CART Media Conference
July 21, 1998
T.E. McHALE: Thank you. Good afternoon to everyone. Welcome to the CART Media Teleconference and thanks for waiting with us today. Thanks again for joining us. I know that many of you have called hoping to speak with FedEx Championship Series points leader Alex Zanardi, but, unfortunately, Alex is unable to join us this afternoon for personal reasons. We apologize for his absence and are hopeful of getting him on the call possibly as early as tomorrow. We will send out an alert if we are able to accomplish this rescheduling. In Alex's place today we are pleased to welcome his team owner, Chip Ganassi of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. Good afternoon, Chip. Thanks for joining us on such short notice.
CHIP GANASSI: No problem, T. E.. No problem.
T.E. McHALE: Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has been the dominant team in the FedEx Championship Series for the three seasons winning back-to-back championships with Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi in 1996 and 1997, respectively; while this year Alex holds a commanding leads in his bid to become the first repeat Champion in the series since Bobby Rahal in 1986, 1987. He enters this weekend's U.S. 500 presented by Toyota at Michigan Speedway, an event at which Alex is defending Champion with 175 points. Jimmy, his teammate, stands second with 106 points and has scored PPG Cup points in 48 of his last 55 starts in the series. Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is seeking its 7th consecutive victory this weekend and Alex is seeking a CART record fifth in a row. Alex began the team's current streak with a victory at St. Louis, followed by Jimmy's win at Milwaukee and consecutive wins by Alex at Detroit, Portland, Cleveland and Toronto, respectively. Marlboro Team Penske was the last CART team to win seven events in a row in 1994. The U.S. 500, presented by Toyota, Round 12 of the FedEx Championship Series will be televised live by ABC TV this Sunday beginning at 1:00 P.M. eastern time. We will open the floor for questions.
Q. You guys are in the process of rewriting the record books here. Did you ever envision when you got into this that you would be able to put together a team that has been this good over this extended period of time?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I think while you certainly plan on doing well and that is what is the attraction is when you start your team and you get it going and you build up, you certainly want to win races and win championships. I think that -- I think in terms of rewriting records and what-have-you, I don't think you go in and say -- I have never had a management meeting at Indianapolis saying: "Okay, let's everybody go out and break some records here." We look at it as, you know, we want to win the Championship; we want to win races; we want to win races; we want to have pole positions. We want to be the premier team in the sport. I mean, in terms of -- records are something that come and go and they are made to be broken and that is why it is always such a big story when they are broken. You don't go in with the attitude of breaking records. I mean, if you look too far down the road at things like that, you lose focus about what is right in front of you.
Q. In the past and now the market between the teams and the drivers has been the most mysterious event of any sport.
CHIP GANASSI: I am sorry, the what?
Q. The market, the business between changing a driver and team and so on has been mysterious until the exasperation when you don't know that you can't win anymore finally they come out with the announcement. Can you give us details -- in Europe this morning the Italian and French agency published that on the 26th Zanardi will sign a contract with the Williams without -- but anyway, can you give us some explanation, some group --
CHIP GANASSI: All I can tell you is Zanardi tells me that those are only rumors. He has had discussions and we are, you know, he has not made any decisions yet. And there is still -- he wants to -- we are one of the teams he is talking to. I don't know what to say other than that. I mean, other than I think it is very dangerous to make knee-jerk reactions to people putting out press stories like that.
Q. Yesterday he says in Toronto that one of these days respecting you because you were like a brother, he has to sit down with you and discuss his case.
CHIP GANASSI: Right.
Q. Is this true?
CHIP GANASSI: I think so. I mean, he and I have always had a very close relationship. I have never known him to tell me anything but the truth and I have no reason to believe that he is not telling me the truth now.
Q. If you believe these rumors, chances are that you are not losing only Alex but Jimmy Vasser as well to the new team. How distressing are these rumors and the other part of my question is if you were to lose the two drivers, how disastrous would that be? What part does a driver play in the overall team? I mean, you have a wonderful team, good mechanics and everything, can you answer that part of the question as well for me?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I mean, I have no reason to believe I am going to lose both my drivers. I mean, the fact that they are -- both of their contracts are up is just a fact of life and a fact of business. It is not something that I am -- I don't lie awake at night worrying about. I mean, again, I go back to my relationship that I have with these guys and I don't think it is one that -- it is not the same relationship that I see depicted in the press. And I think that there is a certain amount of -- people are looking for stories, I think -- you know, I think in an otherwise -- in a year when we have such a lead for the Championship, I think people are looking for things to write about. And, again, I mean, this is not the kind of relationship I have with either of these guys and it is not what has made this team what it is today. And I don't think anything has changed.
Q. If worse came to worse, if you could answer the second part of my question, how disastrous it is for a team to lose not only one top driver but possibly two and, you know, how reliable are they in terms of the whole team concept?
CHIP GANASSI: I don't know the answer to that because I have never lost two drivers.
Q. You have obviously had to change one driver at a time somewhere along the way. Does it slow the flow down in between driver and team in that -- is that a major setback?
CHIP GANASSI: You know, I don't know. I think -- again, I would say that I think, you know, I think that the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team is just that - it is a team. No one -- I think part of the success of our team is there is -- nobody is bigger than the team. And that includes myself. That includes the drivers. That includes the mechanics, the engineers and everybody. So it is -- I mean, the sponsors, we are all part of the same team here. So, I mean, I don't -- again, you know, if you take one piece out of the team, you know, I don't know what -- I don't know what effect that would have. But I think, again, I think we are a strong team. I don't -- in other words, I think it is a lot easier to replace anybody on this team than it was ten years ago or eight years ago when we got started. It is a lot easier today. But that doesn't mean I want to replace anybody.
Q. I have two questions. Have you already started to make a short list if you lose either one of your drivers as far as other guys that you would like to have on the team? Second question, what is Morris Nunn's situation for next year?
CHIP GANASSI: Taking your second question first, as you all know, Morris Nunn retired last year. That is the latest news I have on Morris. He retired at the end of last year. As to your No. 1 question, I do not have a short-list of drivers. I have not talked to any other drivers. And I don't intend on talking to any other drivers until my current drivers tell me I should talk to other drivers.
Q. But you haven't started to talk to anyone yet?
CHIP GANASSI: I have not talked to one other driver about driving for this team, let me be clear. I want the two guys that I have. Zanardi and Vasser.
Q. The popularity of NASCAR, obviously, especially here in Michigan, is pretty big. How do you view NASCAR's popularity? Do you think some of that will carry over to CART or has it already?
CHIP GANASSI: You know, it is an interesting question. I don't know that it is -- I think that peoples' sports television habits are changing in all sports. I think that when you look at what is on the internet today; what is in the press, what is available on television, you know, I think all sports, whether they are, you know, the motor sports, stick and ball sports, they are all having to clamor for that viewer, or that fan or that sponsor. They are all having to work a lot harder than they did five years ago or ten years ago - much like the rest of us in the real world here that we are all having to work harder than we used to accomplish the same thing, I think. So just where that is all going to shake out, I don't know, but I think if anybody looks at just one other sport, in terms of popularity and compares itself against that, they are going to be -- they are sadly mistaken. It is all sports that are out there clamoring for that attention, whether it is from a fan, you know, a sponsor or a viewer, or a participant.
Q. It just seems that NASCAR just obviously last few years, especially with Jeff Gordon, has really surged in popularity. CART is on the brink of sort of doing that with guys like Zanardi and --
CHIP GANASSI: I'd like to think so. Certainly, I don't think anybody would argue the fact that NASCAR, you know, had a jump on CART in that respect. But, I mean, these are just -- these are the -- these are the facts of life when you are trying to run a business. I don't think there are any secrets out there on that.
Q. Obviously the speculation about your drivers lends itself over here in Europe. I wanted to ask you a completely different subject. I am fascinated comparing your sport and Formula 1 with your accessibility to TV after things go wrong either with the drivers or with something that happens. How much did that take for you to get used to, as a team owner, having somebody in your face with a camera asking you almost immediately why has it gone wrong and is it something that you think all motor sports should try and do?
CHIP GANASSI: It is an interesting question, Scott. I think it is something here in America that with, you know, again this goes back to the previous question. I think in the United States here we are -- everyone was clamoring for years and years to attract the fans away from the traditional sports of football, baseball, basketball, and a lot of the sports including motor sports have made inroads in that area. Just pick up, you know, the latest sports business journal, or whatever, you can see that motor sports is finally getting equal attention to the other major sports in the country. I think, secondly, those major sports here in the United States are now having to fight again for that same coverage that where years ago, they had their exclusive arena, whether it was television or, you know, when there were only three networks in the United States and three television channels and baseball on one and baseball on another, they had a lot of viewers and they had a lot of attention. With the explosion of television, all of the sports are having to do that. I think you are going to see more -- just with my little involvement with the Pittsburgh Pirates, what I see are -- is Major League Baseball having to do things that we, in motor sports, have been doing for years; that they are having to start taking a look at now to get that attention, to get that awareness, if you will, with the fans or whoever the particular market they are after. So I think in terms of, you know -- so that kind of directly gets back to your question about someone sticking a microphone in your face right after the fact of something happening. I think you are going to see more and more in that type of thing across sport because in today's millisecond-world where you can flip up on the net and, you know, you will know within a millisecond any bit of news or information as it is happening - people want to know right now. That is what they want to know. They don't want to wait five minutes, ten minutes, an hour, a day. They certainly don't want to wait a week for their news. I think you are going to see the print media may, be you know, is going to take -- is going to turn into a different type of news, if you will, because of that. I question where that whole -- that whole ball of wax is going, you know, with print versus electronic media and how that is going to be handled over the next -- over the next coming decade or so as it relates to sports; much less, the rest of the news world. I think you are going to see more and more of that. It is something in the United States that we have had to do. I think it is going to go through out the world like that, I am sure.
Q. Did it take some getting used to you for you when you first started and saw --
CHIP GANASSI: Certainly. I could tell you who it had a more profound impact on me than me. My partner, Joe Montana, he couldn't believe how close the fans get at the CART races and what-have-you. But then it was something that he understands now and is a part of.
Q. Chip, with CART probably looking for needing a marquis race, do you consider the -- could the CART people consider the U.S. 500 as your marquis race like, say, the Daytona 500 or Indy 500 in the other series?
CHIP GANASSI: I think, my personal opinion is why the -- you know, while I bought into and certainly agreed with our stance a few years ago with the U.S. 500 up against the Indianapolis 500, I have to say that I am a little -- I have to say that -- well, maybe I have had a change, if you will, in my opinion in that, you know, for some reason in auto racing we have marquis events unlike any other sport. I mean, may well be golf or whatever - golf and auto racing seem to have marquis events throughout the year. I personally would like to see the marquis event at the end of the season like -- much like the other major sports where you built up to a Championship and then maybe have a one-off, you know, marquis event and I think you are seeing that in the -- you are seeing the beginning of that at Fontana this year. I certainly don't want to take anything away from the U.S. 500 - for God's sake, my team is the only two winners there and I would personally like to see CART have, you know, three or four marquis events throughout the year and then build up to a World Series or a one-off for nothing but money, or a -- you know, I don't see anything wrong with adding the Championship in Monterey like we did for so many years and then go down to Fontana and let us all race for five or ten million dollars or something. I think that would be great, have a shootout just for money.
Q. Any feeling of you echoing other feelings for other CART people?
CHIP GANASSI: I think some people feel that way and some don't. It is like any other sport, you have the old school and the new school and.
Q. Are you the old or the new school?
CHIP GANASSI: I'd like to think I am the new school, thank you very much. I am not that old, am I? But, that is my opinion. I think -- I'd like to see the marquis event where you build up to it at the end of the year, at the end of the season or why do you hell do you have these marquis event in the middle of the year or the biggest of the races in the middle of the year? I mean, you know, it seems to me, let us have three or four marquis events and let us build up to the World Series or the equivalent of the World Series, the equivalent of the Superbowl or the Playoffs or whatever you want to call it.
Q. I am sure Greg Penske would love to hear that.
CHIP GANASSI: And I am a fan of Greg's. I think he is onto something here or the start of something there at Fontana.
Q. We won't establish Alex's decision, but can you just address the impact on your series of having a guy who has become a marquis figure in the short time he has, what impact would that have to lose that figure, whether it is on your team or some other to Formula I, at the end of a Championship Series like that?
CHIP GANASSI: I think you have to look at the guy. I think he has had a -- I mean, I haven't been one to look at the record sheets, but he has broken a helluva lot of records along the way here - and, I am sure Monica can get you those - but he just seems to be, week in, week out, breaking somebody's record -- or tying records for most wins, or getting to wins the quickest or -- you know, I saw where the U.S.A. TODAY wrote, you know, in the same sentence with an uncertain Andretti and Zanardi - and when you say that type of thing and it dawned on me, I think, that Alex has probably had a larger impact on our series then quite possibly Mansell did in 1993. All you can be is happy for someone like that and happy that he is -- obviously happy that he is a part of our team and, you know, I -- again, I am not -- I don't know what impact it would have. I mean, obviously -- I mean, obviously, people say the obvious saying it is great for CART and it is great for this series. So I don't think in terms of, you know, today I am not thinking in terms of losing him. So I don't really think in terms of what impact it would have. I mean, the guy can easily be the Michael Jordan of our sport, very simple. He simply can be the most popular race driver in the largest free market in the world. I mean, for God's sake, the guy is more popular here in the United States today than Schumacher. I don't take anything away Schumacher, but the guy is more popular here than Schumacher. I think he has the ability to become more than a race driver in this country.
Q. I just wanted to ask you, is there -- what makes Alex such a great race car driver and how much has he improved since he joined your team?
CHIP GANASSI: I have said this before, what I think -- I mean, there are a lot of guys who are fast out there. I mean, let's face it, you have got to be fast to get to this level in the sport. I mean, personally I feel what makes him a great race -- it is his off-track personality. That is what I was obviously first in touch with when I met the man, was his off-track personality. I knew him for three months before I ever saw him in a car. So, I think that is what makes Alex the person, not the race driver. I think, you know, we all know a lot of race drivers. Quite frankly, I am not attracted to race drivers. I am attracted to people, and personalities, and that is what Zanardi and Vasser are.
Q. If I could just follow-up on that: Do you recall any human interests type of --
CHIP GANASSI: By the way, make sure - and I don't want anybody saying I am not attracted to race drivers - please put that whole sentence in. I don't want to read in the headline: Ganassi not attracted to race drivers. You know what I mean, put the whole sentence in please, everybody, thank you.
Q. Following up, is there a human interest story or something that was kind of unique when you first met Alex in regard to signing him up as your driver?
CHIP GANASSI: I mean, it was just a genuineness as a person and I think anybody -- any of you that have met him or talked to him realize that he is, you know, I have never met somebody with -- you know, he and Vasser both are the kind of guys that are loaded with talent and are, you know, quite frankly, unaffected by it all, in a sense. And I think that is what -- I find that a nice value for a person to have. But again, it is their off-track personality as much as anything.
Q. Since you were here in Alex's stead, I kind of wanted to ask - I know I heard him talk a couple of times when he got out of Formula I and it wasn't under the best circumstances; that nobody wanted to talk to him. Then you talked about the personality and how that would attract you to somebody. In terms of deciding this is the guy, what was it at that time that really impressed you? The way he made it sound, it was like really a low point in his time until Chip comes along and brings him up under the ashes; is that kind of how you remember it?
CHIP GANASSI: I mean, I guess I could certainly understand his point of view that that was a low point in his career. But I think, you know, the guy has a lot of talent in terms -- if I recall the time, you know, I was looking for someone to, I mean, I really thought that Jimmy had an opportunity -- Jimmy, I used to remember in 1995, when I met Zanardi at New Hampshire, I want to say that was in August or something, maybe -- yeah, I want to say mid-August or something of 1995, you know, at that time, I was looking at Vasser and I am saying to myself, you know, this guy just needs a real shot at things; Vasser just needs a real shot at things and I think 1995 was maybe only his second full year of CART competition. And I think -- what Zanardi -- Zanardi was very technical, I remember, and I thought this guy is really going to help Vasser win the Championship in 1996. And, because rarely do you find a guy - at least I shouldn't say rarely - but all the drivers I have dealt with up until these two, you know, you meet guys that I say are, you know, this is the quick version of this, but you meet guys that are good on Friday and Saturday and so-so on Sunday, or you meet guys that are good on Sunday and they are so-so Friday and Saturday, meaning that there are guys that are, you know, good at practicing and setting the car up and very technical and, you know, they are good on, what I call, good on Friday an Saturday. Then you have other guys who are good on Sunday. In other words, they really couldn't care about setting the car up or, you know, practicing or trying this or trying that. But, boy, come Sunday they are just fireballs in the race. And so when I first met Zanardi, that was my impression. Geez, this guy is really going to help Vasser win the championship in 1996. It wasn't until 1996, until we were in a racing situation during the 1996 year that I realized Zanardi could make that transition from Saturday night to Sunday and he was just as valuable on Sunday as he was on Friday and Saturday. Meaning, you know, because it really takes a different MO, you know, on Sunday than it does Saturday. You really have to -- you know, a lot of drivers, you really have to shift gears on Saturday night, if you will, to change their style for a Sunday, for a race because it is much different than practice and qualifying. And Zanardi is one -- he is the one of the few guys I have ever met that can do that very easily. Did I answer your question?
Q. Yes. I got one other one too. Again, it is understood that nobody has made any decisions and nobody has come out and said this is what they are going to do. There are all these reports that they both might be going to Formula I. It seems that would be a really strange situation to have such a dominant team as yourself, maybe the Championship winner again, and then be without a driver, that would be strange, but anybody that has been around your team has been -- it is obvious just the camaraderie and the harmony between the two guys. It seems the opposite of what you see in Formula I quite a bit. I wondered, for yourself, does this seem to you as a very special relationship between these two guys and the team? I mean, you have been in racing a long time. It seems there is a lot of rivalry between teammates quite often and this one, it seems like there is harmony. Is that something hard to find?
CHIP GANASSI: It was -- the answer is yes, it is all of the above. The interesting thing I found the other day in Toronto, after the race, Zanardi and Vasser get out of the car and Zanardi was laughing at Vasser because I guess in the morning they were discussing -- Zanardi was telling Vasser all his spots that he could pass someone or he could -- he was thinking about making a move on this guy there or that guy here, this guy there, and next thing you know, Zanardi found himself behind Vasser in the race and he said -- and Zanardi was saying that every time he went to make a move on Vasser, Vasser was already there in the spot. He said after about the second or third time he tried that, he sat right in the middle of the track, Zanardi just burst out laughing because he remembered that morning that he told Vasser all his spots to pass. So, I mean -- and when you get two guys that can get out after wheel-to-wheel racing for, you know for as long as those guys were doing it the other day and they get out and kind of laugh about it afterward, I think that that says something about -- that is kind of refreshing in today's world of sport, I think. Don't you?
Q. Yeah. That was what I had to ask.
CHIP GANASSI: Thank you.
Q. I just get the feeling that you don't have a sense of urgency concerning re-signing one or both of your drivers. Am I wrong in that and are you actively approaching them about this or are you waiting for them to come to you and to talk to you about these things?
CHIP GANASSI: Am I actively --
Q. I mean, are you talking to them saying --
CHIP GANASSI: I think, you are close on your first comment there, and I think, you know, do I have an ongoing dialogue with both of them? Certainly. And, do I have any sense of urgency right now? You are probably right, I don't see the sense of urgency that the English press is putting on this. Maybe I am out to lunch. I mean, that is maybe my style - not right or wrong - that is my style. I mean, yeah, I don't -- like I said, I am not talking to any other drivers right now. Those guys both know that. They both know that. They both know that we are all a team and we are all a team right now and they don't -- in fact, I mean they don't see the urgency. I don't want to speak for them, but I mean it seems to me they are sort of taken by all of this as well. These rumors flying around and what have you. Let's face it, there are 25 other drivers out there that are trying to stick a wheel inside of us every single day and I am not sure that some of this isn't part of that. I am certainly not -- you know -- But, I mean, you have people that are competing with us every single day. They are trying to beat us, keep us off balance; turn us upside-down; do one thing or another.
Q. Are you at all surprised? A lot of athletes might unravel with this kind of speculation going around. Are you surprised or amazed that Alex has been able to maintain his composure and field these questions yet still go out and perform?
CHIP GANASSI: That is all part of being a professional. That is all part of -- I think it goes with the turf, No. 1, but I couldn't be happier how both of them are handling it. It doesn't seem to affect their driving.
Q. Many teams and drivers talk about having everything in place for the coming year, the end of July or early August. What timeframe are you working with?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I think that is probably right in terms of how we historically have done the season -- you have got to remember, the season goes 'til November this year. I think when the season ended in September that was probably the correct way to run your business. But, I mean, you have got to remember these seasons are going a little longer now and that is just, you know, we sort of have that historical sort of nervousness, if you will, but I don't see that with the seasons going longer now. I don't see the panic. We are just past the halfway point in the season.
Q. So what do you think of then the end of August, beginning of September, what would an more up-to-date perspective on it then?
CHIP GANASSI: I don't know, maybe a month later. I don't know.
Q. I don't want to bring this up but, boy, you have come along way when you and junior locked wheels up there in Michigan. Congratulations on putting together a wonderful team. The thing I don't understand and I try to follow this seven days a week like a lot of other guys on line, Villeneuve, I think he might have had one podium; he can't wait to get away from Williams to get over to his team manager or whatever you call him, why would Zanardi want to go with Williams?
CHIP GANASSI: You have to ask him that. I don't know. I mean, that is -- yeah, I don't know. .
Q. Do you think CART is doing enough to make sure the racers are driving as safely as humanly possible and what is your responsibility as an owner?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, you know, we certainly had our share of being put on probations, I think, with both guys. I think it certainly gets their attention. Whether that is enough or not, we will have to wait and see. I mean, it seems, you know, seems to have slowed down Tracy and Greg Moore. I think that is the point - you know what Roger says, it is a lot easier to slow these guys down than speed them up.
Q. I am sitting here listening to you talk about the sense of urgency, or the lack of sense of urgency that you feel and I think back over the last three or four races that your team hasn't missed a beat. When I say "The team," I am talking about the crew and the whole bit. Could that be the reason that there appears to be no distraction is the fact that you are not distracted?
CHIP GANASSI: It might be. I guess you would have to ask the rest of the team that, I don't know. In other words, I don't -- I don't know, I mean, I hope that I have some sort of leadership qualities that the rest of the team -- that rub off on the rest of the team. That is the greatest thing that anybody would like to hear, you know, that is why the rest of the team is not rattled. Maybe, I don't know. I guess you have to ask them.
Q. Also I have heard 88,000 different versions of the same question over the last few weeks. I have got to think if I were in your shoes, I would look for a closet. Do you ever reach that point?
CHIP GANASSI: You know, I mean, I just -- our team is what it is. Our business is what it is. We are going to be here. We are going to be here next year. We are going to be here the year after. We are going to be a team. We are going to be a force. We are going to run it the same way. I am sorry if I don't make any knee-jerk reactions to all the press comments and quotes and that is not what made our team what it is today and it is not going to -- you know, it is not going to change.
Q. And it helps the blood pressure?
CHIP GANASSI: It helps the blood pressure too.
Q. Following up, I guess when you came into this sport, Penske Racing was the measuring stick. You are now there. Is this the ultimate compliment, though, to not have not one, but both of your drivers being sought out there? Is this the ultimate pay-back for all of the work you have put in?
CHIP GANASSI: I guess someone can look at it that way. I don't -- I don't know what the ultimate compliment is or the ultimate pay-back. I am afraid if I ever get it, I will stop enjoying the business, so I hope I don't ever get it because I still enjoy being here and enjoy doing what I am doing. So I don't know. I like what our team has. I like what our team is about. I like what our team represents. And I like who we represent. So I think -- I am not looking for the ultimate pay-off, for the ultimate compliment. I am enjoying what I am doing today.
Q. If you look at what Steve Horne and (inaudible) and' out of the box Jimmy and Alex weren't necessarily superstars, I think you might agree that there is a little bit of Shepherding or mentorship that you have put into them. Is that something you want to expand on and get more involved in other series and can you talk to that?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, you know, my hat is really off to those guys because that, to me, is a management nightmare trying to have trucks and lights and Atlantic and this and that in addition to your own team. I will be honest with you, I have enough trouble focusing on just what we are doing here, you know, so -- I mean, to me personally those -- it would be difficult. I have enough involvement between Chicago Motor Speedway and the Pittsburgh Pirates. My plate is kind of full. And so I don't look in terms of, you know, letting -- having other development series as a farm team, if you will. I don't know if that is good or bad and I think about it often. I have that discussion with my own management and whether we should or shouldn't. Nothing falling out of the sky or breaking the doors down to make me want to do it though, and no good reason either, so, my plate is full with what I have, I think. And I don't see the need for it.
Q. You don't see the need, in general, or you don't see the need specifically for you?
CHIP GANASSI: Specifically for me. No, hey, I mean, if those guys - I am talking about -- all my comments were specifically to me. Okay. In other words, I don't -- if -- if those guys are successful at it, more power to them. I mean, I can't seem to do it. They have management skills that I don't have, though, I don't seem to do it.
Q. Chip, how are you approaching Michigan? I know the cars have been under stress on the ovals, but this is the first 500-mile race. Can you talk about what you are looking at to make sure you make it to the end of this week?
CHIP GANASSI: It is interesting, Jack, this is really the first, you know, you really have to go into this race, this weekend with a different perspective on the race and a different -- it is a different challenge to go 500 miles. It is a different challenge to race for 500 miles. I remember when, you know, any of these 500 milers, when I was driving, you sort of hung out for the first 400 and tried to stay on the lead lap; then you raced the last hundred miles. It is a damn sprint now from the get-go. From the green flag, I mean, they are flat out the whole way, but you can -- you know, your car might be working in one segment and not the next and, you know, it is a question of working with your car at every stop, fine-tuning, fine-tuning, fine-tuning, where, you know, in those road races, in the shorter races, you really don't have that opportunity. But when you got 6 or 7 pit spots, or whatever, you have some time to do some things to the car, so you can -- let us face it, on these ovals, the car has to do the work. So it is a little different way of approaching the race and the race strategy than a 200-mile race or a road race for that matter.
Q. Are you doing anything to strengthen the cars because I know in the past often that was a problem?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, we haven't -- since we are not going to be having the down-force or the speeds this year that we have in the past, we haven't really, knock on wood, we haven't located any problems in testing so far that in terms of stress or speed, so I don't see -- unless there is something I don't know about, I don't see anything going on today that has got us worried.
T.E. McHALE: We will take one more question for Chip who has been very gracious with his time today. One last question before we wrap up for the afternoon for Chip Ganassi.
Q. Mr. Ganassi, I am just curious if you can shed any light on why Alex was not able to talk to us today and where is he and is there any problem?
CHIP GANASSI: There is no problem, I can assure you of that. That is all I will say.
Q. How does this year's race to the championships compare to last year, I guess, in terms of the team? I mean, last year I guess it wasn't going as quickly in the beginning of the season, just wondering from your perspective, how does it compare from last year to this?
CHIP GANASSI: I mean, probably the one thing that has the biggest impact on me is the fact that Zanardi has 175 points and I think last year he won the Championship with only 196 or 95 or something, give or take one or two points, 196. So, you know, now you have the addition of a couple of races this year, I guess gives you -- you have got an additional 44 points out there, max, so that probably has a big impact as anything. I think in terms of, you know, in terms of the season, we have always gotten off to a slow start in the beginning of the season, we have been able to get the monkey off our back with the short ovals, but you don't want to wave that flag too high or too far because then you could find yourself out to lunch at the road races so while I was certainly pleased with the first half of the season, I didn't want to give the impression that I -- that we could sit back the second half. Even though we have excelled in the second half of the season in years past, by the time you think you can excel in this business is the about the time when you fall on your face. I am cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season though.
T.E. McHALE: Thank you, we will wrap up for this afternoon. Chip, we want to thank you for taking the time to be with us this afternoon. We wish you continued success in the US 500 presented by Toyota this weekend. And in the remainder of the FedEx Championship Series season. Again if we are able to reschedule Alex Zanardi in the future, we will certainly send an alert to let you people know that. We thank you all for holding with us today and we wish you A good afternoon.
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