NASCAR Media Conference
July 17, 2007
TRACEY JUDD: We're now joined by our final guest today, NASCAR Grand National Division Busch East Series driver Peyton Sellers, who also won the 2005 NASCAR Weekly Series National Championship. To take you through some question and answers with Peyton, we'll turn over the moderation to our manager of communications for NASCAR's developmental series Jason Christley.
JASON CHRISTLEY: You are currently fourth place in points in the series standings as the series heads to the Music City Motorplex in Nashville for Sunday's Music City 150. You are in a unique situation, running essentially a one-car operation. Can you talk about having to haul home from Connecticut from last weekend, getting the car ready, turn it around to take to Tennessee?
PEYTON SELLERS: I tell you, this year has been a good year for us performance-wise. We've had a lot of good runs. Results haven't quite been where we wanted, but we're still hanging on right there in the top five in points. Very pleased with that.
It is kind of tough being a one-car team. This is just the point in the season where it's toughest on the small guy because we have a three-week stretch going from Thompson, Connecticut, to Nashville, back to New York. It's a lot of logistics involved in that. It's tough on us right now.
We got in a little accident on Saturday night, got quite a bit of damage to the car. We're thrashing on it pretty good right here in North Carolina today trying to get everything ready to go for this weekend. Fortunately we have a seven-day week this week as far as having Saturday to finish the car up and get it to Nashville. We don't have to race till Sunday, which is a good deal.
As far as the one-car team, NASCAR has done a great job over the off-season of implementing the spec engine, some of the pit stop rules with just taking two tires, then taking fuel on another pit stop. That has been a big help for the small guy because it takes your pit crews out of the way. The only thing I would like to have right now is another car. As far as NASCAR, they've done their part to help equalize the rules.
JASON CHRISTLEY: We'll take questions for Peyton Sellers.
Q. You've had the opportunity to race in both the Grand National West Series in California and now you're over in the Eastern side. What do you see as the differences between the two series?
PEYTON SELLERS: I've had an opportunity now to run for one of the highest-funded teams on the West Coast with Bill last year, then to come back and do my own deal this year on one of the lowest-funded teams, it's been a lot of fun both ways. I came back home and I worked with a whole lot of people on the East Coast. But definitely enjoyed the West Coast a lot last year.
It's pretty unique to my situation to see both sides of the table and understand what Bill was having to do last year to make budgets work out. Now I'm seeing it firsthand for myself this year.
As far as the competition level, there's not a lot of difference. That's proved this past year when we went to the Showdown East versus West. You had Sean Caisse and Matt Kobyluck from the East Coast going against Eric Holmes and even Brian Ickler was running well last year in the Showdown.
I think every year that the East comes out to the West, the gap in competition is getting closer and closer each year because the East Coast, this is racing country, this is where it all began, so therefore there's more technology here with more Cup teams. It's bleeding over to the West Coast pretty quick.
Q. There were some races where you had the combined fields. It is a lot of travel. Did it feel like an old home thing where you know these teams?
PEYTON SELLERS: It was definitely a homecoming, seeing those guys I raced with last year on the West Coast, then racing with the guys I run with on the East Coast. It was a lot of fun. NASCAR done a good job with that. At first I just thought it was going to be a crazy weekend that didn't make sense logistics-wise. At the end of the day, it turned out it was real successful, it run smoothly. The two tracks were unique in their own different ways with Iowa and Minnesota. Really put on for good racing.
Q. How much could the teams that have ties to the NEXTEL Cup mega teams, how much of an advantage do they have? Is it like the Busch Series, like they're Busch whackers?
PEYTON SELLERS: It is. I tell you fortunately I've got a little bit of experience. I was able to run the Grand National Series last year. A lot of these tracks we're going to are new tracks, but I'm very familiar with the car. That's a big help. These Cup teams moved in with development drivers that don't have the experience. That's the equalizing factor. These drivers are coming into the series with cars that are capable of winning Busch races in the Busch East Series, but the drivers just don't have the experience yet, and that's keeping some of them back.
There is a big disadvantage. There again, we're going to short tracks every week, end of the day isn't going to relate to what these Cup guys are doing. They're running setups that work on mile-and-a-half tracks, big tracks. It puts us at a bigger disadvantage at a track like Loudon or Dover than Thompson or Adirondack or even Nashville this weekend.
It's a lot of fun racing against those teams because you know that they're bringing the best they have every single week so you know how you stack up.
Q. Weren't you sponsored by Clarence's Steakhouse in Martinsville?
PEYTON SELLERS: Yes, sir. Clarence's Steakhouse, they sponsored my late model team for four years, continue to sponsor me now even in the Busch East Series. Clarence helped me a lot at the short tracks at the start of the season like South Boston, Greenville, which are closer to home for us. When we go to Thompson, Connecticut, New Hampshire, places like that, he wouldn't get any benefit out of it.
Clarence continues to sponsor my late model which I ran once this year. He's now currently sponsoring Phillip Morris, who is the 2006 national champion. They're a long-time supporters of me as long as racing in general. Sponsored modifieds back in the '60s and continue to sponsor cars now.
Q. Could you talk about the common hurdles and learning curves that you encounter regularly in your career.
PEYTON SELLERS: Biggest thing is just being adaptable. Every car that you race is going to be completely different. You race late models week in, week out, growing up at short tracks, quarter mile in Stockton, California, five-eighths mile in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They're unique tracks but they're small tracks. They teach you how to race door-to-door. You have to learn how to conserve tires because you run the same set of tires the entire race in a late model show. Then when you move up to Grand National Division where we're at now, a lot of tracks we have the opportunity to come down pit road, get two tires. It teaches you how to make pit stops, learning pit road speed, just learning the format.
Every time you go to a different series or move up to the next level, there's a different format on how the race is run and how the directors do things.
That's a learning curve in itself. But you go from a short track where you grew up racing, you go out and you get local $500,000 sponsors, little small sponsors, you don't really have to do much for them, trying to go launch for that $5 million sponsor to run the Busch Series where you have to do a lot of follow-up work, a lot of shows, autograph sessions, things like that.
A driver constantly goes through changes, growing pains you may call it, throughout his whole career. These are some of the things I'm seeing firsthand right now. Being 23 years old, I've seen a lot of things. NASCAR has done a lot with the weekly series. Gets you a lot of exposure by running that week in and week out. That is a big help getting an opportunity to go to Nashville, go to New York, do things like that, gets you opened up to the media, helps you with some of that as far as growing in the sport of racing.
Q. Is there a best way to handle the ups and downs of racing in your attempt to move up?
PEYTON SELLERS: I tell you, the best way I've found to handle any problems as far as that goes is just believing in the Lord, keeping your faith through the good and the bad. I think life is constantly throwing you angles, seeing how you adapt to them. Just keep your faith. I grew up going to church. Continue to do so. Somebody that's talking to the Lord is something I'm confident doing, keeping the faith, give you somebody to lean on a little bit.
JASON CHRISTLEY: You almost got the win at South Boston. Going to Music City, Nashville, which has probably one of the most unique trophies in auto racing, how much would it mean for you to get that guitar as your first Busch East win?
PEYTON SELLERS: That would be awesome. I tell you, I got an opportunity to get a Sam Ash guitar through the national championship banquet in '05. To be able to get a second one to add to the collection would be unbelievable. Our results this past weekend didn't show our performance. We've got our No. 83 car running good right now. Got my brother as my crew chief, same crew that won the national championship. We're going through some good times right now. We're having some struggles along the way with (indiscernible) here and there. That's what you get when you short track race week in and week out.
I'm looking forward to going to Nashville this week. We've got our car worked out really good right now. We got in a little altercation this past weekend. Just kept us from having a shot at that win. We're looking forward to it. Have a lot of momentum. Have a lot of people pulling for me right now. Looking forward to it.
JASON CHRISTLEY: Thanks. Good luck Sunday in Nashville.
PEYTON SELLERS: Thank you.
JASON CHRISTLEY: Thank you to all our guests and participants. Have a good week.
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