Bristol Motor Speedway NEXTEL Wake Up Call Dave Blaney, driver ...
Bristol Motor Speedway
NEXTEL Wake Up Call Dave Blaney, driver #07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet Monte Carlo Richard Childress, owner Richard Childress Racing Jimmy Bedford, master distiller Jack Daniels
Q: TELL US ABOUT THE STATUS OF THE #07 TEAM
Richard Childress: Having Dave Blaney is a great thing for RCR and what we really wanted for Jack Daniels was a spokesman. A family man who would be a great spokesman and Dave's a great racer. We think we can win a lot of races with him. Then we went inside our operation and made some changes and will make changes steadily to make things where they need to be. I feel good about the direction we're going and the Jack Daniels car to have them on the side of it. We're a spokesman for being responsible and pacing yourself if you drink and I think it's a great thing that Jack Daniels is doing. It's a great thing.
Q: WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO PACE YOURSELF TO MAINTAIN YOUR POSITION IN THE POINTS NOW?
Dave Blaney We've started out pretty solid. We had three solid weekends, really. We had a bad weekend at California and wrecked a couple of cars. That was kind of a nightmare weekend but the other three have been not too bad. We finally got a top 10 at Atlanta. At Daytona and Vegas, if a couple of things go our way, we get top 10's there, too. So, we're fairly pleased with the way things have gone so far. We're still a little bit new together. And for the most part I've got a veteran group of guys that have been there, done that. It's a good group and they know what they're doing and it's showing.
Q: MERCHANDISE SALES OF JACK DANIELS?
Dave Blaney: Obviously, that brand and that logo is so recognized all over the country. It's one of the most recognized brands or logos there is. It's showing. They are a little bit behind on getting everything out there. They are little bit behind on getting stuff out there but the times I've been out there, people have been excited. Anytime a new sponsor comes on board you see that, but it's been double or triple the excitement for this one compared to others.
Jimmy Bedford: If I can just follow up on that a bit, Jack Daniels name is probably one of the larger collectibles out there throughout the world. And we're trying to do it right and I know that Dave mentioned that probably everything is not here. But I can't imagine meeting people or coming through the distillery on tours, looking for something with Jack Daniels, RCR's name on it. And I know, whenever this little car gets to the market, it's going to be a hot, hot item
Q: DAVE, DO YOU FEEL THIS IS YOUR BEST SHOT?
Dave Blaney: Yeah, for sure. This team is the best I've had behind me as far as people, sponsorship and the whole package. In NASCAR you better have that whole package if you're going to be successful. There are just so many good people on these good teams, so much technology. You've got so many resources, they go get the best drivers and crew chiefs and the whole works. It's tough and you've got to stack up equal to those guys on equipment and then get down to it. I'm tickled to run for RCR with Jack Daniels on the side of the car. The group I've got behind me is going to go well.
Q: WHEN THEY WERE LOOKING FOR DRIVERS WERE YOU AFRAID YOU WOULDN'T GET THIS SHOT?
Dave Blaney: It crossed my mind but you just never know. You know, this opportunity came along. It was almost.well, it wasn't too good to be true but it's a really good one. I got a chance last year to hop in the AOL car and I didn't hesitate. You know, if you race for a smaller team you don't really know what you're missing until you get in there like RCR and get in there and look all around and see all the people and all the equipment. You see what you've been racing against every week. I'm really glad I did and it turned into something good this year. We just want to get racing-these weekends off are killing me.
Q: WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT RACING FOR RCR?
Dave Blaney: For me, it's just the experience of the people. Starting with Richard, he's done so much. You know, my teammates-Harvick and Burton-they've won so much and won races and run for titles. The crew chiefs, my crew chiefs.everyone is just so more experienced than what I'm used to having. The fab shop, the motor shop, everything. So, that's a lot of depth I can lean on.
Q: BLANEYACS - DO YOU HAVE A GRASS ROOTS FAN BASE AND WHO ARE THEY?
Dave Blaney: I would imagine it's a lot of sprint car people, and I only pay about half of them! I thought that was pretty good. I don't know. It is a weird thing to me, I'm not too ongoing or whatever so it's hard for me to believe somebody is that passionate about following somebody. It's just fun to have, it's fun to have my wife and kids watching it and kind of looking after it. I'm pretty flattered.
Q: TO RICHARD, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A BRAND SEE SO STRONG THAT IT ELEVATES A DRIVER INTO THE LIMELIGHT AND DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED?
Richard Childress: I think that's a good question. When even before NASCAR let distilled spirits in there, they did a survey of which brand would the fans like to see in there, and I think it was 67% voted wanted to be Jack Daniels and I think it says something about the brand. I was in Kentucky yesterday with some of the folks from Jack Daniels and they are one of the 10 most recognizable brands in the country today. It's just a great honor to be there with them. And like you said earlier, they are escalating us rather than we are escalating them.
Q: TO RICHARD, YOU TEND TO LEAN TOWARDS DRIVERS WHO HAVE SOME MILES ON THEM. WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A DRIVER THAT HAS THAT EXPERIENCE, SUCH AS DAVE BLANEY, JEFF BURTON, ETC?
Richard Childress: You know, to start with, we went the other route. I just think we needed something to stabilize RCR, something to put our feet on the ground with Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney. Kevin's got plenty of time and experience in the race cars. I just think it's a great combination of Dave, Jeff and Kevin in the cars. We've got two young guys in our Busch cars that we're trying to bring up and these guys are helping them.
Q: DO YOU FIND THAT IT HELPS THAT THEY'VE BEEN THERE AND IN DEALING WITH THE MEDIA AND PRESSURES IT IS ONE LESS THING YOU NEED TO DEAL WITH?
Richard Childress: Yes, and the thing about it, we have meetings Monday after the race weekends. We always have our race meetings about what all went on and it's just such a different world that we're in sitting there listening to these three guys talk. I think .I know they are going to turn our company around.
Q: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR BUSCH DRIVER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. YOU DON'T HAVE THE MOST VISIBLE DRIVER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM, IS THAT INTENTIONAL? DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE BEHIND THE CURVE OR THAT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE?
Richard Childress: No, I feel that we have a good driver development program. I just carried my two grandsons yesterday and we've got Dave's young son racing his daughter racing. So we've got a really behind-the-scenes development program. No, I'm only kidding.I think if you put these guys in the Busch car, you watch them in other places, I don't want to tie up a driver like some of these other people do with a 5 or 10 year contract. We've got good guys like Clint Boyer, I've got a program going with Bill McAnally on the west coast. We do have development stuff going we just don't stand and toot our horn about them-that way nobody else will go after them.
Q: SINCE YOU'VE BEEN IN NASCAR, FELIPE LOPEZ HAS NOT BEEN TOO FAR BEHIND. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM?
Dave Blaney: Well, we hadn't run all that much together before this year. I met with him at Bill Davis, a couple different times at Bill Davis. But just short stints both times. I don't know-we just worked well together. No tricks, just basic way of doing things seemed to mesh well with what I wanted in a race car and you could see that the time. We ran well and it was easy to do it. When I say that I mean that we didn't have to thrash and thrash on the cars to do it. We'd get close, make a couple of changes and we'd be in the ballpark. When something like that happens, it's pretty easy to feel it's working well and it's continued to do that. He's an easy going guy, no ego, he's easy to deal with, the team loves him and easy to get along with on all sides of the race team.
Q: WITH THIS BEING AN IMPOUND WEEKEND, HOW DOES THAT AFFECT YOUR PRACTICE TODAY?
Dave Blaney: Well, when it's this short, it's really important to get done what you want to get done. You maybe come into practice with a little plan of okay, if the car is this way, we're going to do this. You might have something planned out rather than if it was a long practice, you just kind of go with it and see where it takes you. So, you better be ready with a plan here. You've just got two hours.
Q: IT SEEMED LIKE A HOMECOMING AT LYNCHBURG. IS IT ALWAYS LIKE THAT?
Jimmy Bedford: Lynchburg is a very open-hearted village. Yes, Dave fits in quite well with our surroundings there. You might have seen the employees sneaking around to see if they could get a glimpse of him. If I would see this, I'd say come on up! And we'd take him and have him sign something. Dave was very good about that.
Q: HOW DO YOU BALANCE WITH TIME WITH A FULL TIME CUP RIDE AND OWNERSHIP OF A SMALL SPEEDWAY?
Dave Blaney: Well, you've got to find something to do when racing's all done with. There's a whiskey maker and wine maker and I can't even make lemonade, so I've got to find something to do. We had a chance to acquire a race track in Ohio with some partners. It's kind of our hometown track, I grew up right next to that. There's some days I wish somebody else owned that race track, but it's going to be okay. Each year it's going to be something I have and can grow with it.
Q: RC, THEY SAY YOUR AERO PROGRAM IS A LITTLE OFF. HOW DO YOU COMPARE AGAINST THE OTHER CHEVROLETS?
Richard Childress: We feel we're really, really close. We just hired Nick Owen who is one of the top aero guys in the business. I think think Dave can answer that just from the start of the year, to where we're at now, it's been a tremendous change and we feel we're on top of it. We're in the wind tunnel every week now, so we've got a huge aero plan. We're doing a lot with our engine program-we just added some stuff to our R&D side. So, I'm really happy and Dave can probably answer where our cars are now from where they started.
Dave Blaney: Yeah, I mean if you look at numbers-wise, we improved a ton. I feel that we took the same car.we took a car to Las Vegas that they built up in a hurry, brand new one and we really liked it. We took it to Atlanta and ran pretty good with it. We took it to the Texas tests and I thought it ran great. We've got one we really like and they are basing some more on that. Jeff's got one of the new ones he really likes. They're making some big changes, it's not like we're sitting on what we've got. We've got new stuff every day.
Richard Childress: And you, know, if it takes cutting 30 or 40 bodies off, that's what we're going to do. That's what you've got to do to keep getting better. Our guys are putting in 110% behind it and if we've got to cut all the bodies off to get there, get halfway through the season, we've got something better than this, we'll cut them off again.