Brickyard 400 Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript BILL ELLIOTT FRED NATION: What about those air dams? BILL ELLIOTT: What about them? NATION: Any questions for Bill Elliott, sitting number two on our second fastest? First question,...
Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript
FRED NATION: What about those air dams?
BILL ELLIOTT: What about them?
NATION: Any questions for Bill Elliott, sitting number two on our second fastest? First question, please.
As much as you've driven, what is just the immediate difference you can tell? Take us around the track in the Dodge now compared to when you tested here.
ELLIOTT: Immediate difference, not a lot. The key to this business is you try to set up with a package you have. Before the cars -- we couldn't get the nose down very well and we had the cars set up really, really loose to get them to go around the corner. We just had to work, back off that a little bit because the nose seemed to stick a little bit better; but we were set up really loose on top of that. So we've had to work around that on my particular car. On the other guys, I don't know.
Bill, in the early days of this race you did real well. Do you feel you're in a position now to maybe get that win that you've been seeking?
ELLIOTT: Well, the early days -- I'd say last year I had probably one of the best Indys I've ever run here. I finished third and I really had a good race car. At one time I was reeling Rusty and the 18 car down before the last run. But I mean that's last year and we've got to worry about this year. As I said earlier, I think the biggest key is going to be how this practice goes this afternoon and what the racetrack becomes tomorrow and how well we hit it tomorrow.
Bill, with what's taken place today and also just the course of the year, how tight the points race is, just address how competitive the season is and whether it's more so than usual.
ELLIOTT: Well, I don't know that it's more so than usual. The problem you have today is you've got so many cars that are running well. If you have any kind of problem during the day, you can't overcome it, just like D.J. last week; and you can either gain or lose a lot of points. That's where -- you know, you don't seem to see the consistency week in and week out. It's been more messed up a little bit. I kind of look at Mark and some of the guys where they had a lot of consistent top five finishes. Today if a guy don't make a pit stop or whatever, you can get jumbled around a lot easier today than you could last year or year before, whatever, because everybody is running so much closer together and track position is everything. Depending how the caution flags fall and the strategies that the teams use during the afternoon really determines where you're going to finish that afternoon.
Bill, I'm still a little bit dense on something you said in your earlier session in here. You were talking about y'all had to kind of take the down force that you had gained with the moving of the front air dam, you had to take that front end downforce back out of the car for qualifying, is that -
ELLIOTT: That ain't what I said. You are pretty dense. (Laughter)
I know, always have been. What did you say?
ELLIOTT: I just said the way we had the car set up, it was a lot freer, looser feel because you don't have the balance. And the balance in the car changes just a little bit and today you're not talking about much. You can be talking about -- and I'm just telling you how little of balance the car can change. You can go to the car and untape the nose and go out and run and just tape the nose up and it gives the car a lot different balance feel. That's basically the way the car felt is you just add a little bit more tape to the nose. And then we had to come back and readjust that back a little bit in the other direction for us. But some of these other guys, Casey unloaded and he was no different than he was when he tested here. So it just depends on how you had the car set up.
Bill, this will be dense and denser. Historically you've done well here every year and now you're in a different make of car. Why do you do so well here?
ELLIOTT: I really don't know how to answer that. When we came here, when I came here whenever we did the Goodyear tire test in the early '90s with Tim Brewer in Junior's car, I ran well here then. Ever since I've come back -- I don't know what it is about this place, it just seems to treat me pretty well.
Bill, Bobby Labonte was talking earlier in the week about how difficult it is to stay on top once you win the season championship; and Dale has addressed that, too. Would you address that?
ELLIOTT: Just as I said earlier, I think the hardest thing to do is keep consistency within the team. You've got -- let me back up. You end the year last year and you've got everything going in a good direction, you've got it set up for all the racetracks. You come into this year, NASCAR has implemented some changes, Goodyear has come out with a little different construction tire-wise and that really threw a monkey wrench in a lot of people's setup. For example, you look down the list, you had Jeff Burton who was pretty consistently good everywhere he went. It took him a while to ever figure this tire out. He stayed on a pretty level playing field as far as consistency within his team guys. You look at some of the other teams and it's hard to stay on top. If things could stay consistent and you could keep things consistent, it would be an easier playing field to maintain that, you know, championship each and every year; but it's hard to do. Just like us, we ended up last year with a group of guys and I felt like I had, for what the money I had to spend on the deal, I had a pretty good year last year. Then you come into this year and most of those guys with Ray restructuring, either didn't like the two-car deal or Ray restructured the deal or whatever, now he's getting his next group of people in place. And I go back on my career, I've had a lot of instability within my team over a number of years. I'm going to tell you what, guys, it's hard to sit down and put that in a graph of week in and week out how much that affects your ability to go out here and run good every day. Right now, the point I'm leading up to, just like I said a little while ago, we've had some good tests here the last two months, the crew and I have really worked well together, really gelled well together here the last couple of weeks; and that's what I think has helped us more than anything. Ray is finally getting his organization the way he wants it and I think the people in place and getting stability within that; and that's what's going to be the key. That comes back to all the other teams. You know, if they lose a key guy or gets a little bit instability or the tires change or the aero package changes, there's more to this; and every little ounce you get today can mean the difference in winning a race or finishing 15th.
Bill, you and Casey are sitting two-three. Can you talk a little bit about your perception of Casey from a little further way as he came up as the 18-year-old phenom and now has a teammate and then what you see in him as a driver?
ELLIOTT: Well, Casey has gained a lot of confidence here, I think in the last couple of months. He's had some good runs, he's qualified well and I think that's helped him more than anything. One good thing about it is he and I, as far as teams are concerned, we share information real well. So he can go off in a direction, we can go off in a direction and whatever we end up with, we can adjust and tune to that area. We're pretty close as far as driving styles. We can set the cars up pretty close to the same and with just a few adjustments, we can be pretty close. So I think that's helped a lot. Him going out earlier, we kind of talked a little bit about our setup. Like I said, there's so many things that affects these cars today, I mean air pressure, tire stagger, how well you get hooked up spring-wise, shock-wise, just the combination of a lot of things.
When the rules changed, it was announced a couple of weeks ago, some of the skeptics were saying, well, you know, Dodge is going to end up winning the Brickyard 400 out of this. How big a help do you think that the rules change really does help you here?
ELLIOTT: Well, you look at Casey last week. He qualified fifth last week at Pocono and we had a pretty decent run last week. But I can't answer that. I mean, you look across the board and, yeah, we picked it up a little, but I think as good as we practiced well here two weeks ago and I felt like we had a pretty decent shot regardless. But I do think it will help the car in race configuration. How much? I don't know. That's what we're going to have to sit down and see. Whether they do or don't, we'll take every inch we can get and fight and scratch and come out of here Sunday afternoon and see what happens.
NATION: Bill, thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.
ELLIOTT: Thank you. Appreciate it.