Tuesday, May 6, 2003. Winston Teleconference Sterling Marlin and Chip Ganassi CHIP GANASSI (Car owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Dodge Intrepids) "When the season started probably the biggest challenge was everybody said we had...
Tuesday, May 6, 2003.
Winston Teleconference Sterling Marlin and Chip Ganassi
CHIP GANASSI (Car owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Dodge Intrepids)
"When the season started probably the biggest challenge was everybody said we had two rookies and they wondered if that would distract from Sterling's car. You have all these questions in the off season. It was a challenge to get the season started this year. Daytona and getting into the season, you're sitting there with Jamie with no points to fall back on. You looked at Casey and you said, 'he's just learning his way around the series.' We had great cars for Sterling, but I want to say six out of the first eight races he was involved in some incidents where he was getting crashed or pushed up against the fence. Those little things he was getting hit in every race, the front or back or side, knocking the fenders out. We thought we had pretty good cars for him, and we kept getting put out of races for one reason or another. We sort of have that righted to a certain extent. He's in the top 10 finally in points. Jamie and Casey are coming along great. Jamie obviously has a little more experience than Casey, but I couldn't be happier with the job those guys are doing.
"So many times the point standings are not reflective of the job you're doing. I think that's certainly the case for Casey. We're certainly happy with the job he's doing. Jamie could have had a couple of top fives the last couple of weeks and it was all for naught with different challenge at the end of the races. At Fontana, Jimmie Johnson slammed into him and drove up in front of him and took his front fender off. We had engine problems at Richmond. That's kind of the beginning of our season. I guess we seemed to have swallowed the streak all right. I think we're digesting it, and it doesn't seem to be giving us any indigestion at the moment. That could change.
"I asked if we were going to take the same car Sterling and Jamie won with at Charlotte. I was told we were taking a better one. We've got a car we like better. I sure hope it better translates into better at Lowe's Motor Speedway. I would have been happy going back with the same car.
"The key is I always say when the race is over I like to leave the race track. I've always said I don't like to make big decisions on race day, right after the race. If you stick around after a race, if you did well, I think you can get inebriated in your success. If you did bad, you sort of sulk. I think the key is, I don't want to say leave the track as soon as possible, but I try to stick around the nights after a race. In Winston Cup you have to take such a long look at things. While the horizon is weekly, it's really a little further than weekly. You have a lot of things coming at you quickly week in and week out and you've just got to take a little longer view of things and not get too excited when things are going well and not get too down when you're going through periods of challenges.
"I likened it to when I decided to go into Winston Cup. I had to come to grips with myself, putting the pieces of the puzzle together. There's a lot people don't see about putting these teams together. I've said this before. There's a lot of victories in race teams that don't make the Monday morning papers or Sunday night talk shows. There's a lot of victories among teams and a lot of successes you never read about. It's about having the right people in the body shop, about having the right people in the engine shop, having a winning attitude, keeping an open mind. Lots of things happen within teams of people, and I think it's the same whether it's a racing team or football team or basketball team or baseball team. I think our team has done a great job of going from two cars to three cars. You hear all the time the guys talking about the guys back at the shop. Let me tell you something, I couldn't be more proud of our guys back at the shop and they don't get enough credit. Those are the guys in the trenches. They're the linemen on a football team, and you never hear about those guys. Currently I don't see us going to four cars, but it's not out of the question at all in the future. I think we have the management in place and the infrastructure in place to do that. Is it going to happen tomorrow? The answer is no, but it's not out of the question in the future.
"I'm up here talking to you today from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I don't see Jack Roush walking around here or Hendrick. While they have multiple cars in that series, I'm still in two different series here. That poses a bit of a challenge as well.
"I was telling someone yesterday, I feel real good about our chances at Indianapolis and I feel real good about our chances at Charlotte. I think we're more prepared for the double this year than we have in the past. I'm certainly looking forward to Memorial Day. I'll be in Indy in the morning and then right away after the race, barring any celebrations, we're on our way to Charlotte. He's (Casey Mears) doing a great job. He certainly doesn't have the experience Jamie has, so it's a little bit unfair to compare them. The guy's doing a great job. On Sunday morning after Richmond, he had a great run going there, and he got caught up between Kurt Busch and Kenseth when they all started checking up for something. Busch was on the inside going down the back chute, and all of a sudden he decided he wanted to turn right before turning left going into three. Casey has experience in all kind of racing vehicles, and that's why I thought he would adapt quickly to Winston Cup. So far, we're happy with his progress. He's right where we thought he'd be, maybe even a little ahead, and we think he's doing a great job.
"It's easy for us to sit on the outside and say what they should do and how they should do it. Each time I sit down with them and broach that subject (soft walls), I'm confident they're working fast on it and very hard. During the week during football season you have the coach's press conference. You have the state of the game during the week from the coaches. Maybe that's something that NASCAR needs to do. On these weekly conference calls, maybe they need another weekly conference call where they have Helton or Hunter come on and have a weekly briefing. I'm comfortable that these things are happening. It seems like they're not happening at the speed the media would like them to happen, but I'm not sure that's a correct perspective on it.
"You can take everything from my daughter's tricycle to Abram's tank and make it safer. Let's face it, if God wanted you to travel fast by wiggling a part that's attached to your body, and he didn't. So, when you do travel, when your body travels on wheels or skis, there's a certain safety element lacking in any vehicle. I don't think that's new to anyone. Saying that safety cannot be improved, that's like Howard Hughes said one time. Why would anyone want to travel across country any faster than 8 hours? Obviously, everything can be improved in terms of safety.
"I guess everyone that has a stake in this sport has some stake in the safety issues. I sure wouldn't want to see one of my drivers hurt because I didn't stand up when it was time to put something down for safety. I don't think it's correct characterization to say stand up against NASCAR. I don't think it's stand up against anybody. It comes back to the safety issue. I think everybody is working as hard and diligently on it as they can. Let's face it. The same wall, I know a little bit about this business from our track there in Chicago. The same wall that works at Indy doesn't necessarily work at Martinsville or Richmond. It's not like paint. Paint works on any wall, but from what I understand these softer walls are different for each track. There's a little more to it than just slapping them up there."