TRAVIS CARTER, Owner --26 and 66 Ford Tauruses -- "Carl Haas and myself have developed this race team over the last couple of years and we're continuing to work and try to improve performance. We're spending a lot of money developing and...
TRAVIS CARTER, Owner --26 and 66 Ford Tauruses -- "Carl Haas and myself have developed this race team over the last couple of years and we're continuing to work and try to improve performance. We're spending a lot of money developing and building cars. We have an excellent engine program with Robert Yates and we're going to continue to do that in the years to come. We've built two new facilities over the last three or four years in Statesville and we're just expressing a great commitment to Winston Cup racing and we're going to continue to do that. Our purpose today is really not to announce, but to confirm our drivers for the future. As you all probably know, Jimmy Spencer will continue with us next year, and our confirmation of the news is the addition of Todd Bodine to join forces with us and Jimmy. As a team, we're looking with great enthusiasm to having Todd join us. He's a young guy who is very energetic and enthusiastic. I think the guy's got some great history under his belt over the last four or five years and we've been very impressed. We think he's very car smart. He's involved with the team and the people working on the cars. I don't know if he's a real engineer, but only time will tell. I think over the course of the last six months, the 66 has kind of floated along and hasn't been that impressive, but I think Jimmy's team has stepped up a lot. His on-track performance has been much, much better. The finishes haven't really been what we expected, but if we look at how the car runs, and that's the first gauge, he can run pretty competitively close to the top 10 in a lot of races and that's our goal -- to continue to do that. We want both of our cars capable to do that and the next step at the end of the day is to have them in the top 10. We're making progress to that end and we're looking forward to both of these guys being with us and helping us to do that."
CARL HAAS, Owner --26 and 66 Ford Tauruses -- "Travis and I have a great partnership and get a long fine -- better than fine, excellent. I enjoy being involved in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. I may not come to all the races, but I promise you I'm dedicated to it and I enjoy it. The main purpose for being here is to talk about the drivers for next year. Of course, Jimmy Spencer is staying with us and I'm really a supporter of Jimmy's. He's been racing for a while with NASCAR and I think he's got a lot more potential than he's shown this year and it's great that he qualified fourth for the race yesterday. I'm proud to say that Todd Bodine has joined us and I think it's gonna be a good match with Jimmy and Todd. I wish Todd all the luck in the world and we're gonna try to do as much for him as we can."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- "I'm proud to have Todd as a teammate. When Travis and Carl were going through the picking of drivers, I said I didn't want to be involved in the picking because I didn't think it would be fair to the 66 team or to my team to influence whoever they would pick. That was their decision and our crew -- Donnie (Wingo) and myself -- made a decision that whoever they picked, we would work with. I think they picked a good guy in Todd. He's run some Winston Cup before, but I don't think he's ever been in a situation he needed to be in. That's why I'm staying with Travis and Carl. I feel like they're doing what it takes. They do it very quietly and the one thing I'll give Carl credit for is he doesn't come to the media and neither does Travis. They're very closed-lipped. They know they've had some problems in the past and they keep fixing them -- the motor situation, the car situation. I have to reiterate what Travis said. I think the last 12-14 races, all except for two of my favorite tracks, Dover and Bristol, the 26 car has run really, really strong. "We've had top 10 cars, but we made some mistakes as a team to take us out of the top 10 even though we ran their all day. We feel like we can do that in tomorrow's race. I'm proud to be associated with Carl. He has a great history in CART and he's a determined man. He wants to be successful in NASCAR Winston Cup and I'm glad Todd's on board with us. I think we can work well together with Larry (Carter) and himself and Donnie and myself, and we can keep producing top 10 finishes."
"In Winston Cup racing, the drivers and the car owners get the limelight and they also get criticized. But my crew members, including Todd's, everyone at my shop and Todd's shop has worked their guts out this year building cars, cutting bodies off -- our motor department the same way. We have not given them the results we wanted, but they see light at the end of the tunnel. The media has written about Joe Gibbs Enterprises this year. I mean, they're gonna win the championship, and Childress and Roush and those things, but my guys are working just as hard as every one of those guys -- we just haven't had the luck and that's the easiest way to say it. Richard Petty says it best, 'I'd rather be lucky than good,' and that's the way I feel about my crew members and Todd's. The 66 car has worked just as hard as the 26 car and they've not had the results. I think you're gonna see a different program next year out of both cars with the Kmart sponsorship."
TODD BODINE --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "I'm proud to be part of this group. I've been offered some Winston Cup rides the last couple of years and I haven't taken them for the reason that I didn't feel they were opportunities where I could run in the top 20 or the top 15. When Travis gave me a call I knew this was an opportunity I had to look at. I think one of the reasons I wanted to take this ride was Carl and Travis and having them for car owners. Their experienced and their determination as car owners to make these teams successful and give them whatever they need to be successful, that was one reason why I wanted to come over here. Another one was Kmart. It's a great sponsor, they've been good to our sport and their commitment to the program is tremendous. The other reason was, believe this or not, there are a lot of jokes going around the garage area about Spencer and a Bodine being teammates. I've heard a few already this week. (laughing) That's not an issue. Me and Jimmy, we've run into each other on the track. I mean, we've had problems but you're going to. If you race long enough you're going to have problems with somebody, but we've always gotten over it. We've always been friends. We get a long great. He even asked me about driving his Busch car next year in the middle of this year, so we get along and it's gonna be a good partnership between us. Donnie Wingo and Larry Carter, my crew chief, we've got a good rapport already. I go to the race shop a lot. We talk. We've got a lot of things going on for next year and I think it's gonna be a good situation. I've been part of teams the last four or five years in the Busch Series and I understand the process and how it works and how to share the information and make the two-car deal work. Hopefully, I can bring something to Jimmy's team and I know Jimmy and Donnie are gonna help me, so it's gonna be a good situation. I think we've got the opportunity to run up front every week."
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO TAKE THIS JOB AFTER YOUR LAST EXPERIENCE IN WINSTON CUP WASN'T ALL THAT GOOD? "I've had opportunities. I've had numerous calls about driving cars. I've even driven some on one-off deals with Joe Falk and a couple different ones, but the biggest reason was Travis Carter and Carl Haas. I know with them as car owners, they're gonna put the best under you -- spare no expense. I've known Travis for a long time. He's a racer who happens to be a car owner now and that's what makes a difference to me. You get certain car owners that come in here and kind of do this as a hobby. Well, as a hobby they don't understand what it takes to run up front. Travis and Carl have both been around racing forever and they understand what it takes to run up front and that's what they're gonna do. Another reason was (Jimmy). I know as a teammate I'm gonna get a lot of help and a lot of feedback from Jimmy. Hopefully, I can give it back to him and help them also, but I know that he's gonna make me a better driver just by being his teammate. I've been through this in the Busch Series. Over there I've been kind of the lead driver in that group and over here I don't feel that way anymore. I feel like Jimmy is gonna help me as much as I can help him and that makes a big difference. We've all seen some of these teams over here that don't work together and it just doesn't work when you do that. You look at the Gibb's cars, they work together. You look at the Yates cars, they work together. So it's gonna make a big difference having a good teammate."
ON DARRELL WALTRIP. "I've been asked a lot by the press, 'How are you gonna fill Darrell Waltrip's shoes?' My answer is, I'm not gonna try to fill those shoes because you can't do it. It's an impossible thing. We're gonna take those shoes and set them aside and bronze them. I'm gonna start a new set of shoes and that's the way we're kind of looking at this thing. This is a new deal. We're kind of wiping the slate clean and we're gonna start fresh because you cannot live up to what Darrell Waltrip has done for this sport. I'm proud to say that I'm the one to be taking over in his place and, hopefully, carrying on."
Kmart Divisional Vice President -- Merchandise Presentation and
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF KMART'S SPONSORSHIP? "As you know, Kmart is basically going through a lot of changes in rebuilding itself right now with a new CEO and a new marketing company. I don't know if it was formally announced, I believe it was earlier this year, that we do have a two-year contract yet in our NASCAR sponsorship and one year left in CART, but Kmart is actively pursuing looking at getting some additional sponsors on our cars to help us fund these cars. We're taking more of an approach with our new marketing company of marketing more NASCAR in our stores than what we've done on track in the past."