Richard Childress, owner of Richard Childress Racing, talked with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday about his trip to New Zealand, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.. RCR's engine program and other subjects: ON YOUR TRIP TO...
Richard Childress, owner of Richard Childress Racing, talked with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday about his trip to New Zealand, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.. RCR's engine program and other subjects:
ON YOUR TRIP TO NEW ZEALAND: "They take those helicopters to the mountains and they fly and take those skids of the helicopter and stick it right in the ground and you jump out of the helicopter, go find your game and shoot it. They'll fly away and then you go get your animal and then when you get your animal they're way up there and they radio them. They come back and they took the skid and picked it up, brought it back over and set it down. It's the damndest sight you'll ever see. Them guys are good. You're flying around waterfalls and glaciers. It's just an incredible sight."
WHERE IN NEW ZEALAND WERE YOU? "We went into Auckland, on the north island, then we went down to Queenstown in the south island. It was really, really nice. Took the grandkids and we got to do a lot of exciting things."
HAVE YOU BEEN THERE BEFORE? "No. It's just incredible. One minute you're standing there and you can just about stand in one foot in the rain forest and the other in the glaciers. That's the most incredible thing about it."
DID YOU BRING BACK A FAVORITE TROPHY? "Oh yeah. The most exciting was the helicopter hunting. I've got some videos and it's just incredible what the helicopters can do. It's pretty wild. It isn't for the faint of heart, I can tell you that.
"It's a neat part of the country. Everything from bungee jumping to parachuting. I didn't do the bungee jumping but I had it scheduled. Got busy hunting and rain put us a day behind. The cameraman with me did, I talked him into it.. I wanted to do the parachuting but I just didn't get a chance to. The weather was crappy the first three days and kind of put us behind."
HAVE YOU BEEN TAKING MORE TRIPS THIS YEAR? "Yeah, I'm going to Mongolia in September. I just want to do some of that. You get older and I've been in this 40-some years, you've got to take a little time. But I'm as refreshed and feel as good right now coming back as I ever have. I'm fired up and I've got a lot of stuff to get done."
WHERE ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO? "Australia. New Zealand was one of the places I wanted to go. I'm going back to Africa next year."
DOES NOT HAVING THE EARNHARDT, JR. SITUATION HANGING OVER YOUR HEAD MAKE YOU FEEL MORE RELAXED? "It wasn't hanging like it was pressure or hanging over our head, I just wanted to see Junior make the choice that was right. What he felt was right, not what the fans or anyone wanted but kind of what he wanted. I'm sure the fans would have loved to have seen him with us but he made the decision for him and that's the way it ended up. We would have liked to have had him with us but I can understand his thinking on some things."
IS IT BECAUSE YOU CARE ENOUGH ABOUT HIM LIKE TO DID ABOUT HIS FATHER TO LET HIM MAKE THE DECISIONS THAT ARE RIGHT FOR HIM? "Yeah, and I talked to him Sunday morning at Dover before I left that evening and just told him. You do what's right for Dale Jr. You've got to make that choice for yourself."
HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT HE'S HAPPY AND RELAXED NOW? "His toughest decision wasn't the decision on where to go. His toughest decision was to leave Dale Earnhardt, Inc. I think that was his toughest decision. Once he got that behind him, it took him a few weeks and did his due diligence and decided where he wanted to be. I'm sure he's really comfortable now with his future."
IS THIS A BAD THING FOR YOUR TEAM? "I don't think it is. Not from my standpoint. Sure, we would have liked to have had him but we're. Hendrick is on a roll right now. But I've been in this sport long enough to know that you're not going to be on that roll forever."
ON KYLE BUSCH: "Anybody would look at Kyle right now - any team in here. Kyle's a really talented young driver and I just think he'd be the future of any team that he went to."
COULD YOU HANDLE HIM? "I don't really understand. If you think back all the things, and you have to remember his age, I can name you eight or 10 guys in here at his age that were a handful. He's learning. Every new experience you get educated a little more and I'd say this has educated him a little more. I think a few of the things that happen to you in your career educate you and make you a better person and a better race car driver."
WHAT WERE YOU DOING AT 22? "I was lucky to be here today. I couldn't tell you. I was wilder than. I'll just say I had a good time (laughs). I still like to. I didn't win many races but I never lost a party, you know."
YOU WERE RACING AT 22? "Yeah, I was racing."
WERE YOU AGGRESSIVE? "Not anything that these other guys didn't do. Somebody made you mad and you turned him. That's the only difference - then you could do it and settle it between the drivers, today you've got to settle it with NASCAR and the media."
HOW WOULD YOU BALANCE SOMEONE LIKE KYLE BUSCH ON YOUR TEAM? "Like I said, I just got back and I've kept up with the news. Your phones work over there, you've got satellite phones. Email worked until we went up to the last stop over there. So I was in touch with the world the whole time and now that I'm back we've got to plan what we want to do and we'll all talk about it and go from there."
WILL THE FEELINGS OF YOUR DRIVERS INFLUENCE ANY DECISION YOU MAY MAKE? "I'm not going to start talking just about Kyle. We started work on a fourth team back last year. That was our plan - to spend a year, have our cars competitive at the end of 2006, and then we were going to start building in to try to do a fourth team. If we don't find a right driver, a right sponsor, right combination that fits our program, then we won't do a fourth team. But I think the conversations I've had with these guys, they're going to do what's best for the organization whether they feel it's Kyle Busch or if I get back in the car. I'm sure they'd rather see him than me in the car."
IF SOMETHING HAPPENED WITH CINGULAR BECAUSE OF THE LEGAL APPEAL, WOULD THAT PLAY INTO YOUR FOURTH TEAM DECISION? "Yeah, they do, and a lot of that's being addressed at this time."
DO YOU THINK SOMETHING WOULD BE SETTLED OUT OF COURT? "I don't know what they're going to do. All that's between the courts and NASCAR and AT&T and NEXTEL."
CAN YOU PUT THINGS IN FULL MOTION FOR A FOURTH TEAM WITH UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THIS SPONSORSHIP? "We've got a lot of things. We've got several other opportunities are setting around that we're talking to people about."
KEVIN HARVICK SAID KYLE BUSCH WOULD NOT MAKE A GOOD TEAMMATE: "I haven't talked to Kevin so I'm not going to comment on that."
HE'S ONE OF THE BIGGEST TALENTS TO COME AROUND IN A WHILE. "That's true. He's the hottest property on the market right now." ON KYLE BUSCH'S EXPERIENCE AND ABILITY TO WIN RACES: "That's true. He's the hottest property on the market right now."
ON HOW THINGS ARE GOING WITH THE RCR/DEI ENGINE PROGRAM: "Right now our first step was to start working together, start looking at some things and doing the R&D side of it. You kind of want to date before you get married and we're just kind of working everything out and right now it really looks good. It's positive. Everybody is happy with the results we're seeing. It's amazing how good everybody is working together on it."
DO YOU INTEND TO BRING A NEW MOTOR TO DAYTONA? "That will be probably one of the first places we'll have something. That's a short term deal. We've put more time and effort into the R07s. We've been running the R07 now since Dover and we'll just see how it goes."
ON THE STATUS OF AN ANNOUNCEMENT ON JEFF BURTON'S CONTRACT: "Hopefully we get a few things sorted out here in the next week or so and we'll be able to make some type of a release on that."
IS THE PLAN FOR HIM TO STAY? "Yeah, it's definitely the plan for him to stay but we can't do anything at this point. We're working on hopefully being able to do something to release it here in the near future."
ARE YOU ALSO LOOKING AT HIS POST-RACING CAREER WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF A MANAGEMENT ROLE? IS THAT SOMETHING YOU WOULD LOOK AT OR IS IT MORE THE DRIVING ASPECT OF HIS CAREER? "Yes, Jeff isn't ready to retire. He's definitely championship material."
ON SAYING HE WAS THE MOST RESTED AFTER COMING BACK FROM HIS TRIP AND IF THAT IS WHEN HE MAKES THE BEST DECISIONS: "I'd say next week's really going to be a busy week for a lot of people. That's like when Dale and I used to go on our hunting trips and we'd come back and we'd do whatever it took to get fired up and we're ready to go. Right now I'm as fired up as I've been in a while, ready to go."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO KEVIN HAMLIN SINCE HE LEFT BILL DAVIS RACING? "I haven't talked to him. That happened right after Dover so I don't know where that stands really. Somebody had told me up there that happened. I hated to see it. Kevin's a good guy and he really worked for us for quite a few years and worked out really well."
WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN BRINGING HIM BACK? "At this time we're looking at a lot of different things for the fourth team."
WHEN WOULD YOU WANT TO FINALIZE SOMETHING FOR A FOURTH TEAM? "No later than September, hopefully earlier."
ON THE DILLON BOYS AND IF HE THINKS THEY HAVE TALENT: "In my eyes they do. Ty has won I think 11 races this year and Austin has won two or three of the big dirt races. They're racing tonight. They just got back. They've slept since they've been back. Austin will be driving the black 3 again at Bulls Gap and Ty is going to run his car in Georgia."
DO YOU THINK THEY HAVE TALENT FOR THE FUTURE? "I honestly think they do. That's a granddad saying it but to watch their ability and just to watch how hard they race and how they're focused. Right now I think they do."
ON THEM HAVING THE BLOODLINE AND HANGING AROUND RACERS: "They've been around racing since they were just litty-bitty kids."
FROM AN OWNER'S POINT OF VIEW, WHAT WOULD WORK BEST IF NASCAR DECIDES TO CHANGE THE TIRE TESTING POLICY? "I guess Goodyear is getting some tires that's left over after races and that's one of the complaints. I'd like to be able to see them release the tires that we ran here last year. I understand there were some of those warehoused. A year old tire or a tire we that we're not going to run again, let those tires be released on some type of allotment to the teams but I don't want to see them open it back up again. I think it will burn everybody out. Being gone as much as we're gone then you throw that many tests in there or you go build a test team then you got to convince everybody on your other teams that this is the right testing. Just to put a test team out there, going and testing, if the crew chiefs don't believe in it and the drivers don't believe in it, it's just a waste of time and money so there's a lot of hair on that one that's got to be worked out I think if they open it back up."
IS IT ACCURATE TO SAY YOUR PEOPLE HAVE TALKED TO KYLE BUSCH'S PEOPLE? "I haven't and I don't know if anyone else has but I haven't it."
DO YOU INTEND TO? "He's somebody I'd definitely be interested in talking to for sure."
WHAT MAKES HIM SOMEONE YOU WANT TO TALK TO? "It's like you said, he's one of the guys that's been out there winning races and he's one of the guys that's on the market that's been winning races."
WHAT DO YOU SEE OUT OF TIM MCCREADIE? "I was jacked sky high watching him yesterday knowing the car that we had up here for him and the engine package and what he was racing against. He raced like I know he could. Just remember that name, he'll be a star in the future. That was only his fifth asphalt race yesterday and we're going to throw him in deep water at Milwaukee next week so we'll find out. But he's a racer and I will guarantee he's everything it takes to be a superstar."
BEING IT WILL ONLY BE THE SIXTH TIME ON ASHPHALT FOR HIM, WHAT WILL YOU LOOK AT WITH HIM NEXT WEEKEND AND WILL YOU BE LOOKING AT HOW HE REACTS TO THINGS? "Yeah, we'll be watching a lot of that but he showed me what I wanted to see in the second asphalt I watched him run. I mean he races. The garage is full of drivers, there's only a handful of racers and he's a racer."
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? "Big difference. A guy goes up there and he runs and he drives and he can go fast. Some drivers can really go fast but people that know how to race when you come up to a car and you want to pass them, you got to figure it out. You can't back off if somebody gets beside of you, you just can't let him go. He raced at 27 yesterday for 10 laps side by side. My grandson one night, I was at the race track and he'd been out there practicing and running and I said 'Where's the track? Where are you going to try to pass him tonight? What's the track leaning to?' He said 'PopPop, I'm going to pass him wherever they're not at. I'm going where they're not.' That's what a racer does is he's going to do whatever it takes to get by."
WILL THE CAR OF TOMORROW CUT YOUR CAR FLEET IN HALF? "This year with the R07 and the Car of Tomorrow build and the development work we're doing with it, it's probably an extra cost of somewhere close to $3 million per team and that's a big bite but if you amortize it over the next three years, it's not that bad. If you look at this year, your books aren't going to look very good. But amortize it over three years and looking at where you're going to be, I think we can do less with cars. I think it's going to be less chassis build. Once you get them built you're going to be able to run them a lot longer."
HOW DO YOU LOOK AT COMPETING AGAINST HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS WITH DALE JR. THERE? "Hendrick's was a strong organization, they are a strong organization. That just puts one more bullet in their bag. Our goal is to keep building our operation and keep working on our operation until we can beat 'em. No one team has ever stayed on top forever. You can get there and they're there right now. They're the dominant force right now but we've been that close to them in a lot of the races. The Car of Tomorrow races we've led several of them, we've raced with them, we had opportunities. A couple more laps Jeff with Kyle up there at Bristol, we were right there. Kevin was really strong at Martinsville. Phoenix we led the race. Bowyer ran third and fourth all day at Dover. So we've been right there with the Car of Tomorrow and our R07 engines are definitely better than what we had and we're excited. I'm just excited about getting into the Chase this year. We're going to try to get our cars in the Chase and go try to win that championship."
-credit: gm racing