Driver Profile: Scott Pruett
Driver, No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing w/Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost DP
How is the progress of the EcoBoost engine coming along?
“It’s massive, how far we’ve come in a very short period of time. The amount of work involved in changing the car over first and foremost, with the EcoBoost engine, you’ve gone from an aspirated engine to a Twin Turbo V6, intercoolers, and all that goes with it so it’s been a massive change.
“With that everybody who’s ever driven a turbo engine in the past has always talked about response time, boost control, so we talk about that quite often but from Long Beach coming (to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca) how much gain we’ve made in response time, drivability, reliability, fuel economy. Even from Daytona to now we’ve probably done four to five upgrades from there.”
You have a new co-driver this year with Joey Hand. Does it become easier or harder to adapt?
“It all depends on the co-driver. Joey and I are great friends anyway. He’s from the other side of Sacramento and even though he’s 20 years younger than I am we have mutual friends, mutual friends around racing and all the stuff we’ve done over the years has gone down the same, mutual path. The fact that he’s been with Ganassi, he drove with us in the long races the last couple of years, his integration with the team is good and he’s a great talent.”
What direction do you see the Prototype class moving?
“The future, most certainly, is P2 cars. It’s very difficult for teams like ours and some of the other teams out here like Wayne Taylor, Action Express, to buy a new car for one year. The reality is with the Daytona Prototypes, if you want to be competitive, this will be the last year.
“If you truly want to go out and win races next year, you have to be driving a P2 car. It’s inevitable. If you look at DP technology, it’s 10 to 12 years old now. If you look at the P2 cars, they are new technology, whether it’s the Ligier or the Oreca, that’s all leading edge, state-of-the-art.
“Change is always inevitable. Technology drives racing so ultimately I think it’s going to be a good thing. The transition part is just clumsy for everyone right now.”
How difficult is it to adapt from a natural road course to a street course like Detroit Belle Isle?
“It’s significant. Going to Detroit, everyone loves Detroit. If you’re involved with a major manufacturer, Ford, Chevrolet, that’s home and it’s great to be able to race there. It’s an incredibly important city for us especially with Ford being headquartered there.
“The track itself, being out on an island, it has its challenges. It’s tough, it’s unforgiving and it cost us a championship two years ago when we got caught up in a bad mess. I love going to Detroit, but the last three years we haven’t got to the checkered flag, hopefully this year we can.”
You and your wife have authored children’s books. What inspired that and are there plans to do more?
“We joke, we’ve done four children’s books and my wife and I say we’ve done something for the kids, now we’re doing something for the adults with the wine. With our kids, all the mechanics, and everyone else in and around motorsports at some level, if you look to go buy a racing book that was authentic and realistic, there was nothing out there. So my wife and I sat down and started putting together a counting down book.
“It was fun, we started at Twelve Little Race Cars and went from 12 to 11 to 10 to nine, and it was all things that happened to me like crashing, breaking an engine, etc. A lot of it was driven because of our kids. Then we did Rookie Racers, an inspirational story about believing in your dreams and anything can happen. You just have to keep focused on never giving up and believing in yourself.
“From there we went to Racing Through the Alphabet, an ABC book. We looked for words around racing and presented it to our kids at the time, and a few others. You would take the letter k for example and put several words in front of the kids and ask them what they found interesting. So they chose Kevlar. So in writing the book not only did we choose things around race cars, we had interaction with kids to find out what intrigued them. It’s been my wife’s passion and we’ve got a couple more in the works.”