NASCAR Media Conference
June 30, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone, and let me open up by saying that would have a very special guest, driver Scott Speed with us. He is going to be doing some unique double duty this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, racing twice on Saturday, in two completely different events. Saturday afternoon, Scott and could driver Kyle Busch, they be in the 02 Waste Management Lexus Riley in the Brumos Porsche 250. That's the seventh race of the season for the Grand Am Rolex sports car series.
Scott and Kyle, they are going to drive for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix in the 250, and after a short break, come back on track. Saturday night, Scott will be in his usual ride, No. 82 Red Bull Toyota for the Coke Zero 400, 17th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Scott Speed, thanks for joining us, obviously a big weekend ahead. Maybe to open up, talk about some of the challenges Saturday that's going to be ahead as we are going to present you and Kyle Busch as you go back and forth between the two cars.
SCOTT SPEED: Well, yeah, for one, the car is a completely different. Not only is it racing different being on a road course but the cars themselves having so much more downforce are obviously completely different to drive. Luckily we got a test session in yesterday. We were able to do some laps which was for sure very beneficial for both of us rust to get into the groove of so the of driving a car that's so much different and that actually has some grip.
And then, yeah, I mean, to have the two different races on the same day, I'm sure that's going to be interesting. I'm sure Kyle will be more used to doing that kind of stuff than I am. But nonetheless, for both of us it's going to be a big challenge to go from a car that's got a lot of grip and turning right to Daytona where you're just trying to keep it flat-out and drafting all day.
Q. The rookie class, obviously Joey Logano is kind of running away with things there. But you and Joey were involved in an incident in the first race at Daytona. How have you see him improve since then?
SCOTT SPEED: I think obviously a lot. Joey started off, you know, as you expect, struggling a bit at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, but you know, clearly they have had their stuff together for a while now. Probably since around Las Vegas they have been going really in the right direction. It's good to see obviously being able to pull out a win.
Q. What about him is different now than maybe at Daytona?
SCOTT SPEED: More experience in the cars, I would say. You've got to realize as well, there's a big difference in the rookie class as just general experience. Joey is 18, but he grew up racing these type of cars.
My advantage out of the whole deal was that I've already raced in Formula 1 and in a high-pinnacle series, so I've dealt with the pressures and media obligations and all that, and certainly he has picked that stuff up surprisingly well for his age. I'm sure he'll be really successful at it.
Q. For a lot of the season, you've had to race your way in, for the first ten races. Is it frustrating for a team like yours prepared to run the whole race having to fight for position with teams not prepared to run a whole race?
SCOTT SPEED: I don't know I think it's just the economic time at the moment. It's not that they don't want to run the whole race, they physically can't. They are in a difficult situation. I think the fact that the top 35 is locked in and if you're not in that top 35, you have to qualify in, and I think that just shows the strength of the series.
In fact, you have more guys wanting to race than can physically do so. And then the way they have done it, it makes sense, I don't think there's anything wrong with the program.
For us, it's we the got a bit unlucky in the beginning of the year actually, and we got ourselves in the top 35 and then we are in really not the best position, because obviously, you know, it's a bit of advantage to be able to not have to worry about it, but a position we are in and we are dealing with it the best we can and it just the way life goes. I don't think there's anything that's wrong with it, it's just I think if anything, it just shows the strength of the series.
Q. And second question, where did you and Kyle test, and did you get a feel for whether or not you guys both like the same thing in a sports car or not, or do you have different feels for it?
SCOTT SPEED: I think we both like the similar thing for sure. I think everyone has to really understand that something like this has got a lot of downforce, not only is it on a road course which Kyle, he's obviously demonstrated he can drive those fine, but driving a car with downforce is something completely different than Kyle has ever done before. And I have to say, how fast he was able to progress and how much he picked up was truly impressive. He's a man, there's no question. One good thing was we were able to fit into the same seat, we are similar sizes and we like the same car setup. A lot of the big fundamental things we got out of the way and I think it will work out good with the two of us.
Q. Where was that?
SCOTT SPEED: We tested in Putnam Park.
Q. My understanding the Putnam Park test near Indianapolis came off really well for you guys with you coming out a little bit faster, but then again you've had that aerodynamic aspect in your life, inaudible, and trust going deeper into the turns before climbing on the brakes?
SCOTT SPEED: Look, from where we started when we got there to where we ended, it was a huge difference, and driving a road course, like I said it's one thing. But driving a car that it has got downforce, you attack the corners differently, and it requires a totally different driving style which falls right into my lap; that's how I've driven cars my whole life.
So certainly a lot easier for me to get used to this type of car. But Kyle is, how quickly he can adapt and how well he analyzes the data and learns by seeing what we are doing and how we are able to take the corners, I think by the end of Daytona he's going to be just fine, no question.
Q. Part of this I would determine is being a fun factor race where you don't have the types of pressures that you would engage in elsewhere, but I also suspect that the racer inside of you wants to do well. Would you address that, please?
SCOTT SPEED: Well, there's no question, we didn't go there to have fun. We have fun racing and we have fun racing the RC car. We go there to win for sure. I think that it's going to be tough for us. I think we've got, you know, a lack of experience doing this stuff, but hopefully we'll be competitive to where we can challenge for the win. I mean, at the end of the day, that's what we are going there to do.
Q. Have you figured out which one will drive at which time?
SCOTT SPEED: Yeah, because we are going to fit into the same seat, we are not going to adjust anything. Kyle likes his lower belt strap really, really, really tight, so to get him into the car after a driver change, we figure would take a little bit of time.
So just purely from the amount of time and how quickly we can get in and out of the car, it was a bit quicker for us to have Kyle drive first, so that's at the moment what our current strategy is, to have him qualify the car and run the first stint and have me run the latter part of the race.
Q. Seeing that you have to qualify in time for the 400, was there any concern on the part of the Red Bull team on your energy or focus, having to prepare for the Grand Am race, as well, and the 400?
SCOTT SPEED: Well, considering you can pretty much put a monkey in the car and qualify at Daytona, I would say they are not really worrying about me qualifying. The bigger concern is how much do we have to go into a qualifying setup, this being an impound race and everything, and it being super hot, how much is that going to affect us. A lot of guys are going to go in there with a really, really, with a car that doesn't really qualify very well, but after ten laps it's going to be able to run close to flat in the corners.
So it's really a gamble for us. We are going to go in there with pretty much 85, 90 percent of the race in there and hopefully we are fast enough and can keep it. If we have and we have plenty of stuff in the bank, there's no question we can show up there and grab the pole by tenths if we really went there with a qualifying set up. We are going to try to play it as close to the edge as we can to have as much of a race setup in the car but it does play into the fact that you have to qualify or not because you have to give up a bit of a race set up to make sure you get into the race.
Q. What was your impressions of Daytona prototyping your test?
SCOTT SPEED: I love it. I think both of us loved it. I think it was very cool for me to drive it. It was much more similar to what I've grown up doing. You know, it's been a long time since I've driven a car that's got downforce to where you go into a fast corner and you've got just a lot of grip and you can push the car really hard.
So it was really kind of a flashback for me, it's been almost two years since I've driven a car like that, and it was a lot of fun, as well looking at data, being able to come in and hang out with a guy like Kyle that I've been friends with and look at, that's how you like to turn the steering wheel and that's how you like to use the brakes. It was cool to compare that kind of stuff.
Q. Any concerns about the heat? Daytona prototypes are known for being really hot cars, and you have to race another race that night.
SCOTT SPEED: No. I mean, that that was the question when we decided if we were going to do it or not, was is it good physically or not. But we do it every week, and in that aspect we are both physically fit. It might be hot, but they also prepare for it. They have a bunch of fans in there and a good drinking system, good ventilation, as much as they can and the stuff we are running in is the top of the line stuff for the series. We'll be all right.
Q. There seems to be a lot of effort on Ganassi's part of getting everyone involved, can you talk about how it came together?
SCOTT SPEED: How did it come together? Well, a lot of people were involved in making it happen for sure. The one thing that is for sure is that they have done a great effort. Me and Kyle showed up there at ten o'clock in the morning and there was, you know, 13 people there working on the one car for both of us. They really gave a really good effort, and put forth I think, you know, everything they could for us to help us out. So it was a very good first experience with that team.
Q. How much is the down force different between the two cars you'll be driving on Saturday? What is the biggest and most important situation that confronts a driver?
SCOTT SPEED: Well, to put it into perspective, if you drove a stock car into, let's say, corner x, and you were going about 180 miles an hour and you needed to brake for that conner, it would take you about 400 yards to get the car slowed down from the corner. With these cars, the amount of downforce we have, at especially high speeds, you can drive that thing close to 200 yards, so it almost stops in half the time.
So the amount of grip it has above 100 miles an hour is, you know, three times as much as a stock car, so if you can imagine, running around Daytona at 190 miles an hour, it's still got a similar grip level as it does when it's running at, you know, 60 miles an hour, where one of these cars, the faster you go, the more grip you have, so at that speed, that car is glued to the ground and it's got a ton of grip that you can work with.
But subsequently the lower you go, you lose that grip and the way to attack a corner is a little bit different, you have more grip at higher speed, less grip at low speed and it's something that's totally different from the stock car which kind of slides around and relies a lot more on mechanical grip.
Q. You mentioned Kyle's ability to adapt, and of course you adapt, also, do you think that ability is essential?
SCOTT SPEED: Well, we'll see. It's one of those things where, you know, it's a different type of motorsports. It's the same thing that all us open-wheel guys go through when we come over here and start racing stock cars. It's just a different type of corner, the way you've grown up doing it is all completely different. I think a guy like Kyle is one of those who is really, you know, a special case, who is really got a ton of talent in everything that he touches. If there is a guy that can come from stock cars into this type of racing the easiest, I would say it's probably Kyle.
It's not going to be easy and he's going through the same struggles that I go through when I'm coming into this side, but out of everyone you can pick to do it, he would be who I would want to team up with, you know what I mean.
Q. And also you mentioned you like going through F1 and adapting all over and everything, what has been tough for you what's been the toughest thing for to you do in all that?
SCOTT SPEED: I don't know, everything. The cars themselves obviously drive a little bit different and something that you can get through relatively easy. The toughest thing is know what the cars want, when you go into the race car and you know what the car is right, it's pretty easy. It's when it's wrong to know how to fix it.
You don't have numbers and you don't have data, and when you have as little knowledge on the general car as I did when I first came over here, you know, with the sway bar, you have to learn what all that stuff does.
So there's just a lot to learn about this type of sport. As it would be if you went over the other way. It's a real challenge as you get over, you get bred to go to do, I'm a race car driver bred to do X and now I'm learning to do Y. I honestly enjoy the challenge and I'm around great people and environment. It's definitely been a good time but it's been a tough time.
Q. Drivers talk about feel, how would you explain that to a fan?
SCOTT SPEED: Oh, I don't know, when you go into a corner you hit the brakes and you turn the steering wheel, and it's what do you feel the car is doing, do you feel like you're understeering or over the limit of the tire or do you feel like it's oversteering; how well you feel the grip of the car to the road is sort of the feel that most people talk about.
Q. You and your Red Bull teammate, Brian Vickers, had a dust-up I guess Saturday, and I don't know if it carried over to Sunday or not. Have you guys talked about it, straightened it out at all or anything? What's going on there?
SCOTT SPEED: Honestly I haven't spoke about it yet. I think we wanted to let things cool down a little bit. I did mention, however, that I didn't touch the 83 when he was off in the grass under caution. I didn't have any part of that. But I did vocally say that he might have paid someone off to take us out, because we were having a really good weekend and then got wrecked unfortunately.
It's one of those things where we've got a good enough organization here at Red Bull, we have got, you know, good people on board, and I'm sure it's something that we are going to be able to straighten out and it's not going to be such a big deal to care for. It we'll have our talk and I'm sure we'll be all fine after.
Q. So you plan on talking to him some time this week, I guess?
SCOTT SPEED: I'm sure we'll sit down, absolutely.
Q. Is there anybody in the Ganassi organization who has mentored you and Kyle when it comes to the Grand Am cars, or are you just going into this stone cold?
SCOTT SPEED: Well, at the most, honestly we can say that we have pretty much kind of gone into it as cold as you can. Fortunately when we got there, there was obviously a lot of advice for us and we had good data to look at. And you know, the most important thing is the organization we are running with has been very successful doing it. They have won the last two races, and you know, going into something like that, you know the advice you're getting. If you need to run a setup towards this direction, you believe them.
So it's good guidance there, absolutely. But beyond what we have experienced as we start testing, and with the team we are with, I would say we pretty much didn't know a lot about it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, and thanks to Scott Speed for joining us. Best of luck racing in both the Rolex Sports Car Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
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