CHIP GANASSI, TEAM OWNER, CHIP GANASSI RACING, met with members of the media at Sonoma Raceway to discuss the state of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, how important pit crews are in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and many other topics. Partial Transcript:
WE HEARD YOUR LIST OF WINS AND ACCOLADES AND MERITS. WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU PERSONALLY THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO PUT ON YOUR RESUME?
“Next is this race this weekend here at Sonoma. They are all big, but this is the next one."
YOU’VE GOT TWO GUYS THAT WERE VERY GOOD IN PRACTICE, BUT KYLE IS STILL LOOKING FOR HIS FIRST WIN. ARE YOU PUTTING ANY PRESSURE ON HIM TO WIN? IS THERE A TIMETABLE YOU EXPECT HIM TO WIN BY?
“I don’t think I put any pressure on him to win. He’s not the kind of guy that I think… he knows what’s up. He knows he has to win. There is no need for me to remind him of that fact. He knows what it takes and what is expected of him. I don’t feel the need to remind him. He’s a smart guy."
SCANNER TRAFFIC IS NOW PUBLIC DOMAIN. AS AN OWNER DO YOU MAYBE CRINGE SOMETIMES WHEN COLORFUL LANGUAGE IS USED TO COMMENT BACK AND FORTH TO EACH OTHER?
“That is a good question. I have always found that the drivers I respect the most are the guys that win races and win championships. If you look at the guys that win races and win championships nine times out of 10 those are the calmer, succinct communicators on the radio. They don’t get into a lot of poor language or obscenities. The guys that win on a regular basis or the guys that win championships don’t feel the need to do that. I think that probably should tell you something."
HAVE YOU EVER HAD TO PULL ONE OF YOUR DRIVERS’ ASIDE AND HAVE A CHAT WITH THEM?
“Sure. Let’s just say that now that the scanner traffic is more in the public domain I’m glad that certain driver’s aren’t with us anymore. I’ll say that much (laughs)."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]DO YOU THINK ABOUT ALL YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED?
“I think about the next race. There will be plenty of time someday when I won’t be able to climb over the pit wall or come to a race and I will have plenty of time to be thinking about the races that we won. That is more for you and the press to talk about. I have never been one … I want to look forward. As long as I can keep looking forward I’m going to do that. I’m sure someday in my career I will be looking back. I have a big day coming up Wednesday in Daytona this coming Wednesday with the Hall of Fame induction. That is something that I have always…you know guys that go in the Hall of Fame I think geez they have one foot… you know… in the grave or one out the door or whatever you want to say. I don’t look at myself as that kind of guy. I have plenty of races to go and win yet. I have plenty of time to go racing."
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS WHERE YOUR NASCAR TEAM IS AT RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU HAPPY?
“If you want to call it a weekend right now after the last practice I will be happy with that for sure. I think all these teams are a work in progress. It is not a static thing. Teams today whether it’s in auto racing or any form of auto racing or if it’s a team of workers building widgets or in the retail industry, anytime you are working with a team of people your team is always in some state of development. You are always trying to develop certain things within your team. I don’t think it’s any secret. I would look at my team in NASCAR and say until we start winning on a consistent basis we are in a big development still. We have work to do."
ARE YOU STAYING HERE ALL WEEKEND?
“I’m actually going to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin I have a sponsor thing there tomorrow night."
HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR TEAMS KEEP UP MOMENTUM AND CAPITALIZE ON IT BEFORE SLIPPING BACK PRIOR TO LOSING THAT MOMENTUM?
“I could make an argument that yes, in fact, in the past won races and slid back. And that is, whether it’s due to people or partners or sponsors whatever you want to call it. I could look back on each one of those and say, ‘well that happened because of this… or this happened because of that…’ I would say the way we are running now I would say that I don’t see anything on the horizon that would lead me to believe we are going to slip back anytime soon. I think we are actually inching forward still. I feel good about that."
YOUR GUYS HAVE BEEN FAST IN PRACTICE. HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR PIT CREW IN HELPING YOU WIN THE RACE?
“Well, without question I think everybody has seen that on pit road those are the new cowboys of the new millennium here. It’s a difficult thing when you have these teams now, really all the teams really have people that is all they do is pit the car. These guys get paid a lot of money and good for them. It’s a challenge when you run the business to have young people coming into the sport that are just as important as the guys building the cars. But you have guys that have been with the company 10, 20 years that are working day and night building cars and then you have these 20 year old kids that come in and they are making the same amount of money just pitting the car and working very little if at all on the car. Just lifting weights and drinking energy drinks all week. It’s a little challenging from a management point of view. It’s a little challenging from a team managers point of view to manage those dynamics within a team. I can tell you that every team up and down pit lane has that issue. It’s a challenge. You’ve got to get out of the pits. You can have the best car, you can have the best driver, and if you can’t get out of the pits within a fraction of a second from the leader you might as well not even be here."
HOW DO THESE GUYS DO IT? 10 SECOND STOPS… JUST INCREDIBLE:
“Well, a lot of these guys that are carrying the tires a lot of these guys used to carry footballs. A lot of people on pit lane were serious collegiate athletes’ maybe that didn’t get into the pros or hurt their knee at the wrong time or something, but arguably are professional athletes. So my hats off to those guys."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]KYLE LARSON SPENT HIS OFF WEEKEND RACING SPRINT CARS. A LOT OF OWNERS WOULDN’T WANT THEIR DRIVER IN ANOTHER VEHICLE. HOW MUCH DOES THAT HELP HIM?
“That’s a good question. I do think that racing and there is no replacement for stick time. I will say that. Does racing a midget in Ohio have anything to do with Sonoma this weekend? I could argue not, but you wouldn’t know that by the practice results today, so, maybe I stand corrected."
ARE YOU CONCERNED WHEN HE GETS IN THESE SPRINT CARS?
“I’m concerned every time any driver gets in one of our cars, let alone somebody else’s car. Yeah, sure I’m concerned. But, each one of these drivers you meet has different personalities. They are not cookie cutter guys. We all want to put everybody in a cookie cutter and say ‘drivers need to do this, team owners need to that and team managers need to do this and crew chiefs need to do that and engineers need to do this.’ These guys aren’t all cookie cutter guys and what motivates one versus another might be different. I don’t imagine that racing a midget in Ohio last week would motivate Jimmie Johnson very much, but it does Kyle Larson. If we can help him do that I’m happy to do it."