National Hot Rod Association Media Conference
July 31, 2007
MICHAEL PADIAN: Good afternoon. Good morning on the West Coast. And welcome to today's NHRA POWERade Series teleconference.
We have completed 15 races thus far and are two races shy of setting our first playoff field in this inaugural season of the Countdown to the Championship.
Briefly, the Countdown to the Championship is a playoff system that consists of a 17-race regular season that reduces the field of championship contenders to eight, a four-race playoff that halves the field of championship contenders to four, and a two-race championship that determines the 2007 POWERade Series World Champions.
After the just-completed stretch of six-races-in-six-weeks, the teams are currently enjoying a much-needed week off before returning next weekend for the first of back-to-back races to end the regular season; the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, August 9th through 12th in Brainerd, Minnesota; and the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals August 16th through 19th in Reading, Pennsylvania.
Joining us on today's call are three drivers who offer three very different perspectives right now. Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin, who was one of the first drivers to clinch a playoff berth. Top Fuel driver Dave Grubnic, who is right now the last man in Countdown in Top Fuel; and Del Worsham who is right now the last man out in Funny Car.
I'll begin with an opening statement from each of the three drivers, and then I'll open it up to questions from the media. I would ask that you identify yourself when prompted if I do not do so and direct your question to one of the three drivers. To get in line to ask a question, hit star 1 on your keypad.
Jeg, we'll begin with you. You've won two POWERade Series World Championships under the old format. How if all has your strategy changed with the new, Countdown to the Championship, particularly clinching early as you did at Denver?
JEG COUGHLIN: I'm not sure the philosophy really changes a whole lot. I think the excitement level and the stress level is certainly increased in the new format.
But it's also, at the same time, taken an opportunity for somebody in a distant position from first to have a heck of a shot at winning a POWERade championship.
So everything wrapped up in one, I think it's going to be just an outstanding conclusion to the 2007 POWERade Series for Top Fuel Funny Car Pro Stock and Pro Stock Bike, because hopefully we're going to see down-to-the-wire championship runs like we saw last year with Tony Schumacher and that team, which was just short of a miracle.
So that was pretty cool. As far as our strategy has gone, with Cagnazzi Racing and the Jegs Team is to go into each event as we would any other event, be as prepared as we can but not make any mistakes. It's a zero tolerance world in any professional classes anymore where any little error can and will cost you a round win or a race win. So our goal has been to try to prepare as good as we can. And once we're at the racetrack perform as well as we can.
With that has come, in our case, brought us enough round wins and a couple of race wins to secure us a berth to the first Countdown to the Championship in Pro Stock.
So our goal is to not make any mistakes and secure a solid spot into the Countdown starting at Indy. So we're excited about it, to say the least.
MICHAEL PADIAN: Dave, you've not been higher than sixth in the Countdown Top Fuel standings all season or lower than eight. What's it going to take stay there for two more races especially with five drivers within 70 points of you for that eighth playoff spot?
DAVE GRUBNIC: That's obviously going to be going round. We have to go more rounds than the people behind me. So fortunately the last few races here, while I've made it, I went out first round but luckily enough the people behind me, there was other than my teammates, that actually gained around on me.
But the important goal there is to stay ahead of the people behind me. It's not going to be an easy task even with two tasks. Melanie is my closest competitor. She's two rounds out from me. So on one good weekend and that can completely change.
So we definitely have to be on our game. We have to go out there and perform well. And it's definitely made it a lot more exciting, whereas normally we'd sort of wait until we got close down to the end of the year or even in this position, my position, we may have been looking down the barrel, although it doesn't look like we have a very good chance at this championship unless we have a severe miracle where I can win every race.
But at least with this system it does open it up for guys like myself. So I'm definitely looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to going around the next two events, that's for sure.
MICHAEL PADIAN: Del, you found the right tune-up at the right time last weekend with a runner-up finish at Sonoma. How good does it feel to be in the game right now, Dave was just talking about that, and is the Sonoma tune-up one that you think will hold up in Brainerd and Reading long enough for you to catch either eighth-place Jim Head or seventh-place John Force?
DEL WORSHAM: I hope so. I'm looking at my calendar from 2007, looking at all the races. The car has been running pretty good since May. Had some blowups and some bad luck and lost some very close races, put us in this position.
Seems like, if momentum means anything, we're kind of coming in on a high note right now. We're chasing down Jim Head basically for that eighth spot.
And at first I looked at the points and I'm thinking oh my goodness, we have four rounds in two rounds, going to be real tough. If you look at seven days ago we had seven rounds, three races. We've made up three of those rounds already, have four more to go. I feel confident.
I really can't control or predict what Jim Head or John Force is going to do. So I can just hope that -- I don't hope any harm or bad things happen to them, I just hope they don't do as good as they can and we do better than them and we can get into this countdown.
MICHAEL PADIAN: We will now open it up to questions.
Q. Del, you're back four rounds. Are you going to maybe try to cut the tree a little closer or change any of your racing strategy in these next two events?
DEL WORSHAM: As far as cutting the tree closer, no. I just go up there every time like I'm sure every other driver does. You cut the best reaction time you can. You can't guess at that. If you guess at that, it's going to catch you and get you a red light.
As far as strategy goes, even last week, knowing the urgency feeling how important every round is right now, we're probably running the car harder at times than we normally would have just taking a chance on possibly smoking the tires. We're going to have to. We'll have to keep an eye on Jim Head and John Force and see where they are. And if we have a tough competitor, take chances on possibly smoking the tires and even hurting the engine to make sure you get that round win.
Q. Do you think you might see from some drivers who don't make that eight cut-off that they might look to test a little bit or maybe back off a little bit, or is it still a matter that priority one is trying to win an event title?
DEL WORSHAM: I think so. I think everybody's priority, regardless of where you are in points, is to win the race. It's just to go out and win the race and win as many rounds as you can, get exposure for your sponsors and win money and whatever you can for yourself.
You know, that's kind of been a question like what's going to happen to everybody else now if you don't make this countdown in the top eight, what do you do then? You go out and win the next race, the way I see it.
Q. You guys have had a tough spell, eight races, what, in nine weeks? What does this break mean for you guys going into Brainerd after racing for six straight weeks? Is it a matter of, Del, you guys have a two-car team and Dave's part of the Kalitta thing and Jegs. Does having that resource, was that a benefit I guess during this long stretch?
DAVE GRUBNIC: Yes, it is a benefit, mainly for resources and parts. Like especially with the Kalitta organization, we've got four fuel teams out there with the three Top Fuel cars and then Scott with the Funny Car.
So we can share, I know Funny Cars have a little different engine combination, so forth. We can share parts amongst especially the three dragster teams. If we have a bad weekend where we tear up some stuff, yes, we can obviously share parts in that respect. So it does help in that regard.
With these six races, on the drivers, it's not too bad. We can go out there, we can do what we have to do. The main concern we have is for our crews, they're our most important asset. So we want to make sure that the guys, on our team, they're all heading back, back to our shop. They'll service everything, get everything ready to go for Brainerd. We want to make sure they do get a bit of a break and recharge before we go out with this next two race wing.
Q. How does that affect the Pro Stock team?
JEG COUGHLIN: He hit the hail on the head. With our organization, we've had some parts attrition. And in Pro Stock, break an engine is not as typical as it might be in the fuel classes. So this span we have between now and Brainerd it's going to serve us well. We had FedEx flying engines into Morrisville, North Carolina. I think we flew three of them in and they already had one that we hurt in Seattle back in Morrisville come Tuesday morning.
So it gives us an opportunity to, in a nice fashion, work on those four engines, try and get things as fresh as we can, use the best pieces we can. Obviously new fresh pieces are better, and get everything serviced and Dyno'd and prepared for not only Brainerd and Reading, I think we're in pretty good shape for Brainerd and Reading, but the fresher the pieces we have going into the first race of the Countdown and the fresher our people are, as Dave said, is very key.
These guys, they're traveling up and down the road weekend and week out. In this last, if you look back 12 weeks, maybe we've had two weekends off.
So it's been quite a stretch. And going into that stretch we were commenting to the same event, I think the strong teams will certainly surface. And I think we've seen a lot of that in all the professional categories.
And in our case we've been able to win four races in that stretch between Dave Connolly and myself, and we are definitely looking forward to this couple of days off going into the weekend or going into Brainerd to hit the track hard there in Brainerd and then it's going to be right off to Reading and some of us we're going to the national race in Bristol and then to Indy.
It's a nonstop deal, but we love it. So we're looking forward to it. Without question, again, I can't emphasize the Countdown to the Championship is going to be exciting as heck starting at Indy and continuing for the next four for the finale leading into Vegas and Pomona.
Q. Jeg and Del, you have been in this thing for a long time. Is this the roughest stretch you guys can recall in recent history? This has just been brutal for everybody.
DEL WORSHAM: Personally, it's not the roughest. When I first started racing, just to make ends meet back in the early '90s I think there was a point in time I raced 15 weeks in a row between NHRA and IHRA and match racing. Three-man crew, my dad and myself and another person.
I can remember nights being out there at 11:00 at night thinking all I have left now is the rear end knowing it's broken to take it out. Now we have big teams and big crews and plenty of people and lots of parts. We're financed properly.
But it is tough and everybody has been traveling a lot and we've all been racing. They keep talking about this week off. I guess we have a week we're not racing, but I'm at the shop right now. I am paying bills. I haven't been here a month. They're stacked up high. Look out there, there's Funny Car bodies everywhere and engines apart, people going a hundred different directions trying to get done by Friday to get Saturday off so they can leave on Sunday.
So we're still in the middle of a lot of racing here, and I don't really see a whole lot of time off for anybody.
JEG COUGHLIN: I would second that exactly. The time off anymore is maybe a little bit sometime between Pomona and Pomona there might be a four-week stretch where you have a little breather but you're still in the shop working every day or working at your business, whatever is the call of duty.
But it's NHRA drag racing and the fans love it and we love it. That's why we dedicate our lives and our lifestyles to it.
Q. Dave or Del, I guess want to get your feelings on how much being on the bubble, whether you're eighth or ninth -- if you get to the eighth spot how much does that change your perspective in terms of the championship? And kind of compare your feelings about this new format versus maybe a year ago?
DAVE GRUBNIC: Well, it's definitely playing into my advantage this year; and if we were in the old format, obviously we'd be like, I don't think we'd have ourselves -- like I said earlier, we'd have to have kind of a pretty big miracle there to put ourselves into contention. It opens it up. Adds to a little bit more excitement as well, especially with my Zantrex-3 team trying to keep ourselves in that position.
When we first started doing this, I really had no opinion on whether it would be better or worse. It was one of those deals, you've got to try a piece of food before you decide you like it or not. So we really have to give it a run and we'll see how it plays out.
Who knows, the way the current system is, too, sort of like you could conceivably go a whole year, not win a race and win the championship. So we'll just play it by ear.
Q. When you get into a format like this, you basically have four races to kind of make or break. And does that kind of give you a chance to maybe experiment a little bit, take maybe a few, I don't want to say risks, but maybe just kind of throw everything out there to see what happens, just to try to get into that final four?
DAVE GRUBNIC: We pretty much do that. We pretty much do that every time we go up there. These cars are on the edge. A Top Fuel car with Connie Kalitta and Mike, he goes up there, runs the racetrack. He'll look at that racetrack.
If it can hold a 4.46, he'll try and run a 4.46. And on eliminations, on race day, we'll go up there, if the track's 120 degrees and we see other cars running low 4.60s, high 4.50s Connie will try to run a low 4.60. That's the way it is.
I don't think any of that will change regardless of whether we're fighting to get into the top eight. We still want event wins, round wins. Every weekend we go to these national events to win.
From our team's perspective, none of that changes. We go out there, do the same job, whether we're in the top eight or not. We still want the event win.
DEL WORSHAM: Well, I mean definitely, I'm looking at the points right now this season and looking where we stand and look to see if we made this top eight, is there any chance we can win the POWERade Championship. I would say no, not under the current situation. With the current points countdown coming up we would have a chance. This year I'd say I love it. If I was running Capps right now, I would probably be thinking this isn't a good idea.
It's going to be interesting. The guys who can probably answer this question best would be Jeg Coughlin or Tony Schumacher or John Force, won under the old point structure, fought their way through the whole season to win it. Or to watch a guy barely make the top eight, come in have a great last five races win the championship. If they feel the same way or not, that will be interesting to see what they think.
JEG COUGHLIN: Certainly in our case we've been fortunate to win two Pro Stock championships. In 2000 it was a situation like we've seen in many cases where we started off the season and won, I think, 10 of the first 15 events or something. And just had to keep a pulse going to win the championship. 2002 was the opposite where it took a long, hard fight through the summer and fall months to get us in contention in winning a championship.
So both very exciting for us winning the championships. I think when you look at the new format and the Countdown to the Championship, I think the drama that's going to be built and the drama enjoyed by the fans is what's going to fuel us.
I mean I'm in a similar situation being in second in Pro Stock right now to Greg Anderson. I think eight rounds behind him. That is a margin that is possible to make up. We went from a 210 best deficit down to an 80-point deficit in about six races.
So we're not out of the championship in the old format. And it would be exciting to fight for it in the end in that respect.
But I think the new format is going to bring so much more opportunity for NHRA and for POWERade drag racing that the fans can enjoy.
And if we, as a group of drivers and race teams and crew chiefs and media, can take this opportunity and build this sport, because it is exciting, I mean again you can't argue with Tony Schumacher's finish last year, and that's really what the Countdown to the Championship has the ability to set up.
Yes, you could not win a race all year, but be a very, very consistent top four team and make it to the final four cars for the last two races and have a great round at the last two races and win the championship and maybe never win a race.
But I think the strong survives. The old moniker, good old National Trail Racing, only the strong survive. I think consistency does pay and strong teams pay and the real winners will be the fans and the media to talk about it.
So I see it as a win-win for the whole sport, obviously. And being in both situations to run for championships, to Dave's point, too, we're going to see how it plays out for our own behalves, but I think it's going to be very exciting.
Q. How many actual races in the Countdown and are the Countdown races going to have full fields, and the other end, kind of based on similar to what Nascar is?
MICHAEL PADIAN: I'll take that one. The Countdown to the Championship, we'll have full fields for the final six races. There will be eight drivers eligible for the championship after the 17-race regular season is over.
Top eight of each of the four categories will advance and compete in full field races. Regular points format. And their points will be realigned. So it's the first place driver will have 2070, and they will all be separated by 10 points.
So first place will have 2070. Eighth place will have 2000. After the next four races we reduce the field of eligible championship contenders to four. And those four drivers have their points reset again in 10-point increments from 3030 down to 3000 and those four drivers compete in full field races at Las Vegas and Pomona for the championship.
Q. I was curious, obviously the competition and intensity has increased a lot with this on the line now as opposed to before, or is it pretty much the same?
DEL WORSHAM: Definitely has increased the intensity of the season. We're already halfway through the season. I already feel like it's the last race of the season. We're fighting for our top 10 spot. We're watching the points very close in mid-season when we normally wouldn't.
And just every single round feels like a final round now, that's just the way we have to take it.
JEG COUGHLIN: That's intense, man. Every round is treated like it's a final round. Whole team swinging for the fence. If we can run a 660, we're going for 659 or 660, that's what it's going to take to win in the Pro Stock world.
Another point to the Countdown format, when we're separated from first to second by 20 points or 10 points, one round win is 20 points.
So that's a very slim margin between one and two and then again between two and three and so forth. So this is going to tighten up real quick and we'll see -- hopefully we'll have some great racing but we'll see the cream rise of the crop, both team wise and driving wise.
Q. Del and Dave, do you guys think you guys on the bubble that are constantly under like the do-or-die pressure here down the stretch might have a little advantage over, say, like a Capps or Hight or Bernstein or something like that that already clinched it up and maybe I don't want to say coached but not have to worry over the next couple of races, when the championship starts and the chase to the championship starts?
DAVE GRUBNIC: Well, yes, that is true, because like, let's put it this way, I'd much rather be in "Hot Rod" Fuller's position right now than the position I'm in. But that's not the case.
There are some drivers out there that have solidified their positions in the top eight and obviously they're going to be more relaxed over these next two races whereas, in my case there, we've got to make sure we stay in there.
And as I said earlier, we have to go rounds and we have to be there on Sunday and take whatever luck we can get and whatever else that will work in our favor.
But yes, it does affect us. But still you know once the helmet goes on, that engine starts, you've got a job to do. And that job is the same regardless whether you're first and clinched or whether you're eighth and desperately hanging on. You give it 110% every time you go up there.
DEL WORSHAM: Yes, I think so. I think Dave's right. Right now we're conditioned, racing every round, like I told you earlier, like it's a final round. If we do make this Countdown, we have to keep that intensity up for the next five races and just keep battling the way we did to make the Countdown.
And Ron Capps, he's kind of -- you can look at him, seems like he's kind of fallen off here a little bit the last races. And you wonder if they've relaxed, testing, trying to figure out some stuff out for the final five races of the year or they've let their guard down a little bit. I really don't know.
And I think the guys that fight to make their way in will be peaking and hopefully at the top of their game and that might be a small advantage for them.
Q. Now with looking at the position you're in being eighth, are you looking back at like if it wasn't for that one round that I should have won, somebody else would be worrying about making it and I'd be in? Is it getting to that point, or did you just try not to think about that and you just go forward?
DEL WORSHAM: I personally, myself, I really don't want to look back. I try not to. You try to look back and see what -- you really don't want to look back, see what could have been, because basically all you have is what's in front of you right now. A whole lot of things could change throughout the season to make this a whole different situation. But they didn't. This is what we have.
I think right now being very aggressive staying on top of your game and just trying your very best is all you can do and hopefully everybody understands that.
Q. I have a team question for all three guys. Knowing that drivers can't sit on a points lead in this new format, does that change your team's morale? Does knowing that the drivers can't sit on a points lead under this new format, in other words, say they build a huge lead and knowing that going into they've got the championship in the bag, but how does this change your team's morale knowing that they can't do that?
JEG COUGHLIN: I think that's a great question. What that's done in our case is we had -- again we had Greg Anderson, KB Racing Team, off to just one outstanding start again. And we had a couple of bad races to start the season. And we're lingering in the top eight still. But the point I'm getting to is it actually made our team step back, refocus, say, hey, listen we've got a shot at being in the top eight going into Indy.
The format is going to reset in such a favorable fashion for a situation like us not being close enough to strike for the championship and what that's done for us is it's allowed us to step back, relax, focus on the areas that need focus on and get out and race and that's exactly what we've done.
Now, in the meantime we were threatening to maybe even make a run for number one going into Indy and that's yet diminished the last two weeks again. But I think it definitely made us say, hey, let's not get caught up in trying to run for a season ending championship right now the new countdown of the championship format is as such and let's make the best of it as we can.
Let's make sure we do our best not to miss that top eight. Because nothing's guaranteed. I mean as in all the pro classes here, you've almost got a legitimate 16, 18, 20 teams or cars that are favorable of being in this top eight.
So anything can happen. You can have some misfortune and bad luck a couple weeks in a row and it sets you back.
That's how the morale plays in our case and allowed us to focus and aggressively focus towards trying to set our sights on a top eight berth and both Dave and Colin myself are seated at two and three.
MICHAEL PADIAN: At this point with two races left in the regular season, 14 of the 32 positions have been clinched. Five in Top Fuel. That's Rod Fuller down to JR Todd. Two in Funny Car, Ron Capps and Robert Heights; five in Pro Stock, Greg Anderson down to Jason Line in fifth place, and two in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Angelle Sampey.
Q. Del, could you give me what your impressions are after your first meeting with Hartenstein?
DEL WORSHAM: Yeah, he was very, what's a good word to use for it? I gotta hand it to the guy. He stood up there and answered our questions and took whatever questions we had in open forum. I'm not so sure if I would have done that if I was in his position. I thought he handled himself very well.
He didn't say all the exact things you want to hear like it was all prerehearsed or this is what I'm supposed to say. He stood up there, gave answers to the best of knowledge what he thought was going to happen is what's going to happen. And I thought that was pretty big of him to stand there and take those questions.
Q. Jeg, like you've explained, you've won your championships both ways. Dominant up front and then winning it towards the end. With the Countdown, do you see it at all as fabricated drama kind of like Nascar's Chase? It's not based on the total production of 22 races. If you dominated at the beginning of the year, why should you not be rewarded for that?
JEG COUGHLIN: I think you are rewarded for it. You're rewarded in the race wins and all the accolades and exposures that come from it. And, two, I think it's the format our sport is following. And it's not new in the sports world. It's in all sports. And our friends in Circle Track Racing certainly have run this format for years.
And I think we can look to those sports as role models to try and build our own sport. And I think what we've done the last several years with POWERade has been phenomenal, and I think to the comments on Eddie Hartenstein earlier, the possibilities of the sport continues to see in its future is very positive and pretty awesome.
So again to your point, I think the rewards are all there and I think the real rewards are going to be to the champion without question, and we'll just have to see how the champions play out in the four professional classes. And the fans are going to enjoy it.
And we hope like heck that the media enjoys it and can tell the world about it because we've got a great sport and we're looking to continue to build it.
Q. Jeg, have you found there to be any advantages having your team based in Nascar country?
JEG COUGHLIN: Certainly without question. Our lead engine builder and one of his associates are directly from the Nascar world. The relationship that they -- the budgets, first of all, that they worked with on the 355-inch motors that Nascar runs, their engine budget is larger than our budget to run a whole 23-race POWERade series. So the resources they have at their fingertips is phenomenal. Not only from a product standpoint, but the resources in the motor sports world is outstanding all over the globe.
And when Nascar looked at some of their big brother ideas from F1, those are pretty tall resources, their engine budgets are bigger than the whole Nascar team's yearly budget. So, yes, it's very beneficial. We're right in the heart of it in Morrisvilee. Our talent pool is unbelievable.
There's been times where parts and pieces need to be fabricated within our Cagnazzi shop. Either we don't have the time to do it or we don't have the equipment to do it and there is a team within six miles that can do that and will do that and it works both ways.
Our CMT machines are cutting things for teams as we speak. So because of that relationship it has made us stronger and I think the top -- at this point in time the top two teams in Pro Stock are within 10 minutes drive.
Q. What's that engine builder's name?
JEG COUGHLIN: Joe Hornick.
Q. What team was he with?
JEG COUGHLIN: Joe Gibbs. Jason were with Joe Gibbs Racing and were doing some moonlighting efforts or side work with Greg Anderson as they started their program. And Joe has since moved on and Cagnazzi was able to pick him up. We enjoyed working with him and his talent.
Q. Del, you're in a unique position. Not only are you trying to get into the top eight, but so is Jeff. What kind of added pressure is that to you? Are you guys sharing everything now? Is it pull all the stops out the next two races? Jeff isn't that far behind you guys. This is a new position for you.
DEL WORSHAM: I wouldn't do anything to diminish his chances to make it. At the same time, there's shared information, if he wants to come over get it, he can. When we had to race second round over there, we pretty much stayed on our side of the pits raced each other. Saw the race when it was over with. It's going to be fun.
I'm not going to do anything to detract, to slow them down or make it so that they couldn't make it. The same time I wouldn't expect them to do anything to us.
Q. Is this a sponsor's delight to have two guys like this battling out first spot?
DEL WORSHAM: I think they would rather have one of them definitely in and another one battling his way in. We just do the best we can. Sometimes things just don't fall into place. You can look back to the season say if this thing didn't happen it would be different. That's not how it is. The case is we need to go out right now and do well and just try and get around either Jim Head or John Force.
Q. Is this the scenario that everybody wants to do, peak at the end and get it going right when you need it?
DEL WORSHAM: Not a bad time to be peaking, that's for sure. You can kind of see it coming back even before Bristol, his car was running well. Things were just still happening to him. When he got it going, it was his train full speed ahead.
Couple of races ago I started looking at his points thinking John Force is going to get into this thing. Who is next on the list. I saw Jim Head and Gary Scelzi there.
When he won the first round in Seattle, he did himself a great favor by getting that round win. I'm not going to say it guaranteed him a spot in the field, but it's going to come down to one round and that round is going to be big for him.
Jim Head is the guy we're all focusing on. And there's a chance John Force is going to stumble. But the momentum he has right now looks to me like he's going to run his way up in the points.
Q. Going the other way, and this is for any one of you guys, you look at the format and all the comparisons that have been made to Nascar's Chase and the reason for it, do you see this format as maybe something that could be adopted by another series, i.e. Nascar?
DAVE GRUBNIC: Well, the Nascar have their own, I guess it's the Countdown to the Chase or whatever. And we have ours. It's the inaugural year for our setup. We've obviously got to run through it and see how it works and so forth.
I guess that's going to boil down to whatever is successful for whatever works, for whatever field you're in. It's like this might work very well for us. It might not.
We've just got to try it out and see how it works. I think each individual series has to have something tailored for it. I'm sure our sanctioning body put a lot of thought into this one. And it may not be perfect, but I'm sure they tried to make it perfect. So I think each individual series has to have its own little setup for it. So like I said we'll play it out see how it works out and hopefully it will be great for everybody. The fans, the races and everybody concerned.
Q. Who is more dangerous? Or how he is more dangerous, John Force on top or John Force on the bottom trying to work his way up?
DEL WORSHAM: Anybody who has followed John Force, which everybody has through the last 20 years, he's very dangerous once you get to the summertime. His best months seem to start right around July and they run clear through sort of clear through the final I would say right now the way he's running I would be very worried. I am and I'm sure all the other drivers are that he can just keep this train running and this roll going.
John Force, the crazy thing about him through the last 17 years if you watched him, he has this ability to rise up when it's time to win a race or time to win a round, he can just rise right up to the level just for that round and beat you and be back down to where he was, that's enough to beat that guy. I see it coming.
I see Austin Coil making great runs when he needs to. And John Force showing he's a great driver, can cut a light when he has to also.
Q. Dave mentioned this. A guy can win a championship in this format and not even win a race. Do you think that takes a way from winning a championship if you don't win at least one national event, and would you like to see some tweaks made for this, like where Nascar has done, where they reward a guy for winning in the regular season before they get to the playoffs?
DAVE GRUBNIC: That scenario I guess is possible. If we have the final four and let's say three of those go out in the first round in the last two races and one of them goes to second round for the last two races or whatever it takes to the semis and gets beat, well, there's your champion and you could have conceivably not even won a race all year.
Now, is that right? Is it fair? In all honesty, I don't know. My gut tells me it's not. If somebody goes out and you have somebody that dominates and wins eight races during the course of the year and then, unfortunately, you know when we get on -- we have some freak temperatures or cooler conditions and so forth the last couple of races just didn't play out to them and they lose a championship because of that, well, that doesn't sound fair to me either. I'm going against myself, because this format plays right into a car like mine right now.
So I honestly, I don't know how to respond to that. It's one of those deals that hopefully that won't be the case. Hopefully we'll see a champion crown that is a true champion that would have won it either way, whether we did it the old format or this current format.
What I do like about this current format, though, is it does open it up to a bunch more teams. And instead of it going down to like we had last year with Tony Schumacher and my teammate Doug Kalitta where two cars were fighting out for it, at least now we'll have four cars fighting out for it. It does open it up in that respect. I think it will be highly unlikely we will see -- even though it is possible, it's unlikely we will see somebody win this championship without winning an event.
So, again, we've just got to play it out and see how it turns out. And then we can all make a decision on whether it worked out well or it didn't. So that's what it boils down to, I'm afraid.
MICHAEL PADIAN: Thank you drivers for spending the time.
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