LIBERTY RACING WILL START ITS 100TH NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES EVENT THIS WEEKEND AT SEARS POINT RACEWAY. IRONICALLY, THE TRUCK WILL BE DRIVEN AT THIS EVENT BY DOUG GEORGE, WHO HAS BEEN THE CREW CHIEF FOR THE LIBERTY TEAM THE PAST ...
LIBERTY RACING WILL START ITS 100TH NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES EVENT THIS WEEKEND AT SEARS POINT RACEWAY. IRONICALLY, THE TRUCK WILL BE DRIVEN AT THIS EVENT BY DOUG GEORGE, WHO HAS BEEN THE CREW CHIEF FOR THE LIBERTY TEAM THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS. GEORGE, WHO HAS COMPETED ON THE TRUCK CIRCUIT FOR A VARIETY OF TEAMS, MAKES HIS FIRST START FOR LIBERTY. HE HAS RUN 48 TIMES PREVIOUSLY IN THE SERIES, AND RECORDED A NCTS CAREER BEST AT SEARS POINT IN 1996 WITH A FIFTH PLACE FINISH.
DOUG GEORGE - NO. 84 PORTER-CABLE FORD F-150: "We started out this season with Mike Mittler. We had planned on running the whole season, and financially he couldn't keep up with what was going on. The we decided to go our separate ways because he couldn't put the effort in he thought he could. We talk to each other and stuff so there are no hard feelings there. It just didn't work out.
"Liberty Racing had offered me a job prior to my taking the Mittler ride. Obviously, I wanted to do the driving thing, and I thought that would work out. Unfortunately it didn't. Last year at this time I had actually signed a contract with Liberty to drive the 98 truck, and then they lost the sponsor they thought they had lined up.
"We ended up getting back with Tim Stephens and Liberty, and talked to him about what his plans were, and what he wanted me to do for him. That actually was shop foreman. I was to oversee the guys at the shop and get a plan for getting the trucks prepared and done. I started doing that, and then their crew chief decided he didn't want to do that any longer so I went from shop foreman to crew chief in about two weeks. I still do both job descriptions. One thing just led to another. After the release of Wayne Anderson they ran a couple of guys, and I was wondering if maybe I could get a shot at driving. And to make a long story short, a year has gone by, and now I'm in a Liberty truck."
YOU RACED AT SEARS POINT PRIOR TO THE TRUCK SERIES. WHAT SERIES DID YOU RUN THERE, AND HOW DID YOU DO? "I ran Southwest Tour there, and I won the race I believe in 1990. I think I hold the record for the fastest race there in Southwest Tour. In 1995 I won a race there in a Winston West car, which is the same as a Cup car, but on the West Coast. We always ran in the top-five in the Southwest car, and the only time I went there in Winston West we won.
"Then in the truck series we ran well the first year (1996). We were fifth. Then the following year we finished eighth. I just seem to run good there. I like the place. I know they've made a small change there, but I don't see that as being a problem. The good thing for me is that they have an optional test day, and I can knock a little rust out and get back into the groove of things."
WHAT KIND OF CREDENTIALS DID YOU TAKE TO LIBERTY RACING TO BECOME CREW CHIEF? Basically, I've done this kind of stuff all my life. When I started racing I did everything myself along with one other guy. You know, when you are from a small town (Atwater, California), there is no other Southwest Tour team or Winston West team around. Everything you do, you do on your own. It's just kind of like a guy that's taught himself how to be good because you just keep doing it and doing it and learn over the years. I'm not saying that I'm the best, but I know how to get along with people. I've owned my own trucking business so I had to place people in certain jobs. Just over the years of being around racing all my life, I've just gotten enough knowledge that Tim thought I could do the job. All his guys saw when I did Bob Blake's truck and two of us, myself and Chris Barber did it. We worked on the truck, on the engines, and I drove the hauler. Chris and I, between the two of us did the whole thing, and ran like 14th in points the first 10 races or so. So I think Tim thought I could get some stuff done.
"They've had a tough season, and we've caught up on a lot of things. We've made a little bit of progress, getting out of the hole. I think they've been happy with that. If they're happy, that makes me happy. They've got a good group of guys. When things were down, they stayed there and worked and they get the job done, and they do it right."
WHAT ADVANTAGES ARE THERE TO DRIVING FOR A TEAM YOU HAVE WORKED WITH IN THE SHOP? "I know every guy on the team. I know what they can do, and what jobs they are each good at. We've done things together, and I know I don't have to worry about stuff. Each guy has their own job, and they do it right. I've already worked with these guys for over three months."
"We have a baseline set-up on the truck right now. Dale Hirschfield, who helped Rob Rizzo at Watkins Glen, is coming in to be crew chief. We'll talk with the rest of the crew members and decide what changes need to made. I've been so used to calling what the truck is doing and making suggestions. The optional test day will definitely be in our favor."
WILL THIS LEAD TO A PERMANENT POSITION AS DRIVER? "I think provided everything goes well and we get a good honest and fair shot at this, and we do a lot of praying, yeah this could be the opportunity. This could be the deal.
"I'm going to Bakersfield. The Bakersfield truck is set up. The muffler is on it. The seat is in it. It's ready to roll. I won at Bakersfield in Winston West and Southwest Tour. We won almost constantly in Southwest Tour for a while.
"I really want to stay close to the truck so we can get things done. I'm real particular about making sure things get done. That's probably why the guys at the shop call me a slave driver. But you have to do it in this business. You have to make sure stuff gets done, and it gets done right.
"I'm just looking forward to doing this thing. I'm grateful that Tim Stephens and Liberty Racing and Jim Herrick have given me the opportunity to do this deal, and I'll give them 110 percent. God willing, things will go great."