Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
February 2, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to this Dreyer & Reinbold Racing teleconference in which there is some very exciting news for the team and for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
The team has announced Justin Wilson and Mike Conway as its full-time drivers this year for its two IZOD IndyCar Series entries for 2010. Justin will drive the No. 22 car with primary sponsorship from Z-Line Designs, and Mike will drive the No. 24 sponsored by Dad's Root Beer and Roll Coater.
So we're very pleased to welcome Mike and Justin back to the IZOD IndyCar Series for 2010. A very strong lineup for the team. And we have Justin, Mike, and team co-owners Dennis Reinbold and Robbie Buhl with us today.
Dennis, Robbie, congratulations on the big news. A few comments on that, if you would.
DENNIS REINBOLD: Thanks very much. We're excited to have Justin and Mike join us, Mike back for his second year, and obviously Justin has been in the league with a high degree of success for a long time.
We're excited over the off-season. We've made a lot of changes to our team, our structure, even our shop. And to start out with the plan in place as it is right now today, we're really fired up for the season and expect to have some great results this year.
ROBBIE BUHL: This is Robbie Buhl. Following up on that, the more I thought about it, in the 11 years at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, I think this is probably one of the biggest announcements or steps that we've ever made as a race team with going into this 2010 season with having, you know, very capable guys in Justin and Mike, and being able to be competitive day-in and day-out.
I think this is really going to transition Dreyer & Reinbold Racing to a place that we've been striving to be. So we're real excited.
THE MODERATOR: Justin, your comments about joining Dreyer & Reinbold this year after a successful season last year? You've won a race with Dale Coyne, but you're coming back with Z-Line Designs and moving to a new team. Talk about your anticipation for 2010.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yes, I'm looking forward to the new season. I can't wait to get started. Joining Dreyer & Reinbold is pretty exciting. I came about two weeks ago and had a look around the workshop. I was so impressed with what I saw and what was going on. You know, it just felt like the right thing for me to do. It's the right point in my career. I'm just excited of the potential of this team and the way they go about their business.
So I'm looking forward to working with Mike. I think having a strong teammate is a big part of how the team can progress and learn fast enough to have an impact.
You know, my aim is to go out there and try to win races. Obviously the goal is ultimately to win the championship, but, you know, we just take it one step at a time. Just focus on today, and tomorrow we'll focus on tomorrow. They'll keep building it up, and hopefully we'll achieve our goals.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, second year with the same team. Last year everything was new. New circuit, new team, new country. What is the comfort level for you this year knowing that you're returning with the same team, same series, pretty much the same tracks? Does it give you a better sense of confidence coming into 2010?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, definitely. Last year was a tough year. We did have some good results and coming into the end of the year we were quite strong. So it's great to be able to continue all the work and results we achieved last year.
And as Justin and the team have said, they've worked really hard over the winter to get things better and improve a lot of areas, and I think we're all seeing the changes and all seeing the results already.
So I think looking forward to a great year ahead of us. And as you said, things should come a bit easier this year with me knowing the circuit, and how things are done.
So, yeah, just can't wait to kick off the season. I think me and Justin are both looking forward to the first half and working together and moving the team forward as a whole.
THE MODERATOR: That gives me a perfect segue to remind everyone the season opener is March 14th in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with the Sao Paulo Indy 300, the start of the 2010 IndyCar Series season. Chris, let's open up the lines for media questions.
Q. Dennis, all these years sometimes you have to take money from people that weren't your first choice just to keep the thing going. Do you kind of feel like maybe Robbie kind of here, too, this is maybe the first time you've had everything set so far ahead of time? Not only is it set, you have real sponsors, but you have two real drivers?
DENNIS REINBOLD: Yeah, we're really excited about that. We've been growing. I mean, one of the good things is the last several years we've retained every one of our sponsors and been able to work with them and grow them. And our commercial side of Dreyer Reinbold Racing has really stepped up its game.
Robbie, because of his schedule, works with the Versus, so he's not as hands on on a race weekend because he can't be up in the booth, but off track he's really working hard to build the business side of our team, and along with PROtential and Brett and Eric De Bord who you know worked really hard for us to grow things.
And it's putting us in a better position to be able to basically sit down with a white, clean sheet of paper and say what's our team going to look like.
It's been a long time coming to be able to do things like that. But that's what we -- we started talking late last year. And Robbie and I said here's what we'd like our team to look like. Let's try to make that happen.
We're sitting here with Mike and Justin, and we couldn't be happier.
Q. Justin, did it say something that Z-Line has chosen to come? I mean, they took some nice ads out, especially after your victory last year at Watkins Glen. But I remember talking to Dale a few weeks ago and said who is going to be in the Boy Scout car? Are you going to have Z-Line back? He thought maybe he was going to keep you, but he wasn't real sure. Was it more of the fact that maybe Z-Line kind of carried this whole day and said we want to go wherever you want to go -- we'll go wherever you want us to go?
JUSTIN WILSON: It was a pretty tough call to leave Dale and move on with my career. That's not an easy decision. I just got to thank Dale and Gail for everything they've done. It was a great year. I have really fond memories. I've spoken to Dale a few times and we still get along really well. Which is nice. I've got a lot of admiration for him.
But, you know, it all came about so quickly. It was, I don't know, two, two and a half weeks ago I got a call from Robbie and from Dennis, and the things just snowballed and happened so quick.
Like I said, it was just a great opportunity. And I feel like this is the direction to go. And obviously Z-Line had presented that. They've got an agency that was looking for them, you know, to see what was available, and it just progressed.
I was pretty shocked that I'd get this opportunity. But I'm very pleased to be driving the Z-Line Designs car again, and driving for this team, and the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Q. Justin, do you know who your engineer will be?
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm not sure yet. I think the team's already got its full complement of engineers right now. And I'm going to meet the guys a little bit later on.
Q. Mike, when Justin was with Graham Rahal and A.J. Allmendinger as teammates, they both said he gave them immeasurable help just trying to sort things out, and it probably progressed their career along. Do you kind of feel like maybe that's the one thing you didn't have last year? Somebody you can lean on? This is probably the best thing that can happen in your career at this stage?
MIKE CONWAY: I did have some good teammates last year. It was just the case of they weren't always there the same weekend, we'd been changing so often.
But it's great to have Justin on board. I know he's a great talent. And I think we can both bring a lot to the table and really move the team forward and get some good results.
Yeah, it's, you know, an exciting time and moment for both of us. And I think we're both looking forward to getting on with the job at hand.
ROBBIE BUHL: Hey, Robin, this is Robbie Buhl. Just want to thank you for asking me a question.
Q. What do you know about racing? Come on. But, seriously, think about your team. You win in Orlando in your debut. Now you go -- you know, you guys are realistic. You see what you're up against with Penske and Ganassi. It's got to be that kind of feeling when you go to the racetrack. You think, you know, okay, if everything -- I mean, Conway had some good runs last year. He made some rookie mistakes, which rookies do. But there were times when you had some hope, but now at least you can go to the racetrack every week, I would think, and think we're not thinking about running in the Top 5, we're thinking about maybe trying to pull off a win.
ROBBIE BUHL: Was that a question to me?
Q. Sure, because I don't want you to feel left out.
ROBBIE BUHL: You know, in this business, as you grow as a race entity, sure, you can have your flashes of brilliance and you have big highs and lows. But how you really grow and strive is you want to be consistently in the game, week in and week out. That is the challenge.
And with having the capabilities of Mike and Justin, yeah, that puts us in that position to go in every weekend with that mindset.
Q. Justin, how long have you -- how long ago did you decide to go with Dreyer Reinbold?
JUSTIN WILSON: As I said, we started talking two to two and a half weeks ago. I came down here to the shop and looked around and met the people. I was really impressed. You know, speaking with Larry Curry and Dennis and Robbie, and just I liked what I saw and the progress they'd made over the off-season. That's when it really started to come together.
You know, we just worked it out from there. It came together over the last two weeks.
Q. That's a rather short time
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it is. Especially considering during the Daytona, 24 hours in between then and now. Also my second daughter was born. So I'm ready to catch up on some sleep.
Q. You come at things from so many perspectives, media, driver, team owner. Wonder if you can tell me what your new hopes are for the IndyCar? The Delta wing prototype is going to be unveiled in a couple weeks in Chicago. What are you hoping to see from the IndyCar of the future?
ROBBIE BUHL: Well, my first reaction is obviously I'm a fan of the sport, but I also have a vested interest. I want to spend the rest of my life in one form or another in this business making a living.
And I think some of the things that are being presented with the Delta wing program really presents some relevance back to the manufacturers. And, yes, it's a big departure from what we're used to, but I think that's the type of risk and gamble that we need to take to build and introduce the sport we love, IndyCar Racing, to a whole new world. And it gives us that opportunity.
From the team owner side of things, as we look to the future, we have to get things in line with what the cost is to compete here. And if we can do that, it's going to open us up to a lot more people being a part of this business, and that opens up to a greater fan base, too. Because you've got more people involved.
Q. Justin, we know things have gone down pretty well in the UK. But my question to you is: In what way do you think you're going to be able to improve performance overall to compare it to what happened last year?
JUSTIN WILSON: Well, obviously the team's working really hard. You know, they've done a lot of testing. Before I came to the workshop there was more testing planned I think next week and the week after on just reduction of drag, whether it's a dynamic or mechanical. And they're working pretty hard on getting everything to be as close to perfect as they can. They're not leaving any stone uncovered.
Q. Mike, seems we come from the same London Borough of Bromley. Are you living over there now? I seem to recall sitting across the departure lounge from you on a couple of occasions last year. Just wondering if you're going to commute or if you had put down some roots over there, no pun intended?
MIKE CONWAY: Last year I lived in Indianapolis and didn't live too far from the workshop. And this year I'm planning to do the same, to live in Indianapolis. So, yeah. It's good to be close to the team and close to the action. And obviously the month of May is a good time in Indianapolis.
So, yeah, that's where I'm staying. But, yeah, I do try to get back to the UK and see my family and friends. I only get a chance to do that a couple of times, if I'm lucky, during the year. And my family's going to join me over here to watch the races on holiday. So, yeah, it's a great to get a mix of both.
Q. Dennis, Robbie, big day for you announcing drivers and new sponsors. Have you put together any thought on what you're going to do for Indianapolis? Will there be more cars possibly in the mix for Indianapolis or the team, or is that something that's too early to tell?
DENNIS REINBOLD: We want to make sure we do what makes sense for our team. Justin's 22, Mike's 24, leaving 23 open for us right now. If a good situation comes along as a third full-time car, maybe we'll take a look at that. If a good situation comes along as an additional car at Indy, we'll take a look at that.
I guess we don't have an answer right now. We want to do what makes sense for us, and we are looking at some other options right now.
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