TONY GLOVER (Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and driver Sterling Marlin No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Glover has been the crew chief for three pole-winning cars and four race winners at Talladega Superspeedway.
TONY GLOVER (Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and driver Sterling Marlin No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Glover has been the crew chief for three pole-winning cars and four race winners at Talladega Superspeedway. Sterling Marlin won from the pole with Glover calling the shots in the 1995 Winston 500 at the 2.66-mile track. Glover talks about the recent test with Marlin at Talladega, how the new rules will affect the Dodge Intrepid R/T and other NASCAR Winston Cup hot topics.
"The test went OK, but the new rules are going to penalize the Dodge a fair amount. It's going to really hurt us in qualifying, but it's going to be a problem in the race, too. I'd say it's going to slow us down about three tenths in qualifying. When you're in the draft the drag penalty is not as critical, but it affects you when you're trying to pass or when you're trying to be the lead car. The Dodge is definitely going to be at a disadvantage compared to Daytona. I don't know why they would base that much off of one race, but it's their ball and they make the rules. With a penalty like that, there's no way around it. We found a few places where we could make some gains, but we're not going to be anywhere near where we were.
"It's really different racing at Talladega these days. Back in the early and mid 90s, Winston Cup was nowhere as competitive as it is today. A dozen cars might be competitive and the rest of the field would get strung out at Talladega. At the end of the race, you might have four or five guys to beat. The whole field is in one clump now and at the end of the race, ever how many cars are left running will be in the same bunch. I've won races at Talladega before with only three cars on the lead lap. That would be unheard of today. It was easier back then to get good results. You might have a good car now, be running second on the white flag lap and end up 15th. Speedway racing is just more difficult.
"Some drivers are better at it than others, but I've never seen anyone better at it than Dale Earnhardt was. What he did to win that race last October at Talladega was truly amazing. It just went to show that you could never count out a guy with his ability with five laps to go. He was so stubborn, he'd figure out a way to get to the front no matter where he was running. You might see the same thing happen this time the way the aero package is. With all the turbulence in the air, you might be running 30th and be up to fifth three laps later. If you can pick the right allies, you could do it. Like I said, some drivers are way better at it than others. Sterling is very good at it. He's a tremendous driver in the draft. He really understands it. Jeff Gordon is good in the draft. Dale Jarrett has won a lot of restrictor-plate races, so he's got it figured out. Bobby Labonte and Terry Labonte are good. Just look at the results and you'll see the drivers who are good in the draft. Jarrett's team is really hot right now, so I'm sure they'll bring that momentum to Talladega. He's got a big lead in the standings, and everything seems to be going right for that team right now. "I've never been a part of a championship team, but in my opinion, it's very difficult to win a title. It appears to be even more difficult to defend a title. That's what made that 24 team so strong when they were winning championships. They didn't let up after than won one. They were prepared to do it again. I'm not saying these other guys aren't, but there's so much pressure on the whole team that it's hard to repeat. "The 88 won their first title in '99 and then finished fourth last year. Bobby Labonte won the championship last year and look where they are now. It looks like one year you get all the right breaks and the next year some things seem to go wrong that didn't go wrong the year before. I don't think the 18 had any DNF's last year. This year they haven't been quite so fortunate.
"We're just trying to do the best we can each week and see where we end up from there. We're going to try to get the best track position possible at Talladega. That's real important. You might be in that outside line and if you get ready to pit, you might be able to get down for three laps if you're not careful. You could end up running out of gas. We want to run up front or as close to the front as we can. If you run back in the back, you might be able to go from 30th to third in five laps, but do you have a third-place car when you get there? I don't think anybody will intentionally run in the back of the pack or in the middle of the pack. That's not the place to be in plate races. The closer you're running to the run, the easier it is to miss whatever might happen. You might be able to miss it if you're running far enough in the back, but you might get caught up in it, too. It might happen in the front and you'd get caught up in it if you're running up front. "Sterling is a veteran driver at Talladega. He'll use good judgment. There's really no compromise. If the car is good and capable of leading, he'll run up front with it. "It was nice to have a weekend off. I mostly just relaxed, played with the kids and went boat riding. The way things are set up now, it's a deal where you'd better make the best of it and enjoy time off when you can. We used to have six or seven weekends off a year and then it was five or six. It seems like every year it keeps dropping and now we've got only three. That's a lot to ask of guys who work over 40 weekends a year and have only three off during the season. Most people have three or four weekends off a month -- most normal people. I guess racing people just aren't normal, but we're doing what we love to do. Racing gets in your blood and and it stays there. We all know that. We relax when we can, but we're always thinking about how we can make the team better."