Waltrip Responds To Sway Bar Incident
March 29, 2008 | 9:13 A.M. EST
“On the sway bar gig -- I’ll answer a couple of questions, but I hope we don’t dignify this with a whole lot of time or effort. We wound up with a sway bar there somehow -- I promise you that no one went to their tool box and swiped it. This is not intellectual espionage. I liken a sway bar to an ink pen -- they come in different sizes and shapes. Some of them are expensive and some of them are not so expensive, but they all do the same thing and that’s write. It’s not the pen that makes it write, it’s the person pushing it. A car going fast is not about the sway bar, it’s about the team that puts the sway bar into action and what they do to make all that come together. I’ve done a lot of asking around to make sure that I was correct in my assumptions. Like I said yesterday, my spokesperson on this subject is Jeff Gordon. If you all have anything to ask -- go ask Jeff because I don’t think I could have said it near as well as he did.”
Do you understand why Jack Roush is upset or do you think this whole thing is ridiculous?
“Accidents happen -- mistakes happen. If you look inside this garage area today, there’s over 70 racing vehicles in here and stuff gets slung everywhere. If it were truly something that I felt that there was anyway anyone purposely went and got for any specific reason -- I could see why he would be upset. He feels like he was wronged and he’s mad about it -- that’s his prerogative. I respect that man. If you look around this garage area and see four or five cars on teams -- that’s him. He’s the one that came up with that idea and proved it to be the most effective way to race a car. I’ve always admired Jack and I will never judge him. I don’t know what makes him tick, but I do know that no one went to his tool box and swiped his sway bar. Proprietary parts on a Cup car -- I don’t really understand that 100 percent. We tear down the engines and lay all the parts and pieces on a table for people to look at. We rip the shocks apart and you can look right in them -- not a whole lot to them. A few years back there was a spring manufacturer in the state of Washington that one of the teams contracted with to build their springs when we were trying to coil-bind these cars so much and they started secretly with them. It wasn’t too long before the whole garage area was full of those springs and I wished that would have never happened because I have about 100,000 dollars worth of them sitting at home that are worth absolutely nothing now. But you had to have them. NASCAR’s goal, I think, is to make sure there aren’t any proprietary parts on these cars. I guess I’m thankful for that and as a car owner I think that will save us all money. Let’s try not to make this more complicated than it is.”
What about the assertions that the bar was sandblasted and someone called the vendor to have pieces made?
“I don’t have knowledge of any of that. I heard it was painted blue and when we figured out that it wasn’t ours then it was set off to the side and eventually returned.”
What is the timeline in terms of when it was discovered and when it was returned?
“Sometime last fall it wound up in our possession and that was prior to Cal (Wells) working there and Dr. (Eric) Warren working there. We didn’t know anything about having it until January when they called and said, ‘you have our sway bar’ and we said, ‘we do’? We told them that we would find it and give it back to them and that’s what we did. There were no threats -- there was no need to threaten, it was laying in a storage room somewhere. Again, it’s a piece of metal -- there’s no gears in it, there’s no fluid running through it. It’s really hard to understand. If I were you, I think I would understand how simple this part is -- you can go to NAPA and get one.”
Can you understand why Jack Roush is making such an issue out of this when others in the garage area seem to believe that there are no proprietary parts?
“We’ve hired Jack’s (Roush) employees, but we’ve gone through the proper channels and he’s hired ours too. My partner, Rob (Kaufmann), my business partner -- things are a little rocky at home and I don’t want to start throwing the partner around. We were talking and I told him that I’ve always had two rules in business and one is not to do something that would get me shot or beat up and another is not to do anything that would get my thrown in jail. I said I had a third one that was not to do anything that would get my sued, but he told me to forget that because people come up with their own agendas. Whether you’re guilty or innocent sometimes you have to deal with it. So far, so good and that was my message to Ty (Norris) and our management staff when we started. We want to operate up here and when it came time to talk to individuals on other teams, we went through the proper channels to do so. It might be an issue bigger than me.”