Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing, and Mike Hull, managing director of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, met the media Friday to discuss next week's Las Vegas Indy 300, which will decide the IZOD IndyCar Series championship between their respective drivers, Will Power and Dario Franchitti.
Q. Gentlemen, it seems like I ask this question to you every year, but what is it about the two organizations you work for and oversee that keeps putting drivers in positions to win the title?
MIKE HULL: I don't know, it's not easy to answer that question. I think what it actually is, though, it's a team of people for us that work well together, and we continue to work well together. We're surrounded by great drivers, great sponsors, and certainly a great owner who all together devote their tireless energy to continuing to win together, and I think it's as simple as that.
And secondly, racing against a team like Penske Racing is what motivates us at Chip Ganassi Racing, because of what Penske Racing has accomplished over time. We're only at the tip of the iceberg on that. We're just really starting, whereas Penske Racing has been doing it a lot longer than we have and certainly very successfully, and it's fun and a pleasure to race IndyCars together with these guys.
TIM CINDRIC: I think Mike covered most of it. I think it's the drive that Roger has, and behind that drive he puts us in a position relative to not only resources but just the overall legacy that he has within the sport that when you become part of this organization, you just want to try and at least keep that legacy moving forward, and obviously you'd like to add to it. But you certainly don't want to take away from that legacy. Did I ever think that I'd be a part of a team that's achieved those type of results? I think it's a bit unrealistic to expect that. But here it's something that he does expect, and he expects results, and with that, it usually breeds confidence and you find more of yourself and of your team maybe than what you had thought was possible.
Again, it's the people that make the difference, but those people also need resources, and we've been fortunate enough to be surrounded by the right type of sponsors. But at the end of the day, his leadership has a lot to do with it. You know, you just feel like being able to race – you have to have people to pass, but you also have to have people that challenge you, and that's certainly been the case with Mike and his group.
Q. Tim, is Will the same driver who battled for the title in 2010? Is he different than he was this time a year ago?
TIM CINDRIC: Well, he's got another year under his belt just like the rest of them, but I think his overall demeanor and his approach and really his self‑confidence on the ovals is different than it was last year. I think right now it's hard to match the overall experience level of Mike's drivers on the ovals relative to Will, but I think that he's certainly grown in that respect, and he knows he has more to do, but right now I don't look at him any differently than our other two guys in regard to what's possible.
Q. Mike, a little bit about Dario going for a third championship in a row and the fourth for your team. Where do you rank him in terms of the champion drivers you've worked with?
MIKE HULL: Certainly he's representative of the great drivers we've had at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, if not the great drivers that have driven IndyCars over the years. I've been lucky enough to be around some really good ones and have seen guys, particularly at Penske Racing, that have represented oval racing and what it means.
When I first was lucky enough to be involved with IndyCar racing, there was a guy like Rick Mears who raced Indy cars, and I have enormous respect for what he accomplished and who he is today and the integrity of how he represents the sport, and I think that's what Dario does extremely well. He represents the integrity of our sport, the support of IndyCar racing, particularly oval IndyCar racing, and I think he guards and very much defines the lineage that he represents in terms of IndyCar champions, and that's why it's great to be around drivers like Dario and Scott Dixon and all the others that have done this. Will Power certainly represents that already with what he's accomplished. He's very special in what he does. Dario is very special at what he does, and it makes it fun to be part of IndyCar racing when you can be associated with guys like that.
Q. With Vegas being kind of a brand-new track for a championship race, how does that change your strategy going into the weekend?
MIKE HULL: Thanks for the question. I think that it allows us to bear down on what we need to do. It's a one-and-a-half-mile oval, so certainly some people would think that's the same as a lot of the other racetracks where we race. But I think Las Vegas is going to provide personality, the kind of personality for a racetrack that will be new and different for us.
The second thing is there's going to be 34 racecars represented at Las Vegas, and I think that provides complexity that we haven't seen for quite a long time. And I don't think in fairness you can say it's like Indianapolis that has 33. So that in itself will be a huge challenge for everybody involved, not only Will and Dario but the other people that are involved in racing at the racetrack.
Q. In other series like NASCAR, there's a lot of movement among crew members – Hendrick and Roush crew tend to migrate between each other. Does that happen very much with you guys? I would assume the physical distance between the Penske and the Ganassi shops probably precludes that. Has there been much crossover in terms of the rank and file in each of your IndyCar organizations?
TIM CINDRIC: I think both of our organizations, when you look at the amount of tenure that both teams have is quite extensive. There's those that move around, and yeah, there's guys on our team that have been in the Ganassi organization and vice versa. It's probably certainly not the norm. Obviously, we're not in the same city and have never been in the same city, so that makes it a bit more difficult for employees and so forth to have options in that way.
But I think that if you provide a good place that's difficult to get into and hard to leave, then you make your own bed in terms of keeping employees over a long period of time.
MIKE HULL: Yeah, I think we're lucky in our case, and I know Tim is in his case, that we have other teams that are under the same roof, and we have a lot – we do have some movement where we can provide opportunity for guys to expand their horizons and be promoted within, with four IndyCar entries under our roof as well as a Rolex Sports Car entry, we do move people around.
We've lost a couple of pretty good people to Penske, one being Sean Hanrahan, who's worked over there for a long time that did a great job for us. And maybe in a way we're lucky we're separated geographically because it allows us to not necessarily worry about people wanting to move to North Carolina from Indianapolis, and that's not all bad.