DETROIT (Oct. 31, 2000) - Crew chief Barry Dodson, who calls the shots for the No. 27 Viagra Pontiac driven by Mike Bliss, knows what it's like to chase a Winston Cup championship. He engineered Rusty Wallace's title run in 1989 and knows what...
DETROIT (Oct. 31, 2000) - Crew chief Barry Dodson, who calls the shots for the No. 27 Viagra Pontiac driven by Mike Bliss, knows what it's like to chase a Winston Cup championship. He engineered Rusty Wallace's title run in 1989 and knows what crew chief Jimmy Makar is dealing with this year as he and driver Bobby Labonte pursue Pontiac's first title since then. Dodson has watched the sport evolve in the 11 years that have followed, and now finds himself dealing with a different set of challenges at Eel River Racing.
THOUGHTS FROM BARRY DODSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 27 VIAGRA PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
...on how NASCAR Winston Cup racing has changed since 1989: "Mainly the cost has gone up, and almost three- or four-fold. The reason for that is we're just using a lot more technology for engineering than we had access to back in the '80s and early '90s. It forces you to have more personnel, a bigger database, more testing, all the wind tunnel time you can take advantage of and just not having any weak links. All that adds up to a much, much greater cost.
"The tires are more expensive, the licenses are more expensive. We didn't have 'hard cards' back then. Our price for hard cards for our people now is what a Dover tire bill used to be.
"When we won the championship at Blue Max (Racing) we probably had 15 to 18 people. We have about two-dozen here at Eel River. You see a lot of teams out there with 40, 50 or 60 people. Their goal is to be a multi-car team, which couldn't be afforded back in the era when we won the championship. That enhances your program by giving you twice the test dates, but each of those tests costs money. Basically, the price of poker has gone up.
"I think as far as the people, I know the way Jimmy (Makar) grew up racing and is still racing now. He is a good, common sense 'seat of the pants' racer. He still uses that approach and that approach is still obviously very, very successful. That's the same thing I do. But he has the total supporting cast to help him in all these other areas. If he wants to work on a particular project he has the engineering staff to put on that project, but all that turns into money. The dividends are great if it's successful for you and it appears that it's going to be for Pontiac.
"I'm elated. Jimmy worked for me and was part of the Blue Max program. I'm pulling for those guys. At Charlotte when we got crashed early I sent every set of tires I had to the '18' car.
I want to help that program as much as I can to be successful towards their championship run. And Jimmy ended up with four of our tires on the car when they won the race and that's gratifying."
...on any advice he would give Jimmy Makar: "I would say, 'Keep doing what you're doing. Don't worry about the points -- I know you're going to. But when you wake up Sunday morning at Atlanta and I've been through this - I've walked the walk - treat it like any other race. Do the best you can with your preparation. Have a back-up plan for every part on that car that could fail, but go out there and race the way you have all year.' We called it 'calculated aggressive' at Blue Max. Other than that, it's out of Jimmy's hands."
...on the difference in the pressure of running for a championship in 1989 and the pressure of trying to keep his race team operating now: "I don't feel any more pressure than I did in '89. If I'm pitching horseshoes or playing golf or we're bowling or whatever we're doing, I'm going to try my best. Pressure is dangerous when it's self-induced. I don't feel any more pressure.
"If I do, it's to get qualified. The radial tire that Goodyear has provided us is so good that just about everybody can lay down at least one lap to get them in the show. That's the critical part. I do get very intense until we're qualified. That's the hard part. The racing part is pretty easy. Qualifying sets the tone for the weekend. If you can make first round you are one practice session ahead of the guys that have yet to qualify."
...on his team's recent improvement: "We're starting to turn the corner here at Eel River and I'm very, very proud of that. I've always taken a great amount of pride in whatever program I've been with that the second part of the year we got stronger. We didn't throw the towel in and say, 'This year is gone. We'll wait until next year and try to do better.' We continue to bite the bullet all year.
"We're starting to turn the corner here at Eel River and I'm very, very proud of that. I've always taken a great amount of pride in whatever program I've been with that the second part of the year we got stronger. We didn't throw the towel in and say, 'This year is gone. We'll wait until next year and try to do better.' We continue to bite the bullet all year.
"Mike (Bliss) has done an excellent job for us the past two or three months. He had to shake what I would call a glitch in his confidence from what he had gone through earlier this year with the '14' car, wondering himself if he could get the job done. I knew all along that he could and right now he is doing us an excellent, excellent job. With the addition of Kenny Wallace, that should even make us a more potent force. But we don't want to lose Mike. If there is any way possible, we would like to field two Pontiacs if the sponsorship was out there. If we can't do that, we want to run him in the Busch Series. He is a big part of this program. He is over the hump now. He is qualifying well and he is racing well."