RAY EVERNMAN (Car Owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepids) NOTE: Evernham discusses his driver Bill Elliott and possible substitute Frank Kimmel. With rain pounding Pocono Raceway Saturday morning, prospects of NASCAR Winston Cup practice ...
RAY EVERNMAN (Car Owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepids)
NOTE: Evernham discusses his driver Bill Elliott and possible substitute Frank Kimmel. With rain pounding Pocono Raceway Saturday morning, prospects of NASCAR Winston Cup practice appeared dubious at best. Will that alter Elliott's race plans on Sunday?
"I haven't talked to Bill yet, but we went already and spoke to John Darby and Mike Helton just to make sure if Frank didn't get a chance to practice the car if he's cleared, and he is cleared. He's driven plenty Winston Cup races, and he's driven here in a Winston Cup race. He has raced here quite a bit and was on track yesterday. If Bill gets out of the car tomorrow, Frank is cleared to drive it.
"It's hard to read them drivers. Any professional athlete that's good at his game it's hard to get them guys to sit on the bench. I'm going to let Bill call the lead on that. I just want to make sure we're all using our heads. I feel like we've turned a corner here at Evernham Motorsports, and I'm looking forward to the second half of the season. I just want to do whatever we need to make sure he's healthy.
"With as many races as we run, when it comes to driver points, do we just pick the top 32 or top 30 races and give these guys a break. That might not be a bad idea. You've always got to have your owners points obviously, but maybe the drivers' championship should be set up with a little different deal. If Bill were to hurt his foot some more, it would require an operation that would put him out for quite some time. I just want to make sure we're not putting him in jeopardy.
"I'm glad they (91 team) made the show. We needed to do that with Mountain Dew Live Wire. Those folks have been really great with us, and we just wanted to get them in the show. I know they were a little disappointed because they had run much faster than that in practice. The track looked like it got a little tricky for a lot of people yesterday. A lot of people lost speed. It's a big place. You don't have to be far off to lose a lot of time. They're in the show and that was the main goal.
"It's probably not as much of an experiment as it was the last time. We might come back in July with some other things. Mostly we're working on some engine durability stuff and really the main goal was to do that for Mountain Dew and Live Wire. Casey likes it here, and it's good to get him back in the car. Hopefully it gets him warmed up for his debut with his Busch ride.
"You can look at it (Elliott's qualifying lap) both ways. You can tell he's hurt because last year he won the pole here. Bill's pretty good here. This is a track he likes and if he can get his rhythm and hit his spots he's good. It's pretty good when a guy can qualify in the top 10 in a Cup race with one foot.
"I've known Frank (Kimmel) for a long time. He's good at this track. He's won a lot of ARCA races. I think he's got 240 starts and 140 of those are top five finishes. He doesn't tear up a lot of stuff. He's a veteran. He runs good here. He's won here. He's about Bill's size, and we felt we wanted to put somebody good in the car who would use his head and not tear it up.
"Whenever you lose track time it hurts. You never know to what level until you get on the track Sunday. The biggest thing was we had hoped to get Frank in the car so he could get some laps today and get used to it. If not, it's going to be cold turkey tomorrow.
"He (Elliott) led me all week to believe that he was (going to get out of the car). Now he's telling everybody that he's not. We'll have Frank standing by anyway."
LARRY CLEMENT - Frank Kimmel's ARCA car owner
"We're extremely pleased that Ray's got that much confidence in Frank, and Frank is a very talented driver. There's no question in my mind that if he was in top-flight equipment over here (Winston Cup) that he'd run in the top half of the field every week. He's excited. We did seven Winston Cup races last year with the 26 team when they lost their sponsor. We kind of merged our teams, and he ran well. We didn't have as good of finishes as we'd like, but one thing about Frank, he's not going to go out there and do something stupid with the race car. He's a good PR guy. He'll represent your company well and be proud to do what he's doing.
"Frank knows it's a longshot, but that's OK. Frank's the type of guy that whatever it takes to be a team player that's what he'll do. If he can help out he will, but he's honored to have a chance and that's what neat about him."