This Week in Ford Racing April 30, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series The All-Virginia team of car owner Junie Donlavey and driver Rick Mast will make their debut together with the No. 90 Duke's Mayonnaise Taurus at Richmond International Raceway...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 30, 2002
NASCAR Winston Cup Series
The All-Virginia team of car owner Junie Donlavey and driver Rick Mast will make their debut together with the No. 90 Duke's Mayonnaise Taurus at Richmond International Raceway for this weekend's Pontiac Excitement 400. Both men spoke about racing at their hometown track and the start to their 2002 season.
RICK MAST -90- Duke's Mayonnaise Taurus
"Richmond and Martinsville are both really like my home tracks. I'm two hours from Richmond, but what makes it so special this year is that the race team is based in Richmond, and an even bigger part is that the Sauer Company and Duke's Mayonnaise is located in Richmond. We're gonna be busy during the Richmond week. It seems like we've got stuff going on just about every day as far as appearances and things like that."
WHAT ABOUT THE TRACK? "I'm like all the other drivers, I absolutely love the race track. You can get out there and kind of lean on each other a little bit. You can go two-wide or three-wide sometimes and race. The fans are always excited there, so it's just a neat and different place."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR SEASON SO FAR? "We're not by any stretch of the imagination close to what we thought we'd be at this point. There are reasons for it and everybody is working hard to try and address everything that's going on and we keep waiting on a breakout week. We're looking for that week where things turn around and go good for us. Richmond has been good to me in the past as far as the way we've won. It hasn't been good to me as far as finishes and luck issues, but as far as the way we've run in the past it's been good to me. So, maybe Richmond will be the breakout weekend for us."
IS THERE MORE STRESS TO MAKE THE RACE AT RICHMOND BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE THE TEAM IS BASED? "Yeah, I guess there would be because you're right there. I mean, the whole team is there, the sponsor is there, everybody is there. You might say, 'No, there's really not more pressure,' but, really, when you get down to it, it is because you want to do good for everybody and everybody concerned who is going to be at the race. It's more pressure-packed for us, there's no doubt. We didn't get a chance to test there. We were scheduled to test, but we didn't get ready to go. I wished we had because that would have helped us a lot. We haven't tested anywhere yet except the superspeedways, so that's gotten us behind a little bit."
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THESE RACES KNOWING YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING ARE SMALL? "I'm the world's ultimate optimist. I'm always looking forward to the future and I'm always looking forward to what we can do. I look at each race and each weekend and after we practice, qualify and race, I look at what went on and what happened -- what went wrong and what we need to do to fix it so it can be better next week. That's really how I approach this. Up to this point, we haven't really performed that well, but I'm looking at like in the next week or two we could perform. We could unload and hit on it good and have things going properly so we run real well. That's how I look at it and each week I approach it that way. If you didn't approach it that way, I don't know you could survive, but that's the way I do it."
YOU'VE HAD A LOT OF THINGS HAPPEN TO YOU THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS AND HAVE JUMPED AROUND TO A FEW DIFFERENT TEAMS. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT? "It's tough. You've got to keep your head up and never get down on yourself or the team. You've just got to stay focused on what's going on and try to make the best decisions about everything that's going on. You work with the sponsors, work with the owner, work with the crew chief and just work with everybody and try to build on whatever is going on and try to make it better. No matter what situation I'm in, you're looking to try and make the situation better all the time. That's really the way you have to look at it. If you look at it any other way, it would be a tough deal so that's how you have to do it."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT HOW MUCH LONGER YOU WOULD LIKE TO DRIVE? "No, not really. To this point I certainly have not done what I wanted to do in Winston Cup racing. I've been pretty happy with my racing career, but I'm not satisfied with my Winston Cup career at this point. I still have some things I want to do and I haven't really looked at when I'm going to retire yet. I still want to be out there and keep digging."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BEING AN ANALYST ONE DAY ON TV OR RADIO? "Yeah. A deal came up last year one time about doing something like that and I did an audition or two, but I really wasn't ready to quit racing. Really, I'm still only 45 years old and have a little time left. But when I do step out of the race car that's something I would look at and entertain, if I was good at it and could be entertaining. It would have to be something where I felt I could do a good job for the networks, or whoever, and have fun at it, and still be able to be around the sport. This sport has been my whole life since I was a child. I've been in racing my whole life and I don't really know much of anything else, so that's probably something I would look at if the opportunity presented itself."
JUNIE DONLAVEY, Car Owner -90- Duke's Mayonnaise Taurus
DOES RIR HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN YOUR HEART? "Going to Richmond is always a special event for us because we've run over there for 50 years. It's always fun to go back there and remember what it was like when we first started and then to look at it like it is today. The one thing about Richmond is that it's always been a good fan race track and right now it's got to be the best. We always have good races there and the people get really excited. I think everything that's been learned in racing, as far as the fan is concerned, has been incorporated in Richmond. There have been so many good drivers compete there that it really is a special event if you live there."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED RACING AT RICHMOND? "Back in 1950 we had a modified race right there on the half-mile dirt track. That place was built in the late 1940's, right after the war, and they used to run sprint cars there. Of course, the fairgrounds always had a race track, but when they moved the fairgrounds from the center of town to where it is now, they had to build a race track because the sprint car races always brought in good crowds. Then when they started having modified races and NASCAR came up with the strictly stock, which is now Winston Cup, they used to really put on some good shows there."
DOES THIS RACE HAVE ADDED SIGNIFICANCE FOR YOU? "You always want to do well there, but the thing I've always understood about racing is that certain things happen in tenths of seconds and that means a lot. So, if you happen to be on the low side of it, you're gonna be in bad shape."
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE YOUR SEASON SO FAR? "We're not having anywhere near the type of success that I thought we would. We're trying to put our finger on the problem. Everything that is supposed to be working real good is not coming together like I would have bet it was going to at the start of the season. But we're working real hard on it and we're trying to figure out the weak spots so we can make some changes. We want to really do a good job for Sauer's Incorporated and we're still working on it. I hope we can get it done before they leave."
EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE STRUGGLING AT THE MOMENT, IS IT STILL FUN FOR YOU? "Yeah, I try not to ever lose the fun part of it. The day I lose that, then I wouldn't want to be in this game. The one thing that's always been the most fun for me are the people that are involved in this game. I've made so many friends down through the years since we started participating in racing that it's kind of hard to walk away from it -- not so much for the racing part but for the people that are involved."
YOU JUST CALLED THIS A GAME. OTHERS MIGHT SAY IT'S A BUSINESS. DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY? "No, if it was a business I wouldn't even think about staying in it. It's just a good, fun game and it's very exciting. Again, you get back to the people that are involved and that's the main reason I come."