Jim Smith, team owner of Ultra Motorsports, is one of the co-founders of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He is the only team owner to win at least one race in the five years of NCTS competition. JIM SMITH - OWNER - ULTRA MOTORSPORTS - HOW...
Jim Smith, team owner of Ultra Motorsports, is one of the co-founders of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He is the only team owner to win at least one race in the five years of NCTS competition.
JIM SMITH - OWNER - ULTRA MOTORSPORTS - HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER WINNING AT HOMESTEAD WITH A NEW DRIVER (MIKE WALLACE) AND NEW CREW CHIEF (TIM KOHUTH)? "It's really gratifying to first of all be one of the founders of the series and second of all after the first race this year, to be the only owner to have won a race in all five years. But to win the first one and get your season off to a good start with a new crew, a new driver and new crew chief was probably beyond our expectations. We thought we were championship material and certainly would win our share of races, but to come right out of the hat and to accomplish what we did on Saturday with what I don't think was one of our best trucks says that our driver and crew won this race for us."
HOW DID YOU PUT TOGETHER A TEAM DURING THE EARLY YEARS THAT COULD SERIOUSLY COMPETE WITH THE WINSTON CUP-AFFILIATED TEAMS? "I had a little bit of an advantage over the three other gentlemen that were involved early on. I had been around Winston Cup racing my entire life. My father was involved in it. I think I had a little bit better understanding of it. Granted we all thought that this was a series that people could come in from very small racing entities and get involved. It has escalated. When Bill France got involved, this thing went from nothing to one of the toughest series in NASCAR period. You can ask any Winston Cup driver that has been in our races. It is not a cakewalk. It just expedited so quickly and I moved quickly myself by building our shop in North Carolina and of course hiring Barry Dodson. We groomed a Mike Bliss out of the Silver Crown. That was the only outside effort we had other than experienced NASCAR people in the shop."
WHY THE DRIVER CHANGE TO MIKE WALLACE FOR THIS SEASON? "His tenacity I guess would be number one. His ability to drive a race car I don't think entered into the equation. However I had a lot of great drivers knocking on my door and this championship is very important to me personally. I wanted to make sure that we could put the right people in the right places. We were going through a lot of changes that most people were aware of. I'll tell you that I couldn't be happier with the outcome of the people who are involved in Ultra Motorsports today. Mike proved last Saturday what he could do. I knew he could do that and so did a lot of other people. I just couldn't be prouder."
MIKE WALLACE CAPTURED HIS FIRST CAREER NCTS RACE AT THE 1999 SEASON OPENER LAST SATURDAY AT HOMESTEAD.
MIKE WALLACE - 2 - TEAM ASE FORD F-150 - YOU ACCOMPLISHED JUST ABOUT ALL YOU COULD WITH KEN SCHRAIDER'S TEAM OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF SEASONS. TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOVE TO ULTRA MOTORSPORTS/TEAM ASE? "I'd like to thank Jim and Marline Smith for the opportunity they've given me along with Tim Kohuth who was my crew chief over at Schrader Racing. We both kind of came over here together. A big instrumental part of a race team is the crew chief and the driver understanding each other and respecting each others ability. I worked really hard with Jim (Smith) last year and when he said tenacity, I was the driver who probably bothered him more than any other driver and that's probably why he hired me. I felt there was a great opportunity here. The team had won races in the past. I was looking for the opportunity to win races again. I knew I had the capability of doing it and along with Ultra Motorsports and our new Ford F-150 and ASE and everyone involved, we've proved that we can win races."
THERE WERE A LOT OF POTENTIAL WINNERS LAST SATURDAY AT HOMESTEAD. YOUR PIT CREW OVERSHADOWED THE OPPOSITION. IF YOU WEREN'T FIRST COMING IN, YOU WERE FIRST GOING OUT. DISCUSS THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR CREW? "Can you believe those guys. They did just a phenomenal job. We've got a group of young, enthusiastic guys lead by a great crew chief in Tim Kohuth. All the guys worked so hard and they did a super job. We as a team won that race. Mike Wallace didn't do it by himself. No one did it by themselves. As you said, there were times where we'd come down pit road in sixth or seventh and left running in second, come in second and left leading. But it shows all the work and dedication the guys did over the winter. They worked on pit stops every night. There was one night when Jim (Smith) was in town, they were out in the sleet showing Jim how good their pit stops were. It was time to show it on race day and we weren't sure if it'd get done. It is easy to do when there is no crowd or motors running. They stepped right up to the table. My hats off to the whole Ultra race team."
HOW TOUGH HAS THE COMPETITION BECOME IN THE SERIES THIS YEAR? "There are 10 or 15 guys that all have the same outlook we have. The situation that Ron (Hornaday) and Jack (Sprague) has is that they were in the series to start with and they've won a few championships so everybody is thinking about them. During the winter here all I kept reading about was Hornaday and Sprague and people like that and how they are going to win all of these races. Fortunately we were able to step up and show that we could win a race."
IT SOUNDS LIKE THEY MOTIVATED YOU IN THE FIRST RACE? "We're self motivated. This is a wonderful race team led by a wonderful owner, an owner that understands the sport. Not just that he was in here from day one, Jim is a racer himself. He knows that not every day is going to be a great day. He is a good owner who comes back to Charlotte area and sits down with the guys and says look guys every day is not going to be perfect. Let's have a good time while we're doing it and take the best finishes we can and work on our championship effort. When we win, lets celebrate and when we have a bad day, lets not get down on ourselves. That means a lot to this team. The guys do a great job but it takes great leadership from the top to make everything click."
YOUR RECORD HAS NOT BEEN GREAT AT PHOENIX, DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE RACE? "We're extremely excited about going to Phoenix. We went there and tested and ran extremely, extremely well. Probably the best thing for us to do is just wait until we get there and see if we can back up our performance from this past week. It was great to be able to go there with the same truck that Mike Bliss sat on the pole with and won the race with. We had some comparable numbers to work with. The guys did some different things chassis-wise. I think we made some improvements on it and we'll try to show it this weekend."
EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DRIVING A WINSTON CUP CAR AND A NASCAR TRUCK? "The trucks don't have the downforce meaning they don't feel like they are stuck to the track like the cars do. The cars have much more downforce. The trucks have a lot more body roll to them and a higher center of gravity and roll over a little bit more. The cars of course, because of the downforce and the lower roof, they seem to run through the air a little bit better. The trucks are still race cars with truck bodies on them."
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