Richard Childress Team Owner, Richard Childress Racing Note: ...
Richard Childress Team Owner, Richard Childress Racing
Note: #29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet crew chief Todd Berrier was penalized by NASCAR as a result of Friday's infractions during qualifying. Berrier will not be the crew chief for this weekend's race; Gil Martin will crew chief the #29 car.
PLEASE GIVE US YOUR OPINION ON THE SITUATION AND BERRIER BEING ESCORTED OFF THE PREMISES Well, I don't think he was escorted. He was just told he needed to leave, to clarify that. The next thing is, I gave my opinion to NASCAR this morning. They know my feelings on the situation that's happened over the past few weeks and I'm going to leave it at that. Let you all figure it out.
SOME THINGS HAVE HAPPENED WITH OTHER TEAMS LATELY WHICH HAVE NOT RESULTED IN A PENALTY. CAN YOU COMMENT ON THAT I was very outspoken with NASCAR this morning and I'm going to leave it at that. I'm biting my tongue.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. #8 Budweiser Chevrolet
HOW WAS MORNING DRAFTING PRACTICE? It was good. It was good. I can lead the group. I can lead pretty decent. Tony Stewart's car is the best, so if he's behind me and he wants to, he might be able to pass me. We've got a pretty good car.
Joe Nemechek #01 U.S. Army Chevrolet
Note: Changed engines after morning practice; will start Sunday's race from the rear of the pack.
HOW WAS PRACTICE? Okay. We ran pretty good. We lost an engine there that first practice. We had to change the motor and we'll have to start from the back.
HOW DID THAT NEW MOTOR FEEL? Everything felt about the same.
HOW IS YOUR CAR IN THE DRAFT? Yeah, it just depends who you get with. It's one of those things.
Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe's Chevrolet
ON TESTING AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY THIS WEEK When all the Cup cars hit the track -- we were the first on the track after the grinding -- I believe the track was really difficult to get hold of. Granted, in the Busch test, there were quite a few crashes. But personally, I didn't find a huge issue with anything. The track was extremely fast. It was slick. It was tough to drive when the sun was out, but that's Charlotte. That track has always been like that. Lowe's Motor Speedway is one of the toughest tracks to drive on when the sun is out. It just seemed that way to me. It was very smooth and very fast. Once the sun went down and the night came on, I turned some of my fastest laps ever at that race track in a Busch car in race trim on 40 - 50-lap tires. So it's a very fast race track right now.
THERE HAS BEEN SPECULATION ABOUT USING RESTRICTOR PLATES AT LOWE'S. YOUR THOUGHTS? I think a plate would actually make things faster. Right now, we're forced to lift and handling is brought into the mix of things. If it was easy to run wide-open around there, everybody could do it and we'd all be in a big pack and be playing aero games; and I think the speeds would actually come up some from what they are right now.
A LOT HAS BEEN MADE OF POST-RACE TECH INSPECTION LAST WEEK AT DOVER. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF NASCAR'S REACTION AS A RESULT OF HOW YOUR CAR CAME THROUGH TECH? Last weekend we went through tech and we passed. If we were illegal, we would have been disqualified. Points would have been taken away for whatever it was. We passed tech and everything was fine. There was a question. NASCAR impounded the shocks and looked at our stuff and said we were perfectly legal and actually nodded their cap at us and said hey, that's good work, but it looks like there is probably going to be a rule change after that. And that happens in our sport every week. If NASCAR sees something the teams are doing and it's not a written rule yet and now they need to make it a written rule. So we're just doing everything we can. This is the final 10 and my guys are working really hard to find an advantage. We found one that was short-lived. The thing that frustrates me is all the complaining and crying that's going on. When you look at guys who go on five-race tears or an organization that has all five cars in the Chase, they're doing something as well. We all are. It's just if there is a written rule on it, you get in trouble. There wasn't. There will be, I guess, before long and we'll just run on with it.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FACT THAT THERE WILL BE A WRITTEN RULE BECAUSE MAYBE YOU HAVE OUTSMARTED THEM? Back to the drawing board. That's our engineers' job. It's Chad's job. It's what all of these organizations do. We all have engineers. We all have resources. We all go to the wind tunnel and we look for everything we can find. It's just the cat and mouse game that's played.
DID THIS TAKE SOME OF YOUR ADVANTAGE AWAY HEADING INTO THE LAST EIGHT RACES? No, I don't think so. We've got a lot of other things we've been working on. We've been trying to understand exactly what the Roush teams have been doing also this morning. So everybody is working the gray areas. And the thing that everybody has to remember is that we did not do anything wrong. There is going to be a rule made of it because we found something that nobody had thought of yet. But we are absolutely fine. We passed tech with no penalties and no fines and no suspension, nothing. We were a-okay.
YOU SEEM TO DO WELL AT THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS. ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT GOING TO KANSAS CITY NEXT WEEK? Yeah, we tested at Kansas and at Texas. We've tested in quite a few places. So we're excited. Once again, we've saved all of our test sessions trying to lay things out so we can take advantage of the final 10 and have our best cars.
DO YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT ALL THE ATTENTION THE SHOCK SITUATION HAS PLACED ON YOUR TEAM? Well, I don't understand all the hype. We cleared tech. There were no monetary fines, no points (deductions), nothing. There were nods from NASCAR saying hey you guys are pretty smart, but there is probably going to be a rule change. So to us, it's been a compliment. I think it's just normal when something goes wrong, the fish story grows and the car went from being questionable in tech and where NASCAR looked at something, to us being ¾" high, which is ridiculous. I think the other competitors need to believe in NASCAR and realize that if our car really was ¾" high, that we would have been out. Something big would have happened. It never changes. There are always rumors and stuff floating around. The bottom line is that we cleared tech and everything was fine. We went home. There were no issues. And then the hype behind it kind of built some steam and here we are trying to just explain what took place a week later. I'm proud of my guys. They worked hard and found something. NASCAR admitted that there wasn't a written rule for what we were doing. It looks like there is a written rule coming and we'll just move on to the next thing.
JAMIE MCMURRAY SAID HE WISHES HIS GUYS WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT, BUT DALE JARRETT WAS FURIOUS. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE MIXED OPINIONS IN THE GARAGE? The only thing that's frustrating in our sport is when a team can visually see that somebody else is doing something instead of working on their stuff and have that same advantage. They just walk right through the garage area over to the NASCAR truck and say, hey, the No. 48 looks like this. NASCAR says okay and takes a look. We've never done that. We've never gone in the truck and complained that somebody was doing this or that. Really, we could have been in the (NASCAR) truck complaining that all five Roush cars made the Chase or that Tony (Stewart) being on a tear. But really, we look at it as a challenge. Those guys have found something and it's our job to catch up and find something else. That's what we'll do and we'll keep looking forward.
HOW DOES TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY RANK AMONG THE OTHER TRACKS? It's just another nice 1.5-mile track in the middle of nowhere like most tracks (laughs). It's got a nice motor home lot. The track treats everybody well. Everywhere we go the facilities are nice. It is nice to have Dallas not far away. We'll shoot up there and have dinner one night. It reminds me a lot of what we have at Chicago.
ON TALLADEGA BEING PART OF THE CHASE, ARE TEAMS GIVING MORE EMPHASIS TO THEIR PLATE PROGRAMS? Yes and no. We've ramped up our plate program and have a designated fab area where crew guys are just working on the plate stuff. But beyond that, we haven't tested for the plate races. We just know that the Chase revolves around other races. And when you're in the draft, you're there and everybody is equal. All the testing that has taken place in year's past was to run one lap. Qualifying was so important and making the show was so important. But now it looks like impound races are going to be the wave of the future, it really takes away that need to test and develop and have such an expensive R&D program on restrictor plate racing.
IS TALLADEGA STILL ONE OF THOSE PLACES WHERE DRIVERS JUST WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE AND BACK TO 'REAL' RACING? No, I think everybody has the same mindset. When you're at a 1.5-mile or a normal track, most guys think they have a shot at winning. I really think everybody -- the drivers in the Chase, especially -- just wants to get out of here with a top 10 (finish). If you walked through the garage area and asked every driver in the top 10 to sign on the dotted line for a 10th place finish, they'd take it -- including myself. I would take a 10th place and get on out of here in a heartbeat.
#00 Tide Chevrolet will be driven by Bobby Hamilton, Jr. in Sunday's race. Mike Skinner had originally qualified the #00 on Friday; Skinner will drive the #34 Ford.