Dodge Drivers comment on 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Schedule. CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge) "At the end of the day it really doesn't matter to me where I race as long as I'm racing every weekend. If NASCAR is making business decisions that...
Dodge Drivers comment on 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Schedule.
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge)
"At the end of the day it really doesn't matter to me where I race as long as I'm racing every weekend. If NASCAR is making business decisions that will help the sport grow, I'm all for it. It doesn't hurt my feelings to go out to the west coast. That's closer to my hometown area. It's sad to see a place like Rockingham get dumped because it's such a fun place to race. You've got so many tracks that are so similar and then you've got a track like that that's so unique. It's such a good track. Racing-wise I hate to see it go, but this sport is growing and changing. You've got to move with the times and do what's going to help the sport grow and get bigger.
"I think everybody needs at least three or four weekends off. It lets you collect yourself. If you're a rookie everything is so overwhelming it's nice to have a weekend off just to reflect on what you've done wrong and what you need to do to get better. Being my second year, I've come to realize it's a necessity to get away from it for a week and come back and be fresh and ready to go. It's definitely good to have some weekends off. If we didn't, I'd be fine with that, too. I'm kind of wide open right now."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
"I'm just one that goes with the flow with that stuff. There's nothing I can do about it. We'll just make the best of it. Everybody worries about that stuff too much. Wherever they tell us we need to be, we'll be there. I think NASCAR is doing a great job with the scheduling. I'll miss Rockingham. I think people will start looking at some of these other tracks and asking why we're going there twice. I wish they'd just add races at tracks where we run good and if we don't run good they can take 'em away."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
"It's too bad we're losing Rockingham. It's a great track for the drivers and teams and we put on a good show for the fans there. Darlington is one of my favorite tracks, so it's too bad we're not going there twice. Two races will be great at Texas, and Phoenix used to be my favorite track coming up racing midgets, silver crown and all that stuff. I always enjoy going there. I love the west coast, but it's too bad they took out Rockingham. I think we need at least one race there."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge)
"It's OK with me. The Saturday night races are great. Let's get more on Saturday night. Rockingham to me was one of the best tracks we raced at. You could run three deep and put on a real good show. I guess the area it's in just wouldn't pull in the fans. We've got a lot of travel with the new schedule. There's a lot of expense involved going to California for everybody. You've got to fly the crews out and it drives up the cost, but if that's where they want to be I'm glad to be there. We don't need many more tracks out west. You'll wind up having more on the west coast than the east coast. We lost North Wilkesboro. It was a great track. I'd still like to run there one time a year. We run twice at some tracks that I don't think we need to run twice at now. I think if you came back and put 100,000 seats at Wilkesboro you'd sell 100,000 tickets. People like the short track racing, and that was a great track. It's a shame on Rockingham. I don't know why the fans wouldn't come out, but it's a great track. The guys could drive back and forth from Wilkesboro and be with their families on the weekend. It was a great atmosphere at Wilkesboro. The track would get good and slick. You hated to see it happen, but it did. We go to New Hampshire twice. I don't know why we go there twice, but we do. Some tracks have two races that don't need 'em. Maybe we could plug a Rockingham in there. Maybe before we get all the tracks out west we need to stand back and look at things a little harder."
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No.77 Kodak Easy Share Dodge)
"If you can't sell out your date, then you shouldn't get it. California is very close to not being able to sell out their dates. They sold out the first one, but just barely. We'll see how the second one goes. If it doesn't sell out, even though it's the L.A. market, NASCAR would probably take that date somewhere else. Rockingham had one date and didn't come close to selling it out. We're not trying to slight the traditional NASCAR fan. They're still very important to us. I've got to say thank you to guys like Buddy Baker and Bobby Allison and the traditional NASCAR fan.
"There are still 14 races in the southeast. We haven't slighted them at all. We've still got Darlington, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Richmond, Bristol, Martinsville, Atlanta, Talladega. This is entertainment. Teams get moved and bought and sold because they can't get fans. Look at Charlotte's basketball team. They moved because they couldn't get fans. That's part of any major sport. NASCAR is no different. Dodge and Kodak want to get to Seattle really bad. That's a big market. They'll sell out a date.
"The only track that's really gone is Rockingham. I've only raced there once and had a great time there. It was a fun track. I'm sure Buddy Baker is going to be upset because it's gone. I'm trying to be in this business for the next 20 years. I want NASCAR to grow and take this sport to another level. The only way to do that is grow."
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge)
"Obviously I liked racing at Rockingham. We always raced well there whether it was in the Busch car or Cup car. Fans drive this sport and the sponsors are here because of the fans. If they can't sell tickets, then you've got to go where they can sell tickets. There's a lot of travel on the new schedule, but you've got to go where the fans are. You can't be stuck in 1970. I'm glad Brian France is taking the initiative and really making some changes. No one wanted to do the new point system, either, but now that we've got it it seems like it's OK. Change is hard to accept, but I think it's cool those guys are taking us to bigger and better places. As a driver, we'd like to go to Rockingham. It's close to home and good racing. Tires wear out and you have to put four tires on when you pit, but if they can't sell the tickets you've got to go where they can."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia Pacific/Brawny Dodge)
"At one point in time we had 14-15 races within a 300-mile radius of Charlotte. That market has been saturated for 50 years. I think now if you lose a Rockingham or Darlington, we still have 10-12 races within 300 miles of Charlotte. If you're a fan, you don't have to drive far. Used to, if you were a California fan, you only got a couple of shots to see us at Phoenix or Vegas. I think it opens up the possibilities of going to Seattle or to the Midwest for more events. I think it's better for the sport. You hate to see things go away, but that's just part of life. I think it will be great for our sponsors.
"We are in a sports entertainment business, and part of our deal is entertainment. We witnessed that with the outcry at Talladega. People want as much entertainment out of it as they want to see racing. They want to be entertained. If we've got to take our entertainment to a bigger market, then that's where places like Texas and Phoenix come in. The racing at Darlington is great. The greatest race ever was Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch down there. When you look at Rockingham, every time you get a caution late in the race, it's a great race. I think when you look at three wide and stuff like that it's great, but when you only put 60,000 people in the stands for a Cup event, that's not good. When the TV ratings are down, that's not good. I think we need to do something that excites the community we go to. I raced a Grand American Race at Easter in Phoenix this year. Phoenix is dying for another Cup race. That will be a phenomenal race when we get there in April. Maybe we're cutting down on the racing side, but from the entertainment side and the people in the stands, they're going to love those new races.
"We can sit here and talk tradition all day long. Bits and pieces of it fall by the wayside. I think when you look at a sport like this, we're going to lose part of our history. It'll be there in the books, and it's up to us to protect it and make sure it gets told, but we don't have to go back and hammer those places year after year just to keep the history and the respect of the sport."