January 18, 2003
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
Q. Dave, starting a new year, what changes has been made during the off season and how do things look for the team for 2003?
DAVE BLANEY: It looks good. We've had some changes, Ryan Pemberton left as our crew chief and we now have Bootie (Robert) Barker who was on the Busch side. We were real pumped about getting him. He was my first choice. I had worked with him a little bit at Bill Davis Racing. I knew what he had and what his upside is; and I think it's tremendous. I think he has a lot of potential. Really, he has turned our team around in the short period he has been there. Just the attitudes; I guess that's what he's turned around. Actually, we got quite a few new faces at the race shop; a few guys left with Ryan. But our core group stayed and kept going. Like I said, Bootie has them working hard and working together pretty well, we are all fired up. We just can't go anywhere to do anything about it. Our Daytona tests went just fair and we keep trying to go to Kentucky and get some running every week but the weather kind of kills us every week. We are just waiting to get going.
Q. What's Bootie's (Robert Barker) best qualities?
DAVE BLANEY: I think his strong point is the suspension side of things and the chassis. And to me, that's where it is at. The aerodynamic rules and templates and all of that kind of stuff has got the cars really close. I guess I can say it's closed the gap from the best aero car on the track to the worst; it's a lot smaller. Tires go and go and go. The main part of it is getting the chassis right where it stays good all day long; that's where he is strongest and I think he can help us.
Q. From the engine side of things, there is a lot of talk about how important engines are. From an engine program side of things are you guys confident that is going to work out for you guys?
DAVE BLANEY: I don't have much concern at all. I think our stuff, was if not the best Ford running it on the racetrack, it was close. Even if no development goes on, we will be in the ballpark. There's a group of guys dedicated to just Fords at the engine shop and most of the time is being spent developing the Dodge for Rusty and Ryan. We are still on target. We've got all of their inventory. We had Ryan's and Rusty's from last year. There is about 90 for us to choose from, so we are in good shop.
Q. How much advance warning did you have that Robin was going to be moving on?
DAVE BLANEY: Well, there's a chance of that stuff happening all the time and yeah, we thought something was going to happen. Even if it wasn't, we were, maybe not looking, but thinking what we were going to do if it did happen. Like I said, Bootie was at the top of my list and it ended up the owners kind of watched him for a month or so and watched how he operated and by the time they got around to talking to him, he was on top of their list to. It got to be a no-brainer once Ryan did commit to something else. We grabbed him up.
Q. What happened to your eye?
DAVE BLANEY: It looks just like a Sprint car wreck injury to me. Some of you guys might be saying there are not that many sprint car races going on in January, but that is my story.
End of FastScripts...