Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2003 Brendan Gaughan Brendan Gaughan (No.62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram) WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? YOU LEAD THE CIRCUIT WITH FOUR WINS AND HAVE 10 TOP FIVES AND 13 TOP 10S IN 16...
Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2003
Brendan Gaughan (No.62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram)
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? YOU LEAD THE CIRCUIT WITH FOUR WINS AND HAVE 10 TOP FIVES AND 13 TOP 10S IN 16 STARTS AND STILL TRAIL THE LEADER BY 8 POINTS.
"The 16 team (Travis Kvapil) is doing what they need, but the Orleans Gang, we know what it takes. We've got to keep doing what we've been doing. He's been running consistent, but we've been running pretty strong. We're still consistent, but we're up there competing for the win every week and he isn't. If we keep running for the wins and running in the top five every week, if we don't make the mistakes, which we feel we've made ours and learned from them. We're not going to make them again. We should be able to get the championship."
AS SEASON PROGRESSES ARE YOU MORE PATIENT OR AGGRESSIVE?
"I've never really been the most patient person in the world, and I've always been probably a little over aggressive most of the time. I'm trying to stay just about the same. The guys work real hard for me, and my spotter, Billy Holbrook, and my crew chief, Shane Wilson, those guys do a real good job trying to keep me calm. For the most part, I'm aggressive. I don't think I'm going to get more aggressive as the season winds down. I'm just going to stay the way I am and let those guys try to control me enough. Shane has been in championship races before. Billy Holbrook has, and I have also. Each of us know a little bit about enough of it that maybe we can keep me in control and try to make this thing finish right."
WHY IS TRUCK SERIES POINTS RACE SO CLOSE AND CUP SUCH A RUNAWAY?
"Matt Kenseth is having a great run. I don't think there's much wrong with the current point system. If you look at most every series, Winston West, with the Orleans Racing Team has a Dodge that runs in that, we've won two in a row now. The points battle everywhere in NASCAR is pretty good. Every once in awhile you have a year that somebody has one of them years. Matt Kenseth is doing a great job with it. In the Craftsman Trucks, we're right there. Ted Musgrave is right behind us. The Busch Grand National Series, the points battle is there. Every once in awhile you just have a guy that has a year that's just phenomenal. I don't believe there's anything wrong with the points system. Maybe there's something they could do to add more bonus points, but the points themselves, especially in the Craftsman Trucks, it's a fine system. It's the job of any race team. At Michigan we dominated and won by something like 12 seconds. When I was on the conference call after that somebody said you didn't make it a very good show for the fans. I said, 'yeah, but some days that's my job.' Some days it's a job. Right now, I'd love to have a 200-point lead, but for the fans, this battle is pretty nice."
WHAT'S YOUR OPINION ON SAFETY BARRIERS IN TURNS AT RICHMOND?
"I was there the other day for a media tour and saw them putting the finishing touches on 'em. I believe that what we do is pretty safe anyway. It's no more dangerous than other things. I've played a lot of sports in my life, and you can get hurt playing all of them. That's part of athletics. That's part of sports. Richmond has had some incidents where there were accidents that hurt some people. The safer barrier, from stuff that NASCAR has put out and from what I've seen from some of the results is a fantastic idea. It's worked at Indy. I walked on the race track at Richmond and saw where they were. I think it's going to be a great deal. You don't need them in a straightaway. You don't need them in a straight line. You need them basically in the corners. It looks like a fantastic deal. I'm hopefully not the man who gives it its first test run, but I'm sure somebody will give it a test run that night at Richmond. With any luck they'll come away and show it is as safe as it claims to be and everybody cheers and we go on to the next race."
TRIPLEHEADER WEEKEND ON TAP AT RICHMOND, IS THAT SPECIAL?
"We love when we have conjunction events. I think this year the number is 13 with Winston Cup. Any time we get to run with Cup, that's a big deal. We like to have the Winston Cup owners there watching and for a guy like me who one day wants to get in Winston Cup, that's a big deal. To have three series in one place, especially this rock 'n roll thing at Richmond is promoting... I know we've got Diamond Rio singing our national anthem, Uncle Kracker and Stain are supposed to be singing in concert before and after the Cup race. It's a really neat weekend and to be involved in it speaks a lot for how far the Craftsman Truck Series has come. I believe we're going to get more of those next year. It's great for the fans. The fans like to see the trucks the same weekend as the Cup cars because we're something totally different. If we get a lot more of those you're going to see the Craftsman Truck Series continue to grow."
WHAT'S YOUR CUP FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
"Dodge has been working with us getting a deal signed up for 2004 in the Craftsman Truck Series. They've been working pretty hard helping me trying to achieve my goals, and the main goal is still this Craftsman Truck Championship. You have to have an eye on that future. Dodge is working hard. We don't have sponsors. They're working hard to get us another year in the Craftsman Trucks, maybe get us some Busch races and a few Cup races next year and help us find a sponsor so I'll be in position to go to the next level. Right now, no (for Cup in 2004) and the main reason is I'm doing it at the pace that I think is right. I'm doing it at the pace my manufacturer wants me to do it at. They've never let me down in my life, and hopefully they will continue to do the same."
HOW DO YOU LOOK AT NEXT THREE OR FOUR RACES?
"Every race weighs the same whether you're running Winston Cup, Off Road, Craftsman Truck. All the points values are the same and if you start saying this is the most important of your life, then you start situations like 'what happens if you don't have a good race?' Then you go, 'the next one is more important.' You never fall into that trap. The next four races are great opportunities for our team to pull away in the points. With the exception of Richmond, we're headed to four tracks that are frankly Orleans Racing-style race tracks. I'm still trying to prove something on the short tracks. I'd like to prove it at Richmond. I'd love to get a win on a short track this year, but after that we have Loudon, fourth last year, Vegas, Fontana, Texas. We have a stretch here that we could pull out a great lead. This is where we have to stretch our legs to maybe stink up the points race a little bit. That's what we're looking at. We're trying to stink this points race up and get a lead here. I'm not saying they're the most important in the world, but this is an opportunity you have to jump on."
WHY DO YOU STRUGGLE ON SHORT TRACKS?
"I don't think we've really struggled this year. At Bakersville, we finished third and led the most laps. At Martinsville, I was fifth when I got hit. Short track is the almighty equalizer. Everybody can run good at the short tracks. Most of the people grew up racing at the short tracks, and they feel they're equal at those places. You have more people that can run there. We show up and we have a top five each time at the short track. At the end you've got to have some of that racing luck and get to the front. That's what the 16 team got last weekend (at Bristol). They weren't good enough to win, but when Kevin Harvick crashed they were in position and we were a couple of positions short."
DOES A CLOSE POINTS RACE KEEP IT LIVELY IN THE GARAGE?
"We know exactly where everybody is in the points, and we know exactly what we need to do each weekend. Any smart racer, by the time he gets out of that racecar, he's going to look at that board and try to figure out where he's at, whether he gained or lost. In Winston Cup, things are a lot different than most places, but where we're racing right now, you know where the points guys are. You know where everything's at, you know what's going on and it's definitely a little different garage than a 500-point lead where everybody walks up to Matt Kenseth and says, 'hey man, can't you slow down and wait for us a little bit?' We're not doing that in our garage. We know that one slip up can mean a whole bunch of points. I wouldn't say it's tense, but it definitely makes for a much more electric garage."
WILL YOU STAY FOR OTHER RACES THIS WEEKEND AT RICHMOND?
"I wasn't and now I am. Georgetown University, which of course is where I graduated, their home football game is 1 o'clock on Saturday, their opening game of the season. My girlfriend is Robby Gordon's sister, Becky Gordon, and we're going to drive to Georgetown to watch the football game and drive back to Richmond to watch the race to cheer her brother on. We'll be hanging around a little bit. I'm going to be doing some traveling back and forth to have a little fun this weekend."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO RACE MORE THAN 25 RACES A SEASON?
"I want to go to Winston Cup, so I'd love to be racing more. As far as Craftsman Trucks go, you've got to talk to guys like Bobby Hamilton and Ted Musgrave, guys who have been to Winston Cup and made a career out of these things. They're pretty happy. I'd love more races because more races are more points, more money, the whole deal. As far as the teams and as far as our sponsor dollars go, and as far as what the Craftsman Truck Series is supposed to be, 25 or 26 races is probably just about right."
WHO WORRIES YOU THE MOST CONTENDING FOR CHAMPIONSHIP?
"We've been most worried about the Ultra team (Ted Musgrave). They're the No. 1 Dodge program. You know they get a lot of support, a lot of help. I know what our manufacturer gives us. They give them a whole lot more, and they give us a lot, so you know they're getting a lot of help. Ted has all that experience. He's Ted Musgrave. He's been around this deal a long time. The Ultra team is one of the best teams in the series. The 16 team has been consistent, hasn't had any DNF's and hasn't had any mistakes. They're probably going to make one soon, and once they do, they don't look like they have the ability to make points up much. They kind of grind out the season and have been kinda grinding out points. They have one big point loss and they can't make it up, whereas Ted and I have had those big point losses and made them back up, so Ted is probably the guy I fear the most. At Richmond, he's been on a bunch and you've got a lot of tracks here that are probably right up his ally. Gaining 40 points on him at Bristol, if you have told me I would gain 40 points on Ted Musgrave at Bristol and I would have told you no way. I'm pretty nervous about Ted."
ARE YOU SURPRISED LEFFLER LEFT AND IF SOMEONE THREW THAT OPPORTUNITY AT YOU WOULD YOU HAVE TO THINK LONG AND HARD?
"I don't know all the things involved with Jason's deal. It's not my race team, and it really didn't affect me much. I promised the guys this year, and I promised Dodge that I'm not leaving this championship. I don't care if it was to drive the 2 car or 12 car. I don't care who it is. If they told me I had a chance, I'd say you'd better find me a plane because I'm doing both. My goal is to win the championship for Dodge and for the Orleans team. I don't know why Jason left. That's all up to him. The things that went on, I don't know, but I would not leave this championship race. I believe I'm in the catbird seat of it, and I wouldn't leave no matter what."
ARE YOU SIGNED UP TO TEST MORE FOR RAY EVERNHAM THIS SEASON?
"No. I haven't spoke to him at all about that. I've just been working on my deal and working on getting my sponsorship stuff, my manufacturer, Dodge, getting me signed back up for next year. I have not spoken to Ray. I love to see the rumors. You guys keep writing them."
COULD YOU SEE THE ORLEANS TEAM BEING A SATELLITE TEAM FOR EVERNHAM?
"I don't know about being Ray's satellite deal. I'd love to be, but a lot of guys don't like it that we're so far away. We'd love to do that for Dodge. I have a Winston West team that is running Dodge cars and winning races. I'd love to be a satellite deal for somebody, especially for Dodge to have a driver development program. That's what I want to turn the Orleans Racing Team into. Right now, everybody keeps talking about Ray's this, Ray's that. Talking about what his drivers are doing. I love to hear the rumors guys, but as far as I know, nothing is going on with me there."
WHAT KIND OF PERSPECTIVE DO MUSGRAVE AND HAMILTON GIVE YOU ABOUT WINSTON CUP?
"Ted's helped me out a lot. He's a great guy. He's given me laps back. He's sat in the garage and talked to me. I've asked him a few things about Winston Cup, running here and running there. The main thing that him and Bobby both tell you is don't go before you're ready and don't go with a team that's not ready. The deal is all about getting it right the first time. If you don't go to the right team the first time and you don't do well, you're not going to get back. Jason didn't make it the first time and he's struggling to get back to Winston Cup. Sometimes you have to go to teams that aren't the best hoping you can make the difference. I don't want that. I want to be Ryan Newman. I want to be Jimmie Johnson, where you go to a race team and you look strong and get a nice deal and everything looks good from there. That's my goal with this whole thing. That's the same thing Ted and Bobby have been giving me advice on. Don't go before you're ready and don't go with a team that's not prepared to be there."