Dodge Motorsports Teleconference May 4, 2004 TOMMY BALDWIN , (Crew chief No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) COMMENT ON CALIFORNIA "It was filled with a bunch of highs and a bunch of lows. We started off real well in qualifying on ...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
May 4, 2004
TOMMY BALDWIN , (Crew chief No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
COMMENT ON CALIFORNIA
"It was filled with a bunch of highs and a bunch of lows. We started off real well in qualifying on Friday, qualified on the pole. Saturday we struggled in practice. We worked real hard Saturday night trying to figure out some things we had to do to the car. We made some good decisions. The car started out real well. We pretty much had a handle on it, but the car started getting a little on the tight side the last 100 laps or so. We made one adjustment on the last pit stop to try to loosen it up and the track just got too tight. The tighter you are the more fuel you burn up. We were the tightest we had been all day, so we showed up a little short on fuel and basically took a top five car and finished 13th with it."
COMMENT ON CALIFORNIA HEAT
"It was hot. NASCAR allowed us to put a tent up behind our tool box, so that kept everybody under the shade. It's a good thing they brought that up and let us do that. It was hot. The air is so dry. The wind is blowing, but it's like 130 degrees instead of 100 degrees wind. Instead of being cool it was hotter."
COMMENT ON RICHMOND
"Kasey is going to test there tomorrow with his Busch car, so we'll get some information from there. We're real excited. I feel real excited at short tracks, places like Richmond, so I'm looking forward to getting there."
IS THE CHAMPIONSHIP A VIABLE GOAL FOR A ROOKIE?
"It sure has changed from the beginning of the year until now as far as a goal, but our main focus is trying to get as much information and as much knowledge now to have a better second half. We probably gave up a couple of better finishes than we already have had through our learning experiences. If we get in the top 10 or within 400 points of the leader by the cutoff point, yeah, I think we're definitely going to take a good look at trying to win the championship. Right now we're race to race. We're doing what we can to try to win each race. If you do as good as you can, that's all you can ask for. We're working real hard here. We're reaching a lot of goals we set out to achieve the whole year. We've already achieved a lot of them, so winning the championship is definitely a pretty good goal. I see a smart, young kid that can get the job done right now. I think him and Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon are probably the closest to compare with. Newman is probably a little more aggressive. Tony is a little bit more aggressive, but I put Kasey up with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon as far as their abilities and their styles."
COMMENT ON KASEY RUNNING TWO SERIES
"I think it's a double-edged sword. I don't think as of right now it's hurt us by no means. I think it's helped us. As the season gets longer into the year we're going to monitor a lot more and a lot closer, but I think it's helped us. It's helped a lot running TBR's Busch program, getting information on Saturday. I think running that Busch program has definitely helped getting information."
COMMENT ON KASEY'S PROGRESS
"We're just working on a learning curve right now. We're seeing all of these tracks for the first time together in a Nextel Cup car. Hopefully we're going to come back stronger on the tracks we come back to the second half of the year. That's our goal. Our goal is to qualify in the top 15 and finish in the top 15. I think all the races but three we've accomplished that. I think everything is going according to plan right now and we can get stronger as the year goes on."
COMMENT ON AGGRESSIVE DRIVING
"You can be aggressive with respect, and you can be aggressive with no respect. I think some drivers are out there being aggressive with no respect right now. That's the biggest thing I've preached to Kasey. We talk about the give and take situations we're in. We don't talk about it on Sundays because we're very captive. During the week he watches the previous year's race film and so do I. We know where we're heading and what direction we need to communicate with each other. We just had that conversation last week. It's lot easier to race when you race up front. It's a give and take situation and that's the position we need to put him in. It's that respect thing. You have to earn respect. Some people that have had respect are using that up and it's not working out too well for them right now."
WHAT MAKES KASEY A SUCCESSFUL DRIVER?
"I just think he's so laid back. He's very educated for the amount of experience he has. A lot of it is the natural ability you're born with I believe. He has that. Racing is in his blood. That's all he really wants to do and that's how he attacks every weekend. He's like a sponge right now. He's soaking it all in. He's learning all the trades inside and out, what we need to accomplish every weekend. He's doing real well with all that stuff. Most of the time when we're all learning we make mistakes before we learn something. We've made some mistakes, both him and I, and we've learned from them. Hopefully you don't make them again. That's what makes championship race teams. You learn from all the mistakes you've made. We talk about it. We work on 'em. We see some potential things that could happen at certain racetracks, but we learn from watching race tapes and we learn from just talking about different situations, what he needs to do on the racetrack. We've been lucky enough that we've been up front and haven't had to race that many people. I think that's been the key so far, but if we get in a situation where we're racing from 12th to 22nd, we'll have to learn from that."
HOW'S KASEY HANDLING THE STARDOM?
"I don't think it's even hit him yet. He's just taking it all in right now. He's so busy between the Cup car and Busch car, and I don't think he has really time to think about it. It's only going to get worse. He's taking it all in. He's handling it piece by piece and I think that's the only way you can do it."
HOW MUCH INFORMATION IS SHARED BETWEEN THE 9 AND 19?
"The teamwork is great over here. We talk about it before practice, after practice, all week long. The 19 car ran well Sunday, also. We had pretty similar setups. We were off a little bit Saturday morning and they had some stuff in their car we didn't. We applied some of their stuff and changed some of our stuff and it really helped."
COMMENT ON PROGRESS OF IN-HOUSE CHASSIS
"We'll be running an EMS built car at the all-star race in Charlotte in a couple of weeks. We're going to get first-hand, between myself and Kasey, how those cars react. The 19 car is going to be taking their car to Dover testing in a couple of weeks. Bill has driven one in Texas and Vegas already and they got a good feel of that. Now our two teams are going to check them out."
DO YOU USE THE ALL-STAR RACE AS A TEST SESSION?
"I'm not comfortable running it 600 miles because we're used to how our cars are reacting now and I don't want to take the chance. That car seemed to be real good on short runs, and the all-star race is some short runs. We're going to start with baby steps and see how it goes."
IS THIS SEASON MORE AGGRESSIVE ON THE TRACK?
"I think it's probably about the same but different people are doing it. You've always got a couple of knuckleheads out there banging their way and not thinking and doing stupid things and not caring about all of us other people that have to put a lot of hours in working. I think they'd better take a better look at what they're doing there."
COMMENT ON SPOILER CHANGE
"I think they're going to do a half inch at Chicago. They added that big old roof camera at Vegas. That gave us a lot more rear downforce than what we had. Taking that half-inch of spoiler off the back is not really going to change anything that we were expecting at the beginning of the year. The good thing I think they're doing is they're hinting to us that's when they're going to do it, so it's allowing us to work on the cars a little bit more in different areas and try to get that downforce back. NASCAR is going to make the rule change, and we're going to work as hard as we can to make things better after they make the rule changes. That's just the way it is. That's all part of it. I know we saw a fuel strategy deal this weekend, but at bigger tracks I don't think you're ever going to get that. I think you've seen a lot better races this year because NASCAR has put the races back into the handling and the drivers' hands. We're always trying to beat everything everybody is throwing at us. That's our job. That's why NASCAR is the best auto racing in the world. They make changes and we go around and try to make things as good as or better than they were. NASCAR will keep working on and making changes and we'll just try to get better."
DO YOU TRY TO MONITOR KASEY'S EMOTIONS?
"That's a big thing for me, to keep him grounded like that. We cannot let his success get to him or anybody else around us. It's my job to keep everybody in focus and looking down the road at the common goal and that's winning the championship. I'm always taking a look at him, always trying to talk to him. I went over to his sprint car shop yesterday afternoon and just talked to him a little bit about some things, and that's what you've got to do, just nonchalantly talk about some things. You don't sit him down and lecture him like you do your children, but 'hey look, next time this comes up here's what we've got to do.' Just work with him a little bit. The veteran drivers are just as thick headed as the younger guys. It's not going to change. They're all in competition. They're all out there putting their life at stake running 200 mph. When something goes wrong I guess it can be pretty frustrating, but the key is let things cool down, don't worry about it right then and there and reflect on it a day or two later."
COMMENT ON ROOF CAMERA
"Years ago when they first came out with that roof camera it was a big change. I don't think they're going to do anything else. That camera stuff is pretty heavy. We have to take weight out of the car when we run those cameras. It changes the handling. You have to take all that in consideration. It's been that way for years now."
IS WATCHING FILMS A COMMON PRACTICE?
"I think it's a common practice. I would hope some teams would take advantage of watching the previous race and seeing how all this stuff unfolds and seeing all the stuff that could potentially happen and all the stuff that could go good. We're just trying to keep an eye on everything. It's a good idea for younger guys to take a look at that stuff and see what could possibly happen as the race unfolds."