TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid) "We had a pretty good plan going into Atlanta. We were pretty optimistic of what we're going to accomplish each week. With our prior history, I thought we could go to...
TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)
"We had a pretty good plan going into Atlanta. We were pretty optimistic of what we're going to accomplish each week. With our prior history, I thought we could go to Atlanta and run in the top 15. We unloaded real good, made a couple of changes and the car got better. We qualified real well, fifth, and then ran in the top 10 all day. The race track not being one of Jimmy's favorites in race conditions in a long time, I felt we made huge gains, especially coming to a couple of his favorite tracks. It was a big boost for the Ultra Motorsports team. We're looking forward to going to Darlington.
"The main thing is the organization set up and everything working like a well-oiled machine and everybody from the top to the bottom understands what needs to get done so when the car shows up on Friday morning it's ready to go and all the proper things are in it. The next thing is the communication between the driver and crew chief, us believing in one another and us as a team keeping the driver pumped up. That's a major factor in having a race team be successful.
"If you wake up every morning not wanting to learn something you might as well quit this business. This business moves too fast for anyone to be hard-headed and think they know everything.
"They (Chevrolet) definitely have an advantage. It's just up to us to figure out what advantage they have so we can rectify the problem. We just have to keep working harder and harder everyday to get our cars better. The people back at Dodge are really working on this situation right now, trying to figure out why they're better than we are. It's in their hands, and we have great support back with Dodge with all the engineering help they're supplying us. Hopefully they can find some things in the next couple of weeks and we can go after it.
"NASCAR is trying to keep everything quiet right now I believe because it's supposed to be a common car. I just think the Chevrolet got a little bit ahead of us getting a couple of things approved over what we got approved of with our noses and tails and hoods and stuff. I think they have the better car right now. You guys keep forgetting they have good race teams there also. Dodge teams are also very good, and you've got some good Ford teams. You'll see the same people rise to the top every week because they're ready to race every week. They're busy working on their cars. Their cars aren't just sitting in their shops collecting dust. They're working on them and trying to learn about them. Those are the guys who are going to run up front every week.
"Jimmy's got hair now, and I lost it. We've known each other probably over 20 years now. He was racing the modifieds and I was working the modifieds. For some reason his family and my family bonded to be very close friends and we worked on each other's cars. Jimmy used to come down to Long Island and race the Long Island circuit on Friday and Saturday nights for a couple of years. They used to bring their equipment to our shop and work on 'em during the day to get ready for the night race. We got to be good friends and kept in touch throughout the years. It's a small world and you never know how things will end up. Finally we got an opportunity to work together this year and it's been refreshing. It's been a nice change, and I'm really looking forward to the future here. I always knew he could drive a race car. We've raced against him a long time in the modifieds. Now I really know he can really drive a race car. It keeps me pumped up knowing that I need to make these race cars better so he can go further in a race. I'm just excited. It's a new project here. I feel this facility is no different than the facility I worked at previously. It's in the same shape, and I like building programs. I like building them up to successful winners. We've got a lot of good guys working on these cars. I'm proud of these guys stepping up and taking control of this facility and making it happen.
"There isn't much different, the nose is a little bit different and when they changed the F-3 templates and the overall a little bit, but it really isn't much difference. The downforce and drag on our cars anyway are pretty much the same. The characteristics of the setups haven't changed from last year. The driver change for me has changed the setups more than the car has.
"The main thing that you'll always see on these cars that are a little bit different are the noses, and the tails because NASCAR tries to keep the character the same as the makes and models of the vehicles. They got a little bit different stuff there. The most important thing of aerodynamics is the first and last thing the car sees. They got a little bit different things on their stuff than we do. I'm not opposed to this, to keep digging and do more development on our Dodges. Or they just pulled a couple of fast ones on us and got their cars a little better. The Chevrolets have definitely been dominant. The Fords and Dodges are all showing promise through the race. I think it's just up to everybody to keep working on their stuff right now and try to broaden their learning curve because the Chevrolets are a little better than we are right now.
"I don't think they will (take cars to wind tunnel) for another month or two yet. These cars are supposed to be common. The Dodge people, Chevy people, Ford people all submitted things they wanted, and that's what NASCAR wanted. They OK'd all the parts we submitted to be approved, and it's up to us now to make them work.
"Darlington and Bristol are really more handling tracks, so I think that puts it back in the team and driver's hands. I think Texas is back to an aerodynamic track, but it's definitely got a lot of handling characteristics to it because the corners are so big, but the aero does come into play. Talladega of course the DEI cars and Childress cars are pretty strong there. They've always been strong no matter what kind of Chevrolet they've had there in the past, so it's pretty hard to say it's this particular model that's making them good. I think after California and you have another speedway race and a couple of downforce race tracks, we'll be able to understand who has an advantage. It's early. The teams that have run well in the Chevy camp are also the teams that help develop the product. They've been working on this product for over a year now, so my hat's off to them to make them as successful as fast as they have. The Dodge cars are very good. We've just got to keep working on our balance.
"I don't understand why everybody has thought that. Between myself and the people we've hired through the years, I didn't know I was unsuccessful. Jimmy is a two-time winner in Winston Cup, and he's always had a great attitude of people that have been working with him. We're pretty strong minded people, but I think we respect each other and trust each other's ability to do what we need to do. Jimmy is a great race car driver. I've known that for years, and he knows that I've known that. He believes in my capabilities and the team we've assembled. It's pretty easy for the communication line to open up so we can understand each other more and more each week.
"I really haven't had to go through much of a change there. The setups have been pretty close to the past of running with every driver. From Ricky Craven to Wally Dallenbach to Ward to Jimmy, they've all been pretty simple changes around the basic setups we run.
"Probably after California you're probably going to see another aerodynamic advantage in California, then you get back to Richmond and Charlotte and Dover - handling tracks. Texas, California and Michigan are probably your next three more aerodynamically challenged tracks. I'd probably say they might look into it after California."