Dodge Motorsports Teleconference April 21, 2009 Reed Sorenson, Driver, No. 43 Air Force Dodge Charger Q: A SOLID RUN FOR THE 43 TEAM LAST WEEKEND IN PHOENIX; TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE? A: It was a pretty good night for us. We really didn't have...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
April 21, 2009
Reed Sorenson, Driver, No. 43 Air Force Dodge Charger
Q: A SOLID RUN FOR THE 43 TEAM LAST WEEKEND IN PHOENIX; TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE?
A: It was a pretty good night for us. We really didn't have any problems with anything on the car...any mechanical issues...or any flat tires or anything like that. I had a pretty solid night. I think that we could have finished a little bit better; we had a few hiccups in the pits and had to kind of battle our way through the field all night long starting in the back like we did. We passed the same cars two or three different times which kind of slowed us down a little bit, but at the end of the day, we had a pretty good finish. It was a nice solid day for us where we had a decent car, not a great car. The guys did a real good job in practice to get a good car under us, so we were pretty happy with how the whole weekend went. (The weekend) was pretty smooth; it was a good points day for us, so it was pretty good.
Q: HOW IS THE TIRE TEST GOING IN INDY?
A: It's been wet. It seems like every time we get out on the track and get running a little bit, it starts to rain. We actually started out this morning and the track was dry. We went out and ran a couple of times and it started raining. That's kind of what we've been battling for the past two days here. It looks like we're going to stay tomorrow (and test) and be in Indy for three days. I think tomorrow, the weather is suppose to be great, no chance of rain at all. We'll probably be here tomorrow for at least half-a-day because I know that Goodyear wants to make sure that they get enough laps on these tires to see how long they are going to make it or not.
Q: DOES A DRIVER WHO TIRE TESTS GAIN AN ADVANTAGE THAT IS CARRIED OVER TO RACE WEEKEND?
A: Yeah, when it doesn't rain (laughs). It would help if we could get more laps out there. There's four of us here and we've gotten about the same amount of laps. We haven't been able to do a whole lot just because of the rain. But, I would say yes (you can get an advantage) under a circumstance where you can run some laps. But when you're fighting the rain like this and all the rubber washes off the track that we just put down, it's just a continuous battle of trying to get laps out there. It will still help some, but not as much as if it didn't rain.
Q: IT'S PREDICITED TO BE WARM IN TALLADEGA THIS WEEKEND; WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RACE THIS WEEKEND?
A: It doesn't matter at Talladega. It can be 100 degrees or 50 degrees; the only thing that's going to change is how hot it gets inside the car. It gets pretty hot inside those cars because of the rpms that you're turning all the way around (the track). You're turning 8500 (rpms) all the way around the track, so the exhaust gets really hot. It gets your feet really hot (inside the car). So when it gets hot outside, it makes it a little bit worse. That's the only thing that you'll see with the heat. The racing will be the same as it is always is there. Three-by-three-by-three all the way back through the pack. It will be fun in the end as long as there isn't a big wreck like there is usually every other time. It will be a good race.
Q: HAVE YOU GOTTEN ENOUGH TRACK TIME TO GET A SENSE THAT THE TIRE ISSUES THAT MESSED UP LAST YEARS RACE (BRICKYARD 400) HAVE BEEN RESOLVED BY GOODYEAR?
A: I think that they did a lot of work at the end of last year, so I think that they're already a couple of steps ahead of where they would have been if they wouldn't have done that. They (Goodyear) already have a tire that actually is a lot better than what we had here the last time that we ran here because we've been running 10-15 lap runs and it wears them out, but when we were here last year for the race, you couldn't run five or six laps without having cords (show) on the tires. I think they've done a lot of work even after the race last year and throughout the end of the season. They came up here a couple of times and tested; they've definitely worked on it and I think they're just trying to get a little bit better. I know that they want to try out a couple more tires to see what the grip levels are like and what the wear did on those. I just think they're trying to fine-tune it. I think they definitely have a tire that they could go with if we raced next week. I just think that they're trying to fine-tune it. This rain the past couple of days, it's been kind of boring for everybody. We just kind of been hanging out in the trailer and sitting around. It hasn't been really fun.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY PARTICULAR VETERAN DRIVERS THAT YOU FOLLOW TO SEE HOW THEY APPROACH THE TRACKS?
A: Jeff (Gordon) seems to run good at a lot of places, so he's a pretty good guy to pay attention to. It depends on where we go. Some drivers are different and are good at certain places. You look at the top-five guys, probably Mark Martin, Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff are probably the three top guys you look at to try and stay with them and see what they do at different times at different tracks. It's just hard. When the guys aren't your teammates, there's only so much that you can do to get information out of what they do. The most that you can rely on is the guys that you're with every weekend that you can talk to. Myself and Kasey (Kahne) and Elliott (Sadler), I rely on Kasey a lot and Elliott and AJ (Allmendinger), we all help each other out. We have pretty good chemistry with our teammates which is helpful. Kasey has had some success and won at different tracks and has been pretty helpful. I think that it will be like that most of the year.
Q: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE GETTING DIFFERENT STYLE RACE TRACKS FIGURED OUT?
A: I don't know, sometimes they all change. A lot of it depends on what's going on with the track and what tires we have and things like that because I've been to places like Texas, for instance, where the middle groove or top groove will be fast and we'll be fast there and then we'll go there the next time and the bottom lane is the way to go. I think it changes. There are some places that are pretty consistent every time that we go there. A place like Bristol is pretty consistent every time. Martinsville is the same every time. Some of these bigger mile-and-a-half tracks tend to change as the track gets older and we come with a different tire. I would say some tracks I have a good feel for and when I get there, I could just close my eyes and kind of picture the track. Some of these other tracks, you have to search around and find something better.
Q: WHEN YOU'RE TESTING AT INDY, WHAT KIND OF TIRE WOULD YOU WANT OUT OF IT (THE TEST)?
A: You were here last year, it was a disaster. Having to pit every 10 laps, I'm sure it wasn't a very good race to watch. Just to have a tire that has some grip. I don't think that anybody is upset if the tire wears out after a 30-lap run, that's normal. I just think that we need to get it to where we can run that many laps. Last year, the track didn't take any rubber. I think that was the biggest issue. No matter how many laps we ran during the race or in practice or how many cars were out there, your tires were gone after like six laps. I think the goal would be to get a tire that gets better as the weekend goes on. This place is notorious for when you first get here, it wears your tires out. But when you get a practice session in, they're (tires) getting better and better. I think that's what they (Goodyear) need to get back to. That's probably the main goal that the drivers look for and Goodyear does as well.
Q: ARE YOU CONCERNED AT ALL OF GOING TOO FAR WHERE YOU GET AN ATLANTA (TIRE) SITUATION?
A: Yeah, I think a driver worries about that...getting to a point where they (tires) last, but they're not good for racing at all because they don't have any grip. This tire that we've been running on so far seems to be OK. It definitely goes farther than the other tire did and it has a decent amount of grip, so I think that they've done a pretty good job with it so far. I just think that there was something wrong with the ones we had here before (at Indy) and they just missed it. Other than last year, we've raced here before and had pretty good tires and racing. I think they're getting it pretty close to where we use to be.
Q: CAN YOU USE YOUR NINTH-PLACE FINISH AT DAYTONA AS A BOOST FOR TALLADEGA?
Q: They're (Daytona and Talladega) so different. It's just that type of racing. It's kind of different because you have to handle at Daytona and Talladega you don't. They've been working on the cars; I think they've got them a little bit better. We've got Air Force on the car this weekend which we're pretty excited about because it's the first time for the Air Force on the 43 car. We're going to try and do good for them. The biggest thing is our teamwork. I think that all four of us being in the race, that's the biggest thing that we have to look forward to. With how well we worked together in Daytona, myself and Elliott, making sure that the 44 car got into the race, I think that we all worked well together. If we can all work together and be there at the end of the race and miss the big wreck, I'd say that's the most encouraging thing out of Daytona going into this weekend.
Q: HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN PRIMARILY WORKING ON THE 'CONTROL' TIRE DURING THE INDY TEST SO FAR?
A: I think that we're all on a control tire right now. We've gotten close to switching to a different tire and do runs, but every time we do it rains. I think one time yesterday we were ready to switch over to a different tire and it started raining. I think that everybody is on the control tire because we haven't had much time out there because of the rain. I think the plan is to see what the rest of the day does with the rain. We're probably done for today. We'll probably start in the morning and run controls (tires) for about an hour. Then, I think they'll probably start throwing some tires at us.
Q: CAN YOU PUT US 'IN THE SEAT' OF WHAT IT'S LIKE TO GET AROUND THAT PLACE (TALLADEGA)?
A: It depends on where you're at. If you're on the bottom, you're probably looking in your mirror a lot just to make sure that nobody's making a run to make a move on the inside of you. If you're in the middle, you're kind of trapped because you don't really have to worry about anybody inside or outside because they're already there. I'd say that when you're in the middle, that's the most stressful time just because you're trapped in a cage. There's times that if you're in the middle lane and there's people in front of you, behind you and beside you, you don't really have a choice on what goes on, you're just kind of stuck there for a while until there's an opening on the bottom or the top. It just depends on where you're at. Five-hundred miles at Talladega, it feels like for 450 miles, you're just logging laps. The cool thing is that you kind of work with people and kind of set yourself up for the end of the race and kind of see who you're car works with better and learn who you're friends are out there and who's not (your friend). You can also see if your car gets better runs off the top or bottom or middle or what not. It's pretty stressful. There are times in the race when you'll be out there and wondering why you're out there doing all this stressful work when you're only halfway through the race. You can go to the back from the front a hundred times before the race is over. It's fun. It's exciting for the fans to see, but at the same time, it's pretty stressful out there. You just try and look in your mirror...I've got two mirrors in my car and I'm using those a lot. You're just trying to look back-and-forth, just trying to check your perimeters all the way around. Then you have you spotter that's talking to you non-stop...he might as well put some duct tape over his radio key because he's talking pretty much the entire time.
Q: WHAT IS IT LIKE PHYSICALLY WHEN YOU FINALLY DO GET OUT OF A RACE CAR AFTER 500 MILES AT TALLADEGA?
A: It's not a handling track. The cars handle well, especially with the new pavement with how smooth that it is. There are no handling issues, so we're all sitting there in a little square of 43 cars. I think the reason (of being so tired) after 500 miles of being there, I think you're mentally drained more than physically, although those cars do get pretty hot inside when you run 70-80 laps without a caution. You don't have to worry about the car handling, so you really don't have that mental thing on you. You're sitting there racing for 500 miles and you're on a different spot on the track every lap. By the end of the race, you're just kind of mentally stressed out and kind of want to sit down and not think about anything for a little while.
Q: HOW MUCH PROGRESS DO YOU THINK YOU'VE MADE AND IN WHAT AREA THIS YEAR AND WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED?
A: We haven't really changed a whole lot with our team. Obviously, we had a new team mixed together with some other guys from the 19 crew. It's been tough. We've had a couple issues...we had an issue with a carburetor in Texas and in Atlanta, we cut a right tire on lap two... a couple of things like that didn't' even allow us to get a finish that the team deserved. Last weekend was a good weekend for us. We didn't have anything wrong (with the car) and had a really good practice. I think we're making progress and getting our cars better in practice. It's just tough to do without testing and being with a new team. I think we're getting the chemistry a little bit better and I think that should get better as the year goes on.
Q: DO YOU STUDY OTHER DRIVERS?
A: Not really. All of our teammates spend a lot of time together. We have about a two-hour meeting every Saturday after Happy Hour (final practice) with all the drivers and crew chiefs. We dissect the practice, all the drivers talk to each other and tell each other what we found worked and what didn't work. All the crew chiefs get together and talk about what cars are better than others and what changes we need to make. That's really kind of the only people that we look at. You can always look at people like Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, and Jimmie Johnson, all those guys are fast everywhere. Sometimes you watch them do things on a track that, for whatever reason, if you car don't allow you to do it, you just can't do the same things they do. It's not going to work out for you. Especially with this new car, you have to let it give to you what it will give you. Usually you just depend on your teammates for advice.
Q: WHEN WILL YOU GUYS GET THE NEW DODGE MOTOR AND IS YOUR TEAM BEHIND FOR NOT ALREADY HAVING IT?
A: I have no idea. I can't honestly answer that question; I know they're working on it. I guess it's going to be ready when they feel like it can make 500 miles. They're working on it and have it on the dyno and running it, but they're not going to put it in a car until they know it can make it the whole race. I think that it's hurting us (not racing the new Dodge R6P8) a little bit, but it's something that we can't change until we get a different motor. The new motors (run by Penske Racing) have been fairly reliable and we haven't had any issues with motors blowing up or anything like that. Durability with the motor that we have now is pretty good. We know that we need just a little bit more power, but the guys at the engine shop are doing a pretty good job right now for what they have. They're trying to develop a new motor and make sure that we still have good power with the motor that we're running. They have their hands full and a lot of stuff going on. They're doing the best that they can.
-credit: dodge motorsports