Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, March 29, 2005 Ray Evernham and Erin Crocker ERIN CROCKER (No. 98 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger) DID WINNING THE POLE AT NASHVILLE SURPRISE YOU? "My Sprint Car experience definitely helped me.
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Ray Evernham and Erin Crocker
ERIN CROCKER (No. 98 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger)
DID WINNING THE POLE AT NASHVILLE SURPRISE YOU?
"My Sprint Car experience definitely helped me. Every time you run with the Outlaws you time trial. The concrete track, I don't really have much to compare it to because I don't have much pavement experience. I just tried to go out there and get as much out of the car as I could. When they told me my lap time it really surprised me because I was just trying to get what I could out of the car."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO DRIVE IN THAT MUCH TRAFFIC AND DID THE LENGTH OF THE RACE AFFECT YOU?
"I'm used to running wheel-to-wheel, but it was just how big the cars are and how little track space you have to work around. It sprint cars the tracks are really wide and you have a million different grooves to run. The stock cars are about being patient, which I learned a lot about, and hitting your lines and marks right. There's a big difference. The length of the race didn't affect me at all. We had a lot of cautions to break it up and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed doing pit stops. It's really neat. It's a whole different kind of racing for me."
HOW WAS IT HANDLING ALL THE PRESSURE?
"It's definitely a big point in my career. Last year from the beginning of talking with teams and manufacturers to signing with Ray, it was a big transforming of my life and everything I ever wanted. Ray has been incredible with handling the pressure. The first day we went to test a few weeks back we stopped and had breakfast in the morning and he sat us down and said this is an orientation. We're not testing. We're orientating you to stock car racing. You get as much tires and fuel as you need and just get comfortable with it. He's really helped with the pressure a lot. Everyone at the shop and Chris Andrews my crew chief, everyone has been very supportive and very patient and definitely behind me. It's helped take a lot of the pressure off."
WHY ARE YOU HERE?
"Stock car racing is where it's at right now. All my heroes growing up, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, I watched them running USAC sprint cars and midgets. This is where they are. It seems like the best American drivers come to stock car racing. I don't think a few years ago I would have said I wanted to come stock car racing. I always wanted to run open wheel racing, but between my heroes coming here and the opportunity to drive for Ray Evernham... No matter what series you get in, the attraction is getting into good equipment, and I think that Ray Evernham is one of the best, one of the newer teams and building. From what I've read about Ray and what I've watched over the years, there's no one that works harder than he does or will put more into it than he will."
WHAT'S YOUR TIME LINE? "My plan is along the same lines as Ray's. I want to get as much experience in the ARCA Series as I can and hopefully have some success before I move on. I want to be ready, and I want the team to be ready for a rookie driver, too. They're really working hard on that 6 car right now and they're putting Kasey and Jeremy in it, and Ray's working hands-on with the car. I think it's important for a rookie driver to get into good equipment. You have enough to learn as a driver. The car needs to be right there so you can learn as quick as you can. Hopefully by the end of the year we can get in a few races and if everything goes well I'd love to run full time Busch next year. Hopefully I'll get as much seat time as I can. We're talking about running some midgets on pavement. I need to get as much experience on pavement as I can get. I'll keep working out and training and spend a lot of time at the shop. Sometimes they let you go up to the shop and help with the setups. Sprint cars are pretty basic and these stock cars have a lot more to them. I think knowledge about the car and going testing and learning about data acquisition... I have a lot to learn that I think will help me with my driving."
COMMENT ON WORKING WITH CHRIS ANDREWS
"I really enjoy working with Chris. He has the same appreciation for the engineering side of the sport. He's very much into being as prepared as possible. Before we went to Nashville we watched the race tape from last year. He's very patient and you have to be patient with a rookie driver. I'm all new to this and so far it's working out very well."
WHAT KIND OF PERSON IS RAY EVERNHAM?
"I obviously knew a lot about him before I met him, but he's a very hard-working and very focused person. I really appreciate that. When I decided out of college that I wanted this racing thing to work, I basically gave up everything else in my life. I gave up college sports and the whole college scene and dedicated my time to racing. Ray is kinda like a role model. He works every minute of the day on what he's trying to accomplish, and I really look up to that. He's become a bit of a mentor, a bit of a father figure. I look up to him and appreciate him being behind me."
WHAT KIND OF PERSON IS KASEY KAHNE?
"Kasey is very quiet. He's very focused, very determined to be successful in racing. He's been very helpful. We watched the race the other day from my pit box. He's got the same type personality as Ray. I think he's very focused and very nice. I like to surround myself with people whose personalities are similar to mine. Even Chris Andrews, like everyone in the organization seems to be hard-working and very determined and I appreciate that."
WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR A FEMALE TO SUCCEED IN RACING?
"I think in the past there have been some women drivers who have been capable of having success. I think a lot of it is getting with a good team, and I already have that accomplished. I just need to learn and stick with the team. Equipment is such a huge part. And the marketing side of things, you need to hook up with a good sponsor. A woman is not as physically fit as a man, so there's some work to be made up there, but these days with the power steering and everything hopefully that won't be too much of an issue. I don't really know how I differ from other women drivers. I don't compare myself to other women drivers. I try to compare myself to all drivers. I think one thing I have going for me is I'm very competitive, very naturally competitive. I've played every sport in the book and I think I have a level of concentration that dictates to being patient as well as aggressive. I try to balance it as much as I can. Sometimes it doesn't work."
WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY FIT?
"I lift weights with a trainer and I'm always running or roller blading or biking or jumping rope. Every day I do some kind of cardio as well as lifting a few days a week."
WHAT PUSHED YOU TO MAKE THE SACRIFICES?
"It wasn't a difficult decision at all. I set my mind to it and I wanted to do it. I went to work and did whatever it took. My father passed away when I was in high school and up until that point he was my biggest supporter in racing. In the meantime, I played the usual stick ball and I played soccer and lacrosse and I ski raced. I knew I always wanted to be something, but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do it in. I first got the opportunity to drive a sprint car we were sitting at the PRI show and he was kinda the first person that made me believe it could happen. He said if I wanted to do it, then do it. He was the first person who made me believe it was in reach. I still focused on school work and still spent time with my family but other than that I went to every racetrack I could. I just really wanted it, and it hasn't changed one bit. I grew up at the track. My older brothers were racing quarter midgets. Our family weekends were spent at the track whereas other families might go camping or fishing. We went to the track. I was always around it, and I loved the people involved with racing."
IS YOUR DRIVE TO LEARN AS STRONG AS YOUR DETERMINATION TO DRIVE?
"I'd say it's just as strong. Yeah, definitely. There's only so much you can do driving. I think the next best thing to learning and getting experience is learning about the cars and by learning about how things work at the shop. I'd say it's about the same in amount of desire. I'd say in general racing I've got a good grasp of things, but as far as the stock cars and NASCAR I'm at the very beginning."
WAS WINNING THE POLE OR THE LATE-RACE SAVE MORE IMPRESSIVE?
"I didn't think that save was very impressive. I shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. I was really excited about the pole. I knew we had a strong car. I set high expectations. If I had the car to win the pole, I should put it on the pole, so I was very excited about that. I was happy I was able to save it. It could have easily been a wrecked racecar and that's the last thing you want to do in your first race."