IZOD IndyCar Series: MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships
Topics: MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships
October 19, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Helio, thank you.
We'd like to welcome up our championship-winning team owner Chip Ganassi, and Mike Hull, managing director.
Chip, thoughts on Scott Dixon bringing home another championship to the team.
CHIP GANASSI: This one's pretty special, I have to say, because of certainly how our season started out. The fact that Scott Dixon did it. We had a tough, tough beginning of the season. We had a tough Indy 500. We had a tough mid-season. Obviously Honda turned around at Pocono. Ups and downs all season. Losing my father at one point. That death, it took a lot of wind out of my sails. Then, of course, the Sonoma incident, the Baltimore incident. We had a lot of things.
The guys on this team, the guy to my right, never, never, never gave up. These guys don't know the word 'give up.' They don't know how to give up. They hung in there, hung in there, hung in there. Tonight for 250 laps Dixon, Mike Hull, those guys on that 9 car team never quit.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, can you add to those comments?
MIKE HULL: Well, I wish I was in a contract here with Chip (laughter).
No, I want to echo what Chip said. But I think that's the mark of the culture of Chip Ganassi Racing and has been for a long time.
Statistically, we don't think too much about that, to be honest. We think about it maybe as validation of what we do, whether it be an individual race or a championship at the end of the year.
We work for every day of the week, race day, in this case race night. This today is why we're here. This is what we want to do. This is what we've chosen to do. It's just so much fun to be able to do it as a group of people, as a team of people.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. After Helio had his issue where he was a lap back, looked like everything was working out well for Scott, then the engine temperature started to go up. How were you able to approach that, keep your cool, keep his car running?
MIKE HULL: I think we might have inhaled a little Valium there and decided it was important for us to understand the gravity of where we were. We hadn't really worried about Helio all night, to be honest. We worried more about ourselves, staying clean, racing to the front. We knew everything would take care of itself.
Then all of a sudden somebody gets out the arithmetic for where he finishes, where we finish. Our car was running hot with 50 or 60 laps to go. That's a long way, 120 miles to the end of the race. We pull the blocker. We were freaking out.
When Helio had to stop in the pits, that was our signal that we were able to stop, too. It was fortunate when we stopped we stayed on the lead lap. That was the big denominator to the end, even when the yellows that came after that.
I'd have to say as hot as the engine got, Honda did what we wanted them to do, what they wanted to do, and that was build an engine that didn't break under severe conditions. Chip alluded to it. What they've done for us, we saw where we were going together starting in Detroit this year. We saw the progress they made. They really worked hard with our drivers to understand what drivers need to drive racecars.
All of a sudden all the (indiscernible) we had went away. Our cars got better when the engine got better. We were happy about that tonight. It was a testament to Honda, to Chip Ganassi Racing, and testament to a hardcore guy, Scott Dixon.
Q. Chip, do you like the fact that it comes down to a 500-mile race at the end of the season, especially here?
CHIP GANASSI: I can't say that would be my number one choice if it was up to me. It is what it is. It's the same for everybody. We accept it. We accept it and act accordingly.
Q. What would be your number one choice?
CHIP GANASSI: Would have been to end it in Houston after we had the lead. I would have been perfectly happy stopping it there.
Q. Mike, you got nailed back on both the Baltimore and Sonoma incidents. Did the team ever wind up needing that focus to get back on track to perform at Houston?
MIKE HULL: You know what's a good thing about motor racing, when you had a good team of people, you run at the front, you know you're going to run at the front again as a group.
I think everybody, including Helio, he had problems at Houston, different from ours, but he still had problems. I think when you're racing for wins and you're racing for a championship, those things happen to you. You just can't let them create roadblocks that stop you from the desired result because you're going to get it if you run at the front.
Q. Chip, Mike just called Scott a really hardcore guy. He might be the most undervalued, under-appreciated champion anywhere. Is it now time to establish him as really one of the best out there?
CHIP GANASSI: You know what, I think so. I think that's a nice thing you had to say there.
I was really pleased in the last few weeks when we took the points lead what other people were saying within the sport. People like Mike Knight back there. Mike and I have a lot of history. Mike had some nice things to say about Scott Dixon. People like John Barnes making tweets about good drivers.
I think that means a lot. The people within this community I think know what a talent he is, his number of wins, wins among active drivers, all that. All those stats are up there. I don't know them off the top of my head. But obviously this establishes him certainly I think.
You know, his championships, 2003, 2008, 2013, they didn't come like bang, bang, bang, right in a row. That shows you what a tenacious guy he is. He hangs in there.
We were close to a couple others in between there at times, against his teammates, against Roger's guys.
Q. Mike, all the years I've been following racing, it seems a team like yourself, Roger, Andretti, your guys don't give up because they know on any given weekend you can win. That's got to weigh in your favor that you know how to pick the people that are willing to put in the work, a lot of effort.
MIKE HULL: I'm not sure if that's a question or testimonial. But you're absolutely correct. When Chip put us all onboard, we kind of came through. Tom Anderson was working for Chip when I came onboard. He laid a great foundation. I was able to work with Tom for a long time. We worked hard to craft a culture that could race over the long-term, not the short-term.
There are really good drivers and teams that are put in combination. But it's when you start to change the drivers, when you start to change the people that work on the car, and the resource. Chip in particular has worked really hard to give us what we need to do our job. Then it's up to us.
When we started, Penske Racing, clearly in my estimation, Newman/Haas was racing, but Penske Racing still to this day is the best team in motor racing. To compete against those guys, for me to compete head-to-head with Roger, have him come over as the checkered flag was falling and say congratulations, for me, you don't know how much that means.
I'm happy that we've been in the position that we're in, and I never thought it would be possible for me to ever work in motor racing and do over a long period of time what we've done.
Q. Chip, could you talk a little bit about the job that Tagliani did for you tonight. You just won a championship with Honda and now are switching to Chevrolet. Must be bittersweet.
CHIP GANASSI: First of all, I thought Alex did a great job tonight. He did exactly what we told him to do. We sat down, said, Calm down, settle into the race, just get going. It's been a while since he's been in the car. Slowly but surely he worked his way up, pit stop, pit stop, pit stop. Third stop, he was up at the front, leading the race.
We're sitting there counting that laps led thing. That has to do with the points at the end. It was mission accomplished. He and Charlie both were great, stellar teammates tonight. Pushed everybody, pushed all the competitors to have to perform. That's what teammates do. Dario all season, you can't take away his efforts all year. I wanted to have him here, but the doctors wouldn't let him come. I wanted to pick him up and bring him out here. They wouldn't let me take him out of Indianapolis.
Alex, that was a stellar performance on his part for not being in a car for a while, into a new team. To go up there and lead like he did, pretty good, yeah.
In terms of switching over to Chevrolet, that's a business decision we made. They were fortunate enough to have a win tonight, as well. They won the manufacturers title, Honda wins the drivers title. Me personally, couldn't have worked out better.
Q. Chip, you mentioned the loss of your father. How big a kick would Floyd have gotten out of tonight?
CHIP GANASSI: I'm sure he's up there smiling down on us right now. He was a big part of my career and my life. He and I really got to know each other through racing. You always see people in positions like this saying, I wish my mom or dad were here. I know what that feels like here. He was a great guy. Wish he was here.
THE MODERATOR: We'll wrap things up. Chip and Mike, congratulations on a great championship and year.
CHIP GANASSI: Thank you.
MIKE HULL: Thank you.
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