Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, June 28, 2005 Daytona Pepsi 400 Advance RUSTY WALLACE (No. 12 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) NOTE: Fresh off a fourth-place finish in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 on Sunday at Infineon Raceway, Wallace...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Daytona Pepsi 400 Advance
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 12 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Fresh off a fourth-place finish in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 on Sunday at Infineon Raceway, Wallace heads to Daytona International Speedway for his final Cup race ranked sixth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Standings. He has eight top 10 finishes in 16 races in 2005 and trails fifth-place Mark Martin by only nine points. He's 237 points behind leader Greg Biffle with 10 races remaining to qualify for The Chase. The 48-year-old St. Louis native will make his 44th career start at Daytona in search of his first victory at the 2.5-mile track. Although he's never won at DIS, Wallace ranks seventh in money won at Daytona.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ENTERING FINAL RACE AT DAYTONA? "I've got a lot of positive feelings about Daytona even though I haven't won. I've had a lot of good runs there and a lot of bad runs, bad runs with some horrifying crashes in the past. The track has been pretty good to me. The last Daytona 500 I finished 10th. That was real good. I thought I could have finished better than that if the race had kept going without the caution flags that it had. This is my last shot at victory at Daytona, so I'm optimistic going into it. I am at almost every track. The car I'm going to run is the car that ran the 500. We took the car back after the 500 and rebuilt it completely, made it a lot better. My guys assure me it's a good car. I can understand how you'd ask that question from all the bad luck I've had in the past, but lately I've run well there."
DO YOU ANTICIPATE BEING MORE SENTIMENTAL GOING TO TRACKS FOR THE FINAL TIME? "I think that will happen more and more, although the only thing that could cover that up is just the intensity of competition right now. I'm relentless at wanting to win and relentless at wanting to get in the top 10 in the points. I'm relentless wanting to go out at the top of my game at a very high level, so right now, I'm on track. Points look good. We're in position right now, no doubt about that. I think a lot of guys who thought they were going to be position or thought were going to be out, it's the other way around. There's a lot of good cars that aren't in it now. We've got a great car and we're in it, so I'm liking that part. Being so intense at doing that, that could overshadow some of the sorrow of leaving and going back to some of these tracks for the last time."
COMMENT ON DIFFICULT SCHEDULE OF RACING IN CALIFORNIA ON SUNDAY AND THEN BEING IN DAYTONA BY THURSDAY MORNING "The schedule is tough man. That's one of the reasons a year ago I announced I'm going to stop doing this full time, just because the schedule is the only thing that made me make this big decision. I didn't have enough time to spend with my family and do the things I want to do. When you've got to leave Sonoma on Sunday night late, drive 2000 miles home and the truck driver has to be at Daytona on Thursday morning, that's asking a lot out of everybody, it really is. Things like that are putting a lot of people on overload, but the good teams are prepared for it. Our Daytona cars were finished, covered up, sitting there on the truck ready to go before everything left to go for Sonoma. I think most of the big teams are like that."
COMMENT ON YOUR DODGE CHARGER FOR THE PEPSI 400 "My main car I lost in the 150, that was the car I was really happy with for the 500. It was a real good car, although the night race at Daytona, people tend to bring back a car with a little more downforce and it's a little bit better car to drive in that hot race, even though it's cooler at night it's still a warm day. We took both back after testing for the 500 and this car didn't run as well as we wanted it to because it had too high drag, this was wrong, that was wrong. They've had a long time now to cut the body off, throw it in the garbage can and start over. Really the only thing that's left over is the chassis. It's got a completely new body on it. It's been to the wind tunnel three or four times. They're excited about it, so I hope it's as good as they say. We hadn't paid any more attention to that particular car except it'd be nice if that was one of the best cars I've ever had at Daytona being this is my last race at Daytona. I don't know if that's going to be the case or not. All I know it's going to be as good as the car I had going into the Daytona 500."
WILL QUALIFYING FOR THE 400 BE CRUCIAL? "We're taking it serious. It's a tough deal there. Unlike the downforce tracks where guys change the air pressure in the tires a lot and drop the track bars a lot to tighten up the cars and put a lot of wedge in 'em so they can bottom down the corners. It's going to be totally opposite at Daytona. It's going to be how fast you can get that thing to go in the draft and how fast it'll run by itself. I know at Daytona they can drop the flag and I can be last and I can be first in 20 laps so it's just the way that track is."
COMMENT ON A POINT EARLY IN YOUR CAREER WHERE EVERYTHING COULD HAVE GONE DIFFERENT "My whole career has been good. There have been high times and low times just like everybody's career. When I started with Blue Max back in 1986, that was definitely a high time as far as performance. We were just winning like crazy, winning everything and did that up until the end of the '90 season before I parted with the team. We started Team Penske and that was on a rise. What started to go wrong there was we started having to find new crew chiefs. We started out with Jimmy Makar and Jimmy decided he wanted to do something different. We brought in another fellow. There were so many I can't remember his name. He was a young kid that didn't work out. We brought in Eddie Dickerson and he helped us out a lot but then that started to burn thin. Then we brought Todd Parrott (as car chief, not crew chief) and that's when everything started to take off. We brought Todd Parrott in and him and I had a ton of wins for a long, long time. I didn't think it would ever stop. You get a good guy out there and other teams start buying teams apart, offering them more money. Todd had a good time with us, and he went off on his way. Then it was to find different crew chiefs, bring this guy in, bring that guy in. That's what screwed me up, all the different crew chiefs and trying to find consistency. Then the last few years I've found consistency with Larry Carter. He's been real good for me. He's a great guy and I love working with him. I've got a lot of respect for him. When you've got consistency and respect it works well. I wish I would have had Larry on board three or four years ago and we wouldn't have had those couple of bad years. This is our second year with Larry and we've been real consistent."
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS AT THE START OF THE YEAR? "At the start of the year my goal was to go out on the top of my game and hopefully win a couple of races with the ultimate goal of winning the championship and winning the very last race of the year at Homestead and tell all the fans and media thank you very much for a great career and see you later, one of those deals. That's the ultimate goal. Realistically to get in that top 10 with 10 to go is a big goal and to get a victory is a big goal. That would solidify my career I think."
HOW MUCH COMPETITION IS THERE AMONG THE BEER COMPANIES IN RACING? "I would say beer companies are very competitive. I'm sure they're all good people, but they really fight hard for their beer turf, no doubt about it. Miller and Budweiser and the rest of them, it's not a secret. These guys don't get along at all. They work hard to get each other's share, and that's just the way it is. That's one thing I've understood. The target audiences are younger people, mid 20s. Unfortunately I'm not that age. Although I've got a great contract with the Miller Brewing Co. I had a great meeting with them last week. One of the neat things I heard is they have icons and Rusty Wallace is considered one of their major icons and they plan to do a lot with me in the future. The companies have been real competitive with each other. They've been price cutting each other to get more market share. They've got a lot of good plans for me. They've been wonderful for my career and I've had a good time with them. The young people, whoever the younger driver is for the 2 car, if that driver fits Miller's category then Miller is definitely going to be with Team Penske for a couple more years. They've already agreed to do that, but they're going to have to get ready for some work because the brewery is going to work them hard. They'll spend some money on 'em, too. They'll do some national TV stuff with them and take them around to a lot of places, a lot of meet and greets. Working for the beer company is fun, but it's a lot of work, too."
HOW DID THINGS CHANGE WHEN DALE JR. CAME ON BOARD? "He's a young kid. He's popular. His father was incredibly popular. It trickled down to his son, there's no doubt about that. When his dad put the deal together with Budweiser for Junior to drive the car he started to get the audience that Bud was after and it worked out well. I think all the beer companies are trying to get that target audience right now. The neat thing I love about Miller is they love their Miller Lite All-Stars and I'm glad to be part of that program. I can't be 25 forever. I've done all I could. I've used a trick cream to try to keep my face smooth and all the stuff. I'm 48 and that's it. I can't do nothing about it. I've had a great career with Miller and I've got another seven years left on my contract. I've got a lot of great plans with myself and other folks. Budweiser hit a home run with Junior with the heritage he has from senior and his age and the whole thing. It was good."
REALISTICALLY WHAT WERE YOUR EXPECTATIONS GOING INTO THIS SEASON? "Realistically, if you look at my record I went for 16 years without being out of the top 10. My worst was like seventh. When I started swapping all the crew chiefs around I lost all my consistency and it fell. I'm like this is not me. This is not Team Penske. We're not an out of the top 10 team. We have the resources and talent to get the job done. Once we got Carter on board and got the consistency going and got the engines going, we're back in The Chase like we're supposed to be. I'm exactly where I expect myself to be. I expect myself to be higher. With the operation we've got and the car owner we've got and the sponsors we've got, the only reason we're not in the top 10 we need to get our cars handling a little bit better. Handling is a big deal. We have the pit crew, the engine, the aerodynamics, we've just got to get the handling better and we'll be right there."
SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE ON THE EDGE "I've been on edge for that for a long, long time, no doubt about that. People forget real quick, out of sight, out of mind. You've got to constantly keep educating people and reminding people. Same deal with all the sponsors. The Miller Brewing Co. is all new people. Every son of a gun in there is new. We've got to go in there and educate them about how the sport has been, so I find myself educating a lot of people. These guys are all good guys, but they've got to be reminded about what's happening out there. Sometimes they only see things at face value. I understand that. That's just the way it is. I'm proud of my career and proud of my team. You're constantly explaining and telling people what you've got there."?
COMMENT ON NEW IOWA TRACK "I've been working for two years on the first ever driver-designed racetrack in Newton, Iowa. I was hired to head up that project for design. I worked with some great architects. We basically raised over $80 million and the project is underway. We were there last week for the ground breaking. We got 20 bulldozers going on right now and we'll be racing there next year. We're building a seven eighths mile racetrack. We've worked really hard on hospitality and getting the fans in and out, getting suites built. We've got the tunnels, pit lanes, warm up lanes, we've got a road course inside of it. We're going to start off with ARCA and USAC (and have) other organizations, concerts, a lot of other cool things going on. The state of Iowa just went nuts. We had 18 senators and the Lt. Governor there. It was a huge day for the ground breaking. Newton, Iowa, is 20 miles dead east of Des Moines, right at the crossroads of America at Interstate 80 and 35. NASCAR is well in the loop of everything we're doing there. Our best hope once the track is done and we show them what kind of beautiful facility we've got, we can get a truck race or a Busch race one of these days. People always ask why not build a track like Richmond, so that's what we've done.
If you need more information you can contact my PR guy, Tom Roberts. He'll have all the names and contacts. I believe it's going to be the most awesome speedway in the entire world that I've ever raced on. I will not be competing in the first race there, but I will have my Miller Lite car on that racetrack checking out the smoothness and things like that. I'll drive the new track to make sure the consistency is right before I put my sign of approval on it."