Tryson - Dodge teleconference 2009-03-03

Pat Tryson, Crew Chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Transcript March 3, 2009 Q: DAYTONA, CALIFORNIA AND LAS VEGAS ARE ALL IN THE BOOKS AND THE NO. 2 MILLER LITE OF KURT BUSCH IS SITTING SEVENTH IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP...

Pat Tryson, Crew Chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Transcript
March 3, 2009

Q: DAYTONA, CALIFORNIA AND LAS VEGAS ARE ALL IN THE BOOKS AND THE NO. 2 MILLER LITE OF KURT BUSCH IS SITTING SEVENTH IN NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES DRIVER POINT STANDINGS. HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE SEASON SO FAR?

A: All things considered, we feel pretty fortunate to be seventh in points. We got caught up in the wreck at Daytona and still manage to pull a top 10 out. We had a great race in California and it looked like we were going to have a great race at Las Vegas. We just had a little engine problem, a little setback, but made the most out of our day and survived in the points. Finishing the race helped us a bunch because we gained a bunch of spots where we could have lost a lot of points."

Q: YOU'VE BEEN AT A RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACE, A MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK AND A TWO-MILE TRACK; HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE THE CONSISTENCY OF YOUR RACE CAR?

A: I think the Dodge Charger has been really good this year. It seems like the new nose has helped us a little bit...giving (the car) a little better balance. We need to be better yet, but at least we're competitive and having a shot at it (a win) right now. If we keep working on our setups and getting our cars a little better, hopefully we'll be able to dominate some of these races.

Q: ATLANTA HAD SOME CONTROVERSARY LAST YEAR WITH TIRES, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TIRES HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND?

A: Goodyear has a new tire. I would expect the handling characteristics to be pretty similar (to last year's tire). All the tires that they've used this year have added some more grip, but Atlanta is a track that is old and it wears out tires, so you have to handle good and expect to get looser as we go on long runs. That seems to be the trend there with this new car. We ran well the first (Atlanta) race and ran really well the second race, so we're looking forward to another great race in Atlanta.

Q: THERE'S BEEN A RASH OF ENGINE FAILURES THE LAST COUPLE OF RACES, BUT NONE INVOLVING DODGES. WHY MORE ENGINE PROBLEMS AT CALIFORNIA AND VEGAS THIS YEAR? AND WHY HAS DODGE BEEN ABLE TO AVOID THAT (ENGINE PROBLEMS)?

A: I think the reason engine failures are up is that Goodyear has come up with new tires and the cars are handling better. If you look at Las Vegas, I think we went a half-a-second faster than we did there last year. So the speeds are up, so you turn a little bit more RPMs. It's a little harder on the motor. We actually broke a valve spring in Las Vegas, so Dodge isn't Scott-free, but I think every engine developer has their own things. Right now, we're more worried about reliability than we are horsepower because we have to finish all these races. That's probably why the Dodge teams have made it (minimal engine failures) so far."

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE IN ATLANTA? THIS SEEMS TO BE A TRACK THAT IS HARD ON ENGINES?

A: I think everybody will probably be backing their stuff down a little bit. Atlanta is hard on engines. We run 500 miles instead of 400. It may be the same trend again this weekend. We didn't have testing, so guys might be pushing the limits a little harder than they normally would. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Q: HAS A LACK OF OFF-SEASON TESTING REDUCED THE NUMBER OF FAILURES?

A: I think guys would have known what kind of RPM range that they were working in and would have been a little more conservative with their engine packages for Las Vegas. You never know, sometimes parts just break. Sometimes it's just a coincidence that three or four guys at each race have had a problem.

Q: ANY THOUGHTS ON WHY THERE HAS BEEN SO MANY PIT ROAD VIOLATIOS THIS YEAR?

A: I think it has to do a lot with the new stud rule in the Cup Series. Guys are trying to gain speed and it's a little harder...it's a little easier for lug nuts to fall off. I think that's the biggest thing for the Cup guys...the stud rules. I think a lot of the Cup problems are related to lug nuts falling off and the studs being longer.

Q: SPEEDING ISSUES HAVE ALSO BEEN A PROBLEM; AS A CREW CHIEF, HOW DO YOU AVOID THOSE THINGS?

A: Everybody is aggressive right now it seems like and putting themselves at risk. You just have to decide that instead of pushing it by three mile-per-hour, maybe you have to go two-and-a-half miles-per-hour. You just have to cut yourself some room. It seems like guys are sliding through their (pit) boxes more this year. For us, we just remind Kurt (Busch). He does a great job about that. We're not worried about what everyone else is doing. We're worried about the Miller Lite Dodge and making sure that we don't beat ourselves.

Q: WHAT'S IT LIKE WITH NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND HEAT IS PUT ON YOU AS A CREW CHIEF?

A: It's not a lot of fun. I probably went through it the same last year that he (Steve Letarte) did. It's not a lot of fun. It's part of the business. The good part for us is that we made it through last year and now we can pull together and be that much stronger this year. When things are good, it makes it that much sweeter.

Q: KURT (BUSCH) SAID IN LAS VEGAS THAT THE ANXIETY IS A LITTLE HIGHER BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF TESTING. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?

A: I think the anxiety is higher because you don't know where you stand. At least in the past when you've gone testing you have a pretty good idea...everybody was at the test so you had a pretty good idea. The anxiety is higher because you haven't been testing and you're really not sure where you stand. All of us (teams) have put in the work during the winter...some of us have gotten better, some of us haven't. It (non-testing rule) leveled the playing field, but some of us have gotten better because we've worked harder on our stuff this winter to get caught up. If you look at it for the most part, the cars that were running good at the end of last year are running good again. We got caught up a little bit, but we have to get better yet. We're still working hard.

Q: WITH KYLE (BUSCH) WINNING THE RACE COMING FROM THE BACK OF THE FIELD, ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT HE'S GOING TO GET ON A RUN LIKE HE DID LAST YEAR?

A: I don't think so. He won the race, but probably didn't have the best car. We could have easily won the race. There were four or five other guys that could have just as easily won the race. I don't think we're as worried about Kyle getting on a roll; we're just worried about getting ourselves on a roll. Right now, you want to win races, but it's important to make sure that you get some top 10s and get yourself in a comfortable position so that when we're getting close to Richmond, we're safe into the Chase.

Q: CAN YOU ASSESS THE PROGRESS OF THE NEW DODGE ENGINE?

A: I think it (R6P8 Cup engine) is really good. So far, any problems that we have had with it have been very minor and could have happened to the old motor. As good as it is right now, it's only going to get better for us. It has a lot of potential and we're being pretty conservative with it right now because we want to finish races and not have problems. As good as our stuff was last year, it's only going to get better. I think by midseason, we'll really see some benefits from it.

Q: IT LOOKED LIKE ALL THE PENSKE TEAMS RAN REALLY WELL WITH IT OVER THE WEEKEND; ALL THE PENSKE TEAMS ARE RUNNING THE NEW MOTOR RIGHT?

A: Yes, all of us are using the new motor. We've worked hard on the new motor and we've worked hard on all of our stuff. As a group, Penske Racing worked really hard this winter and hopefully we'll continue to run real well.

Q: DID YOU GUYS HAVE A LOT OF CHANGES ON YOUR TEAM FROM LAST YEAR?

A: We made a couple minor changes, but not a lot of changes. There were changes made to hopefully benefit the No. 2 car and also help the whole company. I feel really good about the changes that we have made. So far, we have made progress and hopefully we'll continue to make progress.

Q: CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO SIT ATOP THE PIT BOX AND THE INTENSITY OF YOUR JOB?

A: I think the biggest thing is that you have to make split-second decisions in regards to pit road things. It's easy to sit back after a race and say, 'Oh yeah, that was the right decision or that was the wrong decision.' Most of the times coming down pit road, we only have a few seconds to decide what we're going to do as far as tires and gas. There's not a lot of time and it's not an easy decision to live with, but it's a lot of fun. Most of all the work goes on during the week and Sundays are just the fun part.

A: Every driver is a little different, so everybody communicates a little differently with their drivers. Everybody's relationship is different with their drivers. It's one of those things where you have the communication with the driver or you don't normally. Fortunately, we (Kurt and I) have good communication and hopefully we're going to win some races this year.

Q: WHAT ISSUES DO YOU THINK WE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT NEXT WEEKEND AT ATLANTA?

A: I think all the issues for these races are the same. It seems like the guy that can turn the best in the middle (of the corner) is the guy that runs the best. Atlanta is hard on motors also, but it's harder on tires, so handling is more important. In the long run, the car that handles the best will probably end up winning the Atlanta race."

Q: IS IT ODD THAT THERE IS SO MUCH TALK ABOUT ENGINES?

A: No. A lot of the times, that is when you see most of your engine problems, at the beginning of the year when guys are pushing the issue and trying stuff. I don't think we're making that big of an issue of it; I think it is a big issue just because points are critical and when you get 40th-place it's a lot harder to make it up versus 20th-place. It is a big issue and hopefully we won't have any problems.

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Teams Team Penske