Dodge This teleconference Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2003 Ryan Newman and Matt Borland MATT BORLAND (Crew Chief No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) COMMENT ON TEAM MOMENTUM "Whenever you have a series of races like we had at the beginning of the year...
Dodge This teleconference
Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2003
Ryan Newman and Matt Borland
MATT BORLAND (Crew Chief No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid)
COMMENT ON TEAM MOMENTUM
"Whenever you have a series of races like we had at the beginning of the year where things aren't working out, you definitely lose momentum. The guys never got down about it. Once things started to turn around, the guys were doing the same things they'd always done. They started to pick up momentum and it picks up everyone's job and gives them more confidence in what they're doing. It's a big part of success in this series."
WHAT'S THE STRATEGY FOR BRISTOL?
"Staying out front will keep us out of trouble. We've definitely qualified well there in the past, but we've struggled in races there. We've had some races we've run good and got involved in some incidents, but it's definitely one of the tracks we've struggled with more setup wise. We've been looking at ways to make it better. We're just going to have to work on that as much as we can this weekend and make sure we have a good qualifying effort. That'll help us stay out front all day."
COMMENT ON YOUR DRIVER'S WINNING PERCENTAGE (6 WINS, 67 CAREER STARTS)
"It'll be hard to keep that kind of percentage. We're in a cycle right now where everything we're doing works out right. It's a sport where sometimes you make those same decisions and things don't work out that way. The law of averages will come back on that. We're just going to keep doing the things we've been doing, and hopefully we'll make the right calls and Ryan will keep driving the way he drives and that goes a long way toward the finishes."
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP DISCIPLINE TO STICK WITH STRATEGY?
"You deviate from it some when the race is going on through about maybe the first third of the race. Once the race starts to unfold and you see the kind of car you have and the strong points or weak points, you pretty much at that point have to make a decision and go with it. Both Ryan and myself and Mike have to have confidence in each other that we're going to make that strategy work whatever it takes. Sometimes it might be fuel mileage and sometimes it might be having the best car and running everybody down. It's different every week and you really don't what the strategy is going to be until the first part of the race unfolds."
DO YOU HAVE A POST-RACE CONDUCT POLICY FOR YOUR CREWMEN?
"We don't necessarily have a set policy, but the guys know their behavior ultimately reflects on our sponsors, ALLTEL, Mobile and Sony and that kind of behavior is not condoned or allowed. It doesn't look good for the sponsors. The guys have their own discipline. They know that themselves, and they don't put themselves in those kinds of situations. That goes from Ryan on down. We really haven't had to put a policy in effect. The guys just know it from their own self discipline."
DO YOU THINK WHAT HAPPENED AFTER RACE SUNDAY WAS A RESULT OF PRESSURES THAT BUILD DURING RACES?
"I think that's some of it, but you used to see a lot more of those kinds of incidents 20 years ago. That was pretty common. It's just frustration I'm sure. There's a lot of pressure to run good, and when you're not running good your aggravation builds up and it can get to a point where it overcomes you."
IS NASCAR TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT YOUR CAR BECAUSE OF THE FUEL MILEAGE YOU'VE BEEN GETTING RECENTLY?
"Yeah, they're looking closer and there's nothing we're doing different from anybody else. They're seeing that fuel mileage is more and more of an issue, but really this weekend we didn't get near the fuel mileage that a lot of the cars got. Kurt Busch went 13 laps longer than us and ran out two laps from the end, so he actually made it 11 more laps than we did. NASCAR takes into account the fuel you put in after the race and we're consistently one of the lower amounts put in by any of the teams, so they're looking but there's nothing out of whack there."
COMMENT ON COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND RYAN
"We've come through the stock cars together from the start, and it's just a matter of when you've worked together for four years you have complete trust in each other. You build that communication and confidence in each other that you trust what each other says completely. That goes a long way to knowing what each other is thinking. The radio isn't a necessity anymore."
DO YOU GO TO BRISTOL WITH DIFFERENT RACING STRATEGY?
"You hear a lot of it coming into Michigan that Michigan is a big fuel mileage race, but I think that's somewhat in the past. At Michigan, your tires wear out and you've got several places on the track you can pass people. If there's 20 laps to go and you've got 20 laps on your tires, you're going to pit and take tires. At Bristol, if you get in that 150-lap window, you're not going to come in any more. Bristol and Loudon have become more fuel mileage races than more traditional places like Michigan. It's going to be a situation when you get in your window or even close to your window, you're going to be stretching it at Bristol."
HOW FRUSTRATING WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON?
"Those kind of thoughts go through your head when you're struggling with those kinds of situations. In almost every case, it wasn't an issue of any particular person or a situation where the team wasn't doing their job well. That allowed us to have confidence in each other and keep doing what we were doing and knowing it was going to turn around at a point and success would follow with it. Once it did, it's definitely been going our way the last part of the season."
IS THERE AN EXACT SCIENCE TO FUEL MILEAGE?
"The fact that we ran out at Indy was a definite blow and it can remind you that it can happen when you push fuel to that limit you're going to come out on the bad end of it sometimes. We had a pretty good idea that we were going to run out of fuel. It was a situation where we had to get to that lap to make it in one more stop. We knew we were gambling on it and we came out on the short end of the stick. It's just one of those things that happen. It's not an exact science as it is in Indy cars where you've got computers that tell you how much fuel you burn on each consecutive lap. You know to the hundredths of a gallon how much fuel you've got. Here, you've got to estimate based on some parameters that are going on in the race how much fuel you're burning and sometimes you're off a little bit. Darlington shouldn't be a fuel mileage race. There are times when it is like last year at Rockingham, but when you hit that last stop and you can make it on fuel and the yellow doesn't come out you're going to push it. Beyond that last stop, you're stopping before you run out of fuel anyway. Any place where the tires are falling off, the fuel mileage kind of drops out of the equation. Darlington and Rockingham are great racetracks because the tires wear out and the handling goes away and the drivers really have to be on top of the car. Those make for exciting races, and fuel isn't an issue. The car that's not handling well is going to fall back. I think you're going to see great racing at Darlington."
CAN YOU AFFORD TO GAMBLE BASED ON YOUR RANKING IN STANDINGS?
"The way the points are right now, we definitely don't look at it from a points racing aspect. We're going for a win every weekend. The way we're going to catch Kenseth or anybody else is to keep winning every race we can and gaining the maximum number of points every weekend. Finishing 10th or 15th isn't going to do the job. We've got to be winning races pretty much every weekend to get to that point and that's where our focus is."
DO YOU START SEASON WITH GOALS?
"We sit down at the beginning of every year as a team and figure out what goals we can accomplish for the year. That goes from how many wins and poles to top fives and top 10s to how the team works together - how the shop crew works with the road crew - those kind of situations. Several times during the year, we look at how we're doing with those goals and reevaluate how we're doing and how we can achieve those goals again if we're falling short in areas. It's not really a race-to-race goal as much as it is for the whole season and really for everyone on our team's careers."
HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO MAKE TRANSITION FROM INDY CAR TO CUP?
"I think the biggest thing is just having good people around you. Ryan is just a tremendous driver and we've got a great group of guys who are goal-oriented and driven to do well. I think having people like that around you, it allows me to focus on getting the car right and what we think is going to be the fastest and be able to trust the guys that they're doing their jobs to the best of their abilities and preparing the cars well. I think a lot of times in other teams you might have situations where you might have to spend more time with personnel or with travel or pit stop practice and those kind of things. We've got a great group of people here from top to bottom. Everybody does their job very well. That allows each person to focus on their part of the job rather than worrying about all the other areas that maybe aren't getting done. It's a team sport and you count on everyone on your team to do a better job than 42 other teams and that person doing their job. We're just in a situation where we've got a lot of good people."
Matt Borland press conference