This Week in Ford Racing September 3, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, was this week's guest on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series teleconference. He, along with crew chief Bill Wilburn, spoke about ...
This Week in Ford Racing
September 3, 2002
NASCAR Winston Cup
Rusty Wallace, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus, was this week's guest on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series teleconference. He, along with crew chief Bill Wilburn, spoke about Saturday's race at Richmond in addition to other issues.
BILL WILBURN, Crew Chief --2-- Miller Lite Taurus
ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO BE AS AGGRESSIVE AS RUSTY IS THIS WEEKEND? "We'll definitely be aggressive this weekend. We need to try to win that pole and we want to lead all the laps we can and put that thing in victory lane. I mean, a million dollars is a huge incentive on top of that, but we need to get our first win for the year and get back in this points thing. We struggled a bit at Darlington, but we're gonna hopefully turn everything back around at Richmond."
HAVE THE TIRES CHANGED TRACK SETUPS? "This year we've focussed in on that tire situation a lot harder and it's definitely changed our setups. We've done some testing this year and at Richmond we went back up there after the Richmond race with NASCAR and Goodyear both and ran last year's tire and this year's tire -- one versus the other -- and some of the stuff we learned was quite a bit different than what we had seen in the past. Of course, the sealer on the race track was an issue also as far as Richmond is concerned. We're looking at a different setup this time. I'm don't know exactly where we'll end up for the race. We're gonna have to look at the race track. They ran the IRL race and a couple other events I think, so it might change our final setup, but we're definitely gonna go back a little different than what we did in the spring as far as setup goes."
HOW HAS THE TIRE CHANGED RACE STRATEGY? "It's changed it a lot. The tires don't seem to fall off. They're pretty hard and they don't wear out. You run just about as fast at 100 laps as you do at the first lap, so the need for tires is not there so you stay out. If a handful of guys or 10 or 12 guys are gonna stay out and you pit, you're 12th and you can't pass anybody to begin with, so it's changed the strategy a lot. We've spent a lot of time this year with either two tires or not pitting at all. Sometimes it's been good for us and sometimes it hasn't, but it all just depends on how your car is handling. I look for Richmond to be a situation where you don't pit unless you absolutely have to, just like Bristol."
WHAT PATH WOULD YOU SUGGEST FOR A YOUNG TECHNICIAN WANTING TO GET INTO THIS SPORT? "First of all, I think race experience is something you're gonna have to gather. If a young technician wants to be a crew chief, I think he has to find a team that would be willing to give him a chance first to gain some experience -- go to all the races and travel with the team and spend some time during the races up on the box with the crew chief or the people that plan and do the strategy in a race and pick up some race knowledge before you might want to take that position over. That would be my advice -- spend some time with a guy that's already a crew chief or has been a crew chief -- pick up some knowledge in that respect as far as race procedure -- just a general history of how things go. It always helps to have that knowledge before you just go up on top of the box and start making pit calls. There is a lot of stuff you can do with the numbers, but there is a lot of other stuff where I don't want to say shoot from the hip, but having the knowledge of history and how races unfold and some of the things you do during a race, I would say that would be something you'd want to pick up before you just say, 'Hey, I want to become a crew chief.'"
THE DODGE RUMOR IS STILL OUT THERE. CAN YOU GIVE US AN UPDATE? "Right now I'm building Fords. That's about the only thing I can say. They've definitely thought about it and we're looking at it. I know the rumors are out there, but, right now, all I know about is Ford. I haven't been told we're going to Dodge and I haven't been told that we're not going to Dodge, so I don't know anything at this point. Like I've said all year, I'd probably be one of the last ones to know."
ROGER HAS BEEN ON THE FENCE FOR SOME TIME NOW, BUT THERE WAS A REPORT THAT DODGE ENGINES HAVE SHOWED UP AT YOUR SHOP. "In this business, everything tends to end up at the last minute, but I don't know. I know there has been some stuff looked at as far as the Dodge goes. I know at one point when we were getting ready to make the change to Ford, we looked at Ford engines, Ford bodies and all that type of stuff. I'm not saying that's an indication that we're going to Dodge, but I know we've definitely looked at that stuff. We've actually done some playing around with some Chevrolet stuff in the past just to make sure that we weren't losing something in comparison. But, as of right now, we're Ford and I've actually got some stuff we're working on for next year that is Ford stuff, so, until they tell me, I'm a Ford guy."
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR TRACKS TO DEVELOP A SECOND GROOVE? "I think as a track ages and it gets some laps on it and it lays in the hot sun and the cold winters the surface changes. I know last year there was a lot of talk about Kansas City being one lane and I know Loudon was definitely one lane this year. We've got a lot of race tracks that tend to be one lane, but Atlanta has become one of the better race tracks over time. It's three lanes. They run the bottom, the middle and the top and that's due to some aging. I haven't heard a lot of response from some of the teams. I think there has been some guys testing at Kansas City and I tend to think with the tire change, we're running a different tire there this time than last year, I think with that and a little more age on the track it will probably be a little more than one lane this time."
DOES THIS WINLESS STRING GRIND ON YOU AS BAD AS IT DOES RUSTY AND HOW DO YOU KEEP THE TEAM SPIRIT UP? "It definitely grinds on the driver, I know because there's a lot of stuff riding on us winning races. It grinds on us too because we're in here everyday working on these things. Our cars have been competitive. We've had some good runs this year. We've led some laps, probably not as many as we'd like to, but it definitely takes its toll. The way we look at it, our cars have run every lap of every race with the exception of a couple deals where we got in some crashes. Our maintenance is good. Our program is solid in that respect and we've had some races where we probably should have won. I remember Rockingham this year we were in contention and missed it a little bit at the end. Texas we were in contention. Bristol, obviously, we were right there. Indianapolis was another deal we put ourselves in contention to win and it just didn't happen. I mean, we're capable of winning we just haven't gotten it done yet. We go every week with that in the back of our mind. We know as a team we can win and we know our driver is capable of winning, so we just keep going back and stuff is gonna fall our way and we're gonna bust through. When we win a race, I'm thinking we're gonna be like Jeff Gordon where we're not gonna win one, we're gonna probably win two or three." Tuesday morning with all the road guys and pit crew and shop guys that are directly involved with the 2 side of it -- mainly just as information. But we have a little talk toward the end of that meeting where we try to pull the positives out of the week. It's easy to look at the negatives, but we always try to look at the positives and things that went right and things we did right or things we did better than the week before. When we leave that meeting we're all on the same page. The next race is Richmond. We're pumped up about it. We've got a big incentive to go there, not only to win our first Winston Cup race of the year, but to win that Winston Million. We leave that room with our issues resolved and a positive attitude about winning the next week's race. We don't look two weeks down the road or three weeks down the road, we focus on the next job at hand, which is to win Richmond."
DO YOU LEARN MUCH FROM THE BUSCH RACE ON SATURDAY? "In some respects there are some things to be learned from the Busch race, but I don't believe there's anything to be gained. We've run our practice on the track and we've pretty well got our situation handled for Sunday. Now, if he were in the Busch race there might be some things that we can draw from that, but I don't really think we're gonna be able to walk out on the race track and look at it or go look at tires in the pits. Darlington is such an abusive place anyway on tires and stuff, so you know it's gonna be that way. Plus, it rained all Saturday afternoon and all night Saturday night right before we raced. In certain instances there are things to be learned, but that's probably something that we can learn ourselves. I spend some time out on pit road with different crew chiefs looking at tires and stuff, trying to take that information down. To be honest with you, I think it's great that he goes and plays golf. It gives him some time to get away and clear his mind and kind of get relaxed and calmed down and ready to go for the next day's event. For years, Rusty Wallace never did that. He spent his time at the race track 24/7 and I'll be honest with you, I think he's a lot calmer and his thought process is a lot clearer when he takes a little time away and relaxes. It's not a distraction, I don't think, but it just gives him a little something to clear his mind."
DO YOU WATCH THE BUSCH RACE? "Yeah. Like I say, I spend some time out there. That's our three or four hours that we get now with the maintenance on the car and trying to cement as much time right there with the car. We've got a lot of motor work that goes on now with this one-engine rule. That's our three hours to really go over that motor good and make sure that we don't miss something, so I spend a lot of my time trying to make sure the car's in good repair for the race. That's the only time we get. On Sunday morning we've got the driver's meeting to go to, and we've got this and that, so Saturday afternoon I try to spend all the time I can with the guys to make sure we don't miss something with that car."
BUT YOU SNEAK A PEAK AT THE BUSCH RACE? "Oh yeah, we're listening and watching. Like I said, I go out on pit road and talk to Brad Parrott, who is with Jeff Burton, because I know I can get good information there and some of the other guys on other Busch teams. I definitely gather information when it's available."
KENNY WALLACE WILL HELP, WON'T HE? "Oh yeah. Kenny and Rusty talk after the Busch race or Sunday morning, and that's another team we definitely look at what they do with tires and, basically, sometimes their setups as to what they've done and how their car ended up in the race -- if they were loose or tight or what direction the track tended to go. That's stuff we definitely look at."