Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame Racing, Talk with Media Infineon Raceway TROY AIKMAN AND ROGER STAUBACH, OWNERS OF HALL OF FAME RACING, NO. 96 DLP HDTV MONTE CARLO SS, VISITED WITH THE MEDIA TO DISCUSS THEIR SEASON TO DATE: T.
Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame Racing, Talk with Media Infineon Raceway
TROY AIKMAN AND ROGER STAUBACH, OWNERS OF HALL OF FAME RACING, NO. 96 DLP HDTV MONTE CARLO SS, VISITED WITH THE MEDIA TO DISCUSS THEIR SEASON TO DATE:
T. Aikman: I think if you look at everything, we're probably where we should be right now, realistically. I think everybody looks at it and says they'd like to be better than where they are or if certain things had fallen into place we'd be positioned a little bit better than where we currently are. But we've had some things that have gone real well for us. We've had some races that have not gone well for us for a variety of reasons. But one thing we've done a good job of is finishing the races. That's important for a team like ours. How are we going to do today? Roger and I were talking about it a little bit earlier and this type of race. A road course is new to me. I've never been to one. Terry Labonte is getting back in the seat today after having raced the first five races, so we're kind of anxious to see how it goes today. We didn't qualify particularly well this week and that's something that has plagued us. Today we have to overcome some things if we're going to have a good finish. Our sponsor has been great. The team we've put together is just great. It just takes time. We've got over 40 people working for Hall of Fame Racing. Terry did a great job of getting in on points. We knew we had to qualify. It is really fun watching the race. It is so frustrating, though, to know that you can't possibly win. To run up front -- we do have that capability. We've come close. We came in 16th. We've had two 17th (place finishes). I've learned how competitive this sport is. You're competing against really great teams. But I'll tell you what, (crew chief) Phillipe Lopez and (drivers) Tony Raines and Terry Labonte -- of course Tony is our main driver but Terry is going to give us seven races this year -- we really have a passion. We've learned a lot. I think we've accomplished a lot. But it's hard for me to celebrate coming in 24th or 17th and we're celebrating. We're not used to that. But that's where we are. If we can be anywhere from 20th to 25th this year, it will be a great year. And we have that chance. Three years ago we thought we could get into Cup and we could win. It's a learning process. The fans have been great. There's a lot of military involved. They've been nice to us. It's nice to have people feel sorry for you. I haven't had that before (laughter). But it's a great fan base. We're enjoying it. We have a great sponsor in DLP. When it's all said and done, we're a bit frustrated but we're also excited about owning a car in the Nextel Cup Series.
Q: Can you compare this season with your rookie season?
T. Aikman: I get asked that question every time we discuss motorsports and they want to compare the season with my rookie year. I really don't think you can. Obviously there are some growing pains that go with it. We were one and 15 my rookie season. I was winless as a starting quarterback. It wasn't until my second year before I even walked off the field with a victory. We were able to win a Super Bowl four years later and certainly it was not easy to do. We've been much more successful doing this that what we were in my rookie year. Now Roger may have a different slant on it. I think you guys won the Super Bowl in your rookie, didn't you?
R. Staubach: Not my rookie year; our third year. The first year I started, we actually won the Super Bowl.
You've won more Super Bowls, though, by the way.
T. Aikman: Roger kind of touched on it. It's competitive. I don't think we've really been surprised by it. We'd been following the sport and had heard a number of things before we got in and how competitive it is. There is nothing that has happened that's really surprised me. To answer your question, we've had more success in racing than what we had when I first got into the NFL. To think that we're going to be able to be where we were four years later, I think that would be pretty optimistic.
Q: At any point, have you looked at each other and thought oh my, what have we gotten ourselves into?
R. Staubach: Oh yes -- mainly because we've learned about the history. I got started in the commercial real estate business when I was playing football. I worked in the off-season and I started my company 28 years ago. We have 1400 people. We're growing. We're learning every day. It's taken a long time and we're still learning. I think you just have to pay a price to be successful at something. That's what I've really learned about the history here. There has just been a lot of history and a lot of experienced teams. It's going to take us time.
How do you be respectful and competitive as you try to build your team? That's what we've done this year. We've had some success for being a new car and a new team. That part is exciting. We look at that and think, man, why can't we be better than this. So it is a bit frustrating, but in a good way. I don't know if I explained that right. We're over our heads. But we have people that aren't over their heads that have come together for the first time and I think people want to see us do well, which is good -- even if they are a Redskins fan or a 49ers fan. That's what I've liked. We've had people get behind us. We're doing some things right. We have the resources to put our driver out there with good equipment and a good team. So it's frustrating but it's also exciting."
T. Aikman: The other part of that is that we're both extremely competitive. Roger touched on it when he said we finished 24th and for us that's not really cause for celebration, but yet, because of where we're at as a start-up team, we recognize how competitive it is. And if we were to finish in the top 25 at the end of the year, that would be a very successful year. So the mindsets had to change a little bit. The other part of it is that when I scratch my head and wonder what did we get into, just when things that happen that are beyond your control that affect the outcome of a race -- or your team -- and that happened at in week one Daytona with the carburetor of which we had no control over. We were penalized. We've discussed that. And then we've had races where we've had a good car and were running great and then something breaks down and all of a sudden you're finishing 40th. And we're not alone. It's just that our eyes are being opened to a certain extent about some of the things. It's one thing when you're putting a team together -- and we feel like we've put together a good team. The guys are very talented and they've come together very well. Generally in other sports, you kind of dictate your future. Whereas this, you're also relying on some mechanical things that don't always operate the way you're supposed to.
R. Staubach: Tony (Raines) has really driven well for us. We've been involved with Rick Hendrick and of course, Joe Gibbs. We've had people that are good to us and allowed us to be where we are today. Rick allowed us to have Terry (Labonte). Tony is our diamond in the rough. This is probably the first time he's had a commitment at this level and I think he's doing really well. He's an aggressive driver. We had a flat tire last week. I've sure learned a lot. Of course with my engineering degree at the Naval Academy, I understand the mechanics of a car perfectly (laughs). Just kidding. We're really learning all these ways that a car has to come together. I'm going to be using NASCAR as an example of teamwork of the crews and the things that have to come together. When we've had our car running right, Tony has done a great job. He's a diamond in the rough for us this year. We're happy with Tony and I think he's excited to be on our team. He loves sports and I think he likes Troy and I and we get along great with him. I think it's positive. We're in a different world. We're football players, but we're also competitors and we know what teamwork is. Having the right people in the right places doing the right things. Tony really likes our commitment to the sport. We have a great relationship with him.
Q: On the future plans for drivers:
R. Staubach: Our Managing Partner, Bill Saunders is in the middle of that and we meet with him regularly. There are five of us that are committed to this car and who are responsible. We're looking at a lot of young drivers. These teams -- with Joe (Gibbs) -- you've got Home Depot and Interstate Batteries and Federal Express -- but he's doing some training with young drivers and talking about it to us. We're looking at everything. We're happy with Tony though. We have Tony this year and I'm sure we'll be talking with him at the end of the year and looking at other possibilities. But our Managing Partner keeps us informed everyday and I don't want to be speculating.
But we're learning and understanding how some of these teams are looking at drivers and brining them up through the system. But Tony is in his 40's but I just can't say enough about his commitment to us this year. And he's been driving hard and driving well. He could be with us for a long time. It's just going to depend on what happens at the end of the year.
Q: On teamwork
R. Staubach: When we first started putting this team together, we talked about teamwork and the ingredients that it takes to be successful. We have a lot of people from other teams who have come together for the first time. I believe we have a chance of making our organization like a Bob Kraft-type. He came with the New England Patriots and got things turned around real fast. He had the right people doing the right things. There are some teams in the NFL that still haven't figured it out. They've been around 40 - 50 years and they haven't been to a Super Bowl or won many playoff games. So we feel that we have a chance of bringing that commitment, that priority other that one's self -- to the forefront and we're preaching that. We're hoping that is going to help us be more competitive quicker because we feel we understand how important teamwork is. If you look at some of the race teams, and it's not all hunky-dory on those race teams. Golly. It's kind of exciting to me to see them all yelling at each other.
Q: Are you going to become a two-car team?
T. Aikman: I think if we looked at it down the road then certainly, we'd be a multi-car team. I think what happens too many times is people start thinking too far ahead rather than taking care of what they have on their hands at the time. My approach with this team and how we go forward is that we've got to get this car where it needs to be to be competitive before we start talking about trying to get another car. Having said that, we know that the economics of it make sense for us to have a multi-car team.
R. Staubach: Troy and I have a significant ownership in this team. This is a very expensive proposition. Our sponsor is very, very good. They are committed to us. They don't cover everything. Having another car to compete that we, strategy-wise, have to continue to look at. And then it's getting another sponsor. It's getting a sponsor that sees that it can be successful with us. You've got a whole lot going on now with Toyota and lots of things cooking. We know that having that single car and trying to compete is..and we want to be in the Chase...it's going to be difficult with a single car.