GM Racing Communications Tuesday, April 16, 2002 Andy Petree Andy Petree has been a team owner for six years and has two wins. Q:Is the No. 33 team going to Talladega this weekend? "Yeah, we've got Preen Lawn Care products as a sponsor at...
GM Racing Communications
Tuesday, April 16, 2002
Andy Petree has been a team owner for six years and has two wins.
Q:Is the No. 33 team going to Talladega this weekend?
"Yeah, we've got Preen Lawn Care products as a sponsor at Talladega. We're real happy about that. We're going to have Mike Wallace behind the wheel. That should help us by having another car in there to help Bobby (Hamilton) and for Bobby to help. Having some teammates out there is pretty good at Talladega."
Q:Are you more of a hands-on type of owner than some of the others
"Yeah, I think so. I like having a lot to do with what's going on and I've always been that way. Even when I was a crew chief, I was probably more of a hands-on crew chief than most. So that really hadn't changed since I became a team owner."
Q:As a team owner, do you think the fact that RCR is off to a slow start this year is just a product of the turbulent year they had last season?
"This sport is about peaks and valleys. Nobody really has the key to the thing. There will be times when you don't perform well or have everything lined up just right. And right now, that's going on with Richard (Childress) and that's going on with me too. The good thing about Winston Cup racing is that if you don't like what's going on right now, just wait. It's going to change. But that's also the bad thing about it. If you like what's going on right now, hang on because it's going to change. So that's the way the sport is. Richard Childress is a very smart car owner and he will work out his problems. He may not do it overnight. I guess (Kevin) Harvick is not helping him much right now, but I'm sure they'll get that deal worked out."
Q:How are things progressing with Jerry Jones?
"Things are progressing some. We did have a little bit of a meeting down there when we were in Texas for the race. We've been talking since last October about doing something together. We still haven't finalized anything about what we're going to do or how we're going to do it, but we are talking - really daily. I talk to somebody with the (Dallas) Cowboys everyday. But we still haven't finalized our whole deal yet. If we're going to do something, we probably need to go ahead and get something done in the next 30 to 45 days."
Q:After running a Chevy Silverado in the Truck Series at Martinsville, do you have any future plans as a driver?
"I had a really good time driving the truck. It's something I like doing every now and then. I've got so much on my plate right now that it doesn't really fit with what we're doing to do much more. We may go to Richmond or IRP or someplace like that with the truck again. But right now, it's kind of on the back burner and we're focusing on some other things. But it was a good morale boost (qualified 3rd, finished 31st) for the team as much as it was for me. They did a great job. They really prepared a good vehicle for that race. I couldn't believe how good it was. It surprised me that we qualified so well. And, my lack of experience probably hurt me some in the race. We got knocked out by a lapped truck. Again, if I had more experience, I might be a little more careful about those guys. But we had a good time. It didn't turn out like we wanted, but we had a pretty good time."
Q:What does the loss of a guy like Buck Baker do to this sport?
"I didn't know Buck very well. I did know of him. This is somewhat of a surprise. I saw that this morning. I guess he was 83, but I thought he was in great shape. I didn't watch him race, I was too young. I saw Buddy Baker race a lot and I knew him pretty well. A lot of the history of this sport is in these older guys. I'm one of these guys that who to hear all those old stories. It's good for these younger guys to talk to them and try to carry this on."
Q:Regarding sponsorship, what has been the general response to NASCAR by companies in terms of value -- $10 million for 36 races?
"In recent times, it has been a great value. If you can go out there and buy a $100,000 car for $50,000, it's of great value to you. But if you don't have $50,000, you can't take advantage of it. That's one of the problems we're faced with. A lot of sponsors recognize the value of the sport, but they really don't have the dollars to take advantage of it. That's what I've been running up against. I get a lot of interest in the sport from sponsors. But when it really comes down to spending $8 to $10 million a year to do it, it's been hard to get them to make that decision. The economy drives most of those decisions right now. In good times, some people have a lot of money and it makes it an even better value for them to take advantage of."
Q:And if you added ownership to the team, in what ways would that help you?
"As the only stockholder of our company, I don't have the depth as far as the marketing skills and wherewithal to raise the money to do this thing. I feel like I'm a good businessman and I've run this thing as a successful business. We've been successful on the track. We've won races. I've got a lot of the things it takes to be a successful owner, but right now we don't have a sponsorship to do it. I've got to find somebody out there that can bring that or that has the wherewithal to do that. That's why right I'm looking at basically taking on a partner. Otherwise, I'd rather do it myself."
Q:If you were in Richard Childress's shoes right now, how would you handle the Harvick situation?
"He's going to get Kevin's attention. I don't know about NASCAR and about the "benching". That's part of their strategy is to get Richard to help them keep Kevin under control. I think Kevin is a great talent and he's really good for the sport. The things that are going on in racing are creating a lot of interest. Sometimes it's negative. But Kevin is a big part of what's going on right now and I think Richard realizes that he's a big part of RCR right now too. Richard is going to figure that whole deal out and Kevin is going to be okay. But here's one of the problems that's going on right now with Kevin. There's a lot of guys out there that are going to take advantage of him. A lot of things are going to aggravate him on the racetrack that are going to create more challenges for Richard and for Kevin. These guys might rub on him a little bit and try to aggravate him a little bit knowing he can't do anything about it."
Q:On comparing Kevin Harvick to Tony Stewart
"I think you'll see a more restrained Kevin Harvick. You're not going to see him reacting in his natural and that's almost not good. His competitiveness and spirit are good for the sport. It rubs some people the wrong way. You can't go out there and wreck people. They're going to get his attention on that and I think he'll realize that's not the right thing to do. To get in a shoving match with Coy Gibbs in a truck race and jeopardize a great career is kind of foolish. I think he'll realize that. His spirit and Tony's too are good for the sport. I don't think it's all bad."
Q:On going from a two car-team to a one-car team
"We can't employ as many people as we did last year. That has entailed some layoffs. That's the hard part. It's fairly easy not to spend money in other ways. You don't buy tires. You don't buy parts. You've got to run it like a one-car team and make it work as a company. It hurts you at the racetrack in that you don't have that other team to bounce things off of (on set-ups). I think that's hurting us a lot. I've had to make business decisions to make it work as a one-car team.
It's sometimes hard to do once you create a two-car team. You still have to feed the monster. I've got a pretty big facility (100,000 square-foot) and we're geared up to run two or more teams. We really need another sponsor and another team."
Q:Can you win another race?
"I think we can. I think we're going to have a good shot this week. It makes it more difficult. I think having two cars at Talladega is going to help us."
Q:On donating a car to use in testing of the softwall technology
"I've never seen a car like that destroyed in my whole life. I'll tell you what, if that was a softwall I'd hate to see it with a hard one. They were actually testing the wall. They took our car and the put it at a speed and an angle that you really can't achieve on any racetrack we run on. You can't believe how that car was destroyed. It was at a higher-impact speed than we could ever achieve."
Q:As a car owner, are you ready for this safety improvement?
"I want to see the sport safer for these guys. The car we gave NASCAR was a car we raced last year. Anything I can do to help, I well."
Q:On transferring driver punishment from another series to the Winston Cup Series
"The power of NASCAR is not just within one series. It's over the whole thing. If you're going to call yourself a NASCAR driver, you're going to have to subject yourself to their rules and regulations. What happened at Martinsville is unique but not unprecedented. I've seen the same thing before. Jack Ingram was leading the points in the Busch Series and ran a Late Model race in Ashville. He and another guy got into a wreck and he got mad and rammed the guy after the accident - rammed him coming into the pits. The NASCAR people suspended Jack for four or five races, which cost him the Busch Grand National Championship. So this has happened before. It just hasn't happened in Winston Cup. It just gives NASCAR a little more power and control over what goes on at the racetrack.
"Dennis Setzer and I got into it one time at Hickory. I was just a mechanic working the sport. We got into a little shoving match and we both got temporarily suspended. Well, I wasn't going to be able to work. I wasn't even going to be able to go to the race the next week and work in the Winston Cup garage. I still had a job. It made me think about it before I ever did it again at another NASCAR race."
Q:Is the current response from potential sponsors just a cycle-thing right now?
"I do think it is a cycle because I've seen it where we had more sponsors than we've had teams and team owners really came out of the woodwork. NASCAR had to add cars to the field to take care of the many teams. I think it's kind of a correction that's going on - just like in the economy. It is a cycle that we'll get through here shortly. Hopefully in time to help me."
Q:On figuring out a more cost-effective way than $15 million sponsorships that can keep things realistic
"That's been my challenge all along. I run a pretty tight ship. We don't spend anything that we don't need to, but we don't let the cars want for anything. We won races with both cars last year on way less sponsorship (than $15 million). I'm talking in the $6 million range. I'm able to run my team a whole lot more efficiently than some other teams. My challenge is to do that - to be able to be competitive on the least amount of money possible."
Q:Is that a personal philosophy?
"It's a necessity. I've never had the big sponsors. I've had to make it work, and make it work and win. I've been successful doing this. I don't need $15 million to win a division. We proved that last year. I'm trying to sell sponsorships in the $8 million range and I know we can be very competitive with that."