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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE


January 10, 2015


A. J. Allmendinger

Philippe Dumas

Matt McMurry

Allen Miller

Ozz Negri

John Pew

Michael Shank


THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, everyone for being here.  We're joined by the drivers and partners for Michael Shank Racing with Curb.  I just want to introduce everyone here on the team.  A lot of these guys you've met before, you've seen after winning the race in 2012.
But I'll start with you, Mike.  Every year around the 24, it's like Christmas for you, but this year it's really something extra special.  Can you tell me about the excitement of this program, how it's gone with the first steps forward.
MICHAEL SHANK:  Yes.  It's good (smiling).
No, this is a bit of fresh air with us.  I've been at Daytona 11 straight years now, or 12, always in a DP.  DP is what established our team early on to allow at the time smaller teams to come in and be competitive.  I will always owe GRAND‑AM and the France family for that kind of vision.
But going forward, I believe we needed to make a change where I think our world is heading, and our group after talking to everybody, for '16, '17, '18 and beyond.  I believe it's going towards what we talked to about, the Ligier S P2. We did it quickly.
You'll talk with Philippe down at the end.  He and I think our deal December 1st, something like that, and the car sitting here running, running very well, speaks a lot about them.
The HPD Honda was another big change.  I've been with Ford.  My whole thing, I will talk about, from the very beginning is loyalty.  Eight years I was with Ford.  It didn't work out.  But Oswaldo is on his 11th season, AJ is on his 10th, John is on his eighth year.  I don't like change too much.  But this I felt was necessary.  The way it looks right now, I'm really pleased.
The BOP has been a big issue all last year.  They got all that work done for us.  I think we're a little closer now anyway.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.
John Pew, you won this race in 2012.  Far from a stranger to this track.  Yesterday you turned the fastest lap yet.  What is your initial impression with this package?  Tell us a little bit of the difference of the driving style attacking a lap here in a DP and with the new car.
JOHN PEW:  It's a little bit different after seven or eight years in a DP and sports cars before that.  The car was basically a point‑and‑squirt car.  This is more of a rolling speed, braking‑type car.  Doesn't matter so much the park and go, you just roll the speed, get on the gas, trust the downforce.
I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting there.  I'm quite comfortable.  I'm very happy with the car.  It's very consumer friendly, driver friendly as far as the controls and the cockpit, the cooling.
I think it's very friendly to the mechanics to work on.  It's very easy to work on, well thought out.
I'm with Mike 100%.  It was time to change.  This is the way it's going to go.  Someday I would like to race over in France.
THE MODERATOR:  Ozz Negri, everybody knows you're a fast guy, outstanding guy, aggressive overtaker, won this race in 2012.  Some people might know you spent time as a Formula tester.  How does that apply here as the team takes on a new car and establishing a new notebook?
OZZ NEGRI:  It helped a lot.  Driving many different cars, it makes you comfortable readjusting to different equipment, different driving styles.  The Ligier is definitely a car that rewards rolling speed into the corner.  Driving the DP for so long, you know, we were worried about how long is it going to take for us to really get our hands in this car, you know, what it takes to drive.  But really it was seamless.  It happened really fast.
It does everything a racecar driver wants.  Real good speed, puts good power down.  I'm really impressed with it.  I'm extremely impressed with the HPD Honda package.  I think what I've been working on yesterday and today a lot, it's on their electronics, traction control, working on trying to keep tire life as long as possible.
We've been running on Continental tires, putting a lot of miles on them.  It's been really, really good.  There is still a lot to learn on the car side, especially getting the most out of it as a driver, and also as a setup, what the car wants.
So we are good, but I think there is still quite a bit to dig in there.  I'm extremely happy, extremely happy that we made this move.  I feel pretty confident.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks.
AJ Allmendinger, coming off your biggest year yet.  You come back to Daytona where you traditionally kickoff the year and now you have a car that rewards something that harkens back to your IndyCar days, carrying mid‑corner speed.  What is your excitement level here with this new car?
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  For me it's been good.  This is the type of racecar that really honestly throughout the last 10, 11 years of car racing that I've done, I've always wanted to try driving, whether it was a P1 car at Le Mans or something like that, a P2 car, you know, I've always thought the cars just looked beautiful as a racecar.  Anybody that you've ever talked to that sits in one of these types of cars, they rave about how fun it is to drive.
So when Mike and I were talking and he said he was going to make this move, for me, I was pumped up to do it just for the pure excitement of trying to drive one of these cars.  I didn't know what it would be like, how different it would be.  I was sure it would be fairly different.
But as Ozz said, you know, to just jump in the car, there's still a lot to learn, for me to get out there and get more comfortable.  I never sat on the right side of a racecar.  That was the first thing that threw me off.  Everything that you've learned for nine years around here, how you judge racecars, where you place the car, everything's just a little bit different from where you sit in the car.
But it's little nuances like that that only comes with laps, getting in the car, just figuring out each lap of where you need to place the car.
With the support of Honda, everybody that has come over, as Mike said, within a month, he pointed out there was nothing in the shop.  All of a sudden, next thing you know, three weeks later he's taking pictures of the thing completely done and ready to roll.
Just the support that I see around the hauler and on the timing stands, more than I've ever seen.  Just for that fact, I'm excited for the 24 and think we have a great shot.
We still have a lot of work to do to get it comfortable for everybody, get the speed we need out of it.  Just liking the support system that Mike has, it's probably the most support he's ever had.  That excites me the most.
THE MODERATOR:  You mentioned Le Mans.  I'd like to introduce Matt McMurry, who set a record just a few months ago as the youngest driver to complete the 24 Hours Le Mans, P2 experience.
What have your impressions been with this new car, new team?  You got a chance to test earlier and now at Daytona.
MATT McMURRY:  I've been really impressed with all the stuff that I've seen so far with Michael Shank and with Honda and with Onroak.  It's just been really good.  The whole time they've been really supportive and really welcoming.
The car has been really, really fun to drive.  It feels like it's already set up pretty well and I think we're going to do really well.
THE MODERATOR:  Joining us is Philippe Dumas with Onroak.  Tell us about the goals for this test and how you feel preparations are coming together for a challenge like the 24?
PHILIPPE DUMAS:  Well, first, I think Mike is really happy, the drivers are really happy, so I'm a happy man, to be honest.
No, we did a fantastic year last season.  The most important thing for us is to have this relationship with a U.S. team, and a U.S. team switching to a European car.  I'm really happy for this.  We will be really supportive to Michael Shank and Krohn Racing, of course.
To be honest, with the last two races we did as the racing team last year, we already felt that we had a good package with the HPD engine.  I think it's one of the best packages to fight against the DP.
So I'm quite confident.  When you look at yesterday and today, I think it's a good choice, to be honest.  So we'll be really supportive, for sure.
THE MODERATOR:  Allen Miller with Honda, thank you for joining us.  New partnership with Mike Shank who will be carrying the banner for you throughout the full season in IMSA competition.  What are your goals this year and how have the initial steps been?
ALLEN MILLER:  As Michael said, this was pretty much a last‑minute deal.  We're very happy to have an established team to switch over from a DP to a P2 package.  It's good for us.  We're happy with the relationship we put together now.  They are our only full‑season entrant at this point.  We'll be giving them as much support as they require.
It's the same engine package that we ran last year with OAK at Le Mans and throughout the end of the season.  We worked with IMSA to get the balance of performance where we believe they're pretty competitive.  I think the results the last two days are showing that we can actually be competitive now.  So we're looking forward to a good season.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.
I'd like to open it up for any questions.

Q.  Mike, earlier today you announced the return of Curb Records, title partner with the team, working with Honda, working with Ligier, Onroak.  This business is all about partnerships.  Tell us a little bit about how the Curb relationship is helping push the program forward.
MICHAEL SHANK:  It's tough in any motorsports form to get any kind of financial backing, at Cup level, IndyCar, anywhere.  So I'm happy to have Curb back four or five years now, something like that.  We work at it really hard.  Sports car racing I would say it's even more difficult.  As the series becomes more relevant in the world, I hope that changes.
Mike Curb is a huge supporter of racing in general.  He and I hit it off pretty well.  Think we have similar values.  I hope their company will continue.  We do little things for them all year.
It will be one of a couple announcements we have for commercial partners.  We had a great year with commercial sales last year.  I'm hoping for the best.  I'm hoping a new car, new motor help drive that also.
I do want to say one thing.  Matt McMurry is just 17 years old.  This struck me.  I couldn't get out of bed at 16 on my own, okay, and he's driving a P2 car at Le Mans.  He's advanced way beyond where I was at 16.  There were only a couple things I was thinking about at 16, and it wasn't a car.
I'm really happy to have him onboard.  He's doing a really good job.  A lot of people have asked me about how good Matt is and where is he going.  He's got tons of potential and he's not even close to reaching it yet.
I look forward to that.  And AJ is looking forward to giving him as much hell as possible.
AJ ALLMENDINGER:  It's impressive.  In between sessions, Ozz, he won't let you look at a computer.  He's studying the data so much.
I go over to Matt.  Are you working on data?
He's like, No, I have to work on homework.
Oh, yeah, I forget, you're like 12.
MICHAEL SHANK:  We're happy to be back in the season.  I think we have a really good package.  I want to get this thing started today if we could.

Q.  When we first talked about the launch of this program, John mentioned it, are there some wider ambitions that you carry with this move to P2?
MICHAEL SHANK:  Yeah.  We want to go to Le Mans.  About a year ago we started thinking about it.  John and I started talking about it a little bit last year.  We originally were potentially going to take the Ford there with the P2.  That didn't work out.  This package allows us to be there immediately.  If we can work it out, we are definitely going to Le Mans.  We can check that off our list.
I don't think it will be this year.  It will be something we would shoot for in '16 in a perfect world.  Everybody wants to do it sitting at this table.  Really look forward to it.  So that will be the goal.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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