BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T) "After three races is there anything to sum up? I think things have been going well. We just need to keep chipping away. It seems like Sterling and them have got their act together. We just need to...
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T)
"After three races is there anything to sum up? I think things have been going well. We just need to keep chipping away. It seems like Sterling and them have got their act together. We just need to be a little bit better.
"It's important to everybody. (The championship) is the ultimate goal everybody works for. We've completed every lap and had decent days. You look at a lot of other teams that are good teams and they're not faring so well. We've got to take advantage of everything we can while we can.
"We just need to keep whittling away at it. The team's doing well, and I'm proud of what Jeremy has done. He's a good guy, and I think a lot of him. He's going to be a good asset for the race team. We've just got to keep whittling away at it. Ray came into this deal to build the deal for a long term deal. I'm trying to keep things stable from my end. There's places I'm pretty good at and there's some places I'm not so good at. We've got to keep the heat up and overcome a lot of the stuff that's happened, the changes that have happened the last several years and be able to keep that going in a good, positive direction.
"I've had a good relationship with Jeremy years ago. He's young. He's got a good future ahead of him. I think Ray will take care of him. I think he's in a position he likes where he's at right now real well, and hopefully we can make it all work for everybody.
"Looking at the overall deal, I don't see why they (Dodges) shouldn't perform well everywhere. It seems like the Dodge teams have been pretty stable the last little bit. There's a good bit of the stability in the Dodge teams. Look at Sterling's deal. They've been together quite a long time. When my brother Ernie is focused, I think there's none no better in the motor department. I've seen what Ray's done as far as his expansion over the winter. He's worked extremely hard trying to put this program together. He's a hands on owner, and I like that real well. He's there every day watching where his dollars and cents go. I couldn't ask for any better situation that I'm in. I've got a great group of guys around me with Mike (crew chief Ford) and all the guys he's put in place. To me, if I can just keep whittling out, like I said before, I feel like there's some places I'm good at and other places I've been not so good at, but we're going to work through it.
"We have already, and I think you see it in a lot of teams. They don't run as much as they have in the past (in practice because of the one-engine rule). Until we get a better feel of what this rule is all about, the last two races has not been a real test of this new rule. I think Atlanta and some of the other longer races.... I mean, you've got a 500-mile race, it's a high rpm race track and that's going to really tell the tale if a motor and its components are going to live.
"I just drive and let those guys worry about their own stuff. If they say, 'OK, you've run too much,' then I quit. Mike Ford and I establish what we want to try to change and get ready to start the race. This business, wh atever curve NASCAR throws at us, we're going to have to respond to it and figure out how to do it. There isn't any rule change that doesn't cost some money. You're trying to figure out how to get all the power you can out of a motor, then you've got to get durability out of it, also. Figure it out. He's (Ernie Elliott) been doing real well.
"If I look back on our performance last year, I think our team really started coming together June, July and August. There was a lot of racing circumstances we fought. I think we tried some things that we didn't have information and kind of went the wrong direction. As temperamental as these race cars are, it's hard to get everything perfect week in and week out. That's what we're striving for. I think Jeremy on board and still have Casey Atwood as part of the deal will help us get to where we need to be quicker. That's the keys that I see. I think they're going to bring me along. I think they're going to keep me young.
"I don't worry about them (red flags) regardless. If it happens, so be it. The only thing I can say is it's great for the race fans. It's not so great for the driver. Usually we're in a mode in that point in time, if you're that late in a race, what are you going to do? Usually you're in a position of whatever position you're going to be in in that late stage of a race. Sometimes that just kind of makes things a little more hectic, a little more nerve-wracking for the driver at the end of the day. Sort of like what Ward said after the 500 down there. There again, that's just something that NASCAR has established and you've just got to live with it. We're not Saturday night racing. Most of the races that finish under caution are only 100 or 200-lap races. We're running 500 miles. Whatever dictates a 500-mile race, if you're going to come down to a 10 or 15 or five-lap race, why are we running 500 miles?
"It's an important goal. Realistically, I think we've got a good shot at running well this year. Whether a championship is in the deal, I have no idea. I think this is going to be a topsy-turvy year for a lot of people. It's going to depend on a lot of deals. If rules change and you can't respond to the changes that are thrown at you throughout the year, that's going to affect your program. You can't really determine what's going to happen on the race track. I think that's a question that I'm going to have to answer. We're going to have to do the best we can. Just like we started this season, if we can get better at the places we're not so good and be good at the places where we are good and get down to the end of the season and see where this shakes out. I'll deal with it at that time.
"I don't know if they (NASCAR) have done anything to help us (Dodge) at this point in time. I think it's been more the teams. They've got their act together. They've done real well. It's just part of everybody getting on the page and continuing to strive and make the product better.
"I don't think you can change the way you're driving a race car. Unless you get down to the last race and everything is on the line and you've got to use a certain strategy to do whatever you have to do at that point in time. You can't look with 30 something races to go and say I'm going to change the way I'm driving because I'm at this position in points. You've got to go race and see how things fall out. You try not to make mistakes, but yet, you've got to run your race and you've got to be as competitive and as aggressive as you need to be each and every week. We're talking championship three races into the season. This is stuff you need to be talking about 30 races into the season, seeing where things shake out.
"I guess last year it hadn't worn off that I'd gotten out of the ownership of a race team business. I feel like now it's reality. Every time I look at Ray and see the stress he's under and the amount of directions he's been pulled in, I think, 'you know, that could be me.' I thank God it's not. The reason I got in racing, it wasn't for the money, it wasn't for the fame, it wasn't for the glory. I just enjoyed working and driving a race car. That's going back to what I can do today. I can't work on the cars like I used to because of all the other distractions. I still enjoy driving. Win, lose or draw on Sunday afternoon, that I can't control. But at least now, I can realize there's more to things than having to deal with well, this guy is mad because he didn't get that or this guy is quitting, and I've got to hire this guy to do this and finding the money and finding all the parts to put it all together. It's just hard to do.
"Atlanta is always fun. I really enjoyed the old Atlanta, the way the race track used to be. It was always a lot of fun. It was a unique race track to itself and I enjoyed running it. Still, the new one tends to be getting a little better. I've kind of got it figured out a little bit better. All-in-all, it's kind of a home territory. A lot of good friends and people come down there and I enjoy running that place. You've gone so far in your career, you don't even think about that stuff any more.
"If you're a Jeff Gordon, I was say, yes. I don't know that you can deal with everything he has to deal with every week at the level you've got to do it. If you've got a guy that's on the other end of the spectrum, who has not dealt with the success that Gordon has, that can kind of go in and do their own thing but still do it as they like to do it, probably can stay in the sport longer. He's probably doing more things he enjoys doing, whereas Jeff is able to do a lot of things he enjoys to do but also has to do a lot of things he doesn't enjoy doing. I think that's going to depend of whether a guy stays in it six months or six years or 25 years. It depends on how much Geritol you've got. You need a couple of extra quarts the older you get.
"It's telling the history of where a lot of the racers have come from and the history of Dawson County and how it's played a role in racing. That's going to be its biggest success. It's going to have to work hard to keep up with everything else that's going on around it. They're going to have their hands full in some departments, but I think they're going to have a lot to offer in others. From the standpoint of the whole family, it's very important. It's not about me. There's a lot of people in that county that dedicated a lot to us that never got recognition. I want everybody to be a part of this deal. It's not about me. It's not about the Elliotts. It was about everybody who was involved or had a dream and wanted to be a part of this deal. From the standpoint of the way I came into Winston Cup Racing and was able to take our group and make it into a winning race team is probably more special than anything. The people who were dedicated and helped us do that shouldn't be forgotten, either. Maybe that can be a part of what it tells, of all the sacrifices of all the people that paid throughout the years. There's been a lot.
"To me this stuff is changing so rapidly. It's hard to keep up with all the changes that thrown at you. NASCAR comes up with a rule change today, it's how well you can respond to it. I don't care if they take a quarter inch off the spoiler. You've got to go back and rethink how you've done everything. That's what you've got to deal with.
"I ain't telling nobody where I'm going to race (dirt car). I'm just going to crawl in the truck and show up. I don't want no three-day deals. I don't want no two-day deals. I just want to go in, go play and do like I used to do and go home.
"You've got to look back on all our family history. My mother died in '91. Casey died in '96. My dad died in '98. We've had such a topsy-turvy deal through there. We had the McDonald's deal, then we didn't have it. All this stuff has been so emotional. Now he (Ernie Elliott) has a deal where he can just focus on his motors. That's been very good for him. He's in a very good position. He's got a guy, Tony (Santanicola), up there in Charlotte. With where he's at and what he can do, I'm very happy for him."