Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, Sept. 13,2005 Regular-Season Recap, NHIS Advance LARRY CARTER (Crew Chief No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) OPENING COMMENTS "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make The Chase. Now that...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, Sept. 13,2005
Regular-Season Recap, NHIS Advance
LARRY CARTER (Crew Chief No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
OPENING COMMENTS "Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make The Chase. Now that we've got that behind us we'll move on to the next goal. It's like it was last year. I still think consistency is going to be a big key. The guy that has trouble or has mechanical failure or wrecks during the race, those are the guys that are going to have a hard time being there at the end. I think consistency is going to be a big part of it, but I think you're also going to need to mix that up with a couple of wins to really put you in position."
IS LOUDON A GOOD TRACK FOR RUSTY? "Loudon has been a good racetrack for us. He typically runs pretty good there. We felt like the first race we kinda departed from our traditional setup and seemed to get our car a little better. We tried to work on that and fine tune it. If we can get it a little better I think we can go up there and win the race."
WHAT'S TEAM ATTITUDE LIKE RIGHT NOW? "It's just business as usual. We try to maintain the same level of intensity all the time. Every week we go we go with the same goal. None of these races are really any bigger than any of the other ones. We go every week to do our best. We just try to maintain that level all the time."
WHAT'S IT BEEN LIKE WORKING WITH RUSTY DURING THE LAST CALL? "It's been good. It's been a lot of fun. Rusty has been real good to me. He's a very competitive individual, and we just seem to have a good relationship. He knows if there's something he doesn't like he can tell me and it doesn't ruffle my feathers. I just try to make it right. It's really been a lot of fun. I wish it wasn't his last year. At the same time, the guy really doesn't have anything left to prove. He's done it all. He's won a championship. He's won a bunch of races. He's a future hall of famer. He's a legend. I think when guys can get out on the top of their game that's the right way to do it. I just wish him success in the future, but we've got a lot of hard work ahead of us in the next couple of months and that's what we're concentrating on."
DISCUSS RUSTY'S CHANCES OF WINNING THE TITLE "Obviously some of the Roush teams have showed really good performance, but it's going to come down to these final 10 and you're going to have to have some luck on your side and you're going to have to have some good racecars. Really any guy that's in it has a chance to win it. That was the whole deal about getting in it. If you're not in it you certainly don't have a chance, so I think we've got as good a chance as anybody."
ARE TOP 10S MORE IMPORTANT NOW THAN WINS? "I think as far as getting into The Chase, the first 26 races you have to.... You try to win every week. That's the goal -- to win. I do feel like, especially in the first 26 races the drivers are a little bit smarter when they get into a situation where 'do I need to push it now and potentially wreck the car or do I need to ride a little bit?' I think you see guys err a little bit to the conservative side trying to be more consistent. I think going into the last 10, you need to be consistent but you're also going to have to go for it, too. It's not going to be a matter of just being consistent and finishing seventh or eighth or fifth. You're going to have to try to finish first, second or third to have enough points at the end."
WILL YOUR APPROACH CHANGE FOR THE LAST 10 RACES? "It won't change our approach in the way we set up our cars. Race strategy will change a little bit. The way Rusty drives will change a little bit. We'll be looking at probably taking more chances than we have. As far as the actual car end of it, it won't affect that."
DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE HENDRICK CARS? "They obviously have a good organization, and I think if you look at the history of competition in motorsports, it seems like there's always a time when a guy rises to the top and it's his day. There's times it's not. Every dog has its day. They just seem to be going through a down time right now, but I'm sure they'll be back."
IT SEEMS LIKE YOUR TEAM HAS IT FIGURED OUT "There were some things that Rusty needed to do not only in his car but in his mind to realize 'this is what I've got to do to run competitively and maybe it's not what I've been doing.' I don't know if there's some of that going on. A lot of times you hit on something that really works well and it lulls you into a false sense of security and you think what you're doing is right and maybe you need to change. We've kinda gone through an evolution here of notes that Rusty had before I even came here. We're so far away from that stuff now. That's what we had to do to get our cars competitive. Those are things Rusty had to work through on the track and in his mind and believe in himself. Maybe some guys have it figured out a little bit and maybe some guys are struggling with it. They'll be back I'm sure."
DID RUSTY'S LAST CALL PUT MORE PRESSURE ON YOU? "We try to approach each week the same every week. We tried to do that last year. We weren't as successful last year as we've been this year. I wouldn't call it added pressure, but I didn't want Rusty Wallace to retire and not be in The Chase, and Rusty Wallace didn't want to retire and not be in The Chase. Maybe that forced he and I to come to terms with one another where we could be honest and open and frank about things and be able to discuss things and not worry about somebody getting their feelings hurt. We've really been able to do that, and I think it's made our relationship a little better. I learn every day. I've learned from him. He's taught me a lot about cars. We just seem to be working real well together right now."
DOES RUSTY SEEM MORE RELAXED? "He does seem a little more relaxed. He probably hasn't been as tense as I've seen him in the car before but no real significant change. He's a very competitive person. When things aren't going right he doesn't mind letting you know it and that's good. If we can't identify problems we certainly can't work on fixing them, so I think everything has gone really well."
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES YOU'LL BE KURT BUSCH'S CREW CHIEF WHEN HE JOINS THE PENSKE FOLD? "I don't know that. My contract expires at the end of 2006. I haven't really worried about that. I've just tried to do my job, what I've got in front of me on my plate today. That's the way I've always done it. I think things will take care of themselves. I haven't been overly concerned about that."
IS THAT A FUTURE CHALLENGE YOU'D LIKE TO TAKE ON? "As a crew chief, the thing I've always said to my owner, whoever that may be, is give me the best car, the best driver and the best engine and we can do some good things. Obviously we've seen this year what we can do when we have the best driver, and some of the best cars and some of the best engines in racing. We've done well. Kurt Busch has won a lot of races, and he's a good racecar driver, so I think it would be a good challenge for this organization to see if they can maintain the level he's at now and possibly go beyond what he's done. That's going to be a tough challenge, so I'd look forward to it."
WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK FOR 2006? "I don't know. Roger Penske pretty much sits down with us every winter and we discuss our goals and where we're going and what we're doing. The thing he told me last winter was not to worry about who's driving the car, just worry about this year and that's what I've done. I'm not worried about next year. Roger is working on that, and I'm sure what ever he comes up with will be just fine and we'll go on and keep racing. I'm just waiting for my boss man to tell me what he's got in store for me."
WOULD IT BE TOUGH TO FIND A DRIVER FOR JUST ONE SEASON? "You've got to sort of think it would be. On the other hand, the thing I told the guys at the beginning of the year, I said, 'Guys, we're going to be looking for a driver and we know that.' That was one of the things that put more pressure on us than all of the other elements. When drivers are looking for cars to get in, we want guys that are capable drivers saying they want to get in the 2 car. If we can do that, we'll help ourselves. We don't want to look at the end of '05 and have drivers saying 'we don't want to get in that 2 car. That thing's a piece of junk.' I think we have proven to people that the 2 car is a good racecar and hopefully that would make the job of finding somebody to drive it a little bit easier. We have that working for us."
COMMENT ON THE DODGE CHARGER "I've been doing this a long time and seen a lot of body changes. Every time there's a body change you struggle. I've never been anywhere where they introduced a new body and you took it and won the first 10 races. There's always been a period of working with the car and working with the aerodynamic characteristics and tweaking here and tuning things up. I think it's a good racecar. I don't have any issues with the Charger. It's capable of running up front every week. We run up front every week."
WHAT WILL BE THE ISSUES AT LOUDON? "Traditionally it's been hard to pass, so track position is very important. It's very difficult to gain track position if you start at the back. I think qualifying is going to be a premium this weekend. I think you're definitely going to need to qualify well. Our goal is to go qualify well, start at the front and stay at the front. I think that's what you've got to do to run well at Loudon."
IS THERE ANYTHING THE TWO PENSKE TEAMS IN THE CHASE CAN SHARE? "Nothing that comes to mind."
IS THERE ANY BENEFIT OF HAVING TWO PENSKE DRIVERS IN THE CHASE? "It's definitely a plus for the organization. Each one of these three teams we have here we'll take 15 to 18 guys every week. They work on that team, but we also have another 150 guys here that work for all three teams. To have two cars in The Chase is definitely a boost to those guys who have worked hard all year that can show they can build good racecars. Ryan is right. Rusty and Ryan have different driving styles. I'm not sure if we knew what the 12 car was doing would it benefit us? I don't know. It might, but we don't know. We just don't know."
DOES THE 2 AND 12 CREW WORK WELL TOGETHER? "We work fine together. The people that work on the cars all get along. We all enjoy each other. There's nobody working on the 12 car on the floor that I wouldn't have working with me. They're all great guys. There's none of that going on. The shop is a pretty good place to work. There are really no issues there. We really don't have any issues. We have a difference in philosophies."
WHAT'S THE ATMOSPHERE LIKE IN THE SHOP NOW WITH 2 CHARGERS IN THE CHASE? "It didn't really look any different to me. Everybody was heads down and elbows up and digging. It's business as usual."
WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN THE CHASE? "Just to keep everybody doing things we've been doing. We had a meeting this morning and the thing I tried to stress was what got us here was good solid work and doing the things we know are right. I told them, 'Let's not try to reinvent the wheel and change the way we do things just based on the fact we are in The Chase. Let's just keep doing things like we have been doing them.' So far everything is working good."