Continued from part 1 TWO THINGS - WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THIS CHASE FOR NEXT YEAR AND AT THIS TIME A YEAR FROM NOW WE'LL BE IN TEXAS AND NOT DARLINGTON. HOW WILL THAT CHANGE THINGS? "It's still a race and it still has it's own rate of ...
Continued from part 1
TWO THINGS - WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THIS CHASE FOR NEXT YEAR AND AT THIS TIME A YEAR FROM NOW WE'LL BE IN TEXAS AND NOT DARLINGTON. HOW WILL THAT CHANGE THINGS?
"It's still a race and it still has it's own rate of difficulty. It is definitely different than Darlington, but it's not easy because you have to beat the competition, or you have to hold your own, or whatever you have to do there. So switching this race track for Texas, that gets back into the traditionalist. I'll give you the same answer I gave you about the chase. The competitor in me hates it, but the commercialism side of it says that I guess it needs to go that way. I wish it didn't.
"I'm not saying that I'm a huge fan of it, but I understand why it's going in that direction. I think we all do. It's unfortunate. It's not as cut and dried as you might think on the surface about when you make this chase, not because of the performance of the 6 car, but because of the misfortunes that we had, we almost didn't make the chase. We had to pull out all the stops - big time.
"We really used all of tests, but absolutely, physically could not do 'em all because you have to race every week. It's just unbelievable, so we only had two tests left when we went into this 10-race stretch. The 17 had five tests left, not really because of better performance, but because we broke engines and we had some problems that they didn't have. They turned around and had 'em in the chase, which has hurt them. So things tend to balance out in a way and in a way not. Kurt had four tests.
"I think the 24 and 48 had about four tests, and I will say that hurt us, but if we would have saved our tests, we probably might not have made it. So you've got to do what you've got to do and we did what we had to do. We came into this thing knowing that we weren't gonna be at our best at New Hampshire, knowing that we sure could have used a little track time at Phoenix. I believe we had a test set for Kansas, and we really needed that test, but we flipped it and used that test at Richmond before Richmond.
"Richmond was a place that could have not ran well at real easily, but we did run fifth there, so, yeah, I think it was worthwhile. At the same time, we would have been pretty awesome at Kansas if we would have had a day to work with our stuff. We were a little off our game, so that's the way it plays out. If we could have been a little bit more fortunate with DNFs earlier in the season, then we would have had more tests coming into this thing. We did test at Atlanta. I don't know if it made the difference or not, but we sure did run good there. And we did test at Homestead last week and I'll guarantee you that we will run good there."
WILL IT BE MORE IMPORTANT TO GET OFF TO A GOOD START NEXT YEAR?
"You could say that, but, at the same time, you have to remember that you can't control flat tires and you can't control wrecks, and, to some degree, you can't control transmissions or rear ends. So there are a lot of parts on that race car that you may or may not be able to control that will determine how positioned you are. You have to do it all. You have to have fast race cars. You need to have tests. You need to have everything. You just can't have two-thirds of the package or three-fourths of the package, you have to have it all.
"This year, we had nine-tenths of the package. At one time, we had almost 100 percent of the package right there before the chase started - we were really hitting on things. The problem since the chase is that only in one race out of eight have we finished as good as we ran and that's Dover. In seven of those races, we have finished worse than our car ran on the race track. Sometimes it just works that way.
"These last two races, we need to finish better than we run. If we do that, then we'll finish decent in the points, but there are a lot of things you can't control and some things you can, and you need to do the best you can with all the things you can control, and the things you can't control you just have to accept. And those things do determine, to some degree, how successful you are.
"Now, that gets back to the question about how I view drivers who have or have not won championships. I view them based on what they've done on the race track over a period of time, not whether or not they have that trophy. Gosh, that's all I can do. I don't have one of those things, so I can't tell you what it would be like to win a championship. I couldn't tell you what it would mean. You're asking a guy that doesn't know."
IF YOU'RE A YOUNG DRIVER AND DON'T HAVE A FATHER WHO RACES OR SOMEONE AFFILIATED WITH A TEAM, WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO BREAK INTO THIS SPORT?
"I'm just a little hillbilly from Arkansas and, to me, in my simple little world it's the same as it was for me then, except people are looking now. They didn't need me in NASCAR in 1982 - absolutely had no interest in a young guy who could mash the gas.
"Why would you? I mean, you had Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison - you had all the greats, and there were seven or eight good teams, not 43 or 45. The real formula to get noticed is to win. And if you don't win, to run incredibly good in anything that you do. You get noticed a lot more now. You see these teenagers getting signed up left and right, so times are better now than they were in the early eighties to get an opportunity, but the pressure is more on them now than it was on us.
"Back then, there was no pressure because we weren't gonna get a chance anyway. Now, they may only get one chance. I feel really, really sorry for some of these guys. For example, the so-called Gong Show. They take 400 resumes and boil them down to 20, go track test and then boil them down to 10. Well, 11 through 20, that may have been one of their only shots and they could have possibly been better than any of the others. Or, if you get down to the last 10 and you don't make the cut. Rejection is really harsh and it would be really difficult for me, so I'm certainly not jealous of these guys.
"I'm a fan at heart and I'm glad that they're getting an opportunity that was much more difficult for Rusty Wallace and myself for example. But, at the same time, they're gonna be in the pressure cooker as well."
IS THAT COMMERCIALISM YOU SPOKE OF THE MAJOR DIFFERENCES IN WHAT IT IS TO BE A RACE CAR DRIVER BETWEEN THE EARLY EIGHTIES AND NOW?
"I see that, yes, as being probably the main difference. Everything changes. Racing changes. When I go to the dirt track nowadays, I see tractor-trailer rigs. I don't know what to say when I see those. There are a lot of tractor-trailers there and we weren't cheap. We had reasonable stuff.
"My first trailer was house trailer axels - two of them underneath boards - and some framing around. Heck, we thought we had us a pretty nice trailer. We painted it. It looked pretty good, so things have changed a lot since 1974 and there is a lot more money in this sport. There is a lot more money spent and when you have those things there are pros and cons. There's much more opportunity as workers - people who want to be involved in motorsports in a grand way have much more opportunity. Maybe a team has 50-100 employees rather than five to seven.
"Heck, these teams didn't have 10 people on a whole team in 1982, so there are a lot of opportunities that have opened up, but, sure, there are a lot of cons to the thing, too. That's why I say that in 2006 I don't know for sure what I'm gonna do, but I want to race for fun. That's what I want to do. I'm not prepared to say what that is yet because I've got some things on my mind real heavy. We're really involved in this chase and we're really involved in trying to make 2005 even better than '04, but I don't want it to be driven by commercialism.
"I want my racing to be about having fun, like it was for the first 10 years I raced. It brings a lot of pressure that wasn't there because if you skip one beat on the financing, you're in trouble. Just to tell you this, if Jack Roush offered to give me a race team, I would say, 'Thanks, but no thank you.' I wouldn't own one of these things for anything. It is very, very expensive and incredibly difficult.
"I have enormous respect for each and every individual that fields cars in that garage because that's a tremendous job to find the financing and find a way to balance the costs of our sport today. It's scary."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT JIMMY FENNIG AND WHETHER OR NOT YOU WIN A TITLE YOURSELF, WILL YOU FEEL A PART OF ANY TITLE ROUSH RACING WINS?
"First of all on Jimmy Fennig, I hope that Kurt and Jimmy pull this one off. Jimmy and I go way, way back and it would be so cool for Jimmy to have that trophy on his mantle. It will really mean a lot to me. As far as feeling a part of championships that are won at Roush Racing, I don't know how to answer that. You know that my brain is blank in areas and it's fairly blank in those areas. I don't think about that. Some day I might.
"Jack Roush definitely makes me feel like an important part of Roush Racing and I'm sure he always will because he's so loyal. He will always try to make me feel like I was an important part of that. Some day that part of my brain may open up and I may see, but today that's not interesting or important to me. What's important to me is the performance of the 6 car. It's also important to me, the performance of the 6 car in 2006.
"Jack gave me a look yesterday when I told him that it was my intention that the driver that went in the 6 car for 2006 would be better than me and he gave me one of those looks like I had just stabbed him in the heart. That's Jack Roush. He's quite a guy. He didn't much believe that, but I do and that's my goal - to see the thing carry forward and continue to be the flagship of Roush Racing. I want to be a part of that and I want to be a part of Roush Racing for a long, long time. I'm not gonna turn my back and walk away from racing or Roush Racing.
"All I've said is I can't sign up for another one of these after 2005. I'm gonna reach deep for 2005, deeper than I ever have, but I can't do that again."