RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos) "The two-car team gets a lot of credit, but you've got so many more resources to pull from. We've got good brains, good engineering people, you can just do so much more with the ...
RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos)
"The two-car team gets a lot of credit, but you've got so many more resources to pull from. We've got good brains, good engineering people, you can just do so much more with the resources a second team provides. We've changed a lot of personnel and we've got settled in on personnel. We've got focus, and we're all going down the same road. If there is a change, that's it. Dale Earnhardt has always been there, and when things aren't going good, it's tough on everybody. We want to get this program on a solid, consistent basis by the end of the year so we can come out next year running in the top five every week. That's what you've got to do to contend for the championship.
"I've had one of my better finishes at Darlington. I came down here the first time to race. It must have been '69 or '70. Fred Lorenzen was running the Wood Brothers car. That's when the cafe used to be right there at the track. I walked out with my coffee, and I said, 'I'm going to watch Fred Lorenzen. He's one of the greatest here.'
"Fred made about two laps and about the second lap he came off of what used to be turn four. He got it up in the wall and came across the race track and hit a telephone pole that used to be inside the fence. I spilled my coffee and ran. I slowed down half a second. I figured if it happened to Fred Lorenzen I'd hate to see what would happen to a rookie.
"Darlington is a very intimidating race track. It was always one of my favorite race tracks to race on as a driver and to come back as a car owner and to be able to win the races we've won with Dale here, it's a great feeling to win anytime at Darlington.
"We really ran good at Michigan. Last week was our second win of the season. Any time you get on a roll winning races or running good it seems to feed on itself and you just run better every week. I think the win let everybody know we can run competitive like at Michigan the week before. We went out there and took the lead and were racing with the cars we've got to race for the championship. It makes these guys feel strong about going into next year. We haven't put this year behind us yet, but we know how we have to end up this season to be strong enough to be a championship contender next year. We know what it takes to do it. We've been there, and you can't do it running in the top 10. You've got to have a lot of top five finishes.
"It was incredible that Dale won last week from the backstretch. We would have come in and got tires at the end, but we didn't know how many laps the caution was going to be because there was a lot of oil out there. We didn't know if there was going to be two to go or three to go or five to go. Pitting on the backstretch, we knew we would have come out fifth, sixth or seventh and wouldn't have had a chance at winning. I just made the call and told Dale to buckle up and let's go and guard the bottom. He did it as good as he could. He got moved up there in three and four and after that we won the race.
"I was watching Dale in practice this morning and just watching the moves he makes. This is a driver's race track. He just does an incredible job here. He's really gotten good at taking care of the tires, and he's even gotten better at that the past few years. It's a tire management race track from the word go."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I think we're better than we were here the last time. This car has always been a good car. I told Larry (team owner McClure) I wanted to take this car and run it everywhere except on the short tracks. I told him that three weeks ago. We didn't run it at Bristol, but if I hadn't messed up qualifying at Bristol and Michigan we would have had some good races. At Watkins Glen, we just made a bad pit call. We shot ourselves in the foot there. It's just a good car with a good body. It always drives good, and it's real consistent.
"The tires will give up here, but they're not near as bad as they were. Goodyear's got a good tire. The speed isn't that much great, but it lives longer and the overall speed doesn't fall off as much. You can make a full fuel run on the tire, but nobody will. When the leader comes in and puts on tires, you've got to, too. I'd say we'd go 40 or 50 laps. Somebody will drive you into pitting sooner.
"We finished seventh here in the spring and had the best car on long runs. We're going to work on long runs again and make it where we're better on old tires. I think that'll help you win the race. I take care of the tires. I don't take care of them a lot because you can't give it up. You might as well stay on old tires awhile. There's just a fine line and you can feel it. You can tell how much you need to work on it. My best race tracks have been slick race tracks. Now that I've got a good car to drive here, this fits my style real good.
"This car has been good just about everywhere we've run it. We ran it here for the first race. At Michigan the last race and broke there. I ran it at Pocono in the spring race and finished ninth there. I ran it at Rockingham and we could have won there but we broke the power steering pump.
"It's amazing Jeff Gordon is going after his fifth straight Southern 500, but it's not a surprise he's done it. He's a good race car driver. He's got good stuff and if you watch that car go around the track, you know why he races good here. This is a chassis race track, but it takes a lot of finesse and a lot of racing smarts to run good here for a long time. They've got the whole package.
"We just had a good test here in the spring. We changed it for qualifying this time, but Larry has turned everything over to me, Robert Larkins and Steve Gray. Robert is looking over everything. He's been there a long time and he cares. Steve does a good job on the chassis. The bottom line is we work pretty good together. We've had good runs with other people, but I think we'll be a little more consistent with the three of us doing it. Robert doesn't want to do this forever. He wants to get where he can stay home. Steve is capable of doing it but we don't want to throw that on one person until he's had time to experience it a little bit. I think our plan is to find a real good crew chief who's going to spend a lot of time there and then left somebody from the shop learn off him. I guess they call them car chiefs now. I feel more comfortable with a crew chief that stands back and don't work on the car, one who just makes sure everything gets done right.
"Gary DeHart is just building cars now. He does nice work. They're designing the 2000 Monte Carlo, and he's done a lot of work on that with Chevrolet. We were real happy with the test at St. Louis. We had an engineering car and a race car out there. It ran great for me. I got Sterling to drive it once and Earnhardt to drive it once. We got a lot of information. Saturday, Sept. 4, 1999. Darlington Raceway. Advance material for Pepsi Southern 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 3.
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We weren't going for it, but we were fast. We were about half a second faster than anybody. We worked on it. A lot of people were doing aero stuff.
"We just need to be there at the end to have a chance to win here Sunday. If we're around at the end, we'll be in good shape. The body location on this car is great. We've had our best run with it. A very minute change will make a big difference with this car.
"We covered the five and five rule. We've got a one-car team. We spent half a season realizing the bodies needed to be located in another place. We moved them all over the place for the five and five rule. Now we've got the bodies located and they need to be located like they were five years ago when you ran the big blades. The next thing you know you've got only one car that's working good. We've got good backup cars, but in the middle of all that, you're going through a chassis change. It's easy to get behind.
"We decided three weeks ago that the three of us were going to make the calls. If I end up with something different than everybody else has got and it's good for me, then that's what we're running. That's just the way we're going to tackle it. I go to the shop the first of the week and we put a game plan together. We get the stuff done and we're fast off the truck every week now. I'm confident, and that's what you've got to do. You've got to be able to hammer that thing the first lap, and we can do that now."