Tuesday, April 8, 2003. Winston Teleconference Highlights Jimmy Spencer JIMMY SPENCER (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid) "It just feels good to know you're competitive week in and week out. Last week we were looking at the ...
Tuesday, April 8, 2003.
Winston Teleconference Highlights
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)
"It just feels good to know you're competitive week in and week out. Last week we were looking at the possibility of being in the top 10 in the points after we left Talladega. Instead, we're sitting 30th. The Winston Cup Series is the toughest. People out there think it's easy to run in the top 10 and win, but they don't realize the competitiveness and how hard it is. Matt's got a nice point lead right now, but it can all change in one race. We feel like the Sirius Dodge will be in the top 10 in the points, and we feel like we'll contend for a win not long down the road.
"Martinsville of all the tracks we go to, it's probably the easiest to lose your temper. When I was driving with Darrell Waltrip as my teammate, one thing he used to say is, 'I know it's a short track and I know it's not that important to not get tire marks on their car.' You look at the history and guys without tires marks on their car and Darrell Waltrip is a big example of that. He helped me a lot when he was my teammate, and I really thought that was something to remember. If a guy does bump you, he probably doesn't mean it. You're running so close, so competitive. You watch qualifying, it'll probably be within two tenths of a second. If I could pick up a tenth, I could probably sit on the pole. If you lose a tenth, you're 15th. It's the same thing if you're 20th. If you're 20th you say, 'I could have been in the top 10.' If you lose a tenth, you're 30th, so it's just a track where you've got to be on your game qualifying. Most of all, you've got to have a good handling car and keep your patience all day long.
"Dale Earnhardt made it look a lot worse than it really was. If you look at it and watch it on tape, I've watched it. In fact, I watched it yesterday. He had a heck of a head of steam. He already was committed and he was already coming by Matt. If you don't focus on Dale Jr. as much and maybe focus on Matt, Matt had a car on the outside of him, and I think maybe Matt was trying to give some room. It was an exciting race. I don't think NASCAR did anything wrong. I think just because it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. people are saying, 'my God, they're favoring him.' It's not true.
"I think when Dale knew Matt was coming down, he drove down there near the line. Instead of driving near the line he drove over it. To me it was not a bad call. I think it was a no call in that situation. I think NASCAR did the right thing.
"No, I don't feel that (having a grasp on the rules). I don't feel than any competitor, any crew chief or car owner has a total explanation of the rule book as far as they are there in writing, but yet there are calls sometimes you wonder about. I'll go back to the Busch race. With 10 laps to go or less it's supposed to be single file. Well, when we went to start the race with 10 laps to go, but yet it was 300 feet from it and we had a double file restart. I've seen 'em at Bristol and the week earlier they give you two laps to get lined up. NASCAR didn't cause the accident, but there was an accident after that restart that lost eight to 10 cars and probably cost car owners half a million dollars. Sometimes I think the decisions that are being made probably could have just a little bit better judgment. The deal with Earnhardt, I think it was the right decision. The deal with Brian Vickers I think without a doubt it was the right decision. The Joe Nemechek decision, was it totally fair in respects to.... There should have been some research done on the size of the spring, the rate of it and everything, then they can weigh their decision. I'm glad I'm not them. I'm glad I don't have to make their decisions sometimes.
"I like Kevin Harvick a lot. I like racing against Kevin Harvick. He's a competitor and I love competitors. I think when NASCAR parked Kevin Harvick in the truck race, I think he realized this series can go on without him. These drivers have to realize this sport will succeed with or without them. I think he finally realized it was pretty damn tough. He changed completely. He's not lost his competitiveness or his fierceness, but he's learned to respect not just the officials and NASCAR, but he's also learned to respect his fellow competitors. I think Kevin is a future champion without question. I really like Kevin a lot. I think he's a great competitor.
"NASCAR didn't try to tone down his personality. They tried to show how the sport has been run for the past 25 years. They tried to show that to Jimmy Spencer five years ago or whatever it was. They show it to you. They get their point across. The bottom line is that, when you have 43 competitors on the race track, NASCAR has to answer to all 43 competitors. If they have one guy who's not doing the job that the other 42 are, then it's their job to straighten it out. They do an excellent job of policing the activity that goes on on the track and off the track. They make some calls, black flag guys, put them in penalty boxes, they do everything they're supposed to do in that respect. In my opinion, they do an awesome job of it. I think they've done a good job with Kevin Harvick. I know they've done a great job with Jimmy Spencer.
"I think I've got a file folder probably bigger than any driver. For me to mention just one particular case... I learned you're racing fellow competitors and we're all racing the same cars, so we all have to respect one another. I learned that a while ago.
"Both wrecks at Talladega last weekend, the Busch wreck being the Sauter wreck and the Cup race being the Ryan Newman wreck, it was a cut down tire. It could happen anywhere. It could happen at Charlotte. It could happen at Martinsville this week. We could take out 25 cars and the damage wouldn't be the caliber we get at Talladega. It'd be easy to fix Daytona and Talladega. Go in there and add four to five feet to the inside of the race track, take the banking out, add a little bit to the walls and let's go racing. To me, I don't think that's fixing it. When we come to them restrictor plate races, you have to go in there with the mentality, first of all for me, I got collected in the accident and could not avoid it. I felt like we had a car that could have been in the top 10 and maybe contending for the win. It really, really hurt us. We went all the way to 30th in the points. On the other side of it, we could have missed the accident and we could have gained a lot more points on the competitors. But, the end result is still this. Daytona and Talladega to me, if I was a competitor, I'd like to see 'em change. I am a competitor and I'd like to see 'em change. On the other side of it, I think they're the most exciting races for our sport. I think that race on Sunday, I got home in time to watch the finish, if you watched it on TV or were in there in person, I don't think you could have ever had a better race to keep the attention level up to see who was going to win. I think restrictor-plate racing is here to stay. I don't think NASCAR is going to do anything about it. I think the fans really enjoy it.
"If they really wanted to, yes they could. Do I think they do that? No. I've spoken out against NASCAR. I've said some things about NASCAR. I'm not sticking up for 'em on the Daytona and Talladega issue. I think they were great races. Giving a lap back was a dumb call on their part, and they came out and admitted that. They're human beings. They make mistakes. I can say what I want to say. I can sit in the trailer and disagree with 'em. They're not going to penalize me or black flag me. I think there are a lot of problems in NASCAR with the purses. Bristol is a good example. The purse at Bristol is a slap in the face to the Busch Series. The Winston Cup race is the same. I think when you have a Winston Cup race with 160,000 fans, it doesn't take a mathematician to realize at $30 a ticket, which we realize we can't even get in a Winston Cup race for 30 bucks, just the purse alone should be in the two and a half to three and a half million dollar range without the TV money and stuff, but heck, the purses aren't. Without the TV money, we'd be paying hockey players.
"They make their share of money. NASCAR and the promoters are making lots of money and I think the owners are not. A lot of the owners are losing money every single week.
"I don't talk to Kurt (Busch). I don't get along with Kurt. I think he has a lot of problems mentally that Jack Roush is working on, so to me, I think Kurt Busch is a heck of a competitor and a great racer. He does have a lot of problems, and I think NASCAR has talked to him, and I think Jack is talking to him. Once he gets to the level of getting that all straightened out personally, I think he's going to be a lot better competitor than he is now. To me, the drivers I talk to, he's cocky, he doesn't respect them. He's got a lot of things he needs to address himself personally. He's no Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Jeff Burton or Mark Martin. He's no Matt Kenseth. You can win races and contend for the championship and not have that attitude he has. That attitude he has will be a major player in him not becoming a Winston Cup champion until he learns to get along with his fellow competitors and not have that chip on his shoulder. I learned a long time ago that you don't realize when you've got people mad at you, you can't be successful because there's always somebody in that woodpile that's going to grab you and knock you down to earth.
"He had a confrontation with Tony Stewart again Sunday. I watched it on TV. I think he'll learn eventually how to handle himself.
"When you look at some of these guys, I'd be included in that, Michael Waltrip and Joe Nemechek, when we run the Busch Series, we let it be known that we're out there for one thing and one thing only and that's to win races. I think NASCAR could fine us 250 points and it wouldn't affect the outcome for us. We don't run for points, so their fine, they felt, was justifiable because the points didn't mean anything to him. I still think that the spring situation did not help Joe Nemechek win that race. I think NASCAR still has a rule about the heighth of the coil springs and stuff and the distance apart. They've got to take in considering that these springs after a 300-mile race or 400 or 500 have a certain amount of collapse factor into 'em. I still think what they did to Mark Martin at Rockingham, it didn't end up costing him the championship, but mentally, it took a lot out of him. They've got to look at this rule, gotta figure out some way to police it better than we were, and I just think the fine was pretty stiff for Joe.
"We always see cars getting in accidents on pit road at Martinsville. It's the worst pit road in motorsports, but it's Martinsville. I think you need to make sure that you get a good pit selection and your pit crew doesn't make a mistake and you don't make a mistake and run into somebody. I also think that NASCAR needs to look at people pulling directly in front of their fellow competitor coming down pit road. I'm going to bring it up in the drivers' meeting. If they just deliberately pull right out in front of somebody who's had a great pit stop, even though they're further back, I think they should have a stop and go or something issued against them. The guys work so hard to have a good pit stop and you work so hard all day long getting up there. A guy can deliberately pull out in front of you because he out qualified you and take you out of the race. That's not fair. I hope NASCAR will look at how they can rectify that situation. We'll probably have a problem on Sunday at Martinsville.
"The minute the jack drops, the driver gets out of there. It's not actually the crew chief's (responsibility). It's the driver's. They know cars are still coming, but they just pull right straight to the wall. They could stay to the left and give the competitor on the outside a little bit of room. We could get three wide on pit road, buy just for that split second they're pulling behind the other competitor. We're all bad about it. We're not going to let the other guy get in. I think a lot of it is still the driver's (responsibility).
"I don't think they made a bad call on Brian Vickers at Texas. I think that was a fair call. I think it was a call that could have used a better judgment call, although we still had 11 to go when we're lining up to go back to green. When you look at their side of it, there's going to be 10 to go when we take the green. They probably should wait a little bit. That's all I'm saying. That call Mike made at Texas on Sunday, giving laps back to the competitors and not let Jeff Gordon be the leader of the race, they have to realize when they make this decision, it could be an outcome that affects the point championship at the end of the year. I keep saying I wouldn't want to be in their position, yet they make calls sometimes that we criticize. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they make the right call.
"I think if you look at the situation, every one of these yellow line deals is a separate situation. If you look at that tape. If you watch that tape, there was enough room for two tractor trailers to get underneath Matt Kenseth. Dale Earnhardt had a hell of a run coming, and as he started to make his run, I think that Matt was protecting the outside groove. There was a car on the outside of Matt. Matt realizes here comes Earnhardt, so he starts to move down and he realized that Junior was already coming two or three mph faster than he was. He knew he had him. I think the situation when you look at it, was like, oh well, he got me. I think Junior compounded the situation by driving down below the yellow line. Still, it was a call that NASCAR couldn't make. Junior didn't do anything wrong. It was racing at Talladega that you had to have help to pass each other. It was an awesome finish. It was one of the best Winston Cup races of the year. Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven at Darlington was awesome, but with five to go at Talladega, you had no idea who was going to win. I think NASCAR made the right call there without a question. There were a lot of circumstances. Earnhardt going below the yellow line. He didn't have to go that low. It compounded the call. It compounded the look on TV. I also think the car on the outside of Matt caused some of that problem. I also think Matt thought he had to protect the outside and then he thought he had to protect the inside. It was just racing at Talladega, and I don't think there could have been a call to put Earnhardt back."