FELIX SABATES (Car owner SABCO Chevrolet MontWhee Carlos) NOTE: Joe Nemechek's victory on Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway was his first in 180 career starts on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. "I was at the Panthers football...
FELIX SABATES (Car owner SABCO Chevrolet MontWhee Carlos)
NOTE: Joe Nemechek's victory on Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway was his first in 180 career starts on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit.
"I was at the Panthers football game Sunday with my nephews and grand kids. I watched the whole race. I wouldn't have gone unless I knew they had two televisions inside the suite. When they dropped the checkered flag I knew we could win. I don't take anything for granted. We have too many things happen to us. Tony Stewart was pretty good, but I don't believe Tony could have passed Joe. He might have gotten up to him. Tony came out of traffic a little bit better than Joe did, but I don't believe Tony could pass him. That car would have been 14 feet wide.
"We made a decision and you can't look back on the decision you make. I made a decision based on what I thought was best for my race team long term and Joe Nemechek long term. I'm not saying it did or didn't, but maybe that put a spark in Joe, a desire in him. I think when Robert Yates said Joe could qualify but couldn't finish, I think Joe had something to prove there. I never had any question about Joe's ability. It's just that things were not meshing the way they should have been. That's why I made the change. Things just weren't clicking together. There was just something missing. If I knew what it was, I would have fixed it. We spent two and a half years together and didn't have any success. All of a sudden we made the changes and he finished sixth at Darlington and he won at New Hampshire. I hope he wins two or three more this year. That would make for a great story.
"You can't look back on decisions you make. When you make a decision, you've thought about it hard. You can't go back and change a decision. It doesn't do anybody any good. We'll announce what we're going to do in November at Atlanta.
"I told Joe a month ago that winning is like sex. The more you do it, the more you like it. If you win a race, you might win two or three by the end of the year. I always thought Joe would be a streaker. If he did well, if he won a race, he'd win two or three more. He can do it. If I didn't believe it, I would take him out of the car. Joe's got a lot of ability. Unfortunately, things didn't click. Joe is auditioning for a ride. I'm not saying he didn't try before, but things didn't click before. Maybe he's making things click now.
"You don't have that many winners out there. You've got some old guys that are winners like Ricky Rudd. He's a winner, but he's also old. Joe is still young. If you were a car owner and wanted to hire a winning driver today, you don't have too many choices.
"I was in the hospital when we won Rockingham with Kyle in 1993, so this isn't the first time one of my cars has won and I haven't been there. I watched that one on television, too. Joe left this morning to go to Phoenix to test his Busch car. He didn't get to celebrate his victory too long. He's got a big bonus coming. I don't know what it is yet. I gave Kyle a Rolls Royce and a motorcycle. I gave Gary Nelson a '57 T-Bird. I gave the crew a boat. Every time we win a pole or race, somebody in the race shop gets a watch. This year I've given away three Rolexes. I gave T.L. Styles, he's one of our fabricators, a Rolex this morning. It's based on seniority. He's been with us about 10 years. I had so much confidence this year that at the beginning of the year I went out and bought five Rolexes. I figured we'd either win five races or five poles or a combination of the two. So far, we've used three of the five and we've got eight races to go. If now, those Rolexes won't spoil.
"As a car owner you expect to win every week, but you've got to be realistic. You can't. That was Joe's day in the sun yesterday. I didn't see it as an upset. Derrike Cope winning the Daytona 500 wasn't an upset because he was running second when Dale Earnhardt blew up. He was there all day long, so I don't consider that an upset. Yesterday, I think my race team was as good as anybody else. Our car and engine were as good as anybody else's. We haven't had quite the organization with the driver and crew meshing, but we've come a long way. I felt pretty positive.
"I said at the beginning of the year that we would win a race before the year was over. I was sticking my neck out, but I wouldn't have said that last year. The cars run the same and the equipment is the same, so I wasn't surprised that Joe won before Sterling. Sterling could have won a couple of races this year. We just had bad luck with him. He finished fourth at Pocono in the first race. He won the pole, but the car was torn all to hell in the race and he still finished fourth. We've had some bad luck. I hope it's turned around.
"The last three weeks, SABCO has had the highest finishing Chevrolet. It shows you how good the Pontiacs and Fords are. Pontiac is the best car right now. I'm glad we switched to Chevrolet. We'll buff that new 2000 Monte Carlo, and it'll be a good race car.
"I'm not going to Dover and I'm not going to Martinsville. I'm doing a charity for cancer research one week. I'm the chairman of that, and I'd rather drink a bottle of laxative than go to Dover. I don't like that place. I've won there before, and we always run good there. I just don't like it. It's too long of a race. They should cut it to 200 laps. You go out and wear out tires and have a lot of wrecks and the purse pays nothing."