MATT BORLAND (Crew Chief No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) BRISTOL RECAP, OUTLOOK FOR TEXAS "Basically the weekend started out pretty good. We sat on the pole and Ryan put in a great lap. We were able to get in the 14.90s again. Unfortunately when the...
MATT BORLAND (Crew Chief No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
BRISTOL RECAP, OUTLOOK FOR TEXAS
"Basically the weekend started out pretty good. We sat on the pole and Ryan put in a great lap. We were able to get in the 14.90s again. Unfortunately when the race started we were tight, but we had some great pit stops all day and we were able to work our way back to seventh place. It was a real good day for us points wise. We'll move on to Texas and hope to repeat what we did last year and get a win to start the season off in that category and move up some more in the points."
STERLING MARLIN'S TEAM WAS ABLE TO MAKE A TWO-TIRE STOP WORK AT BRISTOL. IS THAT SOMETHING WE'LL SEE MORE?
"I think it's something we'll definitely be looking at all year. I don't think it's necessarily everybody is getting a better handle on the tires as it is the Bristol surface is concrete and it seems to be a little bit easier on the tires and the tire that Goodyear brought for that surface seemed to hold up better. I think Sterling had 20 laps on his tires and he had nothing to lose at the time as far as track position, so you might as well take that gamble early on and see if it's going to pay off. Obviously it looked like it paid off pretty big for him. I think that's why you saw people staying out at the end of the race and not taking tires. It was more like Bristol the last couple of years."
WILL THE NEW PIT RULE GIVE YOU MORE TIME TO MAKE A DECISION AT MARTINSVILLE?
"It definitely has made our job a lot easier at Bristol and Martinsville, especially. As soon as the caution came out you had to make a decision so quick you really didn't have time to think through it. You had to go with your first gut instinct. Hopefully it was right. Now we've got a little more time to think about what we're going to do or not do. It makes it easier for us, but at the same time it makes it easier on everybody else. It really doesn't change things as far as an advantage one way or the other."
WHAT IS THE MAGIC WITH THIS TEAM IN QUALIFYING?
"I think a big piece of it is with Ryan. He's very good at being able to put in a lap right off the cuff, not getting a few laps to get going. Also, I think the guys do a great job in the shop as far as preparing the cars. As soon as it comes off the truck Ryan knows it's going to be right and nothing is going to break and he can lay a lap in right off the truck. We get a little head start on what the car is going to be like on a set of stickers."
DOES IT AMAZE YOU THAT THE TEAM IS SO GOOD AT QUALIFYING?
"It amazes me every week that he's able to go out there in one lap and get so much out of the car. It's pretty amazing to watch, and I think it's a big testament to him and the guys on the crew that he's got enough confidence in them to go out and do that and put himself at risk putting in that hard of a lap knowing the car is going to be good."
HOW MUCH OF AN EDGE IS HE ON RUNNING FOR THE POLE?
"He's over the edge I think a lot of the time. He's just very good at being able to control that thing on the ragged edge and be able to get the best time out of it. I think you get a lot of guys that drive the car over the edge in qualifying and actually lose time from that. Other guys probably don't put it enough to the edge. He's able to find that little sweet spot that seems to work out good."
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT HAVING TO CHANGE YOUR PIT CREW?
"Our group is definitely a tight-knit group of guys. I don't see that that will change or hopefully it never changes. You try to get a group of guys that want to work together and hope no one leaves. It gets to the point where people want to do something different, but it hasn't reached that point yet."
HAS YOUR INPUT BEEN ASKED FROM THE OTHER PENSKE TEAMS ABOUT PIT CREWS?
"I basically focus on the 12. There's been a few times I've been asked my opinion on things, and I try to give my input there, but at the same time, I try not to step into something that maybe I shouldn't."
HOW CONFUSING ARE NASCAR RULES FOR CREW CHIEF?
"There's definitely confusion surrounding it. I think it's a case of too many rules being put on to try to control what is perceived as advantages. I think what's happening now is there are so many rules it's hard for NASCAR to keep control of it. I think certain teams are finding certain ways to take advantage of those rules. It's more confusing because those teams are so blatantly taking advantage of the rules NASCAR has set up. It makes it a hard situation when you know someone is taking advantage of it. At the same time, they're beating the rules."
SHOULD THERE BE MORE SPECIFIC RULES?
"I think there should be a lot less rules and let everybody, not do whatever they want, but I think it's kind of overboard the other direction right now. The more rules you get, the more doors you open to become more creative about how to get around the rules. I think that's what you're seeing going on right now. Every rule you make up you've got to think about all the different scenarios people can do with that rule to help themselves out. It's hard for one group to stay ahead of 43 groups at that. It's another rule they've implemented and teams are figuring out a way to help their own situation. There's nothing wrong with that on one hand because that's what your goal and your job is. On the other hand, it's not the safest way to race."
WHAT ARE YOUR BEST TALENTS?
"Probably in just getting the right group of people together to do the job we're doing right now. I wouldn't have said that a year or two ago, but it really comes down to the people you've got working on the cars both in the shop and at the track. That group right now has really come together the past year, year and a half and it really amazes me what they've accomplished and accomplish with a good attitude."
WHAT RULES ARE TEAMS TRYING TO GET AROUND?
"I think the biggest rule is freezing the field under caution. Basically if the field is frozen you can create your own caution and you don't get penalized for it because the field is frozen as soon as the caution happens. If you're in a situation where you might go a lap down, you can wreck yourself, you can wreck someone else so you won't go a lap down. Before, you knew you had the option that if you went a lap down and could get the car right and we can race our way back up front. Now if you get a lap down or two laps down, your day is pretty much over at that point. I think you're getting guys more desperate not to get in that situation, so they're using the rules to get themselves out of that boat.
"I think another rule that came up the middle of last year and it was probably because of us, but with that Lucky Dog rule, you knew you were going to be on the tail end of the longest line, so there was nothing stopping you to keep from coming in and filling up with fuel under caution. At the second Dover race, we kept topping off with fuel to give ourselves an option if the situation presented itself to stay out for fuel when everybody else had to pit. In a lot of ways, it's the same situation. We used the rule to help ourselves get that kind of fuel mileage. Then they changed the rules around. It just seems like the more rules they make the more you can figure out ways to help yourself out."
WHAT DO THE DODGES HAVE RIGHT NOW AND WILL THE OTHER TEAMS EVENTUALLY FIGURE IT ALL OUT?
"Well, I don't think a Dodge has won a race yet this year, so I don't know of any advantage a Dodge has. We've gotten a lot of poles, but at the same point we had a lot of poles with Busch cars in Fords and in Fords and Dodges in Cup. I don't see any distinct advantage in the nose area, especially considering the nose hasn't changed this year. It was just the tail. The tail was more of a cosmetic change than anything. You hear a lot of people talking about this big Dodge advantage, yet they haven't won a race yet. That's what counts."