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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Tony Kanaan
Morris Nunn
Alex Zanardi
December 6, 2000

T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everyone. Welcome to a special CART media teleconference and thanks to all of you for being with us today. Our guests this afternoon are team owner Morris Nunn of Mo Nunn Racing and the driver lineup which he announced today for the 2001 FedEx Championship series season. 1997 CART Rookie-of-the-Year, Tony Kanaan, and two-time FedEx Championship series champion Alex Zanardi. To Morris and Tony, welcome, to Alex, a warm welcome back. We appreciate the three of you taking the time to be with us today. Concurrent with the announcement of Alex's return to the series was the team's announcement that it will be powered by Honda, which has powered the past five FedEx Championship Series. Alex's entry will be sponsored by Pioneer, while Tony's will continue to be sponsored by Hollywood. The team will also continue its use of the Reynard chassis. Alex Zanardi returns to the series after spending three seasons driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing through 1996 through '98. He etched his name deeply into the CART record book during that span, winning Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 1996, and back-to-back FedEx Championship Series championships in 1997 and '98. Alex recorded 15 victories and 10 pole positions in 51 starts, and his 29.4 winning percentage is the best in CART history. He owns FedEx Championship Series records for consecutive race victories, four in 1998; consecutive poll positions, six in 1996, '97; and podium finishes in a season, 15 in 1998. Tony Kanaan is beginning his fourth season in the FedEx Championship Series and his second with Mo Nunn Racing. He won the 1997 Jim Trueman Rookie-of-the-Year award while driving for the Forsythe Team and recorded his first FedEx Championship Series victory and pole position in 1999 at Michigan and Long Beach respectively. Tony, the 1996 Dayton Indy Lights champion finished 19th in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series Championship with 24 points. He missed three mid-season events while recovering from a fractured left forearm sustained in a qualifying accident at Detroit. Morris Nunn served as Alex Zanardi's race engineer and filled the same role for Juan Montoya during his drive to the 1996 FedEx Championship Series title. He formed Mo Nunn Racing late last year in partnership with Bruce R. McCaw, president of the PacWest Racing Group and Rod Campbell, a Detroit based marketing executive. With that out of the way, we will begin taking questions for any of our guests.

Q. Alex, after you tested at Sebring with Morris last summer, did something click then? What sent you over the limit to say, "I have to do this again?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, good morning, first of all. Since you're not the only one listening, I wish my good morning also to the ones on the West Coast especially. Good afternoon probably to somebody on the east coast. In any case, to answer your question, that was a test that had no further implication. At least that was not part of the plan. It was a hard season for Mo Nunn Racing, especially due to the fact that they lost their driver in the middle of the season, Tony, because of an accident that he had in Detroit. At that point, they had to do a test. I think Morris can probably fill my answer even more. But the purpose of the test was really just to get some indications in what I thought about the work that they had done in the setup of the car up to that point into the season. It's no secret to anybody that Morris and I had a great relationship when we were both working for Mr. Ganassi in the years I was there. The chemistry between the two of us has always been good enough to produce very special results. I believe it was a wise decision for him to ask me to drive his car for a couple of days and see if he could either learn something or not. I don't think I need to do a test to sit down with Morris and then decide or to set the fire up again. It was more a question of finding the motivation to come back and drive, and that test had nothing to do with that. You know that I've been going back and forth with my mind in terms of, Can I do it? Will I have to give up too much about my normal life, my family and whatever? Finally, I came to this conclusion that, yes, I want to do it. Yes, I am determined to do everything it takes to put together a winning effort, but not at all costs. It had to be a situation where I could certainly enjoy what I was doing. I think under this point of view, it had to be definitely competitive because I don't want to come back and just take part in events; I want to try, if I can, to have the machine to compete for top positions. Well, basically that's why I'm here. I hope that answers your question.

Q. When I talked to you at Mid-Ohio, you talked about Alex's motivation, sort of questioned it, wondering if he was going to be able to handle this again, if he had the fire. Could you comment on that now? What turned your opinion on that? Alex, could you talk about your drive, and did you not have that passion at any point?

MORRIS NUNN: Earlier in the year, I wasn't sure. When you decide to stop racing or whatever, sometimes it can be a very hard season, maybe the results don't come, you know, you might feel that you've done all of this and you need a rest, you get fed up with all the air travel, hotels and so forth. I'm sure that Alex, in the middle of the year, wasn't thinking that he wanted to come back to CART. I mean, this is my view. I don't know what he'll say. Our test that we did was twofold in a way. I didn't tell Alex this at the time, but we were -- I asked him to do a test to verify some of the development we were doing on the engine. We wanted another opinion. But I was hoping at the end of the test that he might say, "Let me do Toronto for you." That was our intention because we needed a driver at that time. I didn't feel he was ready, didn't see the motivation. But when you are at home, where he is in Monte-Carlo, sailing in his boat, whatever he's doing, I think that can get, after a while -- well, you start missing what you did before. Now I see Alex, from seeing him again in Fontana, that his motivation has changed. Maybe the boat isn't fulfilling what he needs in life. He's a very young man, so I know with myself that I was trying to retire, and the same thing happened. You do start to miss what you were doing. I didn't see the motivation earlier on. Only he knows that. I do see it now. He seems very, very determined.

Q. Alex, can you answer the same?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, it's very nice what Morris said. If I could just add something, it's not because I know he's online, but it's certainly been a very special thing for me, a gift that I have received from this. You like to meet somebody like Morris. I miss the nights where I was driving him crazy, trying to change the last thing in the setup that could allow me to win the race. I wasn't happy with what he had done so far. Like at 9:00 in the evening, we were still there. I miss those nights. I'm planning to drive him a little bit crazy again this year. I also miss the feeling that you get when you go around the corner. I know the oval in Rio is not going to be part of our calendar, unfortunately, but the sensation when you're coming out of a corner like Turn 1 in Rio, go through third, fourth, fifth, sixth gear, feel the power of the engine, the lateral forces pushing you towards the wall, but you're fighting the car to keep it on the road, it's fantastic. I can't really explain you how this happens, what is the steps that takes you to that point. I start to dream in the night these things, I start to dream in the nights my meetings with Morris, to try to make the car better, what it actually is, the sensation when you do drive a good car and you take it to a good point in the race, and you achieve something important. So I'm missing all that. It's certainly the main reason why I decide to drive again. It's also challenging the fact that although Morris is not a teenager, certainly his team is a very young team, a very hungry team, a team that wants to succeed. I think we got everything with the Reynard chassis and especially with the Honda engine. We got everything it takes to try to do well this coming year.

Q. Tony, this will be the first time you've had the luxury of having a teammate in Champ Cars. I wondered what that will mean for you in terms of how you approach the 2001 season?

TONY KANAAN: Well, it's definitely a whole different deal for me. I always had the whole team working. For me, it was very easy, I'd say. We been talking, as soon as I joined Morris, that I felt I need a teammate. I think who else we should ask. We have Alex that I have a very good relationship with him. We have a lot of fun together. I think with all the success he had in the past, actually I can learn a lot from him. Definitely is going to be a big help for me. I would say I had a very good teammate in the past, you remember, Helio in Indy Lights. We made a very good team. They proved that again this year with Gil and him, a couple other teammates that push each other, even when Alex had Jimmy. It's a very good thing for me. I'm very happy that this deal is done so we can go ahead and start to work, me and him going to make Morris go a little bit more crazy (laughter).

Q. A question to Morris. I wonder, as part of your funding program, are you going to do a CD of the engineering debriefs with Alex and Tony, which could be a best seller, I would think?

MORRIS NUNN: A CD of what?

Q. Of the debriefs with Alex and Tony together. I think it could be a best seller.

MORRIS NUNN: As long as there's no technical information going out (laughter). I'm sure Tony will do a very good impersonation of Alex because with Jimmy -- if ever Tony doesn't succeed in motor racing, I think he has a television career, I think.

Q. A very basic sort of nuts and bolts question. Obviously in the past, Morris, you and Alex have been used to working together as race engineer and driver. Obviously you have a different role in the team, being an owner. Just what sort of role are you going to play and how are those duties going to be sort of sorted out this year?

MORRIS NUNN: Well, we're kind of in the middle of that right now because we've got quite a lot of extra staff joining us in the engineering department, also in the crew. We haven't placed all the -- you know, finalized all those positions. But, sure, both guys are going to have the same equipment. I think our team is a racing team. We're out there to win. The best man will be at the front. We're going to do everything we can to make this team -- with these guys, you know, everybody pulling together. That was something we had in Chip's team, everyone involved, Jimmy and Alex worked together, thoroughly congratulated each other on each of their successes. That was a kind of first for me to see how two guys could get on and be genuinely happy for each other's success. I will be doing everything I can to keep that in this team. We are a young team. There's always egos involved in any teams. It's my job to make sure this runs super smooth. I think overall we're a very young team, but for our second year to have a driver lineup like we have, it's a fantastic opportunity for everybody working in our team. Everybody's very excited. I'm sure these two guys are going to keep other on their toes. I think it's a great situation for us, great opportunity.

Q. This question is basically for Morris. I was just wondering, you made the switch from Mercedes to Honda. You had to make that switch because Mercedes is out of CART racing. Were you leaning that way anyway and has the -- what has the transition been like to move from engines?

MORRIS NUNN: No, we weren't leaning that way. We're very fortunate in what happened. Unfortunate in one way, fortunate in another. Our commitment was to Mercedes. Have great respect for Paul Morgan. They helped us to get this team started. You know, it wasn't their wishes that Mercedes withdrew, but that's a fact of life. It was a surprise to us at the time. We were disappointed that that happened. We're very fortunate in both the drivers now have run Honda engines. We had great success with Honda. We had a good relationship. We were just very fortunate, very happy that they were able to supply us for next year.

Q. Morris, just with kind of the unexpected Mercedes pull-out, having to put together the deal with Honda, you were pretty close with Jimmy, now here you are with Alex and Tony, can you put the last three months into perspective? Must have been an amazing pace.

MORRIS NUNN: Since Fontana, most days of the week, I have an office at home, I'm in there by 8:30. Some days I haven't even left there. I take one phone call, by the time I hang up there's 12 messages. It's been very hectic, not only with putting Alex's situation together. We were talking to Jimmy. With the sponsorship, it's been a daily situation. My partner, Rod Campbell, I think he's finally found out what a real day's work is. He's been working almost -- I mean, he's up at 6:30 in the morning and we're still talking at 9:00 at night. It's been very, very hectic, I can assure you. We thought it was done. There was a little snag, so forth. This goes on daily. It's been very tiring. I'm thankful, you know, we finally put it all to rest.

Q. I wanted to ask Alex, one of the main reasons that you cited for going overseas was to spend more time with his family. I just wanted to find out if the CART expansion with the two races in Europe had any effect on you and what will your living arrangement be throughout the season? Is it going to be in the States commuting back and forth? What are your plans?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, the answer to the first part of your question is maybe -- in reality maybe it was a little the two events in Europe, but I think CART came up with some new rules, especially for what it concerned testing, basically not allowing anybody to do any test all during the season and limiting the number of days over the winter, the number of ten maximum days, which actually also has a technical implication that is helping our team, I believe, just because of the fact that we've been basically getting together so late into the season means that right now we're not ready, and because the team is also changing the engine, it also means that it's going to take a little bit more time for us to start our testing, and the fact that in any case we can only do a maximum of ten days, each driver. They will not do now from the first day's work what we will do anyway. Besides this consideration, it's obviously important for me to spend as much time as I can with my family. But I believe that now that I've seen the calendar and have seen that, for instance, in the first part of the season, we basically racing all around the world, so it doesn't really make a great difference to me or to anybody whether I'm living permanently in the United States or whether I still based in Monaco to go to those races. I think it's possible. The fact that we don't have any testing helps and makes it possible. Now I know is not the ideal environment to raise a kid, to take it to the circuit and to have him in the circuit with your wife, but certainly I know that is ideal for him to spend as much time as he can with me. It is certainly for me because I love him very much. This is what I will do then in the middle part of the season. I will try to find a nice place to live in America for June, July and August, and stay over in the States permanently on those three month. Right after Vancouver, I will then take the family back to Europe and I will go with them to Europe. As you know, we will have those two races respectively in Germany and then in England. It's not going to be easy, but I think it's possible. I'm young. My son is actually very young. I think I will be able to give him the time it takes and also to find the time it takes to race at 120% and to fulfill not just Morris' expectation, but also my own expectations, which is to try to do very well next year.

Q. Alex, I'm wondering about what about coming back to CART is inspiring, given maybe the frustrations I assume you had over in Formula 1, just the difference between the two series, maybe some of the memories you have racing in this series as opposed to F-1?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, I would like to come up with something that would be so good for you guys to write down in your magazines, for the good name of the series. In reality, I'm just going to be honest. My situation is very particular. I'm at a point of my career where I don't feel I've given what I could. I think I can still drive very fast and I can still achieve great satisfaction for my team, for myself and for our sponsors. Having said that, I could not find right now motivation in a good salary. I could not find in the ego of seeing my name in a big column in a very important magazine. I mean, those things are nice. Those things are obviously important but are not everything. Especially for a guy like me that has had the possibility, the luck to drive great racing cars and win very important races, to have satisfactions in life, to earn also a good amount of money, for the life I intend to live, it's certainly more than enough. But still, you know, one day you wake up and you say, "I want to do something that makes me feel alive, that proves me that again, you know, I can do it. I want to mix myself up with those guys again." It sounds like the story of the guy that says bad things about something that he couldn't have. But, believe me, that is not the case because when I left Formula 1, I did not slam the door at all, I just left because unfortunately it was the end of a marriage between me and Williams, but I still have a lot of respect for Frank in spite of all that happened. There is a lot of people -- given the right opportunity, I could still do a better job because I had a couple of phone calls just two weeks ago about the possibility of traveling again in Formula 1. But to me that series has gone into a direction that is not certainly in the direction of the sport. Formula 1 choose long time ago to be the maximum expression of the technology into a motor sport discipline. This is okay, but that has taken away a lot from the sport. I mean, you watch those races, and there is a guy that is driving a certain car that has qualified 1/10th faster than another, the race is on, the guy pulls into the distance a tenth of a second per lap, and almost looks easy, which I know is not, but it looks like there is nothing the guy behind can do to challenge that other car. So to cut the story short, what I wanted, what I was looking for is again a challenge where certainly to drive the best car is obviously a great advantage, but that best car is not absolutely unbeatable. I was looking for a challenge where, if you are a good driver, if you capable to give your engineers the right information, eventually in the course of the season you will be able to make it, you will be able to succeed. I think this is what CART is. It's a World Championship. It's a very, very important championship. Someone may believe that it's not as important as Formula 1. Well, I don't care. I couldn't care less. What I want is to mix myself again with people that are very, very hard opponents, that they will not give you an inch of course, even when you driving at above 200 mile an hour, but you can drink a glass of wine after the race together and mix up with. Again, I think what I think helped to take this decision is also the fact that, as I said, I'm going to be driving for a team that is -- that is going to make me probably enjoy what I'm doing much more than others. I've always also been very, very fortunate in my career by having very nice teammates, other than in 1991 I drove beside Andrea, that was not a nice experience, but other than that I've always had the pleasure of working with some very nice guys. I'm not saying I'm going to find out. I know already because I know Tony very well and I know already we going to have a great relationship. Tony is a super guy. If he has a down point is that it's all super fast. It's going to take away a lot of attentions from myself if he goes super fast. But this is part of the game. I think is actually the only thing you can call sort of our business, you know, try to get the best possible car, try to develop it as well as you can, but go out, drop the shield, try to be the final thing that makes a difference, you know, try to win the race yourself and not simply know that you going to win the race simply because you driving a car that is unbeatable.

Q. The years you were in CART previously with Chip Ganassi, particularly the last couple of years, you were with the Ferrari, if you will, of CART. Are you looking forward in a way to the challenge of working with an old friend, trying to upset the order that exists?

ALEX ZANARDI: Well, first of all, when I first came, I will always remember a driver that you all know and I like because I think it, again, is a super guy, Christian Fittipaldi, that certainly had the chance to drive for Ganassi, but he thought it was obviously much better at the time to drive for another team. If you go back in time, probably will you have to rephrase that objective. When I join Chip Ganassi Racing, certainly Chip had everything in line to get a great result, but it was not considered at the time the Ferrari of racing. It then became. I'm not going to say thanks to neither me nor to Jimmy or whoever, certainly thanks to the great job that Chip did in pulling everything together, but I know for sure that at least two of the key elements of those success, which were Morris Nunn and myself, are going to be trying next year to, again, recreate the same kind of success and plus get all the success we had with Honda. That is going to be also part of the package. I'm actually very, very excited about that.

Q. Do you like the challenge of coming up as an underdog again, with a new team?

ALEX ZANARDI: I don't consider myself -- I did not consider myself an underdog when I first came in '96, and I did not consider myself the main favorite in 1998 when I then went on and scored 15 podium finish in a 19-race season. I just know that we have a car that for sure somebody will take to the winner's circle next year, the Reynard. We have an engine that, for sure, is going to give us the possibility to challenge everyone for the championship. I have an engineer that has won many, many races in his career as a team owner. I have a teammate that is going to push me to not leave anything in my pocket. I am a driver that has prove that he's capable. I never felt like I'm the best driver in the world. I never thought that. I just believe I'm good enough to win races with the right equipment. I believe I will have the right equipment, so I don't think there is any reasons why I shouldn't be in the position to win races next year. Therefore, I don't consider myself neither a favorite, neither an underdog. I know there is a lot of work to do because our team is new, is young, there is ground to cover. All that for me is just exciting because is challenging. I actually like this situation very much so, probably more than if I had to go and drive for a team that had everything in place. Is not just about achieving; is also about helping to be in the position where you can achieve something.

Q. Flipside of that question, Alex, do you think people expect too much of you this year because you have a Reynard Honda and you're reunited with Morris and you have Tony pushing you?

ALEX ZANARDI: For sure they're going to expect more than they did in '96. I believe actually it's normal. It's typical kind of answer. I don't feel pressure. Even if you would, you wouldn't say, right (laughter)? The reality is, I mean, I don't care. I mean, people can expect whatever they want. I normally put pressure on myself, therefore, that's why I feel my reserve. The pressure will just come from the desire of doing well. In the years, an athlete normally learns how to control that pressure, how to turn desire into motivation and into effort, but not into fogging the vision of trying to see what you have to do in order to win races. Therefore, it's going to be a challenge, very hard. The expectations from everybody are certainly different than when I start, but everything changes in life. I believe it's going to be much harder for those newcomers that are trying to make it now in the series because when I first came, I remember if I would do really bad, people would have plenty of excuses for me because I was a rookie. If I would do just kind of decent, people would be almost surprised and pat my back. Boy, before the end of the race, I actually -- before the end of the year, I actually won races. People started to wonder whether I was coming from the same planet as all the others. Then all of a sudden I think I've changed that mentality. I go and everybody is saying, "Well, nobody will ever replace Alex." Then Juan Montoya comes, my God, he wins the championship on his first season. What are now the expectation for a rookie? If a rookie wins a race along a season, it's jut normal, isn't it? This is what probably people will think now. If those two guys that are going to be driving for Chip next year will just win a race, each one apiece, I think everybody will think that is disappointing, which I don't think is the case. It's always difficult to win races. It doesn't matter who you are. All I can say is that I am going to try my best. If my best is not first place in the championship, as long as it is my best, I will be happy.

Q. In the past when you drove in CART, you had expressed some concern about the ovals, that you felt they were a little bit more unsafe than the road courses. Now that you're coming back, do you still have those same feelings? Does the Honda, does that influence your decision to come back?

ALEX ZANARDI: I still have the same concern. It's like, you know, everybody knows that smoking is dangerous, but there's a lot of people that still do smoke. My wife is one. People knows that after 60 years, sex is dangerous for the young, but there's still people that do that. I know that to race on the ovals is particularly dangerous, much more dangerous than racing on road courses. But at the end of the day, I cannot deny that is a lot of fun. If you have select this as a profession or if you been lucky enough to be selected and do this as a profession, to drive a race car, you've got to love the speed, you've got to love the feel that you get when you traveling above 200 mile an hour. Therefore, you can't say, "Oh, yes, I really like to drive on a road course, but I don't like to run on an oval, is not nice." It's fantastic. It's beautiful. On the other hand, when you stop and put both feet back on earth, you say, "Boy, but it was pretty dangerous when I lost the car at that point. What about if I wouldn't caught it back?" That is the kind of considerations you make. I'll try to be wise and careful, but that does not mean I will give away results if I know I'm in the position. I will try the best I can to win races on ovals. That would be a fantastic satisfaction for me.

Q. You don't think having the Hans device (ph) increases the safety a bit?

ALEX ZANARDI: I think in reality, I hope CART will one day be strong enough to go to the promoters and to the circuit and their own requirements to fill in the sense where we can have our kind of ovals. I am very disappointed that Rio is no longer part of our calendar as a race. I loved that place. I think those are the kind of ovals where we should be racing on. I do believe people have -- obviously, this is my own opinion. Whether I'm right or wrong, I don't know. All I'm saying, I believe our cars have changed. To go back so much where we could still have an interesting race on the technical point of view in that place, on a super speedway, for instance, it's impossible. It would be much easier to reconfigure those circuits to suit our cars. I think we just need tighter corners. Some may object that this is against the American motor sport spirit and the fans would not like it, but I don't agree because I do believe American fans are very smart and wise, and the reason why they fell in love with the ovals is simply you can sit in a grandstand and get all the action like you would do on a football game and also you get the feel of the speed, which is great. But to also put together this kind of show with the spectacularity of deep braking and overtaking maneuver into that part like you could get in Rio, that would be even more interesting. This is what I think we got to offer to the fans that other series could not offer. Again, this is purely my opinion. In any case, both in Michigan and Fontana, there's going to be 22 points available and I'm going to try to grab them all. I'm actually going to be very, very happy if I succeed in doing that.

Q. Morris, can you tell us what the contract lengths are for Tony and for Alex?

MORRIS NUNN: Tony was a two-year contract with an option. He's done one year, so there's one more year with an option for a third. Alex, we've agreed to do one year at the moment, see how we do. If he - what shall I say - enjoys himself, wins races, is happy with the team, I'm sure he's not going anywhere else.

Q. Any focus on Indy this year?

MORRIS NUNN: Any focus on Indy? Not at the moment, although there's been lots of inquiries and talks. It's something we can't even think about right now.

Q. First testing will start when?

MORRIS NUNN: Four days, starting December 18. Two days for Tony and two days for Alex.

Q. Alex, you've seen such a warm welcome back to the series. How does it feel to see people wanting you to come back and be happy about your performance for this year?

ALEX ZANARDI: It's great.

Q. What does this team need to do to win? Chief steward, would you like a former driver? A younger former driver? A chief steward is a very important part of the series. What does it need?

ALEX ZANARDI: First of all, right now, I've decided to be a driver again. I've got to step back into the role of the driver. Therefore, it's not comfortable to really comment what CART should do, what happened in the past, whatever. I do believe certainly sometime you see things that are a little over the line. It's easy to criticize when you watch those things in TV. It's much more different when you are involved yourself because you are into one of those race cars that are part of the action. I think at the end of the day, Wally was trying to do a good job, probably to many degrees I was into some conflict with them because of his role of chief steward and because of my role as driver, at which everybody was pointing a finger at a certain point. I felt a chief steward should have been above all the complaints, above all the rumors, above the commune feeling because sometimes that is also dictated by the fact that people may not like when you're winning a lot of races. Comments may also be suggested from the fact that they just waiting around the corner for you to fail once so they can get a sort of revenge in a way. This is human nature. It's as simple as that. In Formula 1, Michael Schumacher, every time he moves a finger, everybody calls him a bad word. In reality, it has to be said, right now he's showing clearly he's the best driver and everybody would want to be in his shoes. Having said all that, I don't know. It's really difficult. Certainly CART needs to put somebody into that position that is definitely above all this speculation, above all these rumors, that makes a decision, whether you like it or not, is that one, cannot be changed afterwards or whatever. We need to have somebody with strong hand that can make decision, that can straighten even drivers up when they're not acting the way they should because we are traveling very fast and sometimes it's dangerous to block each other if we do that not in the proper way. I've seen some action that were definitely over the line last year. I just wish that whoever is going to be in charge of that job next year is going to do it and he's going to believe in what he does and he's going to do it in the best way he can.

Q. Morris and Alex, I'm wondering how the two years as chief mechanic affected your decision to bring Alex into the fold and, conversely, how that affected Alex, your decision to take the job?

MORRIS NUNN: I didn't understand the question.

Q. Can you go into detail how that helped you make the decision to bring Alex into the Mo Nunn fold and how that helped Alex accept the job?

MORRIS NUNN: Well, Alex is a winner. Everybody wants a winner. There's sponsors, Honda, they were very high on Alex. Pioneer is a sponsor, and the whole team, everyone knows what is done in the past. He's a very young man. There's nothing to stop him doing again what he did before. We're going to give him the equipment to do that. We'll expect everybody -- it's going to be hard work for everyone in the team. I don't see any difference. I'm in a different position. If these guys touch the wall, it's a little different. Before I never gave it a thought because Chip was paying the bills. I'll have to look at that. I think I'm used to that now. We expect drivers that are really putting their foot down that they're going to make a couple of mistakes a year. That's all built into the budget. It's going to be a little different, as I'm an owner now, than when I was working for Chip. But I don't see any problems at all. Our business is to be up front, try to get pole position, win races, win Championships. That's what we're determined to do.

Q. Alex, how did that affect your coming on board?

ALEX ZANARDI: I can add something to Morris' answer, is also that he decide a key element in the fact that he really likes - actually loves - a special kind of coffee they just sell in Italy. Every time I go back and forth, he wants me to bring him some packs of that coffee (laughter).

MORRIS NUNN: He bought me a supply. The supply is just about out. I thought it was time we contacted him again.

ALEX ZANARDI: As I said earlier on, for me, at this point of my career, to many degrees, I've done what I wanted to do. If I have to find the motivation, the only way where I can achieve that is by first of all doing something that I can enjoy. I've really, really enjoyed the relationship with Morris when I was racing with him. Also the fact that I can work also again with people that became friends at Honda and also they're going to give us a very, very powerful engine which will put us in the position to run competitively - not just competitively, but very competitively. I'm going to find again some old friends in working with Reynard and a great teammate with Tony. Having said all that, I also want to add that we have a great partner in Pioneer as our main sponsor which will give us everything it takes to compete at this level and has helped to make all this possible. It's a great opportunity for a man like me that was just looking for a solution where I could go out, challenge myself, maybe be disappointed on Sunday afternoon, but also have my share of joy and success and satisfaction through the hard work I intend to put in this new adventure.

T.E. McHALE: With that we're going to wrap it up for the afternoon. Congratulations again, thank you for being with us today. Happy holidays to all of you and best of luck during the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season.

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