Pontiac Racing Ponoco Saturday notes

DOUG DUCHARDT, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING: REACTION TO NASCAR'S RULE MODIFICATIONS THAT ALLOWS DODGE TEAMS TO EXTEND THEIR FRONT AIR DAMS TWO INCHES FORWARD BELOW THE BUMPER STARTING WITH THE BRICKYARD 400 "Based on the data from...

DOUG DUCHARDT, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING:

REACTION TO NASCAR'S RULE MODIFICATIONS THAT ALLOWS DODGE TEAMS TO EXTEND THEIR FRONT AIR DAMS TWO INCHES FORWARD BELOW THE BUMPER STARTING WITH THE BRICKYARD 400

"Based on the data from the Atlanta wind-tunnel test (March 12, 2001), I feel this rule change unnecessary. The results of that test showed that the Dodge front downforce was very close to the Monte Carlo. This new change will give Dodge 30 lbs. of front downforce advantage over Chevrolet. That's a big difference. Last year when NASCAR allowed the Monte Carlos to pull their noses out, it was also a two-inch extension. At that time, the wind-tunnel data supported their decision and the numbers demonstrated the need. There are no numbers to support this allowance.

If this change is based on the lack of on-track performance, then NASCAR needs to consider help for the Pontiacs. While Pontiac has two wins, they were at low-speed tracks, Richmond and Sears Point. I contend that Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the best teams in the garage and they have struggled this year on high downforce tracks. Where is the rule change for Pontiac?

JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DODGE MODIFICATIONS THAT GO INTO EFFECT STARTING WITH INDIANAPOLIS?

"Well, I'd like to say I'm surprised, but nothing surprises me anymore. I'm disappointed more than anything else. It's funny, last week was the first time I heard about Dodge having an aero problem and all of a sudden they're getting a change. Here we're sitting with 1996 Pontiacs and struggling, and we can't get any help. I guess I'm a little bit taken back. If it's a balance problem, I guess they don't know they can move the roof over and backwards like everyone else does. Looks like to me like it's a situation where they gave them free downforce. If all the Dodges were running bad it would be one thing, but they got one car out there that runs good every week, and it looks like the rest of them need to figure out what he's doing before they made a rule change. It's frustrating for us especially. It's more frustrating for us to sit here and watch something we thought we had a real big advantage on earlier in the year with spring rubbers and bump stops being taken away, and now we're struggling with that and all of a sudden you go and make other race teams better. Of course it's frustrating. This is what we do and we're trying to do well with it, but apparently we're not asking for enough."

KENNY SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

YOU'VE HAD SUCCESS HERE AT POCONO IN THE PAST AND YESTERDAY YOU QUALIFIED FOURTH. HOW DO THINGS SHAPE UP FOR TOMORROW'S RACE?

"Well, we qualified fourth, the car feels good, and it's the same car we ran here last time. We should've run a lot better than we finished, but we had a carburetor problem right at the end. We dropped back to about 15th or so and got back to finish ninth, so we feel real good about it. We'll hit these practice sessions this morning and then make sure it's like it was, and then hook up with some good cars and see how it's running."

TONY STEWART WAS RECENTLY QUOTED AS SAYING YOU'RE HIS DEFINITION OF A RACER. WHY DO YOU STILL RACE SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF CARS, NOT JUST WINSTON CUP?

"I just still enjoy doing it. It's my hobby besides my profession. This week we raced Monday night and Wednesday night, and I tested Tuesday and Wednesday in the Cup car at Indy, so it's still what I want to do. I can't do much else and it's what I enjoy doing. I don't play golf, I don't go to the lake or do anything like that. It's what I want to do, I want to go race. My wife and kids go with me to most of the Cup races, so I see them a bunch. It's just June, July and August, especially around the Midwest, you can race every night of the week, so I try and race as much as I can. It's just fun.

DO YOU THINK IT'S AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE THE DODGES WERE GIVEN IN COMPARISON TO THE PONTIACS?

"I stay out of that stuff, I really do. I let our crew chief Newt Moore handle all that. I just drive the car as fast as it'll go, and they'll always change the rules how they think they need to be at that time and they'll continue to do that. They've done a good job with it, but, yea, we'd like to have some concessions too, but obviously we're not getting it right now."

DO YOU GET FRUSTRATED BEING WITH A TOP TEAM TRYING TO GET BACK TO THE WINNER'S CIRCLE

"I feel good that at least I've won before, but, yea, it has been a long time. The problem when you're supposed to be a top team is there's 25 of us that are supposed to be top teams, but there's only five teams that end up top five at the end of the year. This is a five- or six-year team that worked out of a 10,000-sq. ft. shop until this year, and they just teamed up with the 10 car last year. I think they're really just starting to get everything they need to work with this year. We had cars that I drove last year that I drove as the 25 car in Budweiser colors in '95. Now we got a lot of new stuff, but it's all part of building a team. You can't throw enough money at a team to make it a top team, you've got to build it and that's what we're doing. Newt (Moore) has come over and helped us a lot, and we've had some runs this year that weren't spectacular runs but they were a lot better than where we finished - one of them was right here last month. We're just working at it. The reason we're not one of the top teams is because we've got to run two tenths of a second qicker every lap, and we haven't figured out how to do that yet. It's just not that easy."

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT TAKES TO BUILD A WINNING TEAM?

"The main thing is you've got to get a driver and crew chief that really communicate. Then you got to get 20 people in the garage that believe in the crew chief and do whatever he says. You've got to have enough of a budget to get what you need, at least the basics. I've never really built or even rebuilt a team. A driver really doesn't do that by himself, and I've been fortunate. I went to Andy (Petree) and it wasn't a start-up team, but it was a start-up for him, and they had good solid stuff. This team was already going and was just going through a little restructuring. This team would've really been good if Ernie (Irvan) hadn't got hurt. That first year he drove for this team, they were really strong. And the sport's really changed in the last few years - really changed. But it's all chemistry. This whole thing is how do people get along - how much confidence they have in one another."

RICK MAST, NO. 27 DUKE'S MAYONNAISE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

YOUR THOUGHTS ON MAKING A CHANGE TO A NEW TEAM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON.

"Well, today we're just planning on practicing hard. Obviously this team has struggled, everybody's noticed that. When I went to A.J. Foyt's team last year we couldn't make races - I missed three races when I first got there. But we identified our problems and started fixing them, and the second half of the year we were pretty good. I see a parallel here with this race team. I've been to the shop and they've got a lot of good equipment, they've got good personnel. Why they're missing races, I'm not sure, but we're working on that. Yesterday I think we identified quite a few problems they didn't realize they had, and we're going back to work on them and alleviate some of these problems."

ARE YOU WITH THE 27 CAR JUST THIS WEEKEND OR FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?

"As of this time today, this is only a one-race deal. We'll see what happens this week."

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT COMING UP.

"It's the 8th annual Rick Mast Golf Classic and Concert benefiting the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic. On Tuesday, Sept. 4, right after Darlington and before Richmond, we have our Rick Mast Concert at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va. We'll have five or six of the drivers come up and it's kind of like a mini Winston Cup preview. We'll have 3,000 to 4,000 fans come, show cars, and the drivers will be there to sign autographs. And then Wednesday, Sept. 5, we'll have a golf tournament at The Homestead. The first year without our fundraiser, the Free Clinic wouldn't have survived, but it's surviving now. The doctors there treat people who don't have health insurance or can't afford to go to the doctor. It's totally self-sufficient and it's a good cause.

YOU'RE STILL LOOKING FOR THAT FIRST WINSTON CUP WIN. DOES THAT GET FRUSTRATING?

"Over the years I can look back on quite a few races that if I had gotten to the checkered flag without problems, I think I had a better than 90% chance of winning. In other words we had done the right things chassis-wise, motor-wise, driving-wise and all that to get to that point. If I looked back over the years and said, 'Man, I can figure out a single race that I could've won,' then I wouldn't be doing this. I know internally what I think I can do and what I've done in the past, and what I should be able to do in the future."

DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST RACE WHERE YOU GOT PAID?

"I was paid about the first year when I was 16 racing a dirt car. About my sixth race out I won the race and it paid about $60, but I got a speeding ticket going to the racetrack. So I go to court to pay the ticket, and the judge said I had to pay the ticket, you're dad can't pay it. He asked me how I was going to pay the ticket, if I had a job on the side. I said yea, I drive a race car and that probably was the wrong thing to say.

JIMMY MAKAR, CREW CHIEF, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DODGE MODIFICATIONS THAT GO INTO EFFECT FOR NEXT WEEK'S BRICKYARD 400

"When I was young, my parents taught me if I didn't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all. I thought they built that car off of a common NASCAR template of the Taurus, so I don't understand why that particular brand needs a change. It doesn't make any sense to me. It's very frustrating. There's no reason for it. They've run well for a new car, the teams have been competitive, they've led laps, they've got one car that's in the top five in points. And of all places to get it, a Indianapolis it will really show up. Of all the places we go, that'll be a place that the changes will do the most good for them. It's going to be frustrating going to Indy and know these guys got something that they don't need. And there doesn't seem to be a good reason for it - the wind tunnels don't show it, the cars are running competitively, you look at their teams and the drivers and who they are and where they should be running, I don't see where the make of their car is making the difference."

BARRY DODSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 27 DUKE'S MAYONNAISE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FRONT-END CONCESSIONS GIVEN THE DODGE TEAMS

"I don't know. You're surprised by a lot of things, but this is a total shocker to me, especially in the middle of the season after everyone's tested Indy. I don't know that the Pontiac has had any help since '94 or '95. Dodge hasn't won, but they're certainly knocking on the door, and this will just guarantee them some wins. It just makes it tougher for us. The Dodge is already pretty much a clone of the Taurus and you see that they're pretty dominant cars, so it just makes our hole a little deeper. I'm really surprised to see it. The parity's not quite there anyway, and this puts it even more uneven than it was.

You've got Dodge teams that made a brand change and are still doing better than last year, even being on a learning curve. What people also forget is Goodyear has had a totally new tire this year for teams to get used to and those teams are still doing better. This is just going to hand them a whole lot of front downforce, almost the same as running the car taped off for qualifying. We can't compete with that."

-GM Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rick Mast , A.J. Foyt
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing , DAMS