Iracingone On One:/I Stacy Compton

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Stacy Compton is getting a fresh start this season in NASCAR, but he may not feel like a spring chicken by the end of the year. The reason? Like Kevin Harvick last season, Compton will run a full campaign in 2002 in both the Winston Cup and Busch Series, driving for A.J. Foyt in Winston Cup and Tad Geshickter in Busch. Compton knows he’ll put a lot of miles behind him in the coming year, but said he’s looking forward to the challenge.

RacingOne: We all saw Kevin Harvick run almost a full schedule in both Winston Cup and Busch last year, and it did take its toll on him. How rough will that be on you this year?

Stacy Compton: It’s going to be tough, there’s no doubt about that. Kevin did show us how tough it was last year, but he was able to get through it and win a championship. But he also did that with one team owner. Fortunately, A.J. (Foyt), Conseco (his Winston Cup sponsor), Tad (Geshickter) and Kingsford (his Busch sponsor) are all bending over backwards to make sure that this thing can happen. We’ve looked at the logistics, and it’s certainly going to be tough to do. If the weather cooperates with us, then it certainly will make it easier for it to happen.

RacingOne: Your sponsor at Melling Racing was going away at the end of the year, and your status was up in the air. How tough was it toward the end of last year not knowing what exactly you were going to be doing in 2002?

Stacy Compton: When you’re faced with a situation like that, not knowing what your future is going to be, it can make you very antsy. The two years I spent at Melling Racing were a good learning experience for me in Winston Cup, and you always hope you can continue to stay in a stable situation. But then we didn’t have a stable situation there, and it’s a tough thing for everyone involved. The sponsor went away and we didn’t have a primary sponsor coming in for the next year, so I knew I needed to explore my options. Before the Busch deal came along, it was a very nervous time for a while. I felt like I would be able to land somewhere, but I just wasn’t sure where that was going to be or with who.

RacingOne: A.J. is a very focused individual and is all about winning. When you were discussing the job with him, what did he say about you dividing your attentions between two race teams?

Stacy Compton: I had signed the Kingsford deal early on, right after Homestead we put everything together and signed it, and it was a big relief because I knew I had a solid ride. But even with that deal, Tad knew that I wanted to run Winston Cup and if something became available, I was going to run Winston Cup. When A.J. and I first started talking, he knew full well that the Busch thing had already been signed and was a done deal. We just needed to work everything out with Conseco and make sure they were OK with it. I met with the Conseco folks, talked with them over the phone a couple of times and they sorta pushed the button on the thing and made it happen.

RacingOne: The Conseco team has had its struggles over the past couple of years. Is there any magic formula in getting that program turned around?

Stacy Compton: If you look at that team vs. the Mark Melling team, it was a mirror image. They ran good and had moments of excellence, so did we. Ron Hornaday is one of the best race-car drivers out there. They just didn’t have any luck. They crashed out of 15 or 16 races, and 90 percent of it was not of his doing. They just never could combine any luck with the good runs that they had. With a little bit of luck this could be a very competitive race team, and that’s what we’re hoping for in 2002.

RacingOne: So are you a lucky person?

Stacy Compton: I generally consider myself to be one and I’ve had a lot of good luck in the past. I think that bodes well for both the Conseco team and the Kingsford team.

RacingOne: The Kingsford team has shown flashes of brilliance over the past couple of years, but hasn’t really been able to put the right combination together. Is the right combination in place now to win races?

Stacy Compton: It’s going to take the team working together and being on the same page. I started going to the shop in December a couple of times a week and I feel like I’ve been able to get along well with the team and crew chief Steve Plattenberger. He’s a great guy to work with, and I’ve been getting along well with all of the guys in the shop. They’re building some really nice race cars. They’ve built great stuff in the past, but to me, it looks like they’re taking a little bit extra care this year. They’re doing some great bodies and the engines are top quality. Everything is there and all the pieces are in place. If we can have a little luck, I believe this team can go out and be a really competitive team.

RacingOne: This team has been around for quite a while, but hasn’t enjoyed a great deal of success. In your opinion, from an outsider’s point of view, what’s been missing?

Stacy Compton: Just watching from the outside, I’m puzzled about that because this is a good race team and they have shown that they can be very competitive at times. You look at the results toward the end of the year last year and they ran pretty well. They were going back to standard cars and standard bodies and maybe got away from some of the things that got them off base. I know looking at the equipment now, they’ve got as good as equipment as anybody out there and that should make us pretty competitive on Saturdays.

RacingOne: You hope to make a strong run for the Busch championship. Who will your strongest competition be?

Stacy Compton: I don’t think you can ever bet against Greg Biffle and that Roush team. We raced him in the truck series and he’s an awful talented race-car driver. You’ve got to also look at Jack Sprague. Granted he’s coming into the series just like I am as a first-year driver, so to speak, but Jack’s a heckuva race-car driver. You’ve got to look at the 57 (Jason Keller), you’ve got to look at the 10 (Scott Riggs) and you’ve got to look at the 92 car (Andy Houston). Granted, they’ve got a rookie driver, but I’ve raced against Andy, too. Chad Little, Tony Raines, you go down the list and there’s 10 or 15 cars that you’re going to be competing with every week that’s got potential to win races. I’m probably going to be very disappointed if we don’t win a race. I feel like this team is capable of doing that right now. With what I’ve seen already and the equipment they’ve got sitting there, I certainly feel like it’s a real possibility.

RacingOne: Racing in the Busch Series is going to be like a truck series reunion this year, isn’t it, considering you’ve raced before against the likes of Jack Sprague, Greg Biffle, Andy Houston and Tony Raines? How much fun will that be for you?

Stacy Compton: It will be a lot of fun. I’ve raced with Tony, I’ve raced with Greg, Jack, Andy and those guys that are in the Busch Series now. Jack and I became really good friends when I was in the truck series, and I’m looking forward to running against him again. We had a lot of fun back then beating and banging on each other a whole lot. We both enjoyed it. I’m really looking forward to it.

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