DOUG DUCHARDT, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING: COMING INTO THIS WEEK, DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA THAT THE CHEVROLET TEAMS WOULD BE THIS SUCCESSFUL? "We knew as the car was being developed and as the car was being tested that the teams were very ...
DOUG DUCHARDT, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING:
COMING INTO THIS WEEK, DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA THAT THE CHEVROLET TEAMS WOULD BE THIS SUCCESSFUL? "We knew as the car was being developed and as the car was being tested that the teams were very pleased. What we didn't know was where the competition was. We knew where these cars were compared to our cars last year and we saw that they were as good or better in most cases and we knew that we had some good superspeedway cars last year, so we came in knowing we thought we'd be good.
"Obviously, we had a good qualifying effort. Then, we went to the chassis dyno after the 125s and, again, our guys looked really strong, as a whole. There's just been a lot of good work done in the area of restrictor plate engine development.
"When you add all that up - when you have good engines and you have good cars - you usually have pretty good success. But, the thing that you always have to watch is that when you get in the race, funny things can happen - like what happened on pit road during the 125s, like we had in the truck race yesterday with teammates accidentally getting into each other - so, we feel like we've got a lot of bullets. But, those can go out one by one due to reasons that are out of your control."
UNDER THE NEW AERO SYSTEM, THE FOUR MANUFACTURERS ARE ON MORE OF A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD...TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THE SUCCESS OF THE CHEVY TEAMS HERE? "Our teams as a whole - if you look, for example, at the Childress organization and the DEI organization - have almost always been good at restrictor plate racetracks as long as they've been in existence. I think what makes the difference is that those teams have a focused, almost year-long effort in those areas. What we hope as a manufacturer is that we have tools and processes that they can use to help develop their cars. We think we've done a good job of laying that out for them to help them get their cars right."
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE NEW AERO SITUATION, THE WAY IS HAS EVOLVED? "Definitely. The way we look at rules is that if you aren't where you need to be where you feel you need to be competitively, you should be able to go about the business of fixing your problem without all the emotional baggage of thinking you're being wronged. Before, if you were behind, you were spending so much emotion thinking you were being disadvantaged that you weren't asking, 'What else could it be?' Now, if you're behind you just need to figure out where you need to pick up, whether it's engine or chassis - whatever it is. As a manufacturer and as an engineer it makes it a lot easier to address, to know that you're just trying to solve technical problems, rather than trying to solve technical and political problems. That is good. I've told my group, 'Do not get caught up in whether we're at an advantage or a disadvantage because this is the system we've got and within this system, there can't be that much difference between these cars.' We still see a variation between the teams when cars come through the wind tunnel, and maybe that variation is a little bit less than it was in the past, but it's still a fairly large variation. There is still room for the teams to work and exploit and make their difference, so it's not even close to being an 'IROC series.' The constraints are there and you've just got to work within them. You just have to put your nose down and work. If someone is beating us on the track, then we've got to figure out how to beat them and it's not going to be in the 'red truck' (NASCAR)."