Continued from part 1 Q: How would you feel if the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series switched to the Chase for the Championship format? Do you think it would be good for the Truck Series or not good? SETZER: I don't know. I don't have a good...
Continued from part 1
Q: How would you feel if the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series switched to the Chase for the Championship format? Do you think it would be good for the Truck Series or not good?
SETZER: I don't know. I don't have a good feel about how the NEXTEL deal is going yet. I like involving the whole year. I think it is a yearlong situation. Our Series is just 25 races long instead of the 38 races they have. I think it is actually better to stay like it is in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The competition level is great in our Series all the way through. The races are short. It's not like someone can lay back and sandbag during the race or anything like that. We have 200 mile races or 200 lap races, and there's not much time for sandbagging. I would just as soon see it stay a full year competition for the championship.
Q: You both spoke about the cooperation among the GM teams. In your experience in the Series, is this something that has ever happened before, where you can share information with David Starr or the other GM guys? Are you comfortable doing that?
SETZER: In this Series, this is the highest level of sharing I have ever seen. I was with another manufacturer a few years ago, and some of this went on on conference calls after the race. With Chevrolet, we get together during the actual racing weekend and talk a couple of times during the weekend. You know it is unbelievable how comfortable everyone is sharing their set-ups with the other crew chiefs and drivers in the meeting right there. I didn't ever think it would go as well as it has, but that is just a part of Chevrolet and how much they pulled this program together and united as a goal to win a manufacturer's championship and the driver's championship for the year. It's an unbelievable situation that Chevrolet has built for us, and we all appreciate it greatly.
Q: Is this basically a by-product of not only Dodge but now Toyota taking serious aim at the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series?
SETZER: Absolutely. Chevrolet has always knows that Silverado is an important part of their sales. They didn't want to lose out in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as far as promoting Silverados out here in the marketplace. They know how important that is, and these other manufacturers have come in recent years. Chevrolets have won more manufacturer's championship and driver's championships, and they decided they wanted to continue their winning ways.
Q: David, how much do you think the turn-around in your team this year is attributable to the fact that you left the Busch team when things were going well, and that kind of eliminated the distraction for you. How big of factor was that for you?
STARR: I think that was a big factor. I can sit back and say all day long that my main priority was to Wayne Spears and to Chevrolet in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series because we are running fulltime in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. We knew we had a shot at trying to win the championship and winning races. When we came into the 2004 season, I was going to do a partial Busch schedule. I said well, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series got off to a slow start as it does every year, so it gave me a chance to get in a Busch car to keep racing. It wasn't going very good and we weren't very competitive, and I say it didn't bother me, but the reality of it is that it does. When you don't run good and when you're not competitive, it eats at you and you're frustrated and you are trying to figure out ways to make your racing team better, and I think it does kind of take a little bit away from your main priority. After we parted ways, we started running better in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. So I had to say that it did take a little focus away from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but we don't have that problem right now.
Q: Do you feel like running at Texas, is there is more pressure on you? Some guys like Tony Stewart doesn't like running at Indianapolis. He hasn't won there. It's home for him. There are so many distractions. He wants to win there more than anyplace, but it is a lot of pressure. Do you feel that at Texas Motor Speedway - that there is more pressure on you there than at other tracks?
STARR: I have felt that over the years, just because there are more media commitments, more sponsor commitments. All your friends are there, your family. There's a lot of people there, and there's a lot more going on than it would be if we were racing in Phoenix. I think sometimes there is more added pressure to win at home. Over the years, we have never really accomplished that goal of winning at Texas Motor Speedway.
I try to approach it differently now. I try to say it is just another race, and every race we go to, our goal is to win the race. This is no different. I try to just deal with it as it is just another race, and we're there to do a job, and our job is to win the race. I try not to put any more added pressure on myself like I have over the years. That added pressure it hasn't resulted in wins, so I try to approach it like it's no big deal and not get to wrapped up in the racing at home. I just started doing that last year, and that hasn't seemed to work.
It's just going to be another race. It's always fun to come to the Texas Motor Speedway. It's a beautiful facility. The racing surface is awesome, and it is just a fun place for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. We put on a great race for the fans. They love it, and I believe the biggest crowd in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history has come from the Texas Motor Speedway. So it is always fun to come there and race. The crowd loves it. And its kind of fitting we're racing pick-up trucks in Texas because everybody drives a pick-up truck in Texas. We'll be looking to come back and win us a race there without any more added pressure.
Q: Dennis, last year you finished nine points behind Travis Kvapil in that great championship race. Now you are 39 points behind Bobby Hamilton, who is a really experienced Cup driver. I imagine the thought of finishing second two years in a row has got to be driving you crazy.
SETZER: We're going to run the best we can every week from here on out. I guess the difference between second and third is I'd rather be second than third. I applaud my team for how well they have done all year. I don't know anything we can do different between now and the end of the year. We'll take our best truck to every race. These guys are very professional. My whole team has grown over the past years. This is my fourth year with the team, and I feel like they have really grown into a championship caliber team. Whether we win or whether we finish second this year, they are a championship caliber team. We'll do the best we can.
Q: Do you think Bobby has any advantage over you because he is a Cup veteran?
SETZER: No, really we have the advantage because we have our Silverados. Silverado's support here in this deal is an advantage to us. If we can just put it to use with our team and make some things happen, we'll be ok.
Q: Dennis, at the June race, it looked like Ted was well in control that night. They elected not to change the tires, and you guys did. They ended up having a problem, and then you guys caught them. Talk about that last stop and did you think that you were going to catch him? At that time did you feel like you had made the right decision?
SETZER: We had pitted early for tires and run the middle part of the race on some very old times and that's what gave Ted a little advantage there in the middle. We had a set of tires there at the end and no one else did. Ted had come in and I think got two rights only, and we got four tires. We knew we had a lot to make up, but the four tires was worth quite a bit on the track at that time. It was going to be very close, and for our luck, he did have a problem towards the end. I think he had a wheel come loose, so it paid some dividends for us. It will be a fun race. (Ted) Musgrave always runs well there along with both Ultra trucks. David Starr is always a very competitive guy at Texas. You never know. Some of the other manufacturers have got some pretty nice speedway stuff out right now. I look forward to it being a very competitive race at Texas this time.
Q: You seemed to really pick up your speedway program. You were really good on the short tracks, and it seems like this year you have gotten a lot better on the bigger tracks.
SETZER: Three letters document that - RCR. They provide engines for our program this year. Those Richard Childress engines have really made big track racers out of the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Team. You can't beat the supply of horsepower.
Q: If it gets down to the last lap, do you bump and run here, do you help somebody down the backstretch a little bit. Say you are running second going down the backstretch, what's the strategy here at Texas?
SETZER: It's hard to say. In every situation, it's different. It's hard to call that from sitting on your couch in the living room. A lot of adrenaline will be pumping at that time. You know, who knows. A lot of guys are eager to win. It's been a long time since we won Texas. It's been since Texas in the spring since we won. Our team is pretty excited right now. It'd be nice if we could make it two in a row. I wouldn't rule anything out. The excitement in Texas, I'm sure will be high. Maybe something like that could happen.
Q: David, what would you do to win here at Texas if you are running second or third?
STARR: I think that it depends on the situation. Your heart is pumping and you want to win. You are running pretty fast at the Texas Motor Speedway, so I don't know if bump and run is something that needs to be done at these high speed superspeedways. But you want to tuck up underneath the truck as close as you can get to him, and take the air off his spoiler, and hopefully he gets a little loose, and has to get out of the gas a little bit and you can take advantage of that. I don't believe the Texas Motor Speedway, a high speed track, that the bump and run is something you want to use to try and win the race. There are other ways of going about it.
Like I said, if you are going down the backstretch running second or third and it's a tight race, you're going to do everything you can to make sure you advance another spot before they drop the checkered flag. I don't think the bump and run will be one of them, but I think trying to take some air off somebody's rear spoiler to try and get them loose would probably be one of them. One thing about how you do that towards the end of the race, is you always have to look at it however you do it. When you do stuff like that -you do the bump and run or you take air off somebody's spoiler - you want to make sure you do cross the start/finish line. So when you do stuff like that, there could be consequences involved, and you have to make sure that you race smart. We're all going to finish the best we can for the points championship race this year. I think it is going to be an exciting race, and I am looking forward to coming to Texas.