Compton, Melling Talladega II pole interview

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Levi Garrett Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I had a few pages last night. A lot of people back home called, and I've got a lot of buddies on some other teams that called and congratulated us. It was a busy night as far as ...

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Levi Garrett Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"I had a few pages last night. A lot of people back home called, and I've got a lot of buddies on some other teams that called and congratulated us. It was a busy night as far as checking messages. Any time you've got people calling and congratulating it's something good. Sponsorship wise, no, we didn't have anybody calling saying we've got $8 million we want to give you, but I don't think we hurt our cause any. We celebrated a little, but 4:45 leaving the motel yesterday really worked on the guys. We're going to do something tonight. It's an early day today. Everybody wanted to go back and get some sleep. We'll do a little celebrating tonight.

"We're not racing our qualifier this time. Last time we did and it didn't last. Hopefully this time it will. I think we've got a good race motor. We didn't do it on purpose last time. We hope it won't happen again. It shouldn't have happened last time, but it did.

"I think we could have won any of the plate races if we had got in the right line. You've got to get in the right line and have some luck. We haven't found the right line. Sterling hasn't found the right line and Ward hasn't found the right line and Bill hasn't found the right line. At Daytona, I don't know if the cars were good enough to win. All the Dodges were loose. We've got a good qualifying package. I think we're going to be better here. At Daytona, the Dodges were so loose I don't know if one could have won. This place isn't nearly as much a handling track as Daytona, so I don't think it'll be near as bad here. We were pretty good here before we broke last time. I think we'll be decent this time.

"Nobody works with anybody. That's pretty much a joke. Nobody is going to work with anybody. If you get a run and somebody is making a run behind you, they're going to hang you out to dry. I don't care if it's a Dodge teammate or Chevy or Ford or Pontiac. Nobody works with anybody anymore. The two I've seen work best together is probably Bobby and Tony. I don't know if I've seen anybody else work as good together as those two. I've seen the Ford camp hang each other out. I've seen some of the Dodge camp hang each other out and the Chevrolet camp, too. Bobby and Tony work good together just about every time they run a plate race. That's what you've got teammates for. If you work good together, there's a good possibility one of the two of you can win the race.

"I think anybody can win this race. If you have a little luck, you can win. I don't know how our car is going to be in traffic. I think anybody can win if you pick the right line and you're in the right position, anybody can win. It depends on the situation. A lot of people are going to be going to the back. Nobody wants to be in the big wreck, and it's subject to be one. We need exposure right now. We need to get some attention and let people see we're running on a very small budget compared to some of these other teams. We're not doing that bad. If you can give up a little funding, there's a very good possibility we can go out and compete with these guys. We're running on a third of the budget some of these teams are running on, and we're a single-car team. We're not doing that bad.

"Me, Dale Jarrett, Bobby, Tony, about 15 good cars were back in the back here last time just riding around. It was a little bit of a fight. Let's see who can get back there first. You want to get out of harm's way. You want to get out of the way if something starts to happen. There'll be a fair amount of cars going to the back.

"We led a couple of laps last time and ran up front for awhile and then we got loose. I didn't have any choice but go back. I could get out of the way and get cars out from around me and I was fine. I could hang with the draft until we could come in and adjust on the car and get it tightened up. I didn't have a choice. Once we got it tightened up, I feel like we could have gone back to the front pretty easy. There was no need at the time. We ended up blowing a motor, so it didn't make any difference.

"I think about it every day. I think about it every hour. I wish I knew what we were going to do. I wish we weren't in this position. That's part of racing. Hopefully we're getting some of the attention. If we can't find a sponsor, hopefully I'm getting some of the attention of the other owners. Maybe we can find something else or maybe somebody else is going to pick us up or pick me up. Hopefully we can find a sponsor, but if we don't, there's a couple of really good deals out there that I've looked at and talked to. We just don't know right now. It's frustrating. We've had two poles and we're in the Bud Shootout next year. We've had a second, third, fourth, sixth, ninth, seventh. We've qualified really good. We've raced well at times. Sometimes we haven't finished like we needed to. If you look at the money we've got and the money we're spending in comparison to the money some of these other people are spending, I don't think we've done that bad.

"Sponsorship has gotten so expensive. I've said it before. I hope they don't kill the golden goose. It's gotten so expensive right now there's a lot of people that just can't afford it. It's almost to the point where you're going to kill the golden goose. If they're not real careful, they're going to need to fill the field next year. There's not going to be a full field because people can't afford to come and race. Sponsors are not going to be there, and that's a bad thing. Winston Cup Racing doesn't need to have 38 or 39 cars for a 43-car field. If sponsorship in this sport doesn't slow down as far as the cost, it's subject to happen.

"I think some people are asking for too much. I think the sport has a tendency to get out of hand sometimes. I know there's some $15 million sponsors out there. I know there's some $6 million sponsors out there. There should be a happy medium somewhere. Where do you draw the line? Do we need to limit the days at the track? Do we need to limit the amount of tires we can buy? Do we need to limit the number of people who can come to the track? Where do you draw the line? If you've got a $15 million budget, you can buy as many tires and test as much as you want and bring as many people to the track and have as much a support group as you want. If you've got a $4 or $5 million sponsor, you can't do that, and it's a lot harder to compete against these guys that can do it. They've got three people as tire specialists. It's just a lot harder. I think the sport has gotten too expensive in some respects. We're competing with about half of what these $15 million teams have in sponsorships, and we're competitive. If we had that $15 million sponsor, what could Melling Racing do? Who knows, but I bet we'd be a lot more competitive than we are now."

MARK MELLING (Car owner No. 92 Levi Garrett Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"It would take $7.5 million for a primary sponsor and another million for an associate sponsor. For us to run that way, it's easier. I don't make a living on it. If you make a living on it, you've got your life invested into it, you figure you've got to take out half a million bucks a year. For us, we can put together a good program for $8.5 million. We've got a car sitting on the pole and we're working with almost half that.

"I think we should limit the amount of money team owners can gets, $10 million or $11 million. Make a reasonable number profit wise. As long as they get $15 million, they're going to spend $13 million because that's what racers do. They'll throw a million at a crew chief. Crew chief salaries are going out the roof with the driver salaries. They just keep throwing money after money. I assume the top drivers get $2 or $3 million base salary. That's just speculation on my part. My theory has always been, it doesn't matter what NASCAR does. It's going to be hard to control the costs of your personnel. I think until you can limit how much money the owners get, you're not going to be able to keep the cost of the sport down. Can they make it where we can be competitive on that lower budget? Yeah, I think that's the way to go.

"If Stacy got offered a ride tomorrow in the 31 car or one of the other cars that are open, I wouldn't begrudge him anything for taking it. We can run some races without a sponsor, but we can't run a full season. That's a real tall order. Melling Racing would be forced to be the guy who shows up at the big money races and ruins somebody else's day. That's just the facts. Everybody has us shutting our doors, and that's ridiculous. This must be seven out of 10 years that we're shutting our doors at the end of the season. I'm getting a little tired of that.

"We haven't really looked at the option of how many races we could run without a sponsor because I don't want to look at that option. We're still building cars. That's somewhere I don't want to go. It's like somebody told m e the other day. If a pitcher has a no-hitter going through seven innings, do the hitters give up? We're not giving up. We're still swinging away.

"I saw something on the internet where another team is trying to put something together for us, but nobody has called me. If that's out there, nobody has called me. You'd think I'd be one of the ones to know.

"Some deals come together in December. The Kodiak deal came together in late November two years ago. I'm not counting it out. Stacy and I have a great relationship. I know he's got to do what he needs to do to keep racing. I've got to do whatever I've got to do to keep my race team. We've got an honest and straight relationship about it. I wouldn't have any hard feelings one way or another. That's the business side of this deal. We're working hard. I really want Stacy in the car next year driving full time. Maybe if that doesn't happen we'll have some other options.

"I think if we ran in the top 10 Sunday it would help. I don't think it matters if we finish in the top 10. If they talk about us on TV, that helps. Dodge has two teams without sponsors, so they can't show a lot of favoritism.

"We just want to win Sunday. That would take care of just about everything."

-Dodge Motorsports-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett