Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, for a traditional stop by for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Chip Ganassi and Mike Hull and a talented group of drivers who not only know how to win here; they know how to win championships. And as I've take a look at things over the years, Chip, I think one of the things that makes an organization strong is consistency. I thought to myself how long some of the key players have been with you, and all of them know a little bit about winning. You have to feel good about your chances again.
CHIP GANASSI: Certainly. Yeah, I mean, that consistency starts with the guy to my right, with Mike [Hull], you know, and the group of people he puts together. And, yeah, I mean when you look at how long [Scott] Dixon has been around now, it's quite a long time. And Dario [Franchitti], of course, and Charlie [Kimball]. And obviously bringing back Ryan [Briscoe].
After we did the deal with Ryan, it was pointed out to me that all four of these guys finished in the top eight last year. So I didn't realize that beforehand, but certainly consistency is a big thing. And, you know, I think this sport sometimes rewards longevity. Experience. So, yeah, I look forward to this weekend and next.
MODERATOR: Mike, you have a talented group of drivers, obviously, that you each are different, each have different styles, each have different things they want, I suspect. You know if you at least come somewhat toward making them happy, they have a chance to deliver the goods, that's one of your tasks.
MIKE HULL: I think keeping them unhappy might be better (Laughter) to be very blunt about, it because unhappy race drivers are ones that work really, really hard to be better.
But I think as a group what you see in front of you is a definition of partnership. Certainly this month, partnership is good because one day somebody has a really good day, and his teammate doesn't have a great day, you compare notes and come back stronger the next day. I think that's truly what we're all about. Particularly Indianapolis, because you have enough time to be able to get everything right when you work together.
Q: Ryan. What's the situation – are you doing more races and what kind of races you have done?
RYAN BRISCOE: I'm just doing this race at the moment. I'm doing the American Le Mans Series this year, including Le Mans next month. So from here I will be moving to France for that. So we're just taking it one step at a time here.
It's been great to be on board at Chip Ganassi Racing again. It's an amazing feeling. It's great to team up with Scott again and get to know Charlie and Dario. Working with them on the racecar. And I think that longevity that Chip was talking about, it's certainly made this transition a lot easier, in the fact that I know pretty much everyone on the team. It's just been seamless. I feel like I've just slotted right in and it's been all business.
It's felt great, and I think we're just working hard here to get better and better. Hopefully we'll get a repeat of last year what the team did.
Q: This is for Mike and whichever one of the drivers wants to chime in. Since they took the second week out of the schedule, are you working more backward, but all of your race stuff the first five, six days and then really start focusing on qualifying trim yesterday and today.
HULL: Yes. The obvious answer is yes, we do. And I think you've seen that for the most part. You want to work to be at the front at the end of the race and have the opportunity to win. It's an intensified week, but you have to wait for a couple of days for the place to rubber-up a little bit. Then you really start working. And I think that was evidenced again yesterday when you saw people out there doing runs together and trying to find traffic so you could do that. You might see a fast a lap because of the tow, but you're more interested in what your car's going to be like when you have about 40 percent left in the tires. That's really the difference-maker in how you win the race. That's what we work on.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I agree with Mike. Obviously it's a balancing between the engine miles and the sets of tires you have, as well. Obviously with the qualifying setups you don't get full boost until today, so really today is really all about qualifying. Up until now it's really been about general stuff.
SCOTT DIXON: I totally agree. With testing, we've been pretty lucky. Some years you can come and you don't run three days in a row. So this year it's been about managing time a lot more because you have a lot of on track. As Dario mentioned, tires and engine miles. Still very limited. You got to pick the right time. Obviously for us it's trying to find paths recently in the heat of the day. That's about it.
Q: Chip, your thoughts on where the series is at – the fans, sponsors, television? Do you like the direction?
GANASSI: I think, you know, it's kind of a broad question. Can you bring that down a little bit?
Q: Do you feel like you're going forward?
GANASSI: Obviously, the front office is in transition mode, I guess. I'm certainly happy with who's at the helm there now, whether it's Mark Miles or Derrick [Walker]. I think that's a great addition. I think, you know, they still have some work to do there. I freely admit that.
What else? Fans? I think we have some work to do with the fans. We need to do a better job of explaining – of being relevant to – fans and relevant to the people who put the money in this sport, whether it's sponsors or manufacturers, whoever. We can do a better job being a little more relevant. What else?
Q: How is the direction different this year from last year?
GANASSI: I think there's a longer view of things. Which I think, you know, it was my opinion that the prior administration was viewing down their nose, and these people seem to be looking a lot farther down the road.
Q: Dario, going for your fourth win, any thoughts on adding any members to the four-time winners club? Any pressure on you?
FRANCHITTI: There's no more pressure than there is on anybody else in the field. Doesn't make you any faster. Doesn't make the team work any harder. It's simply right now about the mechanics of trying to put ourselves in a position to challenge on race day, trying to make sure the Target car is fast, consistent. And then try and qualify well, ourselves – as I say, when we put ourselves in that position, go race and see how it all works out. Do the best job we can on that day.
There's no more pressure. It's a great position to be in, trying to win that fourth one. Scott is obviously trying to win his second, and the guys here trying to win their first. And it's great memories of last year. And looking forward. Hopefully we do have a job – today, tomorrow, and then next Sunday.
Q: Chip, when you were filling out the team and deciding to bring Ryan on, what was kind of the decision factor to bring him on? Second, is it maybe like an interview process for a permanent position?
GANASSI: I think it's safe now to tell the story. I was on the plane with Mike Hull one day, en route to another function. And we got in a discussion. I said, "Where's Briscoe?" He said, "I don't think he's anywhere." I said, "What? Well, we got to get him." He said OK. And that was the whole conversation!
We can't leave a guy like that – if a guy like that's available, we've got to get him.
It worked out well with some of our staffing. You know, we obviously had the cars, we had the staffing and it was a pretty – I don't want to use the word "seamless" but it was something done fairly quickly in about two or three days. And quite frankly, I didn't know Ryan was available. When I found out he was, it was just a matter of Mike and I having the conversation. It took, like I said, about five minutes, maybe.
BRISCOE: Didn't take long to say yes. (Laughter). That's in this case.
Q: Dario, you talked a little bit about going for a fourth. Far more than you probably could have ever asked for to win three of these things. What's it been like just hanging out with the three four-time winners and stuff like that? Kind of say wow, they consider me one of the all-time greats of this racetrack.
FRANCHITTI: I am very happy to have won one. So difficult – look at some of the great drivers that didn't get the opportunity even to win one, so I was happy. Three is beyond anything expected. But I really want the fourth.
But hanging out with those guys has been a lot of fun. We see a lot of JR [Johnny Rutherford] at the track, we see Bobby [Unser] occasionally. And Helio [Castroneves] is still competing. Rick [Mears]'s here all the time with the Penske guys and A.J. [Foyt] is here and occasionally Al [Unser] Sr., to hang out with those guys is fun. When they start telling stories, Helio and the younger guys have to sit and listen and laugh. The rivalry those guys had, you know, 40 and 50 years ago are still going on. It's really a privilege to hang about with guys that I consider my heroes.