Tuesday, March 18, 2003. Dodge Motorsports Press Conference TED MUSGRAVE (No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge Ram) "Mostly like Darlington where we just raced, experience at Darlington is the No. 1 key right there. Although we've seen some rookies...
Tuesday, March 18, 2003.
Dodge Motorsports Press Conference
TED MUSGRAVE (No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge Ram)
"Mostly like Darlington where we just raced, experience at Darlington is the No. 1 key right there. Although we've seen some rookies and people who have raced there just a time or two do very well, but still yes, I do have to say the Winston Cup experience will come into play at places like Darlington. We go to Texas Motor Speedway or Charlotte this year and places like that. You do have somewhat of an advantage, but really the team behind you and the equipment is the big advantage.
"Each and every time you run the truck and you work with the same crew chief and team, I have the same crew chief and team members I did last year. You have a report from last year what the team has built up. This year I think making decisions will be a lot easier because we've been through the scenarios with the same group of guys and everybody knows what's going on. It is going to get easier for decision making this year.
"The races in the truck series is less than the Cup series, so I think I have more energy than I ever did. Just getting psyched up for the race, we have the equipment, we have the team, we have the productivity we need to go out and win races with. When you have that, I think your energy level automatically gets boosted up knowing that you've got an opportunity to win each and every time. I kind of have that in my gut feeling again this year.
"With 50 to go, we put tires on and had a five-second lead over Bobby. My crew chief said to save the tires until the end. I paced myself listening to lap times. I was saving my tires, and at the end when the caution came out with 20 to go, I told the crew chief I had been saving the tires. When he took them off he said they looked like brand new. We pumped up a pound of air pressure in the tires, and I think Bobby went even more for the short stint. It wasn't enough. My truck wasn't going to come in until about 20 laps. My hat's off to them. They did what they had to do for a short run. He got away from me. I reeled him back in and I tried to make some moves on him at the end, but we ran out of time. That's the way racing is.
"I raced at Bakersfield in 2001. That was my first time to ever see the place. We had a real good day. We sat on the pole and won the race. We came from the back a few times. It's a neat little race track. I like racing at places like that. It's a high groove, a low groove. You can move around the race track somewhat. You have to have good brakes, good acceleration off the corners, a good handling truck. You need a little luck too surviving the race because it's a tight little race track. It's a neat place. We missed out on it last year because it wasn't on the schedule, so I guess you could say I'm the defending champion because we didn't run there last year. We tested a truck at Nashville Speedway and it's the same truck we're going to take to Bakersfield, so hopefully it'll turn out good in California.
"I watch each and every Cup race to get information, and also Ultra Motorsports does have Jimmy Spencer in the 7 car on the Cup side with Tommy Baldwin (crew chief). They're right next door here. I can keep my heartbeat as far as what's going on over there. That's kind of an advantage, too, having some information back from the Cup side.
"It's a good thing Bobby's off the phone. If I could have got to his bumper, you would have seen another one (exciting finish). It was a great deal at Darlington. The Busch and Cup races had exciting finishes. I finished half a truck length behind Bobby and evidently that was a pale finish compared to those two.
"When I came out to Bakersfield, I think that was the second race in the truck series for me. Trucks to drive and feel different. They act a little different than the Cup cars. It's still the basics. That's the neat thing about it. We have the same chassis, although we've got a little longer wheelbase. We have the same tires, same type of motors. A lot of that is relevant from Cup to truck, but they drive differently. I've kinda settled into the trucks. I know what they feel like, every little inch of them, but I have gone and ran a couple of Cup races last year. I tested Las Vegas this year with Jimmy Spencer in a Cup car. We will probably run a few more Cup races this year, I think maybe starting out at Fontana in a couple of weeks.
"I've got a feeling as far as the TV ratings and what people are going to see for a show that it's a plus. When the trucks get on a shorter race track, there's always some excitement brewing. I believe that my ability and the way our trucks are, I really like the mile and a half race tracks like Vegas and Fontana and places like that where I've consistently been winning or top three. I really like them, but it kinda gets strung out in the field. Maybe with the TV package, the short tracks will be a little more exciting. I like 'em both, but if I had to prefer, it would be the bigger ones.
"I just got the notes and quotes from the wind tunnel, and nobody's got anything to bark about. The only thing it looks like the new Chevrolet nose might not be real good right now. As far as the Fords, Chevrolets and Dodges, they're really comparable on downforce. It won't matter at all at Bakersfield. Naturally if the spoiler is knocked all the way off the truck it's not going to work very well, but that's all handling, acceleration, getting through the corners well, braking, tire management and things like that. Body wise, nobody will have any complaints out there.
"It's all about people. Jim Smith looked at me, and I told him you could have the best chassis, best motor and on down the line, but if you don't have the right people working on it, putting it all together and tuning on it and communication, it's never going to work. That's what kinda happened over there the past two years on the Winston Cup side. They were lacking the group corp of people. He's always had good motors, brand new cars, but it wasn't until Jimmy Smith got Jimmy Spencer and Tommy Baldwin together with that group of people that really clicked... You've seen the results on the race track. He (Smith) came back to me and said I was exactly right. You've got to have the right people. I've got that on the truck side, too, and that's why the truck side has been so successful. The group of guys who work on the 1 truck and 2 truck get along well together. They work good together. The trucks are good because good people are back there. Jimmy had that in the truck series. That's why I came to Ultra Motorsports. When he offered me the job, I looked at the equipment and saw it was top notch equipment. Then I looked at the people, and I knew who they were. All the elements were there. It looks like they've got that group of people on the 7 team now."