JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON SCHEDULING WINSTON CUP 'HAPPY HOUR' BEFORE THE SUPPORT RACE VERSUS AFTER THE SUPPORT RACE "That's a 'catch-22' there. For us, dealing with the race car, I'd much rather have...
JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON SCHEDULING WINSTON CUP 'HAPPY HOUR' BEFORE THE SUPPORT RACE VERSUS AFTER THE SUPPORT RACE "That's a 'catch-22' there. For us, dealing with the race car, I'd much rather have 'Happy Hour' after the Busch race. That's big. That's as close to the condition as you can get for the race on Sunday. The flipside of that is for the guys. For the way the schedule is, it's a whole lot nicer to be able to get them out of here in the afternoon. That way they don't have to fight the Busch traffic. But it's a 'catch-22.' At the end of the day, we're worried about the performance more than anything and for us, that means a lot. But, we had dealt with it long enough earlier in the year that we've gotten used to it and had gotten fairly successful with what adjustments we needed to make Sunday without practicing late in the day on Saturday. I'm not sure what's best there. It could go either way, but it's a lot more convenient and a lot more user friendly for the guys on the race team that are doing the work to actually do it before the Busch race."
DID WE GIVE UP ON TWO-DAY SCHEDULES TOO QUICKLY? "I think we did, but it was new. Anytime something is new, we're all a little bit apprehensive - especially if our weekend isn't going exactly the way we wanted it to. We feel restricted and we don't feel like we had enough time. Again, there is a double standard there. For some fans, a three-day show is probably better because they come early and spend the weekend and I know they (promoters) like to sell hot dogs and Cokes up in the grandstand. But for us - man, two-day shows are great. I know Richmond and Bristol, when we do the night races and are in on Friday and gone on Saturday night, that's heaven to us. I don't know what we can do. It's a tough deal. We're all coping with what we've got going and it's probably not been as bad as we thought it would be running 20 races in a row, but it's sure not easy."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS TODAY AS YOU LOOK BACK AT BLAISE ALEXANDER'S DEATH ON THURSDAY NIGHT? "The thing that bothers me, personally, the most is that we're all getting used to this. Anytime you're getting used to something, it's happening too often. None of us know what the answers are. If anybody did, I'm sure we would fix it immediately, but it's a tough situation. There are five guys that all of us had some connection to in the last year that are no longer with us and, man, it's just a bad deal."
KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
SINCE BLAISE'S ACCIDENT THURSDAY, DO YOU FEEL A GREATER SENSE OF URGENCY TO FIND MORE SAFETY SOLUTIONS IN STOCK CAR RACING? "I don't see any more urgency than we had before. Everyone is still working as hard as they can to make this sport safer. I just don't understand why all this has happened in the last year and a half. These cars have been changing quite a bit, but they haven't done it all in the last year and a half. I've thought a lot about it and I just don't see it.
"Humpy [Wheeler] is just one person and he can say whatever he wants like anyone can, but I don't think there is a clear-cut answer. I've seen some information on the bumper ('Humpy Bumper') and it appears to be pretty impressive. But that's not my job; that's NASCAR's deal and I sure don't think they're dragging they're feet. When anybody gets killed or even hurt, it's easy to say that, but I don't know. I really don't. You tell me."
AS A DRIVER, HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU, AS FAR AS OPTIONAL SAFETY EQUIPMENT GOES? "You don't do it until you want to do it. I started wearing the 'Hutchens' device this year, but we didn't start wearing it right after Daytona. It took a while and I'm still probably not doing what I should because I don't wear it until race day and I'm not wearing it at all the tracks.
"A lot of people in this garage are going down the road without a seatbelt on, talking on a cell phone. There's a law against one of those and maybe a law against the other one, and all that's in the name of safety. But, it's easier said than done."
DID YOU RACE QUITE A BIT WITH BLAISE? "Not a lot - just some ARCA races. But, I spent the night with him one time in Pennsylvania. I didn't know him much at all until then, but we had a riot. He was a good kid. "I flew some of his team members with me a couple times. We ran Richmond one night and were running some ARCA race the next day and took a couple of them with me. One of them stayed in the motor home with the wife and I one night.
"Blaise was just a good kid. I always heard good things about him."