This weekend will mark the first for Paul Andrews as new crew chief of the No. 99 Citgo Taurus. Andrews, who won a NASCAR Winston Cup championship for Ford as Alan Kulwicki's crew chief in 1992, comes to Roush Racing from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., ...
This weekend will mark the first for Paul Andrews as new crew chief of the No. 99 Citgo Taurus. Andrews, who won a NASCAR Winston Cup championship for Ford as Alan Kulwicki's crew chief in 1992, comes to Roush Racing from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., where he served as crew chief for Steve Park the past three years.
PAUL ANDREWS, Crew Chief --99-- Citgo Taurus
WELCOME BACK TO THE FORD FAMILY.
"It feels good to be back. I had been with Ford for many years and winning that championship in '92 was very special. It hurt a lot to leave the Ford family, but I'm glad to be back in it."
WHAT ABOUT THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT GOT YOU TO ROUSH?
"It's been a tough year for DEI and from the time Steve got hurt until the time he came back, it's been a real struggle. Things have changed from a driver's point of view and Steve has had to adapt a tremendous amount. I think he's doing a really good job and he's right back where he needs to be as far as that goes. But I wasn't extremely happy with things. It wasn't really the performance issue, but more just some other things. It just didn't feel right and I needed to do something. I don't know, it's kind of a strange deal. You can't ever pinpoint the one little thing that maybe made you leave or made you unhappy, but I just wasn't happy. They treated me great the whole time I was there. They treated me great when I left and they're still treating me great. I'm really good friends with Steve and we still have a great relationship. It's never one little thing. Jack and Jeff approached me a little while ago and we've been talking off and on, but the next thing you know I'm in a serious conversation about coming to work for them. You can't say it was one thing that made me leave, it wasn't. It was just a combination of things. When Jeff and Jack started to talk to me it started to feel right -- a lot like it used to. Sometimes you've got to have the right feeling and the confidence that you need in your whole organization. I just had a great feeling when I was talking to those guys. We want to be able to win and we want to contend for a championship and I really feel like I'm in the right place right now."
IN LOOKING BACK, WAS STEVE'S ACCIDENT A TURNING POINT BECAUSE YOU GUYS HAD WON AT ROCKINGHAM AND WERE VERY COMPETITIVE.
"No doubt. We had a great season going there, but one thing that hurt us was losing the bump stops. That was another thing that was tough for Steve. We had to re-adapt to that and had some bad performances last year with Steve, but we were on the upswing. We had things figured out, but things changed tremendously at the end of last year and the beginning of this year with the aero packages. We're making more and more downforce, so not only did Steve miss a lot by being out, but he missed a whole evolution of how the cars were changing. That's really one of the biggest things he had to overcome, it wasn't the head injury. He had to overcome all the time he lost with the evolution of the tires and the cars with all the extra downforce. We made a lot of gains in our cars and he wasn't there to experience that every step of the way and that hurt a lot, but there's nothing you can do about that. I think he's done a tremendous job and he's right back where he needs to be."
CAN YOU PINPOINT WHERE CONVERSATIONS WITH JACK AND JEFF STARTED?
"I can't pinpoint exactly, but it's only been a couple of months at the most. The first time Jack called, I don't even know if I called him back for a week because before I even entered into that conversation I had to think, 'Do I want to enter into that conversation?' Everytime I talked to him I just felt better and better. It's a neat deal. I'm really, really excited about being here. What I need to do now is try to get to know Jeff a little bit more and try to understand some of the things that go on. I've got to get used to how the Fords are responding. I know the downforce is a lot different between the Fords and the other makes, but I really think that this is a good place for me to come in. Jeff really runs well here. They had a great race and qualifying setup the last time here, so I'm just coming in and I'm going to try to fine-tune on that. Hopefully, we'll get a test under our belts fairly soon and that will help us get more knowledge together. I think every minute we spend together is gonna really help us for next year."
JEFF SAID YOU WERE AT THE TOP OF HIS WISH LIST AS FAR AS A NEW CREW CHIEF. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT HIM?
"I think it's awesome being able to work with Jeff Burton. The funny thing about all of this with Jeff and Jack coming along and offering me a position is that at DEI we were unsure what was gonna happen with Steve. This was last year and we were wondering if Steve was gonna come back at all this year and we started talking about drivers. They asked me who I wanted for a driver and I said, 'Jeff Burton.' It's a pretty unique situation, but it's pure coincidence. I was really honored when those guys approached me."
WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
"I think just the little things. I don't think there are any major adjustments needed. I think one of the things Jeff wants is more help with the chassis during practice sessions and the races. I feel like I'm pretty strong in that area and I feel like I can help him a lot. I think that's gonna be the biggest thing. The organization is there, the people are there in the shop and the pit crew is good. Sometimes that's the easy stuff, it's making your car handle on Sunday and that's what it's all about. I believe I can help him with that a lot."
IT SEEMED ALL THE TALK WITH THE 1 TEAM THIS YEAR WAS STEVE'S STATUS AND HERE IT ENDS UP YOU'RE THE ONE LEAVING.
"My contract was up at the end of the season and I told them a week or so ago that I wasn't going to re-sign. I wanted them to know where my head was and that I wasn't going to re-sign with them for next year. We talked about it off and on for a little while and then we all got together. They wanted to make the move now. I was perfectly willing to work through the end of the season, but I'm also extremely happy to be here right now. I think it's gonna help us with Jeff and I working together so we can get prepared for next year. This is not a throwaway season. We definitely need to win a race. We can definitely get into the top 10 in points because we're not that far off and that's what we're gonna do. We're gonna try to win and get in the top 10 and just make everything better for next year. We're working on next year right now."
IS IT A BURDEN TO GO IN THERE MONDAY WITH ALL EYES ON YOU?
"That's great. I love that. Not that I like changing jobs, I hate changing jobs, but I want to be the go-to guy. I want people to come to me. I want to tell them what to do and I want to tell them how to build that car. I love that stuff. Sometimes getting to the race track is the most fun. I love being at the race track, I would never be able to go to the race track and be a team manager or something like that because I've got to get out of that shop, but you've got to have a good group of guys at the shop. We'll just start working on things little by little. There's nothing really broken there and that's what's great. There's nothing broken that I have to go fix, I just have to tune it up a little bit and I think we can do that. Having Jeff is going to be great because he's a tremendous chassis person and knows what he needs to feel in the car. That's a huge help. The templates are going to be changed a lot for 2003, so I think a lot of people are starting out fresh. You have two makes changing bodies completely and the other two are just changing the way the templates are put on, so everybody is starting off with a new body next year in one fashion or another. I think it'll be fun because everybody is gonna start off with a clean slate."
THIS IS A CHANCE TO START ON 2003, RIGHT?
"I really believe so. We'll start with several new cars. I was in the shop Wednesday for a few hours and then again yesterday morning before I left with Jeff and it was kind of a toss-up. 'Do I want to go to Richmond and just kind of be around Jeff or do I want to stay there and be around the shop guys?' But the shop guys were in really good shape. They've got a real strong group there, so I gave them some directions on a few things I wanted done to be ready for Friday in qualifying, but, other than that, those guys are ready to go and they've got a real strong group there."
AS A FORMER CHEVROLET CREW CHIEF AND THE NEWEST FORD CREW CHIEF, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT NASCAR'S DECISION TO MAKE THE CHEVROLET AND PONTIAC KICKOUTS PERMANENT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR?
"Right now, I hate it (laughing). Those Chevrolets have way too much downforce now. They're gonna kick our butts (joking).