Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, May 17, Richmond Recap, Charlotte advance TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) .COMMENT ON RICHMOND WIN, OUTLOOK FOR CHARLOTTE "The whole organization came over the...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, May 17,
Richmond Recap, Charlotte advance
TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
.COMMENT ON RICHMOND WIN, OUTLOOK FOR CHARLOTTE "The whole organization came over the house Sunday and we had a little barbeque. It's nice to win on Saturday night. That way we had Sunday to celebrate, and then back to work yesterday preparing for Charlotte. We feel pretty good about it. We know Saturday night is worth a lot of money. Our major game plan is to work this weekend for the 600 weekend where the big prize is dangling at the end of the year we hope. We're going to use this week as a test plan for the upcoming 600 weekend but also try to get that million dollars."
HOW MUCH DID IT MEAN FOR GREG ZIPADELI TO CONGRATULATE YOU AFTER THE WIN AT RICHMOND? "Between myself and Zippy we've never had a problem. We went on vacation together this past winter. We consider ourselves real good friends. We talk a lot outside of racing. We knew after that race where we both came from, the short tracks up in New England and Long Island. It was pretty cool for us to race one and two there the whole night. It brought back a lot of good memories."
HOW HAVE YOU KEPT KASEY UP MENTALLY AFTER COMING SO CLOSE AND NOT WINNING UNTIL SATURDAY NIGHT? "Basically I just tried to have him understand it will come and we just can't force the issue. It's not a bad thing to be running eighth or fifth or fourth or second. We've just got to keep building momentum every week to get the win and being prepared. He wanted to win yesterday. We all wanted to win yesterday, but like I told him I said, 'look, you're just getting involved and learning. I've been down here 10 years. I understand a little bit better. Just be patient and it'll come and once it comes we'll understand how we did it and be able to do it more.'"
EXPLAIN HOW HARD IT IS TO GET TO VICTORY LANE THE FIRST TIME "To win any race, whether you haven't won yet or you've won 50 of them, the competition in the Nextel Series is so, so difficult now. Four or five years ago there were probably 12 teams that could win a race. Now there are 25 teams that have a chance on any given weekend to win a race. It takes a total team effort and total team planning to even have a chance. Then you have all the other things that get thrown in into it, all the untimely cautions and all the people blowing up in front of you, wrecking, getting wrecked, blowing a tire. Anything you have to learn through your mind during the course of a weekend can happen, too. Saturday night everything went perfect. The cautions fell when they needed to fall. The pit stops were great. The pit stall was great Kasey did an awesome job driving that Dodge Charger. You couldn't ask for a better night."
HOW GOOD IS KASEY KAHNE? "He's definitely not holding us back I can tell you that, which is a good thing. I think Saturday night proved it. I think Martinsville proved how much he's matured and become even a better racecar driver than he was last year. Those were some weak points for us last year, and we took on building that over the winter to make a better program for him, and he's changed as a racecar driver. He's learned. We went to Sonoma a few weeks ago and I couldn't believe the progress he made from last year to this year on a road course without even running any more than Sonoma or Watkins Glen last year. I think he's stepped up his program, and to be honest with you, I think winning Saturday night is going to take a lot of pressure off him and the team to not have to worry about winning that first race anymore. Now we can just go out and do our jobs."
DO YOU KNOW THE FIRST TEAM TO USE A BASEBALL BAT ON THE CAR AND DO TEAMS HAVE A DESIGNATED BANGER? "If I had to guess it would probably be the pioneers of pit road. It would probably be the Wood Brothers. We have one person appointed for that. We have more than just a hammer now. It goes back to competition and those valuable points. There is a designated person to handle that and it's usually the car chief. You could pull on it too hard and break something else that causes more damage. It's a very touchy situation."
ELABORATE ON WORKING WITH YOUNG DRIVERS "The biggest thing is you have to keep them grounded. You have to make them realize that circumstances that come about every Saturday night or Sunday happen, and different things happen every week. We will miss every now and then. We won't have a caution fall where we need it to fall. The pit crew will struggle. The driver will struggle, but there will be days when none of us have that problem and we'll win the race. It's a total team effort. It takes a lot of concentration on everybody's part from the beginning to the end to go out and do every week what we did on Saturday. With all the hours we work and all the testing we do, it's very hard to keep that attitude every week. Ray has done a very good job implementing that in our system, keeping us focused. We didn't come out at the beginning of the year as strong as we expected. We thought we were going to come out and win every single race. When we didn't, we had to rebuild, and it took a lot of concentration, going back to the drawing board and figuring out what our problems were. I think the last two or three weeks we've hit our stride."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO RACE THE NEXTEL ALL-STAR RACE? "It's real important, just for the sponsors' exposure as much as anything. We do have a new car we built and if it does run well this weekend and doesn't have any damage, which is highly unlikely with them crazy guys out there going for a million dollars, we'll bring it to the 600."
HOW DO YOU THINK KASEY IS PERCEIVED IN THE GARAGE AREA? "He's definitely very well liked. How can you not like Kasey? He has that thing about him. He's good at what he does. He's quiet. He's not cocky. He doesn't run his mouth. He's just wants to go out and race racecars and be a part of the race team. The kid has an apartment. He doesn't even own a house. All he's worried about is racing, and that's what you need. You need somebody that focused, that wants to learn and asks questions. You've got to be very careful with a young driver not to overexpose him to a lot of things, and you've got to be over careful to keep him grounded. Ray does a good job of keeping him grounded on top of what I try to do. Everybody likes Kasey. There's nobody in the garage that doesn't like Kasey Kahne."
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THE PLANE RIDES HOME AFTER RACES LAST YEAR? "I wasn't on the plane (Saturday night), but I'm sure the mood was better. I'm a pretty well grounded person and running second people say you must have got mad last year. We got mad a couple of times because we felt due to circumstances it cost us the win. We understand that second is the first loser, but I try to explain top Kasey that 41 other teams would have loved to finish second. When we run fifth, 38 other teams would have liked to run fifth. That's just the way we have to keep grounded. At the beginning of the year we were pressing too hard. We were trying to take an eighth-place car and run second with it. We ended up wrecking and having problems and over adjusting on the car. That was a big mistake on our part. We learned from it, and we won't do it again."
HOW BIG IS IT TO BE RACING FOR A MILLION DOLLARS ON SATURDAY NIGHT? "It's real important for the driver. They get a big percentage of that, and that's why it's so crazy out there. It's fun. It's fun not having the pressure of points and going out and trying different things. It's cool. It's under the lights at Charlotte (Lowe's) Motor Speedway, and the place is going to be packed. You can't ask for anything better than that."