Tuesday, May 27, 2003. Dodge This Teleconference Jimmy Spencer and Tommy Baldwin TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew Chief No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid) "Hopefully we'll show up with the right setup, have some good pit stops and get Jimmy to...
Tuesday, May 27, 2003.
Dodge This Teleconference
Jimmy Spencer and Tommy Baldwin
TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew Chief No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)
"Hopefully we'll show up with the right setup, have some good pit stops and get Jimmy to get up on that wheel and have another good day like we've basically been having every week performance wise. Finally on Sunday night we put it all together and finished right about where we've been running all year long.
"I'm not after personal recognition. I'm after building a team and winning races with the team. It's a whole different scenario with you've got 20, 40, 50, 125 people involved in a program. You're hired to do a job for a car owner and not for yourself. That's what this deal is all about. I want somebody to find out from any of these people who work for me the last seven or eight years if I'm hard headed. I don't understand where that's coming from. I come in. I know what I have to do and I get it done, but I can't get it done without everybody helping me. My employees have been with me for a long time now. If I had 16 or 17 more positions available here, I would have had more of my employees that had been with me the last four or five years. I don't have any turnaround on employees, and I think that's why our team is going to get stronger and stronger as time goes on here.
"I took it upon myself in my past employment to take charge of that operation, and it was fine. It wasn't a hassle. It was fun doing all the testing and working between the teams. Hopefully some day we can build this into a two-car team and have the same situation. It's not any more work. You have pretty much the same amount of people doing one team as you do with two if you think about it. You need just as many people putting the cars together and building the cars. We didn't have that many more employees over at the last place I was than we do here because it took so much to build this operation up to where it is now. It doesn't bother me. Work doesn't bother me at all. I enjoyed where I was before. I don't know what happened there.
"Jim (car owner Smith) has a very successful business, Ultra Wheels in California. He spends all his time there. Jimmy (Spencer) makes his appearances during the week and makes sure he's fitted right in the car. I'm controlling the team's destiny here so to speak being here on a day to day basis, but I was in the same spot where I was at the other place. I guess they didn't like winning races. Last year we won two races, including the Daytona 500. We broke a lot, but we ran up front a lot. We probably should have won two more races. Getting let go there without even a handshake was kind of a ... it don't sit well with me right now. Nothing's been said in the press about what really happened there, and nothing ever will because there's no reason on it. I know where I stood there, and I know how hard I worked there. There's no reason even going there with the past operation. My job is with the Sirius Dodge Ultra team and I could have gone to a lot of different places. I looked at this operation and saw how it could grow, and building another operation just like I did at the past place I was at. There were only 18 employees there when I started at the past place and probably about eight people in the motor room. When I left there there was over 125 employees. I had a little contribution to that effort, and I'm hoping to do the same thing here.
"I think as a group we need to run consistently up front to learn how to win. I think we could have won at Bristol. I think we could have won at Richmond. I think we could have run in the top four or five at Martinsville. I think we have a couple of other opportunities to win some races this year. I think the ingredients are here. I think we just have to capitalize on the situation.
"By not creating any problems internally and on the race track between himself and me making the calls and the pit stops going bad, that's how you make your own luck -- by staying out of trouble and not causing any problems. I do (see this team starting to click). I said the other night, not many people noticed, but besides Daytona and Talladega because that's a normal wreckfest. You could be first one lap and 30th the second because of the draft. Every time we've had a problem we've been 13th or better all year long, every single race. We got up to 13th at Rockingham and we had a motor go bad and not anybody knew we finished. We got up to seventh at Vegas and got in that wreck in turn two. At Atlanta, we finished seventh. At Darlington we were running seventh and Skinner got into us and put us in the wall. At Bristol we were leading and the caution came out while we were pitting and put us a lap down. At Texas we were 13th with an oil leak. At Martinsville we were fourth and created our own problems with the gas can. It goes on. At California we had pit stop problems running 13th. At Richmond we were running fifth. We're here. We've just got to learn to do what we did Sunday night every week. I think we're heading in the right direction.
"Jimmy is a really good race car driver. I don't think many people give him the credit of how good he really is. He gives pretty good feedback, and he's determined to win races. That's all you can ask. As long as you stay up on that wheel, just like every other race car driver out there and not get discouraged on certain situations we've got going on. It's been a pleasure.
"The mind games with what goes on throughout the team is just as important as finding speed in the car. If Jimmy knows he's going to come in and have 13-second pit stops every day, he's going to be a lot more aggressive on the track and have more confidence when we make a call and give me an opportunity to make some different decisions because of it. Knowing how aggressive Jimmy is in the beginning of the run, depending on which race track we are, the mind is a powerful thing and it can overcome a lot. I thrive on being at the race track and working on the car and trying to go fast.
"I think it's going great. The support is there. They're looking every day for things to make the program better. I'm not being a political person here. I'm just being honest. You can't ask for a program that is so involved as far as being on the manufacturers' side. They want to win races and the big boss, Dr. Zetsche (Dr. Dieter Zetsche, President and CEO - Chrysler Group) is always wanting to know what's going on. You can't ask for a better thing than what we've got going on.
"It takes time. Some teams get lucky and have success right off the bat because they've got a lot of ingredients already started for them. We've got brand new cars, brand new bodies, brand new people working together. We didn't get any sources from anybody else within our organization as far as how the cars are going to be built and what we're going to do to them. This team is not working on half the budget as all these other race teams. We're learning with them week in and week out. We're in the top 10, top 13 every week. That makes Jim Smith proud and he deserves it because he's put up with a lot with this Winston Cup program since he purchased it. He told me the other day he can't figure out how we're running so well and not spending as much money as his other people spent in the past. I can't figure it out either, but everything is going well. He's a great car owner.
"I think we have to grow with it. I think if we get more money over the winter for next year, yes, we can be better. I think right now we're hovering at our capacity as far as where we need to be and learning. We just hired an engineer, and he started today. We haven't had an engineer full time here. We've got to take some time to build that with our R&D group. We just started with our R&D program here. It's coming along. A lot of these race teams that come out of the box, a lot of times they've been the fourth or fifth teams of other teams that have groups of individuals that have been working together and have a lot of information. This whole deal was started from scratch. We got rid of everything when we all got here in November, and we had to start over. I'm proud of the program where it's at today. I just wish we had the finishes that we deserved throughout the year. It's a long year, and hopefully we can get Sirius Satellite some more subscribers as the year goes on and they sign us up for next year and the year after that.
"I've been on both sides. Someone said what do you think about Jimmie Johnson winning the race because of the rain? I said, 'man, I've lost two races because of rain with Ward coming in leading and coming out second or third and it raining or something like that. Some day hopefully I'll get one of those. That's the way this business is. The 48 car worked hard all night to get in that position to be there. The more we learn as a group, the further our program will and better it hopefully will be soon.
"I was a little surprised (how fast NASCAR called off Sunday night's race). We thought about it. We were the last car on the lead lap and we thought for a split second but we really didn't realize how fast the rain was going to get there. The last report we got it was nine miles out, so we figured we'd get another 10 or 15 laps before it rained. The pit crew was doing such a good job, I figured we were going to gain him some more spots. We came in eighth and came out fourth. They did a great job. I can't second guess that. I'm also going to say if I did stay out and it rained, I'll guarantee you they'd try to get that race started again. No matter if it was me or 24 car or anybody, I don't think they would want to see the race end like that. I think they saw all the guys running up front stayed there. We thought about it after the race. That happened in Phoenix when it rained three or four years ago and only eight cars were on the lead lap. Some guys were stamping their feet because they didn't come in. Who would have believed it would rain out? I never would have thought that NASCAR was going to call that race so early.
"We're concentrating on Dover this week, and we've got to test Michigan between Dover and Pocono. We really haven't talked about Pocono all that much. We're probably going to take the car we raced this past weekend to Pocono, so that'll be an extra little confidence booster for Jimmy knowing he's going to be in that car. We've been good everywhere this year, so I think Jimmy's confidence level is at an all-time high right now. We're not going to treat Pocono any different than going to my home track in Loudon. You have to be on top of your game wherever you show up to be competitive in Winston Cup. Winston Cup is very hard to run in the top 20 nowadays. In Busch, maybe the top six is hard, but at the Cup level, 20 race teams are running in the top 20 on a weekly basis. To get there is hard. To stay there is even harder. We have to attack every weekend like it's our last and go for it.
"Having all the ingredients for that week. Some race car drivers are really good at some tracks and not as good at some others. That's some of it. Crew chiefs are comfortable at certain tracks, their programs are better on flat tracks and high banks on superspeedways. Everybody has different type of situations and every race team has strengths and weaknesses. That's why one race you finish 15th and the next race you finish fifth. You're just a little better at that certain facility or you didn't have any problems or you had good pit stops. Things happen quickly."