NASCAR Media Conference
August 22, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the weekly NASCAR teleconference. This week in advance of Saturday night's NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Saturday night spectacle known as the Sharpie 500, that is the 8th event in the race to the Chase.
Top 12 drivers in the standings following the final race to the Chase event that's at Richmond on September 8. Those 12 will qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.
The Chase encompasses the season's last ten races and that's what determines the series champion.
We're joined on today's call by Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing and his crew chief Gill Martin.
Clint comes into Bristol looking like a pretty good bet to make the Chase in only his second full-time season in NASCAR Nextel Cup. Clint's ninth in the series points going into Bristol.
Guys, I appreciate you taking the time to be with us today, especially after that extended weekend we had at Michigan.
Let's start off with an overall outlook for the chances at Bristol for your team from both the driver and the crew chief point of view.
Clint, why don't you lead off, and we'll hear from Gill about overall what you think of Bristol this week.
CLINT BOWYER: Well, you know, I'm looking forward to it. Obviously, anything can happen at Bristol. It's one of those tracks where you can get caught up in just about anything, anywhere on the racetrack.
So you've just got to be cautious, but you know, we've got to race hard. We've got to do the thing that's got us here, you know. We ran well there in the spring and first Car of Tomorrow race. Obviously they've changed the track since then. We've had a couple of tests on in the Busch car, going to have another one tomorrow. So I'll be, you know, at least fond of the racetrack before we get there. So looking forward to another challenge.
THE MODERATOR: Gill, how about you? I guess Bristol little bit nerve-racking for a crew chief?
GILL MARTIN: Well, it is, because anything can happen at Bristol. But like Clint said, we ran well there at the spring and had a good test there. And even though the track's changed, we've run a lot of runs in preparation for the race this weekend. Because anything can happen, you can't worry about that, because we've had good success at Bristol. And we're going there with a lot of, you know, really high thoughts about what could happen for the weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Very good. Thanks, guys for those openers. We're ready to go to the media for questions for today's guests Clint Bowyer and Gill Martin.
Q. Good afternoon, guys. My first question, Clint, how muchÃÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½ÃÂ -- you talked about how Bristol you can get into anybody's mess anywhere on the racetrack. How much of a crap shoot does this week stand for you given the new surface, your history with only three starts and then, of course, your positioning in the points and the kind of pressure that puts on your team this weekend?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I mean there is a lot of pressure. There is no way of getting around it. I mean, all of us are under a lot of pressure at RCR. We've got three cars in the Chase. You know, really the only people that can beat us out of this Chase is ourselves. I really do believe that. I don't think anybody's going to run us down and knock us out of the Chase if we keep doing the things we've done all season.
We've just got to keep from beating ourselves. You know, I'm confident we're going to have a good weekend. We ran well at Bristol. You know, haven't won, but we have run well, and it's a track that I enjoy.
Obviously, anything can happen on any racetrack, but you can't worry about that. You have to go out and push hard and, you know, keep doing the things that got us here. You know, sometimes, sometimes that's been a gamble, sometimes it's not.
It's just hard right now in the position we are. You know, the past weekend at Michigan, we've had to, you know, we've played a little bit conservative, and it bit us. But nine times out of ten, that role would have been reversed.
Q. Actually, I wanted to ask Clint about his teammate Jeff Burton. What does he bring to the table for the whole team, and for you, in particular?
CLINT BOWYER: I think he's brought a lot to the table since he started at RCR. He brought a lot of intelligence. A lot of positive things. He really speaks well and is outspoken at the meetings. And it is somebody that Richard really trusts and believes in, and we all just trust and believe in him.
And you know, he's very, very on top of things throughout the sport. Whether it's on the tractor off the track. And it's a good guy to have in your corner.
But as far as a teammate for myself, you know, he is a go-to guy. He's a provenÃÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½ÃÂ -- he's won 18 races you know, you can't say enough about him. He's obviously a proven driver and somebody you can learn from, you know, on and off the racetrack.
Q. I'm working on a story on air travel in Motorsports. I was just wondering if you've been surprised by the sheer amount of air time that you're having to spend? And what is the week going to be like as far as getting in and out of Bristol? How will you guys do it at RCR?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, it's a lot of road time in Bristol. You know, we're not too far from Bristol. Why shoot death if you don't have to (laughing). I'll just drive over there. I actually was over the Volunteer Speedway last night. We flew in there and raced with Scott Bloomquist and Richard's grandson, Austin over there. So had a lot of fun with them last night. Other than that, just driving back and forth.
Q. My question is for Gill - talk about how you guys wrestled with the decision, because given how important the points are and the fact that you guys are the only ones at this point with no wins, how do you balance in the few races you've got left trying to get that first win? How do you balance rolling the dice to take that chance versus your position in the points.
GILL MARTIN: Well, I think every week we're trying to do whatever it takes to win. And we've had a car capable of winning several races this is year. We just didn't do what needed to be done toward the end of the race.
But I think going into Bristol, like Clint said, we're going to have to just push hard and try to win the race. We're not going to go in there and play defense and try to stay out of an accident, because that is the first way to get into one at Bristol. We're going to push hard and do everything we can do to win a race.
And we've got some new things coming out when the Chase does come around, if we're lucky enough to be in it. Those are going to be the things that will help us win a race or even multiple races toward the end of the season.
Q. Clint, can you talk about the Car of Tomorrow return to Bristol, and what that, the significance of that will be as far as the teams? And can you talk about why you think Hendrick has been so dominant in the Car of Tomorrow races?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, you know, it seems like here lately I think everybody's kind of caught up. I think they just beat everybody to the punch and, you know, did a little bit more homework than everybody did preparing for that. But I definitely think that the teams have caught up to them, and you know, I don't think we're, you know, no exception. I think our cars are better, everybody's cars are going to be better the second time around at Bristol. So I think we'll have a little better race.
It was quite a bit, you know, follow the leader. It's going to be interesting to watch the truck race tonight, and see how well they're able to pass and race around each other. You know, I think that's important to that racetrack. It's obviously hard to pass on, and, you know, I think with the new surface hopefully that will create another groove and make passing a little bit easier.
Q. Next year Richard wants to add a team, can you tell us your thoughts on that and also what you know about that?
CLINT BOWYER: Well, I know he's working really hard, you know. He's had a lot of things come up here in the last couple of weeks with the 31 Car and it has been a struggle, definitely. He's looking for a fourth team to put that together. But it has to be the right team. Richard's no dummy. And everybody's, you know, everybody at RCR, all three crew chiefs and the three drivers, we want another team, it's just that much more resources and information you can gather to take to the racetrack and to build a bigger database to go.
But it has to be the right team. It has to be the right driver. It has to be the right crew on it. Somebody that we can all, you know, work together with and push each other to be better and move forward.
Q. Gill talked about this a little bit just now, but I wonder if you could talk about the balance in your desire to get a victory versus the need to get into the Chase? I mean, those things both have to be going through your mind as you're behind the wheel, right?
CLINT BOWYER: Oh, definitely. You don't go to the racetrack to lose. I mean, I've never went to the racetrack thinking that we didn't have a chance to win. And I think the day that this comes, you need to retire and be going on to some other type of event.
But definitely, that's a lot of stress, and a lot of pressure on, you know, not only me, but the crew. The crew chief making those decisions on the pit boss. I mean, you know, we're trying to win races and do the things it takes. It's a gamble sometimes to win races, but you can't afford to make those right now.
We can't afford to make a huge gamble and it not pay off and end up 35th and have the cars behind us win the race. We just can't afford to do that.
Right now, you know, if you had asked me would I give up the win to be in the Chase right now? Well, yeah, definitely. The Chase is bigger than winning the race. But the thing that's exciting for me about these Chase races is some of ourÃÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½ÃÂ -- most of our best races of the year, last year, were inside that last ten races of the Chase.
So if we can get in this thing, I really think we've got a shot at running well in the last part of these races in the Chase and get a win, and maybe multiple wins, and run for a championship.
I really believe in my guys, and I believe in our race team. I believe in our organization. And I think we're a top 5 deal if we can get in that thing. I think we're a top 5 team, and you know, we'll be working on a championship-caliber team.
I really think I have all the guys in place to be a championship winning team some day. It just takes time, it takes experience. Look at Jimmie Johnson. I mean, they've been the strongest team in the garage for quite some time and finally got one last year. So it takes time.
Q. I was just wondering when you race a race two days after it is scheduled, how bad does that throw you off schedule? And also, with the bad weather in the midwest, has your home state been affected by that?
CLINT BOWYER: It's been wild back there, you know. Mom and dad are out here at the races this weekend, so they kind of lucked out not having to worry about that too much. But, you know, I think thatÃÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½ÃÂ -- what was the first part of the question? The first part? He caught me off guard with the weather.
Q. The first part of the question was how bad does it throw you? You know, everything's so tight in Cup racing. How bad does it throw you off on your schedule when you race on a Tuesday?
CLINT BOWYER: It does, but you know, probably not near as bad as it does the crew members and everybody. I mean, Gill on the line it is a lot harder than it is to me. I had a schedule put in place. I had to be at both gaps. I had to run the dirt car last night and with the Busch test, you know.
Gill had to come home and briefly say hi to his family go to work and try to play catch-up to prepare the car for this weekend. It's a lot harder for those guys that have families that don't get to go on the road and don't get to see their families. And have to leave them and be at the shop trying to catch up to be prepared for the last three races.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, first of all, if people can hear the fire alarm in the background here at Daytona Beach, it is only a drill (laughing). Just wanted to thank Clint and Gill both for taking time out.
Once again, short week here after we came out of Michigan. I know you're crunched for time and we really appreciate it, so best of luck this weekend, guys.
CLINT BOWYER: All right, thank you.
GILL MARTIN: All right, bye-bye.
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