Texas: GM - Richard Childress interview, Part I

RICHARD CHILDRESS , TEAM OWNER, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING: Part 1 of 2 Q: ON THE STATUS OF THE TEAM RIGHT NOW "We're not where we wanted to be, for sure. We had hoped to be a little better. I think RCR got a little behind the curve on the...

RICHARD CHILDRESS , TEAM OWNER, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:

Part 1 of 2

Q: ON THE STATUS OF THE TEAM RIGHT NOW

"We're not where we wanted to be, for sure. We had hoped to be a little better. I think RCR got a little behind the curve on the downforce on our cars. The box that NASCAR has built for us this year - it's a lot tighter than any of us expected, but then there is a little room to work. We're working toward making our cars a little better. That's a big key for us, is try to keep working on making our cars better.

"The bright side of things - Kevin [Harvick] won the Busch race, all of our cars ran good at Daytona, despite what Rusty [Wallace] said and we signed GM Goodwrench for another three years and re-signed Kevin Harvick. We've got PayDay for three years and also AC Delco with Ron Hornaday for three years, so there are a lot of bright things going on at RCR and we just keep moving and going."

Q: DID YOUR TEAM COMMENT AT ALL YESTERDAY ON THE SITUATION WITH THE '20' CAR?

"Not really. It was NASCAR's call. Again, not knowing the whole situation - but, I know the rear bumper and everything was offset. You get that. Everybody is doing everything they can to get more rear downforce on these cars. Last year we were real short on the front. This year we've got too much front and are a little short on the rear.

"NASCAR had warmed all of us - car owners and crew chiefs and all - if you brought something that was too far out of the box that couldn't be fixed, that they would take action. NASCAR did what they said they were going to do yesterday."

Q: ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT NASCAR KEPT THE CAR AND WHAT CAN THEY LEARN FROM IT?

"What I understand is that they're taking it to their research and development center. They'll do a lot of measuring and see exactly how they got all the other templates to fit around that area. The templates fit the car with the exception of the cross-measurement from what I understand. They may even take it to the wind tunnel to see what it did. I'm sure they've got their own plan on that.

"Last year there were questions about how tight they were going to be on that rule. They made it very clear to us if we went over that boundary that they would take action and they showed what they were going to do."

Q: ARE THEY MAKING AN EXAMPLE OF THE SITUATION?

"I think they're going to take a hard look at what they have there. Even at RCR, we had our hand spanked and some fines last year for some things. I think they're just buckling down more and letting everyone know how serious they are about making a level playing field for everyone. It's tougher, it's more expensive on the car owners to try to stay in these boxes and control everything. But, I think - as you see this year - it's made racing a little better, a little more competitive."

Q: HOW CLOSE DOES A CAR OWNER FOLLOW THIS KIND OF THING?

"It's hard to speak for other race teams.

"At our organization, we have meetings every Monday morning or we have a post-race with our three drivers when they can be in town, with our crew chiefs, myself, Bobby Hutchens - and we would try to be on top of it. Plus, we'll bring our fab guy in or engine guy or whoever we need at that point to discuss why we're not running, why we aren't, how far you can go and how far do you want to go. It'd been tough for me to know that we were off whatever we were. But, if I had seen the car, I would have pretty quick had somebody over in the corner saying, 'How you going to do this now?'"

Q: WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO A TEAM AS GOOD AS YOURS GETTING BEHIND?

"We were behind last year. I think we started out behind. I don't believe in excuses, I don't accept them and I try not to give them. I don't give them. I think one of the reasons that got us behind was adding an extra team. There was more to it than what we realized. I think now that we've gotten through building that we're where we need to be. Building our new buildings, putting all the teams together - we've got so much of it working so good, like our engine shop, our fab shop, the things that are really working - we've refined several times in our race shops and we'll keep doing it until we get it where I think the three-car team works. My goal was to have all three of them the same and I accomplished my goal. They're just all three maybe 25th, 26th, 27th, which isn't good. This week we've got them better. I think we found some stuff and I think we're going to get better as the season goes."

Q: ARE YOU PEOPLE USING YOUR SITUATION TO CAUSE DISSENTION AND GET PEOPLE TO LEAVE YOUR TEAM?

"Yes, and it happens it sports. When you're down, they kick you. They like to make situations a lot worse than it is. But, I think we've recovered and we're recovering. We're stronger than ever. We're building a program. We started a five-year program. Each year I have a five-year plan. Through 2000 we were ahead of where we wanted to be from '95 to 2000 and that was with race teams, equipment, building and where we wanted to be. We had a 2005 plan and Dale [Earnhardt] and I talked about it - adding three teams and doing things that we knew we could work together on. Well, that plan was changed in 2001, so we've had to go back and re-structure a whole new plan. Today I feel stronger than ever about where RCR is, where RCR is going. I feel good about everything we're going at RCR and the future. I wouldn't be building these buildings. We just put a 7-post in - we're one of the only teams (with one). Penske owns a piece of one. We built a dyno that only one other team has. We've got gear dynos. We're building so much for the future at RCR that I feel great about where we're at, where we're going and where we can be 10 years from now."

Q: CAN YOU ESTIMATE HOW MUCH IT MIGHT COST JOE GIBBS RACING TO LOSE A CAR FOR A COUPLE WEEKS?

"What would affect them more than anything would be how many more cars back at the shop are built like that one. The one car wouldn't affect them that bad. At this point, it would affect you because none of us have just unlimited cars because we're all chasing that new deal to find out what makes it better and better.

"If they've got three more cars sitting at their shop like that - what's wrong with that car, you can't fix it by a little Bondo or tucking or pulling. You've got to pull the roof and everything off of it and start all over again."

Q: HOW MUCH IS YOUR TEAM DEPENDING ON ENGINEERS THESE DAYS?

"At RCR, we're still in the middle of rebuilding our whole organization. We put together a building where we put our 7-post, put other engineering equipment, we've got nine engineers and got two more slots to fill. We'll have 11 engineers, a 7-post operator, and a mechanic working in there. By the end of the day we're going to end up with 13 or 1At RCR, we're still in the middle of rebuilding our whole organization. We put together a building where we put our 7-post, put other engineering equipment, we've got nine engineers and got two more slots to fill. We'll have 11 engineers, a 7-post operator, and a mechanic working in there. By the end of the day we're going to end up with 13 or 14 people in one building that do nothing but our engineering. You'll see more and more engineers at the racetracks. We had two here and could have used a third one."

Q: HOW MUCH CAN ENGINEERS DO FOR A WINSTON CUP TEAM WITH THE RULES SO TIGHTLY GOVERNED?

"A tremendous amount. The simulation with a 7-post machine, the simulation with this dyno - we can sit thee with this dyno and we can run a complete race. It's an endurance dyno. It changes gears, does pit stops, has tire run-off. You have to have engineers to be able to work with this sophisticated equipment - not only at the racetrack, but back at the shop. There are so many things they can do - an engineer - sit there and tell a crew chief. It used to be that you'd just throw a 100-pound stiffer spring in the right front. Now, if you do it, you almost need an engineer to say, 'Well, to do that you've got put a different control arm, you've got to change your...,' and they'll have all that worked out on one of simulation pieces of equipment we have."

Part II

-gm racing-

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Series NASCAR Cup