Fontana: GM - Jerry Nadeau Saturday interview

JERRY NADEAU , NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: HOW IS THE CHEMISTRY WITH YOUR TEAM? "I think it's really good. Myself and Ryan [Pemberton] and the whole team - we're gelling really good. I feel great. If people have been watching real ...

JERRY NADEAU , NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

HOW IS THE CHEMISTRY WITH YOUR TEAM?

"I think it's really good. Myself and Ryan [Pemberton] and the whole team - we're gelling really good. I feel great. If people have been watching real close, we've had some great runs. But, we've had some tough luck this year. But, the optimism of the team - everybody is excited. We had our best finish in the last four years - we finished fourth (at Texas), so I feel pretty good. It's only nine races in and we seem to be competitive every week. Once we get our consistency down I feel like we'll be a threat everywhere we go."

ON HOW THINGS HAVE EVOLVED SINCE 1997

"I'll be honest, I'm not very happy with how my career has gone in Winston Cup. I've been competitive my whole life. I worked hard to get to Winston Cup. I may have not had the smoothest runs getting here. At times I felt like I didn't have the right people behind me, but I kept sticking with it. I feel like being with the team that I've got now is probably the best opportunity I've ever had in my life, as far as the team being behind me, the guys working hard, the crew chief working with me. We may not have the budget like a Yates or a Hendrick, but I feel like I've got a better opportunity now to win races that I ever have."

ON RYAN PEMBERTON

"He's good, he's young, he's talented, he's been around for a long time. He's got a lot of fire in him. He's spunky and I like that. I like somebody that will dig down deep and try anything to run better. I'm not happy until I'm two tenths faster than everybody else. That's how I've always been. I know I can do it if I've got something underneath me. My deal is I've got to give him the best information about the car so he can make the right changes. I feel pretty good about that."

HOW MUCH INFORMATION DOES YOUR TEAM SHARE WITH THE '10' CAR?

"It's like any other race team. After practice everybody will get together with their notes and see what everybody has got. But, my setup may not work for Johnny and his setup may not work for me. I remember when I drove for Johnny when he got hurt (in 2002). I couldn't drive his setups. We drive totally different. I don't use any brakes. The guys that have been around seem to use a lot of brakes. The drive in harder and use more brakes. You have to have a different setup for that.

"But, it's always good - yesterday we were quick in practice and Johnny was struggling and they came over and looked at our setup. We were real close. We weren't that far off. But, I feel like everybody is communicating well and working well together."

HOW HAS THIS YEAR MOTIVATED YOU?

"I feel good. I don't get as upset as I used to get. You live one time in your life and I just try to take it day by day. There are times that I used to get so frustrated. I was frustrated for four years. Even though I won a race, I was frustrated because you look at other people's careers and you kind of look at how they were brought up and how they were into the series and it was like, 'Wow, it would be cool if I had a start like that.' When I came into Winston Cup in '97 I didn't know a soul. I didn't have managers. I didn't have people telling me where I should go or what I should do. I just drove anything I could get in to. I think sometimes that might have gotten me in trouble. Then, you look at guys like Jeff Gordon and how their career got started with John Bickford and Ray Evernham spending three years in Busch. I did four races in Busch. I did two ARCA races and then right into Cup. I'm not complaining about that. I'm happy to be in the elite Winston Cup Series. Maybe I wish I would have won a lot more races than just one right now. But, there are many years to go down the road. I'm sure this team is going to win many races."

YOU MAKE IT SOUND LIKE YOU'RE OLD...

"I'm only 32, so I've got a lot of time left. But, in racing I feel like I'm 42 because I started when I was four. That's all I've ever done. Body-wise, physical-wise - I feel like I'm 18. It's just that I've been doing this for so long I just feel like I should do better.

"At four and a half my dad got me started (in go-karts) and that was it. I never saw a prom, never went to parties. I was always into the racing part. We didn't have a whole lot money growing up and I had to go out when I was 13 or 14 and make my own press kits and try to raise money to go racing up and down the east coast karting. I didn't do one series. I kind of hopped around because I had to take any advantage I could get growing up. One minute I'm going overseas to race, the next minute I'm running a dirt car, the next minute I'm running an asphalt modified, the next minute I'm doing a 12-hour enduro race. I had to take anything I could get."

HOW DO YOU BALANCE ALL YOUR COMMITMENTS WITH THE RACING SIDE?

"Everybody's got a schedule and there are only so many days in the week, so you try to fit in anything you can that week. I've got a wife and a kid that I like to spend time with at home when I'm not racing, and I try to do everything else to please everybody. Next week we're going to Washington to see some of the troops that were injured overseas and that is something I'm honored to do because of what they do for our country."

HOW HARD IS IT TO 'SAVE' THE CAR TODAY IN A WINSTON CUP RACE?

"There is no more saving, not these days. It's wide open. There ain't no, 'OK, I'm going to lay back for 20 laps and then get on it.' If you do that you'll get lapped or you'll get passed.

"Everything is so critical now. With these cars and the way they're built and the aero package, if you're not up front and you're not up front then you're not getting the full benefit of the car. You're not getting all the air that you're supposed to get on the race car, so it's very crucial to stay in front of the pack. The guys that are up front are not saving. They're not holding anything back. They're on it 110 percent."

ON THE CONFIDENCE GAINED FROM DRIVING CHASSIS THAT ARE BUILT IN-HOUSE

"I've got all the confidence in the world in my guys. It makes me proud to know these guys work their butts off day and night, building the chassis, building the bodies and you go out there and you perform that well.

"The guys are ecstatic. It's amazing how what you do shows how the guys feel. If you don't run good they get down. If you run good they get excited. It means a lot to them when you run well."

ON CHOOSING NOT TO RACE OTHER THINGS DURING THE WEEK

"If I were single I'd probably do a lot more. Nothing against my wife and kid - I love them to death. But, I just enjoy racing. I really do.

"Once I get enough to where I can do really well, then maybe I'll chance it and do more things. But, right now I'm going to concentrate on getting this Army car up front and winning races."

ON FINDING THE EDGE IN A QUALIFYING RUN

"If you look at my stats, I think I've always been a pretty decent qualifier since I got into Winston Cup. I think a lot of that is how I grew up. We used to go in the back of a pickup truck with our go-karts and guys used to come in there with enclosed trailers, chrome wheels and I knew I didn't have the best stuff, so I knew I had to drive a lot harder and a lot more on the edge than they did. I think I just picked it up from that and I just applied it to Winston Cup. I can control that edge. Sometimes I go a little bit overboard and end up smacking the wall."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jerry Nadeau