DOUG DUCHARDT, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, TALKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT BRIAN VICKERS: DOUG DUCHARDT: You know, there's been a long history with Brian and Hendrick Motorsports and success there, so there's a lot of ...
DOUG DUCHARDT, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, TALKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT BRIAN VICKERS:
DOUG DUCHARDT: You know, there's been a long history with Brian and Hendrick Motorsports and success there, so there's a lot of strong relationships there. You're changing those relationships, so yeah, there is a bit of sadness with that.
Q. Chance to get better, though?
DOUG DUCHARDT: Well, we're focused, and I know I'm speaking for Brian and Lance and that crew, we want to get Brian's first win in that 25 car, and we almost got it a year ago at this track. We have two thirds of the season to continue to try to get that, and we're also going to Talladega. I think we have the equipment and Brian's got the talent and we just need to try to get that done this year and do the best we can.
Q. Is it fair to call this a surprise?
DOUG DUCHARDT: From a Hendrick standpoint, it was a surprise, yeah. We did not know that this was going to be requested; Brian came to us. It's been stated that he was requesting permission to look at other opportunities. He is still currently under contract with Hendrick Motorsports. We gave him permission to look at those other opportunities, so yes, we are surprised.
Q. His deal is through 2009?
DOUG DUCHARDT: It is further than the end of '06, I'll say that.
Q. Is Casey Mears your lead candidate? He's very interested in your organization, but has it been stated that he's exactly going there?
DOUG DUCHARDT: Well, we obviously are now in the business of looking for a new driver, and there's only a finite amount of people available and certainly Casey is one of those. We have discussed with Casey the potential of joining our operation, but we have nothing to announce at this time.
Q. How quick do you want to get something done?
DOUG DUCHARDT: I think it would be the best for everyone involved if we could get something done quickly, but really we have no timetable.
Q. What kind of driver do you want in that car? What's important to Hendrick? The 25 car, some say that that's the fourth dog in the stable. What kind of driver do you want?
DOUG DUCHARDT: We want a fast one. You know, I know there's speculation about that car, and I still go back ?? the same group of people, the driver and that crew were the ones that went on the streak beginning with this race last year, one of the strongest teams in the garage area through the middle half of the season here. If you go back and look at it, the facts back that up.
So we know that those cars are good, those engines are good. It's a tough sport, and sometimes it gels and sometimes it doesn't, and we need to get back on track and run well.
DOUG DUCHARDT: Well, certainly there's a bit of emotion for everyone, and I think that we're professionals. I know Brian is a professional, I think our team is a professional, we act professionally, and we're going to go out and try to execute the best we can. I think when it really comes down to it, the engine starts, you get on track, you focus on the job at hand and we'll be fine.
Q. You mentioned earlier about the lack of drivers. I know Toyota was looking for drivers. They have two people which most people were kind of unexpectedly didn't know were going to be leaving and two teams looking for drivers. What is the driver market like right now?
DOUG DUCHARDT: Well, I don't really want to talk about who's contacted us because some of those things I think should remain private. I think from our standpoint, what I feel good about is I think we have a reputation for having a good product. It's a place, a distinction for people to want to come and drive, so yeah, we've had inquiries and we're looking at all those.
Q. Are you planning on talking to many more, or is Casey pretty much the first target at this point?
DOUG DUCHARDT: The best thing for us is to look at every option out there, and that's our plan.
Q. What do you know about Brian Vickers as far as a driver, and what will he be able to lend to others based on being at Hendrick? What kind of a driver is he?
DOUG DUCHARDT: Brian is a very smart young man and he's very astute. I'm sure he has some ideas about how we were organized, what worked, what didn't work. I don't know where Brian is going, but wherever he goes, he's very strong qualifier and he's got a lot of talent. He's 22 years old, and I think there's a great upside for Brian.
Q. What do you think of Casey Mears not pegging you into getting him but as a candidate, and as one of the leading candidates, what do you know about him?
DOUG DUCHARDT: I know he's 13th in points, and that's ?? it takes something to do that, and I think that he has a personality and the way he handles himself; I think it calls into what Rick expects. I think that's another positive with Casey. I think he's well respected.
Q. With Kyle and some of the issues he's had this year, how have you all kind of talked with him about it and tried to get him to settle down a little bit?
DOUG DUCHARDT: Well, Kyle, I enjoy Kyle a lot. He's a very special young man, and I know he cares a great deal with his team and Hendrick Motorsports, and I know that all of us around him try to talk to him about handling the frustrations of this business. It's a tough business. I mean, it is tough to manage the highs and lows, and I think he's really dedicating himself to try to get better, and I've seen improvement through this year. I know it may seem odd that I say that, but I really feel I've seen improvement this year, and I'm proud he's going to be around our place for a while. He's a great talent and he's a good kid, and I think he's going to have a lot of success in Winston Cup and NEXTEL Cup.
Q. Granted, he's not a typical 21 year old to be driving a racecar, but in terms of how he's handled some things, is it just what you see of most guys that age?
DOUG DUCHARDT: I think NASCAR racing is unique in that the frustrations that occur at the track ?? it's like going into the dugout when someone is throwing a water cooler around after giving up a home run. You don't get to go down there between innings and ask a pitcher why he threw that ball over the place. This sport is unique in that way. You take that adrenaline and then calm down, and to come and be able to respond the way you'd like to, it's a difficult thing and something that takes hopefully some time to learn.