J.D. GIBBS, JOE GIBBS RACING, JACK ROUSH, ROUSH RACING, RAY EVERNHAM, EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS, AND DOUG DUCHARDT, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS PARTICIPATED IN THE NEXTEL WAKE-UP CALL TODAY. HIGHLIGHTS OF MEDIA Q&A'S WITH J.D. GIBBS AND DOUG DUCHARDT J.D.
J.D. GIBBS, JOE GIBBS RACING, JACK ROUSH, ROUSH RACING, RAY EVERNHAM, EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS, AND DOUG DUCHARDT, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS PARTICIPATED IN THE NEXTEL WAKE-UP CALL TODAY. HIGHLIGHTS OF MEDIA Q&A'S WITH J.D. GIBBS AND DOUG DUCHARDT
, Joe Gibbs Racing
Doug Duchardt, Hendrick Motorsports
TONY STEWART SAYS HE WANTS THIS CHAMPIONSHIP ON '05 MORE THAN THE ONE IN 2002 BECAUSE OF THE TURMOIL BROUGHT ON THE TEAM. HOW HAS HE CHANGED PERSONALLY?
J.D. GIBBS: "For Tony, it's something I've kind of gone through with him. Part of it is just the maturing process as you get older and you realize there are some battles worth fighting and some not. This year, he has really become a leader on that team. He and (crew chief) Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) have been together so long and know each other so well. But this year, he's stepped up. He's more of a leader with the guys. He encourages the guys. Obviously, this is a very humbling sport. Last year at this time, we were really distraught. We weren't running well. We were struggling and had some in-house issues. It's a blessing to see how those guys have worked together and turned it around of this year. At the beginning, it wasn't very good either. But for Tony to step up and be a part of that leadership meant a lot to me and to everyone at JGR."
FROM A MANUFACTURER'S STANDPOINT, ARE WE CLOSER TODAY AMONG THE MANUFACTURER THAN IN THE PAST, OR HAS THAT GAP GROWN A LITTLE BIT?
DOUG DUCHARDT: "Maybe I have a little more unique situation because a year ago I was the director of GM Racing. So from a manufacturer's standpoint, Jack (Roush) and I used to take turns going to the (NASCAR) trailer to argue who was really at a deficit. What happened, from my standpoint in the manufacturer role, you would feel that emotion on your teams. You'd show up at the track and your teams would say, 'Oh, we can't beat the Fords this weekend.' And you could see that mentally, some teams would feel beaten when they got to the track. What's changed is that you know that things are so close, you have to look internally to see what you have to fix to get better. I think that's a much healthier place for all of us to be rather than spending a lot of emotion worrying whether you're at a disadvantage or not. Overall, that's a very good thing.
"There are very large investments by all the manufacturers in this sport. And to have your investment at the jeopardy of a quarter inch of spoiler or a tick on the front valance based on how well you can debate in the media center or in the (NASCAR) trailer, is not where any of the manufacturers wanted to be. So now we have aero balance. From the manufacturers, how do we make sure we have cars that look like what's out on the street that we sell because this is stock car racing. I think that's the balance we have to work out."
AT THE TEAM'S LOWEST POINT WITH TONY STEWART, WHAT WAS IT ABOUT HIM THAT MADE YOU WANT TO GIVE HIM MORE CHANCES? AND CAN YOU POINT TO ANY ONE TIME OR INCIDENT THAT MADE HIM CHANGE?
J.D. GIBBS: "There was a had spell there a few years back with Tony. There were a number of smaller incidents. We looked back to his heart. Where was his heart? Where did he want to be? Is this something he wanted to do? With my dad (Joe Gibbs) we have a little bit different perspective on athletes and issues. In the NFL, it's a knock down drag out. There is a lot of stuff you can do that over here, no one would stand for. Over here, the issues with Tony were really around the race track. A few hours before or a few hours after, that's when it would happen. You had to take a step back and ask is this who he is? Or are we going to have to deal with this forever? And we did have some long hard talks with Tony and his sponsor and laid out what we expected and what we needed to see going forward. A real breakout for me we when I said look. There's not a whole lot more that we can say. Let's let him get in the room with his guys and some of the road guys and ask what do they think. What makes it hard on you? Those guys didn't hold back. They did a great job of saying this is not going to work and here's why. It comes down to people. And when he saw what it meant to the guys around him, I think that was a big part of it. They let him know that they were for him and loved him and supported him, but they needed him to work with them as well. That meant a lot to him. He realized that. They are a family. They've been together since '99. You don't have that very often. That really played a big part in him. He cares about those guys and doesn't want to screw it up. And vice-versa. Those guys will lay down their lives for him. They do it every week at the shop. They sacrifice a lot of him with their families and time. They do it for him and he knows that. That's a big part of where he is today."
ON THE RESTRICTED NUMBER OF TEAMS PER OWNER RELATIVE TO SPONSOR CONTRACTS:
DOUG DUCHARDT: "Next year, we do have five cars. The fifth car will run part time with Terry Labonte. We have obligations for that and we're planning on doing that. After that, we'll have to work with NASCAR on getting back to four. It's not as complicated as Jack Roush's situation. And I don't want to speak for Rick Hendrick on all this, but I know that he'll comply and work with NASCAR to get to where they want to be."
J.D. GIBBS: "Yeah, I think from our standpoint it would have been a lot easier if four or five years ago NASCAR said here's the deal. I don't think it's in the best interest of the sport to have five or six owners have all the cars -- which might be where you go do, or might now be where you go to. But the difference here is Jack (Roush) has put all his equity and effort into building these teams the way they have. What NASCAR needs to do is if you're going to make these changes, you've got to bring some equity back to the teams. Jack Kent Cooke, who was the owner of the Redskins, would scream and yell every year that he was losing money. And he probably was -- or breaking even. But he forgot to mention that his equity went up $30 million a year. Over here, it's not a financial bonanza by any means. But if you have that equity that you knew was going to be in those teams, it would probably make a big difference. I know it would for us. So if you did want to do something different, you'd have something that the bank would value."
ON THE LIMITATION OF TEAMS AGAIN - IF NASCAR SAYS YOU COULD SELL A TEAM TO A NEW OWNER THAT COULD USE YOUR FACILITIES, HIRE SOME OF YOUR OWN EMPLOYEES, AND PROVIDE THE ENGINES, WHAT WOULD MAKE THAT ANY DIFFERENT THAN HAVING ONE OF YOUR TEAMS IN SOMEONE ELSE'S NAME?
DOUG DUCHARDT: "One of the things to make sure is noted, is that all of us help other teams -- whether we sell them engines or give engineering services. For us, we feel like we have great partners with the MB group and with Haas and this year, J.D. (Gibbs) is venturing into that with Hall of Fame Racing. And Ray (Evernham) supplies engines for the Pettys and other teams. The fact is, a lot of what we do is an enabler for teams that are coming into the sport. With our infrastructure, someone would have to build an engine shop. As we all know, that's an expensive proposition. The fact that we are able to support those teams to help them get in the sport, shouldn't be overlooked.
"While we're on the verge of having too many teams being bad for the sports, without the big teams to help the people get up to speed quickly, you're not going to get the new teams to come in and compete at a high level without that opportunity to get good pieces and good engineering."