Hauling Race Cars To West Coast A Big Effort
The Daytona 500 is in the rearview mirror and now the rest of the NASCAR season begins in earnest with back-to-back races out west at Phoenix International Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There are a number of logistics involved in getting cars and crews across country and Penske Racing’s Competition Director, Travis Geisler, talked to Ford Racing about their plan for the next two weeks.
TRAVIS GEISLER, Competition Director, Penske Racing – WHAT IS THIS WEEK LIKE AS FAR AS GETTING BACK FROM DAYTONA AND HAVING TO PREPARE FOR TWO STRAIGHT WEEKENDS OUT WEST? “It’s definitely a busy week. The road guys have been gone for a week-and-a-half and pretty much get home on Sunday night. The truck gets back either late Sunday night or early Monday morning and the first thing Monday morning everything gets swapped out because everybody knows the trailer has to leave again by around noon on Tuesday. Essentially, the work of getting everything out from the speedway race and everything in for a short track race goes on within about a day-and-a-half. Our Phoenix cars get the final prep from the race teams during that time, so they’ve been really focused on getting all of our Phoenix stuff ready. Most of the guys were here on Monday night until about seven or eight o’clock getting everything polished up and then Tuesday morning, we’re ready to load them up and send those trucks on the way.
“As soon as they’re gone, everybody will shift focus towards the Vegas cars, which are sitting here complete other than just the usual things the race teams like to do as kind of their final prep -- the nut-and-bolt check and some of the things the guys that are gonna work on the car at the track like to go through to make sure they’re comfortable. They’ll start all that stuff Tuesday afternoon and finish that up Wednesday afternoon sometime, and then those cars will get loaded into a six-car hauler that we have and will likely leave for Phoenix after close of business on Thursday.
“On Thursday morning we all fly out at 8 a.m. The Nationwide garage is open Thursday, so we’ll all leave early Thursday morning, and Nationwide will go to the garage and that day will probably be a day of sleep for most of the Cup guys. And then following the race we’ll swap our parts and equipment between our Phoenix and Vegas stuff and that will all head up to Vegas. We’ll head home and then leave again on Wednesday for our Thursday test session there.
HOW MANY DRIVERS WILL YOU HAVE PER TRANSPORTER TO GET THE CARS TO PHOENIX? “All of our trucks will go to the west coast with two drivers. Staying legal is obviously very important to us with our Penske logistics and Penske Truck Leasing. We definitely follow all of the DOT regulations, so we’ll have two guys in the truck and they’ll run pretty much non-stop.
HAVING TO BUILD ALL NEW CARS HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE DURING THE OFF-SEASON. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU ARE NOW IN TERMS OF YOUR FLEET? “I think you’d always like to be more prepared. I think it’s the kind of thing where if you gave us five hours to get ready, we’d use five hours and 10 minutes. If you gave us two days, we’d use two days and 10 minutes. I think that’s kind of always the way racers work. You always want to continue to refine and make yourself better until the very end, but I do feel that we are pretty well prepared considering the circumstances. I think the fact that our race teams will have time to work on both their Phoenix and Vegas cars before they ship out is a very good thing. The important thing to me is that those guys have their time with it so they’re comfortable with what they’re taking to the track. The crew chiefs have a chance to look everything over and make sure they know what they have and that kind of puts everybody at ease, but it is certainly a challenge. This is one of the tougher years to have all of your equipment ready and the beginning of the schedule certainly uses up a lot of cars just in transit, so, overall, I do feel pretty well prepared. I think we’re in good position to handle this initial onslaught of races on the west coast. I think that all of us will really benefit if we can get through with some cars in one piece from the race to help the schedule after this. These cars are earmarked for different things down the road, so if you don’t have to put as much work into them, the better off you are as far as your scheduling and your car count.”
YOU’VE HAD A DAY OR SO TO ASSESS DAYTONA. HOW DID YOU COME THROUGH SPEEDWEEKS FROM A CAR PERSPECTIVE? “I feel like we were very fortunate. If you look at what some other people went through, we were on the lucky side. I would say that every car that raced is pretty much a complete re-body. Everything got damaged, but it all waited until the very end, fortunately. Brad and Sam both wrecked at the very end of the Nationwide race, but both cars were there and in contention to win, so that’s what you go there for. The Cup cars were no different. Joey’s Shootout car was unscathed. His 500 car was unscathed through all the events until the last lap of the race. If you can do that, you’re doing pretty well. You can’t ask for anything better than that out of the guys, so I think, overall, we were very fortunate not to need any back-up cars throughout all of Speedweeks with Nationwide or Cup, so I’ll take that and call that a pretty lucky adventure.”