Dodge This! Media Teleconference Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2003 RAY EVERNHAM (Team Owner, Evernham Motorsports) "We're certainly proud of everybody. We don't look at it like (Bill's) in the twilight of his career. I think everybody on the team has...
Dodge This! Media Teleconference
Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2003
RAY EVERNHAM (Team Owner, Evernham Motorsports)
"We're certainly proud of everybody. We don't look at it like (Bill's) in the twilight of his career. I think everybody on the team has had enough experience that we look at it that that's our job. Dodge has hired us to win races. I think for the first time in awhile things have aligned, where the cautions fell in our favor and the setups and things like that. I think it was just a good weekend to prove that Evernham Motorsports is a strong organization, and it's continuing to build. We brought in a Busch car and it ran well, along with both Cup cars and the pit crews. It was a good time to draw a line in the sand for us and say, 'Look, we really have built something good here, and we now have another stepping stone.' "
"We're looking at doing some Busch engine programs next year, because we've got to continue to grow our engine facility. So, we were testing to find out if we could build a good Busch engine. Plus, we felt like it would help our Winston Cup cars if we could be involved with Busch on Saturday, and it absolutely did at Rockingham. Hopefully we can do that some more next year."
"I feel happier for the guys, because I know that everybody works really hard and they all really want the same goal. It's like watching your kids now, as they grow up. Maybe they struggle in little leagues and things like that. But finally, they get to be starters and they get to be accomplished players. I feel really good about seeing some of the things that have happened in the engine shop and the car building shop and the way the teams are working together. It makes me really proud on a day like Sunday when you see the No. 19 guys celebrating as sincerely as the No. 9 guys did. We truly are one organization, one team that races two cars."
On Elliott's decision for 2004...
"I try not to comment on any of those things. Bill and I have talked about a lot of things, and we've got a lot of options. We've both just agreed that for right now one of the things that was really important and was a major goal for this team was to put Bill Elliott up on the stage in New York once before he retired. That's all we're focusing on this week. I guess he and I are going to sit down after Homestead and talk about what our final plans are going to be."
"I think we've got to run either 28th or 29th with Bill at Homestead and he'll be in the top-10. I don't want to say that it's a turning point, but it'll be another rung on the ladder of somewhere that we were sure that we could get to. Certain things give teams confidence to be ahead. The No. 19 team has struggled sometimes during the race in pit stops. When they performed on Saturday and got fourth in the overall pit crew competition, for the first time in their history they took the lead on a pit stop. I think if we can complete the goal of getting a driver in the top-10, and now three straight years in the business we've got at least one win for a season, those things are the things that carry the momentum to get you to the next level."
"You try to be as honest with everybody as you can. Then you give them the information that you know. I like to keep the people up to date. I like to keep them informed. Sometimes, when you really don't know what's going on, all you've got to do is be honest with them. The rumors do hurt. They really do. A lot of the things that are written just aren't true. It's hard enough to hold a deal together. It's very, very hard to hold a good team together in a competitive environment like this. When people are worried about their jobs or worried about changes, all of a sudden they start looking or moving around. Sometimes some of those rumors and things can be very damaging. Especially when you don't have a set plan."
"I think I've learned the things that you always assume. Bill's kind of a private person. But, once you get to know him, you realize that he's just a good guy. He's a good guy to be friends with. He's a lot of fun. He's got really a good sense of humor, and he's very good to people behind the scenes. Bill Elliott does a lot of charity work, and he does a lot of things in his local town, and he helps a lot of friends of his that he never talks about. You'd never know those things unless you were close to him. I knew Bill Elliott was a great driver - that's why I hired him. But, honestly, I didn't understand how good he really was until I got to work closely with him. He's a very, very good racecar driver."
"If Bill does decide not to drive full-time next year, it's not like we're never going to speak again. Bill Elliott is going to remain a friend of mine no matter what he decides. When I hired Bill I knew he was on the later end of his career. We talked about that. We knew that some day he was going to have to make a decision, whether it's this year, next year or two years from now. We've also laid out a plan for Bill to be involved with me, helping me run the business, helping me train these new drivers and helping me keep these race teams going. I think Bill Elliott, as a friend and an asset, as long as I'm in business will probably be involved with me in some way, shape or form."
"I had hope, but we didn't really sit down and talk about it at that time. The reason I hired him was because I knew the guy who could help me build my team and win races right off the bat. He's been our anchor. He's kind of been the rock that we've built this team around. I've been racing a long time - 30 years - and it's been one of the best experiences of my life, having a guy like Bill Elliott."
On looking at F-1 technology...
"There's technology out there. Certainly we have communication with the people at McLaren, but so do some of the other teams - Hendrick with BMW and Ferrari and things like that. As the racing gets more technical, I knew five years ago as a crew chief when I was getting towards the end of my crew chief days, that someday you're not going to be able to beat that black box. I felt like I was a good crew chief, but I'm still not smarter than a computer. I knew when we started this team, if we took a little step back - there were other people who came out of the box faster than us and we took a lot of criticism, everybody expected us to win 10 races right off the bat - well, I can't do all of those things by myself. I knew in the future it was going to be about simulation and CFD and a lot of the new technology that an older crew chief like myself - and I know that sounds funny, older crew chief - but really it's a night and day difference with what we're doing with the racecars now as compared to how we set them up five years ago. One of the things that I wanted to do was build Evernham Motorsports in the shape of a Formula 1 type organization. In some ways that's hurt us, and I really think that's starting to benefit us now, and five years from now it'll even be a bigger benefit because we'll have more of a head start on the technology."
"I feel good for the people at Dodge. They're second in the manufacturer's points right now. They've made a huge commitment to this sport. When they came back in they made a long-term commitment. They're here. They're real. I think it's great, and I'm proud to be able to have gotten into victory lane for the Dodge Dealers. Dodge as a manufacturer certainly sponsors and helps all of the other cars, but specifically the Dodge Dealers are involved in sponsoring our car along with the United Auto Workers, and I'm really proud to at least get their car into victory lane."
On running Busch in 2004...
"There's obviously a lot of other things that have got to fall in line, again, what we're doing with the Winston Cup cars and whatnot. I want to be able to do a couple of Busch engine programs. I would love to be able to run my own Busch car, to enter 15 times next year with Jeremy driving it because I feel like it can help that team while they're still growing. But, again, a lot of that is going to be sponsorship driven. It was pretty much a one-off deal that we did at Rockingham, and we were hoping that something good would come out of it. So, we'll see if maybe Mountain Dew and some of the people that were involved in that would be interested in continuing."
"The end result is to win the game. In order for us to win the game, my goal is a Winston Cup Championship as a car owner. I have three goals. I want to win a Winston Cup Championship as a car owner, I want to win a Daytona 500 and a Brickyard 400. Now, we've already won the Brickyard 400, so we've got to win the Daytona 500 and a Winston Cup Championship. In order to do that, just like a Rubix cube, you've got to move those pieces around to get them lined up. Now, we've certainly got some of the cube lined up and a lot of the colors lined up, but as you know if you make one wrong move with a Rubix cube sometimes you've got to start over and make a lot of other moves. Right now, we're on the right path. I expect, certainly, some bumps in the road. But if you build a good, strong organization like a Junior Johnson did and like Rick Hendrick did, sometimes people will come and go, drivers will come and go, crew chiefs will pick crew members, but if you build a good strong organization you'll eventually get there. Our goal, obviously, is to win a driver's championship for the people at Dodge."
"Our engine people have confidence. We're starting to build our own chassis, our own bodies. Certainly, the No. 19 team is 100% intact for next year. Hopefully, whatever happens with the No. 9 team, we can not lose that momentum and keep going forward."