Johnson: Business as usual amid Penske talk
Dick Johnson has declared it business as usual at his iconic team amid continued speculation of a possible link-up with American racing giant Team Penske.
Team Penske president Tim Cindric confirmed to Speedcafe.com last week that Penske remains keen to extend its involvement in the championship, which currently sees it supplying trucks to Ford Performance Racing and Triple Eight.
The comments heightened speculation over Penske’s plans within the V8 Supercars paddock at the weekend, with many hopeful that the squad will make the move into team ownership and, possibly, bring with it a new manufacturer.
Despite Cindric admitting that a big-dollar Ford deal for its V8 Supercars entry does not appear to be forthcoming, existing Blue Oval squads Dick Johnson Racing and FPR continue to be linked to possible Penske takeovers.
Cindric and Penske visited DJR headquarters last year to meet with the team and V8 Supercars representatives, while DJR staff, including Johnson himself, also travelled to the USA.
“We’re a long way from doing anything to be honest, at this point in time,” Johnson told Speedcafe.com when asked if he’s considering selling his team.
“We’re just taking it meeting by meeting and just seeing where everything goes.
“At this point in time, as far as I’m concerned, nothing’s changing.”
The 68-year-old has operated DJR as a professional racing team since 1980, winning five championships from the drivers’ seat before his retirement 15 years ago.
Battling several health problems in recent times, Johnson still attends the majority of the season’s events and says he enjoys his current place in the V8 Supercars world.
“I enjoy motor racing, I always have,” he said.
“The days certainly get longer (as you get older), but it’s enjoyable, especially when you come back and get reasonable results.
“I’ll never give it away completely, I’ll just see what time does,” he added
“I’ll still be around while our team is still here, but in saying that, who knows what the future holds?”
Having recovered from the latest in a series of financial crises last year, DJR now enjoys an increasingly solid commercial and technical platform.
While DJR’s current cars were built by Pace Innovations and feature much FPR customer equipment, its Stapylton, Queensland, facility retains the capacity to run an expanded, in-house program.
“We’ve been very mindful of what it takes to build a proper team,” said Johnson of his team’s facility.
“I’m proud of the fact that we can still do everything in-house, which is more than I can say for a lot of the teams.
“We really don’t have to be dependent on anyone, and I’m sure that’s something that is looked at.”
DJR drivers David Wall and Scott Pye currently sit 15th and 19th in the V8 Supercars Championship respectively, with the former having been the top qualifying Ford at Symmons Plains last Sunday.