Craftsman Motorsports April 20, 2005 Below is a partial transcript from today's teleconference with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver David Starr (driver of the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet). After four starts in 2005, Starr has one...
April 20, 2005
Below is a partial transcript from today's teleconference with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver David Starr (driver of the No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet). After four starts in 2005, Starr has one top- five and two top-10 finishes, and he sits 12th in the points standings.Next week, Starr (who has three career wins in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series) returns to Gateway International Raceway where he won last season's race. The dramatic racetook four attempts at a green-white-checker finish, 14 extra laps and a bump-and- run on the final lap of the race before Starr finally took the checkered flag and was named the winner.
Starr and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series return to action next Saturday, April 30 at Gateway International Raceway for the Missouri/Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200. The race is scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. ET.
Q: You have two top-10 finishes and one top-five so far this year. Talk about your season so far and going back to St. Louis, a track where you already have one victory.
David Starr: I can't wait to get back to St. Louis. It's such an awesome track and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series puts on a heck of a race every time we go to St. Louis. I think the way the race track is built brings a lot of excitement to the fans and the competitors like me.
My season is going well so far this year since we've opened the door in Daytona. The No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet Silverado has been competitive at every track we've been to. In Daytona we finished eighth, we got caught in a wreck with only a couple laps to go. My teammate Dennis Setzer got together with Chad Chaffin. Our chances for a good finish went out the window right there with two or three laps to go. We followed that up with a good run at California. Weled 55 or 60 laps when we had a little driver error and ended up wrecking so instead of getting a top five finish or maybe our first win of the season, we ended up I think it was 27th place finish.
We went to Atlanta and finished in the top-five. I thought we had a good shot at winning that race as well, but we did get a top-five so that was good.
Then we went to Martinsville and we struggled a little bit there.We struggled in the beginning.But as the race played out, Dave McCarty, my crew chief made my truck better and better, we had gotten up to eighth or ninth. With about 22 or 23 laps to go, me and my buddy Bobby Hamilton kind of got together and he sent me for a little fun ride right there and we lost a lap so we didn't get too good of a finish.
But the season as a whole, we have been competitive, we have been up front pretty much every race. I think we are 12th in points today. Last year looking back on things, I think we were 35th or 36th at this point. We are really excited about the rest of the season. We are looking forward to getting back to St. Louis
Q: What stands out in your memory about the race in St. Louis last year.
Starr: It was such an exciting race. If we look back on things, I didn't have the fastest truck there. One thing that really stands out in my mind is that we had run fourth, fifth, sixth all day long. The class of the field as I remember it was Jack Sprague, Bobby Hamilton and Shane Hmiel. I was racing back with Chad Chaffin, and I was just remembering trying to figure out how to get around Chad so I could finish third or fourth at the time. And that was really what stands out in my mind. I was trying to get around Chad and was having a hard time. It was exciting. I never thought that I would ever have a shot at winning the race because, like I said, we were racing for fourth, I believe it was. The class of the field was Bobby Hamilton and Shane Hmiel, but as the green-white-checker came into play, and as first, second and third were knocking themselves out, before you knew it, me and Chad were racing for the lead. It was a wild night. It was exciting. Like I said, I was racing for fourth, and then we ended up racing for the lead and ended up winning the race. It was an exciting night.
Q: Talk about how competitive the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has become.
Starr: The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2004, even 2003, the competition level was just fierce. You wouldn't have thought that the Series on the competitive side could be any more competitive than what it was. Toward the end of the year last, we added Jimmy Spencer, Ricky Craven, and we already had our champion Bobby Hamilton. You have Ted Musgrave. We have Steve Park. There is so much Nextel Cup experience now in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and I think it is good for the Series. It brings a lot more attention to the Series.
Even before we had the Nextel Cup guys that are coming to the Truck Series, the Series was so competitive already. We've got Rick Crawford, Dennis Setzer, just the guys that have been racing the Truck Series before the Nextel Cup drivers figured out that 'Hey, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is where to be.' I mean the Series was already competitive, but you throw in the addition of a new Nextel Cup driver coming over to the Truck Series, I mean it just makes it more (competitive). It used to be that there were 12 to 13 trucks that could win any given weekend. Now you look at it, there are 20 trucks that could win any given weekend. It makes it where it's exciting -- it was always exciting -- but that excitement level is stepped up another level. And the competition is just unbelievable. I think the race fans are really noticing the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series just because of the names these Nextel Cup drivers have had and have built up over the years and being a part of Nextel Cup racing. I just think it is the best Series in racing going right now, and I think a lot of people would agree with me.
Q: During your time in the truck series, what do you see as the most positive change to the Series?
Starr: When the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series decided to go to live pit stops, that was really big for the Series. When the race fans looked at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, you ran 50 laps, and you had a half-way break for 10 minutes, and then you race the last half of the race. To bring it to the next level, I think NASCAR did the right thing to the Truck Series when gave it live pit stops.
I think the manufacturers coming in and really getting involved in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (was big). I live in Texas, and they do sell a lot of pickup trucks in Texas. Everybody's proud to drive a Ford or a Chevy of a Dodge or a Toyota Tundra. And I think when Toyota stepped into the Series, it really stepped up the other manufacturers' involvement in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I do know from a Chevy Silverado standpoint that they stepped up their involvement with my team because we are a factory-backed team.
But there have been several things, I think having the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at the Daytona International Speedway that was really, really big. I didn't think people thought the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was a real Series. But when they said 'Hey, they're going to Daytona,' that really put the spotlight on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. And the Series continues to grow. We race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and that's the hub of all the NASCAR teams, and I thought that was big for the Series.
Having Craftsman as a sponsor and having them be in the Series from the start, and now we're at the 10th year anniversary, that's really big. It says a lot for our Series when you have one major sponsor, like Craftsman, in the Series since it has started.
When a new race fan comes in and watches a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race for the first time, we hook another fan. I just think the hot thing right now is the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and I'm just blessed to be part of it.
Q: Talk about last year. Early in the season you left the Busch car and started concentrating on Trucks and it seemed that your Truck team really took off.
Starr: At the beginning of 2004, I had the opportunity to do a part schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule starts off kind of slow at the beginning of the year, so I thought while the truck series got started off slow, I could fill the void on those weekends that I wasn't doing anything to run the Busch car with Michael Holligan. We had a reality television show, too. To be a brand new team and new owner coming into a NASCAR Series whether it be Nextel Cup, Busch or Craftsman Truck, is tough.
I think having this reality television show stamped on your racing team, I think it took away lot of the emphasis of racing and building a good racing team and being competitive on the race track because a lot of the guys in the shop just pretty much focused on the cameras and not focused on building good race cars. At the time when they hired me, I thought it was kind of a cool thing. But as we got into it and I kept seeing things go on at the shop and what was happening, really, I think they kind of put the racing part of it secondary.
But I can sit here and tell you today that I didn't take anything away from my truck team because Wayne and Connie Spears (owners of the No. 75 truck), that's my No. 1 priority.
When I resigned from the Busch team, we started running better as a truck team, but I can't say that it was because I was involved with a Busch team. Things started getting better after I quit the Busch team, but I can't say I gave more to my truck team afterwards, because I didn't. I always gave 110 percent to my truck team because I would like to win a championship in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and I had the opportunity to do that last year, and didn't have the opportunity to do that in the Busch Series because it was only a part schedule.
Q: Wasn't that last Busch race in St. Louis?
Starr: It was. The last race I ran with that Busch team was in St. Louis, and I kind of got my feelings hurt with that team because we struggled there and they never could make the car right. I think we finished 24th or 23rd, and that was the best finish out of all the attempts we had made in the races we had run. My guys were happy, and I was really disappointed how enthused and happy they were because our car was junk, we didn't race that well, we weren't part of the race - we were just out there going through the motions.
After having a conversation with Wayne Spears after that particular race, he kind of put his foot down. He said 'I gave you permission to go racing and race with a competitive team and be competitive. It hurts my feelings to watch you on television just kind of be in the way.' So he kind of made the decision for me. He's my boss. He's my main team. He gave me permission to run the Busch team, so when he called me and told me that we needed to not do that anymore, I didn't have a problem with that at all.
Q: What are your thoughts on one-day shows -- practice, qualifying and racing all in one day like at St. Louis next weekend.
Starr: You hear different views from different people, but I think NASCAR has done a good job in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series because there are a lot of teams in the Truck Series that have major sponsors and can afford to be in St. Louis for two or three or four days if we had to. But I have been on both sides. I have been on race teams that could barely afford to go to a race the next week. The hotels and the meals and everything it takes to get your crew there. When you are there for two or three or four days, that gets expensive for teams that don't have a sponsor. I have been on both sides. I have been on the side where we could barely afford to be there, and now, I am on the other side -- I have a great racing team with a great sponsor and great owners. I kind of like it because it gives everybody the opportunity, it gives the teams that don't have a major sponsor the opportunity to go race, and then they're not going to have to spend large amount of their budget on that one particular race.
I think NASCAR has done a good job with one-day shows. You know, you say 'That's a long day,' and everybody's going to get tired, but it is even for everybody. We're all athletes. We work out. Our crews, our guys that go over the wall and change our tires -- they all work out. We're all athletes. If we had to be at the race track from 7 o'clock in the morning to midnight, then so be it. It's all even for everybody. I don't think anybody has an advantage over any other team. In the long run, I think it is good financially for the racing teams that don't have major sponsors, and nobody gets an advantage. So I don't have a problem with it at all, and I think it is good for the sport.
Q: Talk about the popularity of racing today given the state of sports in general with turmoil in baseball and hockey. How exciting is it to be part of such a popular sport?
Starr: My competitors that I race with in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, are all focused. They are serious about what we do. They are humbled and honored to race in a NASCAR Series and race in NASCAR today because the sport is growing and everybody in the United States is tuning into NASCAR racing, and we're a part of it. My competitors are all tough competitors, but away from the race track they are family men and they are good people. I can't think of anybody in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series that I wouldn't bring to a family function with me. Their values are strong. It's a great family sport.
And I speak a lot about that NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series because that is the Series I'm in, but you look at the NASCAR Busch Series and the Nextel Cup Series. The drivers are very accessible, and you can get to them. There are autograph sessions throughout the weekend of a race. That's why I think NASCAR racing has grown over the years, the popularity of it. People want to bring their kids to a NASCAR race because there's nothing bad about going to NASCAR races. It's exciting. I'm a sports fan myself. I love football. I love baseball. I love hockey. But looking back on it, you always hear that somebody's getting in trouble for something. And I think that we're all benefiting from it. And NASCAR racing is going to be the No. 1 sport in the world eventually, I think.
Q: Talk about returning to St. Louis for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race next week.
Starr: Our next race is at St. Louis. That race track, the way they built it, the race fans in area -- I mean, I can't tell you anything negative about going to St. Louis. As a competitor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, for a race fan that has never seen a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, they need to come to St. Louis. The way that race track is built, they are going to get their money's worth. They are going to see one heck of a race.
I'm excited. If I wasn't racing in the race, I would buy a ticket and sit up in the stands to watch it because they're going to see a very competitive race. And judging from what we saw last year, I'm sure they are lined up and can't wait to see another exciting race.
Just the way the St. Louis race track is built, it produces good racing no matter if it is the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series or the NASCAR Busch Series. It's just an awesome facility, the people that run it, the fans -- everything is good about going to St. Louis. Every year, I can't wait to get there. It's exciting.