home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


February 11, 2018

Roger Penske

Paul Wolfe

Dayton Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the winning car owner, Roger Penske, and winning crew chief, Paul Wolfe, of the No.2 Miller Lite Ford. We'll start with you, Roger. Your cars finished one, two, three today, quite a great showing. Tell us your thoughts about today.
ROGER PENSKE: Well, you dream about these days, actually. To see us be able to run as well as we did, I think we saw that in the first 25 laps that we could keep up, and the cars were drivable up and down. I think the strategy on the pit stops was right for the day to keep us up front. To me I was amazed that some cars fell off the draft, some good cars, the 31 and the 4, which were amazing.
You're going to have to stay up there, and I think the chance we had was the three cars of ours staying together and not moving out to try to affect any of the draft, and I think that made a huge difference for probably 20 or 23 or 24 laps there.
Then at the end, it was going to be hard for anybody to get a run on those three cars unless Joey or Ryan wanted to go. At the end of the day, we're thrilled, and I think it gives us some‑‑ we've done some real homework for the 500 and the 150.
One thing I will say, that the LIS process has really made a whole different week out of this. There's been less work on the cars. The machine says where you are, and everybody has got to be there. So I feel that we're all racing on a level playing field, which is a big step for NASCAR and what they've tried to do. We have an LIS machine at the shop, and I know before we came here, we wanted to make sure that we were right, and I think that paid off for us today.
THE MODERATOR: Paul, take us through your view atop the pit box, please.
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, obviously we had our work cut out for us starting at the back, and coming into the whole weekend or Speedweeks so far, there's obviously been a lot of change from, like the boss said, the inspection process to pit road and the crew members, and then the new drop‑tight rules here. There's a lot of unknowns, and we did as much work as we could in the off‑season, but until you really get on the racetrack, you never really know what you're going to have.
As we worked through practice yesterday and into today, we felt like the car was driving well, but until you put it into race conditions, you don't really know what you have. Early on he felt like his car was good, driving similar to what he had yesterday, so we felt at that point if we could get the track position, I felt like Brad does as good or better than anybody at managing the race and controlling it, and having the teammates help is tremendous, with not having to worry about that guy trying to jump out of line.
It was a good day. I mean, obviously there's still a lot to be learned. I feel like we're in the ballpark, and we're going to go to work here this week before we come back on Thursday and hopefully make our 500 car even a little better.

Q. Paul, what did you think of the pit stops with one less crew member, and how did the pit guns work for you?
PAUL WOLFE: Well, obviously we've only got one pit stop today, and it was a two‑tire stop. But I thought it went fairly smooth. The guys felt good about it. It's kind of like you're not sure what to expect or what the stops will be time‑wise. We'll have to go back and study all that and see. I'm sure there was a lot of different ideas and theories on pit road of what was going to be the fastest pit stop. I think our guys have put in a lot of time in the off‑season, as everyone has, and come up with a plan, and we may have to adapt as we see what other teams do or what may be better. But for the first stop, I was pleased with what I saw, and it went fairly smooth.

Q. Roger, from one old guy to another, let me ask you this: What did you guys focus on in the off‑season about the new ride height changes here at Daytona to keep the Ford superiority going at a restrictor plate track?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I think we've run cars on the ground like that before with the bump springs and full packers, and I think obviously to get the car down, get the spoiler out, then you have the opportunity to have the skew, which you saw some of that in qualifying today, and I think that was one of the things that we weren't sure we wanted to do coming to the 500 and the 150s. But I think aerodynamically, we continued to work on the car. Obviously the new Chevys and the Toyotas have been strong, so we worked on aerodynamics. We've certainly got to give a shout‑out to Yates power, Roush Yates power. They had great engines for us, and to me it was really studying this and the pit crew.
I think we spent almost as much time on the pit crew as we did on the car, and I think I saw the stops, I watched from up on top, and I thought our stop went very well. So we'll study that, and as Paul said, we'll try to pick out the best and see what people's times were based on how they got around the car.
I didn't see any problems with the guns quite honestly up and down the pit lane. No one threw one to get another one, so I guess it was successful.
These are cost savings for us, which I think are good. I think this weekend we're going to have to run that same engine, Paul, the whole weekend. Much different than before where we'd have an engine, then we'd go to a practice engine, then we'd go to another engine. This is really putting us in the right position going forward to help the sport.

Q. Roger, I just wonder if you could talk a little bit about, this is a very strong statement for your team, to have those three cars running like they did today.
ROGER PENSKE: Well, you see that from time to time with Hendricks and with Gibbs and other people, and just to say we could do that, be that strong out of the box is a real plus, for morale for the team. I think just getting a win now, the 150s and the 500 is going to be entirely different. I think it's great, and take my hat off. I think you saw Blaney and you saw Joey staying in line behind Brad. As I say, we win as a team; all three of them can't win, and I think today we proved that we can work together, and I think that's what you're going to see in the 500.

Q. Paul, just your evaluation of the new inspection with the projectors and cameras and how well your team and others got through it?
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, it's new. It's different. We've spent a lot of time in the off‑season. NASCAR has had their Hawkeye system available down at the R&D Center, and just recently we've been able to purchase one ourselves. So we've spent a lot of time down there in ours and comparing, and I think you're still a little not sure of what you may have when you actually get to the racetrack and if anything changed, but to be honest with you, I felt like NASCAR did a really good job. It went smooth. I don't think there was any big issues or anything out of the ordinary from what you would normally see down here.
I feel like there was probably less Bondo flying and things like that than what we've seen in the past here, so I think, like RP said, it's got everyone kind of on a level playing field, and I think we're moving in the right direction. I think there's still a lot to be learned on it, and everyone is working through it, but overall I think I feel good about it, and I feel that when we get it all dialed in, it's going to make for, like I said, a pretty equal playing field.

Q. Paul, next Sunday, of course, is all about what happens the last four, five, six laps, setting up passes and all that. From what you've seen so far, is much going to change there with these different aero rules and so forth, or is passing going to be sort of like it was?
PAUL WOLFE: Well, I think everyone today was just trying to understand where they're at because, like I said, there's so many unknowns, and you saw a lot of different‑‑ I saw a lot of different packages out there, and like we talk about skew and aerodynamics and all‑out speed versus handling. There's so many options now from what we had in the past with the drop‑tight rules and things you can make your car do differently, and I think today was just a chance for everyone to get an idea of how this is all going to work, and I think you're going to see a lot of changing as we get into practice after the 150s.
We impounded after qualifying today, so you can't really work on your car until after the 150s Thursday night, so I think typically you don't see a lot of practice after the 150s down here because nobody wants to tear their race cars up. But we're at a stage right now where there's still a lot to be learned with this, so I think you're going to want to be on the track as much as you can and trying to really fine‑tune these cars and understand it.
It was a learning day. I think we did a fair job as a company from the way we built our cars to the guys working on these setups and what we would do with the drop‑tights, but there's still a lot more to be learned, and I feel like we're going to have to make our 500 car better than what we had today to feel like we can contend.

Q. Would you give up speed to gain maneuverability?
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, that's basically what we're down to. I think you saw some cars today that had more speed probably than us. But I feel like our car probably drove a little better than most, and it's a fine line there, and some of it comes down to what the driver is comfortable with, and do you feel like you can stay up front and manage the lead, or are you going to be running back in the pack. That's the part where we're going to continue to‑‑ ultimately you want both, right, handling and speed. That's what Brad tells us all the time. He reminds us of that daily, but it comes to a point where there's always compromises, right, and we need more practice time to understand some of those compromises and see if we can get both.
ROGER PENSKE: Don't you think, too, you ran 50 laps on those tires, because we pitted at the first 25 laps. That shows you how good the car was. Other people had come in five laps, 10 laps after that, and we still had the handling, so I think that bodes well for us for next week.

Q. Roger, what kind of challenges did you go through internally at Team Penske to prepare to add a third car?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, you know, we had this alliance with the Wood Brothers, so many of those people came over with Ryan to our shop, and we added some people. Obviously there's some teams that disbanded at the end of the year, so we picked up some‑‑ I think some very capable folks to help us.
But basically we build our cars from top to bottom. We rely on Roush Yates for the engines, so they're working on that, and I think our aero program really came to fruition this year, our model program and also the full scale. We spent as much time as we could doing that type of testing, our modeling, and it's become an engineering exercise today, really, and Paul takes his basic knowledge of the car and what it does, and now with the travel, it gives us a whole new area to work in, and I think if you ran this race maybe after three weeks from now, people might be completely different than they came today.
So I think this is something‑‑ as Paul said, after the 150, guys are going to be out there trying a bunch of different packages. But I think it was just a good team effort. Everybody, most of the team came here early, had worked together last year. I would say 90 percent of our people are consistent. With low turnover you've got some real knowledge within the team, and I think we're not training people to become part of the organization.

Q. And Paul, TV said Kurt Busch's pit stop of 16.9 was the fastest that they calculated on pit road. What range were you all in today?
PAUL WOLFE: To be honest with you, we did two tires, so I'm not sure exactly how to compare that, and I haven't seen any other times. A 16.9 is‑‑ obviously it's quite a bit slower than what we're used to, and that's just it, we're not sure what to expect yet. And speedways are different, as well, from the mile‑and‑a‑half tracks.
I don't know. I mean, that's pretty slow from what we're used to, but you take one guy out of the equation and some different guns and things, and it all changes. I think, like I said, there's going to be a lot of pit department studying film and trying to understand different ways and ideas, and I think we'll see this evolve a lot. I would expect to be quite a bit faster by this time when we come back to Daytona in July. I would expect you'd see a good second or two shaved off of those times.

Q. Paul, Brad opened when the Vegas odds came out, Brad opened as a 7:1 favorite to win the Daytona 500 before you guys had even turned a lap. What does that say about you guys as a team or Brad as a racer?
PAUL WOLFE: I think it just shows how strong Team Penske's speedway program has been, but everything is new this year. Like we said, there's so many new rules and changes that it's hard to say that because we were successful in the past that we're going to come down here and be successful again. And we were successful today, and I think that's great.
But by no means do we have this figured out yet. Brad is very good at speedway racing. I think he's shown that. And if we can give him a good car, I think we're confident he can win with it.
I think that's good to know that he's really good at the speedway racing, and if the team does their job, hopefully we'll be able to do it again in the 500?

Q. Roger, you had your cars running one, two, three there going to the white flag. If that is the case on Sunday, what is the Team Penske rules there? What kind of racing should we expect?
ROGER PENSKE: I think the best guy will win. I don't expect them to line up; I'm sure of that.

Q. Do you expect them to race each other?

Q. Roger, qualifying today didn't maybe have some of the drama it had in the past because there's only 40 cars here for 40 spots. Does that matter to you? I know you've seen in Indy where you used to have a lot‑‑ huge knockout day, and there really isn't much of one there anymore for the 500.
ROGER PENSKE: I just think that as we've put the charters together and the commitment of these big sponsors and teams, everybody up and down, you know, they want to be sure they're in this race, and I don't think you'd have three or four cars more even if you didn't have all the cars guaranteed to get in because the cost today to enter the sport and maintain the sport‑‑ what we need is the continuity with all the same drivers and cars running across the whole season. We've even seen that at Indy, obviously, with 33 or 34 cars. I think this is really a stage of the times, and that's the way it's going to be. Obviously seeing the qualifying today, it showed what you could do on a single car.
Obviously I think the fact that we've had to impound will be really interesting to see how these fellas that were up front in qualifying, how they end up being in the 150s, and then we'll work from there.
I just think it's a changing of the times, and people just don't come down here with a car and figure they're going to get in the race, and certainly from our perspective when we're committed for the full season with a sponsor, the last thing we want to do is not be able to race in the Daytona 500. I think that's a negative as far as commercially if we're trying to manage our own program.

Q. Paul, you kind of touched on it, but do you feel like you're due almost to win the Daytona 500? You look at your success at other plate tracks, and the Daytona July race, you guys have won that a few times. Do you feel like you're knocking‑‑
PAUL WOLFE: Well, we've been there, and that's what you've got to do. You've got to put yourself in position, and eventually you hope you get there. It's definitely a win that we don't have as a 2 team with Brad driving. But at the end of the day, we put in the same effort here as we do every week. It's great to know that‑‑ it seems like we're in the ballpark here speed‑wise with the Fords, and hopefully we can, like I said, tune on our car and find a little more and be in contention again. But at the end of the day, you've just got to put yourself in position, and if it happens, it happens.

Q. Roger, for as great as today is, and I don't want to rain on your parade, but there's certainly an unknown, I would suspect, with what's going to happen moving forward in the sense of 32 of the other 35 races are not going to be this type of racing. Brad has talked about even throughout last year about the concerns of the different manufacturers and Ford not having the newest body. For as good as today is, what kind of a concern or challenge is it for you guys moving beyond Daytona with having the oldest body of the manufacturers?
ROGER PENSKE: Look, we can't really use that as an excuse. There's no reason to. I think we thought the same thing coming out of St.Petersburg last year with our IndyCar, that we might not have the power that Honda had, and we won 10 races. That's just‑‑ I keep reminding the team of that. We've got to race all year. We'll have a new body next year. I think one thing that's going to be different is that this LIS system is going to be sure that all the cars are on the same platform, and I think that's going to bring us closer together.
I think that Ford understands that, but we are absolutely all over this from the standpoint of our aero program, our engine, and certainly from a handling. But just think about that one piece, it starts to bring everybody together, and I think that'll certainly help us if we have any disadvantage. But I'm not going in crying the blues for sure.

Q. Roger, your friend Rick Hendrick, he'd made a lot of changes, they've gone through a lot of changes in the last year. Even though they had the four wins, that's not a Hendrick Motorsports type of year for them or their expectations. You guys have had a lot of success the last few years, but you've had a time period where you've had to change the direction of the ship. When you're that type of an organization, how challenging is it to make those changes and to see the results of those changes in a big organization like his and like yours?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I look at this as another business that we have, and you have to have continuity. If you see our organization, like Nelson, Travis Geisler, all these people from the inside, Cindric, obviously, so to me we've got depth. Robby Benton coming on board is a big help to us because he's run his own team, he's been a driver, he understands that. What we try to do is have low turnover, which if you look at our people, you'd see most of the same people, the key people today, and then we have the ability to move people up as we get larger, and that's what we've done. I think the fact that we continue to have good sponsors, we can pay our people properly, and we have the benefit then of their experience, then to me that's how I look at the business.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297