STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Compton, a 34-year-old driver from Grit, Va., will make his 43rd career start on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit and third at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night. Ranked 33rd in...
STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Compton, a 34-year-old driver from Grit, Va., will make his 43rd career start on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit and third at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night. Ranked 33rd in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings after the first 10 races of the 2001 season, Compton won the pole recently at Talladega and started second in the season opener at Daytona. He finished 10th in the Daytona 500 and put together a streak of three straight top 15 finishes that pushed him to 25th in the series standings after his 15th-place finish at Martinsville. Although he started first at Talladega, he finished last (43rd) because of engine problems. He started 43rd and finished 38th last week at California and dropped to 33rd in the standings. Compton talks about his life away from the track, Saturday night's race at Richmond and how he deals with tragedy on the track.
"Sorry it took me so long to call," Compton said late Wednesday afternoon. "I've been on the bulldozer since 7 this morning clearing a new road. That's how I relax. I work a lot with wildlife and the Wild Turkey Federation. I've got about a 550-acre farm in central Virginia with some cattle and horses and hay and trees. We're trying to get in the sod business, and we planted 65,000 pines for a reforestation project not too long ago. That was a lot of fun. The race car is the main priority, but I like working on the bulldozer. I tried to clear a new road to the river today. My father (Robert, 66) is retired and helps me with the place. I can't keep up with him. He works me under the table all the time. He has a 200-acre farm, and we've got two full-time people who help us.
"I wouldn't say I'm a farmer. Farmers produce something you eat. I don't do that. Let's just say I'm an outdoorsman. I don't harvest anything. I just work with wildlife and nature. Maybe I'm an environmentalist. I work with the wetlands in Virginia. I used to hunt and fish all the time, but I don't have time to do that now. I'm too busy racing and working on the farm and I manage to squeeze a little golf in now and then.
"I'm looking forward to Saturday night at Richmond. It's really a challenging track. It seems like they put sealer down every time we go back, and that creates a little unsolved mystery. We went there to test a few weeks ago and the new sealer made the track hard to get hold of. It was constantly changing. You might unload and qualify good on Friday and then after the Busch race Friday night, the track might be completely different by the time we race Saturday night.
"But I like racing at Richmond. You see a lot of side-by-side racing there. In fact, you might see more racing there than anywhere else we go. I wish all of our races were on Saturday night, too. It's easier on the fansand easier on the drivers. It seems like when they turn on the lights it turns on some added excitement. Everybody gets a little crazy. I don't they can't, but I really like to race on Saturday nights everywhere.
"Our season has been a little crazy so far. We finally got where we wanted to be, the top 25 in points, and we won a pole at Talladega and had a lot of momentum built up. Then we blew up at Talladega and struggled all weekend at California. It's rough to have trouble two weeks in a row, but that's racing. It's a grind to make it up, but we've just got to step up our program. I think we've still got a lot of momentum going. We just need to pick up the pieces and not have two bad races in a row again.
"We always expect to have good races. We expected to run good last week at California, but we didn't. The short tracks have been good to us, and we should have a good run at Richmond. We just need a little luck to go our way. We had some good luck at Bristol. We lost a lap up there early and got it bac k to finish 11th. You've got to have some good luck to do that at Bristol.
"Right now, all the Dodges are struggling a little bit with the aero package. They've got a lot of work to do to run up front in traffic. Our cars have been decent everywhere, but we've struggled with downforce across the nose of the car. I think we've got plenty of downforce. We've just got to figure out how to utilize it.
"There have been some distractions this season, but I've said it before. When it's your time to go, it's your time to go. That's the bottom line. I think Simpson makes as good of a product as anybody out there, but when your time's up, your time's up. People are demanding answers to a lot of unanswered questions. Until people get answers, I can't see it slacking up, not in the near future. The media has got hold of it, and until they get answers, it's going to keep brewing. When it's all said and done, somebody will come up with the answers. I don't think a lot about it when we're racing. I miss Dale Earnhardt, but I also miss the others. It's just part of our business. I feel like racing is just as safe as any other sport out there.
"I don't have the answers, but maybe just slowing down would solve some of the problems. Maybe the stiff chassis is part of the problem. I watched the cars come apart in that wreck at Atlanta last weekend and everybody walked away from that. We do have stiff chassis and you need that to go fast, so maybe we just need to slow down.
"We might slow it down a little bit Sunday. It all depends on how things go Saturday night at Richmond, but we might get some two-man canoes and take 'em down the James River. We'll go up toward Natural Bridge and come down some Class 3 and Class 4 rapids. That might help take some of the pressure off. Chad (crew chief Knaus) is a city boy, and we might take him and break him in. I'm sure it'll take awhile, but I think Chad and some of our other guys might come and try out a little lazy ride down the river."