|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
August 30, 2015
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue now with our championship press conference with the winning owner of today's race winner and 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Chip Ganassi. Chip, you were kind of shaking your head as you walked in. Is it reality yet?
CHIP GANASSI: Not really. I'll tell you, I'm shocked. Obviously this morning we went over the scenarios all week and we knew we had the car to be at the front, but you know you need a lot of other things to happen today and they all seemed to happen for one reason for another.
THE MODERATOR: Some pretty impressive statistics. The 100th IndyCar race victory for Chip Ganassi Racing today, the 11th IndyCar championship, which includes six of the last eight seasons. Just an organization that you know is built well that has some great people involved.
CHIP GANASSI: Thank you, yeah. It's amazing. Obviously my hat's off to Roger and Juan. Everybody knows the depth of that organization and their level of competitiveness and the type of team that they run, the type of driver that Juan is, and I've got a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it. Today they just for one reason or another didn't get it done. It was their title all season, and we knew we had a shot at it, and we gave it everything we had.
Q. Even though his career is still very much ongoing obviously, can you sort of categorize his career historically, put him in perspective?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, Scott is obviously‑‑ I think he's arguably the driver of our generation. The IndyCar driver of our generation for sure. I think his stats speak for themselves. His numbers against the other all‑time winners and what have you, he's up on the list there. There's not anybody I'd rather have driving our cars, I can tell you. I mean, he's just a quality‑‑ obviously a quality driver but a quality person, a father, a husband, just the kind of guy you want in your organization. It's that simple. All around, on the track, off the track, he's the complete package.
Q. When Scott shows up at a race weekend he's usually fairly relaxed, friendly, jovial. This week he came in with like a laser‑like focus. Maybe that had to do with Justin Wilson's situation, but it really looked like he came in here and had tunnel vision for this championship. Is that the way he‑‑
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I think you could be right there, that some of that was obviously due in part to last week's activities. He and Justin were pretty close. I know their families were close, and Julia, they were close with her, Emma and Julia.
But yeah, I think that was part of it, but I think he also had a laser focus on what he needed to do this weekend. They had a stop there, the second stop or something there when they beat Will and Newgarden out‑‑ was it Will and Newgarden out? They beat them out of the pits. That was a big move. So if you look at the race, the move of the race or something, that was one of the moves of the race if not the move of the race was right after that second stop. So that was kind of important in the total scheme of things.
But he knew what he had to do and we knew what he had to do. I tell the guys in the morning, every team‑‑ all four of our teams call the races to win. They don't call it to finish second or call it to finish‑‑ if we can't win from where we're at, we change our strategy to figure out something else to win because if you're not going to win today, you might as well finish 15th. My hat's off to the other three teams, as well, and the job they did today.
Q. You made both championship, first Champ Car and then IndyCar later on when it was founded. Is there anything in those championships from the technology point of view, you're very impressed, aero package, engine, whatever?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I mean, all of it is. It's a matter of‑‑ I think from our point of view, we're just the race team. I mean, we look at the rule book, this guy to my right and I, you look at the rule book each year and you figure out what the rules are, and you go out and try to win races with what the sanctioning body gives you, what the drivers give you, what the engine manufacturers give you, what the tires give you. You've got all these sort of inputs and you've got to take all those sort of inputs and you have to make something of it, and whoever makes the best of that package, whatever it is, is going to be the champion at the end of the year. And that's how it's been for every championship.
Each one‑‑ none are the same. None of the championships are the same because the rules are different, a little different each year. The points systems are different. You know, the technology is different. We've done it with different engine packages, we've done it with different tires, we've done it with different cars and we've done it with different drivers. My hat's off to Mike here on my right for putting the team together so many times over the years that just takes all these inputs that you have from different constituencies in the sport. In actual fact we have very little control‑‑ teams have no control over the sanctioning body, we have no control over the rules, we have no control over the engines, we have no control over the tires. We give our opinion, but I think rarely‑‑ if we give our opinion, they do the opposite, you know. But it's just a matter of taking all those things that they give you and putting them in a‑‑ I refer to it as baking the pie. You put all those ingredients together and you put it in the oven and at the beginning of the season. You hope at the end of the season the pie comes out good, and fortunately it did here today.
THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined as well by the Managing Director of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Mr. Mike Hull. Chip touched on it before you got here but maybe you can speak to what the mindset of the team was going into the race today, what you needed to do.
MIKE HULL: Well, I need to say two things first. First of all, a really close friend of Justin Wilson came over to me after the race and said Justin would have been really proud of what you guys did today. That's certainly on our minds, and we know he is.
The second thing is I would like to applaud Penske Racing and Juan Montoya in particular because we know how difficult he is on the racetrack to get around in terms of being able to finish at the front and do things the way it takes to win championships, and we've done both with him. They deserve a lot of credit for what happened today.
In terms of‑‑ what was the question?
THE MODERATOR: The mindset going in, what you needed to accomplish today.
MIKE HULL: I'm sorry, I can only do two things at once. We knew we had to win the race. We knew that before we arrived here. We did get the opportunity to come, IndyCar extended the opportunity with the rule book for us to come here and test two weeks ago. We spent half a day with Scott on the racetrack, and Friday we used all day and we virtually wore the tires out trying to understand what we would need today, and that's what we did today, and we worked on what we call the mechanical balance of the race car to achieve what we achieved today.
It just really is important when you have a driver like Scott as an owner like Chip and people that work for us and a sponsor like Target that you do get the most out of every day, and I think that's what we did today, but it started well before today in terms of having a raceable product.
Q. Chip, I first knew Scott back in Formula Holden back last century, and he's a very different man to the one that I see now in front of me. He came to you as a fairly raw sort of a kid, but you've turned him into not only one hell of a driver but somebody you've talked about as being the driver of the year. Can you tell me what you put into him sort of thing?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, believe me, I'd like to take the credit for it, or I'm sure Mike would. But it's everybody that helped Scott along the way, from a group of guys that saw something in him from back home and sponsored him‑‑ I think like we talked earlier today, his parents didn't have two nickels to rub together back when his career was getting started and he had some investors that helped him get started, he had good management along the way. He has a good wife that's very supportive, his family is very supportive.
I think while it would be nice for Mike and I could take all the credit, it's not true at all. He's made good decisions about the people that he's put around him throughout his career, from when I met him in his early 20s until today he's got a good group of what I would call his inner circle around him that's his sort of group of advisors, great people that keep him focused, down to his wife. I think his wife is a great racing wife, if you will, driver's wife. He's got two great girls, two great young girls, and I think it's‑‑ like I said earlier, he's just the total package.
But it's not anything Mike and I do. I guess we add to it, I think, but it's the attitude that he came to us with, and it's just the maturation of that attitude over time. He's just matured in a way that we're all very‑‑ couldn't be more pleased with.
Q. Mike, a couple of drivers told me it's very difficult to overtake here. Was your strategy before the race built on pit stops to bring Scott to the front?
MIKE HULL: Pit on lap 61, that's what‑‑ well, we came in on 62, so even we make a mistake.
We wanted it to be a three‑stop race, so what we did was we worked really hard from the very beginning of the weekend to create a three‑stop event for us this weekend, and we knew we had to get to 61. If we could get to 61 as everybody thinned out on the racetrack with the track position gained throughout the stops, we thought we had a chance to win the race. We didn't think it would turn out quite the way it did in terms of we thought there would be two or three other guys there trying to make it hard on us, and at the end it was a little easier than what we thought to be honest about it, but it was still very difficult. I think what you do as a race team when you deal with strategy is you look at what you have. If you know you have a driver and car capable of winning the race, then what you simply do is work for the pit windows that you need to have to achieve something at the front.
But the bottom‑‑ the denominator is we had to win. We had to win the race.
Q. But the good thing is (inaudible) is Saavedra. Was he instructed to back him up?
MIKE HULL: No, not really. We had did have a meeting before the event like we always have, a race meeting, and we wanted all four of our drivers to race their race. That's the key to being successful, and I think you saw other teams that have multiple drivers do exactly the same thing we did today, and not only today in the IndyCar Series, but they do it all season, because if you compile points as you go on through the season you're at the top of the ladder at the end, and you do that by having good teammates, and I'm glad you pointed that out because we share unselfishly between the four drivers. They sit in the same room. They share the same data. That's the M.O. of Chip Ganassi Racing. That's how we operate. If they get a little headstrong, we knock their heads together. That's how we do it. They helped us today because we could read what their cars were doing on the racetrack when it came time for Scott to come to the pit lane. And we changed tire pressure a couple of times based on what one of our other teammates was doing, so it does help, so I hope that answers the question.
THE MODERATOR: We're very pleased now to be joined by the winner of today's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and your 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon. Congratulations. If you can maybe first of all sum up your thoughts, feelings right now.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, still feels a bit strange. You know, obviously it was a day where we needed a lot of things to go our way, and I think for the first part we just‑‑ we had to win, as Mike sort of mentioned there, and sorry if I missed earlier comments, but that's what we had to do. It was going to make our only real shot at it, and it was a bit of a longshot. Obviously things had to maneuver into place, and as the race sort of unfolded, I knew our car was very good, but huge credit to the team, obviously, for strategy, and the pit stop that jumped us ahead of the 1 and the 67 I think was very key to how our strategy played out and at least gave us some breathing room and set us in the right direction.
None of this happens with one person, and from Chip leading this team to Mike leading the Indianapolis part and every crew member and teammates‑‑ my teammates this year have been phenomenal. They've been fantastic, very good to work with, and sharing‑‑ we share everything, to obviously push the program forward. Obviously we would have liked to have gone into this last race leading the championship and having a few more points, but you know, as Chip said, this is definitely one of if not the most sweetest championships we've had. To come in and finish it the way we did, I can't thank enough people between Team Target, all the Target people who were here this weekend, 400 or 500, all in Turn 7, was very sweet, was a sweet way to do it, and obviously Chevrolet for their part and obviously the performance and the aero kits and the drivability and the fuel mileage today for us was phenomenal. On the other side of things, we'll race with heavy hearts this week. Thoughts and prayers obviously to all of the Wilson family. I know Stefan his little brother was here today and Julia is back home in Colorado with Jane and Jess and Keith and Lynne. It's been a very tough week. It's such a small community, and they're such great people and such a loving family, it's been very tough.
But as Justin would have wanted, he would have wanted us to go out and race, and today I gave it my all from when the green flag dropped, I was giving it the most I could, and had some good, clean racing out there to enable us to move up quickly at the start as definitely key, but heavy hearts, but much love to the Wilson family.
Q. When you talk about how sweet this is, I think back to how you lost in 2007 and even 2009. Are those two near misses what kind of makes this one so sweet?
SCOTT DIXON: It was very Dario‑esque, I think, which was quite nice to slip through there and take it so maybe he's been rubbing off on me, which is a very positive thing. Obviously someone of his caliber and truly a really great friend of mine, to obviously have him as part of the team and a huge thanks to Chip and Mike for enabling that, but he's such a credit, and three Indy 500 championships and four IndyCar championships is amazing in its own, and to be able to work with him and give up some of his secrets‑‑ it was kind of amazing how many secrets he had even though he was a teammate of mine for three or four years. It's been obviously a pleasure to work with him, and it's one team effort. It's not‑‑ as I keep saying, it's never one single person, everybody back at the shop to everybody that comes here on race weekend, it's a team effort.
Q. When you made the move to the U.S. to start racing here, what was your dream goal? I know you had investors and that was probably the first thing, I've got to get a job and pay these guys back, but was the dream ever to have this much success? Was that ever in the picture?
SCOTT DIXON: I think you have dreams, but reality is pretty crushing sometimes. It wasn't a smooth road. I think I was very lucky with the transitions that I had from my younger career and actually one of PJ's sons is here, Peter Johnson, who's a key person and still is in my life and just a great person. But he was one of the ones that obviously with my dad founded the drive and the investors to get me over here.
But this is still surreal and unreal in many ways. For me coming from South Auckland, New Zealand is a small country and it doesn't have a whole lot of funding, but for the way that my career went and the turns that it took, just the stars aligned, I guess, in a lot of ways, and once I found home here with Mr.Ganassi's team back in 2002 through Toyota was definitely a change in my life. We've been through ups and downs through our careers together but we've achieved a hell of a lot. I think for me it's‑‑ the racing is one thing, but the friendships, Mike, Chip, Hunter and Barry and obviously all the friends that I've made through this career is what makes it what it is today.
Q. Chip, the crowd surfing, what prompted it, and Scott, what prompted that whole deal?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I mean, just all of our supporters, those were all the Team Target people out there, and they were just screaming. There were just so many of them down there. They were just screaming, and I went over and I gave my high thing, and I just kind of gave them the two‑hand, like that, in jubilation, and then they all came over and they started saying, jump, jump or whatever, like oh, my, I lined myself up for that. I couldn't say no then.
I can tell you I've never done that before, body surfed like that. That was really something, I've got to tell you. What a better place and a better way to do that for the first time. Yeah, that was something.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Mike and Chip.
Q. Scott, according to the statistic, you're now the most winning driver for Chip Ganassi, 37 wins, fourth title. Nevertheless, if you think all your success came here in IndyCar racing, if you think outside the IndyCar racing world, is there any championship or racecar you would like to dive except an IndyCar?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know, that's a tough one. I love the Verizon IndyCar Series is one, and the cars are quite fun to drive. I think over the course of my career of 14 years with this team and one other with PacWest, we've driven very different cars. I think the fun part about this team is that you get to drive different sports cars, you get to do different races, which I'll have later this year at Petit LeMans, and the GT program is obviously pretty fun, as well. I think obviously the new WEC cars are fantastic to drive. I was lucky to drive probably one of the best Formula1 cars in 2004, the V‑10 with Williams, so that is still one of my all‑time favorite cars, the Ferrari 333 SP when I drove in 1999 with Stefan at Petit LeMans was definitely one, as well.
I don't know, I think it's more the gratification of getting the most out of any car and having to win a championship here in IndyCar I think with the depth of competition, it's all the small pieces that you really have to get out of it, and as a team I think we really do a good job of that. Right now the LeMans cars look amazing to drive, but that's kind of it, and in my near future I don't see that happening.
Q. Is there a chance you'll drive the Ford GT LeMans?
SCOTT DIXON: I haven't been to LeMans, so I think with the program that's starting out, it's probably not something that would be needed. I think it's something that maybe I'll drive later on in the year at different races, maybe the 12‑hour at Sebring or Petit depending on the driver lineup, but it's obviously a dream of mine to race at LeMans, it's a dream of mine to race at Bathurst at some point, too, maybe start there with the 12‑hour at some point early in the year. But yeah, the GT program is very pushed by Ford, so who knows.
THE MODERATOR: You have some impressive numbers.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, they are. Sounds good. My head is getting bigger by the minute. But we win them as a team, and just I feel very blessed to obviously do what I do. I love IndyCar racing. I think the Verizon IndyCar Series is one of the best series in the world. We put on amazing races, and the talent that we have here, the depth is fantastic. I don't know, I feel blessed and love waking up to myself being an IndyCar racer as a champion and hope for many more years.
Q. Scott, what's that like over those last few laps where you're leading and you have guys behind you but really the person you're racing for the championship is five or six cars behind you? What do you do mentally in that situation?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was tough. The team wasn't really saying much, so I knew it was pretty tight, and all we focused on was winning the race. That was really all we could do. There was nothing outside of that. We needed to try and obviously lead a lap, lead the most laps, and go on and win the race, and that was our focus. But I knew as we were coming to the wire, you kind of look and look at the pylon and unfortunately the pylon here‑‑ which hopefully in years to come they can make it a little bit taller so there's more cars on there that you can see, because it only has the top 5, so it was hard to know exactly where Juan was. I knew he was going to be strong at the end of the race. He's always a hard charger and one that is definitely going to intimidate some people that are in front of him. It wasn't going to be over until after the last lap, and even after we finished as a team, I was like, we won the race, that's fantastic, what about the championship kind of deal, and it wasn't until maybe the carousel where they came back and said, we won the championship. It felt so surreal, the things that needed to happen.
But yeah, I think in the back of your mind you're constantly following what's going on with the race.
Q. You've exceeded your expectations on coming to America and winning the championships and the 500s. You've got to reset those expectations. Have you got a contract for two, three years, and how long would you expect to be racing in the IndyCar Series?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think exceeding expectations, I think coming over here, of course it's exceeded my expectations to no end. I wanted to come over here and race, and good thing racing worked out because I wasn't good at too many other things.
Yeah, you know, it has exceeded. We extended the contract. I was up this year actually and we extended I think right around Mid‑Ohio maybe, or before that, so obviously there was no real kind of back and forth. It was just Chip, hey, do you want me to stay, he's like, yep, okay, sweet, let's do it, and that's how it's gone on for 14 years. It's obviously a great relationship, and I respect him to no end and what he's had as a team.
Future‑wise, it's hard to know. I'm 35 right now. I think guys like Helio and T.K. and Montoya are all over 40 definitely helps. Actually I think Montoya might be 40 later in the year, so I won't give that to him yet. But yeah, so I think on the short list you can see maybe another five years. It depends.
Q. Does it mean more to win a championship on a road course where it takes strategy, team effort, fuel saving, tire saving, etcetera, compared to on three different ovals in the past?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know, it never comes‑‑ to be in this position is not because of this one race. Yes, it's definitely helped and obviously the way it turned out was definitely exciting, but a championship is built on the whole season. You know, so I think that the hardest part is you always think about Iowa, man, we had a mechanical, or Grand Prix of Indy, Helio took me out, and there's always different scenarios that you're always thinking about those lost points that you had throughout the season.
I don't know, it definitely felt a little odd coming to the last race on a road course, but the way it turned out, I think it's fantastic, and maybe it should finish this way for a few more years.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Scott Dixon.
SCOTT DIXON: Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports