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GRAND-AM Transcript: AJ Allmendinger and Michael Shank

February 1, 2012

An interview with MICHAEL SHANK and AJ ALLMENDINGER HERB BRANHAM: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our GRAND-AM teleconference. We’re looking back at the 50th Anniversary running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Great race, fantastic race. It obviously lived up to the billing, the prior billing of the event.             We’re very pleased today to welcome two members of our championship team from Michael Shank Racing. We have AJ Allmendinger, who clinched a victory for an amazing drive over the last three hours, and we have car owner, Michael Shank. He’d been trying to win the Rolex 24 since 2004, and now he’s done it, and it was awesome to see.             Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. We talked about what a great race, great competition, great effort, great field. But I think everybody wants to know is did the celebration take place where, Michael, you actually shaved AJ’s initials or logo into your head?             MICHAEL SHANK: Yes, it happened last night. It’s in my head. It’s in their hard. And AJ got – we were texting AJ pictures as we were going along, but I’m a man of my word. He and I were sitting on the pit lane in December when we tested this car for the first time. He said, Shank, here’s what you’re going to do. And I said, all right, I’ll do it. And damned if I didn’t have to do it.             AJ ALLMENDINGER: That’s why I love me some Shank because he’s a man of his word. That’s why I love me some Shank.             HERB BRANHAM: Where did this take place, guys?             MICHAEL SHANK: I live east of Columbus, Ohio, in a little town called Buckeye Lake, Ohio on a lake. And a friend of ours does my hair out there, and we did it in a little salon out there, and we’ve got the video of it.             It’s all pretty viral right now. So if you go to AJ’s Facebook page or mine, you can see more than you need to see of me in the morning.             HERB BRANHAM: Well, that’s an awesome way to start today’s GRAND-AM teleconference. We’ll go to the media now for questions for two of our Rolex 24 championship team members. AJ Allmendinger and Michael Shank.   Q. Can you describe your schedule here from Sunday to today? If I’m reading the tweets right, it’s been pretty unbelievable? AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out where I’m at. We had a little fun party after the race. Shank put together a big team party, and we went and celebrated that at Vince Carter’s restaurant there in Daytona. So there were some beverages that were had, and we had a good time there. I had to get up at 3 a.m. and get on a flight to California. Flew out to Sonoma Monday morning to do some productions for Shell Pennzoil and do some commercial stuff.             Got done with that at 6:30 for Sonoma. Flew back at 6:00 a.m. back here to Orlando. Got here last night, and got up this morning, and doing this now. Going to test right after this at Walt Disney World Speedway at 1 o’clock. So it’s been pretty easy.   Q. Walt Disney World, does it have any – it’s a strange little track. It’s got three turns and there are different bankings and stuff. What do you test when you’re at Walt Disney? AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think it’s more than anything for me to keep getting familiar with the Shell Pennzoil Dodge and with the race team. With Todd Gordon, my new crew chief. It doesn’t really amount to testing for a certain type of racetrack. It’s completely different than anything we really race at.             But I think it’s more just getting laps in the race car. Getting used to the race team. Building up a language barrier for myself and Todd just to get to know each other, and just testing actual stuff on the race car. You can still do that even if it’s not for a specific racetrack.             It’s just more getting more laps on the race car which is only going to help going into Daytona.   Q. Has this all sunk in, the events of the weekend? Has it hit you yet? AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, it’s not. It’s funny. I’ve been so busy that not really. I think I’m more tired than anything. I think once I get back home on Friday and able to hang out with some friends during the weekend and really just kind of take it all in, it will be pretty special.             So I know we know we’re just going to relax. A group of my friends want to celebrate with me over the weekend and just have a good time. So it’s all amazing to me. It’s something that Michael Shank and his whole organization and myself and Ozz Negri, John Pew, Justin Wilson, all of us have worked hard together to get to this point. So it’s pretty special.   Q. As you look ahead at schedules, AJ, when might you be in a GRAND-AM car again, and Michael, in a perfect world, when would you want to have AJ in your car? MICHAEL SHANK: AJ and I have tentatively put in the books that he’ll run the car on the Brickyard race on Friday, the inaugural Daytona Rolex race at the Brickyard. So I don’t know. If AJ wants to do it, it’s up to him, really. You want to do it?             AJ ALLMENDINGER: I keep telling Shank, if he puts me in the car more in Daytona, I’d love to do that. He hasn’t done that yet for seven years. So I would love to run Indy. For me I’ve always told Mike any time he needs me, I love driving the race car, so I’m there.             But, yeah, Indy we’ve put on the schedule to try to make it happen, and hopefully the schedule and everything works out to that point. It’s going to be a special race there.             MICHAEL SHANK: He’s got to get a little bit better before I fully trust him. So once that happens, I’ll put him in a little bit more.   Q. What is the incentive program going to be like for that? MICHAEL SHANK: If you watch our little videotape here, he doesn’t know that he agreed to it, but he’ll have to cut his hair, and it will have to be the MSR logo. I told him for his first NASCAR win, and I told his boss that this morning. So it’s all clear there, AJ             AJ ALLMENDINGER: That’s good. Thanks, thank you.             MICHAEL SHANK: I’m a giver, that’s what I do. AJ doesn’t need any incentive. All he had to do was get pissed off at McNish, and that did the deal for us right there.   Q. AJ, did you take the time to point out to Jamie McMurray that while he might have beat you at the Daytona Kart race, you might have outrun him a little bit in this race? AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, he was nice enough to send me a text message and said that he was really happy for me. So I guess when it comes to records so far this year, we’re 1-1 against each other. So I’ll let him have the go Kart race if I got this one. So that’s good. But he’s still got that Daytona 500 over me. So I’ve got to go get that in a couple of weeks.   Q. Michael, looking forward to the rest of the season, what did we learn from the Daytona race that will carry us through the rest of the year in terms of the new cars, in terms of the engines? I’m wondering if listening to the Ganassi guys if they’re going to be complaining that their BMWs, as they often do, are underpowered. I was wondering what you think may happen the rest of the year based on what we saw at the 24? MICHAEL SHANK: I’ve never seen a shorter memory in my life than Scott Pruett’s, I’ll be honest with you. That guy doesn’t remember driving around us on straightaways at mid-Ohio which is about the third of the length of Daytona or less, and driving and powering by us.             So the sunshines on different teams and manufacturers different years. A lot of people are attributing our straight line speed to the motor. And while Roush does a great job, it’s not all motor. Our body is really good. And we’re in a lower down force configuration than Ganassi was too.             So they can think what they want. We’ll go on and compete against them. We have a lot of work to do on our short track program, our tight horse program to get the aero balance better, and we’re looking forward to it. But all that other stuff is just talk.   Q. I think the 50th anniversary for both us and the media and competitors and GRAND-AM itself, kind of overshadowed what’s coming up at Indy. Can you both talk about the fact that this is going to be a fairly historic race once we get there and start realizing how big this is going to be? MICHAEL SHANK: For me Indianapolis is the place. It’s hallowed ground. It’s where I grew up at. It’s what I always dreamed to be. So when we tested there a couple years ago with our car, I drove the car a little bit, which is frightening for everyone else to see me do that. It was a great thing.             I think we had 2,000 people show up for six cars running around the track that I remember. I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I think we’ll put on a hell of a show, just like you saw at Daytona, and we’re going to test there some throughout the summer, which we’ll have AJ come out for that, if he can. We’ll be ready to go. That’s a separate championship in our series now. We definitely want to win that thing.             AJ ALLMENDINGER: It’s Indy. It’s the same thing as when you talk about Daytona. You just say the racetrack’s name, and it doesn’t matter what you’re racing there, whether it’s an Indy car, a Cup car, GRAND-AM car, motorcycle, whatever, you just say the name Indy and it’s special.             I think it’s been really good over the last couple of years, especially with the whole tire situation that happened. The whole NASCAR weekend at Indy has kind of fizzled out a little bit. So I think bringing GRAND-AM there, and bringing Nationwide there, it’s going to be just a fun kind of new racing weekend for the whole time that we’re there.             No matter what you win there at Indy, it’s special. So, yeah, it would be awesome to say we won the 50th Rolex, and we won the first ever GRAND-AM event at the speedway.   Q. AJ, at what point – there are three hours left in the race, and you had done a number of stints before that. Can you talk about the series of events or the one or two minutes that gave you the attitude and the drive and the push, in particular, to get around on McNish towards the end of the race? AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think honestly just sitting there watching my teammates, Justin Wilson, and Ozz Negri, and even John Pew had a great, great stint while I was kind of resting. But between Justin and Ozz, they ran the car a lot from that 5 a.m. to noon where Mike had me rest and get ready for the last three hours. They left it all out there on the racetrack.             Justin put in an amazing stint where he had a 38 second lead when he gave the car to Ozz and the yellow came out. And Ozz for the last hour was just getting pressured by McNish, and never put a wheel wrong. He just left it out on the racetrack.             At that point I’m sitting there watching the TV getting ready to get in the car, how can I not be pumped up and want to go out there and give everything I have? Because those guys left it on the racetrack. They got out. They were worn out. They put in some tough hours to make sure I was rested.             So at that point I had to go out there and do the job. I did not want to be the guy to let them down, to let Mike down. Both cars were so close between our car and the 8 car. It was so important to be leading the race. I think people didn’t really understand that.             There were still two and a half hours left in the race or whatever it was, but to be leading was so important because it was so tough. Both cars are so evenly matched. It was important to get the lead and be leading at the pit stops and try to get out of the pit stops leading. That’s why we were fighting so hard. At that point, it’s a fun battle. I mean, two hours to go in the race to win the Rolex, if you’re not pumped up for that, you shouldn’t be in a race car.   Q. Michael, two hours and 21 minutes, whatever it was when you guys took the lead, the battle had been going on for quite some time between the 8 car and your car. Finally, through the west horseshoe and then on to NASCAR 1 and 2, AJ and McNish are going at it, and the pass eventually occurred there in turn two after some contact. What was going through your mind? Are you relatively calm at that point thinking look, these guys are out there by themselves? Or were you as emotionally charged up as everybody else that was seeing that? MICHAEL SHANK: We weren’t going to be pushed around. We had raced 20 hours. We’re going to win this thing with two or three hours to go, and this guy starts pushing around. We’re not having that. If AJ had taken us out of that race at that point, I wouldn’t have been unhappy with him. We wouldn’t. We were not going to be pushed around by this guy.             I think everyone saw that he ran AJ wide horrible wide in turn one, and that’s cool. So he’s going to get some back at him, and that’s how we race.             A lot of people thought I was crazy for not going ballistic, but I’m not going to have my guys get shoved around by these guys. I was proud. I was very proud. I was also exceptionally proud that a couple people I saw on the telecast underestimated what AJ is capable of in the car when they said he’s going to make a mistake. I heard a radio transmission, and I think it’s laughable. I’m glad he got to show the world what he’s capable of.             One other thing, I think it’s critical we did, and AJ can attest to this, I texted him 4 a.m. and said listen, we’ve been debating this for half an hour, and we’re going to change the order up. As long as you can sleep, we’re going to triple you guys out.             I think that call made between my two engineers and myself was the key to the race. AJ got to sleep, and he was asleep, confirmed by his manager. Once I knew he was asleep, I said okay, this could get really good, and it worked perfectly to our end. Wouldn’t you agree, AJ?             AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, it’s at that point it’s a 24-hour race, and by the time you get in, whether you’ve slept or not, you’re worn out and your body hurts, but just knowing that I could relax. Knowing that I didn’t sleep five hours, I only slept two, two and a half, all the energy’s flowing and you’re excited about having a chance to win the race, so to fall asleep is kind of tough.             But just the fact that I knew at 5 a.m. that I could lay in bed until 11:00 and whether I slept or not and just relax and be ready to go for that last three hours and knew what my job was just helped me out so much. So those guys did a good job for that.             All credit goes to John Pew and Justin Wilson, and Ozz Negri, because they put in tough hours so I could rest.   Q. We saw a good performance by the 6 car with the 24 finishing third. Do you have any plans to run that in future races, possibly at Indianapolis? MICHAEL SHANK: That’s a good question. And I want to say something. Unfortunately through all of this, those guys got overlooked here, and what they did is almost as big. Michael McDowell is the most well known veteran guy in that car, and he’s only 27 years old. So there are a bunch of 19 and 20-year-olds driving that thing that have never looked at a car that has to run 24 hours let alone drive one.             The great thing is they listened to us. They got behind because they had two flat tires in one run, actually, so they got a couple of laps down. They got all those laps back. Passed the Ganassi cars and got back on the lead lap.             So it was a great effort by them, And I don’t want to overlook the fact that they did a superior car in what we call an old car, a Gen 2 car that was at a disadvantage.             Now because of that disadvantage, I don’t know that I’ll run that car or not. I think we could have done a better job, possibly, equalizing the car to be quite honest. I don’t know if it would be fair to put someone in a G2 car. We’ll have to see, it will change on some down force tracks. I’m not sure what we’ll have to do with that is really the answer.   Q. AJ’s run was really great. What I really loved about it was hearing the radio conversation where he turned the 141 and says well, I think I’ll back it up and do it. That’s a driver in a zone. By the same token there are three other guys on the team, and they seem to be somewhat overshadowed by the quality of drive that AJ put in, and I know that’s not really the case. I know, Michael, that wouldn’t be your position either. Can you point out one or more instances where you felt like the other drivers contributed heavily? MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah, first off, John Pew had a real rough first stint. He didn’t like the car when he got out of it, and that concerned me a lot. So once he got ahold of it and Ozz got to coach him a little bit more, we made a couple adjustments to the car. John’s last stint there in the middle of the night was really, really good. As competitive as he can possibly be. So that was – and we needed it at the time because we needed to maintain our track position. So that was perfect.             I think when you look at Justin Wilson’s triple stint where he led, and you can maybe correct me, I don’t know. He probably led in the neighborhood of 70 to 80 laps and pulled the gap over.   Q. It was 84. MICHAEL SHANK: 84 laps. Almost 30, 28 to a 30-second lead when we decided to do a green flag brake pad change. That’s big. That’s epic. Finally, if you look at Ozz, and when he got bunched up with the group and had to battle McNish for all those laps, it just doesn’t get a whole lot better than that for Ozz. If you look at Ozz technically, what he did to manage that race with McNish, it’s amazing.             If you go back and look at the tape, you can literally see Ozz backing up into his grill so that he never could get runs on them, and that’s tough stuff. That’s all kind of a game of chess. So those three contributed in different ways.             AJ gets a lot of the attention because he’s our highest profile guy, and did one hell of a job. But we had certainly three other guys on there that AJ or I couldn’t have done this without.   Q. AJ, I heard from one of my associates earlier asking the question what your travel schedule is. How many times that you’ve been traveling the last couple of days have you looked at your Rolex? AJ ALLMENDINGER: Actually, to make sure I didn’t lose it, I gave it to my manager Tara to take it back home to Charlotte and have it fitted for me. I made sure in my travels I didn’t have an expensive watch sitting in my backpack as I was taking it through baggage claim or something.             So I haven’t seen it since Sunday, and I haven’t gotten confirmed that I’m going to see it when I get home. She might have just taken it for herself. I’m going to have to talk to her about that when I land on Thursday night.   Q. Speaking of better halves, Michael. There’s been a partner of yours that’s also been overlooked, and that’s Mary Beth. What exactly do you do to reward her with her having to put up with you for all these years? AJ ALLMENDINGER: Putting AJ on his head, I think. Making him look better.             MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah. You know, listen, I don’t know. She’s put up with a lot of crap from me over the years. There is no question. From running us out of money, to making us get loans for stuff we can’t afford. So she probably deserves something pretty special, that’s for sure.   Q. What would each of you regard as the most critical or most important decision that you made during the race? Michael, based on what you’ve learned from the previous years, how were you able to factor that into this year’s plan? AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think ultimately there’s not one moment where you say it’s critical. Over a 24-hour event there is so much stuff that happens that’s critical and that goes on.             But I think for me as a driver looking at it is the fact that not only myself, I was just a small part of it, but none of the drivers put a wheel wrong all 24 hours, which is tough to do with the GT traffic that was out there and all the stuff that was on the racetrack. I think that was the biggest deal to me. There was never a moment that the car was off the racetrack. That’s what you have to do to have a chance to win these races.             I think the big moment was when the 8 car went sailing through the bus stop and bounced through the dirt and destroyed the rear end, and they had to mess the body work up and messed the down force a little bit, and that gave us the opening we needed.             But all the guys, myself being a small part of it, there was never a wheel wrong. I got clipped at one point in the middle of the night by a GT car just a little bit, and other than that the McNish battle, I don’t think the car had a scratch on it. That to me was the biggest deal.             And just great pit stops and never having to have a pit stop out of sequence. Everything was as it was planned. Brake changes, tires and gas, and that was it.             MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah, I totally agree with him. There are several critical time things that happened that did contribute to it.  But obviously, the first and foremost thing is we didn’t even blow the radiator out. So that is how good the new cooling system is on the new Riley. That car just ran and ran and ran. Certainly no mistakes at all by the drivers lended a huge part of that.             Lastly, I’m just thinking back. One of the most stressful things for me is when we did our last brake pad change, we debated this for 20 minutes with my guys, because Justin had a 30-second lead, and we needed to do the brake change so we’d have it out of the way, and we decided to do a green flag front brake change.             Let me tell you something, that is the scariest moment of the race for me, because my guys, if they would have made one little mistake, dropped the brake pad, anything, we’d have been done. We’d have been cooked and we’d have been a lap behind.             The boys came in. We put AJ in the car, and he didn’t touch the brake pedal, which is very important on brake changes when he got in the car. So it went perfectly. It was so stressful. I couldn’t even get off the stand to watch the stop. I had to stay on the stand and put it in the hands of my guys and they got it done. I think that really sealed the deal up right there.   Q. Mike, you talked a little about the 6 car finishing third. If somebody would have said you’re going to have two cars on the podium, first and third going in, I don’t know, would you have believed them is the right terminology, but would you have thought that it was possible that you could win the 24? MICHAEL SHANK: No, probably not. About the 6 car you’re talking about, correct?   Q. Yes. MICHAEL SHANK: Yeah, the 6 car, I was really worried about that car with the young kid that are Indy Light drivers and open wheel formula guys, I was worried about them making a mistake, to be honest, and doing exactly what Leuer did in the 8 car. That’s happened to us many, many times.             We pounded it into these guys’ heads that they just cannot do these kind of maneuvers and overaggressive, and using the brakes up during the middle part of the race. And they listened to us.             I can’t believe it. The original splitters on the car, the only issue they had is they consumed more brake pads by about double than AJ’s car did, and John and Ozz. That was the only issue we had to deal with more on the 6 car.             Just extremely proud of those guys, and hopefully they take a lot away from it.   Q. AJ, you’ve won a lot of different things in your career, how does this win compare to them? AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think right now for me it’s the biggest win that I’ve ever had. Obviously, the first Champ Car win, I worked so hard for that, and that was a big deal. But over the last five years, just the ups and downs and more downs than ups that I’ve had and just the off-season that I’ve had, having a chance to join Penske, the whole organization and be a part of that, and have Roger Penske put his faith in me and say I can drive his race car and he wants me in it. It’s been big to me.             It’s been confidence building, but I think more than anything, for myself and Mike and everybody at Michael Shank Racing. For seven years, together we’ve worked this hard and stayed with Mike since 2004, to be the 50th anniversary, to have all the ups and downs that we’ve had before leading up to this point and having so many chances to win the race, and having something go wrong.             I think just the drive that everybody put in and the team effort, and as we said, nothing went wrong and then the car was amazing. Just having that build up to it, and first time really being part of a win that it’s four drivers, it’s a whole team, all that. To be able to share that with everybody on such a special race, to me it’s the biggest race I’ve been a part of.             The crowd there at the race, I mean, the infield was sold out. It was just a fun energy the whole weekend that we got there, and to end it the way we did was pretty amazing. So to me, it’s the biggest one I’ve ever had.             MICHAEL SHANK: Let me add one thing if I could. In 2008, and AJ’s not forgiving me through 2008, this should be our second D-24 win. I think it was ‘08.             AJ ALLMENDINGER: Oh, yeah.             MICHAEL SHANK: In ‘08, I came to him after the car was in the garage and it broke the suspension. I just said, listen, this is ridiculous. We’ve tried for three or four years at that point. Do what you need to do. If you can get a better ride than I’ve been able to provide you, go do it.             He looked at me and punched me in the arm and said shut up. We’re going to do this until we win this. And I’m just relieved that that got done. It shows you what kind of guy he is.             AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, to me, I’ve always said that I couldn’t imagine racing the 24 without Michael Shank. I mean, that to me – the group of guys that he puts together, it’s honestly between the two cars, I think it’s the same group of guys that I’ve had. And Mike, correct me if I’m wrong. But the same group of guys that I’ve seen for seven years.             It’s a small group of guys that work on these race cars and that he brings into this race. But it’s the same group. I couldn’t imagine trying to win it with somebody else.             To me, that’s what makes it special. You look at a guy – not taking anything away from Chip Ganassi. But he’s won so much stuff, and he’s won the 24 Hour before. He’s got a lot of money when it comes to his race teams and things like that can put a lot of different resources into it. Maybe it does matter just as much, but to me, I don’t think it does.             To see the look on Michael’s face after we won and Ozz and those guys, I couldn’t imagine doing that with anybody else.             So as he said, I told him, shut up. We’re going to win or die trying to do this. So I didn’t want to hear it from him. I knew we’ve had the chance, and he kept putting together great race cars and great race teams. So I knew we’d have this opportunity. It was the 50th anniversary, a perfect way to get it.   Q. AJ, is this your first win in a car with fenders on it? AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, unfortunately, thanks for that.  Yeah, first official win. Yeah, thanks.   Q. AJ, you’ve excelled in Kart, now in NASCAR being with Penske and everything. Did you ever think down the road you might go to IndyCar? AJ ALLMENDINGER: Back to IndyCar? No, not if I can help it. I love being part of the Sprint Cup Series. I had my time in open wheel racing. It’s something that I’ll always cherish. But to me Sprint Cup racing is the reason I went there is because I think it’s the toughest racing series in the world. That’s why I want to be a part of it.             I struggled for five years to get to this point and have a chance with the Penske organization with a great team to go out there and try to win races and make the Chase and win a championship. I’m going to keep working on that.             There is a long ways to go before I reach that goal and the things that I have to do to be happy in my career. But for me, I still love open wheel racing. That’s why I have a partnership with Mike Shank and his IndyCar team.             I’m going to enjoy being a part of that, and hopefully seeing it grow to where it’s a competitive race team, and we can go out there and contend for victories during the IndyCar Series, and be able to watch that from my bus at home at the racetracks or wherever I’m at to be a part of that.             I still have a huge interest in open wheel racing, and being a part of the Penske organization. I told Roger, I’m not going to be dumb if he offers me to try to do the double, I’m not going to say no. But that’s about as much interest as I have.   Q. AJ, last year at Daytona at the Daytona 500, we saw a lot of close front end to tail racing. Will this year be the same or now that the drivers are familiar with the track surface and how the cars can handle it, will things be different do you think? AJ ALLMENDINGER: I’m not really sure. NASCAR’s doing a lot to try to make the two-car tandem go away. They’re really working hard. They’ve gotten it closer to where we can pack draft again. But at the test it was still a two-car tandem kind of thing. If you wanted to go out there and run some fast laps, you couldn’t do it as long.             But they’ve done a lot of stuff since we left Daytona. I’m really looking forward to getting back to speed weeks and seeing how the cars are going to handle in the Bud Shootout.             I still think it will be two-car tandem racing with some big pack mixed into it. I could be wrong though. We’ll see when we get there.   Q. Mike, can you explain to the fans – they think start of a new season, you just jumped into a car and have the driver jump into a car and start it off. Can you tell them how many changes you have to get used to from decisions by the pit crew and the manufacturers during the off-season? MICHAEL SHANK: Oh, yeah. Everything that happened this weekend started three months ago, four months ago in multiple trips to Charlotte from our base in Columbus to make sure we have the cars right. We put a lot of effort into strategy.             So every year whether we won it like this year or crashed out of it a couple different years, we take away from that and put it in our book. We have a seven-page thing we go over with all the guys, whether it’s the drivers or the crew, and we learn from that book on stuff not to do.             But in general, Ford Motor Company is a great partner of ours for five years now. Their engineering staff do a heck of a job with us trying to make the car better. In fact, we’re using some technology they use in Cup now with bump rubbers on our Daytona Prototype, which AJ had never felt before. The first time he drove the car with the bump rubbers was in December, actually.             We’re using some technology from NASCAR that we get through Ford Racing, and a lot of that preparation happened October, November, December, which led to the delivery of the car mid-December, and us taking it directly to Daytona for the first test. Which, by the way, I remember in December when AJ did the first run with the car, and he came in and he was smiling. I pretty much knew we were good right at that point. Well, we had down force in the car at the time too.

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