BILL DAVIS (Car owner Bill Davis Racing Dodge Intrepid R/Ts) NOTE: Davis, a 50-year-old Fayetteville, Ark., native who now lives in High Point, N.C., was Saturday morning's Winston Breakfast Club guest. He talks about his two drivers, Ward Burton...
BILL DAVIS (Car owner Bill Davis Racing Dodge Intrepid R/Ts) NOTE: Davis, a 50-year-old Fayetteville, Ark., native who now lives in High Point, N.C., was Saturday morning's Winston Breakfast Club guest. He talks about his two drivers, Ward Burton and Dave Blaney, Dodge's first season on the Winston Cup circuit since 1985, trying to find a sponsor for Blaney's team and other NASCAR issues.
"Everybody is concerned (about finding a new sponsor). It's a tough time with the economy and people are being cautious. At the same time, our sport has never been stronger. The TV package has been incredible. I guess I have confidence, maybe not bubbling over confidence, but I think we'll be OK. I think we've got a good package to offer. I can't imagine that we wouldn't (have two teams). We've got some real conversations going on with real people who have shown a lot of interest in being here. I think we'll be fine.
"I think the change (two extra inches on front nose) probably bit us yesterday. We qualified well up here last time. Blaney qualified fourth and raced real well. Blaney had a top 10 finish (eighth) and Ward was running in the top five with a few laps to go and something happened to the radiator. I think we'll race well tomorrow, but in qualifying we were just a little loose. We didn't compensate for it and do a good job with it. It bit us yesterday.
"It's not magic. It's just not overnight going to make this a good race car. I think the best example is we had a great run going at Pocono without it and got caught up in a wreck with two laps to go. We went to Indy the next week and ran about the same. It's just another piece of the puzzle. It's not magically going to make it a great race car. It is a step in the right direction.
"We're not getting any pressure from Dodge. They want to win. They've spent a lot of money and put a lot of effort into it and gave us a lot of support. They're realists. These things are hard to win. Ray is getting his feet on the ground. Ganassi has done a great job or reorganizing. They've done real well, but they are kind of like a first-year team to a degree. We've never won a lot of races. I think the Dodge thing has gone real well. I think what they've accomplished, as well as they've qualified and the races they've led, I think it's gone OK.
"We didn't know what to expect. We didn't have a clue if the body was any good and certainly didn't have a clue about the motor. This time a year ago we hadn't even fired one off yet. We didn't have pieces to put one together. I think as reliable as the motors have been and the power they've made, I think they've done a great job. I think the program is where it needs to be. Everybody is anxious to win races. We all want to win races, but I think all-in-all it's been OK.
"We've grown so much the past few years, we did have big changes and big growth periods. I think that this year if we can keep everything the same that going into next season it'll make us a stronger race team. I don't anticipate any changes. Everybody seems happy and focused on what they're doing. I don't know that we're struggling. We made our decision (to switch to Dodge) and we were confident that it was the right decision and we still are. We knew this year would be a huge question mark. We didn't know what to expect. No one did.
"We're not where we need to be in points, but the 22 has had some rotten luck. That car has been in the top 10 like seven or eight races with 30 laps to go and something happens, not necessarily of their own making. The 22 could easily be way up from where it's at in points. We had an awfully good car in the Daytona 500. I felt like we had a shot to win it. We led the most laps.
"The 93 certainly should have won Atlanta. They beat themselves at Atlanta. They dominated Atlanta. We could easily be sitting here having won a couple of races and the 22 could be higher in the points. We're not second-guessing our decision at all.
The Dodge program is going to be the program to have in the future. "I've got a lot of confidence in NASCAR and Mike's leadership. We probably all think the changes ought to be made faster, but then again, this is a big sport now. We're very visible. When changes are made, they've got to be right. They've got to know it's the right thing to do. Hopefully Tuesday will make us feel better. I don't know if we'll feel better, but we'll be better aware of what's going on and things that are placed in our future.
"I've got a lot of confidence in NASCAR. They've been very, very good to me and to most of us here in this garage. I stand by them all the way. I don't have a feel for what to expect (on Tuesday). I don't know what they've learned. They really haven't indicated much to us because they've chosen to keep it close to the vest. I think that's the right thing to do. I don't know what I expect Tuesday. I'm going into it wide open. With what I know that's been going on with the investigation, I think we're all going to be satisfied. They're going to tell us what happened to the best of the experts ability.
"I was real surprised with the Indy purse. I think we've all got the same questions there. I think we're all disappointed there and would probably like to have an explanation. I don't think the purse has impacted the sponsorship requirements at all. We need to get these costs under control. I don't think we can keep going back to the sponsors asking for more and more money. I understand there's a limit on how much a lot of these companies can spend.
"Everybody talks about cutting costs. We've got to figure out a way to do that. I'm in favor of it (one motor per weekend) cautiously. There's a lot of places we go where that really worries me to death. We really thrash on the motors at Pocono and Michigan. At the same time, when I started Winston Cup racing back in 1993, there were some race tracks where we took one motor. We didn't have a qualifier. We didn't have a practice motor. Road courses, Martinsville, we ran one motor. I think that's something we need to look at.
"It concerns me if we sweepingly do it everywhere we go right off the bat. Hopefully they're going to give us some direction soon so we can start using up qualifying pieces and qualifying motors. Maybe it's time for us to do some durability tests. Go to Pocono and see if we can run 600 miles or 650 miles or whatever it takes.
"The easiest way to cut for everybody in here is days at the track. The times we spend at these race tracks, especially days we don't accomplish a lot, I think we need to start looking for two-day shows and one-day shows. Everybody spends another day at home. I think that's the biggest thing we can do to cut costs, eliminate time at the race track.
"We saw it at Indy. We had a better balanced race car, a car that we could adjust better. It wasn't as radical. We didn't slide the nose. I think pretty much all the Dodge teams felt that way. Are we going to have a hold of it this week? I don't know. I hope so. I think Dodges are getting closer all the time. You always want to win a race, but I think it'll happen. I think we'll win a race before the year's out.
"Dave Blaney can do this deal. There's no question about it. Bill Davis Racing has let Dave Blaney down. We had a top five going at Pocono and ran him out of gas on the last lap. We got him a lap down with the spark plug wire and made that lap back up and drove right back to the front again. The list goes on and on. Our challenge is to get a better team behind him, get better people and get them working together as a team.
"That's the thing the 22 has. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They've been together a long time and they feel each other. They know what's going on and that's the chemistry it takes. With the changes we've made and as hard as the 93 works at it, we've gotten stronger and stronger in certain areas. Maybe the right people are there now and they just need more time together to gel. I don't think there's any doubts in most people's minds that Dave Blaney can drive these cars.
"Dave can be aggressive. He gives people plenty of room and he's a polite and smart racer. I think he probably thinks he's still earning guys respect, and I think he's got their respect. The guys respect that Dave Blaney is a championship driver from the World of Outlaws series. He won a lot of races in a tough series. He stepped in and did a great job in the Busch cars, and he's done the same things here. I think he's earned their respect and I think he's ready to race with them. I think he could be a lot meaner in a race car. It's hard for him because he's too nice a guy.
"Ward will do whatever it takes. Ward is a courteous driver. He gives and takes. At the same time, he'll put out when he needs to. Ward has had some good runs. He's positive. Tommy (crew chief Baldwin) and Ward work together well. Tommy made a huge impact when he got to our place. He made us a consistent top 10 car.
"Everybody wants to build themselves into a championship contender. Right now our biggest challenge is to get that 93 a sponsor. Andy Petree is looking for a sponsor and the 01 and 92 and 11. I think we'll be able to find something,
"Jeff Gordon is just a phenomenal driver. People just don't realize it. Mark Martin and I ran good in our Busch car and Jeff came along and sat down in it and it was a whole different deal. There is so much talent there with Jeff Gordon. He's so smart. He doesn't make mistakes and he doesn't tear the car up. He doesn't put himself in situations he doesn't need to be in. He steps into that zone when the time comes.
"He's just like Tiger Woods yesterday. He was about to miss the cut for the first time since whenever. You could just see his concentration. The camera would zoom and he would be sitting there lining it up. You could just see him going into that zone. That's the way it is with the Michael Jordans and Jeff Gordons of the world. That's what they do. Look at Indy, Jeff rode around there and the next thing you know he's winning the race. That's what he does. When it's time to go, he goes.
"I don't know that the championship is over, but it's going to be tough. Those guys can't beat themselves like Dale did last week. I think you're born with it. There's just so many Michael Jordans and Tiger Woods and Jeff Gordons. I'm not sure I see any right now coming up like Jeff Gordon. I'm not sure I ever will."