Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, July 1, 2003 Shane Hmiel SHANE HMIEL -- Driver, No. 43 Berry Burst Cheerios Dodge Intrepid this weekend at Daytona ON HOW THE DEAL WAS MADE WITH PETTY ENTERPRISES "Obviously it is one of the biggest steps...
Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, July 1, 2003
SHANE HMIEL -- Driver, No. 43 Berry Burst Cheerios Dodge Intrepid this weekend at Daytona
ON HOW THE DEAL WAS MADE WITH PETTY ENTERPRISES "Obviously it is one of the biggest steps in my career and one of the biggest days of my life. To drive the No. 43 car, which is Richard Petty's, to be with Dodge and Berry Burst Cheerios, it's really going to be a huge thrill for me. I am only here because people have given me the opportunity. It just came down to Petty Enterprises contacting Innovative Motorsports and we've worked it out to where I am going to run in the Pepsi 400. To drive Richard Petty's number at Daytona in a Dodge is pretty special, fresh with a new paint scheme, the Berry Burst Cheerios. I have been eating Cheerios my whole life and getting to race for them is pretty cool. I grew up on a farm 10 miles from the Petty shop. I'm really looking forward to it. I can't wait to get out there and practice and qualify and race."
CONCERNS ON THIS YEARS STRUGGLES OF PETTY ENTERPRISES "The Petty's have had a good team since the 60's. I don't think they've really been struggling. I think the chemistry maybe with the guys and the drivers has not been as good as it needed to be or what, I don't know exactly. But I am really looking forward to it. I think it will be a really good deal. I think they have a good car, a good engine, and everything like that. The car was running in the top-10 in February before somebody leaned on the fender and they started smoking and got black-flagged. Once the car gets in the race I'm sure it will be good, but you always have to look in the back of your mind if they don't have any provisionals and stuff like that. I've met with the crew chief and all of the guys and everybody really seems to be working well together. So I am excited."
ON DAD'S ADVICE FOR RACING WINSTON CUP AT DAYTONA "I have come into Daytona several times, more times as a fan than as a driver. Last year in 2001, I got to come in through the tunnel as a driver for the first time. This year, for me to be coming in as a Winston Cup driver for this race is going to be amazing. To get to drive a car and be a teammate with Kyle Petty and Christian Fittipaldi is really going to be special. I can't wait to drive through the gate. As a matter of fact, I am on my way there now. It's going to mean a lot to me coming where I come from."
ON HAVING A TATTOO ON HIS ARM MEMORIALIZING ADAM PETTY "Yeah we grew up together. His grandfather had a lake house across from my parents. We raced go-carts together. I got the number 45 tattooed on my left arm. I got that a few days after he passed away. It's weird that now I get to drive one of his cars. It's so weird that it's amazing. It's a miracle for me to be driving with the Petty's especially with me knowing Adam as well as I did."
ON WHETHER YOUTH OR EXPERIENCE IS MORE IMPORTANT "It would be nice to be as young as I am and have a lot more experience. But the experience means a lot. If you go the tracks with guys who have been running 10 or 15 years, of course they are going to have better knowledge about the cars. It does help to be young and eager to be a champion. I think you have to have the best of both worlds like Jimmy Johnson and Kurt Busch. They both have been racing cars for a long time. Those are probably the two best examples of youth and experience. I don't think you can beat being young and having a lot of experience."
ON GETTING IN A CRASH AT A RECENT BUSCH SERIES RACE "My spotter was telling me to 'race it back to the yellow.' When I got into turn one and two, I just let off the gas because I thought we had already come to the yellow. I would have let most of them have that spot if I hadn't been told to come back to the yellow. I would have been out of the way by then. But when they told me to race it back to the yellow, I just decided to let off the gas and I got hit. It was mostly my fault as much as it was my spotters. I think I caused Hornaday the race but it was an accident. When I drove by he shrugged his arms. He and I have had a couple of run-ins this year. If you race hard, you are going to get in an accident now-and-then. He knows that and I know that. It will be okay."
ON HIS FIRST WINSTON CUP RACE BEING A RESTRICTOR PLATE RACE "I really like restrictor plate races. I have run four restrictor plate races and got two top-fives, although they should have all been top-fives but I have always run good at restrictor plate races. I really enjoy speedway races. With no provisionals, I would like to be able to help a little bit more in qualifying, but I am really looking forward to it. This might be my only opportunity to run a Winston Cup race. To get to do that at Daytona, for Petty Enterprises, in a Dodge is a big deal for me. They run three wide all day long and I am really into that intense racing."
ON WHAT MAKES HIM NERVOUS ABOUT WINSTON CUP "I don't want to fail for the Petty's, Dodge, or Berry Burst Cheerios. I have a commitment to them to do the very best that I can and I know they will do the best for me. I just want to race, keep the nose clean, and bring the car home. I'd be happy with a top-15 or top-10. That would be like winning the race for me. I don't want to be that guy that causes the big wreck. I just want to stay in line, keep my nose clean and race really hard. I just don't want to fail."
ON HIS BUSCH SERIES DEBUT AT DAYTONA IN 2002 "It helps anytime you get some experience at running well. When we finished fifth, I thought that I might be a decent Busch driver. But the next couple of races we went on a crashing spree. I think that's why I am glad it is a restrictor plate race. I know how to stay in line and how to follow people."