NASCAR Teleconference Transcript July 14, 2009 An interview with: JUSTIN ALLGAIER BRENDAN GAUGHAN TRACEY JUDD: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference. It's in advance of Saturday night's NASCAR...
NASCAR Teleconference Transcript
July 14, 2009
An interview with:
TRACEY JUDD: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference. It's in advance of Saturday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series Missouri Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, a stand-alone event at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois. We're joined by two of our series only regulars today. Justin Allgaier, a native of Riverton, Illinois, leads the Raybestos rookie standings, and he's also sixth in the overall driver standings. We also have with us Brendan Gaughan, who is second in the rookie race to Justin, just eight points behind. He's also ranked in the top 10 in the driver standings, currently in eighth place.
Guys, thanks to both of you for taking some time to join us this afternoon.
Justin, we'll start with you. You have a pretty busy week going on as you head to your home track. You have some momentum, too, with that 10th-place finish at Chicagoland last Friday. That was your second straight top-10 finish. Tell us about the week you have in store, especially the event that you have going on this evening, and how you're preparing specifically for this race as a home state guy. Are you feeling any more pressure than usual?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Well, you're definitely right. Last weekend, having a 10th-place finish, when so many of the other guys really seemed to have kind of an off night, other than obviously the guys that ran up front. You know, coming home to Gateway is great. From Chicago, you jump on 55 south and you come right to where I live. We get to spend a couple of days at home.
You're right, we have a big event tonight. We're actually going to a Verizon store here in Springfield, which is just outside -- Riverton is just outside of Springfield. We're going to try to give back to the fans a little bit. In the ARCA series we had a race here in Springfield on the dirt track. Unfortunately, Gateway is kind of the closest one we get to home for now.
We're giving back to the fans that have supported me for a long time. We're selling souvenirs, going to the Verizon store to sign autographs, just spend some time with some of the people that have been around and have been a part of our racing for a number of years.
It makes it nice because this weekend at Gateway, they said there's over a thousand tickets sold of people that want -- they made a Justin Allgaier section, there were over a thousand tickets sold in that section. We do have a lot of people coming down to the race at Gateway. It's really cool as well, because it is the Missouri Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, which being a Dodge in the series, having a few of us that are running, it's nice to go to a race that is supported by the manufacturer that you're running, especially being from Illinois.
We're excited about this weekend. I think we've got a really good car. We're just building points and doing everything we can to run as well as we possibly can. I think we've been able to do that. We've had a lot of fun with it. We're going home.
I don't think there's any more pressure. I think we try to run well each and every week. I think that's what we've been doing. So it's good just to have friends there to support us in however we run this weekend. So I'm looking forward to it.
TRACEY JUDD: Thanks, Justin.
Brendan, you come off your best finish in four races. You were 13th at Chicagoland. Gateway is a track that has been good to you. You won there in '03. Do you feel like there's some momentum there coming into this event?
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: We needed to get off our little bad set of runs we had. When Bryan began his suspension, Shane came in and did a great job in Kentucky, finished fourth, led a bunch of laps. After that, we hit a little bit of a lull. Unfortunately, they were on flat tracks, just like St. Louis. Milwaukee we struggled with a little bit. Shane did a good job of getting it straightened out. New Hampshire we never got handle on. It was good to have Bryan back last week at Chicago and salvage a 13th-place finish.
While he was gone, he spent a lot of time on the flat track program, spent basically like probably a week doing some engineering stuff, what I always call a Bryan Berry science project. Usually when he does a science project, it works out well for me. He's basically coming with some new geometry that he wants to try for us at Gateway, similar to what we did at Phoenix where we had a top-10 run, and change a few things around because of how tight Gateway's one and two is. I'm excited. When Bryan Berry does his science projects, I get excited. We're staying at the Casino Queen right down the street. This weekend is a special weekend for our sponsors. Both Steven Wallace and myself will be -- I'll be in the 62, he'll be in the 66, but both USFidelis paint schemes.
TRACEY JUDD: We'll go to media questions.
Q: Justin, currently you're sixth in the points standings with nine top 10s. Are you right where you think you were going to be maybe at the start of the season, setting goals for yourself?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Well, I think in terms of the finishes, we feel the finishes that we've been able to put together, we're right where we wanted to be at. We've had a couple of races where we've had some unfortunate finishes, not finished where we wanted to.
I think those are the ones that we're more aggravated on, we actually feel we got a full effort in. I think where we're at in points is great. We'd obviously like to be farther ahead. But we feel like we've been able to put the finishes together and get the spots we wanted. We just can't seem to do it week after week.
You know, it's a little frustrating. Chad and I are both kind of the same personality in the fact that we both want to run well, we both want to win races. We're really hard on ourselves. I think that makes it tough to try to get yourself back out of that.
So far we feel like we've done a good job of getting the finishes we wanted to get. We just got to be able to put them together more than one or two weeks in a row.
Q: Brendan, it was recently announced you have a partnership, Rusty Wallace, with Kevin Harvick. What is involved with that partnership? Is it paying off just yet?
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: Yeah, I mean, it's still brand-new. You can't really read too much into it so far. Last week Steven drove a KHI car that they built for our race team. You can definitely see a lot of differences in the aerodynamics of it. We're excited about it. Rusty, we had a big meeting the other day. We're enthused doing something with Kevin. Look at how great his team has been running, no matter if you put Kelly Bires, Kevin, Ryan Newman, every guy that drives it, they end up being in the top 10, qualifying top 5. They've got great stuff. Kevin has worked with Richard Childress, has all their information. It's only going to be a benefit for us at RWI.
Q: Brendan, are you really a rookie at 34? Curious how Justin feels having to fend off you in the Rookie-of-the-Year race. Brendan, about Rusty Wallace, he's a legend in St. Louis, what kind of pressure is there to do well particularly in his hometown?
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: Well, first the rookie thing. We've been joking all year. I finished second in the Sprint Cup Rookie-of-the-Year in '04, won the Camping World Truck rookie in '02. I killed the curve in the Nationwide Series for age this year. I think the average age at the beginning of the year they told us was 23 or 24. Would be a whole lot younger if I wasn't there.
I'm just having a great time being allowed to race. It gives us a little more press. Raybestos sponsors the program, so it gets me on here to answer some questions.
I have to give it up for Justin. Really proud of what he's done. With a great organization after years and years of working his tail off with the Mittler brothers, all the groups he used and tried to drive to get to anything. He has himself with a great organization. As far as rookies go, Justin is a premiere rookie, doing a great job this year.
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Thanks, Brendan. I think Brendan made it fun for all of us. Just his personality, his driving ability. I think for me he's driven us to drive harder. We all want to win Rookie-of-the-Year. That's our goal. We're fighting for it. But at the same time it seems like at the beginning of the year we got a little bit ahead and here comes Brendan. He blows right past us, gets up on us on points. I think it makes you work harder.
I'm glad that age isn't a deterring factor on whether you can run for rookie the year. We still love you, Brendan, don't worry. At the end of the day, I think for all of us we enjoy having Brendan as part of our rookie group. I don't think any of us are really rookies in racing in general. Most of us have a lot of experience. So, you know, I look at what Brendan has done. He's been with the Penske organization on the Cup side. It's all just laps. Who's to say that somebody else doesn't have a lot more laps in some other series of car that wouldn't 'em more.
I think NASCAR is right in what their criteria is for Rookie-of-the-Year. This is the first season that Brendan is running for the Nationwide cars. So we all look at it as he's just another one of us rookies. We'll beat up on him just as much as if he was 18 years old.
Q: Brendan, can you talk about running for Rusty in St. Louis.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN: We're looking forward to that a lot. Like I was saying, USFidelis, that's their home turf. We have a paint scheme that the employees came up with on my 62 car. Going to Rusty's home, any time you go to St. Louis, I remember going there right after I left the Penske organization, was Rusty's teammate, I remember going back there and everybody coming up to me trying to get Rusty stuff signed for them. We know what it means to that town. What was it called, shoot, the Wallace Family Memorial 200 a couple years ago. It's a big deal there. To represent the Wallace family, hopefully I can do a repeat of 2003.
Q: Justin, obviously going into the season you're an accomplished racer. In February people were calling you 'all gear'. What has it been like this whole year and how do you feel you're progressing so far?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Well, I have to tell you, you are right. Not many people have gotten the last time correct before the start of this year. My grandfather would be proud. That was always something that he felt was really important, was trying to get people to learn how to say our last name. So I think he would be smiling now and pretty proud of that.
I think going into this season I knew it was going to be a step up. I knew it was going to be a learning curve. There's probably not a better team than Penske Racing. Trying to teach me how to do that, last year I had great teammates in Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish. With Ryan leaving, bringing in David Stremme, that was a big thing for me as well. David was in the 62 car last year actually. He's been able to help me with things that I can do as a driver to make the Nationwide program better.
I think we've struggled a little bit in the fact that this is the first season that Penske Racing has had a Nationwide program full-time. They've always come out and run well in the select number of races they've run in in the past, but they really -- most of the equipment had kind of fallen behind a little bit. They really hadn't kept the Nationwide program up like they should. So basically when Chad came on, he had to revamp everything that was there and really focus on getting a really good program going.
I think we're doing that. We're working week in and week out to try to make it better. Obviously I'm getting better. I'm starting to understand these cars. Even though we've had experiences on bigger racetracks, we still have not been to a lot of the racetracks we're going to. So it's definitely been tough. But I'm loving the challenge, and I think week in and week out we're only going to get better.
Continued in part 2