Michigan II: Childress, Menard - Friday media visit

RICHARD CHILDRESS and PAUL MENARD met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway to discuss this week's announcement of Menard driving a fourth Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in 2011. RICHARD CHILDRESS: "We're really...

RICHARD CHILDRESS and PAUL MENARD met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway to discuss this week's announcement of Menard driving a fourth Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in 2011.

RICHARD CHILDRESS: "We're really excited about it. A lot of people have asked, 'Why four teams? Why are you going back to four teams?' That's a question that I know we'll get, so I figure I'll go ahead and get that one out of the way. We felt that right now is a really good time to do it. We had it in 2009, and that wasn't any effect on our performance. We're going to do this team completely different than we did that one. I think the key thing is Paul, his driving abilities fits right in with our guys. Jeff, and all our guys are excited about having him over; he's done such a great job on the race track, just improving. He took off early this year and was in the points a pretty good ways up there. We feel that we can take and keep him right up there running for the Chase next year. We're excited about it. The end of 2009, we came on real strong and all four teams were running good. That's kind of where we're at.

"As far as Menards [as a sponsor] the history with me goes back quite a few years with Menards. We had Robby Gordon and myself put a deal together to run Menards; John owned the car with me at Indianapolis. I've got some past history. It's just a great company, a great company to be involved with, and that's one thing that we're fortunate at RCR is to surround ourselves with great companies. We're excited about being with Menards and Paul's driving ability--it just gets better every week just watching him in these Nationwide races and watching him in the Cup races. It's pretty impressive and I think everybody in here has seen that as well."

PAUL MENARD: "Like Richard eluded to, the time was right for us to make this move. We've known each other for 10 years or so, since the IndyCar program in 2000 or 2001. We've always kicked this around, we've kicked this around for years and the time was right to pull the trigger on it and go for it. As far as a fourth team, that's a question I had for Richard is how is it going to work this time. The answer I got was that really the fourth team had no bearing on the performance last year. They really upped their engineering game, and got their cars improved over the winter, and there is no reason why a fourth team right now won't work. It's an honor to be associated with RCR. He's had a very successful past and from everything I see, it's going to be a very successful future."

RICHARD, YOU TALKED ABOUT STRUCTURING THIS FOURTH TEAM DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU DID THE LAST TIME. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON WHAT YOU MEAN?

CHILDRESS: "Yes, I think one of the big things that we did is from the top down, how we restructured RCR with Scott Miller, boosting up our engineering department with Kent Day. I think our engine program is as solid as it has ever been for four teams. I just thing the engineering-side of where we're at, and where we were then, and the structure from the top down--Mike Dillon is still over our competition, but he has the right people in the right places now to make it work. I think that is the biggest thing, it's about people. I think we put together the people to make this thing really work and to have a fourth team be competitive as well."

WHAT DO YOU DO ABOUT POINTS? DO YOU THINK YOU'LL FIND A WAY TO GET PAUL LOCKED IN FOR DAYTONA, OR DO YOU ANTICIPATE HAVING TO RACE YOUR WAY IN? CHILDRESS: "Well, we're going to see. That's coming down the road. If there is an opportunity for us to get the points, we will definitely go after the points."

ARE YOU GOING TO DO THE TWO-AND-TWO STRUCTURE FOR YOUR TEAMS LIKE RICK HENDRICK DOES? OR ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE ALL FOUR TEAMS WORKING TOGETHER? AND WHO IS GOING TO BE THE CREW CHIEF? WHAT ABOUT SLUGGER [LABBE], IS HE IN THE PICTURE AT ALL? CHILDRESS: "We're working, Mike Dillon is working right now, we've been looking at some opportunities for crew chiefs and we've been talking [to a few options]. Paul can maybe answer the part about Slugger. Right now, we're just talking to a lot of different people. As far as two and two, we feel that we're one team with four drivers and that's the way we look at it, and we don't want to separate two and two, or nothing like that. Everybody works in the same area. All of our shops and crew chiefs are together and it works out really well. All of our drivers are excited about having Paul aboard as well."

MENARD: "As far as Slugger, we've had a great relationship this year. I would love to work with him in the future. RPM did pick up his contract option for next year, but if it works out where I can work with Slugger in the future I'd definitely welcome it."

RICHARD, WITH ADDING THIS TEAM, WILL YOU NEED TO HIRE MORE PEOPLE OR WILL YOU JUST MOVE PEOPLE FROM THE NATIONWIDE PROGRAM THAT YOU HAD OVER THERE? HOW WILL YOU INCORPORATE THE PEOPLE, AND HOW DOES THAT IMPACT EVERYONE ELSE THAT YOU EMPLOY? CHILDRESS: "We will be adding more people, but we will be using a few from the Nationwide shop. Most of them, Mike Dillon that's his role, he's been already looking around, seeing who's available, seeing who's not under contract, or who's contracts may be coming up that may be available."

RICHARD, DO YOU HAVE A CAR NUMBER YET? CHILDRESS: "We've got one, but I think I'm going to talk to the marketing folks at Menards and to Paul, and let it be a joint--We've got the number 15, and Paul has driven it before--but we don't know that that's the number that we're going to use yet. I want Paul to be happy with what he's driving as well, and what the Menards want to help market around."

PAUL, THIS IS THE FOURTH TIME YOU'VE SWITCHED TEAMS AND EACH TIME YOUR FAMILY SPONSORSHIP HAS FOLLOWED YOU. THERE ARE SOME FANS THAT BELIEVE YOU'RE ONLY ABLE TO DO THIS BECAUSE YOU'VE GOT FAMILY BACKING. DO YOU SEE THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY WITH A REALLY GOOD TEAM TO SORT OF REPROVE THAT IT'S MORE THAN JUST THE NAME IF YOU CAN COME IN HERE AND DO WELL? MENARD: "Yeah, I've had some good relationships in the past. I spent a long time at DEI. Left there and went to Yates, which merged with RPM, so I think that is staying in the same place. We had all options to leave Yates at the end of '09; we had a two-year agreement with them. We decided to stick it through 2010, and it's been a good year. I've got a lot of great relationships at RPM, and it's just time to make a move. Of course, I've got my family backing me and if they're going to back somebody--they're going to be involved in this sport one way or another. My dad has been going to Indianapolis since the mid-70s before I was born. I grew up around racing. I've got the racing background, my family are huge race fans, they've been competitors in the past. If they're going to back somebody, I'm probably the easiest one to yell at and I can dish it back out, so it's a good lateral relationship that if I have to answer to somebody as a sponsor it's my brothers, my sisters and my uncle and my dad. We can work it out."

DOES IT COME WITH ANY EXTRA PRESSURE THAT YOU HAVE TO DELIVER BECAUSE IT'S YOUR FAMILY NAME ON THE SIDE OF THE CAR? MENARD: "Earlier on, you heard a lot of that. It's all talk though. It's all what you make of it and I've looked past that and grew past that. People will always be talking about it and there is nothing that you can do about that. Bottom line is we're a racing family, we have a racing heritage, and I'm a racecar driver and that's what we enjoy doing. It's kind of our hobby, it's part of our business, and it's worked in the past and will work in the future."

CHILDRESS: "I'd like to comment on that real quick. I get the same thing with Austin Dillon [my grandson] driving our truck--he's got the break, but the difference is Paul and Austin both are making a difference. They've got the opportunity, but if you watch them on the race tracks, Paul does the job on the race track. It's something that he loves to do and a passion; it's not just because he's got the sponsor that comes along. He's got the drive to go out and want to win just like Austin. I get that question and Austin gets the same thing. The difference is both of these guys really want to go out and win."

PAUL, WHEN YOU GO MAKE A MOVE LIKE THIS DO YOU HAVE TO GO TO YOUR FAMILY AND JUSTIFY IT FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE, OR DOES YOUR FAMILY LOOK AT IT FROM A RACING PERSPECTIVE AND VIEW IT AS A GOOD MOVE? MENARD: "I get a lot of questions about why we're doing something or how it's going to work out in Menard Incorporated's best interest. It's questions that any sponsor would ask of their driver and their team representatives--that's no different. Luckily, I've got direct phone numbers to every board of directors at Menards, and we can sit down once a quarter and talk about it."

RICHARD, WHERE ARE YOU AT ON SPONSORSHIP FOR THE 29? CHILDRESS: "Hopefully we'll be making an announcement next week. We're pretty excited about this year and the future especially. John, Paul's dad, is a neat guy and like he said I've known the family for years. He expects results because he has a board to answer to so we got to go out and win races and put the thing up front."

PAUL, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PROGRESS THIS SEASON AND THE KIND OF SEASON THAT YOU'RE HAVING? AND RICHARD, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE POTENTIAL YOU SEE IN PAUL AND THE KIND OF SEASON THAT HE IS HAVING? MENARD: "This year, I've been pretty happy with this year. We're not where we want to be in points; we want to improve on that. We've had some really good runs, especially early on in the year. As of late we've kind of gotten behind in I guess May or June; we just kind of got behind and we're trying to make up for that right now. Richard Petty Motorsports is a great organization there is a lot of smart people there. When the merger with Yates happened in late December, we were way behind; having to move shops twice during the off season, not having cars built and trying to build cars throughout the moving process. We had every opportunity to really fall on our face when the season started but everybody really worked hard and Slugger and all of the crew chiefs at RPM with Kenny Shiplett and Wally Rogers, at the time, they got the job done. Like I said, it's a great organization and we've got a very good relationship."

CHILDRESS: "I think there's more pressure on RCR than there is on Paul to go out and perform. He's proved what he can do this year, and now we have to go out and prove that we can give him the equipment as good as he's got and hopefully we can get him better in the points and get him up there contending for a win. If you look back at some of the races, I've watched him over the last few years, he's got what it takes to win if put in the right place and the right equipment and that's our job to do."

SCOTT MILLER WAS REALLY HIGH ON YOU PAUL AND TALKED ABOUT YOUR TALENT. I WANT TO ASK, WHEN YOU ARE SWITCHING SO MANY TEAMS AND YOU'VE GOT TO MEET A LOT OF NEW PEOPLE AND ADAPT TO THE SITUATIONS. NOW YOU HAVE A WHOLE NEW SET OF PEOPLE AND THE WAY THEY OPERATE, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF THAT WHEN YOU MOVE FROM TEAM TO TEAM? MENARD: "I mean, that's one of the toughest parts about it honestly. We have a three year deal here, so it's a place where I can really grow in to and get to know everybody. Spending two years at Yates, last year, and RPM, this year, I feel like it took a good six months to get to know how the Yates/RPM/Roush whole fixture works. That's a pretty complex system that they have. It just takes time. Luckily I've been in this sport long enough to really know different crew members on different teams. Richard has some people that I've worked with at DEI before while working up there, so there are some familiar faces. It's a people sport for sure and I feel like I've got a good relationship with a lot of people in the garage."

RICHARD, I'M ASSUMING THAT YOU DIDN'T' GET THE MEMO THAT THE ECONOMY IS DOWN, AND YET YOU'RE IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAVE A PENDING SPONSORSHIP ANNOUNCEMENT AND YOU'RE ADDING A TEAM WITH A SPONSOR. WHAT DO YOU ATTEST YOUR GROWTH TO DURING SUCH A TOUGH TIME? CHILDRESS: "I think a lot of it and it's nothing to do with any other teams, but I think it boils down to performance. If we were performing like we did at the start of 2009, we wouldn't be in this situation today. We knew that we have to keep our teams performing at whatever cost to get back up front because that's where the sponsors are, as long as we produce on the racetrack it makes it easier to get sponsors. We've made a huge investment and we're still making investments even in these times in new equipment and new stuff. We've got so much going on at RCR now with new programs that we're really proud of it. You've got to keep growing; you can't live on what you did last year. We can live next year on whatever we do this year either."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Robby Gordon , Richard Petty , Austin Dillon
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Richard Petty Motorsports , CIP