Tuesday, April 8, 2003. Winston Teleconference Highlights Tommy Baldwin TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid) "It's been a pleasant surprise of how we've gotten together so quickly and how the communication...
Tuesday, April 8, 2003.
Winston Teleconference Highlights
TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid)
"It's been a pleasant surprise of how we've gotten together so quickly and how the communication line has been real short. The gap is real short now, and I'm starting to really understand what he wants in a race car. I know right now our points position doesn't halfway show where we're capable of running week end and week out. That's what everybody goes by.
"I think it was a good call. Like Jimmy said, the 17 noticed at the last minute that the 8 car was going to get under him. He abruptly turned left and abruptly turned right, but you guys have to remember he's going 200 mph. It's kind of hard to be in the 8 car and Dale said, 'I'm either going to move down below the yellow line or I'm going to run into him.'
"It all happened very fast. They're pretty strict on the yellow line issue. I don't think he was forced down. I think he was going to make the move anyway. What happened, the 17 continued coming down and the 8 car went below the yellow line and slowed down. The 17 car would have got penalized. I think that would have been a real tough call to make. I think they did the right thing by letting the race go. I don't think NASCAR is prejudice by no means.
"We've developed a course in NASCAR tech school now that the kids can follow and get some credit for. A couple of them are working at the Ultra shop now as we speak, learning the ropes inside and out. They definitely need to get to the Friday and Saturday night tracks, local Dodge Series racing track and get the ability to learn how to work on these cars inside and out, working on them at night, having a full-time job and going to the shop on a hobby basis and working on the cars at night and going to the races on weekends and learning about the cars.
"I've been involved with communication skills my whole life. I've been involved with the automotive industry since I was 17 full time as service manager. I had to deal with a lot of people skills and a lot of mechanics and customers. My communication skills probably developed a little early, and that probably groomed me for this job here.
"We all seem to struggle at certain tracks and have a better feel for others, crew chiefs included. I don't feel Martinsville is that hard of a race track to get around as long as the driver is comfortable with the track. Martinsville is one of the hardest tracks to drive for a Cup driver. That's why there's not many different drivers who win races. Recently there have been because there's been no tire wear issue because Goodyear has presented us with a harder tire. Pit strategy has been an issue and passing has been less of an issue than it used to be at a place like Martinsville. It's a very hard race track for a driver to get comfortable, and it's our job as crew chiefs to make those cars brake right, turn good and get off the corner good. As long as we keep working on that everywhere we go, we should be successful.
"The brake companies have come out with a much better product than even two or three years ago. We've learned how to cool the brake systems a lot better. It's more the manufacturers who are building the part have developed a better brake package now than it was in the past.
"He (Jamie McMurray) pretty got caught red handed so there really isn't a story there. There's always mysterious roll bar padding or parts laying on the race tracks when people need cautions, but I think it was caught on camera doing it. That should be a bigger fine than a spring issue as far as I'm concerned. It's not that I don't like Jamie McMurray or the guys on the 1 car. They're all good people, but if you get caught doing something like that, it's a danger to the sport. A lot of people do it if they need it. I've never personally been involved in it. We all work real hard on these race cars. A little pit stop problem or whatever sets us back and we need a little help, I'm sure we all be wanting to do whatever we possibly can to get back in contention for the win. You saw how easy it was the other day. Fortunately it got caught on camera. It's not fair for guys who are running well and kept their position running up front. It shouldn't happen.
"I think we're in a plus of being competitive. I think we're in a plus of the team we've formed here. I think we're in a minus of little bit of bad luck, cautions coming out when we don't need them, but we've created some of that by causing the cautions. I think we're at a minus in our points position because of that. We've created a lot of good things, but we've also created a couple of bad things that have set us back. We've lost an easy 150 points in both restrictor plate races because of wrecks of our own doing, so you have those 150 points and we're probably right where we expected to be at this point. We've got a lot of work ahead of us. This is by no means a program that should be running for the championship right now. We're pretty confident in what we can accomplish week in and week out as far as being competitive. We just need to finish it off.
"Martinsville is more of a separate issue than a place like Charlotte or Daytona. Martinsville is just a small race track. Pit road has no choice but to be small. Have they made improvements over the years? Incredible improvements. Ninety percent improvements on pit road. Have they made our area so we can work in the facility better? Yeah, definitely. When you have that sharp bend and have cars pitting on that sharp bend and then shooting out, there isn't enough room for all of pit road. There's got to be some give and take. Qualifying is very important to get the correct pit stall. Hopefully we won't have that problem, but we've seen No. 1 and No. 2 pit stalls have problems because of the way they're shooting out and cars going by two wide. I think it's up to us, the crew chiefs, to keep the driver calm during that. I think it's up to the driver to say he's got me beat and settle down and not get in any wrecks on pit road to ruin the day. It's a give and take situation at a place like Martinsville. It's just the room, but I wouldn't trade one of those races for anything in the world. That's one of the best races. Short track races are by far the best races we have in Winston Cup."