Ford 200 Post-Race Transcript
An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: Why don't you tell us a little bit about tonight and winning the Truck Series championship.
JOHNNY BENSON: Tonight was tough. Tonight was about Trip Bruce and making the calls that he did, because if I wouldn't have screwed up last week we wouldn't have been in this situation.
That's one thing I told the guys. Coming into this race was no different than coming into last week's. It was six points last time, three points this time, and we had to go out and do what we had to do. Trip had said, we may not going to be the fastest, but this is hopefully the smartest one wins this, and his calls were extremely smart. They were great calls. I knew what he was doing. I knew it was going to be an issue for me maybe.
But I have more confidence in this race team and Trip than I've had in many, many years, and it's been a pleasure to -- one, to win this championship, but to have a fabulous year with five wins, a lot of great runs, and just really got to thank Bill and Gail Davis, for giving me the opportunity to come and do this.
When we started this deal, the goal was to try to get a championship, and it's been amazing to get 14 wins and now a championship in the last three years. It's been -- it means more to me to get this for Bill and Gail than anything you people can even ever imagine. Bill has been in the sport for many, many years. He's put a lot of blood, sweat, tears in this, a lot of money, and he deserves it. He deserves more than one, and hopefully he'll get more than one before this is all done with.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by champion team owner, Bill Davis, and crew chief, Trip Bruce. Why don't you tell us a little bit about tonight and the season.
BILL DAVIS: Well, I don't know if we went according to plan or not. It looked like it to me, but somebody said -- down there they said something about being a bridesmaid for so many years, and for a long time tonight it looked like it might be that again.
You know, it worked out. Rick made a call that probably a lot of people wouldn't have, and that's how it works. It could have been the greatest call and been a hero and this time but didn't work out because of how things fell in place, and that's racing.
It's just great that we won it, great that we were in a position to win it, and this is why we all race. This is why we all do this and work so hard. This obviously feels real good.
THE MODERATOR: Trip, why don't you tell us about tonight and the season.
TRIP BRUCE: Well, you know, on that note, we were sitting up there with not a whole lot to be proud of. Typically we're proud of our performance on the track, the speed we get out of the trucks with Johnny driving, and we didn't have that this week. That's a long race, even 25, 45 laps. It's a long time. Anything can happen. All this equipment is running on the ragged edge all the time. You never know, maybe not over yet. We really don't know what the outcome is yet, not until the last lap. I said, Bill, they're not going to let us leave until it's over. We're here until the end, so let's keep hoping.
Sure enough, a caution comes out and it gives us an opportunity for us to not mess up, and like they said, the other team made a little mistake there. I think they would have beat us if we would have stayed out. We all watched the race. They had a better truck than us tonight. It was about taking advantage of an opportunity. We said we're going to fight until the end, we're going to stay out, it's our best shot, and it was, and it turned out good for us tonight, and I'm proud of that.
That was all teamwork getting us to that point, so I'm proud of that part. Same thing we run on all year long, teamwork.
Q: Bill, we're all aware of how tough the economic climate is today in NASCAR and the economy in general, what a challenge it's been this year. Can you talk about psychologically what a big moment this is for you and what a big shot in the arm it is for Bill Davis Racing?
BILL DAVIS: Well, sure, it's been a challenge for everybody in the sport. The entire economy worldwide is something that is in a condition that I don't think many of us in this room, certainly myself, has never seen in 40 years of business.
But the championship is just -- as I said earlier, it's what it's all about. Toyota and TRD gives us a wonderful opportunity. They give us the best equipment in the garage and the best support, and we've come up short the last couple years. Obviously we needed to get it done tonight and kind of fell into it in an unusual way, but it worked out for us really well, and I'm just real happy for all the guys, happy for all the guys at Bill Davis Racing, the guys at Triad, Todd Holbert and Jon Dysinger, the great job he does on the engines, Todd Holbert, the chassis and the body, and the great support that TRD gives us. It's second to none. Finally we got it done for them.
Q: Johnny, do you appreciate this championship a little bit more than when you won the Busch title in '95 because at that time you were kind of beginning your NASCAR career, now you realize you're probably in the latter stages of it, and to get a title at this stage in your career, just talk a little bit about how much more you may appreciate this one than 13 years ago.
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, I think you can appreciate every championship in its own little way for sure. You know, winning -- at the time the Busch Series championship was not easy, like this year hasn't been, either. I may have been a little bit further ahead on that deal, and we won it before the last race of the season, so yeah, I mean, it just shows the performance that we had was great.
This year our performance was great, Ron's performances were great, but if this was last year and any of the three previous years, me and Ron, the seasons we had, we'd have been running for fourth and fifth. So this year has been a strange year as far as the consistency of that.
And two years ago when we were battling Todd, Todd only had two bad races. He ran 18th and 20th. That's very unusual to have that, but that's how tough this series is, and I think this year, I think people had more problems, and obviously it came down to the last race, to the final lap. I actually thought I lost it when the 09 went by me.
You know, we went into this race to have fun, to do the best that we could. I've got all the confidence in the world in Trip Bruce and Bill Davis Racing that things are going to end up okay, and obviously they ended up a little better than okay.
This one does mean a lot to Bill Davis Racing. I knew we would win a championship. I hated that it took this long, but I knew we were going to win a championship. It was just a matter of time. We had good people. Like Bill said, with Triad, TRD, all the engineering, Jon Dysinger building the engines, all the bodywork that we do, the people that we assembled for this deal, it was a matter of time that we were hoping that we were going to get this.
When we unloaded at Daytona, that was a goal like every year to win the championship, and it's been a hard-fought one. I really think that Vegas didn't take the wind out of our sails. It took the wind out of me when I hit the wall, but not out of our sails because we were performing doing what we needed to do during that race. The only time that I thought that there was going to be an issue is when I messed up at Phoenix and I lost every bit of our cushion that we had at that point in time.
If I could go back there and change it, I would, and that what we had to do. Me and Trip talked, we didn't have the performance we needed tonight to beat the 33, but we had the crew chief and the calls and the desire to try to go beat them, and that's what happened tonight.
Q: Johnny or Trip or Bill, whoever wants this, the controversy with NASCAR in the pits with the tape on the spoiler, Trip, how close did you come to blowing up on that, and, Johnny, what was your reaction when he told you?
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, we knew that that wasn't going to make a difference either way. There was more than just us out there with that problem.
I don't think it's an advantage or disadvantage to have tape or not. At the point in time we were so loose, I'd have took the tape, we just didn't get it on there. I don't know if that would have been a right call or a wrong call to call us in there. They gave us an opportunity to get it fixed. We tried to get it fixed but we couldn't get it to stick. They gave us an opportunity later and we got it done.
Q: To all three of you gentlemen, can you look back through the season -- I know you haven't had much time to reflect, but pick out some moments where you can look back and say, this is the reason why we ended up here with the championship?
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, I can give you in 25 races the reason why we won the championship, because that's what it took. It took 25 races. It started at Daytona when we unloaded, ended when we loaded up tonight, and it's every race. And we've had some good races, we've had some great races, we've had some mediocre races and we've had a lot of heartbreak with one engine blown, we had a couple tires blown and wrecked. Every one of those is a decision or a result of us being here winning a championship.
You know, like I say, it takes a whole year, and it's just a way-cool deal here. I don't think people understand how much this means to me to win this, but not just for me, for Bill and Gail, everybody at Bill Davis Racing, Toyota Certified Used Vehicles and Exide, everybody involved. I'll remember this for many, many years to come.
Q: Bill, where does this rank compared to some of your other accomplishments, winning the Daytona 500 and that sort of thing, and how much does this sort of act as a salve to soothe over some of the problems you've had the last couple of weeks with the Cup team?
BILL DAVIS: I don't know what problems you're referring to, but obviously a championship is what it's all about, no matter what series you're talking about.
Winning the Daytona 500 was a very cool thing and to finish Top 10 in the points series is very cool. But a championship is a championship, and that's the ultimate goal for everybody that races.
This is way up there obviously.
Q: Two questions: Johnny, you're kind of a commonsense kind of guy, but you've got that bottle of champagne you've been swigging here in the media center. How are you going to celebrate? And, second, is this bittersweet thinking about the future now, kind of your thoughts about that?
JOHNNY BENSON: Well, yeah, we're going to celebrate, turn three of the lake in the infield here, we've got a motor home with a lot of food and a lot of drinks. Anybody that wants to come over, come on over.
You know, it is bittersweet to talk about that, but in the same token, I really want to talk about the championship and what it's meant for us because that's what today is about. Next year doesn't have anything to do with right now. Right now it's about the championship. Right now it's about winning this for Bill Davis Racing and Toyota and everybody involved, and that's what it's about.
It is what it is at the moment, and it's a difficult -- it's a very difficult task about the decision, but I don't care about that right now because I'm going to celebrate and going to celebrate with all of our team guys, Bill, and just everybody involved, because that's what it's about. It's about this race team today, this race team and what they've done the last three and a half years I've been here and what they've been able to provide for me to go out and win races.
I mean, to win 14 races in the last three years is incredible. I don't know if those numbers can be challenged by anybody.
TRIP BRUCE: I mean, for everything else worth and everything it was worth, it wore out a little bit there, started to fade back again. I wouldn't have worried about the left sides blowing or anything like that. The loads are fairly low here at Homestead that gets put on the tire. It's a great tire. We were in good shape in that aspect.
Q: Bill, during the race your emotions walking on Pit Road, were you calm, were you sick to your stomach? What was going on in your head? Was it up and down?
BILL DAVIS: Yeah, I was pretty calm. It is what it is. You put forth your best effort and you get the best people that you can, the best equipment that you can, and it's going to come out the way that it does. We've been through these deals before, and so -- I mean, I don't want to sound nonchalant about it. It was an emotional deal and it was going to be what it was, and it worked out.
Q: Johnny, at what point did you know that you had won the race after the 09 went by? And, Trip, there seemed to be a little bit of indecision at the end where you guys didn't celebrate right away.
TRIP BRUCE: The way they score these positions manually and electronic ally, they look at both of those and compare them, so it took a few minutes and we were being thorough.
I kind of knew where we were at, that we were ahead of the 33, and that fact alone let me know that we would win. I was pretty confident, but you have to wait and see, and we had an official there that gave it to us.
BILL DAVIS: How many did we win by?
TRIP BRUCE: Seven.
JOHNNY BENSON: The championships are all different in their own ways, but the one thing you can look back and say you can be extremely proud of every one of them. I don't view one as any better than the other. Obviously the higher you get in rankings and things of that nature, the more challenging they are.
But you really get to the point where you have this same desire to win whatever you're at and whatever you're doing. And the accomplishments are overwhelming when you win a championship, when you win, because that takes every race into perspective for the entire year, and to do that is very difficult. They're all very, very cool. They all mean a tremendous amount, and hopefully we can go win more.