NASCAR: Crew Chief Club at the Pepsi 400 presented by DeVilbiss
14 August 1998Event: Pepsi 400 presented by DeVilbiss
When: Sun., Aug. 16 at 12:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN
Where: Michigan Speedway (two-mile oval)
Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 63 wins, 336 top-five finishes, 534 top-10 finishes and 61 poles prior to the Pepsi 400 presented by DeVilbiss at Michigan Speedway.
Makar and Bobby Labonte hold the race record for the August event at Michigan. In taking the checkers at the Goodwrench 400 on Aug. 20, 1995, Labonte had an average speed 157.739 mph and finished the race in two hours, 32 minutes and nine seconds.
In addition to their win in the 1995 Goodwrench 400, Labonte and Makar scored the pole for the race. Since then, no driver has gone on to win the August race from the pole.
Makar isn't the only member of the Crew Chief Club to have a win in the second Winston Cup race at Michigan. Parrott and Dale Jarrett scored a win in the 1996 Goodwrench 400, and Pemberton and Mark Martin notched a victory in the 1990 Champion Spark Plug 400 while Pemberton was with Roush Racing.
All four members of the Crew Chief Club will be signing autographs on Sat., Aug. 15 an hour and a half after the conclusion of happy hour. Jimmy Makar and Larry McReynolds will be on the Chevrolet souvenir trailer, while Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton will be on the Ford souvenir trailer. Crew Chief Club souvenirs and wearables are now available on both trailers.
WAS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU LEARNED IN THE JUNE RACE AT MICHIGAN THAT YOU'LL APPLY WHEN YOU RETURN THERE IN AUGUST?
Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "Well, we learned a few things not to do. We didn't run near as well as we wanted to. We've learned some things since then that I think can apply there. It's hard to tell right now, but I think we can make some gains." DOES THE TRACK CHANGE A LOT FROM THE TIME THAT YOU SAW IT IN JUNE TO NOW? "Not in the time frame between June and August, but it does change a lot during the course of a day. It's one of those race tracks where you've got to be careful that you don't dial yourself out to lunch in practice sessions, because when qualifying rolls around, the track typically is in a different condition. Usually it changes quite a bit from the time we finish practice to the time we qualify."
Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "The biggest thing we learned was all the things not to do. That was my first weekend with the 31 team and Mike. I think everyone went in there optimistic, but at the same time a bit skeptical, because we made the switch just three days before we went there. We learned a lot in a short time though. We weren't very good there in June. But what we were able to learn there, and what we've been able to learn together in the time since then, should enable us to dramatically improve our performance at Michigan - in qualifying and in the race." DOES THE TRACK CHANGE A LOT FROM THE TIME THAT YOU SAW IT IN JUNE TO NOW? "Not really. The weather is fairly consistent up there and I can't really say that we've seen big changes from June to August. That doesn't mean there won't be, but I can't say that we've really seen any drastic changes."
Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "We had a good run back at Michigan. We finished second and qualified on the outside pole. We learned a lot. The car was pretty good at the end of the race. We just got hung up behind some lapped cars. Mark (Martin) was able to scoot away from us a little bit, but we had a really good car and we're looking forward to going back there." DOES THE TRACK CHANGE A LOT FROM THE TIME THAT YOU SAW IT IN JUNE TO NOW? "The track gets a little more free - a little bit loose. All in all, Michigan is a pretty consistent race track and the weather usually stays pretty consistent as well. It won't be a whole lot different, but it will be a little looser."
Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "We tried some different things at Michigan that didn't necessarily work for us. Michigan is Michigan and it's been the same race track for a number of years and the competition is greater. We'll just have to try harder. The setups will be the same, so it won't really be much different." DOES THE TRACK CHANGE A LOT FROM THE TIME THAT YOU SAW IT IN JUNE TO NOW? "Michigan and Pocono both change a little bit. By the time you get there for the second race, the place has sat there for most of the summer and they've held a CART race there, so it'll be a little bit looser."
JUST AS THE SILLY SEASON SEES A LOT OF DRIVERS SWITCHING TEAMS, CREW MEMBERS SWITCH TEAMS TOO. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR GUYS ON YOUR TEAM FOR AN ENTIRE SEASON AS WELL AS FOR SEASONS TO COME?
Jimmy Makar: "That's tough. It's one of the hardest jobs we've got. Working on race cars isn't half the job as it is to take care of your employees and to keep your guys pumped-up and happy. There are a lot of guys out here looking for a way to turn their team around. They come hunting guys thinking that the one guy that you've got is the guy to turn their team around. It's difficult. The more success you have, the more problems you have with that. People come looking to steal guys or hire guys away from you. You've just got to treat your guys fair, give them good working conditions, decent hours with a decent wage and the opportunity to do their thing. That's a big part of it - having the ability to come into work and do what you really want to do."
Larry McReynolds: "Probably one of the best ways to keep guys on your team is through good performance. Making your guys feel a part of what's going on, whether things are going good or bad, is something I work awfully hard at. Making the guys feel like they're contributing to making the car better is key. People always want to feel like they're contributing to success, other than just turning wrenches. That's something I try to promote all the time."
Todd Parrott: "Just pay 'em a lot of money."
Robin Pemberton: "You have to keep a good eye on the guys. When you see that you've got a guy who is wobbling, you try to understand what's going on. A lot has to do with the success of the car too. I mean everybody here is a racer, otherwise we wouldn't be doing what we're doing. You just need to create a good atmosphere for people to work in."