NASCAR Busch Series: Ford 300
Topics: Gatordate Duel
November 17, 2007
MODERATOR: Pleased to be joined with double winners, NASCAR Busch Series Car Owner Champion, Richard Childress. We got our race winner, Jeff Burton. And also Scott Wimmer, who guided this number 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet to this car owner championship this year a long with crew chief Pat Smith. Congratulations to the four of you. Great team effort. You're truly a great champion. Richard, we'll start with you, it is your fourth NASCAR Busch Series car owner championship. How does it feel to win this one this year?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It was great. To have Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer involved, Pat Smith, there are other guys behind the scenes. He's been involved with everyone of them. We're really excited about the wining the race tonight and being able to close out an era for Busch Beer.
They meant so much to the sport and I can't thank them enough and NASCAR and the relationship that's been there. I think Dale won the very first one of these. Guys that know the numbers can tell us, but I think Dale won the very first Busch race and for RCR to win the last one, that was really special. And to have Jeff Burton behind the wheel and the job Scott did this year, I can't say enough about them all.
Just proud to be here and proud of everybody that made this happen.
MODERATOR: Let's go now to our race winner, Jeff Burton. This is his 27th victory in the NASCAR Busch Series. Jeff, talk about this win and talk about the significance of it being the final race in what we have known as the in a car Busch Series
JEFF BURTON: Pat has done a great job this year. Richard said about all the guys behind the scenes that have done a great job. We won the Owner Championship with this team, but I believe the other team finished third or fourth. And that's a heck of a year.
So real proud of all the effort. Pat has, Pat and I had a conversation early in the year, Pat said, man, we're going to step it up. And honestly, they stepped it up. And I'm real proud of that.
To be part of this, when Richard told me Scott was going to be part of this program, I got real excited about that. Because Scott's a proven winner, can win races, has helped our Cup program with all he's done. And this has just been a good deal and I'm proud to be part of it.
I'll be honest I grew up wanting to be a Busch driver. To me this series has been the Busch Series and that's who I grew up idolizing. Jack Ingram and Tommy Ellis and Sam and those guys. And to be part of this, to win the last race as the Busch Series, it means a hell of a lot to me. It really does.
I honestly love being in this series and Busch has been an incredible part of it. And it means a great deal.
MODERATOR: Scott, your thoughts, you played a big role in this team ownership championship this season with that 29 car. Your thoughts.
SCOTT WIMMER: Just excited about the way the whole season went. Me personally it's the first time I've been involved in a multi car organization with teammates. It's just an unbelievable place to race at. Everybody at the shop, Pat Smith, Will, everybody has just done an amazing job with these Busch Series cars. I think to win 13 races this year and all the top 5s and top 10s and to bring a championship home, that means a lot to us. It's been a great year for me. I learned a ton racing with Jeff. On and off the track he's the greatest teammate a guy could have in this sport.
So I'm really privileged to be here. The last season for the Busch Series, it's something special. This is where I got my start and won some races here. And we're real sad to see them go. But they have done such a great deal for this sport to get it to the level it's at. And to have drivers come in and race in this series and improve their skills and hopefully he moving up to Nextel Cup. So it's been a great 26 years and we're sad to see them go. But grateful for all they have done.
MODERATOR: Pat, you've been the quarterback of this 29 team all season. What do you think the key has been to all its success?
PAT SMITH: With Jeff and Scott the consistency that has been there. We have had our heartaches and our pains. We wrecked some cars, we have blown a few engines. But for the most part for both of those guys I know if I put something underneath them each week we're going to have the chance to win. But with the length of time or the last year, the passion that Richard has for his Busch teams is anything less is a disappointment. So we like to go out each week a with an opportunity to win and drivers give us that ability.
MODERATOR: Take questions now.
Q. Richard and Jeff, although this has happened before with you getting split championships, you being the team owner, another guy winning the drivers title, do you think it's kind of a hollow feeling a little bit for the winner of the drivers title that he didn't have the team that won it all?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We won it a couple of years ago and at and Hendricks won it. It's just racing. That's the reason I think NASCAR has two champions. An owner and a driver, in case a situation like this comes up. Where if a driver would get hurt or get out or something. And I think it's a great thing to have -- it gives our guys back at the shop when we had our meeting back in January, this is one of the goals we set was to win races and to win the championship. It gives the guys when we have to do a split year like we did this year, it gives everybody an opportunity to have something to really go after and do besides just winning races and I was really proud of everybody.
JEFF BURTON: I'm sure that in their world I'm sure they would prefer to have won both. I mean that's just how it is. I mean Carl would say the same thing. But Carl's had, they have done a good job. They have run well, won lot of races. And I wouldn't call it a hollow feeling. But I'm sure that they would prefer to have won both.
But like Richard said, I think that, I mean I think it's important to have a car owner, this thing shouldn't just be about the drivers. The, you know, we can't have races without car owners. And we can't have the things that we do without car owners and having a Car Owner Championship I think is very important to this series and every series. The driver gets injured or something like that happens, it shouldn't take the car owner out of having the opportunity to succeed. And I'm a huge supporter of car owner points, rather than driver points. I'm a huge supporter of Car Owner Championships rather than Driver Championships because I believe the car owners are the ones that make the investment and they're the ones that they deserve a championship.
SCOTT WIMMER: Same feeling as Jeff. I think it's really important to the sport to have owners championship and it really reflects on the team that drives. No matter who Pat Smith puts in his race cars and Mr. Childress puts in his race cars they're going to be fast and run up front and he should be rewarded for that. And that's really what it's all about. It's about the team and the people around it. And we're really fortunate at RCR to have that. And Carl ran exceptionally well at the beginning of the year, but stumbled a little bit and won the driver points by a mile, but there was, you know, that Car Owners Championship was really between three cars, but all the way until this weekend and I think it put a lot of excitement in it and kept it interesting all the way to Homestead here.
Actually the Car Owner Championship was won last year, Richard won the car Owner Championship with the 21 car, which Jeff actually drove five races, and it was kind of overlooked a little bit with Kevin winning the championship, but it was the car owner.
Q. Richard, during this race you had, at times, Jeff up near the lead and you had Mark Martin, all-time series winner and Harvick whose won a bunch of times. Are you watching this at all and thinking that this is kind of cool and in a historic sense or are you just paying attention to what your cars and what they're doing?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I was watching, I know how close Jeff and Mark are. And to watch those two guys racing and to know what Mark's meant to the Busch Series and to see him and Jeff racing and I know how much Mark probably wanted to win this last race. Because he has done so much for the Busch Series. And Kevin's won a lot and watching, yeah, I did think about it. Mostly when I was watching Jeff and Mark racing out there. It went through my mind about I could see the old 60 Winn-Dixie car and a lot of seasons from the past really.
JEFF BURTON: I thought about that too. Mark was leading and that was the two all-time leading Busch winners there. And to me that's really cool. And I did notice that. I know in the cautions I almost said to the owner -- well I didn't really say anything, but I thought that was really cool.
Q. Scott, for you, you drove the most races in the car this year, but was it a little bit strange to be out there tonight watching your teammate win this championship?
SCOTT WIMMER: Yeah, it definitely was. I was nervous for some reason. I was sitting up on the pit box with Pat and any time -- I've got a really good relationship with all of the guys on the team and they work together and we just worked really hard at this. Everybody on the team. And you know, we were able to have a real good run at Phoenix and come here with a pretty comfortable points lead to where if something did happen, we still had a pretty good shot at winning it. So it was fun being a part of the team all year. I only drove half the races, but still it's a phenomenal place to be with, to be associated with, and I'm looking forward to next year. They're going to up my races a little bit. I think I'm going to run 23, Jeff is going to run 12. So hopefully we can have the same success we had this year. It was, right at the beginning of the year it was a little hard getting in and out of the car, but as the summer went on, we got a lot of consistency, a lot of momentum going and we were able to get a lot of points and get us to this position.
Q. (No microphone.)
JEFF BURTON: First of all, there's this, I've done this for a long time and there's always been a discussion of whether Cup drivers should be involved in this sport, in this series rather. I'm not sure this series is broken. There's a long, there's a lot of conversation about this series needs to be something different. But the reality of it is that I'm not sure that I believe that. I think the fans like to see Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. I think they like to see it.
I also believe that they like to see that young guy that's getting a chance to go up and race against them. I think they like to see a situation like Scott's been in, where he's won races and then got out of something that was good enough to win and now is back in it. And I think they like to see people like to see Scott. I think they like to see Dale Earnhardt, Junior racing, but they also want to see the next Mark Martin. And we, I don't know how to entice car owners to want to hire younger drivers that don't have as much success or haven't had as much success, but the series is not broken.
If we could find a way to have more young guys that are making their name and can be competitive, I think that would be a great thing. But it's very difficult thing to do. It's kind of a double edge sword.
But again I don't think the series is broken. It would be great to have more young guys feeling their way through it the way I did when I came in. But on the other hand, it seems to work pretty well.
Q. Richard, can you -- you were talking about Dale Earnhardt winning that first Busch race and I want to say it was one of the other cars, but did you have, were you associated with it at all? Did you help them out with anything or was it one of the cars that they built and totally separate?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I can't remember back then. I just know that he had won the first race or I knew he was right there and we did a lot of engines for him. I don't remember if we did that engine or if -- that was probably another engine. I'm pretty sure.
But back to what Jeff said, the thing about having the Cup drivers in the Busch Series, I think it's really important. It shows a car owner that you take a Clint Boyer or Kevin Harvick -- when I seen Kevin Harvick out there racing wheel to wheel with Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth and some of the guys and Jeff I think was still driving Busch then. And that made me know that Kevin Harvick could race. And when I seen Clint Boyer, Johnny Stoddard, these guys racing and beating the Cup drivers, I think that's what the Busch Series is all about.
We have got about all of our pit crews in the Cup series came from our Busch Series. The crew chiefs, Todd, Gill Martin, these guys have moved up. It's really, really an important series. And like Jeff said, I don't think it's broken. I think we got a lot, a great future in the Busch Series, which will become the Nationwide Series in the future. We welcome them also.
Q. Even though it was a different team that won the title last night, it's still your driver who drives for that team. So how did you kind of feel about, you got Kevin Harvick racing for you in the Cup series, and you got him out there competing against you in other series. Just what's, what was your feeling to see him win the Truck title
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I was happy for them to win that and I knew how much it meant for Kevin to win that. It's no different than when Dale drove for me and won it for Ron Hornaday. I know what it meant to him and these guys work hard for what they want to do. And if that's the road they want to pave for the future then you want to help support them.
Q. (No microphone.)
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Right now. It doesn't get better than winning championships and winning races. So sure I got some great, great moments to look back through, because I was probably involved in it, I ran the Busch Series and I ran the old Grand National Series before it was the Busch Series. And but, you know, you savor the moment and that's what we're doing right now.
PAT SMITH: I grew up in Colorado with a lot of local racing. And ESPN started carrying the Busch Series and watching Tommy Ellis and Tommy Houston and some of those guys, you know, no one in Colorado knew who they were, but I did. And I grew up watching it. And I remember the first Busch race I ever went to was with Rick and it didn't make the show. And at that point I idolized the series and was real proud to be where I am today.
SCOTT WIMMER: I would say right now. Winning the Owners Championship and just being with this team is probably the most memorable to me. Yeah, I grew up in Wisconsin and I watched Mark Martin racing since I can remember. I probably watched him race more than a lot of people have. And, you know, what he made this series when he came into it. And I watched Matt Kenseth come up into it and a lot of drivers from Wisconsin went through the Busch Series. And it just really left a Mark on me how competitive it is. There's great drivers in it, we got Jason Keller that's been in it for 700 some starts and Randy, all these great drivers that have come through this series and made their marks on the series, all the way back to Jack Ingram and Tommy Houston. And those are the memories for me, what those guys did and what Mr. Childress has done winning four titles.
And that's pretty memorable when a car owner can do that with so many different drivers and, you know, those are the memories that are probably the most memorable to me.
JEFF BURTON: This is my first involvement in the championship. I was involved in, like Pat said earlier, I was involved in the thing last year, but I only ran five races. And this is, like I said earlier, all I ever wanted to be was a Busch driver. And to be part of the championship means just an incredible amount to me.
One of the things that I really miss about the Busch Series is when we used to go to South Boston and Orange County and Hickory and those kind of places and Robert Pressley and guys like that that would run a local racetrack, they would also have a Busch car. And the Busch field would be 38 people trying to go for 28 spots or whatever it was. I can't remember how exactly it worked, but that was really cool.
Because you would have guys that just have one Busch car and one engine and took their late model guys and went out and ran the Busch Series. And that's what I did. And that was so cool to be part of it.
To me that's what I'll always remember about the Busch Series is being a late model drive and having two trailers at the racetrack on one night with your late model car and your Busch car there. And having a chance to run against Jack Ingram and Tommy Ellis and that to me was just, that was just incredible. And that's what I always will remember about the Busch Series.
Q. Richard, this question is for you. It was mentioned about the younger drivers and we know what the 29's doing next year and the two's doing next year and you rotated a couple young guys in the 21 this year. So what are your plans next year with the 21 car?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: We're going to announce it pretty soon. We have a driver lined up for it. And we're getting ready to announce it. It's, we're excited about it. It's going to be a lot of fun. I would like to tell you right now but I don't think I'm supposed to. We're excited about it. So it's going to be fun.
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