Continued from part 1a Q: My question is I was hoping to sort of pick your brain on the strategy of going into this race. Is it going to be sort of an all hands on deck for the ...
Continued from part 1a
Q: My question is I was hoping to sort of pick your brain on the strategy of going into this race. Is it going to be sort of an all hands on deck for the #48, the 5 team and the 24, or is some of the attention only going to shift to the 48? How is that going to work?
RICK HENDRICK: All the guys want to win a race. It's really - you can't hardly prepare for what can happen during a race. Our guys are definitely - they want to race Jimmie hard for one or two spots, but if it comes down to Brian winning a race or Jeff winning a race, Jimmie will be probably quicker to yield his position to them just like with Kevin on Sunday. He got his nose under there, but it wasn't smart to go ahead and try to race him hard on the last lap and take a chance of getting wrecked.
The strategy is really going to be - everybody will be keenly aware that Jimmie is running for the championship. You know, you've got so many other situations there. You've got Jeff trying to move up if he can, Kyle and Brian wanting to win a race. Those guys are going to Homestead to win a race now. That's what they want to do is win. They're on their own. These guys are so hungry to win another race - and we're very fortunate everybody has won a race and a pole this year, so we don't have the pressure that nobody went winless this year. Brian wants to win another one before he goes and Kyle has had some bad luck so he's looking at Homestead as a good track.
They're all conscious. I'll be on the radio if they start racing each other hard, like I am every week. I always come on and say, "Hey, guys, think about the big picture," even if it's the first race of the year. I hate to see them run that hard against each other. I think they'll be cautious but they want to win the race.
MODERATOR: We've got a very full call today and we'll keep moving along to the rest of your peers who are going to join us. I want to thank you for leading it off and good luck on Sunday.
RICK HENDRICK: Thank all the folks for covering our sport so well. We appreciate it.
MODERATOR: We are joined now by Richard Childress, who is the team owner for Kevin Harvick's #29 team. Kevin is 3rd in the points standings heading into Sunday's season finale at Homestead. Richard, you've done this before with other drivers, but this one would be special, I know, to try to win that thing on Sunday.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It would be, but if you look at the numbers, it's going to take a whole lot of things to go right to win it.
Like I told my guys today at our luncheon is never give up until you're mathematically out of it. That's what we will be doing; we'll be going in there and trying to win the race.
Q: Can you talk for a moment about the evolution of Kevin Harvick over the last five years, getting to the point where he's at today, on the edge of possibly winning the title?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I knew Kevin was going to be a great race driver. He's won championships in previous series, and came in and won the championship under the most difficult situation any driver ever could have been put under, getting into a car when we lost Dale in 2001 and winning Rookie of the Year and finishing 9th in the points that year and missing a race and still winning the Busch Championship. I think that said a lot about what Kevin Harvick was made of in those days.
He's just maturing constantly. I see new things about him, I see his attitude, I see so much that I think he's just matured so much over the last three or four years.
Q: Good luck this weekend. I want to ask you about the state of the Chase as you look at it now. What do you make of going into this final race where everything is shaking out, and if anything should be changed, what should it be?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: This is our first year in it, and we're still trying to get a grasp on it. I can't see - even when we didn't make it the first two years of the Chase, I couldn't see a need for a lot of change.
I think the biggest thing was the hype that's built up around it. I didn't really realize how big it was until we were in it this year. I knew it was huge, but it's been an eye opener for everyone at RCR and I know our drivers.
We were just happy to be in it this year, and now we are down to the wire and sitting there in 3rd and some things have got to go our way to win the championship.
Q: What, if anything, do you do this week? Are you going go to go out on a limb and be aggressive to try to go for it?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We tested really well with Kevin and Jeff and Clint, all three of them tested really well, and we're going to go out and give it everything we've got, and Kevin will definitely be going for the win. We've got to try to come out of there with 185 points just like we did this last Sunday.
Q: Thanks for being on. Could you just talk a little bit about how you weigh the pros and cons of having a driver who competes in the Busch Series and is really in the mix for a title? I'm thinking particularly about Kevin continuing to compete after clinching, and now that you're so close, any kind of second thoughts about how you draw the line about what your drivers can do and can't do?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: No, Liz. Where we're at on that is we made commitments earlier in the year to sponsors and to companies, and you have to live up to your obligations at whatever the deal is. We just felt that we needed to live up to those obligations, and that's what we did.
I know we caught flak for going to Memphis, but I don't think that had anything to do with our performance. We felt we were pretty good when we left that morning after that practice.
I wouldn't change anything. It's always been our belief if you tell people you're going to do something; you've got to live up to your obligations.
Q: You touched on this when you first got on the conference call about you have a lot of ground to make up in one race. Is this sort of surprising you that over the last 30 or so years that there hadn't been a scenario where it was closer and drivers were catching the leader at the last race?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, it has been. I can think back to - I think we lost the championship to Rusty Wallace in '89 by 12 points. We lost it in 2000 to Jeff Gordon by less than 100 I think it was, and there's been several close championships. When Alan Kulwicki won it I think three or four different guys could have won that. So there has been some good close challenges for the championship. But if you think what's happened over the last three years, you're sitting here now with a huge group of guys that could have been in it with ten to go, and when you re ante, you've got ten guys that's in it.
All of us can look back; Jimmie Johnson can look back and say if this hadn't happened, this is where we'd be, or the guys at 10th, Kevin or Jeff. We led the first five races the Chase and we won three of the Chase races, and here we are, we're still sitting in 3rd place with Kevin.
You can't look back and say "what if" because every driver in that Top 10 could say the same thing. You don't look back; you've got to look forward and say, hey, we're going to Homestead, try to get 185 points and go from there.
Q: Thank you very much for coming on and congratulations on another win this last weekend. You mentioned that here you were, 1st place for five races, you've had three wins in the Chase, and yet it's been such a roller coaster ride. If Kevin can pull it out on Sunday, do you think that this would rank this championship as one of your best?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, any time you can win, back then in Winston Cup or now in NEXTEL Championship, every one of them were the best. Even the last one we won with Dale in '94 was the best. This one will be right considered at the best.
All championships if you get to that level of just running for it, it's great. But the guy that walks out of there Sunday night at Homestead with that championship, it will be his best championship because they're so hard to come by.
Q: I had a couple questions. First off, this is a new experience for the Chase. What has this Chase taught you about what maybe you need to do more with your teams for future chases? What did you guys learn about this Chase?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: That's a great question because that's kind of what I touched on this morning with all three of our drivers in a meeting we had.
We would definitely do a few things a little different. I think going into the Chase, not that we weren't prepared, I told everyone if we made the Chase, we felt we would be a challenge for the championship, and here at the end we are making a challenge for it. I just feel bad for Jeff Burton.
We would probably look at a couple of things a little different.
Q: How so?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I can't tell. If you tell you'll lose your secrets then.
Q: Certainly Jimmie Johnson deserves a lot of praise; five straight finishes in 1st or 2nd certainly got him back into this Chase. Has the Chase been as much about guys letting things slip away? Johnson was down 165 points after three races. I think back to a lot of teams that had problems; your team with Jeff had tire troubles in two different races, with the engine at Martinsville, Kevin and the engine at Dover and Atlanta has not been a track he's figured out and other guys have had problems. Has this been not only Jimmie having success but everybody else letting him back in it when it looked like you guys had him down after three races?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, again, I said earlier that all ten of these drivers could look back and say "what if." The engine problems and the transmission and engine on Kevin and the engine on Jeff will plague us because those were things that were in our control. Cutting the tires down like Jim did in those two straight races, that's something I really haven't got an answer for.
And Kevin, we just flat missed a setup in Atlanta. And I'm sure Jimmie could say, hey, if I hadn't have wrecked at New Hampshire, or Kyle Busch, who I think may be 10th now, could say if this hadn't have happened, I'd be up there for it.
All ten guys in this Chase I think deserve to be there, and Jimmie has just had such a strong run these last few weeks. If those guys had done their homework they'd be performing.
Q: Chevrolet has dominated in '06, and in your mind what has GM done to enable that? And given that Jack Roush had five cars in last year, did you expect more from Roush and Ford this year?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I did, but this sport, I've been in it a long time, and no one ever stays on top. It's kind of hard to keep coming back and repeating and repeating, and in the years we've won championships we'd have two good years and a bad year, two good years and a bad year. You look through the history of the sport, and it's just hard to stay there year after year after year.
A lot of it is personnel; people hire your personnel or there will be a driver change, or for whatever reason, things just don't click. Something will change in the bodies or engines or something that makes a difference, and I'm sure that we haven't heard the last of Jack Roush's organization for sure.
Q: You've raced Chevrolet for a long time. Do you see anything different '05, '06, going into '07 than you did in '93 and '94 when you and Dale were winning championships?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Not really. I mean, there's been some really strong runs this year by the Fords. They've won some races.
Greg Biffle has had some terrible luck; he's been very strong in a lot of races. I think with Robert's teams right now, they're going through some challenges right now. It's just been a thing that's caused them, and I think Jack and those guys will figure it out if I know those guys.
MODERATOR: Richard, thanks for joining us today. I know you have an obligation you have to meet. Thank you very much. We appreciate you taking the time, and good luck on Sunday.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Thank you, and thank all the press for everything y'all have done for us this year. You've really done well for RCR and our drivers, and I'd just like to take this time to thank y'all.
-credit: gm racing
See also Part 2 of the teleconference
NCCS teleconference, part 2a