G. Zipadelli interview

GREG ZIPADELLI , CREW CHIEF, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO PREPARE FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE?) "There were just a lot of unknowns. We try to do the best we can with things that you think might happen, whether it be...

GREG ZIPADELLI , CREW CHIEF, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO PREPARE FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE?) "There were just a lot of unknowns. We try to do the best we can with things that you think might happen, whether it be motor problems and things. Nobody really knew what was going to happen. We didn't know where we were at compared to other people. It's not something like Daytona and Talladega. We've raced against them three times there with restrictor plates. We know we may be weak in body or motor, whatever it is, so you go work hard in that area. Here we really didn't know, so I think it added a little bit of extra stress. But everybody was in the same situation. It worked out great for the '18' car. The '20' car, we needed to work on our fuel mileage a little bit better."

(HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT RUNNING ANOTHER PLATE RACE IN ADDITION TO TALLADEGA?) "I understand what they're doing and appreciate it, and I agree, and have said all year long that I think we need to get the speeds down in these race cars - one for safety, and two, it's going to make a better race because everything is going to work out a little bit better. The restrictor plate, I'm not a big fan of, but it was the easiest, most effective way that they could do what they needed to do in a short period of time. They did what they had to do. It wasn't a very good race. I was very frustrated all weekend. My driver wasn't a big fan of it. Working on your car and maybe being able to out-drive somebody - it took a lot of that out. Whenever they do that and you've got a good team or you feel like you've got one of the best drivers in the business, it makes it more frustrating. There are probably people that liked it because maybe it helped them. I guess that's what makes this world we live in so interesting - it's going to help some, hurt some. I hope it's not something we're going to look at and go to in the future. I think there are a lot of other ways we could be effective in slowing the speeds down, making the race better, putting a little bit more strategy and some things back into the sport."

(WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO YOU HAVE?) "I think there are two things. One is the aero. Our cars have gotten better and every year we keep working harder to try to make them better. Ford and Chevrolet came out with a new car and that brought out new standards this year - stuff we've never seen before. I think we need to find a way to stop that. I'm not sure how that is, whether we just go to the wind tunnel three or four times a year and say, 'We're not going to have anymore than 1,200 pounds of downforce on any car. That's all we're allowing.' Then, the tires. Goodyear has done a phenomenal job with adjusting to every time we come to the racetrack with a new car that's got more downforce. There is more load in the right front at a lot of these banked tracks. They're concerned with that. They go and build a new tire. Well, with their technology it's usually faster. It usually runs faster for a longer period of time. So I think we almost need to go back to tires that we had two years ago or three years ago that gave up more. I want to see us have to pit more and I want to see more pit strategy, and not be afraid to come down pit road with 20 laps to go and put tires on because you know you're going to get up there. It's more of a track position race right now. It's frustrating, but once a couple do it, then everybody's got to do it. You've got to play the game. So I think they could do it with tires that gave up more."

"It would make the drivers have to think and use their car for a longer period of time. Now you can pretty much go out and run as hard as you want for a fuel run. Now that's great - it keeps costs down as far as tires. But our speeds are up at all these racetracks and they don't need to be there.

"I think between that and aero and maybe even motor - downsizing the motor, but just keeping the acceleration - leaving us with a big carburetor and just taking some cubic inches. I think those are three easy ways that they could come up with a package -- which would probably be more difficult than you and I just sitting here talking about it - which makes it fair for everybody."

(HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES IN THE LAST FIVE OR SIX YEARS MADE THE CARS TOO FAST FOR SOME TRACKS?) "There are some tracks we go to where the speeds are like, 'Wow!' I think a lot of the technology we've gained, like I said, is horsepower, aero and tires. Those are the three key things, along with having a good group of people to be able to do it. But those are the three things that I think need to be looked at. There is an awful lot of technology at places like Goodyear, General Motors and Ford, making these cars that much better in bodies, new designs and things. There are just a lot of people working. That's our job, is to work that way. We've just got to find a way to pull everybody back."

(IS PART OF THE ANSWER TO "DIRTY UP" THE AERODYNAMICS?) "I think if they put more drag in them and they make it equal for everybody, that would certainly help. What is the easiest way of doing it? I don't know if there is any big solution to it. But I think you're right. If you went back to what stuff looked like a little bit ago - now it's like manufacturers kind of build their street version to be a good race car. We need to take advantage of that and utilize it the best we can."

(WHAT MAKES TONY STEWART SO GOOD AT DOVER?) "I think it's a racetrack where the driver has to focus on the racetrack and drive the racetrack. He's not scared. That's one of those places that you kind of have to have no fear, I believe. We've been able to get good cars for him the three times we've been there. Due to the strong team that's here at Joe Gibbs Racing, we've been able to go to places like that with good cars right off the bat. That has let our team learn at a lot of places really quick. I think Tony just does really well at places that there is a challenge. You have to go and race the racetrack. It's strange he likes going to Darlington - that's a place a lot of people don't like --and road courses. They are more of a challenge where he can contribute more than at some other racetracks."

(WHAT DO YOU DO AS A CREW CHIEF TO PREPARE TO RUN WELL AT DOVER?) "Honestly, you need everything. You really need to have a car that handles well. We've been very fortunate to get our car to kind of run along the bottom there, where a lot of people can't, so it's made our runs that we've had very well because we've had a car that really handles well. Our motor shop does a phenomenal job in the horsepower department. That's kind of like not even an issue to us. We know we're going to go with something better than we had the week before. But handling is a big part of it."

(ON THE RUMORS OF SOME PERSONNEL CHANGES COMING AT JOE GIBBS RACING AT THE END OF THE SEASON) "They're always looking at what is best for the whole team and trying to progress. Jimmy (Makar) is basically active in that role (team manager) right now and does a great job for the whole organization."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing