Dodge Motorsport Teleconference Tuesday, July 12,2005 Chicago Recap DAVID STREMME (U.S. Navy Dodge Charger) NOTE: Stremme made his first career Cup start Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway and finished 16th. A full-timer in 2005 in the Busch ...
Dodge Motorsport Teleconference
Tuesday, July 12,2005
DAVID STREMME (U.S. Navy Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Stremme made his first career Cup start Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway and finished 16th. A full-timer in 2005 in the Busch Series, Stremme plans three more Cup starts this season at Richmond, Charlotte and Homestead before moving to Cup fulltime in 2006 behind the wheel of the No. 40 Ganassi-Sabates Dodge Charger.
"We talked a lot about this car with the R&D team and this was a car nobody had raced this year. We discussed a lot the changes between the Busch car and the Cup car, changes of how the race pace was set, different outlooks of pit strategy. You don't have an unlimited amount of tires in the Busch Series. It was a little different but all-in-all the team was very excited. We're going to take the same car to Charlotte to test later this year and go from there."
DID YOU REACH YOUR GOAL IN YOUR FIRST CUP RACE?
"In practice we were like 15th on the board and we went to qualify. If I told you I wasn't nervous I'd be lying because we had to qualify the car and we lost a little grip on the track. We didn't really keep up on the car and we didn't qualify where we wanted to. We got to Happy Hour and I felt really strong in my Busch car, but in Happy Hour in the Cup car we weren't ever really that good. We found a lot of problems in Happy Hour. We had a spring fail on us, so we started the race kinda not really sure what was going to happen. I thought there wasn't any reason we couldn't finish in the top 20. As the race went on, halfway through it, I thought there wasn't any reason we couldn't finish in the top 10. It's so hard to get track position at the Nextel Cup level. It goes back to where you're going to have to set yourself up qualifying or get on a different strategy. I feel at the end of the day I was a little disappointed because I felt for sure we could have ended up 11th or 12th or somewhere in there. We ended up 16th. I always want more. I wanted to get a top 10 the first time out, but the team and everybody around me were real excited about how we performed. We didn't do anything stupid on the track. We gained a lot of respect from other drivers. Just a lot of simple things we set out to do we accomplished for next year and for the rest of this season. Myself, I'm a little disappointed because I thought we were better, but all-in-all for the whole weekend I'm pretty satisfied in a way."
WHAT DOES IT DO TO A BUSCH TEAM TO HAVE SO MANY CUP TEAMS ENTER A BUSCH RACE?
"The prize money, I don't really look at it that much. I can't tell you what I made this weekend in either series. I race to win. The thing that probably gets me the most, I was racing at Richmond earlier this year and some Nextel Cup driver not racing for points ends up getting into me. I was running 11th and we ended up finishing 27th with two to go. It hurt me in points. When I went into the Nextel Cup race on Sunday, I respected all them guys, especially the people in The Chase, going for The Chase, my teammates Sterling and Casey and Jamie, to not mess anybody up. I was there to learn, gain respect and get our best finish. In the Busch Series, I know we were doing double duty this weekend and all those guys can say what they want, but it helps running the Cup car getting in the Busch car, running the Busch car helps the Cup car. We went out the first practice Friday morning. That's the only practice we got. We went down to run the Cup cars, J.J. Yeley and myself were in the top 15. I'm not quite sure where Martin Truex was at, but both of us went down to run Cup cars and we got back in the Busch cars and they seemed so much slower, easier to run, and I think that enabled everybody to qualify better. I can see the Nextel Cup level is a lot harder, not really the talent, but everybody as a team in general is stronger. For Busch Series owners it's tough. You've got guys splitting and doing double duty. We had Sterling Marlin who runs the Busch car here which helps out building the organization with the third team and also getting Scott Lagasse some experience. I don't know what they're going to do. I don't know what the answer is as far as NASCAR is concerned. I think it hurts bringing in new talent into our sport and giving new people an opportunity. Saturday we ran the Cup car in Happy Hour and when I got in that Busch car I knew what track conditions were from the start. We were getting on with the program. I felt so much more confident in my Busch car because I got out of the Cup car. I knew what the track was like. We made changes in my Busch car and we ended up making the right ones. I think we could have finished top five, top 10 easy if we hadn't had a penalty. I do enjoy the Cup guys coming into Busch as long as they show respect because we are there running for points. If they end up hurting us, wrecking us, doing something stupid it hurts our points."
DO SOME DRIVERS USE THE BUSCH RACE AS A TEST FOR THE CUP RACE?
"They're looking at Cup guys running in Busch and truck or taking a Cup car to Kentucky to test. I've taken Cup cars to Nashville to test. I think NASCAR is looking at that. You can tell what the track is doing. We knew when that Busch race started all of a sudden within 20 laps there's an outside lane going. In Cup Happy Hour there was no outside lane at all. It's just a matter of how that track changed with 43 cars out there. Sunday, right away, you could run top or bottom. You were comfortable. That's something you only gain from having that experience on Saturday. As a Busch driver I see it. It does help them. When I'm not in a Cup car I feel like I'm at a disadvantage when it starts. I can go down and talk to my teammates and ask them what the track is doing but without me being out there I can't really tell. I'd love to run some Busch races next year if it works out where it'll benefit my Cup car. I don't want to run a Busch car where we're struggling, a lot of information you can't translate. I've got to have the right people around me because my main focus is going to be that No. 40 Nextel Cup car."
COMMENT ON PLANS COORS HAS FOR YOU NEXT SEASON
"From what I've gathered I think some of their marketing strategy is going to change a little bit because I might be into different things than Sterling. Right now there's still talk of having Sterling going out and being associated with Coors. The one thing I look at is adding to the history of what the Coors car has done on the track. When I look at the Coors car, I look at what Bill Elliott has done in that car, I look at what Sterling has done in that car. There's a lot of history there. That's one of the more historic cars in our sport, and then breaking in a new sponsor like Lone Star that hasn't had a lot of experience in the NASCAR world and knowing what we can do for their company. It's going to be a real great opportunity for them. Probably the toughest part for me is going to be splitting both sponsors but again, we can dip into different venues. Right now Coors is still up for looking at different marketing strategies, but they're still looking at continuing a relationship with Sterling."
ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE OF WHAT COMPETITION IS LIKE AMONG BEER COMPANIES?
"I'm friends with Dale Jr. It's kinda funny. I'll see a guy wearing a Dale Jr. shirt and drinking a Coors Light, and I've seen in vice versa. I've seen what the Navy has done, trying to build morale with the sailors and try to show what the Navy can do for people out there. Obviously we're racing against the military cars. It gives all the sailors bragging rights. Just like this week, I was doing all I could to beat that Army car. It gives all the men and women overseas something to talk about. On the beer side, I look at race fans, I'll build a fan base with my character. To me, I'm just an average person. Right now, I'm talking to everybody, and I'm sitting here in my Busch shop. Sterling just came in. I'm here, I'm part of my team. A lot of drivers aren't that way. I'm just an average person and a lot of people believe in me and have given me an opportunity to get to this level. I enjoy sharing it with friends. I go hang out in the infield. They see us on TV and they think they kinda keep us hid, but I enjoy hanging out. I'm a big race fan. I was out there Sunday and Sterling was having a good run and his motor went bad. That really stinks because he's had some good runs this year. I look at the war of beers and hopefully we can get Coors Light back up there and compete against the Dale Jr. fans."
HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT FROM DALE JR?
"There are a lot of similarities. I couldn't really pinpoint one thing. I'm an original type person. I don't go out and splurge on things, buying stuff. I'm a simple type person. You don't see me hid much. A lot of people see me out eating at a Lone Star restaurant or just anywhere. I go out to different clubs and do a lot of different things. Sunday in the Cup garage I was out walking around at 7:30 or 8 o'clock in the morning. I enjoy race fans. I enjoy them coming and watching the sport and I enjoy putting on a show. I think that's where I'm different than a lot of drivers. I don't hide until it's race time."
WILL YOU ALWAYS HAVE A SPECIAL FEELING FOR CHICAGOLAND SINCE THAT'S WHERE YOU MADE YOUR FIRST CUP START?
"I made my first Busch start at Nashville and my first two races there were pretty good. I finished seventh and third. Then we did a lot of testing there in a Cup car, went back and I just haven't had the same results. We've had some very good runs, but we've had some bad luck. Tires will go down. Chicago, I guess Chicago and Michigan being close to home being from South Bend, Ind., they're always going to mean something to me. A lot of local fans go there. Not being into Indy cars, but the history Indianapolis has. People ask what's your favorite track? I enjoy racing anywhere. I wouldn't care if we went out here to the Target parking lot and started racing. I'd enjoy it. There's not a place I could say I don't like. I've run well on everything from a short track, intermediate track and superspeedways. Right now it's about having good people around me -- especially next year for the 40 Cup car. Who's going to be the crew chief? Who's going to be the crew guys? It's still undermined right now."
YOUR NEXT CUP RACE IS AT RICHMOND. HOW HAVE YOU DONE IN BUSCH RACES THERE?
"I made my second ever Busch start there and had never seen the place. I was running third and Martin Truex broke while he was leading and we got caught up in a wreck. I finished top 10 in the fall there last year. We're going to go test. I think a Cup car fits my driving a little better than a Busch car. The Busch cars you can really be aggressive with the throttle, do different things with them. I'm looking forward to it. I grew up racing on a short track. That's the last race before The Chase, so we've got to be careful we don't screw anybody up. If Jamie or any of our other teammates are there, we're going to try to do whatever we can to help them. The main thing will be gaining experience and staying out of trouble. I know when Cup guys come and run Busch races I don't like them messing with me because I'm points racing. I respect everybody there."
ARE YOU SURPRISED YOU WERE SO COMFORTABLE IN CUP CAR AT CHICAGO?
"The first 50-60 laps I just hung out. I wasn't real sure aero balance wise what it was going to do in traffic, how the race was going to run. It was just a little bit different than a Busch race. By lap 100 we got the car tuned up and the last part of the race I felt good. We were three wide a lot, getting aggressive at times. I felt good. I've done some testing at Kentucky with the Cup car and the car felt a whole lot better. Our engine package is good. Ernie Elliott and all those guys are doing a great job. I felt really good. I actually wanted to run another 400 miles. I was more tired after the Busch race. I think one reason is my cool box in my Busch car wasn't working. When you have great people around you, Chip and Felix put real good guys around me and made my job easier. Everybody in the Busch shop is doing a great job, too. We're having a lot of fun right now. I'd like to get my first Busch win this season. If not, no big deal."
DIDN'T YOU FINISH RIGHT BEHIND THE ARMY CAR?
"Yeah, we did. Joe and I were racing really hard. It's funny. I just moved into a new house after Daytona, and Joe is my new neighbor. It's pretty cool. We talk a lot about what it means to represent the military. It's just a different type of sponsor."
DISCUSS THE HEALTH OF GANASSI RACING
"I think it's going to be stronger than ever. Back in 2001 and 2002 they were on top and going. They added the third team with Jamie and Casey came in. They were both rookies. Sterling was the lead guy with experience. When I ran that Nextel Cup race Sunday, I felt so good about where this organization is at. We took this team and now we're a strong R&D team. We can go to the track and be competitive. Lee McCall was crew chief for Sterling and it's tough when you go out and have to come back in, but they all did a wonderful job. I look at the organization. It's growing so much and getting stronger. Reed Sorenson is still there. He's running well in the Busch car. Reed and I get along great. We talk all the time. I get along with all the drivers, but Reed and I come from ASA and we know each other more. Jamie has announced his plans and if that's what he wants to do I wish him luck, but right now he's my teammate. I feel very strong about where it's at. A year from now, things change so much, a couple of years ago before Kenseth won the championship, nobody knew Jack Roush was going to be so dominant. When I signed up in 2002 for the driver development program, what I've been through probably hasn't been the best driver development program but it's gotten me the experience to go out and be competitive in the Nextel Cup Series. We've been with three Busch teams building. We learned what to do, what not to do and look at Reed and how he's performing. He's doing very well, and I think the organization is going to be very strong."
COMMENT ON CASEY MEARS
"One of the biggest persons that helped me this weekend was Casey Mears. He came over and helped me quite a bit. Casey is a big team player. Hopefully they end up keeping him around next year for a teammate. Right now I don't know what's going on. I've been so busy. We didn't talk a lot about that. We just talked about the cars. Whatever I can help him with I do and whatever he can help me with. We share a lot of information. It's going to be in the best interest of the team if they would keep him, but that's up to Chip and Felix."