So there's a $25,000 bounty on the heads of our boys Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the Grand-Am Rolex Series. My first thought was, “Can we stick a Ford engine in our 02 car and run against them?!” But seriously, it's a great compliment for what we've achieved and worked hard to do, and it's a representation of flawless execution. Our Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Grand-Am guys have done a fantastic job in the series since 2004, and it's been with a variation of drivers, variation in crew members, two different engine manufacturers and three different tire manufacturers. The only common denominator has been our guys, so to continue our success while all those things have been changing, our guys have worked really, really hard, just as all our guys do throughout Chip Ganassi Racing.
We haven't won races because we've been necessarily better than everyone else. We've won races because some of our competitors have not made the same calls in the pits, or have fallen off the racetrack, and so on, while our guys just keep pounding away, closer to mistake-free than our rivals. But I hope someone does win that $25k, because I know they work just as hard as we do.
As I mentioned in my last blog, we work very hard to get the maximum out of our entire package – both the aero and mechanical – and we combine that with the BMW engine, which Steve Dinan works so hard on. He is one of the great things about that engine. He's a racer; he understands the engine is part of a complete package and he listens carefully to what the drivers have to say about the driveability of the engine. I'm not sure it's absolutely the most powerful – in a straight line, we're certainly not the fastest car – but we have great drivability and Steve works with a 24-7 attitude to make that happen. When we raced with TRD with Lexus engines, Kevin Kuchta was the same way and did an awesome job for us. So we're lucky to have been involved with two different engine companies and two great guys making things happen for us.
It can get frustrating when you've worked so hard for success, that when you achieve it, there are people trying to stop you from reaping the rewards by putting further restrictions on the rulebook. In a way, Dinan paid the price of being involved with our team; if he'd been with a team that ran around in 10th all the time because other parts of the package weren't good enough, he wouldn't have faced the challenges he's had to. But the flip side is that when your product is pushed to the edge, you find its weaknesses quicker. And another interesting point is that had he been working with a mid-grid team, Dinan and his operation wouldn't have been scrutinized so much. His continued success tells everyone – be it a TV viewer, a fan at the track, a rival or an official – that our success is legitimate and our product is legal. If you have an engine builder who supplies to an uncompetitive car, he can run around illegally all day long and no one will really know. But when you've got a Dinan product running at the front all the time, you know it's abiding by the rules.
Of course, what helps Steve get the information he needs is the excellent feedback of the drivers. Scott, given his vast wealth of experience, is someone you'd expect to deliver good feedback, but what he's also done is create almost a clone of himself in Memo! That's really good, because the ideal setup is now very similar for both guys, they understand each other completely, they deliver consistent feedback to Steve, and they understand consideration of everyone around them. The degree of success to which we now have a bounty on our heads is because the Rojas side of the equation has justified what Carlos Slim wanted a long time ago, which was bringing a driver from Mexico into the visibility of everyone in racing. That in itself is a great achievement and the Telmex driver development program is very reflective of what Memo has done to increase its visibility.