Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, April 5,2005 Bristol Recap, Martinsville BILL ELLIOTT (No. 91 Stanley Tools Dodge Charger) IS MOMENTUM DIFFICULT TO BUILD WHEN YOU'RE NOT RACING EVERY WEEK? "I think it would be harder if you ...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, April 5,2005
Bristol Recap, Martinsville
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 91 Stanley Tools Dodge Charger)
IS MOMENTUM DIFFICULT TO BUILD WHEN YOU'RE NOT RACING EVERY WEEK?
"I think it would be harder if you didn't have a team that was running every week. The hardest thing is trying to keep the crew guys put together. I think that was a bit of a struggle last year, but I think this year Ray has got things better under control. He brought Chris Andrews in. Chris is doing an excellent job. I think we've knocked some of the rough edges off as far as Chris and I working together. I don't care if you run every week or run part-time, getting used to working with a new guy, plus the changes NASCAR has thrown in, not only over the winter but the changes within the brand itself, and you've got all the other things going on. Goodyear changed the tires a little bit, so there's a multitude of changes you're trying to work through. A number of teams have struggled trying to work things out. It's a never-ending evolution."
COMMENT ON TEST AT TEXAS
"We tested for two days. I think we learned a lot, but we're still trying to get a handle on where we're at with this car and trying to get things squared away from that side. Ray and all the guys have worked really hard trying to get the Dodge where it's at, and I feel like Kasey had a pretty good run at Atlanta and we ran pretty decent toward the middle and end of the race, but still, it's going to be ongoing work as far as getting things going in the right direction. It's a constant battle with the changes NASCAR made. It's a struggle not only for us but all the teams."
DOES THE DODGE CHARGER NOSE NEED HELP?
"That's probably a technical question you need to ask Ray. I don't know. I don't know that they've taken any cars to the wind tunnel to really see how you stack up to the other brands. It just seems like, with taking Bristol out of the loop, that the Hendrick and Roush cars seem to have it together the best. For whatever reason, they never lost any momentum from last fall where the rest of us kinda did. There have been teams that have been hot and cold but certainly not as consistent as the Hendrick and Roush bunch for whatever reason. They have fewer changes to their car, and I think that's the thing we're struggling through a little bit, finding the right balance to what we're running."
WOULD YOU CHANGE ANY DECISIONS YOU'VE MADE IN YOUR CAREER?
"Lord no, I've had a good career. Unfortunately we didn't run as many races last year as we wanted to, but the way sponsorship was and things of that sort it made it difficult to put things together. You need to be a year or two ahead of where you're at. Right now I'm comfortable with where I'm at. I'm enjoying running part-time. I enjoy coming back and seeing the people. There again, I don't miss running every week, the struggles and hassles of the ups and downs of what you go through with the grind of every week. I've lived it. I've done it. I like running more on my schedule than having to be there full-time. Whether I decide to quit tomorrow or next month or next year or whenever, now I'm in a position that I haven't cut it totally off like Rusty. I think he's second-guessing his decision as far as what he wants to do, and Mark, I think they're getting to the point they don't know what they want to do. I'm in a position where I can race or do whatever I want to on the side as far as the stuff away from Cup and try to help Ray and his organization and focus on Cup to a good extent and be sharp enough to run the schedule I'm running. On the other hand, I don't have to have the grind of every week."
COMMENT ON REED SORENSON
"I've watched him run ARCA and stuff, and he's done a real good job. He's young, and he's in with a real good team as far as Ganassi and that bunch is concerned, someone that's capable of being there for the long haul. Getting to the Cup level is a whole different deal. You bring the guys in and you never know. Just like Kasey last year. He was running awfully well and this year the way this whole deal has kinda flipped on you, you're riding that roller-coaster. There's up and downs. That's part of this sport. The kids are still running good. There's the changing of the guard every year as far as I'm concerned. The next generation has not only opened the door, but they're in the door. When I came in a number of years ago there was Pearson, Yarborough and Petty and all those guys. Eventually that door opened and shut. They're gone and another generation comes in and that's going to be the way of life. I think the next steps will be critical for him (Sorenson). Where he ends up the next few years as far as getting good experience and finding the right group of people around him as he makes the next step as he continues through his career (will be important)."
WHY HAVEN'T THE EVERNHAM TEAMS BEEN STRONG THIS SEASON?
"It has been strong, but we don't have the finishes to show it. The guys ran strong at Daytona, both Kasey and Jeremy, but they were caught up in a lot of stuff there and never had the opportunity to materialize. At California he got to going pretty good and got involved in deal and he had a little problem at Vegas. At Atlanta, they ran pretty well. Right now we're just trying to find the right balance and get things worked out. A lot of things were changed this winter, and I think that's the things we've got to sort through and make sure we're going in the right direction. I'll give them credit. Ray and the guys are working hard. They'll get it figured out."
DO YOU THINK VETERANS GET RESPECT THEY DESERVE ON THE TRACK?
"I think the seasoned guys are more calculative. I think that's the difference. In a short Busch race, I'm just using a hypothetical, you've got a short race and you've got to get after it pretty well. I like to try to run a guy and if he respects me I respect him. If he doesn't respect me, then it's hard to respect the other guy if he doesn't have any respect for you. That's just using a broad range of anybody. Everybody always talks about Cale. I know when I came in, Cale and I had the best relationship of anybody I felt like. He raced me clean, and I raced him clean and that's the way it went. You have your day with guys. Sometimes people make mistakes unintentionally and sometimes that happens and there's not a lot you can do with it whether it's a veteran or rookie or whatever."
WOULD YOU HAVE FLIPPED OFF SOMEBODY LIKE CALE IF YOU HAD GOTTEN INTO THE BACK OF HIM ON A SHORT TRACK AND HE CAME OVER TO HAVE WORDS WITH YOU?
"I might have one day and I might not the next day. There again, it depends on the circumstances."
ARE WE HAVING TOO MANY CAUTIONS?
"Yeah, but what are you going to do about it? Cautions breed cautions. When they get down to the end of the races, it's just like the analogy I use at Daytona and Talladega, you start off and you might give the guy a foot leeway early in the race. The race goes on and it might go on to six inches and at the end of the race you want to occupy his space. There again, it comes back to cautions breed caution. The problem is, since they've concreted Bristol and some of the racetracks, it's made them pretty one-grooved in my opinion. That's the thing. I honestly didn't watch the races from Bristol this weekend, so I can't comment, but in the past what I've seen is the racetrack gets one-grooved. If the racetrack is one-grooved, everybody is trying to dive for the same spot. Whereas the racetrack in the past years you could run high. Harry Gant used to run up against the rail. It would give you more options as far as being able to be raceable with the guy and not cause problems, but any time you go to a short track you're going to have bumping and grinding and everything else. As competitive as everything is and as close as these cars are, I don't know how you're going to change that."
IN THE PAST DRIVERS HAD MORE RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER AND THERE WERE FEWER CAUTIONS?
"I agree and disagree in some respects. The thing about years ago, a guy might have finished fifth and he might have been six or seven laps down. Now you can go 100 laps into the race and there might be 30 cars still on the lead lap at Bristol. You're talking a whole different way of thinking as the guys go on. In the past, there was a lot of difference in the cars where a guy didn't have to push as hard as they do today to get in position. There again, they do need more respect on the track in some instances."
SHOULD A DRIVER BE PENALIZED FOR FLIPPING THE FINGER?
"I'm glad I don't have to make that decision. I can just sit back and read about it in the paper. That's in the heat of the battle."
WHEN YOU'RE NOT RACING DO YOU USUALLY TRY TO WATCH THE CUP RACES ON TV?
"No, I don't. I've been there and seen everything. Somebody asks you every day if something surprises you, well it doesn't surprise me any more. The less I know about it, the better off I am. Whatever happened Sunday or Monday or whatever, I talked to Ray Evernham on Sunday morning before the race and I talked to him Sunday night. I don't know what happened to those guys in the race Monday, but other than keeping up with Kasey and Jeremy and a couple of other guys, I like to just stay away from it."
HOW IS YOUR TIME DIVIDED?
"Right now I'm just kinda doing my own thing. I spend a good bit of time around home. I spent as much time as I could with Kasey last year. I still try to help him from time to time. As Ray gets more into his driver development, I feel like my role will change quite a bit. I'm still doing a fair amount of testing for them and will continue on that. Ray is concentrating on trying to get this thing worked out as far as where they're at within this season. Chris (crew chief Andrews) and I have been concentrating more on the races for Stanley and Visteon and the folks as it stands here today. The roles have changed a little bit this year versus last year. As Erin Crocker comes on and more people like that, then my role will change as far as trying to help them, especially at events we can tie in when I'm there."
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ABOUT RUNNING BUSCH RACES FOR RUSTY WALLACE?
"I'm looking forward to that. I had a good time running Tommy's car last year at Memphis. They're short races. They're on Saturday and they're more like what we grew up doing. There's a whole lot less pressure than in Cup. I was walking into Daytona and I said, 'man, I've got it made.' I drove for Ganassi down there in the Bud Shootout, and I've been able to drive Ray's stuff on the midsize stuff and to be able to drive Rusty's stuff on the Busch side. I'll probably drive some for Ray (in Busch) before the season ends, so I've got it made. As far as the guys trying to do their own deal, it's difficult today because the multi-car teams have got all the advantages. Every now and then you can make a single entity work, but that's bleeding over to the Busch and truck side now."