Dodge Cup Quotes from Rainy Friday at MIS RAY EVERNHAM (President and CEO Evernham Motorsports) NOTE: Evernham answered questions from the media about No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW team director Tommy Baldwin Jr. following the death of his father,...
Dodge Cup Quotes from Rainy Friday at MIS
RAY EVERNHAM (President and CEO Evernham Motorsports)
NOTE: Evernham answered questions from the media about No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW team director Tommy Baldwin Jr. following the death of his father, Tommy Baldwin Sr., Thursday night.
"Tommy is doing a good job right now organizing all the arrangements and things like that. We've just got to be here with him and support him. The one thing about what we do is we put on a show. It's not life threatening, and there'll be another race next week. We've just got to make sure that Tommy takes care of his family and does what he needs to do. We'll worry about the races as they come.
"We've got a good race team with a lot of good guys. We've been through a lot together and Tommy's got a great plan in place. That's always the sign of a good coach and manager. He's got his guys that support him, and they're prepared to step up to any challenge."
WHAT'S THE ACTUAL GAME PLAN THIS WEEKEND? "I don't know yet. We're leaving that up to him. I've got an airplane standing by to take him anywhere he needs to go. I'm going to leave that totally up to him. If he feels comfortable here working and he doesn't want to be sitting alone somewhere. He's been on the phone constantly with his family members and things like that, so I'm going to leave that totally up to him."
WOULD YOU TAKE MORE OF A CREW CHIEF ROLE IF TOMMY LEAVES? "I'd certainly help, but again, he's got a great support staff. Sammy Johns, our competition director, is on his way here to help. I'm probably a little bit too far behind right now on the adjustments and things they make nowadays, but we'll all pitch in and get it done together somehow."
KASEY KAHNE HAS ONLY HAD ONE CREW CHIEF IN CUP. HOW DO YOU THINK HE'LL RESPOND? "Kasey is a mature guy. He'll step up. Again, right now, everybody is worried about Tommy's situation. That makes a great team if they step up and get through hard times together. I'm sure all the guys will do that."
DID YOU RACE WITH TOMMY BALDWIN SR.? "I raced with him quite a bit. He's a special guy. He helped me a lot early in my career. Tommy and I were just talking about it. I was 19 or 20 years old the first time I ever drove a modified and it was really messed up. We couldn't get it going and Tom came over and helped me set it up. It really helped me a great deal. That was the first time I ever met him. He just came up and did that on his own. I've known the family for 25 years"
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge)
NOTE: Mears finished a career-beat fourth last week at Watkins Glen. He won back-to-back poles at Pocono and Indianapolis, and he's climbed to 16th in the series standings, 204 points out of 10th place with four races remaining to make the 10-driver cut for the final 10 races.
"It's awesome that we're running better. We're just going to keep chipping away at it. Jimmy Elledge (crew chief) made an awesome call last week. I still think that beyond these mile and a half tracks we need to start working on our race trim. That's probably our weakest point right now. We'll work on it and see how it goes. We're happy with our improvement over last year. Those two poles and a top-five finish over the last three weeks has been a great streak for us. We just hope to keep it alive this weekend."
WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK FOR MICHIGAN QUALIFYING IF YOU CAN OUTRUN THE RAIN? "I think we'll be really good. It's hard to tell until you get on the track. We qualified ninth here last time. If we could have been a tenth faster we would have contended for the pole. We've got a couple of things a little different, but we're basically the way we were. In race trim we were running sixth, and the chain broke on the swaybar. I think we'll have a real competitive car at this track."
DO YOU WISH THE SUCCESS HAD HAPPENED A LITTLE SOONER? "Yeah, but we've had this kind of success but with some failures earlier this year. We were running in the top five at Atlanta and blew a motor. At Michigan, we were running sixth and the swaybar chain broke and went nine laps down replacing it. Then we line up on the inside and run in the top three the rest of the day but we're laps down the rest of the day. Just those two races alone would probably put us in the top 10 right now. The performance has been there. We haven't had the luck. We've just been at the wrong place at the wrong time with bad stuff happening."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE THE TOP 10? "We need to win. We're still looking at it the same. Our goal is to get in the top 10, but we don't want to overextend ourselves and do something that the car is not capable of doing or we're not capable of doing right now. Our goal is the top 10, but I'll guarantee you if we're inside the top five at the end we're going to be going for the win. I try as hard as I can all the time, but I'm not going to try too hard. This team is growing and getting better. Right now we're a solid, top 10 team. If we don't make any mistakes and make a couple of good calls, we're a top five. If we can break into that top five consistently we can win. That's the way we look at it. If we set our goals to win, that puts a lot of pressure on us. If we set our goals to run in the top 10 and run in the top five, we're really happy."
DOES RUNNING IN THE TOP FIVE FEEL ANY DIFFERENT THAN RUNNING IN THE TOP 10? "It really doesn't other than the relief we've got a top five now. Now that we've cracked the top five, the monkey isn't off our back because we've got to keep doing it. We've done it. We know we can do it now. The confidence is there. We've just got to run up there week in and week out. If we can get a win in the next couple of races, that would put us in the hunt for the championship."
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU DON'T MAKE THE TOP 10? "Our goal is going to be to get to 11th and stay in 11th. I hope if we don't make the top 10, guys at the end of the year are going to go, 'man, if this was last year's points those guys would be fifth right now.' I hope that's what they're saying about us if we don't make the top 10."
WHAT'S THE BIG DIFFERENCE WITH THE TEAM? "I think it's just experience with everybody. It's the experience with Jimmy (Elledge) and I working together. We've found what I like in the cars, and we're still learning that. We're nowhere near where we were last year as far as setups go. We've kinda narrowed it down to what I like. The biggest thing I've found we've improved is our Happy Hour and our practice sessions. When we end Happy Hour now, I know if I've got a good car or a bad car. Last year, when I ended Happy Hour, you're out there running by yourself. Everybody is putting on tires at different times and doing everything at different times. All I knew was by lap time if I was good or not last year. Now, I know by feel. I've had experience at some of these tracks, and I know what it felt like if my car was good."
COMMENT ON RACING AT MIS "You run the top. You run the bottom. We always usually end up at the top. We had a fast racecar here in June, and it's been fast here in the past. I feel real good about it."
HOW HAS CHIP GANASSI HANDLED YOUR RECENT SUCCESS? "He's been awesome. Chip came up to me last year, and it was obvious we needed to perform, but this year he's been great. He was very excited about the pole at Indy. That was cool. That was a lot of fun. It just seemed like it was pretty special for my family and Chip. We all sat around and talked about it. My dad raced against Chip in Indy cars. My uncle and Chip have known each other for a long time. It was just like if we were going to do that, that was the best place to do it. It was very special."
YOU'VE GOT TWO POLES. 14 RACES LEFT AND THE GUY WITH MOST POLES THIS SEASON HAS FIVE. CAN YOU CATCH UP? "It's funny. We've always qualified pretty good. You're a tenth away from being on the pole sometimes when you're 15th. We found that little bit, and hopefully we can keep applying it. If you
have a good car, you might put someone in there who won't get something out of it. Every now and then a driver can carry a car, and I'd say qualifying is the easiest time to carry it. I didn't carry it at Indy. I drove it hard and got everything out of it, but that thing was awesome. To be sitting on the pole, the car has to be right and the driver has to do his job."
IS IT FRUSTRATING TO DROP BACK AFTER STARTING ON THE POLE? "Absolutely, we need to race better. We just didn't start either one of them good. We were horrible in Happy Hour at Indy. We started Happy Hour and it was the worse car I ever had. Before the race we threw a bunch of stuff at it. We didn't know what we had. I went into the first corner and I wanted to lead the first lap, but after that, I knew we had a long day ahead of us. It wasn't refined at all. We just threw a setup at it. At Pocono, we didn't get to where we wanted to be in Happy Hour, either, and we threw some things at it. Before Pocono and Indy we knew we weren't going to be that good with our race setups. That's where we have to work. We have to get these cars better in race trim."
COMMENT ON CHAMPIONSHIP FORMAT "I still can't get used to it. It's so different. It doesn't feel like a racing championship. In every series I've ever been in, it's never been like this. It doesn't seem right to me, but I'm going to be real upset if I'm 11th and I could have got up to eighth before the year is out and that robs our team of more prize money and possibly more sponsors. They're trying to create excitement, and it's doing that. It's serving its purpose. They're doing it for the right reasons, but it feels weird. A guy could get a huge points lead and then it gets narrowed down to nothing and the guy in fifth wins. It's called a championship over the whole year. There are some things I don't like about it, but at the same time I don't worry about it, either. I just drive the best I can and we'll end up where we end up."
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A RAINY DAY AT THE TRACK? "You get used to it. It seems like last year we got rained out a lot. It used to really bother me, but I can't do anything about it. I think if we just came out and our first laps on the track were qualifying, that's where we thrive. I drive as hard as I can out of the gate. Sometimes we find a little bit more, but if everything rained out and we just lined up and raced, I think we would be pretty good. I think we might get a little behind in Happy Hour. We've got to work on that and refine, but if the whole weekend gets rained out and we line up and race that would be fine with me."