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Sunday Blog – running back into garage – transcript of Darby with media June 29, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR.
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NASCARImage via WikipediaNH Sunday Morning –
Caire B. Blog – 6/29/08 8:30 a.m.

NASCAR IS ASKING CREW CHIEFS TO RESEARCH THE TEAM’S PREFERENCES REGARDING 2009 TESTING POLICY –

NASCAR Series Director John Darby was talked to the media after calling a crew chief’s meeting in the garage here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Here’s the full transcript of the media session outside the NASCAR hauler in the garage after the meeting yesterday.

Q: So – what did you and your buddies (crew chiefs) meet about?
Darby: “Typically it’s about this time of year when we start talking to the teams about the next year’s testing and that was today only to start off looking at 09 with instead of handing them survey of tracks that they would like to test at we offered up redoing the whole test policy. What you know is every year it changes, the evolution of the teams change, the amount of resources in regards to seven post rigs and sim tests and rolling floor wind tunnels and all of that all comes into play and the only ones that can actually tell you what they need in regards to testing are the guys that are doing it.

NASCAR is the policy maker but if there’s one thing that is really reliant on the teams input it’s what we test, how many times we test and where we test. In the past it’s just been a matter of here select your race tracks and let’s go. This year, I felt it was time that we just sat down with everybody and talked and said look we’re open to whatever, any suggestions you have from leaving our testing policy exactly like it was in 08 all the way to what I’m going to call wide open testing – no limits -any track any week any time as many times as you want to go.

We’re prepared for either way – it doesn’t matter to us – we’ll listen to what all of the teams come back with for suggestions and formulate a test plan for 09 and go forward.”

Q: What was the reaction that you got?
Darby: “There was a pretty good gasp of air when you got to talking about wide open testing because the immediate perception is holy cats we’re going to be testing 38 weeks a year. After you talk to everybody for a little bit and then ask them to count the actual number of tests that they currently do at all the places they go to test and apply that to a wide open test policy for example or taking those same amount of days and applying them to tests where we race – there probably isn’t a whole lot of difference at the end of the day. But – that’s just food for their thoughts and I told them we’d get back together in a couple of weeks and see what kind of reaction they have and start putting it together.”

Q:Did you have any reference to cut down based on the economy and $5 a gallon for gas -is there a need for some teams to keep expenses down in that area?

Darby: “I don’t know because most of the testing that’s done today it’s under their own guidance anyway. The organized testing that NASAR has is a very small percentage of the amount of testing that’s done so it would be hard to answer that question. These type of plans or meetings or anything obviously the crew chiefs from all the teams are my easiest connection to talk to. Now, being good soldiers of good faith obviously they’ll go back to their organizations and sit down with the car owners and discuss them as an actual full blown team – they’ll make the decisions on their own.”

Q: What does Goodyear have to say about this – have you discussed with Goodyear the need for more tires if there is more testing?

“Darby: Goodyear is flexible. Goodyear can provide the tires for all of the tests if it went the direction that everybody chose to go. All they ask are the simple things like can you set it up with a 45 day advance ordering type situation so our staff can make sure we produce enough tires. All that is the easy stuff. I guess if there are any downsides to the whole thing if you look at what we are doing today to just a simple unlimited testing policy. Todays NASCAR testing because it is organized and is participation by all of the teams the effective cost of a test in regards to the bill you get from the racetracks is split by many more hands and that helps. The safety standards at a NASCAR test are much much higher than they would ever be at an independent test, a team test for example because with the NASCAR test we provide a full medical staff, medivac copters, a full staff of firemen, emt’s all of that and we do that because it’s an organized effort there’s 50 people feeding the kitty so you can afford to do that. A lot of those things wouldn’t be present at the individual tests but they aren’t today if you chose to go outside NASCAR’s testing policy anyways.”

Q: Why did NASCAR feel the need to propose this?
Darby: “Typically the way you really find out what a group of people want is to offer something as large as you can large to them and they’ll either say yea that’s perfect or they’ll say well you know that may be a little too much how about doing something like this instead.”

Q: Was there a consideration about going the other way and saying you can’t do any (testing)?
Darby: “Yea – but we already know – we can’t make that happen.”

Q: A lot of these current tests are not under NASCAR’S Supervision so by changing this would bring them under NASCAR’s supervision – would that be a factor as well?
Darby: “No I don’t know if it’s a relevance really. The relevance I guess would be today you can go to Milwaukee and work really hard for two days to try to simulate being at New Hampshire. If all of your correlation of data is right and if all of your wisdom and educated guess is correct it could potentially help you here at New Hampshire. Is that the right way to do it? I don’t know – maybe the right way to do it is to test at New Hampshire for New Hampshire.”

Q: Why does it matter. With all the computer technology that the teams have – why can’t they test New Hampshire all they want on computer sim. What’s so special about coming to NH to test when they have the ability to get all that data in the shop?

Darby: “Those are all good tools they are all good guides. There still is not anything as accurate as making laps on a race track and testing for multiple purposes. If (Dario) Franchitti had an opportunity to test at Sonoma last week for example – knowing he’s a good road racer anyways he could have potentially lessened his chances of going home. If a driver or a team constantly struggles at Martinsville for example – if they could go back to Martinsville once or twice or three or four times maybe they could get better. The simulation will only give you – a computers a computer – if you put crap in you get crap out you know what I mean? It’s that simple.”

Q: If you get all this feedback back and it comes back a split decision do you throw it back and say ok you guys vote?
Darby: “Were still not a democratic society yet. We listen a lot but somebody’s got to (make the decision) (laughter)”

Q: The car of tomorrow – is it an effort to get these guys a chance to have more time with these cars on the tracks they are racing on to add to the body of knowledge on the new car?

Darby: “No – this piece honest to God doesn’t have any relevance to the new car. I mean this is something that we would have headed to regardless cause we were almost there two years ago and almost there a year ago. Not that what we are doing today is broken but testing should be at the needs of the competitors in the garage and the only way we know what best suits them is to ask them and hopefully we’ll get enough information back.”

Q: All other racing series have been very tight – very restrictive in testing – has there been a lot of consideration that we have some new guys coming in – and we’ve had some people struggled that brought this on or what is more let’s see what happens?
Darby: “I think a lot of it surrounds you know that we’ve always hated doing anything that we can’t police properly and the teams have grown in our sport so large today that if a Roger Penske or a Jack Roush or a Rick Hendrick wants to build a race track or buy one they’re going to. So us having the absolute ability to say nobody’s going to test period is just not realistic. So what you do is try to manage a testing policy that satisfies the needs of the majority of the garage but still isn’t just so insanely crazy that it’s going to put people out of business.”

Q: Would one option be for teams to come in on Thursday to tracks and open the day to testing?
Darby: “That’s a very unpopular choice for a lot of reasons. You can’t plan a test agenda properly knowing that you are going to have to take that same car and race it the next day you know what I mean? The teams look at that more as an extended practice than they do an actual test.”

Q: Will you maintain the tests that you have scheduled the rest of the year?
Darby: “Yes, there’s only one left so yea.”

Q: Did it grow out of any criticism of the new car?
Darby: “No because the new car – there’s more work being done in the lab settings than there is race track stuff. What I mean by that is that’s where the gains on the 7-posts and the computer simulation and the engineers go to work. The teams know what they want for loads and pressures and all the rest of that- this is about testing and testing only.”

Q: If for some reason Kentucky ends up on the Cup schedule next year would they still be able to use Kentucky to test at Kentucky like they do now?
Darby: “Ahm – I can’t speak for what may or may not happen with Kentucky. I know there are no plans – they are not on our 09 schedule now -the only thing I can really talk about are the race tracks that currently hold Cup sanctions and their restrictions which – you’re right they can’t test on a sanctioned track unless it’s organized by us today for 08”

__________________________________________

Tony Stewart Doesn’t Want To Be Asked

The journalists here in the deadline media room and at dinner here in New Hampshire have been talking about Tony Stewart not wanting to be asked about his contract status until he’s ready to announce it. I got a kick out of his quote that at least one entity reported as serious news:

Can you comment about the rumors regarding your future?
“I’ve still got two ARCA teams I’m talking to, a truck team and now the 5 car is available today so I still have a lot of work to do.” Are you negotiating with sponsors to try to get set-up for next season? “I don’t even know who I’m driving for yet so it’s kind of hard to pick a sponsor when you don’t know who you’re driving for yet. It’s kind of like, ‘which comes first the chicken or the egg?’

Stewart’s tongue in cheek reaction to a question about his future is far from breaking news as to what he may do – and, trust me, he’s not going to tell us all that he’s working on until he’s ready. The problem is that doing live radio three hours a day on XM – I get continuous questions about where Tony may go and basically as I gave two team members from another team a lift into the track this morning even the race team guys love to talk about who might go where. It passes time in the garage and, basically even for those inside the sport it’s fun.

I have never been much of a contract-stalker – but I do understand why folks have to ask him. Also, in a sense I don’t blame him. With Tony -you know if he doesn’t want to tell you anything – or has nothing to say – you’ll get a silly tongue in cheek reply (above) or the person with the question will be cut to the quick in no uncertain terms. While people talk about Tony Stewart wanting the media to not ask him about his deal- he’s not the only one who doesn’t want to give regular updates on what’s going on.

Dale Earnhardt Jr was asked over a month ago about the status of Nationwide Series racing and his JR Motorsports effort he mentioned that one day he might look at taking his team racing at the Cup level because it might at that time make more financial sense. Ever since then – the rumors of silly season have included Junior owning a team with someone. Almost every day that rumor gets brought up on the air – and it grows with every chat room mention and fan email. But Dale Jr says that his answering that question led to more attention than the comment warranted.

DALE JUNIOR Comment: New Hampshire Friday, June 27th
“I should have not said that man because I should have just kept that to myself. But I don’t really want to talk about it in the press you know. That’s personal to me – what I do for my business and I damn sure ain’t going to air my time line out over the media. So, you know, if we feel like we’re going to do that we’ll do it and we’ll let you know and that will be that. But I don’t want to answer questions about it every week because it’s really not that big of an issue. My teams doing great I’d be foolish to make too many changes right now….you know keep things where they are while they’re working.”

Remember, Dale Junior did not bring up the issue of moving his nationwide team to cup. He was asked a while back and on that day he answered honestly. From there – that grew to his fans asking regularly about it so much that it required asking him again.

_______________________

EMAILS:
Hi Claire…
I listen to your show every afternoon on my way home…. Love it!!!! I also saw you in the Chevy tent at the MI race on Father’s Day-when you introduced Clint Bowyer and grabbed the kids in the audience to ask Clint questions! You did a great job, and the kids lined themselves up perfectly!!!

I do have one nagging question regarding the Dodge Cup cars….. They went back to the Charger this year, but the grill decal is still the Avenger’s! I am a diehard Mopar fan and it aggravates me to see that grill every week! The reason I say this is the Charger grill is narrow at the top, and the Avenger grill is narrower at the bottom….. The new Charger has the Avenger decal with the Charger R/T emblem. The headlights look ok. Can you ask someone associated with Dodge and find out when they will correct this???

I know, it’s petty, but I notice stuff like that and it drives me crazy that I’m that way!

Thanks for the show and keep up the great work!

Randell
Microsoft Certified Professional

CBL: Thanks Randell – your question is a good one.

The new Charger nose is not approved by NASCAR yet for use in competition, as soon as Dodge is given approval to use it, they will. As of right now they do not know exactly when that approval will be given.

More later – off to the drivers meeting and into the garage.

Enjoy the day!

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

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