BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I'm really looking forward to this season. I was up at Ray's shop the other day, and he was showing me the new building he was about to complete. He's hired a lot of new people. I think...
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I'm really looking forward to this season. I was up at Ray's shop the other day, and he was showing me the new building he was about to complete. He's hired a lot of new people. I think we've got a really good effort going. Whether Dodge has got an advantage, disadvantage or whatever. Ray's really put it together. I was very impressed. Going into the season, I feel like we are light years ahead of last year. You never know what circumstances are going to bring, but I think people-wise, organizational-wise and Ray personally-wise, I think Ray has got things more like he wants it and he's more in control than he was this time a year ago.
"At least one thing about, being a car owner in his respect is easier than being an owner/car owner. Being a driver, you've got to split the responsibilities over a lot of multiple things. A car owner has power to take care of a lot of day to day stuff. I think that's where I messed up being an owner/driver. I wasn't able to take care of a lot of the stuff. I guess I assumed a lot of things were in place and OK and at the end of the day they weren't OK.
"I think he (Evernham) brings a lot to the table by being a hands-on racer, crew chief and he's grown into that area of being an owner. Ray puts 100 percent effort into day to day to get to the race track, and to me, that becomes a positive, especially the way I see it.
"I think you've got to take some time off, but it's going to be up to him. I think he's got to be careful and not burn himself out. There is a lot of things you can do in this sport. You can do a million things in a day's time if you say yes to everything. That's where I've learned to try to be able to take this stuff in some kind of order where there's tasks for everything. I've been in it long enough. You'll just burn yourself out, and I think that's the wrong thing you can do. Pace yourself, but get sorted out. It won't be long until we start another 38-race session, and if you're not careful, you'll burn yourself out just from the standpoint of sitting back f rom the driver's side of it. I look back on a little over a year ago on how I did it from the car owner's/driver's side and I don't know how I did it.
"I give him (Evernham) some advise, but he's still Ray. Not negatively, but he's got to learn things the hard way or his way or whatever and that's fine. I have the utmost respect for him. He's done a heck of a job to this point. He's really got his act together from his standpoint of his vision and what he wants to build, and my hat's off to him.
"I don't know how the structure of the 7 car fits in. I don't know all the ends and outs and I don't want to know, but I'm glad it happened this way from the standpoint of know we not only have Jeremy but we have Casey and we can do a three-way link as far as information stuff. We can gain our information quicker when we go into these race tracks. Jeremy can go off in one direction and Casey can go off in another and I can go off in another and we can combine our notes before race time on Sunday and figure out what our best situation is going to be. I think we can make the three-way deal work well. That's the way I see it.
"I like Jeremy a lot. I've known Jeremy a long time, back before he went with Cale. He's always been a good kid. I think we can share a lot of things together. I think we can learn a lot together.
"I don't know where the rules are going to end up, but Daytona is always an exception to the rule. Restrictor-plate racing is an entirely different animal. I know this race track. I feel like I know what I want at this race track. We've made some mistakes. We came here for the Fourth of July race and we missed our handling package. This has always been a handling race track and it always will be. If you can get your act together around this race track wide open all afternoon and stay out of trouble and put yourself in position, you can come out of here with a win. I think this is a race team capable of doing that.
"I know in my respect if something were to happen to me, I'd want the guys to go on. That's what life is all about. You can't look back. We all know the risk and when it's your time it's your time, whether you're driving a race car, flying an airplane or sitting out there in the parking lot."