Andy Graves talks about rest of season

ANDY GRAVES (Technical Director SABCO Chevrolet Monte Carlos) "We won't run the number 42 anymore. Felix (Sabates) called (NASCAR's) Mike Helton and we got the number switched to 01. Felix is pretty tore up about the whole deal, and...

ANDY GRAVES (Technical Director SABCO Chevrolet Monte Carlos) "We won't run the number 42 anymore. Felix (Sabates) called (NASCAR's) Mike Helton and we got the number switched to 01. Felix is pretty tore up about the whole deal, and he doesn't feel like it's right to go back with that car number. BellSouth was more than helpful with us. They were definitely in agreement. We're going to look around, and we're going to have to find a replacement in the short term and look toward next year and try to figure out what we need to do and who we need to put in the car. "We really haven't talked too much about it here with the grieving the last couple of days. I'll definitely have a say in it. Chip Ganassi and Felix will have the final decision, but I'll have some input in it, as will Tony Glover. I wish we could take a break, but people don't understand this is what we do for a living and it's what we love to do. To be honest with you, by keep going, it actually helps ease the pain. "We've had a couple of people call already. No one wants to call within the first couple of days after something like this happens. They don't want to call just as much as we don't want to think about it right now. I'm sure we'll have a list of people soon, and we'll try to have something figured out by this weekend. It's real good we're not racing this weekend. I guess it's good. What would really be good would be for me not to be in this situation right now. I've known Kenny for 12 years. Like I told everyone, I know how much he loved doing this. He was having fun. I'm just glad he didn't have to suffer. "We're going to have to get an experienced Winston Cup driver for the next two races, for Pocono and Indy. Then after that, we'll look at Watkins Glen and find the very best road racer we can possibly find. At that point in time, there'll be no conflicts with the Busch Series. We'll just have to see where we are, who we pick for Pocono and Indy versus a couple of the leading candidates in Busch and make a decision at that point in time. "Tony Glover has had more responsibility than he can possibly handle the last couple of years. I think it's just the evolution of the Winston Cup Series. I'm just trying to help Tony in any way I can, to help both cars get as far up the grid as possible. Working the last six or seven months with Chip (Ganassi), I've seen a whole new side of racing. Being team manager of the Indy 500 effort and being involved with the CART team. Maybe we can bring a little bit of that technology over or some of the ways they look at things and help the team and give them another outlook. "Chip is 100 percent a racer. All this crap that came out last year about Cal Wells, and he's going to bring all this technical stuff and this and that. That doesn't work over here, and I think Cal's proved it. More than anything, Chip is 100 percent racer. His best trait, he surrounds himself with good, quality people. You're going to see the right people get put in the right places. He wants to win so bad. That's the only reason he gets out of the bed in the morning. It's going to be a fresh start. Hopefully we'll get pointed in the right direction. "I met Chip at the beginning of last year. We struck up a friendship. Toward the end of last year when I wasn't real happy at Hendrick Motorsports, I was thinking about doing something else. We were talking one day and he said that he was thinking about running the Indy 500 and he'd like for me to come and head that up because he didn't want it to interfere with his CART program. That was something I'd always dreamed of doing. It really worked out well. I'm very fortunate that Rick Hendrick let me out of my contract. He realized that was something I really wanted to do, so it worked out good for all of us. "My love is auto racing. It's kind of a weird deal. Everything thinks of me as a stock car guy now because I've worked 10 years in Winston Cup, but my background is really open wheel racing. I've enjoyed the last six months immensely, but there's a competition in Winston Cup you can't beat. I really do love Winston Cup. I love Indy cars and I love Formula One. As long as I'm in one of those three divisions I'm really happy and hopefully I can help Chip and Felix and Tony and all the rest of the guys at SABCO get this thing moved up the grid a little bit and become a contender in the future. "My hair is not falling out as bad as it used to. I really don't miss being a crew chief. Well, I guess I miss it a little bit. The pressure here is not fair and really the term crew chief is outdated. Like in Champ cars, each team has a team manager and each team has a lead engineer. A crew chief here is both of those guys and the chief mechanic. It takes so many people to get a team successful nowadays. I know the deal Bill Elliott is doing right now. They call it the triangle and use all this fancy terminology. It's just what Champ cars and Formula One have been doing for a long time. It's got to that point now where that's what it takes in Winston Cup. Maybe not a lot of the teams out here will say that or promote that, but the successful have more than one good guy working on their team. "I've talked with Chip and he said he's still evaluating (whether to switch manufacturers). I told him I'd like to know pretty quick so we'll have a direction for next year. After buying SABCO, we're sitting here with all the cars and motors for a two-car operation. It definitely would be harder to switch manufacturers and cut up all that stuff or throw it away. Chip's got to make that decision. He asked me my opinion, and I laid out the pros and cons of each side. One thing about Chip, he's been awfully good in the past of picking combinations and doing the right things. I trust in him that he'll do the right thing. Between what I've seen with the existing equipment and my relationship with General Motors and Chevrolet, it'd be an obvious choice for me to want to stick with General Motors. That's just the immediate thoughts. It makes it a whole lot easier on tuning what we have to work with instead of starting completely over. Obviously, a lot more things get factored into the equations nowadays than just an opinion. "I'd be pretty surprised if whoever gets in the car for the rest of the year is in the car next year. I'm just saying that right now. Five or six races from now, I might be saying something completely different. I just don't think we're going to find a driver the caliber we're looking for out there right now. That's not a knock against the guys available or the guys that will end up getting in that car. I guess it's just a fact of life. "You've got those three (Derrike Cope, Hut Stricklin and Ted Musgrave), Rich Bickle's name has come up. I guess outside of those guys, that's pretty much the guys we have to pick from. Actually, after Pocono, you could get a Busch driver for the rest of the year. With IRP and the practice schedule that conflicts with running here at the Speedway, it's pretty tough to get a Busch driver to come run at Indy. I just don't think it's a good situation. We're going to stay away from that, get one of those experienced guys in for the next two races and then look at finding the best road racer we can for Watkins Glen. We'll make a decision after that of who we want to go with. I think Kevin Harvick is going to be a hell of a racer. The two young Busch guys out there are Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson. I don't think they're ready to jump up to this level. I think you need to go with one of the guys who have run here before. The first three names that come to mind are Jeff Green, Todd Bodine and Randy LaJoie. Those are just off the top of my head. I think someone like that would make more sense than trying to tap into someone with tons of potential. It's not going to be easy no matter how we do it. "Tony Glover will probably remain the crew chief on that car. Scott Eggleston and Sterling are doing a good job moving up through the points. I'd hate to do anything to disturb that right now."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rich Bickle , Derrike Cope , Bill Elliott , Todd Bodine , Kevin Harvick , Hut Stricklin , Ted Musgrave , Jimmie Johnson , Chip Ganassi , Mike Helton
Teams Hendrick Motorsports