Martinsville II: Chevy - Bobby Hutchens

Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc., has enjoyed a longtime relationship with Chevrolet and GM Racing. Childress competed in NASCAR Winston Cup from 1969 until 1981, scoring six top-five and 76 top-10 finishes. He retired as a driver in...

Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc., has enjoyed a longtime relationship with Chevrolet and GM Racing. Childress competed in NASCAR Winston Cup from 1969 until 1981, scoring six top-five and 76 top-10 finishes. He retired as a driver in 1981, naming Dale Earnhardt to finish the season in his car.

With Earnhardt, RCR collected six NASCAR Winston Cup Series championships (1986, '87, '90, '91, '93, '94.)

RCR now campaigns three Chevrolet Monte Carlos in the Winston Cup Series: The No. 30 AOL Chevrolet for Jeff Green; the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick; and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet for Robby Gordon.

RCR has been instrumental in developing the 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup racing season.

Through the 2001 season RCR has amassed 73 NASCAR Winston Cup victories to go along with 12 Busch Series and 20 Truck Series victories. Also, Richard Childress is the only NASCAR owner with championships in all three series (six Cup, one Busch, one Truck), all earned in Chevrolets.

Going into the Martinsville 500 this weekend, Jeff Green is 17th in points; Robby Gordon 20th, and Kevin Harvick 22nd.

Bobby Hutchens joined RCR in 1989 as team engineer; was named General Manager in 1998, and Director of Competition in 2001.

Hutchens co-developed the Hutchens Device, a driver head-and-neck restraint system widely utilized in NASCAR.

BOBBY HUTCHENS:

TALK ABOUT THE RECENT WIND TUNNEL TESTS WITH THE 2003 CHEVY MONTE CARLO:

"We have been in Lockheed the last two Mondays. We've had a downforce car and two speedway cars in there. So far, we have been real happy with the results on both of them. Both of them show to be better than what we are currently racing right now, pretty much right out of the box. I think we'll be in pretty good shape."

YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN DEVELOPING CHEVROLET WINSTON CUP CARS FOR A LONG TIME:

"I think this is number four. I go back to the Lumina."

HOW HAS THE PROCESS BEEN WORKING WITH NASCAR?

"From our perspective, since we were kind of coming on the backside as far as the way they have been doing things in the last year or two with Dodge and Ford, I think it was a lot easier this time than it was in previous years, for a couple of reasons. One, I think their process has been refined a lot, and, two, the evolution of trying to make the majority of templates the same pretty much dictated where you were going. You didn't have a clean sheet of paper, per se. Those two things coupled together made probably our submittal this time and approval and hopefully the car being up and built quickly and being successful a lot easier task."

DID YOU WORK WITH PONTIAC TEAMS?

"We actually started out working with the Joe Gibbs guys because they were doing the Pontiac submission car at the time. I guess (we) probably cut a couple of corners and shortened up some avenues just by talking with them and knowing again what they had been through, what they had seen and what NASCAR was expecting from them. It was a little easier for us to draw some conclusions and hopefully when it rolled in the door or they saw it for the first time it would be more along the lines that they were looking for these type of cars to evolve."

HOW DIFFERENT IS THE NEW CAR?

"I think it's quite different. The percentage from front to rear downforce is quite a bit different balance-wise on our downforce cars, and our speedway cars are going to be quite different in the fact that some of our numbers aren't what we're used to seeing with the Monte Carlo. I think it's going to be an interesting next couple of weeks doing some more testing in the tunnel and also doing our two Chevy (test) days for NASCAR -- one in Talladega, and one at Homestead."

ARE THE CARS IN THE WIND TUNNEL ONLY RCR CARS OR ARE YOU WORKING WITH THE OTHER TEAMS IN THE TUNNEL?

"These cars were built at RCR here, but we also do our RAD program through DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) and APR (Andy Petree Racing) so the influx of the knowledge from all those folks has gone into this as well."

WHEN YOU'RE IN THE WIND TUNNEL, ARE YOU WORKING WITH THE GM ENGINEERS?

"Yes. Terry Laise (lead chassis and aerodynamics engineer) and Kevin Golsch (aerodynamics engineer) are the GM support people there. They do a good job in helping us dissect the data and come up with ideas and make sure that we're on the right path. And if we have a car that's not up to par or a car that isn't better than normal, that kind of helps us to know where we're at. We don't ever know numbers from the other teams, but it kind of gives us a box to work in to where we know where we're at all the time."

ON WORKING WITH OTHER CHEVY TEAMS BEFORE GOING TO THE WIND TUNNEL: "Hendrick Motorsports is kind of the lead team this time around. We work with those guys real close, as well as the guys over at Joe Gibbs', because they had done the Pontiac. You have Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, DEI and RCR all working together to try to make the best car we could make. We feel pretty good about it."

ON TESTING AT MARTINSVILLE RECENTLY WITH 2002 CAR:

"Two days with Jeff Green last week. They ground down the corners and I think the race there is going to be a lot different. Last time it was kind of who could run the longest on gas. I think this time it's going to be to get four tires as quick and as often as you can. It's kind of the way we used to run Martinsville. From what we can see and determine from our data and our runs it's going to be grinding tires off kind of like Darlington does. If you can get an opportunity to get tires it's going to be a pretty big thing. I think the premium this week will be on our pit crews to have good stops and consistent stops."

THIS HAS BEEN A FRUSTRATING YEAR FOR RCR. ANY STRATEGY CHANGES FOR 2003?

"It's been more disappointing than anything when we know we have the equipment, the ability and the people to be successful, and we haven't been as successful as we have been in the past. We took on a pretty big creature here in putting these three teams together under one roof. I think we probably, in the first part of the year, suffered a little bit from the growing pains of that, trying to understand the day-to-day problems and that kind of thing. I think by mid-season we had a good handle on it and our performance level the second half of the season has been a lot better than the first half. But I still don't think we're on the level that we need to be at. It's not from lack of effort on anybody's part; we've just got to keep digging and be better in all areas. I don't think we're just suffering in one area of the car. We're trying to hire better people every day; we're trying to build better race cars and we're trying to put a better product out there every Sunday. It's just a matter of getting all that headed in the right direction. I think this new 2003 Monte Carlo will be a big plus for that because I think if anything, compared to the competition right now, we're almost like on the knife edge as far as hitting our setups right every week. And if one of the Chevrolet teams hits one he can be competitive. But if he's off just a little bit, it seems like he's off a lot. I think we're at a little disadvantage to the Dodges and Fords week in and week out on these downforce tracks."

ON RCR'S ENGINE PROGRAM:

"I think Spenny Clendenen and all his folks in our engine program do us a great job. We have good power, we have good torque. And I guess the main thing, week in and week out, is we have good reliability. It's no different than when I first came to work here 14 years ago. We were looking at a championship and we may make decisions in our engine room that guarantees us getting to the end of the race and give up some power, but I don't think that cost us any finishing positions or race wins. I still think we have sufficient power to get the job done and I think this year anytime we have run on the chassis dyno against other teams after the race, we've been as good or better than any of our GM counterparts."

HAS IT BEEN MORE DIFFICULT RACING IN WINSTON CUP AFTER DALE EARNHARDT'S

DEATH? "I think for the company it was a big adjustment. We had to do things that we hadn't done before. We had to look at our company differently as a whole to make sure that we were doing the right things. Not that we didn't do that before, but I think we probably did it a little more critically just trying to make sure that we didn't have a lapse in performance. For me personally, I don't think it will ever be the same. It's a hard thing to even accept today. We carry on because that's what we've all done here. It's hard sometimes, but he would want us to do that, and hopefully we're going to win him a championship here pretty soon with one of these cars, and we can feel good about that."

DO YOU MISS HIS INPUT?

"I miss him grabbing me by the neck and doing crazy things in the garage sometimes more than I miss anything. On the race track he always knew where he was and how he stood and what he was about. We picked (on each other) and cut up in the garage and in the truck on the weekend and when he came up here (to the shop). He was just a lot of fun to be around. I've worked here 14 years, and up until Dale died he'd been here the whole time too. Him not being around here, there's a big void."

ON THE REST OF THE SEASON:

"We have five races left and we desperately need to win a couple of them. We've got some good cars and some good tracks for our drivers coming up. We've had success at all these tracks coming up. Hopefully somewhere in the cards there's a win for one of our teams. I'd like to see all of them at least get a win before the season was over. Right now, unfortunately, we're only sitting on one win with Harvick. But it would really be nice to get one with the No. 30 AOL team (Jeff Green) and the No. 31 Cingular Wireless (Robby Gordon) team."

THE DRIVERS ARE CLOSE TOGETHER IN THE POINT STANDINGS:

"Like we said, we got what we wished for. We're trying to build these cars all the same and we're preparing them the same, and they're running the same. Unfortunately, they're just not quite as far up on the ladder as we would like them to be in the points. They're right there together. I feel like our attempt at times to build basically a one-car race team with three drivers has been successful; we just have to figure out how to make it perform a little better."

ON RCR'S LONG-TIME RELATIONSHIP WITH CHEVROLET AND GM:

"Without them and the support of the GM Racing group there's no way there would be championship trophies sitting on the shelf here. They support us in a lot of ways, help us with a lot of engineering things; not just wind tunnels, but a lot of other things that we utilize in our facility, and week in and week out at the race track."

-team monte carlo-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Robby Gordon
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports