Chevrolet Racing crew chiefs on 2001 schedule

NASCAR officially announced the 2001 schedule today. With the addition of Chicago and Kansas City, the 2001 schedule has been expanded to 36 point events plus two traditional non-championship point events. The 38-week season kicks off with...

NASCAR officially announced the 2001 schedule today. With the addition of Chicago and Kansas City, the 2001 schedule has been expanded to 36 point events plus two traditional non-championship point events. The 38-week season kicks off with nine straight weekends and ends with 20 straight events beginning with the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July. When the green flag falls for the Bud Shootout on Feb. 11, 2001, there will be only three weekends off until the season finale in Atlanta on Nov. 18, 2001. Crew chiefs from the three Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo teams discuss the potential impact of the schedule next season and their outlook for Sunday's 28th race of the 2000 campaign at Martinsville.

TONY FURR (Crew chief No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Monte Carlo) "I work every day anyhow, so it doesn't matter to me, but we need to work it out to get our guys off here and there so we don't wear them out. We're going to have to hire more people and redo our schedule in the shop because of next year's schedule. I'd say the biggest load will be on the (transport) truck drivers. They're really going to catch hell. We've had two this season, one full-time guy and one part-timer who also worked as a mechanic, but we're going to need two full time drivers next season. I don't know exactly how we'll set it up for them. Both of them will probably go together. They're not supposed to drive but eight hours at a time, so they'll probably go together and keep the truck moving around the clock. They're going east, west, back east, south and a one-day turnaround at the shop is going to be tough sometimes. Some guys at the shop will probably have to help turn it around. "I don't think it will matter too much to the drivers. It might cut down on some of their leisure time or some of their time on the golf course, but they'll keep moving forward with it. I'm a busy person anyway. I can't sit still. If I wasn't a crew chief, I don't know what I'd be doing. I'm sure I'd be piddling around doing something. We're just going to do whatever it takes to keep this deal moving forward and get that 25 car in victory lane. "I've heard all the talk about the sponsor, but I don't know what the deal is about that. I leave that up to Rick Hendrick, but with all the sponsors I've seen walking through this shop lately, I'm sure that's the least of his worries. "We've got seven races left, and I don't think there's one of them we can't win. We need to start Sunday at Martinsville. We'll probably run the same setup we've run there the last 10 years. I haven't veered off much from that setup at all. We usually qualify in the top 10 and race 'em hard with it. We tested there earlier this year, and Jerry (driver Nadeau) qualified sixth for the first race there this year. He got in a wreck, but he ran in the top five most of the day. It seems like we just can't buy a break anywhere we go, but the team has been running strong. "I just hope everyone sticks together. I've got a young driver who's going to do whatever it takes to win. The team has a lot of confidence, and they can see it all coming together now. Before, it just seemed like we were patching this or that and the end results were not good. This team is going to be real good if everyone sticks together. You always win two or three people at the end of the year. They think the grass is always greener somewhere else and in six or eight weeks they wish they were back. I hope that doesn't happen. I'll hate it if it does, but sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. "Jerry is an aggressive short track driver, and I have to calm him down a little bit. After Richmond and Bristol, I think he's matured a lot. I know he's going to do a good job for us at Martinsville. Brakes are still an issue there. If the duct work isn't right and you're not getting enough air to them, it's an even bigger issue. The car has to be handling right, too. We know what it takes to win at Martinsville. We know what it takes to run good anywhere. We ran good at Charlotte and Atlanta this year. We had a good run at Rockingham and had a bad pit stop and got behind. Talladega is the only question mark left on the schedule. No one knows what's going to happen there. "Rick Hendrick has really been an inspiration to this team this season. He knows we're on the verge of winning. He comes to some of our meetings or lunches and talks to the guys and keeps them pumped up. I think Rick is as excited about the possibilities for this team as he's ever been about any of his teams. He keeps pointing out all the bright spots, and he knows we can win. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it happens Sunday at Martinsville, but if it doesn't, we'll load up and try it again the next week."

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "What are we going to do? I've been looking to buy a home in Charlotte. Then I looked at next year's schedule and that would be foolish because there won't be enough time to spend at home. We won't be there. "We're just going to have to work very hard to get things organized. We're just going to have to hire more people. At first, when we worked seven-nine weeks straight or 11 weeks straight, everybody seemed to be able to keep up with it. Then we started working 12 or 13 weeks straight, seven days a week. We'd have a Sunday off here and there and some people would have to work getting ready to go to a test. We've got to get it where our road guys have some time off. We'll probably have two truck drivers and give one of them Monday and Tuesday off and the other one Friday and Saturday off. "I just try to enjoy every day. I can't be in it and look forward to a day off, but we're going to have three weekends off next year and they'd better look out. It doesn't matter if it's raining or snowing or even if a hur ricane is coming. I'm going to have three good weekends. "We've just got to get better organized so we aren't killing people. We've got to make it enjoyable for everybody. I think you'll see the stronger more focused drivers come to the front. I think you'll see a bigger separation from the great drivers and the ones who aren't as focused. There's only a handful of great drivers out there right now, but more and more talented drivers are coming along. The job Ray Evernham did with this team has put everyone to working harder, developing new stuff. The chemistry has to be right to win races now. I think our chemistry is getting better and better. It's just going to take time. Jeff and I are getting more comfortable knowing what to do to make the car better, and we're getting more comfortable with the Monte Carlo. "I won a race at Martinsville last year with John Andretti, and Jeff won the other one, so we both love Martinsville. For one thing, I can stay in my house in Greensboro, and I love to race on the short tracks. You're so close to the track, and the crew can really feel like a part of it. You don't have to rely 100 percent on what the driver is telling you because you can see what the car is doing versus Michigan or a place like that where you can't see in the corners. You can watch the driver's hands on the wheel at Martinsville and tell what the car is doing and that's a lot of fun. "Qualifying is so important there. There's a lot of beating and banging going on when you're in the back, and I don't like that. I don't mind the nudging, and I don't mind the beating and banging at the end of the race if you're going for the win. "We're taking the same car we won with at Richmond. It was a brand new car up there and the guys have been going over it. There's not as much aero involved in the equation on the shorter tracks, but it's still part of the equation. I'd say aero on most tracks is 50-70 percent of the equation. At a short track like Martinsville, it's about 20 percent. It's still important, but it's a smaller part. The driver and the team can make up more. We've got the team, and we've got the driver. If we can get a little luck riding with us, I think we'll be in good shape. "Jeff has quite a record at Martinsville (three wins, nine top fives and 12 top 10s in 15 starts). We've won three races this year, but we've been struggling a little bit. Jeff and I were talking about it. He's got 52 wins in 250 starts (.208 winning percentage) and that's quite an average. We've struggled with the new Monte Carlo body, and I'm sure me being new didn't help earlier in the season. Jeff knows his record speaks for itself, but he also realizes it's going to be tough to keep up that average. He knows he's going to go through some lean times, but I don't want him to have to go through it with me. "The immediate plans are to win Sunday at Martinsville, go test at Talladega next week and then go down there in two weeks and win that million. That would give us five wins for the season, and no one has that many yet. That wouldn't be too bad."

GARY DEHART (Crew chief No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It's going to be tough to deal with next season's schedule. We're going to have to hire another group of people. Maybe if we can have two transporters and two truck drivers we can stay ahead of the game. It's going to be tough to keep pace, though. My guys are already wore out this year. I expect a few of them to fall out before the end of the season, and they probably won't want to do it next year. We won't have to look hard for replacements, but you've got to retrain people. "Rick Hendrick has asked all of us to jot down our ideas and thoughts about how to deal with it. I really think another transporter and another driver will help. The road crew needs some time off. I think next year the road crew will get three days off and possibly four. We'll have a group in the shop getting ready for the next race, and the road crew will work Friday, Saturday and Sunday and possibly come to the shop one day during the week to check on the next week's stuff. We're going to have to utilize everyone and not kill a handful of our guys. Most teams have that many people. The biggest thing is getting organized. Some shops only have one or two people working on setting up their car. We're already training a road crew for next year. We'll have checks to make sure the car is ready, and if everything doesn't get checked, then the car won't go until it's ready. "I think the drivers are all for it. Maybe some of the ones who try to run a few Busch races will have to cut back, but I think the added Winston Cup races will be good for the drivers. The big difference is the drivers don't have a lot to do from Monday until they get back to the tracks on Friday. They have stuff they have to do for the sponsors, but they don't have a lot of other stuff to do. They have more time than the guys working on the cars during the week. I really don't know what all the answers are, but that's a really big question. "We're going to test at Greenville-Pickens on Wednesday to try to get ready for Martinsville. We're taking the same car we had at Richmond, and it didn't run well there. We're just going to keep chipping away at it. Terry missed two races, and we're 17th in points. We've got a couple more spots we can move up, but I'd rather be 12th trying for 10th right now than 17th trying for 15th. This is the first time we haven't won a race or two and things look kind of bleak right now, but we're not giving up. We've got seven more chances to win this year, and we'd like to get things started Sunday at Martinsville."

CHEVY SHORTS -- Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo, won the pole for last year's NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville. Nemechek celebrated his 37th birthday Tuesday. He's fresh off back-to-back top-10 finishes at New Hampshire and Dover and has moved up to 18th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings (NWCS)....Chevrolets finished 1-2-3 in last year's NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville with Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and Geoffrey Bodine. Earnhardt finished 17th last week at Dover and moved to second in the NWCS, 249 points behind leader Bobby Labonte. In 43 career starts at Martinsville, Earnhardt has six wins, 17 top fives and 23 top 10s.

Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2000. Advance material for Sunday’s NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 1 of 4.

NASCAR officially announced the 2001 schedule today. With the addition of Chicago and Kansas City, the 2001 schedule has been expanded to 36 point events plus two traditional non-championship point events. The 38-week season kicks off with nine straight weekends and ends with 20 straight events beginning with the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July. When the green flag falls for the Bud Shootout on Feb. 11, 2001, there will be only three weekends off until the season finale in Atlanta on Nov. 18, 2001. Crew chiefs from the three Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo teams discuss the potential impact of the schedule next season and their outlook for Sunday’s 28th race of the 2000 campaign at Martinsville.

TONY FURR (Crew chief No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Monte Carlo) “I work every day anyhow, so it doesn’t matter to me, but we need to work it out to get our guys off here and there so we don’t wear them out. We’re going to have to hire more people and redo our schedule in the shop because of next year’s schedule. I’d say the biggest load will be on the (transport) truck drivers. They’re really going to catch hell. We’ve had two this season, one full-time guy and one part-timer who also worked as a mechanic, but we’re going to need two full time drivers next season. I don’t know exactly how we’ll set it up for them. Both of them will probably go together. They’re not supposed to drive but eight hours at a time, so they’ll probably go together and keep the truck moving around the clock. They’re going east, west, back east, south and a one-day turnaround at the shop is going to be tough sometimes. Some guys at the shop will probably have to help turn it around. “I don’t think it will matter too much to the drivers. It might cut down on some of their leisure time or some of their time on the golf course, but they’ll keep moving forward with it. I’m a busy person anyway. I can’t sit still. If I wasn’t a crew chief, I don’t know what I’d be doing. I’m sure I’d be piddling around doing something. We’re just going to do whatever it takes to keep this deal moving forward and get that 25 car in victory lane. “I’ve heard all the talk about the sponsor, but I don’t know what the deal is about that. I leave that up to Rick Hendrick, but with all the sponsors I’ve seen walking through this shop lately, I’m sure that’s the least of his worries. “We’ve got seven races left, and I don’t think there’s one of them we can’t win. We need to start Sunday at Martinsville. We’ll probably run the same setup we’ve run there the last 10 years. I haven’t veered off much from that setup at all. We usually qualify in the top 10 and race ‘em hard with it. We tested there earlier this year, and Jerry (driver Nadeau) qualified sixth for the first race there this year. He got in a wreck, but he ran in the top five most of the day. It seems like we just can’t buy a break anywhere we go, but the team has been running strong. “I just hope everyone sticks together. I’ve got a young driver who’s going to do whatever it takes to win. The team has a lot of confidence, and they can see it all coming together now. Before, it just seemed like we were patching this or that and the end results were not good. This team is going to be real good if everyone sticks together. You always win two or three people at the end of the year. They think the grass is always greener somewhere else and in six or eight weeks they wish they were back. I hope Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2000. Advance material for Sunday’s NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 2 of 4.

TONY FURR (Crew chief No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Monte Carlo) that doesn’t happen. I’ll hate it if it does, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. “Jerry is an aggressive short track driver, and I have to calm him down a little bit. After Richmond and Bristol, I think he’s matured a lot. I know he’s going to do a good job for us at Martinsville. Brakes are still an issue there. If the duct work isn’t right and you’re not getting enough air to them, it’s an even bigger issue. The car has to be handling right, too. We know what it takes to win at Martinsville. We know what it takes to run good anywhere. We ran good at Charlotte and Atlanta this year. We had a good run at Rockingham and had a bad pit stop and got behind. Talladega is the only question mark left on the schedule. No one knows what’s going to happen there. “Rick Hendrick has really been an inspiration to this team this season. He knows we’re on the verge of winning. He comes to some of our meetings or lunches and talks to the guys and keeps them pumped up. I think Rick is as excited about the possibilities for this team as he’s ever been about any of his teams. He keeps pointing out all the bright spots, and he knows we can win. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it happens Sunday at Martinsville, but if it doesn’t, we’ll load up and try it again the next week.”

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “What are we going to do? I’ve been looking to buy a home in Charlotte. Then I looked at next year’s schedule and that would be foolish because there won’t be enough time to spend at home. We won’t be there. “We’re just going to have to work very hard to get things organized. We’re just going to have to hire more people. At first, when we worked seven-nine weeks straight or 11 weeks straight, everybody seemed to be able to keep up with it. Then we started working 12 or 13 weeks straight, seven days a week. We’d have a Sunday off here and there and some people would have to work getting ready to go to a test. We’ve got to get it where our road guys have some time off. We’ll probably have two truck drivers and give one of them Monday and Tuesday off and the other one Friday and Saturday off. “I just try to enjoy every day. I can’t be in it and look forward to a day off, but we’re going to have three weekends off next year and they’d better look out. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing or even if a hur ricane is coming. I’m going to have three good weekends. “We’ve just got to get better organized so we aren’t killing people. We’ve got to make it enjoyable for everybody. I think you’ll see the stronger more focused drivers come to the front. I think you’ll see a bigger separation from the great drivers and the ones who aren’t as focused. There’s only a handful of great drivers out there right now, but more and more talented drivers are coming along. The job Ray Evernham did with this team has put everyone to working harder, developing new stuff. The chemistry has to be right to win races now. I think our chemistry is getting better and better. It’s just going to take time. Jeff and I are getting more comfortable knowing what to do to make the car better, and we’re getting more comfortable with the Monte Carlo. “I won a race at Martinsville last year with John Andretti, and Jeff won the other one, so we both love Martinsville. For one thing, I can stay in my Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2000. Advance material for Sunday’s NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 3 of 4.

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo) house in Greensboro, and I love to race on the short tracks. You’re so close to the track, and the crew can really feel like a part of it. You don’t have to rely 100 percent on what the driver is telling you because you can see what the car is doing versus Michigan or a place like that where you can’t see in the corners. You can watch the driver’s hands on the wheel at Martinsville and tell what the car is doing and that’s a lot of fun. “Qualifying is so important there. There’s a lot of beating and banging going on when you’re in the back, and I don’t like that. I don’t mind the nudging, and I don’t mind the beating and banging at the end of the race if you’re going for the win. “We’re taking the same car we won with at Richmond. It was a brand new car up there and the guys have been going over it. There’s not as much aero involved in the equation on the shorter tracks, but it’s still part of the equation. I’d say aero on most tracks is 50-70 percent of the equation. At a short track like Martinsville, it’s about 20 percent. It’s still important, but it’s a smaller part. The driver and the team can make up more. We’ve got the team, and we’ve got the driver. If we can get a little luck riding with us, I think we’ll be in good shape. “Jeff has quite a record at Martinsville (three wins, nine top fives and 12 top 10s in 15 starts). We’ve won three races this year, but we’ve been struggling a little bit. Jeff and I were talking about it. He’s got 52 wins in 250 starts (.208 winning percentage) and that’s quite an average. We’ve struggled with the new Monte Carlo body, and I’m sure me being new didn’t help earlier in the season. Jeff knows his record speaks for itself, but he also realizes it’s going to be tough to keep up that average. He knows he’s going to go through some lean times, but I don’t want him to have to go through it with me. “The immediate plans are to win Sunday at Martinsville, go test at Talladega next week and then go down there in two weeks and win that million. That would give us five wins for the season, and no one has that many yet. That wouldn’t be too bad.”

GARY DEHART (Crew chief No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “It’s going to be tough to deal with next season’s schedule. We’re going to have to hire another group of people. Maybe if we can have two transporters and two truck drivers we can stay ahead of the game. It’s going to be tough to keep pace, though. My guys are already wore out this year. I expect a few of them to fall out before the end of the season, and they probably won’t want to do it next year. We won’t have to look hard for replacements, but you’ve got to retrain people. “Rick Hendrick has asked all of us to jot down our ideas and thoughts about how to deal with it. I really think another transporter and another driver will help. The road crew needs some time off. I think next year the road crew will get three days off and possibly four. We’ll have a group in the shop getting ready for the next race, and the road crew will work Friday, Saturday and Sunday and possibly come to the shop one day during the week to check on the next week’s stuff. We’re going to have to utilize everyone and not kill a handful of our guys. Most teams have that many people. The biggest thing is getting organized. Some shops only have one or two people working on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2000. Advance material for Sunday’s NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 4 of 4.

GARY DEHART (Crew chief No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) setting up their car. We’re already training a road crew for next year. We’ll have checks to make sure the car is ready, and if everything doesn’t get checked, then the car won’t go until it’s ready. “I think the drivers are all for it. Maybe some of the ones who try to run a few Busch races will have to cut back, but I think the added Winston Cup races will be good for the drivers. The big difference is the drivers don’t have a lot to do from Monday until they get back to the tracks on Friday. They have stuff they have to do for the sponsors, but they don’t have a lot of other stuff to do. They have more time than the guys working on the cars during the week. I really don’t know what all the answers are, but that’s a really big question. “We’re going to test at Greenville-Pickens on Wednesday to try to get ready for Martinsville. We’re taking the same car we had at Richmond, and it didn’t run well there. We’re just going to keep chipping away at it. Terry missed two races, and we’re 17th in points. We’ve got a couple more spots we can move up, but I’d rather be 12th trying for 10th right now than 17th trying for 15th. This is the first time we haven’t won a race or two and things look kind of bleak right now, but we’re not giving up. We’ve got seven more chances to win this year, and we’d like to get things started Sunday at Martinsville.”

CHEVY SHORTS -- Joe Nemechek, driver of the No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo, won the pole for last year’s NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville. Nemechek celebrated his 37th birthday Tuesday. He’s fresh off back-to-back top-10 finishes at New Hampshire and Dover and has moved up to 18th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings (NWCS)....Chevrolets finished 1-2-3 in last year’s NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville with Gordon, Dale Earnhardt and Geoffrey Bodine. Earnhardt finished 17th last week at Dover and moved to second in the NWCS, 249 points behind leader Bobby Labonte. In 43 career starts at Martinsville, Earnhardt has six wins, 17 top fives and 23 top 10s.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Bobby Labonte , Geoffrey Bodine , Joe Nemechek , Ray Evernham , Michael Ho
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , HART