Pete Rondeau , Crew Chief, No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Q&A's With Media: ON THE TEST "We've made some gains here this week. We'll keep working on it. There's drafting practice tomorrow and we'll let Junior show his stuff...
Pete Rondeau , Crew Chief, No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Q&A's With Media:
ON THE TEST
"We've made some gains here this week. We'll keep working on it. There's drafting practice tomorrow and we'll let Junior show his stuff then."
ON HIS NEW ROLE AS CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 8
"It's a little different. I've got more microphones stuck in my face. I've worked with Junior a little bit in the past. I just stepped up as crew chief with Michael (Waltrip) at the end of the year (2004) and it was a little different. I have worked with Michael for the past three years. It's going to be a little different with Dale Jr., but I think it's going to go well."
DID YOU WORRY ABOUT THE PRESSURE?
"I knew there would be a lot of outside pressure. But as a rule, I'm not willing to put a lot of pressure on myself to do this kind of stuff. I'll just get off course if I do that. I don't want to get off course."
"It was a little crazy. My whole summer was a little crazy last year. I left the No. 15 in June and became the crew chief on the No. 1 car and then did a bunch of Busch races and then went back to the No. 15 car as the crew chief. They asked if I was willing to do it and I said, 'Heck yeah.'"
ON COMMUNCATING WITH JUNIOR AND NOT BEING FAMILY
"Well, it might be easier with him and me communicating together because we're not family and stepping on each other's toes because we're not family. But we'll work through it."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE IMMENSE ATTNETION THAT CENTERS AROUND JUNIOR?
"It's intense with the fans and the media. I'm just trying to keep that separate from my job."
WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?
"I've been doing this all my life - I just like racing and winning races. That's what we get paid to do. Years ago, I didn't get paid to do this and now I do. My intensity is no different now than it was back then."
HAVE YOU AND DALE JR. CLICKED?
"One of Dale Jr's biggest things is wanting to be involved in the decisions in the car and I'm all for that and I think he needs to be for future reference and we can communicate that way."
DO YOU HAVE AN ENGINEERING BACKGROUND TO HELP WITH JUNIOR'S COMMUNICATION WITH YOU?
"No, I do not have an engineering background but I like working with our engineers. We're going to be more intense on the engineering side working with our new engineers over here."
WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY WHEN THINGS DON'T GO WELL?
"There will be times when he's going to get excited and wound up. As a rule, I don't. It takes me a little bit to get wound up. If he gets wound up in the race car, it's my job to make sure he relaxes back down because he'll be at his best if he's relaxed."
ARE YOU PREPARED FOR SOME POSSIBLE DOWN MOMENTS WHEN PEOPLE THINK MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE CHANGED CREW CHIEFS?
"I'm plenty prepared for that. It's going to take a while. If we hit it right off the bat, then we do. If we don't, that's not going to be a big thing for me. This is going to be a long term relationship and we're going to build toward it."
YOU'RE EXPECTED TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500. THAT'S A LOT OF PRESSURE ON A GUY, ISN'T IT?
"Yeah, that's okay. It's not like we're expected to, but if we do, we do, and that's going to be great. But if we don't, there are 37 more races?"
ARE YOU WORRIED THAT YOU MIGHT MAKE A MISTAKE AND LOSE THE DAYTONA 500 WITH A PARTICULAR CALL? ARE YOU GOING TO BE BOLD WHEN YOU MAKE THOSE CALLS OR ARE YOU GOING TO BE RELUCTANT TO GET OUT TOO FAR IN FRONT OF THE SITUATION?
"I've been pretty decisive on my decisions in the past. If I do make a mistake, I'm not going to dwell on it. We'll just learn from it and move on."
ON RUNNING NEW CARS VERSUS CARS FROM MICHAEL WALTRIP'S STABLE
"It's basically going to be the same pieces that Michael raced last year. We're going to add maybe one or two cars to the fleet. They will be intermediate and short track cars."
HOW HAS THE TEST AND HOW THE TEAMS ARE FITTING IN
"The guys are super guys. They work their butts off. As far as Junior working with them, we're all starting to talk together now. Junior is starting to feel them out and they're feeling Junior out. The communication is coming around already in just the first two days we've been together. The test has gone well."
HOW MUCH ARE YOU WORKING WITH THE NO. 15 TEAM?
"Tony Eury Jr. and I are working pretty hand in hand. A lot of information is going back and forth right now."
HOW MANY GUYS DID YOU BRING WITH YOU OVER HERE? HOW MANY GUYS ARE YOUR GUYS AND HOW MANY ARE JUNIOR'S GUYS?
"Everybody. It's the same team that was here before."
HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THE TEAM VIEWING YOU AS KIND OF A YOUNG GUY?
"That's okay. Everybody has to start someplace and I'll start here."
HOW DID WORKING WITH JUNIOR GO AT BRISTOL?
"That was a perfect weekend. We came off the trailer real good. He asked for a few things and we tuned on it a little bit. He said he was happy with the car. It was too easy of a weekend, actually."
WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND?
"I originally started up in Maine running on a local track. I proceeded on to running the American Canadian tour and then the Featherlite Modified Series on a part time basis and then the Busch North Series on a part time basis."
WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN TAKING OVER THIS TEAM?
"Giving Dale Jr. what he needs."
DID YOU DRIVE?
"Yes, I drove myself for 18 years."
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE IT WAS TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE?
"When I started taking money off the table at the race."
WHEN DALE JR. CALLS FOR SOMETHING, WILL HE GET WHATEVER HE WANTS?
"No, I'm not going to say that he's going to get whatever he wants. But during the race, that's where our learning process is going to be in my communication with him as far as how he's relating the changes to the chassis. I'm not going to say that if he calls for a change that I'm going to say no. But I'm not going to do it just because he wants it done. But he's a good chassis driver and I think that's why he does as well as he does. He's good with the chassis work."
WAS JASPER THE FIRST CUP TEAM YOU WORKED WITH?
"Yes, Jasper was the first Cup team."
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"That's where Junior and I are on the same page. If we go out to win races and attempt to do that every week, the rest of that stuff will fall into place."
HE SAYS THE KEY IS NOT TO BE TOO UPTIGHT IN THE FIRST 26 RACES AND SAVE YOUR MENTAL ENERGY FOR THE LAST 10. IS THAT HOW YOU LOOK AT IT?
"Yeah I'm with him on that. We've got to get into the top 10, but it's the same old philosophy. If we just win races and do well, it'll all fall into place."
BESIDES THE ENGINEERING ASPECT, WHAT OTHER WEAKNESSES DO YOU HAVE TO ADDRESS TO GET YOURSELF INTO CHAMPIONSHIP MODE?
"Well, everyone is going to have to adapt to the new aero changes. That might be an area we have to look at pretty heavily just with them taking an inch off the spoiler. Not only is that a big change, but I need to incorporate that into our communication when tuning these new cars."
DID YOU KNOW THIS CHANGE WAS COMING AND HOW DID IT UNFOLD FOR YOU?
"I didn't know it was coming. I was just called down to Richie's (Gilmore) office and Dale Jr. was sitting in there. He said have a seat and asked me if I wanted the job."
DID YOU SAY YES RIGHT AWAY?
WHO DO YOU TALK TO WHEN YOU NEED SOME ADVICE?
"I talk to the guys who have been around DEI for a while like Richie and Pops and Tony Eury Sr. and Jr. both. That's basically who we go to."
WHAT HAS TONY EURY SR. TOLD YOU ABOUT THIS JOB?
"He hasn't really said too much yet. He's helped me here this week as far as what Junior is saying about how the car is in the middle of the turn and how to relate to it. I think everything will be fine. I have that stuff to fall back on. We've got a lot of people here with a lot of knowledge. I'd be foolish not to dip into it."
YOU DON'T SEEM LIKE YOU'RE LAYING AWAKE AT NIGHT WORRYING ABOUT THINGS
"I'm not going to do that. There are too many resources here at DEI to do that."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TRACKS LIKE VEGAS & ATLANTA, AND THE SPOILER RULE CHANGE?
"The tests at California and Vegas will be important. At Daytona, it's basically what you bring off the trailer is what you have. You just talk with Dale Jr. and he'll say he really doesn't care where we qualify. He'll just say to make sure the thing is good in the draft."
HOW DOES DALE JR. EXPECT YOU TO ACT WITH HIM?
"He just expects me to be straight-forward with him and he'll be straight-forward with me. And that's going to be a big thing for us. I've worked real hard at doing that also with the guys. I've told them to be real straight-forward with him and let him know everything he wants to know. Our relationship is going to be better if we're straight up with each other."
ARE YOU A PRETTY CALM GUY?
"Yeah, I don't scream and yell too much."
ON DALE JR'S FORMER PERFORMANCES AT MID-SIZE TRACKS, DO YOU THINK YOU CAN SOLVE IT OR DO YOU THINK THERE'S A LOT OF WORK TO DO?
"No, I'm not going to say I have that solved. I took his list of finishes from last year and highlighted his bad spots and put them up on the bulletin board for everybody to see and they know that's where we need to work."
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS OR IS IT GOING TO TAKE A LOT OF TESTING AND TRYING THIS AND THAT?
"I've got few ideas. Even when we were with Michael, those were kind of his better race tracks. So, I'm going to dip into those resources also."
ON THE PIT CREWS
"They're both awesome pit crews. They're real good. The No. 15 guys from last year, who are the No. 8 guys now, were one of the best out there. The only reason it didn't show is because of DNF's and stuff like that."
DO YOU THINK OF DALE JR. A HIGH-MAINTENANCE GUY OR A LOW-MAINTENANCE GUY?
"He's not a high maintenance driver and I wouldn't say that Michael is a high maintenance driver. They all have their moments. I guess it depends on how you respond to them when they respond to you. If you're going to set them off, then I guess they're going to be high maintenance. But I'm going to try not to set him off."
WHAT WAS YOUR SPECIALITY BEFORE YOU CAME INTO THIS?
"Well, I definitely lean more toward being a chassis guy. I used to build chassis for a living. I had my own fabrication business."
ON TODAY'S TEST
"We made gains all day. We were 22nd or 23rd on the board. We stayed in race tape most of the day. We tried a little bit of qualifying tape but stayed in race tape most of the day."
DOES ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR SET YOU OFF?
"Yes, doing things twice when you don't need to. We've surrounded ourselves with good people and that very seldom happens. And even then, I'm not going to scream at someone for that. We're just going to make sure we learn from it."