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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE


February 19, 2014


Ryan Blaney

Pat DiMarco

Paul Doleshal

Brad Keselowski

Chad Little

Brennan Newberry

Robin Pemberton

Dayne Pierantoni


THE MODERATOR:  Hello, everybody.  Welcome to Daytona International Speedway and this great warm weather.  I'm Mike Bagley of Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.  We've done a lot of talking about NASCAR Nationwide cars and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars.  Today we're going to talk NASCAR Camping World Truck Series trucks with a panel of folks who can chime in with some good insight and some great feedback.  We'll start first with some introductions and let you know who you're going to be chatting with.  By the way, there's a microphone that's going to be working its way through the crowd, and if you have a question, just raise your hand and somebody will be over to get the question and we'll have a Q&A session here in a few minutes.
I'd like to introduce you to this panel of gentlemen sitting up here.¬† First, Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice‑president of competition and development racing development; you also have the managing director of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Chad Little; you have Brad Keselowski, owner of Brad Keselowski Racing; Ryan Blaney, the defending Sunoco Rookie of the Year and driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford at BKR, Brad Keselowski Racing; you also have Brennan Newberry, defending Keystone Light Pole Award winner of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 and the driver of the No.24 Gunbroker.com Chevrolet Silverado at NTS Motorsports; to his left you have German Quiroga, three‑time NASCAR Toyota M√©xico Series champion and driver of the No.77 Otter Box Toyota Tundra for Red Horse Racing; and then you have Dayne Pierantoni, who is the NASCAR program manager, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, General Motors Racing; to his left you have Pat Dimarco, who is the NASCAR program manager for Ford Racing; and you also have Paul Doleshal, the Motorsports marketing manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA.
Glad you all could join us today.  We'll start first with Robin.  As we've been talking a lot about cars, it provides us an opportunity to talk about trucks, and quite the process of the evolution of this series, like we've seen other cars evolve in NASCAR.  Talk about the evolution of the Truck Series as far as the process it took to get to this point.
ROBIN PEMBERTON:¬† Yeah, as everyone knows, it's about the product relevance nowadays, and we in 2010 kicked off the Nationwide Series car, brought the muscle cars in.¬† That process went fairly well.¬† Gen‑6 was a little more detailed, and it took a long period of time to get that introduced and rolling, that was about a three‑year project.¬† And this one is roughly two years, give or take.
It's all about the working relationships with the OEMs and with the race teams and ourselves to create a level playing field.  These projects take a lot of time, so when you're looking at all of the projects that we've brought online over with the three series, you're looking at a solid five years, almost six years of bringing up new vehicles.
THE MODERATOR:  And speaking of evolution, Chad, you're relatively new to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series scene as far as the managing director, but it's quite an exciting time to see the evolution of where we've come from to where we are, but at the same time these trucks almost look like a throwback to the mid to late '90s that we had back then.
CHAD LITTLE:¬† And that was the goal was to make these trucks more relevant to what the consumer sees on the street for both Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota, and I think we accomplished that.¬† They're great‑looking trucks.¬† They tested here in January, and they performed well.¬† The drivers have run them at some downforce tracks, and the feedback has been positive, so we're really looking forward to seeing them on the track.
THE MODERATOR:  Before we talk about the drivers, let's jump down to the end of the panel, and I'll start first with Dayne.  Chevrolet has been in the Truck Series since we began back in 1995.  What has the involvement of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series meant to the Chevrolet brand and the technical nature of these trucks?
DAYNE PIERANTONI:  Well, we try to learn with all of the racing that we do, whether it's through the Truck Series, Nationwide or Sprint Cup, and we try to bring some of those technologies, some of the things that we learned in different aspects of the vehicles, we try to take them to the production line.  We work with our production folks, so we try to come full circle in anything we do in racing in addition to the marketing side on the technical side, as well.
THE MODERATOR:  Pat, take the Ford Motor Company, Ford racing and the Ford F150 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
PAT DIMARCO:  Well, at Ford it's very important to us, the trucks, and the F series is 37 years running as the No.1 brand in the U.S. here, and so it was very important to us.  We think the truck looks good.  Kudos to NASCAR for allowing us to get back to the roots of what the trucks are supposed to look like.  They have vertical grilles, and that's what trucks are.  Thanks to everybody.
THE MODERATOR:  And also, Paul at the end there, for Toyota, what's important for Toyota about the 2014 race Toyota Tundra?
PAUL DOLESHAL:  Well, for us it's the 10th year anniversary that we're celebrating this year for us being in the Camping World Truck Series.  We were able to spin that into coinciding with the 2014 launch of our redesigned Toyota Tundra, which came out very well, looks just like the production truck, which we're very happy about.  We're very pleased with the collaboration that went into it between some of our groups and teams, TRD, Calty Design in California, Red Horse Racing, KBM, ThorSport, they all came together to put together a great package.
THE MODERATOR:  Let's get the owners' perspective.  Brad Keselowski, speaking from an owner's perspective, your involvement in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and this new Ford F150 that is going to be racing this year, what are your thoughts?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:¬† Well, I don't think you can overstate the importance of moments like this for the Truck Series.¬† The Truck Series is a series that I've been a part of from the inception with my family starting in 1995 and owning a truck team, and as I got to grow up and watch them race, even make my own first NASCAR start in 2004, I've always had that love affair.¬† So it's continued on, and obviously I don't drive full‑time in the series, so I didn't want to lose that involvement, and so I had the opportunity to start a team and be a part of helping guys like Ryan Blaney come along.¬† In this series health is something that's very important to me, and I think you look at this, and I thought Robin summed it up pretty well, it was such a huge moment for the Nationwide Series when the new bodies came out in 2010, and I think it really propelled that series forward and made it more relevant, and then again last year with the Cup Series, and now we're seeing that at the truck level, and that's so important.
These trucks, they're expensive to run.  They're not quite the same expense as Nationwide and the Cup level, but it still takes about $3 to $3 and a half million a season to run them at a professional level, and in order to do that, we need to show a result on that for our partners, and one of our key partners across the board, whether it's at Team Penske, Penske Racing or even here with Ford.  We need Ford to be able to have a truck that you can look at from the grandstands or watch on TV and say, you know, that looks like my brand new Ford F150.  So moments like this where I think you really see that stand out.  You really see how much this looks like the brand new Ford F150.  That's important for the series and helps us keep the series healthy for a long time.
That means a lot to me.¬† I want to see this series continue to be strong and play a role in it, and I think moments like this are‑‑ I thought what was interesting about this truck, came here and did its first test in January and was on the racetrack at the same time it was being unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, International Auto Show, so that's a great moment.¬† That shows the connection that the OEMs are feeling, and specifically Ford, and something that we can all be proud of to see the series and the sport of NASCAR racing move forward together.
THE MODERATOR:  Let's get the drivers' perspective.  We'll start first with Ryan.  You had a chance to get some seat time.  Your thoughts about driving in truck, and you'll be driving it obviously in practice here in a few minutes, but what's been your commentary so far about being able to drive this truck?
RYAN BLANEY:¬† Well, I really like them.¬† I think they're actually a step up from what we had last year as far as look‑wise and handling‑wise.¬† You know, everyone always talks about brand identity and how important it is to our sport and the manufacturers of how much either trucks or cars look on the racetrack as much as‑‑ as similar as they can look on the street, and I think that's something that Ford and all the manufacturers did this year with the Truck Series is kind of get that brand identity back, and like Brad said, this looks just like the new Ford F150s that you can purchase on the street.
Just really, really special to be a part of it, and as far as driving them‑wise, I think they drive great.¬† I think you're going to see even better racing than we had last year.
THE MODERATOR:  And from the Chevrolet perspective, Brennan, your thoughts on the new Silverado?
BRENNAN NEWBERRY:¬† I'm lucky because I was actually a part of the group who got to see the new trucks when they were brought into the NASCAR ranks from Bakersfield, California.¬† Gary Cohen was one of the creators of it.¬† To see them look like they did back then, I'm stoked about it.¬† This is a very cool deal for me.¬† I know Dayne and Chevrolet have been working really hard to make these trucks look like your normal street truck.¬† I know that's what everyone's saying, but handling‑wise, they handle awesome.¬† And that test we did, it felt great.¬† It felt even better than my pull truck, which is pretty cool, but unfortunately we're going to‑‑ we're going to have a different qualifying way of doing things, and so Robin has implemented that, and so I think it's going to be fun.
But the Chevrolets look awesome.  I'm so pumped to be a Chevy driver.  I know my teammate Greg Gaulding, he's excited to get out his first race in Martinsville on May 29th, and everything they're doing, those two gentlemen right there, the gentlemen in the white and that man holding a camera, like always, that's my dad, and for them to be excited about getting going for the season, especially with Chevrolet, I couldn't be happier.  I'm ready to kick it off on Friday and see what this thing does in practice.
THE MODERATOR:  And German, your Toyota Tundra looks pretty sporty out there.  Your thoughts?
GERMAN QUIROGA:¬† Thank you.¬† I'm very, very happy to be a part of this family, part of the change, evolution.¬† I think NASCAR has done a great job with all the cars, all the series, and now in the Truck Series, the new noses, the new rear of the trucks are‑‑ I like it more.¬† I think they are going to be better looking at the track, and to be honest, I like them all, but Toyota Tundra is the best.¬† I picked my 77, and hopefully every single race we're battling for the checkered flag.

Q.  I don't know exactly who I direct this to, but when you have something that looks so much like what is on the street, how are these going to perform on the racetrack, and are you going to be extremely happy?
BRAD KESELOWSKI:  You know, I think that part of the engineering behind this and part of the reason why Robin alluded to it, it takes a while to make this work, is because it takes a lot of research to be able to make brand identity also be competitive and aero matched or matched across the board, as well, because parity in the series is important, and so to be able to make them drive right and do all those things is a bit of a challenge, and that's part of the effort of NASCAR and their R&D team as well as the manufacturers.  They all get together and put this to where the sport is in a spot where you can look at any one of these three, and I think that they have a fair chance of winning and still have brand identity.  Obviously you can see the differences in the headlights and the grilles, and those are all matched up on purpose, you know.  They still look like their original showcase, but they have to drive well, too, so we can put on a great show, and I think you look at the Truck Series over the last decade or so, and they're known for putting on some of the best racing.  I wouldn't expect that to change one bit.
THE MODERATOR:  Because of the closing in on the practice session for Ryan, German and Brendan, we're going to move on to the photo opportunity downstairs.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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