Rockingham II: Dodge - Bill Wilburn interview

BILL WILBURN (Crew Chief No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: Rained washed out Saturday practice in February at Rockingham, and Rusty Wallace started eighth in the race and led the most laps - 182. He finished sixth. Wallace will start ...

BILL WILBURN (Crew Chief No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid)

NOTE: Rained washed out Saturday practice in February at Rockingham, and Rusty Wallace started eighth in the race and led the most laps - 182. He finished sixth. Wallace will start seventh in Sunday's Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400, and rain may cancel today's practice.

"I'd pray for a rainout in Saturday practice all year if we could run like we did here in the spring. We ran great here in the spring, but Rusty is really good at this track. If it rains us out today, I feel confident about what we've got for our race stuff. We know what happened last time. We weren't that far off. We lost a little track position and couldn't get it back. Late in the race, it gets tighter and the groove moves up. We were a little slow adjusting in the middle of the race. We probably should have adjusted a pit stop sooner. We probably over adjusted for the end of the race when the rubber got down. The sun goes down here and it gets cooler and we were just a tick off. We know what to do to start for adjustments this time.

"Guys have led long stretches of races this year, but we started eighth and drove up and took the lead right away and held it for a long time. We ran in the top five or six the rest of the day. Dominance is one thing, but I just want to win. We had a good lead and Rusty knows what he has to do here to conserve the tires once he got that lead. Tires are everything. You run 40 laps and a caution falls and you get four. It's pretty much a no-brainer here. We'll see what happens. If we don't practice today, we'll be ready for tomorrow.

"It's unfortunate and I hate it the way our season has gone. No one likes to win more than I do or hates to lose more than I do. I think Rusty knows that. I know he has the same feelings I do. It's been a tough season, and if there was anything I could do to change it I would. I always look forward to the next Sunday when the race is done, and right now we're looking forward to Rockingham, and we've got Homestead left. That's two more opportunities to win a race and make something out of our season. It would really help. We would have liked to won already and be in the top 10 in the points. That's sort of the standard we'd like to uphold every year, but we didn't capitalize sometimes this season when we had the opportunity. When we did have bad luck it put us deeper in the hole.

"Next year if things stay the way they are, I just hope if the team stays intact, we'll go to Daytona and have a better effort with a better finish than we had this year. We'll start over with a new frame of mind and a clear outlook. Hopefully we'll be in position to execute things we want to do.

"I don't doubt myself. You get in position where you second guess, but you know better. I don't give up. It's tough at times. The pressure to win and the pressure you put on yourself is as great as the pressure people out there expecting you to win put on you. I'm a year smarter now. I know Rusty has been doing this a long time. He doesn't get any dumber. He gets smarter every year, too. I think we work together well. I think there's some advancing we need to do as a team compared to some other teams.

"It makes me feel good that Rusty stood up for me and supported me when all the rumors were flying. He and I have got to sit down after the season is over and have a talk and make sure he's not supporting me just because he's my friend. Rusty Wallace and I have been friends for a long time. I've worked here for a long time. I'm doing everything I can to be a proponent of better performance and winning. I hope he knows that. He's a tough guy to work for. He expects the best. He doesn't want to hear no for an answer. That's a tough position to be in. I don't ever want to give him no for an answer, either. I want to sit down with him at the end of the year and bring out some of my thoughts. I know he's got some ideas and some views he has. We need to sit down and see exactly where we are. I don't want to be his crew chief just to be his crew chief. I want to be his crew chief to help make him better.

"I haven't signed anything, and I'm not saying I wouldn't and I'm not going to. Right now the indications are I'll be here, but I want to sit down and more than just get an endorsement from him (Wallace) verbally to squelch rumors.... There hasn't been any talk in the company about me going anywhere. The rumors that were out there were started by somebody's speculation because we haven't performed up to par. Jeff Gordon and Robbie Loomis were no different. They've got things going in the right direction. They went six months and didn't win a race, now they ought to split up. That's the most bogus thing I've ever heard. If I read the internet every day I'd never get out of bed. If I read the newspaper, I'd be so depressed I couldn't even go to the bathroom.

"I don't listen to it. I've been doing this for a long time. I know what my capabilities are. I know what my responsibilities are and I try to carry them out to the best of my ability. I've got confidence in all the people that work here. They do the job that needs to be done to help us win races. We'll sit down and talk this winter and see what we can do to maximize our efforts. This winter needs to be a time to sit down and adjust and see where we need to go.

"We've got to get through these next two races first. I think we'll be good tomorrow. I think Rockingham, like Darlington, is more of a driver's track. All the short tracks fit in that mold, and I think that might be an advantage to our team. The teams are very competitive and equal at the tracks with one lane, like Kansas City. Track position is critical on where you finish and how you perform. Here, I don't think you can come out of the pits with 40 to go and have four new tires and be 10th and drive past everybody. Everybody is going to have new tires, but you've got a fighting chance of gaining some ground. At Kansas City, I wouldn't give you much of a chance of driving into the top five because track position is so critical and it's so fast. On another note, it's a shame we've lost a race here. It'd be extra special to win this race, but it'd be extra special to win any race right now. It wouldn't matter if it's the last one or first one or whatever. We just need to win, period.

"I'm ready for a break. I know the team and the driver is. I'm going to take a week off right after the season is over. We don't have any testing planned. I'm going to play a little golf, fish and just relax, and if I win the lottery, who knows what might happen."

-dodge motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Robbie Loomis