NASCAR: Crew Chiefs Talk About Pocono
18 July 1998Event: Pennsylvania 500
When: Sun., July 26 at 1 p.m. EDT on TBS
Where: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
IS THERE ANY BENEFIT IN GOING BACK TO POCONO SO SOON AFTER BEING THERE FOR THE POCONO 500, AND DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING NEW THAT YOU'LL APPLY IN YOUR SETUP FOR THE PENNSYLVANIA 500?
Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "The one thing we learned was that we were terrible. It was probably one of the worst races we've had all year. We were pretty disappointed with it. Obviously, we're going to take a different car and really go there with a whole different outlook on how to approach the setup. What we did last time just wasn't good. With the two races being so close together, the track is still pretty similar to how it was when you left it. You're setup's going to be somewhat similar - not like what it would be if you ran there in cool, spring weather and came back in hot, summer weather. The two Pocono races are real close together and the weather is going to be similar, so the track conditions will remain consistent."
Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "The biggest thing we learned is that whatever the 12 car was doing, we need to do. I'm pretty anxious to get back there, because even though I've only been with Mike and the 31 team for four races, Pocono will be our first duplicate race. We made good notes. We learned about what we need to do and what we don't need to do. We got into a wreck there toward the end with about 30 or 40 (laps) to go, but we all learned a lot. I've got a better idea of what Mike's looking for in a race car, so I feel we've built a good foundation at Pocono. We know exactly what we need to do when we go back there. We'll run the same tire that Goodyear had there back in June, and the conditions are pretty much the same from one Pocono race to the other. I can't remember a time where we didn't take the same car that we ran in the June race back to Pocono in July."
Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "With our first trip to Pocono we learned what to do and what not to do. We had a good car. We set the car up Saturday afternoon in the heat, and it was cloudy, overcast and cool on race day. That made our car tight. Now, we know which way to go to make the car tight or to make the car freed-up. We've got a good car for up there - it's the same car we had back in June. The only thing that's going to be a little different is that it's going to be hotter, so the track's going to be slicker. That's what we had our car setup for in the first race - slick conditions."
Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "Pocono has a race or two on it now, so it won't exactly be the same race track that it was when we go back there for the second race. Generally, it loosens up a bit for the July race, so you'll have to change your setup a little bit. But, it'll still be pretty close. Many times, the car you'll race at Pocono hasn't been to another race since you were there back in June - other than a possible test at Indy. The benefit of having Pocono's race dates so close together is that you can run the same car at both races without running the risk of tearing it up somewhere else."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE WINSTON CUP RUMOR MILL, AND HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR GUYS FROM BEING DISTRACTED BY RUMORS?
Jimmy Makar: "Well, I just don't listen to it. I don't read the papers and I don't listen to all the stuff that goes around. But, most of the guys do read things and listen to the TV programs and what the media is saying. When the rumor stuff does get out there, and their friends tell them this, that and the other, you've just got to talk to them and tell them to keep focused. If the rumors don't pertain to us, I try to keep the guys from even thinking about it or worrying about it. If there is a rumor that does surround us, I try to make sure my guys know most everything that's going on with the race team that they need to know. That way, my guys have the correct information and the rumors are just rumors. They need to focus on the race car and not worry about whether the driver's leaving, or if some sponsor is doing something or whatever happens to be the rumor of the day."
Larry McReynolds: "I've been a crew chief for 18 years and my skin's pretty thick - it's probably thicker than my bones. It has to be in this business. We got into a situation last week where someone on the Internet in California published something that Mike Skinner was out of the car beginning with the Loudon race (Jiffy Lube 300), and if he wasn't out by then, he was definitely going to be out by Pocono. The thing you've got to do and the thing that you tell your team is, 'Look, we know what's going on.' And Richard and myself know that there's not going to be a major move like that made. The rumor will still probably swirl around - it's just unfortunate. I think the Internet is a good thing for our sport, but it can also serve as a big distraction when people decide that they're going to fabricate stories about race teams. You've got to live within yourself. You know what's going on, you know what you're doing and you know what you've been told. You've just got to be content with that."
Todd Parrott: "I try not to pay any attention at all to the rumors. I don't even get involved with them. None of 'em involve me so I try to stay out of them. I'm happy where I'm at, and I think all the guys on our team are happy where they're at with Robert Yates Racing and Dale Jarrett as their driver. Hopefully, they're happy with me and with the job that I'm doing. So, as far as rumors go - I stay away from them."
Robin Pemberton: "I just try to stay focused on what I'm doing with my ears closed to the outside. My answer to any rumor is that I'll believe it when it happens. I don't get caught up in trying to spread rumors or passing rumors on."
Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 63 wins, 329 top-five finishes, 524 top-10 finishes and 61 poles prior to the Pennsylvania 500 on Sun., July 26 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.
The Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit team of Parrott and driver Dale Jarrett are the defending champions of the Pennsylvania 500. Jarrett won last year's race in three hours, 31 minutes and 10 seconds with a 2.948-second lead over second place finisher Jeff Gordon.
In addition to Parrott's win last year, McReynolds and Pemberton have also garnered wins at the 2.5-mile Pocono triangle. McReynolds won the 1995 Miller 500 with Jarrett in Jarrett's first year with the Robert Yates organization, and Pemberton won the 1996 Miller 500 with Rusty Wallace.
Along with their wins at Pocono, McReynolds and Pemberton have each scored a pole. McReynolds captured the pole with the late Davey Allison in the 1992 Miller 500, and Pemberton earned a pole with Mark Martin in the 1990 AC Spark Plug 500.