Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
CHIP GANASSI: Hello, everybody. Thanks for having Dan and I on today. Obviously we've had a season or two of what I would call mostly -- well, we've had a highlight or two over these last two seasons; we haven't had a complete year that we can look upon and say, hey, that was great. We had to make some wholesale changes within the team, and obviously starting with the driver, and obviously the chassis and the engine have to change, as well. Basically we're in this business to run at the front, not be an also-ran. We have to make the changes that are necessary to do that.
Q. Going to Honda, I know you have a strong relationship with them in the past and had a lot of wins. Are some of the same people involved that you worked with at Honda previously or is that going to kind of be a seamless transition for you?
CHIP GANASSI: Robert Clark has been there since the beginning and we have a very good relationship with him and we have in the past and we obviously look forward to working with him again. Obviously it's a single engine formula in the coming season, but we think that it's actually, to a team like ours, an advantage.
Q. Talk to us just a little bit about the driver combination. Obviously Scott Dixon, a proven winner as the Series champion in 2003, and now you bring in Dan Wheldon, who's kind of rocketed from being a rookie and winning Rookie of the Year honors to winning the Series Championship. Tell us a little bit about that combination.
CHIP GANASSI: Well, any time you can bring the current champion into your team, it's a shot in the arm for everybody. When you can have two champions in your team, I think it's an honor to be -- it's an honor for me to have a team with these two guys on it. If you go a little deeper than that, it's more about the kind of -- the way the formula is going right now, I think it sort of favors having some experience on your team, having some -- having a couple of veteran drivers, having somebody that understands what it takes to run at the front. This is a difficult learning curve, if you will, for a new guy, as you saw this past season with Ryan Briscoe, who's obviously a very talented guy, as well. But it's a steep learning curve. Any time you can have a driver or two that knows his way, what it's like to be at the front, it's a big help to the team.
Q. Dan, obviously this is a big change for you. You're leaving a team that's won the Championship the past two years, a place where you had a very good rapport with your teammates. Looking for a new situation, what's your perspective on the change for 2006?
DAN WHELDON: Well, obviously the thing that I'm going to look forward to is Chip Ganassi Racing has won a lot of championships in the past, won Indianapolis 500s in the past. It's something that I'm very excited about and looking forward to. I mean, I can't wait to get into the car. You know, I served my time, and I think we had a good relationship there. We had a lot of success together and I'd like to take this time to thank everybody at the Andretti Green Racing team, including mechanics, engineers and team owners, but it's time to move on. I don't know Chip too well just yet, but I know him well enough to know that he's very, very hungry for success. I'm looking for the same, also. I'm really, really excited about what we're going to look forward to for the future.
Q. Thank you for coming out today and congratulations. It sounds like an excellent match. Questions for Chip here, what happens to Ryan now? What are your plans for him, and are you going to have a third car next year?
CHIP GANASSI: We don't have a plan for Ryan right now. We have some opportunities maybe in some Sports Car, there may be some opportunities for him, but right now we don't have a plan for him in our IndyCar team. He remains a friend of our team and a great driver and is well-deserving of some good opportunities. I just don't know that we're going to be able to provide them for him, but sure, I'd sure like to if anybody has any ideas.
Q. Here in Sacramento Scott Pruett is obviously of interest. What are your plans for him next season?
CHIP GANASSI: He'll be, again, back in the GrandAm Series driving the Comp USA car for us with Luis Diaz and I'm hopefully going to get back to our 2004 form instead of 2005. As you know, we won the Championship there in 2004 and we finished 2nd in 2005, so we need to get one more, one up.
Q. You seem to have made a lot of changes across the board in all your different Series that you run in. Did you feel like it was just time to clean house and mix things up?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I don't think you purposely mix things up for the sake of mixing them up. I mean, I think you have to take a realistic look at where you're at and what decisions you've taken in the past and where they've led you and where they're going to take you. If I don't like the look of where they're going to take me, I have to change them. So that was -- we don't make changes for just the sake of making change.
Q. It looks like you made some good ones.
CHIP GANASSI: Thank you.
Q. Dan, you mentioned a little bit earlier that you knew it was -- you thought it was time to move on. What exactly or what events -- it seemed like you were sort of lined up with that team to make a couple more championships in a row. How did you know it was time to move on?
DAN WHELDON: Well, certainly I joined Andretti Racing at the end of 2002 and started a test program. I literally came there as an IndyCar rookie and managed this year to win the Championship, the Indianapolis 500, and I think we accumulated nine wins along the way. I just wanted another challenge. I've always respected Target Chip Ganassi Racing immensely. I've said before, they've won a lot of championships in the past. I have a friend of mine who talks very highly of the team. They seem to be able to win the big races, and I'm highly motivated to win races and championships and hopefully another Indianapolis 500 and another team. I think Chip's team is the best possible place to do that for me. When I got in contact with Chip, it really was -- it was a tough decision, but it was also an easy decision at the same time.
Q. Do drivers such as yourself just sort of seek out the opportunities to improve (inaudible) AGR stuff that maybe the driver had a big part in it, too? Is that part of the actual process of challenging yourself?
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, you always do want to challenge yourself, but at the end of the day you've got to be realistic. There's only so many teams out there that you can win with. You know, I'm not in this business to come 2nd, 3rd or 4th; I'm in it to win. That's why I do it. I love to win, and obviously I love to challenge myself. With Chip's team I think obviously they've had a couple years that they haven't run at the front as consistently as they would have liked. But what you've got to remember is they still actually have won a race or two during that time, and I think now with the changes that they've made, I think we can run up front consistently. I'm excited to work with Scott. I had a great relationship with my teammates Dario and Tony and learned a lot from them, but it's going to be also a lot of fun to learn to work with Scott.
Q. How close did you actually get to taking the F1? We heard some stuff about that. How close did that come to working out and would that have been your preference?
DAN WHELDON: No, I think I'm doing what I prefer. In fact, I have no doubt. Certainly I love to race, and with the Formula One opportunity, that wasn't going to be around. But the problem with Formula One to me nowadays is you've got to get a deal that's realistic for yourself, and that wasn't a possibility. But at the same time, Formula One is not how it was. I mean, there's a lot of people that are paid to race in that formula now. Although it's still a great formula, don't get me wrong, when I started to get serious with Chip, it was very obvious to me where I wanted to be.
Q. For Chip, based on your past success in road racing and Champ Car, GrandAm, would you like to see some more added to the IRL schedule?
CHIP GANASSI: Here's what I think about, whether it's road and street races or ovals, I think we need to build the Series into a series that great drivers are attracted to at the end of the day, and if that means more road racing, then so be it. If that means more ovals, so be it. Whatever it is, it has to be a series that is going to attract the best drivers over time, and if it's more street races or more road races, so be it.
Q. You have a great tandem there on the team. Are you going to keep that your focus, the two cars, or are you still open to adding a third car?
CHIP GANASSI: It's not my first choice to add a third car. I wouldn't say it's my first choice. It's a great honor to have these two champions in our team, and I want to give those guys every opportunity I can to excel. I don't think a third car right now is the answer. I don't want to completely say no to it, but it wouldn't be my first choice.
Q. I've got two questions. First of all, for Dan, I'm sorry to come back to Formula One, but I just wanted to ask you if you could give me more details about your negotiations with BMW Stauber and what happened that made you decide to go back to IRL? And has Jacques Lazier been an issue in these negotiations?
DAN WHELDON: I think if you've spoken to Chip before, he's a guy that can get you highly motivated and very excited about the season ahead. Having spoke to him, although we at one point were talking to a Formula One team or two, it just wasn't for me. You can have people approach you, but your heart has got to be 100 percent into it, and mine really wasn't. I mean, the deal didn't seem right to me, and like I say, my heart didn't feel like that was the thing to be doing. I do love racing in America, I love the Indianapolis 500 and I love being part of the series. To coincide that with the Target Chip Ganassi Racing, winners proven themselves to have won a lot of championships, and one of my favorite races the Indy 500, it was an obvious choice. It was difficult because I'm emotionally attached to AGR, but it's time to move on and time to start setting yourself some more goals. And to be motivated to win on a different team is really something that's getting me going right now, and I'm looking forward to the season starting.
Q. My second question is for Mr. Ganassi, we read that several teams are going through financial difficulties right now, people are laid off, and I was wondering what is your feeling towards the IRL, the future of IRL. Do you feel comfortable with it?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I mean, I'm comfortable with how things are going. I can't speak to how other teams are run or what their financial condition is. I think there are ebbs and flows in every race series from time to time in every year, and I read one day that those teams are in financial difficulty and then I hear the next that there are teams that the people want to buy the assets of those teams. Everything that happens people talk about over the winter, things always seem to settle themselves out by the time it gets down to fighting for the championship of the season like in the middle of the summer. Those things are forgotten about and everybody is worried about the championship.
Q. Chip, I'll start with you. It's obvious what Dan can do with a racecar on the racetrack. I know the way you look at drivers and it has to be somebody that's compatible for the entire team. What did you see in Dan that made you say, "I'm going after him"?
CHIP GANASSI: You know, I'll tell you this, I got it in the first sentence that we spoke when we began this negotiation, and it was simply a hunger to do well. I got that in the first sentence in speaking with him.
Q. It was that simple?
CHIP GANASSI: For me it was. For me it was. I mean, I still get that. I had dinner with him last night, and the guy has a hunger for wanting to be at the front and wanting to win that I like, and a lot of drivers have the -- a lot of drivers can talk the talk, but none of them can really speak from authority, so it's nice that a guy can win races and win the championship and still have that. I think that's very important; that says a lot about a person. I actually obviously had a small relationship with Dan before that. Unfortunately I passed on -- one of my mistakes I made in the business, I said yesterday to someone, I passed on Dan at the end of 2002, and I wasn't going to pass on him twice.
Q. You've gone to Honda. Basically the IRL and Champ Car, both in the World Series and in the U.S., are becoming a one-engine team. Is that good or bad?
CHIP GANASSI: I think, first of all, you've got to keep that in perspective. You can take Chip Ganassi's NASCAR engine and Rick Hendrick's NASCAR engine and they're basically the same architecture of engine, as well. I'd argue that while they have different nameplates on them, it's basically a one-engine architecture formula, as well. You know, it does seem to be a trend these last few years that major series are having to move in that direction. I think Honda would enjoy some competition at some point. They understand the realities of the world these days. But you never know what would happen. I don't think that degrades the amount of racing you're going to see on the track. I mean, that's what -- still these fans in America want to see a great event and they want to see great racing on the track. I think it's going to make the field closer, squeeze the field down closer together would be my guess, which I think translates into closer racing.
Q. I have a couple of questions for Dan if I may. First of all, Dan, how hard was it to either pick the phone up or walk into his office to tell Michael Andretti that you were not coming back?
DAN WHELDON: It was obviously very difficult when you're so successful with a team. You can't think like that. I think Target Chip Ganassi racing is a fantastic team. Ever since I first came over here in 1999, they've always been up in the front. At the end of the day, it's a business. You can't let your emotions get attached in this. It was time to move on, you know. I want to win races and championships and 500s. There's a very realistic possibility of that at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. So that's something that although it was a very tough decision because I had a great relationship with everybody involved and they worked very hard for me, not just the owners, the engineers but everybody right down to the guy that sweeps the shop floor, it was truly a good relationship. But I think, like I said, it's time to move on now and knuckle down and get Scott and I in the victory circle again consistently. That's what we're going to try and do here at Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Q. I have to ask a question because I want it cleared up. There have been a couple of reports that said one of the reasons that you left AGR is because your retainer was not as big as at CGR; true or false?
DAN WHELDON: Financial stuff has nothing to do with it, it really doesn't. It was time to move on. I did have a fantastic time there. We had a lot of discussion, and I'm hoping for the same thing at this team, and I'm sure we can get it.
Q. My question is for Dan but Chip can feel free to chip in. I was kind of hoping to see, what was the timeline on this agreement? I mean, to an outsider, it looks like you decided to leave AGR to pursue a Formula One opportunity, and when that did not materialize, Ganassi came knocking on your door. Was that how it happened? How did it happen?
DAN WHELDON: I mean, you have to keep that stuff confidential about when the different timelines were. But all I can tell you is I've chosen what I wanted to do and what I think I can be successful in and what I enjoy most. That's why I'm kind of really buzzing about this situation and looking forward to the season starting. It still seems a long time until I get in the car in January, and to be honest, I'm not sure how I'm going to pass the time. But it's a decision that I'm very, very happy about and highly motivated for. It's exciting.
Q. Was there ever a time that you were afraid maybe that you couldn't -- maybe end up in a downgraded, so to speak, seat, if you couldn't land Ganassi after you already left AGR and didn't land F1? Was there a time window in which you felt that way?
DAN WHELDON: I'm a risk taker. I'm in the motor racing business, so that's something that never really crossed my mind. This is certainly the place where I wanted to be, and to have executed that and to have announced it yesterday is a big weight lifted off my shoulders.
CHIP GANASSI: Let me add something to that. I don't know that any Series would be recognized at all as a major series if you had a champion that didn't have other opportunities. I mean, I think any time you have a champion in a series, if he doesn't have any opportunities, that would be a sad statement on the series. I think it's a great thing that Dan had some other opportunities. I think as I've shown in the past, we've had a lot of drivers that have gone on to other things and had opportunities to drive elsewhere. I think that speaks a lot about the level of driving in this series.
Q. Just to wrap it up, the F1 thing, was it ever about race driver always or was it test drive for the first year?
DAN WHELDON: Well, to be quite frank, when we started conversations it was always my intention to be a test driver because I know many of the tracks there, and with the test ban situation, it really didn't seem viable. Whenever I do something, I always want to run at the front; I'm definitely not going to be there to follow the field or run with the pack. I certainly want to run very competitively, and I thought that would be the best way to do it. But it didn't seem -- my heart wasn't completely into that situation, and I do think very, very highly of this series. I love the Indianapolis 500. That's a race that I very, very much enjoy, and I'm looking forward to next year.
Q. This is for Chip, and if Dan wants to answer, it's fine. When you sign a reigning champion away from a rival, is it almost like you're stealing the guy even if you do it above board? How does that ramp up the competition between AGR and your team?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, that's a good question. I haven't had that one. Look, I think we're all in this business as competitors, whether it's AGR or Penske or Rahal, all the big teams, and we certainly understand that there need to be other big teams in this sport that we want to beat. I think it's just at the end of the day nothing personal, it's just business. For as much as this is a great sport, it's a business, also, and these decisions come and go. Sort of the one side of the business maybe doesn't -- it's one side of the business that's maybe not the glamorous side of it or the side that everybody wants to talk about, but it happens occasionally.
Q. Dan, how is it going to be racing against your old team next year do you think?
DAN WHELDON: Well, at the end of the day, they're competition.
CHIP GANASSI: He was racing them last year.
DAN WHELDON: You've got to want to beat them. I respect immensely -- I've been very close with them and seen how good they are, Dario, Tony and Bryan, and whoever they fill for the final seat I'm sure will be strong. But I think the way the series is going it's going to be so competitive, you've got to look to everybody involved. That's the great thing about the Series right now. You've got the two Penske drivers which will be very good, the AGR car, the Rahal cars, obviously Scott and I, I think, are going to be very strong. It's going to be a good series, but I'm not going to race them any different. I'm certainly very respectful of what they do and what they achieve, but I've got to make sure that I'm running up front, and that's what I intend to do.
Q. What are the changes to the Dallara from the Panoz, Chip?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, just in the testing that we've done over time and the involvements we've had with different manufacturers, we just felt that this was the time to get with the Panoz Company. They obviously know how to win the championships, they know what it takes to provide a competitive car in the series, and while the G Force -- you look at it, has a record of winning a few big races, but since 2003 it's been challenged on what -- in its winning package. So we felt the time was to make the switch.
Q. Nothing to do with them becoming sole chassis for the other side?
CHIP GANASSI: No. Our team is past that tit-for-tat stuff.
Q. Dan, you and I talked a long time ago at Kentucky Speedway before you had a ride in any of the cars, in fact, the Panther car. At that time I know you had high expectations and all that, but did you ever think at that time that it would come down to what you are today?
DAN WHELDON: As a racing driver, I always believed in myself and the fact that I could win championships at the pinnacle of this sport. The Indy 500 was a dream. Did I think I would do it this quick? I didn't, really. It was only my second full season in IndyCars last year, and you're up against tough competition. But I certainly never doubted that I could do it without getting yourself in the right opportunity, which at the time was AGR, and they obviously served me very, very well. We had a lot of good times together. Like I said before, this is a business, and I certainly believe that Chip can make sure we're up front. It's going to be difficult, don't get me wrong, because the championship is going to be competitive next year. But this is where I believe I can continue to win racing championships and it's what I love to do. I'm certainly very respectful and proud of the accomplishments that I've got, but I would love to add to them. You've got to be greedy in this sport. It's certainly going to be exciting to try and add to them. It's going to be very difficult, don't get me wrong. To try and win the Indianapolis 500 back to back in different teams would be good on my part, that's for sure.
Q. Have you talked with Scott Dixon?
DAN WHELDON: Actually I've known Scott for a while now. Actually we were just at dinner with Chip last night. When he was at PacWest in Champ Cars I was driving Indy Lights. So we have a good relationship. I think he's somebody that I respect a lot. I think he's motivated to do well, so the two of us combined I think can be a strong combination. He's obviously different than the three teammates I've had, but nonetheless, I think we both understand that we need to work very, very closely together and push each other very, very hard in order to run up in the front consistently. That's one thing I learned at Andretti Green Racing last year, that there's a way you can run on the track with your teammates that can give you a big advantage, and I have no doubt that Scott and I will be doing the same to rise to the occasion.
Q. I do have a few questions for Chip and Dan. Chip, I'll start with you. First, congratulations.
CHIP GANASSI: Thank you.
Q. It's nice to see team Target, Honda and Firestone together again. Was making the switch to Honda part of the package to lure Dan to the team, or was that going to happen regardless?
CHIP GANASSI: No, neither, really. It wasn't a part of getting Dan. In fact, I was up front with Dan very early on in the negotiation, that it was -- we had some great opportunities with Toyota, as well, and really, without giving away too much of the negotiation, there was an opportunity at one time to be the sole Toyota team in the series. At one time, and I think in this particular time, there may have been an advantage to that. But at the end of the day, we decided on the Honda package, and a lot of that is -- a lot of that decision was based on our history with them, as well. But the negotiations were completely separate. In fact, it came as quite a surprise to Honda, I can tell you, a nice surprise for them to find out who was our driver.
Q. Is downsizing the team from a three-car to a two-car an economic or a racing efficiency decision?
CHIP GANASSI: That was a decision that really, just based on our sponsorship last year, was a bit of a stretch to go to three, and the people from Pioneer, and I certainly want to thank them for everything they did for us, but it just really didn't present itself this year to do well -- to do that same program. We are geared up to run three cars, but I don't think it's a possibility of happening in 2006.
Q. Downsizing unfortunately seems to be part of the '06 IRL season. From a preliminary car count, it was reported that Target was unhappy with the reduction of races and was possibly leaning towards Champ Car or at least their North American schedule. Was there a serious look at going back to that series as a full, partial or as an IRL/Champ Car split venture?
CHIP GANASSI: There are two answers to that really. First of all, I can tell you that some of your journalistic brethren there took some liberties in speaking for Target, I can tell you, and I can tell you that no one from Target has ever said that they were disappointed with the schedule or what races or markets they want to be in. That was some journalistic freedoms that were taken by some of your friends. That's the first answer. The second answer is having said that, I think you've heard me speak about my idea has been put forth out there about some car sharing in one or two races with some Champ Car teams, and those discussions are ongoing. There's news to come yet on that front.
Q. Thank you for going on the record and setting this straight because there was a lot of rumors and a lot of talk.
CHIP GANASSI: A lot of rumors and a lot of people talking for people that they can't speak for.
Q. What was the determining factor to stay with the Indy Racing League? Was it the Indy 500? Was it Honda making their decision to stick with the program, a combination? What was the determining factor?
CHIP GANASSI: There's not really one determining factor. I think -- I wish life was as simple as one factor that you could say yes or no on. There are a lot of factors involved. I mean, we think it's still the premier series to be in. I think having said that, I think Champ Car certainly has some shining stars among their events. But the fact of the matter is both of these Series have some work to do if they're going to maintain their premier status in terms of series.
Q. The National and the Superspeedway has thoroughly enjoyed hosting Target Chip Ganassi racing in 2001 and we certainly look forward to the future with you and the IRL.
CHIP GANASSI: Thank you. Say hello to Tammy for us.
Q. Dan, it's a bit ironic that you're going to the No. 10 car that was occupied by fellow Brit and your friend Darren Manning. Any thoughts in that area?
CHIP GANASSI: I obviously know Darren, but I was focused on my own situation this year with contending for the championships, so that took up a lot of my time. Certainly I'm excited to be in the No. 10 car for next year, and basically the season can't come around soon enough.
Q. Would you carry the No. 1 on this car?
DAN WHELDON: I don't think I'm allowed. I would certainly like to. It's something that you do in Europe when you win the championship and you're driving the No. 1. It's something that you put on the car to show that you're proud of having won the championship. I don't think that's a possibility. But certainly the No. 10 has got the No. 1 in it, so I'll enjoy driving it no matter what.
Q. Selecting Grand American races, do you plan or desire to race IROC in those?
CHIP GANASSI: I haven't actually had an invite yet, but it's certainly something that I would love to do. I spoke to Scott and was speaking to Chip about it last night. It seems like it's a very, very hard series to compete in, but it's one of those experiences that you want. To be racing against some of those guys, that would be a proud moment. We'll just have to see and wait for the future. The main thing for me is to focus on the season. We've got 14 races, they're going to be tough, and you know we've got to make sure that we're winning. That will be my primary focus, but it certainly would be an opportunity I wouldn't turn down if Chip allowed me to do it.
Q. In Scott's case, have you had any talks about Team England in the A1GP series and would you like to drive in that selective sport?
DAN WHELDON: They've been in contact. John certainly is a good friend of mine. At this point right now there's not actually -- I don't think I will compete in any of the races.
Q. Chip, going back to you, has Scott been cleared to race in any of the A1GP with Team New Zealand?
CHIP GANASSI: Again, there's a lot of talk about that and there's nothing definitive that has come back, and we're on a wait-and-see basis. Again, I think there's more talk about that right now than there is actual fact. But in terms of contact through me, no, and my last conversation with Scott was he'd let me know when there was anything to talk about. It's something, if it doesn't conflict with anything we're doing and it's a good opportunity, you know, you don't want to put these guys just in any car. You just to make sure it's the right people taking care of it, the right opportunity and nothing silly is going to happen. There are some extenuating factors just other than them getting in the car and driving.
Q. It's not unusual for American open wheel drivers to have an F1 out in their contract, and I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask you, do you have that clause in your new contract?
DAN WHELDON: Stuff in the contract I like to keep between myself and Chip.
CHIP GANASSI: Nice try.
Q. Chip, Dan just mentioned he'd like to drive the No. 1 car. I know you had it in the past with Scott Dixon. Any thoughts on running the No. 1?
CHIP GANASSI: You know, I actually think Andretti Green has the right to the No. 1. I'm a little up in the air about this and I don't want to sound like I definitively know what I'm talking about. But I think they have the option to run that No. 1 next year, and if they don't, I would certainly -- if they don't want it, I would certainly entertain looking at the idea of it. Again, it's something that -- I don't think it's up to me to decide that. But given the opportunity, I think we'd take a serious look at it.
Q. You switched engines with your IRL package. Any thought to switching engines with the GrandAm team?
CHIP GANASSI: No, in fact, we're going to stay a Toyota team; we're going to stay a TRD Toyota Lexus team in the GrandAm for the foreseeable future.
Q. We look forward to seeing you testing next week.
CHIP GANASSI: Thank you.
Q. Chip, you've got several of your guys, Scott, Ryan and Darren, in the 24 Hours at Daytona this year. Are you going to do the same with Dan and Scott in the '06 24?
CHIP GANASSI: While nothing definitive has been decided there, last time we spoke of it briefly, I think it's up to the three of us if we want to do it. I think if those guys are going away for the Christmas holiday, they'll probably think about it. If that's something they want to pursue, I'll be happy to provide a car for them.
Q. Dan, do you have any Sports Car experience in your background and would you like to do something like that?
DAN WHELDON: Well, the more racing you can do, the better, especially when you're in such a good team and you have a genuine chance of winning. I'd certainly love to do it. I actually did race in that race last year and enjoyed it very much. Actually it's quite an experience, so it would be something that I'd love to do again, yeah.
Q. This is a question for Chip. The criticism out there from time to time that something pulling the IRL back is they're actually perceived to have fewer American drivers in this Series. Do you think in order for the Series to get where it wants to be, as far as appeal and stuff like that, that it needs more American drivers?
CHIP GANASSI: I don't necessarily follow that. We've had drivers from all over the world drive for us, and I think -- it seems to me, the American open wheel sports fans, they just want to see a great driver. They don't care if he's from America, the UK or Mars for that matter. When Zanardi was here, he seemed to capture the hearts of the Americans, Vasser seemed to capture the hearts of the Americans, Montoya seemed to capture the hearts of the Americans, and I think Wheldon and Dixon have, also. They're from all four corners of the planet. I don't follow that. I think that's an excuse for -- I think that's an excuse for poor race promotion or poor sponsor relations.
Q. On the racetrack, it's obvious that it's the driver and the crews that win the race. Do you feel as though when you pull off a business decision like you've done with getting Honda, making the chassis change and then grabbing the champion of the Indy 500 that, hey, I have won this part of the race off the racetrack? Is that a big challenge for you?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I think it's part of what you sign up for when you're a car owner. That's part of the business. I mean, that's what you have to do. You're in charge of putting in the ingredients of this cake that you're going to bake, you're in charge of putting the ingredients together over the winter, and we have to wait and see if those ingredients rise to the perfect cake or not during the middle of next summer, I guess.
Q. Somehow I do think, though, that in a quiet moment after the deals were done, there was that shy smile that you had that kind of popped up.
CHIP GANASSI: You'll never know.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations again on your partnership for 2006 and thanks for taking the time to join us this afternoon. I realize we had quite a few questions and took up a lot of your time, so we appreciate that.
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