Continued from part 1 DOUG RICHERT , Crew Chief DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE THE CAR TO BEAT AT INTERMEDIATE TRACKS NOW? "I don't think you can ever take that for granted that, yes, you have the car to beat until you get out there and do everything...
Continued from part 1
DOUG RICHERT , Crew Chief
DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE THE CAR TO BEAT AT INTERMEDIATE TRACKS NOW?
"I don't think you can ever take that for granted that, yes, you have the car to beat until you get out there and do everything right. Just because we won here doesn't mean we're gonna win at the next intermediate track. Everywhere we've run real good it's been totally different setups. The shocks seem to compare somewhat sometimes, but it just depends on the banking, how rough the track is and how fast we're going. Today we were fortunate enough to put one out that we knew something about, but all of our cars are the same. I've run five different cars this year and we were capable of winning before here four of the five races, so we have good confidence in our build right now."
"We could win Martinsville and be capable of it if we could get somebody that could drive there (laughing)."
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT GREG AS A PERSON?
"Greg got a phone call, and I'll say it was 1997, and he said - it wasn't from me - but somebody said Jack Roush is interested in having you driving your car, but you need to come to Charlotte. Before he and I had conversation, he'd locked his shops up in Vancouver - he had a restaurant and he had a race car shop - and he locked them up and came in and camped with us until we made a deal. He wasn't gonna leave until his deal was done. That really showed a lot of commitment on his part to be able to tear up his roots and to come in and say, 'I want to be a part of this and I'll make it work.' I think if we weren't able to move as fast as he wanted to move right away, he was gonna drag us into another zip code."
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF STAYING AT ROUSH LONG-TERM?
"Yes, absolutely. There isn't a question about it and there hasn't been this year. We're working on just finalizing some things. It's kind of funny. We say, 'Oh, this being the last year, well let's wait until the off season and we'll do it.' Then the banquet comes and then Christmas parties come and then you're testing January and you're in Las Vegas and California, and then we're running the 24-hour race. The time just goes by so fast and we just haven't had the time. If we take two weeks off, we could probably sit down and get it all finalized and fixed up, but I'm not worried about it. It's not a concern of mine. I know we're gonna get it worked out and if it was a concern of mine, then I would sit down tomorrow morning and hammer it out until it was completely done. It's not that urgent of a deal for me. The whole thing that's on the internet, it's kind of funny because I don't see any of that stuff. I don't look at that deal and they're calling me, 'Do you want to make a comment on it,' and I don't know what people are saying or what's going on. Because I'm on a list to drive somebody else's car doesn't mean that they've talked to me. I mean, they may sit down in a conference room and say, 'We want Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or we want Kurt Busch.' That doesn't mean he's gonna go drive that car."
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO REGAIN CONFIDENCE IN THE CAR AND YOURSELF AFTER THE ACCIDENT?
"I was thinking about it. I've been thinking about it since I've crashed, let's put it that way. It's been in the back of my head. I thought about it all day today and all day yesterday because I was lucky that I crashed in the spot that I did when the tire went flat. There is a worse area on the race track for it to go flat and you could get in the wall harder than that, so it's been in the back of my head thinking about it but it hasn't slowed me down. Obviously, it's not the tires. I'm 100 percent confident. Goodyear looked at our tires today, they looked at our tires yesterday and they're completely fine. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and I were talking this morning at driver intros and kind of chuckling about it. He said, 'You probably ran over something that fell off my car because my car was dragging the ground and the left-front skirt was dragging and there were sparks coming out from under it.' I was three car lengths behind him when the tire went flat and I hit the fence, so something may have come off his car and cut the tire. But I've been thinking about it. Shoot, I was sore when I went to bed and I was sore when I woke up this morning and I still am."
IF CARS ARE LOOSER, HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT HERE? ISN'T THAT ASKING FOR TROUBLE?
"Yes and no. I don't believe it's asking for trouble, no. You can tighten the car up chassis-wise or aero-wise or whatever you want to do. You can lower the trackbar, you can put spring in the front of it. You can do a lot of stuff to tighten the car up, it just depends on how fast you want to run. You can make a car easier to drive, but it's not gonna be as fast and that really holds true whether we really have spoiler or don't have spoiler. The Busch car is the same way. The looser you get it, typically the better it turns and the faster you can get it to go within reason. That's some of it, but I don't think you can say it's unsafe because certainly NASCAR is not making us drive the car with 1800-pound right-rear spring. We're electing to do that on our own."
SHOULD THEY JUST STOP QUALIFYING AND PICK NUMBERS OUT OF HAT?
"No, we need to continue to qualify because Greg is a really good qualifier. That dictates a lot of our pit selection, which we want our openings leaving. You don't ever know when that might be an advantage or a disadvantage. You always try to get your advantage there. That means a lot. I'm not gonna sit here and say that yeah, you can start at the back of any race track and go to the front because it only takes one wreck to knock you out. The odds of getting wrecked are a lot better for yourself if you're up in front dictating what you do and the people are racing a lot harder behind you, so we always continue to qualify hard. We'll always go for track position and stay up front as long as you can get there."
"I had a few close calls today, too, coming from the back. I was probably two inches from the 5 and the wall at the same time he was avoiding a wreck. That's the product of being in the back or mid-pack or wherever, so we're happy to qualify fifth. Look at Carl Edwards. That's how cruel our sport is. He spins out qualifying at Bristol and is crashed in the second or first lap of the race because he was in the back. It's big."
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE FORMULA OF SUCCESS CHANGE FOR MULTI-CAR TEAMS.
"I watched when I came in 1988 and I looked around and took the measure of who was there and what they were doing. Of course, Hendrick had a test team. Initially, he had Gary Nelson running a test team and as we started running, I'd run multiple road race cars and multiple drag race cars. It was clear to me that I wanted to run multiple cars, but I didn't want to use one team as an experiment for the others. I wanted to have dual efforts and collect the data off similar cars and use that to make better decisions in a more time efficient manner going forward. It took a while to get the drivers and to get the crews and to get the media and everybody that will approve or disprove what you're trying to do to believe in a process. But right now we've come of age. I'm surrounded by a group of drivers that are mutually respectful and approve of one another. I think that they'd be happier in the group and share information and give them support than they would in the old days when a driver said, 'I want to be the Queen Bee. I want to have everything focus on me.' I think the guys today realize that there is power in numbers here and the crew chiefs rely on one another, they help one another, they commiserate and they share in the proceeds when they're successful monetarily. So we've come together and everybody approves and respects one another and if we didn't, well then we'll make changes."
HOW HARD IS IT TO PUT YOUR OWN TEAM'S INTEREST OVER THE OVERALL INTEREST OF THE WHOLE OPERATION?
"Teammates are very important in our organization, but there is competitiveness between the teams. It's just the nature of each person. You want to run better than the next guy, but 99 percent of the time that's good in a way and it's not ever bad for us because each team is trying to learn something new all the time. There's a real fine line between multi-car teams. You'll see multi-car teams build - this is the way the chassis is gonna be, this is the way your body is gonna be, this is it - and they don't allow them to get outside that box at all. Some teams allow some flexible room and then other teams are like, 'Use whatever you want. We don't care.' I feel like we're right in the middle. We used to be where we all kind of went in each other's direction. Whatever the crew chief wanted, that's what we got. Now, it's more of a collective effort. We have a lot more similar parts, but nothing has really changed. All of our body plates are together. Some drivers like a little different feel in the race car than others. Mark Martin, for this race was the first time he had to build race cars that we had all year.
"He didn't really care for the car that much. He liked it at first, but then felt like after happy hour that it was a little more unpredictable than what he had been driving and it's just a feel each driver wants. So you can't take Mark and put him in my car and come up with the same exact result. He may want it a little bit different. Our setups are open between all of the teams. Matt and I talked last night. Matt called me and was kind of not very happy with how he was running. He asked me what I had in my Busch car and what we were gonna race today and I told him exactly what we were gonna race. I was excited to see him up there in third or fourth, and I don't know how he ended up running. Track position is everything and we work well together - all the guys do, I think."
WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT THE BRISTOL RACE OVER THE LAST FEW LAPS?
"You can't change the past. You've got to live with what you've got at the moment. Yeah, if I was gonna do it over again after seeing what transpired after we went by the entrance to pit road, sure I wouldn't have done it that way. If we wouldn't have had so many lapped cars between us, we might have had a better shot at realizing that the whole field was gonna come in. You want to be the leader, but sometimes the leader is your first sitting duck. They can dictate sometimes what they do to us. Today, it didn't matter. Today was Texas and that was all we were worrying about. I don't think the last twenty-something laps you weren't gonna get me to come onto pit road. But our game plan was pretty much to get four tires all day long. We saw a couple of them try to get two tires there. They're gonna hang on for a little bit, but the overall picture doesn't call for two."
CAN YOU COMPARE AND CONTRAST GREG AT THIS STAGE WITH DALE EARNHARDT, SR. AT THE STAGE YOU HAD HIM?
"Those guys are very similar. They both drove 120 percent every lap. Dale always had the intimidator black hood coming up behind you. Well, there might be a Post-It or a National Guard or a Travelodge or a Subway that could come up today. I think they have to think twice about who is coming because he's not scared either."
HOW GOOD WOULD THE PRIMARY CAR HAVE BEEN?
"Yeah, it would have been better than this car. It had better aero numbers and it was a better race car. It was three-tenths of a lap faster in happy hour than this car. It may not have been a ton better, but we feel it was a better race car. It tells me what it says about our team and about Doug's determination to win to put that kind of car on the truck for a backup -- to bring the car we won California with as a backup car to here. I mean, it's just exciting for me that these guys are that focused and dedicated to our program to win this year and then run good in the points. To have something like that in the trailer ready to race. We just pulled it out and it was pretty much ready to go, so it's exciting for me to be the guy getting to drive this ship right now."