BILL DAVIS (Car owner Bill Davis Racing Dodge Intrepid R/Ts) "Frankie Stoddard and I have talked, but we haven't talked about official job description capacity yet. I'd love to have Frankie. He's one of the best crew chiefs in the garage. Tommy...
BILL DAVIS (Car owner Bill Davis Racing Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"Frankie Stoddard and I have talked, but we haven't talked about official job description capacity yet. I'd love to have Frankie. He's one of the best crew chiefs in the garage. Tommy Baldwin seems to talk to ya'll more than he does me. I assume he's staying. We'll sit down and talk next week. I figure he'll be crew chief for the 22 for a long time.
"It seems like that's all I do (negotiate) nowadays. It doesn't seem like I do too much racing. We've just had a bad year period. It's been an interesting year. We've had a successful year as far as wins, but we've had mechanical failures that we've never had to deal with. I think we've worked through those. Anything is a distraction that's out of the norm. We've had a lot of distractions. We had contracts with the sponsors and a driver change in mid-year. It's been a very unusual year.
"I think ( Busch team) has been a big distraction for Tommy. The sponsorship deal is tough on the Busch side, real tough. He picked a bad year to try to do what he tried to do. A Winston Cup crew chief's job is a full time job.
"I think you've got to assume you're getting the best stuff. The startup Dodge thing has gone extremely well. I don't think anybody can deny that. They've won a lot of big races. We had some problems with the engine blocks we had to get through.
"I think having people in the garage is very important. We're very selective at my place as far as who the guest is and why they're there. We also have a one-page sheet of how we want people to conduct themselves (in the garage) and how we want them to behave - no autographs, proper shirts, no T-shirts. If I bring in someone from a large company that's looking to sponsor a car or get involved in the sport in some way, they're not going to be running across the garage screaming because Dale Jr. walked by trying to get his autograph. Step back and make everybody responsible for somebody that's in the garage, whether it's the track, RJR, NASCAR, the teams or driver. I support having our sport stay accessible and the drivers accessible. That's why we're where we're at. I've heard maybe that they'll limit it to only Sunday mornings when the cars aren't running and they're not running through the garage. Maybe that's the solution, I don't know. It is tough when people are walking around and don't understand the traffic flow or they run 100 yards through the garage maybe to get a look at Dale Jr. I just don't get it for one thing. I don't understand.
"I think it's going to get really interesting. Sterling had the worst night he could possibly have at Richmond and 20 laps later here comes the 24 coasting into the garage. The 6 ran 20th all night and ended up sixth. I'm not quite sure how they're doing that. It can go either way. There's a chance for it to get really interesting and for one of the first times in a while go down to the last race. You've got to call Sterling the favorite because he's led it all year. Who knows?
"This has never been a good track for us, but our flat track or basically our short track program has gotten a lot better. We're starting better than we did last race. We can win again tomorrow.
"That's what we did with the 23. We honored the contract financially and Hut (Stricklin) was good enough man to step up and say we're not running well. We're struggling at a lot of these tracks, so I'll step back and let Kenny get ready for the next couple of years. We did it last year with crew chiefs. That's what it's all about. It's a whole lot better now to know where you're at and start building that chemistry than wait until February to show up and spend half a season trying to figure it out.
"Kenny has done a good job the first two races with us. We're still not there qualifying, but he's raced well. We're not there qualifying with the 22, either. With the soft springs and big bars, we don't have the qualifying package figured out. Kenny is getting it in the show, and he has to. He'll tell a little story about the gremlins that go to bed with him every Thursday night. They tell him he has to make the race. It's typical Kenny Wallace story. Kenny is great and I love him to death. I've known him since he was 10 years old.
"The whole Dodge organization is great and has great quality control. It's a special thing for our team that we've got a sponsor that's so involved it's building a piece of our car. We've got a lot of pride in that. We went to Peoria on the way to Michigan and did a big trophy presentation and watched 'em pour some blocks. That's a tough job, and they take such pride in it. They build the blocks for all the Dodge teams. Ray's two wins this year were with Cat blocks. It started last year, but everybody got on cycle this spring. It's not a huge performance advantage or anything, but it's a good, quality piece. I don't know the exact number, but they did save us some weight with the engine block.
"With the exception of the 40 car, there's not a Dodge team getting the job done themselves. It's not the product. It's not the piece. Obviously the 40 team is knocking off those top 10s that it takes to lead the points championships. The 9 and 22 can win a couple of races, but I don't think any team owner that will tell you he's satisfied with his team's performance week in and week out. Certainly the 9 and 40 have done the best jobs, but I think we need to get more consistent. I think the Dodge program is in real good shape. I think they've done a fantastic job. They've done everything they said they were going to do and more. They keep coming. They haven't backed up. They just keep doing it.
"The way Dodge handles its program, it won't have any effect on us if they add some teams. Budget wise and engineering wise, they're commited to what they're going to do for us. To have another strong team, another player in the mix, it doesn't concern me at all. I'm confident the Dodge guys are going to do what they said they were going to do for me.
"They're so active. Bob Wildberger is at every race and Jim Julow is at a bunch of races. When was the last time you saw Herb (Fishel) at a race? These guys are involved and serious about what they're doing. We're having meetings out here in the parking lot after a race. The first thing out of their mouths after hello is 'what can we do to help you get better?'
"There's just such a commitment there compared to the other guys."