Monday, Oct. 8, 2001. Dodge Notes, Quotes following Sterling Marlin's victory in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. TONY GLOVER (Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) "That's been the way our season's gone. Our car...
Monday, Oct. 8, 2001. Dodge Notes, Quotes following Sterling Marlin's victory in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
TONY GLOVER (Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
"That's been the way our season's gone. Our car has been good on long runs. For some reason, we haven't quite figured out the short run yet but we're working on it. We're thinking about it every week about how to get better, but I think that might have something to do with the driver. I've got a new nickname for him now "Steady Marlin." He's real steady. He doesn't hurt the tires and takes real good care of the race car. Normally here at this race track it gets down to long runs, and the long run will win it for you. It was getting frustrating with all the early yellows. We'd run 25 laps and the caution would come out, 25 laps and the caution would come out. It ended up with a long run, and that's what we were set up for.
"Ray Evernham started the deal with Dodge way before myself, Lee or Sterling or Chip Ganassi or Felix Sabates was ever concerned with it. They had a lot of parts in place before we ever started, and it was a tremendous asset for our team with the things they'd already learned. The thing about Winston Cup racing is that we're all one big happy family, whether it be Dodge, Pontiac, Chevrolet or Ford. Once the race starts, it's a race amongst everybody. It's up to Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to do all they can do on that given day. A couple of Dodges raced us always hard today. It's a big happy family, but again, I don't think there's no animosity among the teams. I will say Ray Evernham did a lot to get this deal going.
"On the issue with NASCAR, probably I dropped the ball on the deal with Sterling (post-race victory lap). I didn't communicate with him quite as well as I wished I had of. Today was a special day. It was special for our team to win the race. Sterling has won some races on some tracks that's really meant a lot to me. Daytona, Talladega, Darlington, Bristol in the Busch race at my hometown, and Sterling has really never done nothing for the fans. He likes to win the race, go to victory lane, get him a Coors Light, kind of like myself and be over. I wanted today to be a special day. Something I thought about with about 10 laps to go, and I apologize to the owners for that because with 10 to go I should be thinking more about what we're going to do. Again, today was a special day in America. I wanted our guys and our driver to get to pay tribute to the United States of America, and I wanted us to be able to line up beside the American flag in the grass at the race track. Unfortunately, I didn't get the message delivered to Sterling quite as good as I should have, and we didn't get parked in exactly the right place. What really got us, the posse got after us and all the TV media. It would have been really neat for our race team and the United States of America for us to pay tribute today by putting today's champion standing beside the American flag with all his team members. That's what we had planned, but it didn't quite go over that way. It was a win, and we're proud to be Americans and we'll take it.
LEE McCALL (Crew chief No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It's just a driver feel. The seat sits good and the balance is good. We're definitely going to use it at Homestead and Atlanta again. I think it's more driver preference. It's definitely my favorite car. It has been all year long. The balance is very good on this car and that's what it takes to have a very consistent car like we did all day long.
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It's special to win any race to me. I don't care if it's lap 101 and you win it or 500 or 400 miles. The Michigan win was big for us. We'd been close all year. It's Dodge's hometown. With the rain at Michigan, I think we had the car to win. You can't say if you did or didn't. We've been so close all year. Indy got away from us. I think we had the best car and got the car home and had a broken valve spring. Last week we had a good car and couldn't get track position. We had four or five races this year and with the what ifs we could have won. I'm glad to be sitting here with two wins. We'll keep digging. The season ain't over and we'll try to get us some more wins."
FELIX SABATES (Co-owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
"I have never won here before, but I have. In 1991 Sterling Marlin came over to me and said he was running a Busch car and don't have any money. Can you give me some money? So I went over to my condominium and got $4,000 to sponsor him and he won the race, so we've won twice here Sterling.
"I'm really proud of Tony and Lee and the whole crew. The one thing that Chip Ganassi brought to this team that I couldn't bring, he's a racer. I was a businessman trying to play racer. Chip is a racer trying to play businessman. I'm involved with the business side of it, and he's involved with the racing side. Chip has brought in a lot of things, a lot of money. I got tired of putting my own money into it. They say money doesn't buy speed. Wrong. Look at Yates. Look at Roush. Look at Hendrick. Money does buy speed and Chip has brought a lot of money to the team this year.
"As far as I'm concerned, we don't have anything signed with anybody (for next season) other than Sterling. If Gordon wants to make a change, we'll con sider it. He's not as good as Sterling, so we'll have to ask Sterling about that. I shake hands with every race driver in here. You never know when you're going to need one of those guys.
"We had a situation with Cingular, and I don't think it was a very healthy situation for us. We were told last year to hire a young driver that could grow and develop for the next four or five years. Halfway through the year, they changed their tune. They wanted to win races. I went to Atlanta and had several meetings with them. As far as we were concerned, they were committed to Jason. Little did I know that Childress was going behind our back trying to steal our sponsor with Robby Gordon. You asked me, and I'm telling you the facts. Childress sat down with us and said these people came to us and I'm not going to make a presentation to them. I'm going to help you guys, and I'm going to quote them a real high number. So when you guys go in with a low number... We looked at other sponsors and other sponsors wanted an experienced driver. We're trying to find a third sponsor. If we do, we'll keep Jason. If not, we probably won't be able to. Jason got screwed in this whole deal.
"NASCAR asked us to come to the trailer. It was an invitation, and when I walked in Mike Helton was there with Gary Nelson. He said it was a mistake. You guys were excited and it was a lack of communication. We were excited, and the NASCAR officials wanted us to go to victory lane. Next time we'll know better. Next time we'll do a burnout in the grass.
"How did Humpy get that to happen? For him to get the President of the United States to start a war on this day. That's pretty impressive.
"I'm very involved with the race team. Chip has been a great partner. He asks me about everything. He owns 80 percent of it. He doesn't have to ask me anything, but he does. I think people took advantage of me in racing. I came from a business world where it was dog eat dog and fight, fight, fight. In the 14 years I spent here, I looked the other way too many times and people would stab me in the back. Car owners would steal sponsorship from us. That kind of thing happens. It happened to me too many times. If we don't do something not to be thieves with each other, because that's what's happening. Everybody is stealing something from somebody. Sponsors, drivers, crew chiefs. We're going to destroy ourselves. We're on a path to self destruction.
"You can't go to a sponsor anymore and ask for a reasonable amount of money. You've got to go ask for big dollars to be competitive. You've got to have 10 to 12 million dollars just to middle of the field. You've got to have a committed car owner. I spent a lot of money out of my own pocket, and I was very successful. Chip has done the same thing. He has put his heart and soul into it. You've got two or three car owners here that don't need to do that. Childress and Yates have done very well. There's too much greed among car owners in this sport. If we don't try to do something not to kill ourselves, we'll kill ourselves.
"I've been very close to death in racing. John Nemechek died when Joe Nemechek drove for me. Adam Petty was one of my kids. Kenny Irwin and Blaise Alexander was like a nephew to me. He drove my Busch car all last year. We thought about putting him in the 01 car this year before Jason. I was fairly close to Dale Earnhardt. I've seen enough death already. We don't need any more of it. When you come right down to it, there's nothing anybody can do about it. When you hit a wall the way these guys hit the wall, I don't care how many HANS devices or Hutchens devices you have. You're going to get hurt. You can't stop that fast and not have injuries. The press make a big deal out of safety issues, but these cars are pretty damn safe. Nothing is safe enough to hit a wall that fast.
"I think sometimes it goes in spurts. We may not see another death in five years, but racing and death goes hand in hand. When these guys strap themselves in a car, they know their lives can be over in a few seconds. Look at the guys in the World Trade Center. They didn't expect to die. When the good Lord decides that's what he wants for you, there's nothing you can do about it.
"Dodge has been great to work with. When I worked with Pontiac, it was really good. When GM merged, that's when everything went bad. I've got more input from Dodge this season than I did from GM the past five years. We've got a lot of room for improvement. I don't think we're where we need to be engine wise yet, but we're pretty good. For our first year, it's an excellent engine program. Ernie Elliott's group has done an excellent job. We still need to get some weight out of the blocks. The blocks are too heavy. We've got room for improvement, but that's what we get paid for, to improve.
"Sterling didn't surprise me at all. I made a lot of stupid mistakes. Our engine program last year was a disaster, but they lied to me. We were way behind, but I didn't know. Sterling kept telling me. Chip came along and got the Dodge program going, and I knew Sterling could do it.
"I enjoy doing what I do now. I go to half the races. I'll go to 15 or 16 this year. Before I had to go, now I go when I want to go. Chip or I try to be at a race. When he doesn't go, I try to go. We talk at least three times a day about the business side of the team. I have a lot of input on personal issues because he asks me. I know everybody in the garage, and he doesn't. Some day he won't need me because he'll know everybody. Right now, he needs me and I'm glad he does. I enjoy working with him.
"We've got some great people on our team. Andy Graves is a great organizer. He puts a Hendrick mentality to our race team. We were not as disciplined as we should have been, and him and Glover are team managers, but Andy has a lot to do with operation of the shop and that gives Glover more time to concentrate on the cars. It works good. Lee McCall is a diamond in the rough. I hear him on the radio and I see him at the shop. They're really developing."