NO. 00 BURGER KING NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES ENTRY FIELDED BY MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING Question: How was your first attempt in the No. 00 BURGER KING NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series entry with Michael Waltrip Racing at Chicagoland Speedway? Bill ...
NO. 00 BURGER KING NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES ENTRY FIELDED BY MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING
Question: How was your first attempt in the No. 00 BURGER KING NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series entry with Michael Waltrip Racing at Chicagoland Speedway?
Bill Elliott: Saturday was an interesting day. We lost an engine right off the bat in practice. We didn't get a lot of practice time at all. We went with one setup and then decided to go back to more of a conventional type of setup. We didn't know really where to start when the race started. We finally got the car pretty decent at the end of the day. We just need more time to figure it all out.
Question: What are your goals for New Hampshire International Speedway this weekend and how is testing progressingat Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Bill Elliott: We are going to try to keep things moving in the right direction at Loudon. We just need more time. I don't know how else to put it. We're trying to test here at Indy today and the weather has us bogged down. We plan on being back on tomorrow. We just need things to go smoothly so that we can get a better handle on things. The challenge is that everything happens so quick in this sport that you don't have time to massage things. We don't have notes to go back to the last time I ran there. It makes it difficult. Larry (Carter) is able to go back to what they ran there last time. I have a lot of confidence in Larry. JJWe haven't had much time on the track here at Indy. We didn't get on there yesterday until nearly lunch time. We ran a few laps before lunch break and we didn't have a lot of time yesterday because we were trying to get everything done. Having a short period of time to prepare for this test made it tough on the guys. Hopefully, we'll get in some good quality time on track tomorrow. That's what we need to do.
Question: Can you explain how you got involved with Michael Waltrip Racing for the number of races that you have signed on to do?
Bill Elliott: Ty Norris came to me and asked if I would consider it and I said yes. One thing led to another and I didn't have much else going on. I thought I'd give it a shot. We're just trying to get our stuff sorted out and get a little bit better. I'm a small part of this deal because Michael's got his deals coming together for next year and I'm kind of the filler of the sandwich so to speak.
Question: There's a lot of talk obviously about Toyota entering the sport next year. How do you see that playing out among the fan base?
Bill Elliott: I guess I have mixed emotions. If you look at it from one side it was made on American companies. There again look how long Toyota has been here and they've built plants over here and done a lot of things to support how they have come in. Granted it's not Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet or whatever. Still if you look at DaimlerChrysler, the German's own it.
It's a part of change and some people don't like change, but change is good. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out as time goes on because Toyota has done quite well in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. They feel like have earned their way in and by rights they've got just as much right to be here as anybody else. We'll have to see how they end up once the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series starts up next year. I know you are not talking too many months before next season starts. It's always difficult to talk about next season when you are not through the season you are in.
Question: They've talked about how Jeff Gordon's team were so hungry for a win and how they needed momentum at this point. Is this a new Jeff Gordon to you that you raced against years ago?
Bill Elliott: I think different times in your life breeds different things. If you look at it on tape he just barely got to Matt (Kenseth). It seems like there was another car they were lapping on the high side and I think he was probably too aggressive at that point and time and that he could have waited another corner. I don't really think Matt cut him off. I think Matt ended up where he had to be due to the track when they were passing.
Everybody has an opinion. You can look at different plays in different sports in 16 different ways. If you have multiple look at it, they are going to have a different opinion of how they perceived how it came down. You are going to have it from Jeff's (Gordon) side and you are going to have it from Matt's side and from other people that view it. Bottom line is that Jeff had a good car. He was probably going to beat him any way. Granted he has used that tactic before. I've seen him bump and run on Rusty (Wallace) at Bristol and a few other places. Whether he gets out and says what he says, I guess it can be just the way he feels that particular day.
Question: Are you considering more races next year or a full-time deal? Can you verify that and why would you want to look at something like that at this point in your career?
Bill Elliott: It would have to depend on the options. As I said in the past, I left a great deal with the 9 car in 2003 when I was burn out from running all the races. As I said in 2003 and a thousand times afterwards, when I decided I didn't want to run all the races, my ultimate goal was to run 12 to 15 races. With Ray's (Evernham) organization, the opportunity kind of went away with him starting a third deal. We were not in the position to continue on with a limited program. There were other options that came along, such as, the opportunity with Michael Waltrip Racing this season and I drove the MB2 car earlier this year at Daytona. Right now, I'm waiting to see what's out there. As I've said before, I want to give it a few more races and see what shakes out as time goes on. If it works out, I might consider it. If it doesn't, then it's not a big deal because I'll go do something else.
Question: Are you surprised as to how much interest there is in the number of veteran drivers? Ward Burton is trying to get back in and there's talk of Ricky Rudd and you. Compared to a few years ago, everybody wanted the next young driver. How have you seen that evolve to more people going with a veteran driver as opposed to someone with potential?
Bill Elliott: I guess you've got to look at the team to see what they are looking for and what they are trying to accomplish. The things that you have to look at with a rookie are how much time are you going to spend with the guy and is he going to make it or not. On the veteran side, you have the book to look at to know his record. He's a little more of a safer bet versus a kid that's come in off the street. Granted there's been some good ones come in, but they've still been around a while. You take Kasey (Kahne) for example. He came in and he was with (Robert) Yates for a while doing the Busch deal and different stuff. It wasn't like he just evolved overnight. The same goes for Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley. The teams spent a lot of time working them in. Those drivers were able to come in and step up to the plate pretty well. Then again, you need to look at the ones that have come in and haven't been able to do it. I guess it comes down to whether you've got the organization to do it. Jack Roush has built a solid program where he brings along a driver step-by-step and takes them to the next level and it's worked for them.
Question: Next year with the dollars there, do you think Toyota will have what it takes to compete with teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Racing?
Bill Elliott: I can't answer that. Until you can look into the future and figure it out. That's the same as asking if you are going to live through tomorrow. None of us know.
They've got the resources. I think Toyota's going to give it a good effort. The rest is that all the parts and pieces are going to have to fall into place. The next several months are going to be very key for them to be well prepared. They are going to have to do their homework for 2007. None of us know the answer to that question.
-Michael Waltrip Racing