Q: Scott how will your ankle injury affect the rest of the year for you?
SCOTT PRUETT: Well, I've got to put this into perspective a little bit. This is an injury that I've had from a bad accident in 1990. I've changed up my training routine a bit before the race this year. I felt like I could go on and be a little stronger.
I can't go out and run on the roads, but I can run on an elliptical machine. So I was running 8 to 10 miles a day. I was working on twice a day, getting myself prepped. In doing so typically I would go in and get a cortisone shot in my ankle for that. Unfortunately, when you get that cortisone shot, that kind of takes you out from your typical training regime until you have enough time to let your ankle get back up to speed.
So I opted out of the shot and opted into a more rigorous training regime coming into it. So I think that certainly was not the best play. My endurance and all that was great. My ankle was sore. But it was the difference between 90% to a 100%.
I felt like going in the last couple hours, I was good at giving 95%. But if we had to have that hard-core, throw-down race, wheel to wheel, fender to fender with somebody, going in deep in the turn trying to make those maneuvers that you try to make to get by guys, I just wasn't 10% confident that I had enough strength in my ankle to do that.
That's why in talking to the team, saying this comes down to a shootout like this, I can run fast and I can run hard laps. But if it comes down to a hard-core fight, I don't know if I can give it all. With having a guy like Juan Montoya in there, I knew he would get it done.
Q: What did Charlie Kimball add to the team this year?
SCOTT PRUETT: Well, Charlie was very much similar to when Graham came on board the first year. He did one or two stints. He always had to be a little careful with having a guy come on board with no experience in that race. Charlie did a fantastic job. He did exactly what we wanted him to do.
Those are some pretty big shoes that you jump into when you run for either of the Ganassi cars for the 24 Hour. They're always typically in a position to run strong and be in the hunt for a victory. With that, comes a lot of pressure and a lot of stress.
I think Charlie did a great job and got an understanding of the race and saw how it unfolds and the flow of it. I think it will help him out if he comes back to join us next year. He made a statement, even just going back to IndyCar racing this year, he thought he learned a lot to take to that.
Q: The Ganassi team has had so much success in sports car racing and in IndyCar racing. Its success in NASCAR has waned a bit in the last few years. Do you consider the organization a Sports Car team now? It's easy to say it's a racing team. But the success has been in sports cars.
SCOTT PRUETT: There is no question about it that the NASCAR organization has been struggling over the last couple of years, and they are addressing it. They're switching from CGR engines to Hendrick engines. They spent a lot of time with Ron and Jamie, and they're really excited about getting the season started.
The IndyCar side was plagued with a lot of engine failures last year, so they'll be right back up to song. And for Chip Ganassi, it's been great working for him, because he is such a hard-core competitor.
If you talk to him, he'll tell you, "My business is racing. It's not car dealerships, it's not something else." His business is going racing, and that's where he puts his emphasis and where he puts his focus. That's why there are so many changes within the NASCAR side of things to get it back to where it is. So I think it's going to be an exciting year.
It's great to come out of the box with all the guys. We share all this together within all three teams. Whether it's IndyCar, NASCAR or the sports car side. Everybody roots for each other, everybody's pulling for each other. You go into any of the shops and you'll see pictures of your cars. They know what's going on with the race. Everything is shared together.
I know for Juan personally to be able to come away with a victory in the Rolex 24 and now get into the NASCAR season, it's a great momentum builder for them as they take on the season.
Q: Scott, you've mentioned a couple times about Graham Rahal coming in early and now Charlie Kimball, you had to, work with him and talk to him before the race. Does it surprise, especially open-wheel guys, who come into a sports car, how aggressive you can be with the car, how sturdy the cars are? Does it create a different driving style for them that it may take a stint or two to get ready to put that kind of energy and aggressiveness into a car?
SCOTT PRUETT: The biggest thing that surprises them is how hard you can run that car for just 24 Hours. You run hard. Just taking in that volume of time. I mean, here we are in the closing stages of the Rolex 24. We've got, I don't know, three and a half, four hours left. Charlie was sitting next to me and he's going that's still a whole Indy 500 we'd have to run. That is like our longest race that we haven't even run yet.
Just listening to him, and it was the same with some of the other guys, realizing how long 24 hours is and how much goes into that and how many hours you'll spend behind the wheel getting there is pretty overwhelming. You don't experience it until you're there experiencing it. I think that was a huge, huge learning experience for Charlie.
Q: What about for you when you made that transition from everything else into sports cars? Did Scott Pruett have to get that kind of, "Wow, that's a whole Indy 500 I still have to go!"?
SCOTT PRUETT: It's interesting, because I came from sports cars to Indy cars and then back to sports cars. Well, Indy car, sports cars, and back to NASCAR. Starting your career in sports cars, you knew exactly.
I do remember my very first Rolex 24 in '84. And was so keyed up and excited to get the race going, and felt like I was out there killing rattlesnakes for the first two hours of the race, until one of my teammates goes whoa, whoa, whoa, dude. You'll be out of gas in six hours and just totally trashed. Just relax and stay focused on taking care of you, not being in the middle of what the team's doing. I've just trying to build on that over time.