TRANSCRIPT FROM TELECONFERENCE WITH BILL ELLIOTT, NO. 00 BURGER KING NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES ENTRY FIELDED BY MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING Q: You've run three races with Michael Waltrip Racing so far this season. What are your goals heading into...
TRANSCRIPT FROM TELECONFERENCE WITH BILL ELLIOTT, NO. 00 BURGER KING
NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES ENTRY FIELDED BY MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING
Q: You've run three races with Michael Waltrip Racing so far this season. What are your goals heading into this weekend's race at California Speedway?
Bill Elliott: I think we will be better than we were at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We gained a lot at Indy. I've talked to Michael and Larry over the last few weeks. We've got a better car for California Speedway. They've gained on it and at least they have had a little bit of more time to work on things.
Q: Talk about NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow test last week at Michigan International Speedway and how was testing a Toyota Camry for the first time?
Bill Elliott: I don't know really what exactly to say. Obviously it's going to take some figuring out from a lot of different people for everybody to be kind of on the same page. I guess they are trying to get a lot of stuff done before next year rolls around. It's going to take everybody kind of getting on the same page. NASCAR was pleased with how well the cars ran. In order to be truly competitive, it's just going to take some sorting out. Who gets it figured out first is going to be the cat to beat for a while.
Q: How much do you and other drivers enjoy going to California not so much at the track, but more so away from the track?
Bill Elliott: There's a lot to do around there. The only downside is that there is a lot of traffic. You've got to pick the right time and what you want to do. There's a lot to do. The Los Angeles area has a lot to offer.
Q: How important is the market?
Bill Elliott: I'm sure it's important for mainly the sponsors of NASCAR. Basically, I think it's important to all the people who put money into these cars that need to be in that area.
Q: It looks like Rick Hendrick is going to have three teams in the Chase this year. He's coming up on 150 victories. You've driven for some great car owners like Junior Johnson, Harry Melling and you even had your own team for a while. Where do you think Rick Hendrick ranks in the history of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team owners?
Bill Elliott: I'd say among the great is where he ranks. He's been around since the early 80's. He's been involved in some sort of racing ever since I've known him. Whether he was driving and competing in the early 80's to what he finally built and what it's grown into today. Look how many years it's taken him to put these deals together. Between him and Roush and all the people who are trying to do this week in and week out, my hats off to those guys. Rick's been a good guy and he's been good for the sport. He's worked hard and done what he's needed to do. I've been very impressed with him.
Q: Talk a little bit more about the Car of Tomorrow. What were kind of your first impressions of it compared to what everybody had told you about it? Did you like the way it ran?
Bill Elliott: It seemed to drive pretty decently. It wasn't totally out to lunch like some people led us on to believe. There again the first evolution of these cars that had some growing pains so to speak with them. Whether or not it's going to do ultimately what NASCAR wants it to do, I have no idea. My first prerogative is if it's for the safety of the driver I'm 100% for it. If it's for other reasons, then I don't know.
It's going to be a learning curve for everyone, but at least everyone is going to be on the same page. On the flipside, the guys have some work to do. Then again the cars ran well up there. It was encouraging compared to some earlier evolutions of these cars when they first started.
Q: Can you give us an update as to where you stand next year?
Bill Elliott: Well, I stand on two feet and that's for certain. I really don't know. I honestly don't know. I'm trying to sort through some stuff right now and try to figure out where I'm going to land. I guarantee you I'll be the first to know.
Q: What is it like when you are not in the Chase? In those final 10 races, are you still excited when you go to those races or do you feel like you're a little bit out of it?
Bill Elliott: I look at it in a different respect anyway. I don't have the pressure of getting into the top-10 and having to compete in the top-10 in the last 10 races. So, I'm in a whole different environment. I've been through that. The pressure is hard enough. You can see it within the teams that are struggling to try to make it into the top-10. Then it's another struggle for them to do what they need to do for the last 10 races. You still go to compete and run well and have a good afternoon regardless if you are in it or not. It's just like the guys that don't have a chance to win. If you are not there trying, you'll never have a chance. At least if you are there and you are trying to compete and doing what you need to do then you are at least putting yourself in an opportunity to run well. My definition of a good afternoon is being competitive and running with people you need to run with. You set your goals where you can have a definite outlook of where you need to be, but you don't set unrealistic goals, where you are totally out of the ballpark. This race today is very competitive and there are a lot of good teams and a lot of good people.
Q: I just got an advance copy of your new book. When it comes out, what's the main thing you think the public will get from it other than the history of your life and your racing?
Bill Elliott: Well, I hope that's what they get out of it. The main thing is just what a struggle we went through and what was all entailed behind the scenes of what my life was all about. Early on I was totally dedicated to what I did and we worked very hard and put a lot of effort into it. We got a lot of credit for what we did, but I don't think people really knew how hard it was for us to do what we did.
Q: You said before that you thought it might take Toyota a little while to sort things out with their program. Do you think they have an accurate handle on how long it's going to take and what's it going to take and are their goals realistic at this point? J
Bill Elliott: I don't think you are going to be just looking at Toyota, but you are going to be looking at the Car of Tomorrow too. It's a good time for a manufacturer to come in to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. All of the cars are going to have the same templates. With all the stuff going on today, it's going to be easier. You will have more access to technology today then if you were a new manufacturer coming to the sport 15 or 20 years ago. If you look back in the 80's and the early 90's when you had Pontiac in there and you had Buick early on. You had a lot of different manufacturers. In the early 80's when they downsized the cars, the Pontiacs had a real good advantage. For a manufacturer to come in today with all the cars having the same templates, NASCAR doing all the stuff they are doing like impounding cars, taking cars to the wind tunnel and stuff like that, it's a perfect time to come in. You are going to be able to jump start a little quicker than you would be starting on a clean sheet of paper. They've already got their technology for their engines because they've run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and they have a pretty good history of that. Now, all they've got to do is make sure they have the teams in place to put the pieces of the puzzle together. That's kind of what I see.
Q: With all the new teams coming in next year, I'm sure teams are looking at you. How much do you think they are looking at your statistics and don't you have a championship provisional?
Bill Elliott: Dale Jarrett will take that because he is the most recent champion. That will put me totally out and I will have to earn my way in. I think Dale is even more recent than Terry (Labonte). That was pretty smart on Michael's part to do what they did and hire Dale.