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NASCAR Winston Cup Preview

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Winston Cup

NASCAR Winston Cup Preview

Mike Skinner
January 18, 2003


Q. Mike, a lot of changes at Morgan-McClure Racing in the past few months. How was testing at Daytona? How is the chemistry with the team? How are things shaping up?

MIKE SKINNER: Well, I think it's obvious that Larry McClure and Morgan-McClure Motorsports have tried in recent years to continue (to operate) the way they had when they won races a few years back. With the engineering staff at RCR, Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Racing and Robert Yates, all of these big teams, it's very, very tough to compete against that. It's very hard to keep up with the latest and greatest in aero stuff. This business has turned into a people business. We all have real similar parts and pieces. The cars are all relatively close together. The engines aren't that far a part anymore. It's just about people. Larry McClure, along with our sponsor, Kodak, they have really took this winter and rethought a lot of that stuff and the sponsor said, 'Larry, what do we need to get competitive again'? I think he gave the same answers. So you know, obviously, we need more money. We need people. So our sponsor has really restructured things with Morgan-McClure Motorsports. They've helped him (Larry McClure) out monetarily. It's allowed him to hire some people. We've hired Tony Furr (competition director) and Gary Grossenbache has come back as our chief engineer, and we're looking to hire two or three more people. We haven't quite got that done yet. I really think that will help Chris Carrier (crew chief), Tim Weiss (team manager), everything else at the shop, you know, help get our act together, get our car competitive again. We went on a little vacation and when we came back, I told Larry this is the best Christmas present a guy could have -- an opportunity to be competitive again. So I'm really looking forward to this year and our new 2003 Pontiac. We switched to Pontiac this year. We got a lot more support from the factory than we've had in the past and technology-wise, and technical support, that's going to really help us. So, I cannot wait. I am looking forward to this year getting started. We had a fairly good test at Homestead at the end of the year, but we had our existing group. And we learned a lot the second day. Didn't quite get where we wanted to go. They (the team) went back and worked all winter getting ready for Daytona. When we rolled off the truck, we were in pretty good shape. Hopefully when we get back to Daytona we're going to run good. We're headed to Las Vegas next week. We will be doing stuff out there along with some testing. Hopeful we can work on our flat track stuff and get it a little bit better and maybe we can get the No. 4 closer to the front like it used to be.

Q. What's the hardest thing about trying to compete as a single car team against a multi-car car team?

MIKE SKINNER: The numbers of people is an issue, but if you think about it, it's not so much the numbers of bodies you can put out there. It's the quality of people. It's the people that have the experience and the shock technology and the aero stuff and the engineering things. It's the chemistry between the driver and the team. I'm getting confused nowadays. It used to be the driver and the crew chief. Now, you have team managers and assistants for this and that -- I don't really even know all of the titles. But I know -- I don't care what a man's title is. If we can get about four or five of us to get our heads together and make that car work, then it's all good. That's what our goal is right now. I guess Tony Furr has a title but I think he is going to basically manage and help Chris Carrier, Tim Weiss, myself. I think his job is going to be -- he needs to be a professional fire fighter. When he sees us starting to chase our tails at happy hour, he can come in there and go whoa boys; you guys are getting out there too far. Let's just start over and see if we can't fix the problem. The toughest thing is not just the amount of people. It's the quality of people. Our shop is in Virginia and it's not just that easy to go out and say, hey, I will give you $1,000 a month more money to come over here and work for us. It's not like down in Charlotte where most of the shops are. To come here, people are moving their families; they are taking their kids out of school. I know we were faced a little bit with that at RCR years ago. His organization is big enough now that he can pull people in and out of different areas from within the organization and make it work.

Q. Mike, what is your analysis of testing down at Daytona?

MIKE SKINNER: Thank you, NASCAR. NASCAR has done an awesome job of getting all of the manufacturers where their cars are all pretty close. Dodge was fastest in the first test; Pontiac was second. Ford was right there close. All of the manufacturers are right there; you can drop a blanket over them now. We have heard you folks and other people say we need to get the drivers back in this thing a little bit. If we can get our cars fairly equal, then you're going to see a lot more driver put back into this thing. The other things I was the most excited about ... we took two cars down there along with most everybody else. One car was pretty tricked up; the templates didn't fit it very well. The other car you could have started the race with. Every template fit it perfect. Fortunately that was our faster car. So we are looking forward to going back.

Q. Mike, going on that same subject a little bit, do you think with the way the cars are set up this year as far as templates and everything are concerned, do you think there is going to be as much of this business during the season with NASCAR changing this car a little, and that car a little; is there going to be a need for that this year, do you think?

MIKE SKINNER: I don't think there will be a need for it and I certainly hope that it's not that case. But they are in a tough spot. You got to keep it competitive. You got to keep the cars pretty equal. All of these owners and manufacturers are professional politicians. Everybody is lobbying (NASCAR) that their car needs help, everybody needs a bigger spoiler on the short or intermediate tracks and everybody wants a smaller one at Daytona. So they have a continuous fight on their hand and I think that will never, every, go away. But the closer we get these cars together, the less of that evil we're going to have. I think you're going to see less changes this year in the cars. If the test at Daytona was any indication, they all seemed to be pretty close. So hopefully when the green flag drops you're going to see a multitude of winners. Obviously, I hope Pontiac wins every race and, hopefully, the No. 4 car can win. But I think you're going to see a lot of different winners this year, which is exciting for the fans. It's good for NASCAR. There again, I thank NASCAR for being pretty smart on this stuff.

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