Dodge Ponoco Saturday notes

TONY GLOVER (Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) “We were close to Ricky (Rudd) in practice this morning, but that was practice. The race hasn’t started yet. I’m sure when it does he’s going to be hard to beat.

TONY GLOVER (Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)

“We were close to Ricky (Rudd) in practice this morning, but that was practice. The race hasn’t started yet. I’m sure when it does he’s going to be hard to beat. Over the years he’s been awful good here. He’s in a fast car, and he’s going to be hard to beat. We’ve just got to dot all our I’s and cross all our T’s and see if we can whip him. We can get closer. We haven’t finished second yet. We’ve qualified second three times. I don’t think you can count out the 24 car anywhere. Maybe if you got him 10 laps down with five laps to go you could count him out. That’s the only way I know.

“We don’t have any one thing in particular we need to get better to win, just everything in general. We’ve got to get a little bit better in every area. I wish we had better acceleration on restarts. That’s been an ongoing problem. We’ve got to get a lot better on restarts. We’ve got to get better on cold tires. We’ve got to do a lot of stuff better. We’re pretty good. We’ve just got to get better.

“I would rather be in a position that people keep asking that aggravating question, ‘when do you think you’re going to win?’ I was pretty happy last week when I saw how disappointed our guys were with third place. I’d rather people ask when we’re going to win than if we think we’ve got a shot at a top 10 this week.”

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)

“Ricky got his car down low for qualifying. They weren’t cheating or anything, but they got the shock package figured out. I figured once we got in race trim we could get close to ‘em. We were good in the first practice. If the car doesn’t fall off much, we’ll be in good shape. It’s a little tight right now. We’ve got to free it up a little more, but we’ll be all right.”

LEE McCALL (Crew chief No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)

“I think we’ve got a real good car for the race. Ricky is real good, but we made a few changes between practices and we’ll see where we end up. We were a little tight in the first practice, so we’re going to try to fix that and get a little bit better.

“Every corner is important here. Everybody talks about getting off the tunnel turn and getting off turn three really good so you can get a run down the straightaway. We’re going to work hard on all three corners and see where we end up. We’re a little tight off the tunnel and turn three, so we’re going to try to free it up a little bit.

“You can’t do anything about Lady Luck. We’re going to keep pressing on and raising the bar every week. We can’t give up now. We’ve got to be as strong as we can be at the end of the race and hopefully before the year’s out we’ll get us a win.

“We are a top three team right now. When you can go home disappointed with a third place finish like we did last week, that’s good. At the same

LEE McCALL (Crew chief No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T) time, you’ve got to figure out how to beat those guys that were first and second that beat you. We’ve got to go home and work hard and figure out how to beat those guys. On the short run last week, we didn’t get up to speed quick enough. We’ve got to work on that.

“It takes a good driver and a good team to win at Pocono. It’s not just one person. Everybody here plays a big part in our race team. We’ve got a good team. Sterling is great to work with, and I think we’ll be around here at the end Sunday challenging for a win. I was chief mechanic with the 12 team when Jeremy Mayfield won both of his races here. This is my first year with the 40 team and first time as crew chief. Sterling is as hungry as ever. We’ve been so close all year long. Each week we bring him a better car, and those drivers really appreciate that. That makes ‘em even hungrier on Sunday, and I think he’s proven that week in and week out. He’s not washed up or too old to drive these cars. I think in the next week or two you’re going to see us come on strong.

“Chip Ganassi along with Felix Sabates give us everything we need to work with. Chip is very demanding. If we ran third last week, he wants us to figure out how we can improve that and run first or second the following week. He raises the bar for us each week and puts a big challenge on us. That’s great for a car owner.

“We’re basically a new team. We’ve got a new car, new owner, a lot of new employees. I can’t think of a better way to start out as a crew chief with everything new. It’s been unbelievable so far. The year we’ve had.... I knew we’d be good, but I knew we had a lot of work cut out for us with the Dodges and the motors and with the aero balance. We’re gaining faster than I thought we would.

“The wins will take care of themselves. Right now, we’ve got to focus on being in the three to five every week and then a win will take care of itself. If you run up front every week you’ll get a win. It’s too early to talk about points. I look at the points and it looks good on paper. We’re not halfway through the season yet, and it’s a long year. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve done all year long to get us to this point and the points will take care of themselves, too. We’re as well prepared as any race team out here. We’re looking at a 20-race stretch coming up to the end of the season, and that’s really going to tell the story. We’ve got about 15 cars ready to go, and the team is ready.”

TIM CULBERTSON (Program Manager, Dodge NASCAR Winston Cup Engineering)

“To win at this point would be a real compliment to our program. This is the big leagues. We came in from nowhere, but let me make it real clear. Our focus is on to win a race right now. We’ve come real close, and we know we can do it. I think we continue to work on our car to do that, but second place is not rewarding to us right now. Everything is to win. That’s our total concentration. If you’re used to running 40th and finish second, then obviously that’s rewarding. But this sport is all about winning, and it’s the same in the automobile industry. It’s all about winning. I was very upset last week. We had a win. It looked to be relatively in the bag and then the luck of racing got us. That yellow came out and then we were in trouble. Strategically, we were going to win that race.

“I don’t know that we have the best car right now. The Chevys and Fords look dominant. You can have luck one way or the other, but you can’t rely on luck to win. I think we have a good shot at another good run at Pocono. Sterling’s team looks good, and Ward Burton was good in the first practice. John Andretti looks good, too, so I think the Dodges should be in the hunt. We’ve had our share of top fives and top 10s. We’ve had a couple of poles, so really all that’s left to do is win, and that’s our primary objective right now.”

MIKE FORD (Crew chief No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)

Ford was back at the track on Saturday after leaving for home in North Carolina to be with his sick father yesterday. Ford’s current plans call for him to be at the track as crew chief with driver Bill Elliott on Sunday.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeremy Mayfield , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing