Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, March 29, 2005 Ray Evernham and Erin Crocker RAY EVERNHAM (President and CEO Evernham Motorsports) HOW DO YOU BALANCE DRIVER DEVELOPMENT AND DIVERSITY PROGRAMS? "It's difficult because of the...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Ray Evernham and Erin Crocker
RAY EVERNHAM (President and CEO Evernham Motorsports)
HOW DO YOU BALANCE DRIVER DEVELOPMENT AND DIVERSITY PROGRAMS?
"It's difficult because of the funding. You never have enough to go around to concentrate on everything you want to concentrate on in racing. You've got to be able to manage change, so it is difficult, but there comes a time when you've got to carve out a piece of a budget or a piece of time no matter what that is and say we're going to develop some of that to diversity and some of it to future driver development. We're still building our Busch team, so I don't know that we're in the stage yet where we can develop drivers to go into the Cup car, so it's a good time to be using that to develop drivers to go into the Cup car and work on our diversity issues. We're hoping with Erin we can kill two boards with one stone. She fits into the diversity side, but I also think she's talented enough to eventually become one of our fulltime drivers."
HOW WOULD YOU GRADE THE CUP TEAMS SO FAR THIS SEASON?
"A report card is a report card. You've got to grade in a lot of different areas. We've really based on everything we saw over the winter and the effort we put in, I felt we should have been better. We felt like the new Dodge was better, our teams were stronger, on paper we were better. When we went and tested by ourselves we were fast. We felt like we did everything right, yet when we got to the racetrack our cars were really bad in traffic. We missed the aerodynamic balance somewhere. As far as effort trying to find out what it's going to take to turn it around, we're a strong organization. We've got a good plan and again, people are giving it a great effort. Technically I think we're doing things right. Effort-wise I'd give everybody an A-plus. Our performance has been a C at best, and we've got to change that. Today, I've got two cars testing at Texas, the 9 and 91. the 19 is in Phoenix. We've got a car in the wind tunnel. Last week we were testing at Kentucky. We've been using the Busch car and the ARCA car helping us gain some things. Again, the effort and plan I'd give us an A-plus, but our performance has been a C at best."
HOW DID ERIN CROCKER'S PERFORMANCE FEEL FOR YOU LAST WEEK?
"It was fun. It's fun watching somebody new going through the ropes and learning some things. It's fun to be around her and even be around Kasey in the Busch car. There's a lot of high pressure up on the Cup side. Since I don't play golf or fish or hunt, I can go hang out with them and play with the ARCA car and Busch car a little bit. I think she's got a lot of potential. She's fast. We've just got to get her some experience. Who knows how far she can go? We've just got to make sure we keep her in good equipment and don't try to move her along too quickly."
HOW GOOD IS THE CHARGER AND HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET IT RIGHT?
"I can't answer what the other manufacturers are doing, but the new Dodge is a good car. It's a better car. It wants something different, and I think we've all struggled with that a little bit. The new nose is better. The results were better for everybody at Daytona. I think it's the best overall run the Dodges have had in some time, but the finishes, because of the crashes and things like that.... The new nose seems a little pit sensitive. Along with the changes NASCAR made in the back of the car, we've just missed out balance. I still believe when we get the balance on the car where we want it we have a better car than we had last year. Again, with anything new it catches you off guard a little bit."
COMMENT ON YOUR BOXING
"I don't know if that's relaxing some days, getting punched in the face by a guy that's 20 years younger than you. That's not a lot of fun some days, but it's a stress reliever. I haven't really been able to pursue it as much as I did in the summertime. I trained really hard in the summer and had a couple of fights. I injured my elbows and they're trying to get that stuff to calm down before they have to operate on it. I've been doing some light training. I'm still doing it to try to stay in physical condition, but I'm not sure when my next fight will be or can be. A lot of that depends on what they decide with my elbows. It's great to get in shape. You do things that are physically challenging, mentally challenging and it's not like just going lifting weights or running. It's a good routine, and I've met a lot of interesting characters through boxing and made a lot of new friends. Again, it's a great sport. I'm certainly too old to think about becoming the next middleweight champion of the world, but it is something I enjoy and something I hope I can give back to my training and fight some white collar fights."
IS THE DAY COMING WHEN A CUP TEAM WON'T BE ABLE TO KEEP UP WITHOUT A FEEDER SYSTEM?
"I think it's here. You look at Hendrick and you look at Roush. They were the first guys to do it and make it work successfully and they're on the top of the heap right now. The day is here and the rest of us who are just getting into it are a day behind."
HOW MUCH ADDED COST IS INVOLVED WITH A FEEDER PROGRAM?
"It depends on the level you're trying to do it at and the number of races you're running. You look at what you're spending on a Busch program and what we're spending on the ARCA races and Silver Crown races, it's several million dollars between those two programs."
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A YOUNG DRIVER?
"You certainly look for someone who's fast in different types of cars, somebody that's fast on different surfaces and really knows how to race, has that racing IQ and knows what it takes. There are guys and girls out there that have that savvy. It's one thing to go fast, but it's another to know how to race."
WHY HAS JACK ROUSH EMERGED AT THE TOP OF THE HEAP?
"It's not like Jack and I ever had tea together, but there was always a mutual respect of what he accomplished and I think he respected me for what I accomplished as a crew chief and team leader. You've got to respect the guy for what he's built. He's stuck to his guns. He's done things his way, and sometimes that was a little different than what other people were doing, but he persevered with the multi-car teams. He persevered when the performance was up and down. He certainly went through a major personal tragedy with the plane crash he was in. The guy has persevered and did things his way and set the plan again on driver development coming up through the truck series and Busch series. Love him or hate him, you've got to respect him for what he's brought to the sport, and I respect him for being able to persevere when a lot of people were telling him he was doing things the wrong way."
DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT OUTLOOK ON ROUSH NOW THAN WHEN YOU WERE A CREW CHIEF?
"I've got a different outlook on a lot of things."
IS THE BUSCH PART OF ERIN CROCKER'S PROGRAM STILL INTACT?
"We're going to run her in some Busch races, but she's got some Silver Crown races that she needs to run and those cars are definitely hard to drive, lots of horsepower, no downforce. She's got some more ARCA races and she's probably going to do some more testing for us. We're going to make sure when she makes her Busch debut that she's in a good, competitive car and make sure the timing is right. We're kinda looking toward the end of the year. I know people are talking about IRP and some other tracks. We're trying to decide which tracks will be best for her, and she'll run a minimum of three Busch races."
COULD CROCKER POSSIBLY RUN THE 6 CAR LATER IN THE YEAR?
"We're looking at that for sure. Right now, we're going to keep our Cup guys in it. Mike Wallace is going to run it for me this weekend. We're trying to make sure we get the team stable and get it built up in points. For the next four or five races, you'll see Jeremy and Kasey swapping around on it and Mike Wallace helping us out."
CAN YOU TELL A BRISTOL STORY?
"With Jeff (Gordon) we won the spring race four years in a row and I think we crashed in the night race four years in a row. It's just a place you can be really good and get caught up in somebody else's problem in a heartbeat. Bristol is much a crap shoot as anything else. You've got to have a good car and stay out front, but I don't think there's anybody that can say they've consistently come out of Bristol unscathed. It's a track you worry about, but it's all part of the game. It's like being in a bull fight with half a dozen bulls. We do that twice a year. You have to race Bristol differently than you race every other race."
WHAT SEPARATES ERIN FROM OTHER WOMEN TRYING TO COMPETE IN NASCAR?
"I really don't know what separated her because there have been some other girls that have done well, but she's extremely talented. When she drives a World of Outlaws Sprint Car, to me that's one of the hardest cars in the world to drive. She's very aggressive. She's the only lady to ever win a World of Outlaws race. She qualifies good with those things. You have to be very aggressive to run one of those cars and run competitive. Those guys are tough, all of them. That kind of speed and ability is something that just doesn't come lightly, and I think she proved that again the other day really not having a lot of experience to go as fast as she did qualifying in just one lap at Nashville was pretty impressive. She really has very few laps on pavement, and she got better and better all race long. I think that with the pass she made on Chad Bount she can be pretty aggressive when she needs to be."
DOES IT HELP THAT SHE'S A SMART DRIVER?
"I've always said the best drivers are normally the smartest guys on the racetrack. You can check off the top of the list. One of the best, if not the best Cup drivers is Jeff Gordon and he's one of the smartest guys you'll ever meet. Definitely intelligence is a big part of driving a racecar."