Tuesday, May 27, 2003. Dodge This Teleconference Jimmy Spencer and Tommy Baldwin JIMMY SPENCER (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid) "Considering all the rain we've had, it was a terrible weekend for everybody. Not just the drivers...
Tuesday, May 27, 2003.
Dodge This Teleconference
Jimmy Spencer and Tommy Baldwin
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)
"Considering all the rain we've had, it was a terrible weekend for everybody. Not just the drivers and crew members, but the fans. When the 600 came around, it was raining off and on and everybody was wondering what the weather was going to do. We just chased our car all night long. Tommy made some great calls. We were fortunate to get our lap back. We knew we had to make one or two more pit stops, and we could have adjusted some more. We've been running good all year long. To come out of there with a top-five finish, I think that was a big step in the right direction for the team, me included. It's a sign of better things for us.
"We're going to run another new car at Dover. We're going to Michigan to test next week, and we're going to test that car (Charlotte and Bristol) at Michigan. Tommy feels this other car has a little bit better front downforce. Dodges right now are lacking downforce compared to the Chevys and Fords. It's not a big issue until the race starts and you start to put time on your car and time on your tires. Then you notice certain cars have a little bit better frontal downforce. Dodge, in my opinion, is at an aero disadvantage right now. We noticed when we started adjusting our car, we never could get the thing to turn the nose in the center of the corner like those guys could, and that's downforce. Tommy had a new designed car to go to Dover with, so we're going to try it there.
"Bristol, we had a great race car. In order to win these races and in order to run up front, you've got to have luck. You can make your luck, but when you have good fortune things happen. I think it did happen for us Sunday. At Bristol it didn't. At Richmond it didn't. We feel like when the caution did fall and we were in the lead and got our lap back, we felt like, 'OK, that gives us a shot at the top five again.' Tommy and the crew made some more adjustments, and put a set of tires on which we didn't have to do, yet he did it. We worked our way to sixth and the caution falls and the crew busts off a pit stop and we came out fourth. Finally, we were in the same sequence as the rest of the leaders. From where we were pitting we could have probably come out first, second or third on the next pit stop because the pit stops were phenomenal. Everything was falling in place. At Atlanta we had a lot of luck and came out of there with a top 10. Now, the luck fell our way, too. Those boys worked hard on the car all night and we rewarded them with a top-five finish. I'm proud to be a part of it.
"I went through a bad year last year, and I know some other drivers who are going through that right now. They talk to me about it. I'm not going to say their names because it's between us, yet they say they can't believe in less than six months you go from being a nobody with the right people, the right organization to being somebody. Darrell Waltrip has said it. Some crew chiefs and drivers need to stay together. Ray Evernham and Jeff Gordon clicked and they were unstoppable. If you saw what Dale Earnhardt and Kirk Shelmerdine did and then Earnhardt was looking for something when he finally found Kevin Hamlin and they clicked and started winning. They were a factor for the championship again. I think you see that with Jimmie Johnson and (Chad) Knaus. You see it with Ryan Newman and Matt Borland. They click. I think Tommy and I really get along great. The most important thing is the driver has to trust that crew chief. Tommy and I've got that and it's really working good. We're having a good time, and we're going to win. I know where the winner's circle is. I've won in the Busch Series lately, but I haven't won in Winston Cup in a long time. I think we can do it this year.
"The biggest thing about Dover is you have to have a car that's really balanced. It can't be loose and it can't be pushing. It seems on the concrete tracks like Bristol and Dover, the track doesn't change a lot, so whatever you start with you can fine tune it, but if you're off a little bit it makes for a very long day. Dover is not as hard on the driver at 400 miles as it was at 500. The thing about Dover though is you've got to not get (yawned), get tired of being monotonous in that race car. That's the biggest thing about Dover. You also realize at Dover, it's probably the worst pit road we go to, simply because it's narrow and there's not a lot of room. It's really bad, and you've got to stay focused when you make a pit stop. The other thing is is turn two. You're always really careful when you come off turn two because the cars get really free right there. It's a tunnel in the back straightaway. Dover has a very bad back straightaway because you can't get away from the cars. Everything goes to the inside. When it hits the wall, it goes back up, so you can get caught up in an accident really easy there. As far as physically, it's not as bad as some of the other tracks, but mentally it's probably one of the worst next to Daytona and Talladega for staying up on the wheel and not getting yourself caught going to sleep so to speak and try to get in a rhythm and lose track of time. That's the biggest problem at Dover.
"He (Mongo the dog) has never been there with me. I've already been out there and walked him this morning and he and I were talking. He doesn't like the idea of the narrow back straightaway because sometimes they like to do their duty on certain parts of the race track. I think Mongo will be all right. We tested that car at Kentucky, and I think it's a damn good race car. I feel confident that my team is confident now. Finally all this work, Tommy has been working them hard. Everybody in the shop has been working hard for this and we did it at Charlotte and that's so cool because most of the guys in the shop are there. After all the hard work, we can see this is going to happen now, so that's the biggest incentive the crew can have, that all their hard work is paying off. It'll be a step in the right direction going into Dover and on into Pocono.
"I think the work ethic all over the country is different. When you first come down here, some of the Southern traditions are different from the Northern traditions, and I know the West Coasters, they always call them the wine and cheese people. People like Jimmy Smith, and he's not that type of person. I think it's changed over the years. The Northerners if you want to call them that and a lot of people do, have implemented themselves in the south. It doesn't matter today in NASCAR where you're from. It used to mean something. Today, it's a nation-wide sport. It doesn't matter if you're from Minnesota, Texas, Florida, North or South Carolina or Pennsylvania. The work ethic is whoever is directing the team. Tommy is from Long Island, and he does have some habits that Northerners have, the Yankees. They're outspoken, they're vocal, things like that. You have to get used to that person's personality. I've known Tommy my whole life. I know how Ray Evernham is, and I know how a lot of these people are. Some Southern people have been successful down here, won some championships and a lot of races. Their work ethic is no different. They just might go about it a different way, so to me, it doesn't matter where you come from. It's who you're working for. When you come into a race team, you have to know who your boss is. If you think you know more than the boss, you're not going to make it in this sport. The other thing is, the boss has to know when he's made a mistake and he admits it and he says we'll fix it and gives credit where credit's due and he'll take the blame when it's time to take the blame. That's a successful crew chief and a successful leader of a race team. It doesn't matter where you're from. I think you've seen a change over these last few years. That's why this sport is so competitive.
"Growing up with a bunch of brothers and sisters, there were seven of us total, three girls and three boys. We were competitive people. My dad was a very competitive person. When we played softball or soccer or whenever we played kick ball, you tried to win. You tried to beat the other team. I think it was instilled at a young age. I don't see that today in a lot of children. I don't see that competitiveness. I see my daughter being a little bit more competitive than my son. It's really interesting to know how your kids grow up and who they hang with. That dictates a lot of it. Their peers they're hanging with dictates their desire. My dad would not let you win. You had to beat him if you were going to play a game, and I admire him for it. I try to teach my kids the same way.
"I think it's coming to the limelight simply because I've got a great PR person in Mike Davis. He does a great job. Putting stuff out. I think the other thing is fans are looking for answers. These fans had the worst week I can ever remember at a race track from The Winston all the way into this Sunday night. They didn't enjoy Charlotte like they usually do, but those fans will be back. It seems like they really appreciate it when somebody tells the truth. Junior is definitely a fan favorite. He's a cool kid and I really like him. He's very competitive. He's a fierce competitor. Everybody has a personality. My personality has always been if something happens tell the truth. People like you write the stories, and I get in trouble sometimes. The bottom line is we live in America and we celebrated Memorial Day yesterday. We're allowed to say what we want to say in America. Some people I don't like come in our country and are telling us we need to learn to speak Spanish or stuff like that. We didn't move to Spain or we didn't move to Mexico. They moved here, so they need to speak American and we don't need to learn to speak Spanish. To me, that's a problem that people in this country are faced with now. People coming in here are trying to force us to get more and more bi-cultural or whatever you want to say. I know how to speak English, and that's what I keep doing. I think they need to learn how to speak like we speak.
"I think the fans want to hear what it is you really feel. If you speak what's on your mind, you're not going to get in trouble for it. Look back years ago and drivers are saying it's just racing. They really want to say the son of a B spun me out. The truth is, I think they sort of knew what you were thinking and they were sort of hoping that's what you'd say what was on your mind. When you come out and say, 'that's just racing' I think that's not what Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison and Richard Petty did and they made our sport what it is. They said, 'the son of a b*&%$ spun me out.' That's what made our sport what it is today. It's changing, and I think it's changing for the better.
"Tommy and I sat down and talked about it in December. I knew what he wanted, and I think he knew what I wanted and that was to be back competitive and successful and running up front. The thing that a lot of people didn't realize was how good a race team Jim Smith really had. He's got an awesome facility, a great bunch of girls. Vickie has been there forever. These girls that are at the front desk to the guys who are in the back that take care of the shop. He's got a lot of people who have worked for him many years. Tommy's the same way. When Tommy walked in the shop it was like, 'we've got everything we need here.' So, I think that was something people didn't see from the outside, the media. That's why they called us a 35th or 38th place team. One of the reporters said we were coming to a gunfight with a pistol. I guess it depends on how big of a pistol you've got.
"I think it reflects on the sponsor because you've got their names plastered all over your uniform and you're representing that company. You have to always remember that. When you do something, you have to remember that people are looking at you, your children and your family members and your fans. You just don't do something stupid. You can say what you want to say. I don't think any of the drivers, I shouldn't speak for 'em but I've never said anything bad against any of the sponsors that were competitors of mine on the race track when we had a run-in with that sponsor. I'm not going to stop buying Texaco gasoline, or I'm not going to stop buying Goodyear tires or whatever because I cut a tire down at Richmond. I'm a representative of NASCAR. That's the way I look at it. You need to remember all those sponsors are paying money and the fans, you want them to buy the products. I think personally, when you do have an incident or whatever, you can say what you want to say and you can do what you want to do, but you've got to remember you're going to be scrutinized by not just NASCAR but also the fans out there that like that driver and things like that. Sometimes it causes controversy and NASCAR does a good job of policing it. If you do get too far out of line, they'll put you in the trailer. I think most of the drivers realize the sponsors are not the ones at fault. It's the person they had the incident with."