TONY EURY Sr. (Crew chief No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo) NOTE: Eury, a 46-year-old veteran NASCAR mechanic, talks about his relationship with Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt and his current driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. "My father (Ralph Eury)...
TONY EURY Sr. (Crew chief No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo)
NOTE: Eury, a 46-year-old veteran NASCAR mechanic, talks about his relationship with Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt and his current driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"My father (Ralph Eury) raced and Ralph Earnhardt built his motors. Ralph was kind of quiet, and kind of different from most of the drivers. He wasn't a conversationist. He didn't have a whole lot to say. If he didn't want you around, he just wouldn't talk to you so you would leave. He had to pay for all his own equipment, and he would take good care of his equipment. He didn't get out there and really charge. He would run second all night to keep from beating his car up and beat 'em on the last lap or whatever he had to do to win the race. The circumstances were a lot different when he raced. We always parked beside him. Ralph and my daddy were really close.
"I drove six years. I ran a modified class on dirt. I won six races in six years. The first two years I didn't win. I just did it as a hobby. I started racing in 1975 and quit in '81.
"Dale and I played in the yard when my daddy was picking up motors. That's how I met Dale, going over there picking up motors. I started helping Dale part-time in 1976. I went back in 1982 and started working on his Busch cars. I was working a day job and worked over there at night. I didn't go to work full-time for him until 1986. I had a retirement plan where I was working, and I wouldn't go to work for him until I got my retirement. I just had to work there 15 years, and I had already been there 12. I was working at Great Dane Trailers in Charlotte, N.C. I was a mechanic. Dale worked there, too, for awhile. He was a mechanic, too. He's a pretty good mechanic, but he's a better driver. I'm a better mechanic. I quit racing because I ran out of money.
"There's too much difference in the years to compare those three as drivers. I believe Jr. takes care of his equipment a little bit better than Dale did at the same age. That's because we beat it into him. We stay on him pretty hard about saving equipment, and his daddy does, too. His daddy didn't have anybody doing that to him. Everybody knows Dale was pretty rough on his stuff when he first started. I always thought he was his own enemy. I think Jake Elder probably helped Dale out more than anybody.
"I helped Dale a couple of races in '82. He didn't have any full-time help. Everybody just kind of hung out and helped him at night. Three of us hung out there. Dale quit driving a Busch car in 1994 and Jeff Green came in 1995. Steve Park came then and won three races, and then Junior started driving the Busch car. He won seven races the first year and six races the second year and won the championship both years. He had driven Late Model Stocks in Myrtle Beach before he got into Busch, and we'd help him out during the week with those cars. Dale made him work on his own stuff.
"He didn't win a whole lot of races, but he was consistent every week. He wrecked his street stock car one time, and he wrecked it pretty bad. They got Sharpies out and wrote all over the car, all over the decals, all over it, just like a bunch of kids. They brought it back and Dale saw it and asked why they had written all over it. They told him it was wrecked and they were just having some fun. Dale told them the car wasn't hurt and they were going to fix it. They got the frame machine out and fixed it.
"We really didn't see the win coming last week at Texas with Dale Jr. That's the first race track we'd been to that we hadn't tested at. Since we Saturday, April 8, 2000. Martinsville Speedway. Advance material for Goody's Body Pain 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 2.
TONY EURY Sr. (Crew chief No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo) ran so good at Atlanta, we decided we weren't going to test at Texas. We couldn't really decide which car we wanted to race because we tore up our Atlanta car. We took the car we had raced at Las Vegas. We thought it was the second best car we had. We thought the Atlanta car was better, but it wasn't ready. We ended up getting the Atlanta car done it time, but we just carried it as a backup. We got down there and the Vegas car came out of the truck pretty fast at Texas. It's been good everywhere it's been. He's qualified good everywhere he's been in qualifying.
"We share a lot of notes with Dale and Kevin Hamlin. We came to Martinsville and tested, and we had all of Dale and Kevin's notes when we came here to test. That ended up about the best we ran was with his setup. With our qualifying deal at Charlotte last year, and Dale hadn't qualified well at Charlotte the last couple of times he'd been there. He used our qualifying package and qualified up front. We were up front. Steve Park qualified with it and he was up front. They've been sharing their race stuff with us and we've been sharing our qualifying stuff with them. All three teams are qualifying pretty good. Dale Jr. has a real good feel for qualifying setups, but we couldn't get a car to make a 60-lap run on a mile and a half race track. We could make it run 30 and then we'd tear the tires up and get lapped.
"We started working with their notes, and I think Dale Jr. has got a little smarter. He knows what it needs to feel like when he starts to get to the end. That's made a big difference, plus Texas is probably one of Dale Jr.'s favorite places. He doesn't see the problems that everybody else says it has. He went down there and learned to drive it the way it is. It was that way when he got there, and he says it's one of his favorite places. I think that was a lot of help, and knowing he had won a Busch race there helped, too. He had a lot of confidence when he went down there.
"I don't know if he (Dale Jr.) is as gutsy as his father or not. He's pret ty close. They both get themselves in a lot of trouble sometimes. I really don't calm him that much. We kind of let the spotter do it.
"I told Dale Jr. last week that as good as the car was, we could make up what we lost (changing four tires on every stop at Texas). The car was too good to try to put two tires on it. It may have run the same, but we didn't want to jeopardize anything. If you put two tires on it and it doesn't work, then you start changing everything. If you ever move it, it's always hard to get it back where it was.
"Our race team has kind of grown with the drivers. All our pit day guys except two have been with us since 1986. We've got some different people in the shop, but the pit crew is pretty much the same except the rear tire changer and the tire carrier. I've always told everybody that I didn't think there was a lot of difference between Winston Cup racing and Busch racing. Everybody has always looked at me like I was crazy. I know Winston Cup racing is tough, there ain't no doubt about that, but Busch racing is tough, too. Some of these Cup guys go home when they come over there and try to qualify for a Busch race. It ain't easy to win a Busch race, and we kind of hit on some things over there the last couple of years that made our cars real good. We brought these cars over here and that car last week had a lot of stuff we ran in the Busch car in it. A lot of stuff we ran on the Busch car has worked on our Winston Cup car. Saturday, April 8, 2000. Martinsville Speedway. Advance material for Goody's Body Pain 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 3.
TONY EURY Sr. (Crew chief No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo)
"We can do whatever we want. We talk between the Pennzoil team and us and try to take the best of both worlds for both guys. It seems like the two drivers are kind of different. They don't want the same feel. We're having a little problem with that, but we've got it worked out and we know what the difference is.
"Our whole race team came up here with plans of winning races. The whole race team wanted to beat Tony Stewart's record from last year. I guess everybody else is wondering if we can win more races than Tony Stewart. Tony Stewart has got a good race team. He had a lot of notes to go by off that 18 car, and we're not in that same situation. The 1 car ran good last year in some places. Steve got hurt the year before, and he was kind of hurt last year. We don't have a whole lot of real good notes to go off of like Tony had last year. It's been a little tougher for us to get our cars working.
"Dale Jr. ran some Late Models here, but he never ran Busch at Martinsville. Martinsville will be a good test for him. We ran out of brakes at Richmond last year, so this will be a really good test for the brakes. I think our brake program was off a little bit last year. We didn't have the car exactly like it needed to be. We've got the car a little better.
"My son (Tony Eury Jr.) is 26. I've got Tony Jr. (car chief) where he does all the chassis setups and we've got him a springslinger, a guy who helps him at the race track. Tony Jr. and I talk things over, but we're trying to get Tony Jr. where he can make calls that everybody is comfortable with. A lot of times I step in and might change it. A lot of things he wants to do works and a lot of things don't. I tried those things before and will step in and explain why. It's just like Dale talking to Dale Jr. about a race track telling him he needs to do this or that. That's the way I've been doing Tony Jr., and he's turned into a dang good mechanic.
"I don't have a problem with Dale Jr. I don't know I've ever made a call that's he's said he didn't want to try. He's willing to try anything we want to try, and he's learned a lot about it. These cars react different than Busch cars, and he's kind of learning about that.
"Dale was pretty happy last week. I think he was happy for the whole race team. He built probably 75 percent of this team. He's got his brother on it and a lot of close friends. It's something he built back in '85 and '86. I know it was special knowing his son had just won a Winston Cup race, but I think it was a lot more than Dale Jr. winning it. He was pretty proud of a lot of other people on there, too.
"We definitely want to win the rookie title this year, and I don't think we'll be happy if we don't win three races. If we can win three races and win the rookie title and get in the top 15 in points, I think everybody would be pretty happy. Even though we are a rookie team, we should be a top 15 team. You just have to set a goal for yourself, and that's the goal we've set. I don't think we'd be satisfied with anything less, even though we are a bunch of rookies."