Tuesday, March 18, 2003. NASCAR Winston Cup Press Conference BILL WILBURN (Crew chief No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid) "I think after Atlanta (Rusty Wallace) was pretty down on himself. He told us he got it in the fence and we were having a...
Tuesday, March 18, 2003.
NASCAR Winston Cup Press Conference
BILL WILBURN (Crew chief No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid)
"I think after Atlanta (Rusty Wallace) was pretty down on himself. He told us he got it in the fence and we were having a really good run. The car was performing well, and he was running a really great race. He made the comment that he really screwed us up and cost us a good finish. I said, 'hey, don't worry about it. We've got 10 more cars just like this at the shop. We've got 34 or 35 more races left. We'll keep digging.'
"I would much rather have a guy that's trying as hard as he can, running as hard as he can every lap. That's what it takes to win, and that's what it takes to be up front and win this championship. We'll get this bad luck behind us. I'm way more excited about how we're running this year than I was last year five races into the season. We've already led a good many laps. We've qualified a lot better. Our performance in the race is a ton better. For him to say he's cost us something, maybe that's the way he feels. If that's the way he feels he'll work on it and correct that. We're just going to keep building good race cars and going to the race track every week with the same intent. We'll get this bad luck behind us, and I'm 100 percent confident we're going to win a lot of races.
"It puts a certain amount of pressure on us, but it's good pressure. We know we've got a guy who loves to race at Bristol. He's got a great record there. We go with all the confidence in the world that we can go and win that race. We bring a good race car. We've got a brand new race car that we just built for Bristol. We're real confident with what we've seen in it so far as far as the wind tunnel and stuff. We're ready to go. Pressure wise is not really a big thing. We're not focused on pressure. We're just looking at the excitement of going with the confidence we can win that race. We should have won it last fall. We had a little incident at the end and didn't quite get the trophy, but we're going back.... Our anticipation is to go back this year and win that race and get this win thing behind us so we can get No. 2 win and No. 3 win down the road.
"I think that may be a little wrong there as far as the results (with the Dodge). We haven't put the finish on the board, but we pitted wrong last week running in the top 10. We had an incident at Atlanta running in the top 10. Qualifying has been better this year than last year. Performance-wise, we haven't had any failures to speak of. Performance has been better at this point than what we had last year. We just haven't put the numbers up to say we've finished better than we did last year. We haven't, but we've led more laps already this year than we did all last year put together. I'm pretty excited about the performance of it, and the rate we're learning stuff in the wind tunnel right now and on the race track, we're way ahead of where we were last year.
"I don't believe we'd be talking about being overly aggressive if he didn't hit the wall at Atlanta or run into the back of somebody at Darlington. We're running up toward the front. We've just had some incidents where we've hit stuff. Take that out of the equation, and I think we've got basically four top 10 finishes. We had to pit at Daytona. We couldn't see where we were going with all the oil on the windshield. That knocked us out of a finish there, and Atlanta knocked us out of a finish. Running into the back of Joe Nemechek last week didn't help us any. I don't see him being overly aggressive, just at the wrong place at the wrong time right now. I'm going to put it that way.
"There's so many things that play with keeping your sponsor and keeping the team's morale up. You can't ride around anymore. The guy who's starting on the front row will be around lapping you in about 25 laps at a lot of these places if you're not up on that wheel every lap. I think Rusty understands that. That's one of the reasons we're all working for the guy. He's on the gas. We'll work our way through these bumps and scrapes. When he gets it all ironed out, whatever it is he feels like the problem is he feels that way, when we come out on the other end we'll be good.
"I think it's something that Fox or whatever that network is that has that program has spoke to Rusty about it. I don't know that it's going to be that reality TV to the point we've seen on some other programs. As we know more, I'm sure everyone involved will be brought up to speed.
"I always say if you don't want the answer don't ask Rusty because he will tell you. If we can get softer tires and take away from some of the aero, it'll make for more finishes like we had Sunday at Darlington. We ran a tire at Darlington, we could run flint rock tires at Darlington and it would grind them right off. We run a lot of these places where pit stops aren't even needed because guys don't pit or put tires on. There's not the letdown or give up or whatever you want to call it. If we had softer tires, we'd see a lot more races like we saw last weekend at Darlington. I've watched races for 20 years now, and that's the best finish I've ever seen and it's strictly due to tires were worn out, guys were worn out, cars were used up. It was two drivers going at it, that's just all there was to it. There wasn't any car left.
"Probably a lot of guys would lobby, but a lot of guys don't say anything. The way I look at it, if you don't ask, the answer is always no. I'm lobbying for it, too. I'd like to do away with some of these tires that we have at some of these tracks. They're way too hard. You can't race on 'em. You put 'em on 43 cars and 43 cars are basically going the same speed. As far as I'm concerned that makes for a sorry race.
"I think we're making a little more downforce now. I think we're making better power. I think the Dodge engine puts the power in a different range than the Ford did, and that suits Rusty I think. It's producing a better result on the race track. I think the second half of last year we came to a lot of points in our decision making process with setups. We learned a lot the second half of last year. If you look at what we did in the first half of last year to the second half of last year, it was a tremendous gain I thought. I think that's rolled into this year. We haven't put the finishes up, but we've had some bumps in the road. Our performance is definitely better. I think it's the result of everything, communication, better car, better motor, we're a little more up on our game than we were starting last season communication wise. I think you add it all together and we get all these other bumps behind us and we're going to be good.
"I feel a lot more comfortable. I think Rusty trusts my decisions a little bit more. Only one time this year have we been in a situation where we kind of undermine one another or second guess one another and that was probably the situation on the rain at Daytona, but we had other circumstances that played into that. The guy couldn't see where he was going. I don't want him running 200 mph and he can't see. That's not a good combination, but we are working on going to Bristol this week. Last fall we ran a great race at Bristol. We should have won that race. We're going back to Bristol in March and we're going to win it. We're going to get that first win behind us and we're going to win races, I hope, more regular following that. Everything is on the plus.
"Last year, I think we were probably on the conservative side a lot of ways, finishing races, being very thorough in our preparation and making sure our car was where we could finish every race barring being in a wreck or the engine failing or whatever. I think those are strong points of mine and our team. I think right now, a stronger point than it was last year is working on the setups. I think we're a lot better right now than we were last year.
"It depends on if you're first or second. If you're first, you're kind of at the mercy of the guy behind you. I don't think you'll be as unassuming if he's in first as to what might happen from behind. Hopefully if we're in first there's nobody even close enough to make a move like what happened last year. If he's second, I'm not even going to speculate. We'll leave that up to the unknown and we'll find out when it happens.
"I think it would be great to win a race, period. To win that 2,000th race would be great. It'd be something to put on your mantle and have to talk about in years to come. For NASCAR to be around and have 2,000 races is a huge deal, and for us to win it would be great. For our team to win their first race this year and put this winless streak that everybody is talking about behind us would be bigger yet as far as I'm concerned. When the race is over, we move to the next one. I really don't look at five weeks ago as far as not winning. My focus right now today is testing in Texas and when we get back on Thursday morning I'm going to Bristol. I'm headed up there to try to win that race. It's definitely in the back of your mind. You don't want to continue not winning, but as far as the streak's concerned, I don't think we spend a lot of time dwelling on that."