Driver Spotlight: Joey Hand
Driver: No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford
What were your impressions of the Rolex 24 and your first race as a full-time Ganassi/Ford driver?
“It’s kind of what I expected. Luckily for me, coming to a new program, it wasn’t that new program for me, having driven for the team and drivers going back nearly four years. It was only one race a year but you get a good feeling for the program. That was the cool part about it when this came up. I had still had relationships with the mechanics, texting and Facebook stuff…
“The biggest thing from the 24 was that instead of just being a one race guy, I now was the guy that was going to be there all year long, fighting for the championship. It’s a slightly different role. You spend more time in the car and look ahead a little bit more. But everything went good as far as getting in a groove. I really enjoy the team. It’s definitely a place for me. It’s my style of guys.”
What made you want to come back to U.S. racing full-time?
“That deal [DTM] had run its course. I pretty much had enough of it. There’s a lot of stuff, from the travel… It was a big travel event for me going back and forth 20 or 25 times a year. It’s not like I’m going to be home that much more by racing in the U.S. But going four or five hour across the country is a big difference from going 14 or 15 hours across the ocean and how hard it is on the body.
“Another factor was that is just wasn’t my style of racing. I’m more of the opposite of the spectrum where I want to fight to the end, with the fenders hanging off the car and the toe not right but you can still make something of it. That’s my style of racing. I just struggled sometimes with just one little thing could be the end of your race. It was a tough series. I had good days there but I had bad days there too, just like any racing driver.
“I don’t regret any part of it. I’m very thankful that I got to do it and BMW gave me the chance. But I was ready to come home and do my thing again. It just all kind of worked out.”
Have you been impressed with Ford’s level of involvement in the program?
“I think it’s a really cool program. Ford’s really involved. There’s a lot of Ford guys around. I’m trying to learn a lot of names. From what I hear, Ford has come a long way from where they were last year. The fact they had so many struggles at the Roar and 24 last year and to come out running flawless, on the engine side, was all good. It’s a good sign for us for going through the season.”
How’s it been working with Scott Pruett, especially the both of you being from Sacramento?
“I’ve never had a teammate so close. It’s very unusual to have a teammate in the same city. We’re on the opposite ends, but it’s 45 minutes from his house to mine. He can see a landmark that’s right next to my house. That’s pretty cool.
“The biggest thing, and I don’t always like to say this in front of Scott, but I grew up watching him throughout different parts of his career, like Trans-Am, IndyCar and I remember his stint in NASCAR. I also remember the parts where I raced him in Daytona Prototype when I was driving the Ruby Tuesday car, I had some pretty badass, knock-down fights with him.
“Now being able to be teamed up with him, I’m pretty lucky. I’ve had some great teammates in endurance racing, I was teamed up with Hans Stuck, Bill Auberlen and Boris Said. I think it’s made me a better road racing guy. Scott can still wheel and he also has a ton of experience that I can learn even more. However long he does it, I don’t know. But as long as he’s around, I’m excited to learn from him.”
Having recently reached the highest-tier of frequent flyer status on both United and Delta, what are some of your tricks for killing time in airplanes?
“As much as I travel, you’d think I’d know every trick in the book. I’m still searching for that trick! I’m Global Services on United, a million-miler, I’m Delta Diamond 360, which is the top 1 percent on Delta. When you fly that way, all of the perks really helps. For me, I enjoy flying. I don’t mind the whole travel thing, especially when you have the perks.
“I load up a bunch of video on my iPad Mini. I also carry my MacBook and sometimes watch stuff on there. But my most recent thing is that I’m doing audiobooks because regular books put me to sleep. I’m listening to ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ because everyone swore I should read it. It’s not just one thing but a lot of things.”