MEDIA TALKS TO PANEL OF TEAM OWNERS INCLUDING RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING HOW WILL YOUR TEAMS IMPROVE THIS SEASON? "We've made a lot of changes. I think everyone has to make a lot of changes to keep up -- even when ...
MEDIA TALKS TO PANEL OF TEAM OWNERS INCLUDING RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING
HOW WILL YOUR TEAMS IMPROVE THIS SEASON?
"We've made a lot of changes. I think everyone has to make a lot of changes to keep up -- even when you're running real well, you still have to make changes to keep going forward. We haven't been on our mark for the last two or three years and hopefully this year a lot of the things we've changed we feel a lot better about this season. Jeff's (Burton) car is running really well. The other two (No. 29 and No. 07) lost the handling. Clint (Boyer) got in a little melee out there when the cars got to wrecking. It's going to be a good year. We're really excited. We had a great test at Vegas. We're looking forward to the season."
WITH SUNDAY BEING THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF WHAT MOST PEOPLE CONSIDER THE GREATEST NASCAR FINISH EVER, WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF THAT?
"I was racing in that race that day. I remember coming around and seeing people running out in the infield and seeing the cars all crumpled up. I don't even remember where I finished. That was racing. To me, that was real racing. Here these guys were coming down to win the biggest race for us then -- and now -- and you don't lift. Neither one of those guys lifted. And they just kept hitting. You come to win and it gets down to that last lap. It was exciting and I thought, 'Man, this is going to be big.' And it was. And it still is. We're still talking about it 30 years later."
GIVEN WHAT YOU'VE SEEN OVER THE PAST WEEK, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE IN THE RACE ON SUNDAY WITH REGARD TO BUMP-DRAFTING?
"I think it's just going to come down to who has the best handling cars. It's probably as close a field that you'd want to watch. Once everybody gets in line, nobody is going to do anything until their car starts slipping or getting away from him a little. Like last night, Kevin (Harvick) got so tight he couldn't hold it down and everybody starts running around you. So I think it's going to come down to who has the best handling car."
REGARDING CHEATING, IF YOU ARE AWARE OF ANOTHER OPERATION IN THE GARAGE THAT IS PLAYING OUTSIDE NASCAR'S BOX, ARE YOU MORE LIKELY TO BRING IT TO NASCAR'S ATTENTION OR SEE IF IT WILL WORK WITH YOUR OWN ORGANIZATION?
"I think some of NASCAR's greatest inspectors are the other race teams. Some of their best policing comes from other crew chiefs. Some teams and team owners call it self-defense. When you see someone doing something, then you've kind of got to go on self-defense and try to get as close as they are without going over the board. That's the way I think it happens a lot."
HOW MUCH DO YOU MONITER CHEATING IN YOUR ORGANIZATION?
"If I think there's something going on, I'll talk to them. But everybody tries to get as close to that gray line as they can. I put a vote in the other night. I was talking to Mr. France. You've got two of the best inspectors out there. Robin Pemberton, I think he's been put in jail several times back when he was a crew chief. We all know Gary Nelson's history. So I voted for Robert Yates the other night and I had him go sit down with Mr. France and talk to him. So I think Robert would fit right in there with both those guys, don't you think so Robert?"
IS THE FIELD FOR SUNDAY'S DAYTONA 500 THE MOST EVEN FIELD EVER? AS A TEAM OWNER, HOW MUCH TOUGHER IS IT TO GET READY FOR A RACE JUST TO STAY COMPETITIVE?
"It's changed tremendously. The engineering we have today and the technology that's in it -- the rules are written so close that you have to find every little edge that you can. We've gone to special materials and special parts. I don't know how many hours we've spent in the wind tunnel this winter. Back years ago, you'd go to the wind tunnel once or twice and I put an engine together myself. Today, it just takes hours and hours and hours -- especially on these restrictor plate engines -- to make them work. The technology today compared to where it was even five or six years ago has really made it a lot tougher. I think it's brought the field a lot closer together."
IN THE LAST 8 YEARS, YOU'VE HAD SOME GREAT DAYS OF TRIUMPH AND SOME UNSPEAKABLE HEARTBREAK. WHAT MAKES YOU KEEP COMING BACK HERE GIVEN THOSE HIGHS AND LOWS?
"I guess it's the people I've been fortunate enough to surround myself with (like) the team members and sponsors and fans. I still have a passion for racing. I still love it. I've been the highest you can be by winning the Daytona 500 and the lowest anyone could ever be in 2001 (with the loss of Dale Earnhardt). So that's a tough one. I don't know of a better way to answer it other than the support of the fans... This is our family right up here."
WILL THE CAR OF TOMORROW BECOME COST-PROHIBITIVE? OR WHEN IT COMES TO SAFETY, DOES IT MATTER WHAT A NEW CAR WOULD COST?
"Safety has always been number one. I think it's a great thing they're doing with this car of tomorrow. It's an opportunity to get everything back in the box. I think if they make the templates and make everything and stand tall when you roll through that room, I think it's going to make for better racing. I was thinking about how we used to slingshot here. It's been so long since we've done that down here. I think these new cars are going to be a lot closer to racing like the trucks. I think they put on a heck of a show. I'm excited about the racing. I'm exciting about the safety part. We built one of them and we went down to Atlanta and ran it (test) and we're excited about it."
IF YOU GET CAUGHT CHEATING, HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO FACE YOUR SPONSORS? AND, HAS THAT BEEN A MAJOR FACTOR IN HOW FAR YOU LET YOUR CREWS GO?
"Times have changed so much and sponsors are putting so much money into it. I got a call last year and they definitely don't appreciate getting their name in the paper for -- I like to call it being competitive, I don't like to call it cheating -- but times have changed. We're under a huge microscope today with the media and TV coverage. The least little bump becomes a huge mogul. Everybody is watching."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT KIRK SHELMERDINE MAKING THE FIELD FOR THE DAYTONA 500?
"Kirk's got a little shop right across from ours. And to see him make the race when we're sitting there spending all the kind of money we've got is really great. Kirk is really dedicated to what he's doing. It just means if you follow your dreams hard enough, they will come true."