had the opportunity to not only Sarah and I sit down with Ed and we were kind of beginning the transition to Carpenter/Fisher/Hartman Racing, it quickly became clear to me the support and the people with Team Chevy that the opportunity for Josef to further his career because we truly do have one of the best young drivers in the series. I think that Chevy gives us just two more steps on the ladder, three to advance what we're trying to accomplish and that is, obviously, wins on the track.
But from the business side, I'm so excited about the support, the engineering support and all of the dozens of things that both Jim and Mark have been nice enough to share with us and how we'll proceed to go forward.
I look nothing but for a great year, a great partnership and to build on what the Chevy Team is going to allow Carpenter/Fisher/Hartman to do.
TOM BLATTLER: Thank you, Wink. It sounds like everyone's extremely excited. Let's move on to our young guy who was very impressive in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series. That's Josef Newgarden.
Josef, I know you've talked to Ed and have been buddies with Ed for a long time. But now you're going to be his teammate. Can you talk about moving over to Chevrolet and now running with a multi-car team going into 2015?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, absolutely, thanks, Tom.
For me, I'm really excited as a young guy still in the sport trying to make his name. I've had three tremendous years with Sarah and Wink and the entire Sarah Fisher operation. It's exciting for me to go into this new journey now as a two car operation and a bigger family with CFH Racing. Having the opportunity to work with someone like Ed now and have a teammate to draw off of and try to learn from is going to be really exciting for me. I've not had that over the last couple years.
We've made big strides by ourselves, but I think we're going to make even bigger strides with a partner there and for someone for me to learn from and try to better myself.
I'm excited to work with Ed. We've been talking about it for a while, and I can't wait to get on track together and finally fully work with each other in full integration. That's going to be really exciting.
From the Chevrolet side, I think it's going to be even more exciting. It's icing on the cake in my opinion. It's so cool to be able to work with these guys. I've been able to look at them for the last three years from our perspective, which was the outside, and from there, it was very, very appealing and certainly interesting to try to beat them. They were such a strong group, and we came so close so many times with whatever it was, poles or wins, but we just weren't able to get it done. Excited to see what we can do together next year.
I think they're extremely committed to their Motorsport brand and everything that they do. For me, it's going to be very, very fun to try to work with them to better the entire program for 2015, and hopefully bring home a lot of victories and a lot of success for the Chevy brand.
TOM BLATTLER: We hope so too, Josef. Thank you very much.
Media Question. Ed, what does it mean to you to be able to have this partnership now and to not have the pressure of wondering what manufacturer you want to have? Also being able to stick with Chevrolet for you, what does that mean?
ED CARPENTER: Like I said earlier, one, I'm just excited to be able to talk about what we're doing, and two, excited to be able to continue the relationship with Chevrolet. I think the on track performance that we've had with them in the past and the on track performance that Chevrolet has shown over the past three years in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the successes speak for themselves.
We're just honored to be a part of the Chevy family still on moving forward. As a group of American owners and right now mostly American drivers, to be associated with the Chevy brand, it's something that we have a lot of pride in representing some of the principles that made our country great and Chevrolet has always been a big part of that.
We really feel like our brand fits well with Chevy's brand, and just hope to continue, what's already been a good partnership, for further down the road.
Question. Ed, what is the time frame for determining your partner in the 20 car? Is there a scenario whereby you could do three at Indianapolis?
ED CARPENTER: Hope to have things situated with Mike Conway here in the very near future. He has a race to finish up at Circuit of the Americas with a Sports Car program that he's involved with, so he's kind of getting through that and letting us get our legs under us with the new team. But it's certainly a priority on the list with the results we had this year and working with Mike, the combination of myself working with Josef on the ovals and Josef and Mike working together on the road courses is one we're excited about. Hopefully by the end of the month that would be wrapped up so, yeah, hopefully soon.
Question. And in Indianapolis, could you do a separate?
ED CARPENTER: Well, we've talked about additional cars at Indy loosely, but it's something that we haven't totally gotten focused on yet because there is so much work to do in the short term, moving into the new shop and getting all our people working together and on the same page. But looking ahead, this year we each ran an additional car at Indy. So in the back of my head I feel like for sure we'll run an extra car at Indy, and I don't think it's outside of the realm of possibility to think that we'd run two extra cars at Indy, depending on what car counts are looking like and things like that.
I guess the right answer is no decisions have been made, but we've got an open mind and expect that we'll be adding cars whether it's one or two.
Question. For Chevrolet, how many full time cars are you planning for in 2015?
MARK KENT: I would say this announcement today adds one more strong car to our lineup, and that's really all we know as of today relative to 2015.
Question. Do you have a date scheduled yet for a first aero kit test and a location?
MARK KENT: We continue to work on our aero kit. We've been committed to it. We've been working on it for several years now, and we're excited about being to the point now we are going to go testing pretty soon. We do have plans to test, but at this point the date and location are confidential because we want to keep it under wraps as long as we can until it's homologated, and we don't have to fear losing any of our technical features of the car.
We are fully committed and on track and on plan. We'll be there at the start of the season next year looking at what we think is a very exciting new aero kit.
Question. So does that mean I'm not getting an invitation to the test?
MARK KENT: That would be affirmative. Thank you for wanting to be there though.
Question. Sarah and Josef, I know that Honda was very interested in keeping Josef as part of the agreement and adding Ed. How much discussion did you have with them? Was there ever a point where you seriously had considered remaining with Honda?
SARAH FISHER: We value both Honda and Chevrolet's commitment to our sport. Without competition, we wouldn't be where we're at as a sport, so having both of them involved means a great deal to all of us in the series. Naturally when we came together, Ed and myself and Wink, we all listened to each other's inputs. We sat down with both manufacturers and gave them both time to talk and sort of opened the floor up to what their inputs were.
It was quite clear to us the commitment that Chevy had to Ed's team and to our team, having set that commitment together moving forward. It was just clear that that was the decision we needed to make together. It's really neat that one of the first decisions that we all made together was sort of a unanimous coming to a conclusion decision and seeing how hat worked up front right away, it's clear to me the type of organization that CFH Racing is going to be.
I'm really excited about that, and extremely excited about the power, and the background that Chevy has, and the commitment they have to our team and to the sport.
Question. Josef, about Honda?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think it's a little easier for me purely because I drive for CFH and I signed with this group, and I put my trust in the team to make the best decisions. Their interest is being positioned the best to be successful. Whatever their choice is going to be, I stand fully behind it and I trust in it. So it's a lot easier from my perspective. I put my trust in the team, and I think we're going to be positioned really well for next year.
Question. Ed and Josef, you both come from long time, single car teams. What's it going to mean to each of you to have a teammate for the first time?
ED CARPENTER: I've been in situations where I've been in single car for periods of time and I've had teammates. Certainly when you have teammates and especially quality teammates like we have with CFH Racing, it's a big advantage. I can look back to the past two years at the Indy 500 two years ago. I did it as a single car team. Last year we had a second car with J.R. Hildebrand, and we definitely saw the benefits there and how much smoother and more prepared we were going into this past year's 500 than the previous one.
So with the way the series is going with testing rules and with the aero kits being introduced and when they're being introduced and the amount of track time available, it's going to be even more important this year to have a teammate and to be bigger, stronger team with collective resources. It was an easy decision to partner and form this new team. There's been history amongst all of us and relationships from the past that really made things for an easier transition. We're just really excited to get on track and start the process of developing for next year.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: From my side, being a one car operation and coming into it as a rookie in 2012, it is a tough task, but it's made me stronger as a driver and I've learned many things from being a one car team. You're kind of forced to in a way. You have to get on the ball and start moving otherwise you get left behind really quickly. It's exciting now to take that skill set and the things that you did learn as a one car operation and put it into a solid two car operation where you're actually using both cars efficiently to move forward each weekend and all year long. I think that's what we're going to do.
In order to make the most of a two car team, you have to be on the same page with each other with your teammates, and I think Ed and me are going to do a good job of that. If Mike stays around as well, I think we're going to get on the same page too and push the program forward. So, for me, I'm excited about that, getting on the same page with my teammate and pushing the overall program forward in the year. It's pretty critical nowadays that you do that. IndyCar is so competitive, it's hard to keep up if you're not pushing forward at a rapid rate each and every weekend.
Question: I had one question I wanted to ask Sarah, because we really haven't had any information since CFH Racing merger press release. How are things going at the Speedway headquarters now, Sarah? Is it pretty active?
SARAH FISHER: Well, yes. There is a lot of movement. Certainly we're really excited to get the north building and the south building consolidated into one building here on Main Street. I think Ed can echo the excitement that we have to be less than half a mile away from the greatest racing circuit in the world.
ED CARPENTER: Yes, to just follow up on that, there is a lot of activity and the days are kind of running together right now because there is so much coordination going on. Every meeting we have there are more things we think of that we need to do. But I think we're all happy with the pace that things are coming together, and more importantly, the collaboration between all the key members of the team, key members of our previous teams that are key members of our new team and the team work that we're already seeing, I think it's a great sign for what's ahead of us here for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series.
TOM BLATTLER: I know everyone's very excited to get back into action and get things together as CFH Racing.
We want to thank our Chevy folks, Mr. Campbell and Mr. Kent for joining us today. Everyone is excited for the Bow Tie to be on the two CFH cars next year. Want to thank Ed, Sarah, Wink, and Josef, and we appreciate your time.