Dodge Motorsports Teleconference March 24, 2009 Robbie Loomis, Vice President of Race Operations, Richard Petty Motorsports Q: Can you give us an update on the health status of Kevin Buskirk (crew chief, No. 19 Stanley Dodge Charger)? A: I...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
March 24, 2009
Robbie Loomis, Vice President of Race Operations, Richard Petty Motorsports
Q: Can you give us an update on the health status of Kevin Buskirk (crew chief, No. 19 Stanley Dodge Charger)?
A: I spoke with Kevin last night, we've been texting each other back and forth; he's actually getting better and better. Some of the medicine that they've been giving him has been making him a little bit dizzy and sleepy. He got some type of 'bug' down there (Bristol) in his intestines that were causing some trouble for him. He soldiered through on Friday and Saturday and just did a tremendous job. On Sunday he was like, "Man, I just can't go." Mark McArdle made the call to put me on the pit box and things really worked out well. It was quite different for me to be in that role. It was something that I enjoyed at the same time, being there for Elliott Sadler, Best Buy and Stanley as a fill-in.
Q: What are your thoughts heading into Martinsville?
A: When you go to Martinsville, everybody knows that the brakes are the main focus. Obviously, qualifying is big to get that number one spot on pit road. On Saturday, we'll all be checking brake temps as much as we check tire temps at a lot of other race tracks. I'm still getting my feet on the ground here at Richard Petty Motorsports, but I feel like the guys really felt good about their cars at Martinsville last year. The 9 car (Budweiser Dodge) was running good; it had a little electrical problem that caused them some grief. I think we're going to be on our toes. Each week brings new challenges, it doesn't matter what you did last week or in the past, it's what happens when we show up there on Friday morning at Martinsville. That's what will count.
Q: Are you surprised at how RPM has come out of the gate so far this year?
A: I'm not surprised by any means. I think that Mark McArdle has been in place a year and has put in a lot of good systems and structure in place. I think with the addition of AJ (Allmendinger) into the camp and we've made some personnel changes throughout the winter time, the guys are working well together. When you have a really talented guy like Kasey Kahne who's kind of the shootin' star, everyone else is reaching out there to get where they're kind of at right now. I think as an organization, we have a lot of strength and a lot of depth. I've said since the beginning that we had to take the strength of what the 9 had and try and spread it out to all the teams. That's what we're working hard to do.
Q: Does the fact that Kurt Busch won in a Dodge earlier in the year give you guys a lot of hope that it can be done?
A: Absolutely. I've never been one to get caught up in the manufacturer war. I believe that you have to do it in your own organization. You have to create the parts. You have to build the chassis and be smart enough to put the whole program together. Penske's program really started coming on the last quarter of last year. Kurt (Busch) had some really strong runs. Some didn't show up (as good finishes) because something would happen. Some races, I noticed that he'd get a lap down and all of a sudden he'd be one of the fastest cars. I think that it (the win at Atlanta) does give encouragement for Dodge, which is great to get a Dodge back in Victory Lane. Now we have to get a Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge in Victory Lane and that would be even better.
Q: HOW WAS IT TO BE BACK ON TOP OF THE PIT BOX LAST WEEKEND IN BRISTOL?
A: It was a nice treat. When you grow up, you never really think about making the right hire to put a guy (crew chief) in place to make the calls. From the beginning when I started racing, you lived to make those calls whether it was two tires or four tires to put your driver in a better situation to win the race. From that perspective it was nice, but at the same time, it made me realize why I got out of it. A crew chief has a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week job. Those guys are so focused, so committed to every little detail on the car. Fortunately for me, I had Kevin Kidd (19 car engineer) and all the 19 car guys to lean on and help prop me up Sunday. It was nice to be able to help out during a race. The thing that I enjoyed the most was it put me one step closer to Elliott. Working a whole race with a guy like him and seeing his feedback, the way that he handled himself in the car, really encouraged me and I think that we can get a lot accomplished with Elliott before the year is out.
Q: IS KEVIN BUSKIRK BACK FOR MARTINSVILLE?
A: He's not back yet. He's still recovering. I told him that I'm about ready to come over there and start giving him IVs and medical stuff to get him back soon, get him back there in Martinsville. He's getting better and better and I'm sure he'll be back with us in Martinsville.
Q: HOW IMPROTANT IS GOOD TEAM CHEMISTRY TO THE SUCCESS OF A NASCAR TEAM?
A: It's vital. It starts at the top and goes all the way through the team. I think that good chemistry and good communication is just the key to it (success). I think that's what we're building here at Richard Petty Motorsports and all of Dodge is working well together.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH CORE TEAM CHEMISTRY CAN MANIFEST ITSELF?
A: I think that the real chemistry, a lot of times, between the driver and the crew chief is the part that has to be the closest. A lot of time a crew chief and a lead engineer, they build their rapport with each other and that bleeds into the team and just keeps growing.
Q: CAN KYLE BUSCH WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP BEING HOT HEADED OR DOES IT TAKE A LITTLE BIT MORE CALMNESS TO GET TO A CHAMPIONSHIP?
A: In the heat of the moment, the pressure is on and you do have those emotions and the passion to win. As far as (Kyle) winning the championship, until he gets better control of the situation and learns how to deal with this stuff better...sure he can win a championship...but he's probably limiting his chances. A guy like Jimmie (Johnson), a guy like Jeff (Gordon) is more prone to...if circumstances don't fall right in a 10-race period, Jimmie or Jeff can recover quicker because they shake it off. I think that is the part that Kyle is learning. He gets that experience just like he did on Saturday. He vented and blew some steam off and came back Sunday and was man enough after the race to say, "Hey look, I made some mistakes the way things transpired yesterday, but that's how bad that I want to win. I want everyone on this team to realize how bad I want it." It works both ways, but he's getting it. What happens is that every time he gets a little bit more and a little bit more, that's what's kind of scary for the whole field.
Q: IN REFERENCE TO GETTING BACK ON THE BOX, WHAT'S THE BEST WAY THAT YOU'VE LEARNED TO ADJUST TO NEW SITUATIONS?
A: The thing that I've learned most is that you have to remain fluid. You have to be able to flex and flow like a river and you have to be very open minded. I think that if you don't start moving around a little bit when you're younger, it gets harder and harder as you get older. The biggest thing is keeping an open mind and listen; there's a reason why they say, "The Lord gave us two ears and one mouth." It was to make sure that we take in more sometimes than we're putting out.
Q: WHAT ARE THE SIMILARITIES OF DRIVER'S TODAY AND DECADES AGO?
A: It's funny. I was fortunate to work with Richard Petty for years and then I got the opportunity to go work with Jeff Gordon. There are so many traits in Jeff that I saw in Richard and now, being here, there are so many traits in Kasey (Kahne) that I see in those other guys. It's really gratifying for me to see....it's almost like when you read one of those books that speaks of champions, there's a reason those traits are in people. What we want to do is make sure that we maximize that potential to get those wins and those championships.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE PROGRESS OF THE 9 TEAM?
A: I think that those guys have a real special thing -- their communication level and ability to get a car set up. Mark McArdle, our vice president here at RPM, has put a lot of good things in place for the whole program. I think that's going to continue to be something that we keep growing with. I was telling someone earlier that I felt really good coming out of Atlanta and that was probably the place that I was really worried the most because we struggled a lot there last year...even myself with the old Petty Enterprise teams. So we felt real good coming out of there. We have to be able to take the success that Kasey and the 9 team are putting on the track and spread that through the whole organization. I think that we definitely have the drivers in place and we've got some real solid teams. It's just a matter of working on our communication and sharing information to make sure that we're getting in the cars what the drivers need for Sunday.
Q: THOUGHTS ON AJ ALLMENDINGER?
A: All the love is about AJ. I think since the beginning of the year, he's got a great personality and has tons of energy. I love the fact that he finished 17th at Atlanta and he's like, "Man, I wish that we could have gotten more out of the car. It was really good." You love that passion and drive and fire in a driver and I think that he's going to be somebody. I know that we're working hard keeping him out here more and more and know that AJ's going to be somebody in this sport for a long time, one of the mainstays in our sport.
-credit: dodge motorsports