Q: Rick, you were always known as a great qualifier. Is there something about this speedway and qualifying that you liked?
MEARS: Mainly the team I was with. That was the key. It's such a precise track, you know, very narrow groove, very high speed, very little room for error, but the main thing for me and the fun part was that you had to run four laps. Out of the four laps you'd never run one corner the same way twice, because you're adjusting the next corner off what the previous corner told you. All of that is part of what made it fun, the technical aspect of it.
Q: With not having the ability to go out and do any type of race setups next week, I imagine you've spent a lot of time, maybe a majority of your time, maybe, on race setup this week. How have you been able to balance that, and do you feel you're better prepared for the race at this stage than anything?
CINDRIC: I think the way the weather has been this week, I'm, I guess, curious how well prepared we are. Fortunately the equipment and a lot of what we deal with is very similar to what we've done in years past, so there are not a lot of variables. But the way the weather has been, I don't think anybody has had a consistent day and, obviously I don't know what race day is going to hold for the weather, but the weekend is going to be very different from what we've experienced this week. I think it's going to be a bit of a crap shoot, to be honest.
Q: Roger, you've talked in the past about concerns about costs and where the series was headed, and now you've got not only a new qualifying format but also a new CEO, a new title sponsor. Just talk about where the business model is going and where the series is going.
PENSKE: I think if I step back and was here last year and I think where we are this year, it's been, I don't know how many years now, four or five years since we had enough cars to fill the field, not having to go out and say could you bring an extra car. That's point number one. That's a big positive. I think the fact we have five women in the race creates a tremendous interest by many, many people – people who might not have been interested in our sport. Certainly IZOD has taken the bit in their teeth and has run with it, I think, with the promotions. We need a credible sponsor. I think IZOD is the type of product that tends to be maybe a product that our fans would be interested in.
And certainly Randy Bernard, I had a chance to meet with him before he took the job, and really, he is engaged and there's no question that he's available by phone, he communicates, and, to me, will bring this series together with his experience from a marketing perspective. I think what he's trying to do is communicate with his team and let the technical things take care of itself and let him be a real CEO. I don't take anything away from Tony (George). Tony is the one who put the money down and got this series back on track. He was the one who committed to bring these two series together, and we can't forget that at this point. But I think we're in a much better position, the racing has been tighter, the changes in the rules from the standpoint of just little things on the cars so we can run closer. I think you're going to see 10 or 12 or 15 cars that potentially could win this race based on strategy.
Q: Roger, you mentioned that these three you thought were some of the best. When you look for a driver, what is it that you're looking for that you see that maybe someone else doesn't?
PENSKE: Well, I think, you know, there's three criteria that always stuck out in my mind. The first criteria, has he been a winner in some kind of racing, so he knows how to win? There are a lot of people who have been fast but don't know how to win. So that would be number one.
Number two, in today's racing the ability to communicate technically, not just because you have a big right foot, but technically can you communicate with your crew, do you understand, are you engaged on the technical side of things? I think that's very important.
Obviously the third thing is the commercial side of it, being able to support our sponsors and the media and other things. So those three things are key. As Helio said, they've got to have the fire in their belly; they've got to want to win. We have three people here, one's going to, we hope, win the race.
I think the fourth point would be you've got to have drivers who are not just one man on one team when you've got three drivers. We have one team with three drivers, and I think that's super-critical. That's one of the things that Tim has been able to bring into the team to continue to say that's the mission here is one team. And Rick obviously is a byproduct of that over the years, so that's kind of my formula.