Atlanta Chevrolet Saturday Notes

Saturday, March 13, 1999. Atlanta Motor Speedway. Cracker Barrel 500 advance material. Chevrolet notes and quotes. GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I'm confident we can win a race. This isn't my track. I should have...

Saturday, March 13, 1999. Atlanta Motor Speedway. Cracker Barrel 500 advance material. Chevrolet notes and quotes.

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I'm confident we can win a race. This isn't my track. I should have won a couple of races here, but it's been Bobby Labonte's track here lately. We run good here, and we can win a race. We can win this race. People compare us to the multi-car teams, and if you're not one you don't have a chance. Ricky Rudd has proved that's wrong. He wins a race every year. Things have changed since I was part of a multi-car team. Tim Richmond and I were successful with a multi-car team, but no one made a big deal about it because there weren't many multi-car teams back then. Back in those days we did win, but things were so much different back then. Today we all know the advantages multi-car teams have, and it's hard for a single-car team to overcome some of those. Why are we running good and competitive? It's people. We have people with experience here. It's a brand new team and a single-car team. The cards are stacked against us even to make races, but we're making races and running good and it's because of the people with experience that we're doing that. Of course, some good old-fashioned hard work doesn't hurt, either. I feel like we can win.

"You need a near-perfect race these days to win for anyone. Experience has helped the 24 team tremendously. I don't know all the key players there. We all hear Gordon and Evernham, but I'm sure plenty of other guys are helping those two guys make the changes and adjustments they need during the race. That's where Jim Long (crew chief) and I have to be real careful and calculated. It's going to take us awhile to be as good as they are during race adjustments to get better. I say that, but we've done really well. At Las Vegas we made a few adjustments, at Rockingham, too, and we were good at both of those races. We can win, but it's going to take a little luck. It does for anybody. It's going to take a good car, but whoever wins has to have a good car. We have good equipment, good pit stops and a driver who wants to win.

"Maybe I'm a little surprised with the success we've had so far, but this is the way it's supposed to be. You're supposed to get in a race car and make the right decisions on chassis, driving. Where we're really good is with our people. That's the bottom line. If they don't give the driver a good car, the driver can't be a good driver. We have been very fortunate to put together a team of good people. If you ask that question of anyone in here, they'll tell you it takes people to make a good team.

"I took chemistry during fifth period in high school. It isn't chemistry. It's communication. It's all related, but communication is the key. They have to have confidence in you, and you have to have confidence in them. It's just a total package. That's the way it's supposed to be. Jim Long and I worked together with Gary Nelson and I back in the Levi Garrett days. We had a working relationship in our past. Jim has worked with a lot of drivers the past few years and has won races. He's learned a tremendous amount. He's the catalyst behind all this. He's hired all the people and directed them and led this team. Joe Bessey has been in the front office getting the business part done. He's had help up there. I've been with Jim and behind the steering wheel. Things have happened so quickly, we really don't know how it's all happened. Jim has his duties. Joe, myself, we all have our duties. If anybody hadn't been doing what they needed to do, we wouldn't be at this point right now. Everyone has been so busy working, and it's just fallen into place. It gets down to people. Without the right people Saturday, March 13, 1999. Atlanta Motor Speedway. Cracker Barrel 500 advance material. Chevrolet notes and quotes. that wouldn't have happened.

"I thought the race in November here was awesome. It was competitive, a lot of action, safe. Whoever is saying some track is too fast apparently is not a racer because racing is speed and speed is racing. We raced here in November. I was totally impressed with the competition last November with the lower air dams and higher spoilers. It was great, side by side. I never thought you would see it here. Texas is similar to this track and people are going to go there and probably say it's too fast. It is fast, but again, speed is part of racing. I'm not against speed. I like it. I'd like to be able to race on it, and I think NASCAR, with their spoiler rules and air dams, have made it racy now. We've seen really good races at Rockingham and Vegas. I think you'll see another good race here.

"I enjoyed the night race here. This race should be later in the spring and at night. It should be a night race. They put these lights up. Let's use 'em. It was such a good race last November. This time of the year it's pretty tough to race at night. It's tough to race in the daytime. Let's change the date. Maybe switch it with Texas or something. I'd like to see this race at a different time of the year so we wouldn't have to deal with this bad weather and they could race at night. Both races are at the wrong time of the year here at Atlanta.

"Geoffrey is my real name. My mother named me that when I was born and spelled it with a G. I guess she did that to be different. It cursed me for awhile when I was in high school. I got called a lot of names because of the spelling. When I got into Winston Cup, I believe I was the only Geoff. It stayed that way for quite awhile. Now we have three or four others. You have a lot of Mikes and Joes and Petes and all that and Dales. I like to be different. Walking down pit road and the garage, the fans call out your name. If you're walking with Gordon or Burton or Green, everybody turned around and you really didn't know who they wanted. Of course, you knew if you were with Gordon it was really him. I've got to start winning some races to it'll be me. I've got a different spelling and if I use the full name, well, if somebody says Jeff now, I don't even look. If they say Geoffrey, I turn around and I know it's me. Joe Bessey has always called me Geoffrey, but the race fans are having fun with it. It was something to talk about during the winter time. I didn't think it would get as much play as it did. It got quite a bit. My mother is happy, too, because she's always called me Geoffrey.

"If I'm good behind the steering wheel and we're good with the chassis and good with the pit stops, we can win here Sunday. Nothing different. We'll have to beat the same guys with maybe one or two others in there. Hopefully, I'll be one of them. I don't know what the record number of winners is in a season, but it can't be too many. The same guys have always won the majority of races. That's just the way it's always been. The things Gordon and his team have done the past two years have been astonishing. I believe that's over, that kind of domination. They're not doing it now, not yet. There's a lot of racing left. I think the competition has stepped up a little bit. I know it has because we're here.

"A top 20 in points would be good for us this year. A top 15 would be pretty good. A top 10 would be great, and a top five would be awesome. A win would make the season. Two wins would just blow everybody away. I'm a pretty realistic guy, and I feel like we're a team that can win. The last few years Saturday, March 13, 1999. Atlanta Motor Speedway. Cracker Barrel 500 advance material. Chevrolet notes and quotes. have been pretty tough on me mentally and physically. Business-wise and personally, I've had just about everything dumped on me that I could. It's made me a tougher, stronger person. I'm not glad it happened, but I am a better person now. I'll be 50 in April, Martinsville Sunday. I've got to win that race. That would be awesome."

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)

"We have good memories from the last time we were here, that's for sure. It's going real well for us, like the last time we were here. The car feels very similar and the track feels very similar. I'm sure some other guys have gotten better, but as far as the weather, we can't control that. We just go when it's clear. The good thing is we got through the practice this morning. I think most people think it's Happy Hour and the overcast and cool weather is going to be similar to what we're racing in, whether we're racing at day or night."

COMMENT ON DONALD TRUMP'S ANNOUNCEMENT

"I think it's very exciting. Everybody knows when we go to New York for the banquet, it's an exciting city yet a lot of people don't know what Winston Cup racing is. They're encouraged and fans are up there, but the only way we're going to get their attention is to have a facility up there. I think between Bill France and Donald Trump I think they can get the type of attention. My biggest question is who's going to lose a date? I do not want to see another race added. It's not so much for me. It's more for the team. These guys are just running with their tongues hanging out right now. They can't afford to run another race. I think it's ridiculous to say, 'oh, we'll just add another race, no problem. You just add some more personnel.' The costs are continuing to go up, and that's not something that's going to help us. I don't want to see anybody lose a date, but I think that's the only way we should be going to another venue. We should be going to New York for sure.

"I just know him (Trump) from him coming to the race track. He's become a big race fan and I had talked to him and knew he wanted to do something like this. The best way for him to do it is to get involved with ISC. I'm happy about the announcement. If I can be involved with it some way by having a Winston Cup race there, then I'll look forward to that."

COMMENT ON NEXT WEEK'S RACE AT DARLINGTON

"It's a tough old track (Darlington), and Ray and the guys give me good equipment there. I think no matter how good the car is, you still have to fine-tune on it all day long, a lot of communication. The driver has got to be able to change the way he drives the car all day long. It's almost like a slick dirt track where you start out on the bottom of the track, not necessarily in three and four, but you can start out on the bottom in one and two and run a little different line in three and four, or I guess vice versa, I thinking of the old track. As the track starts to go away, you start running up high and start changing your line the way you approach the corners. I think the drivers who like to search around do well at Darlington.

"Right now, with the track record we have there, that's why it means so much to me, to be able to do it at a track that has a lot of history and prestige and notoriety among the drivers and crew members in the garage area. That's the type of respect you want to earn, respect among your peers. I think when you win a race at Darlington, you earn that respect."

WHAT DO YOU DO DURING A RAIN DELAY?

"Play video games, make sure that I eat right. I guess I'm over there in the NASCAR truck a little more than normal trying to see what the weather is going to do. If that can help me plan ahead a little bit, I'll be kind of Saturday, March 13, 1999. Atlanta Motor Speedway. Cracker Barrel 500 advance material. Chevrolet notes and quotes. geared up and ready to do whatever, whether it means race or rest or play video games or whatever it might be."

WHAT SIZE NEW TRACKS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE BUILT?

"Anything from a mile and three-eighths to a two-mile track is big enough to put the type of people and the number of people in the grandstands. You've got to put a good race track down there, too. I think if I were building a race track, I'm coming from a driver's point of view, I would build a facility that first and foremost is going to put on a great race. I would look at Michigan, California, Richmond, Las Vegas. I would look at all the tracks that allow side-by-side racing, two and three wide. Then I'd build the grandstands around that to put the maximum amount of people I can.

"Until they come out with a new type of machine that lays the pavement down, I think Michigan accidentally got it perfect. They built a great race track, but I don't think they realized it. The first thing when you build a new race track, the shortest way around is always going to be the fastest and the majority of cars are going to go to the bottom. You have to make the middle and the top grooves higher banking so when you get side by side when you run a higher line that you can run faster. You have to run faster when you run a higher banked turn to be able to run the same speed as the guy around the bottom. At Michigan, it's actually flatter on the bottom than it is at the top. I don't know if they meant to do that, but they did. Vegas has some of the same characteristics. The bottom is very flat. It somehow seems to gain a little bit of banking as you get up in the corners, so is that because the track settled or what? I don't know. Maybe some tracks just get lucky and some maybe plan for that. That's why it would be nice to find a banking machine that can build that radius into it.

"Most race tracks put on their best race about the second or third year. The pavement wears off and the groove starts to change and you can run a little bit higher up. You don't have to stick the car down at the bottom. It's tough to get that perfect scenario when you build a new race track. I think Richmond is probably one of the best race tracks we've got, one of the best all-around race wise where you're going to see the best race. I think they wish their track was bigger so they could fit a lot more people in there.

"We're too fast (at Atlanta) if you break or get in a wreck. In a straight line, it's no different than Talladega. The speeds are too fast when something happens. As long as nothing happens, this place can be safe. If you're in the middle of the corner running 190 plus miles per hour, that's pretty fast if something happens. I'm pretty happy. I feel like our last test here when we tested with Bobby and Mark, I learned a lot. We got our car better and we've shown it the last couple of times we've been here."

IS THERE PARITY IN THE SPORT NOW?

"If you look at the results of the last two races, I'd say yes. I was a little nervous about halfway through Vegas last weekend because I was the first Chevy and I was running 10th. I personally think the Pontiacs have the best car right now. The Fords are really good and the Chevrolets seem to be pretty close. Our Chevrolets seems to be competitive and that's what matters to me right now."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Tim Richmond