NASCAR Driver Q & A · Phil Allaway · Wednesday October 6, 2010
From promising talent to pushed aside in NASCAR’s dwindling employment line. It’s a nightmare that’s happened to several drivers over the past few seasons, but for Brian Scott cutting ties proved especially cruel. Despite one top-5 and five top-10 finishes, new owner Steve Turner failed to retain Scott and keep him behind the wheel of the No. 11 immediately upon taking ownership of the team this Fall.
What went wrong, what happens now, and where does Scott go from here? He answers them one-on-one with Phil Allaway in an exclusive interview that also delves into the new car for the Nationwide Series and so much more.
Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com: We’ll start with this past weekend. You made your debut with RAB Racing in the No. 09, started 19th and finished 21st. First off, can you explain how this deal came together?
Brian Scott: Well, it did. It came together very quickly. I have to thank everybody at RAB Racing. They put in a lot of long hours and worked their tails off to get that car ready and show up to the racetrack with something that we could try to be competitive in.
We had a lot of hope for the race. We expected to be a little better than we were, but we learned a lot of stuff from the race. We think we have a direction about how we’re going to get better, and how we’re going to show better in California. But, for the most part, I think it’s still pretty incredible what we did with such short notice and basically a car that wasn’t ready to go. They just busted their tails.
We didn’t unload that great, but we were a team and we worked our butts off and did the best we could.
Allaway: During the race, you got caught up in an incident on Lap 133. Was this just a basic chain reaction incident where somebody didn’t check up, or was there a little bit more to it?
Scott: Yeah, it was absolutely a chain reaction. I was coming through Turns 3 and 4, and on the exit of 4, there was smoke being thrown up from somebody [Michael Annett] spinning out. I was behind Joe Nemechek at the time and he started checking up, I guess, more quickly than I was. I was trying to stay off of him, so I was on the brakes really hard. The person behind me had the same deal and they got into me and I got into Joe a little bit. When you’re on the brakes and you’ve got the nose down and your tail’s up, it’s pretty squirrelly anyway. If somebody gets up under there, they have a tendency to just finish you off.
Unfortunately, we spun, but we didn’t take any damage. We worked back out there and completed the whole race. We had to overcome a pit road penalty that I induced on myself by missing my commitment line and hitting the commitment cone. That put us two laps down and we fought the whole race to get back on the lead lap, so that was an accomplishment in itself.
Allaway: As was in the news, you ignominiously left Braun Racing last week. There were reports out that you were having discussions with Joe Gibbs Racing for 2011. Was this going to be for a full-time or part-time drive? Or was it dependent on what NASCAR decides about Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series for 2011?
Scott: Yeah, ultimately, it kinda sucks to be on the outside of the whole Braun-Turner deal, but it has allowed me to explore some other options for next year. Talks have been very good all over the board.
I have had talks with J.D. [Gibbs] and the nice people over at [Joe] Gibbs Racing. God, that would be an opportunity. I’d really, really love to go over there and race for that team. I’ve always looked up to that team, and I think that a lot of drivers in the garage area would love to drive their stuff. If that ends up being where I go next year, I’d be thrilled to death and very excited. But, nothing’s a done deal yet and like I said, talks are across the board.
Allaway: There is still a lot of uncertainty going on with what NASCAR is going to do in regards to Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series for next year. If NASCAR ever came out and said that they would limit Cup drivers’ participation, that would probably raise your stock significantly.
Scott: Yeah. I think that the discussions that NASCAR are having, and what they might do rule wise can really play into my favor where it can really raise my stock as a driver. I could be on the short list of guys that would have a chance at going for a championship and would be capable of doing it.
That would bring significant value to me from a sponsor standpoint. Personally, I think it’d be cool to have since it would make me more valuable. Regardless, I’ve got the easiest part of this whole offseason deal and what rule changes happen. I just know that when next year comes around, it’ll be about getting in the car and doing the best job I can. If it means that I’m one of the few guys who can compete for a championship, that would be great, and if the Cup guys are still in it, then it’ll be the same deal. It all comes down to doing your job and doing the best you can do week in, week out. I think it makes it tough for the teams because the teams have to know how to pitch sponsorship deals and how to put things together.
The burden of the indecisiveness is on the teams. I know that they would like to get some clarification and know what’s going on [for 2011] so that they can build their programs and be prepared for next year.
Allaway: From what I understand, NASCAR is going back and forth on it, and that’s why nothing’s been announced.
In regards to the Braun-Turner situation, you mentioned in interviews last week that the whole situation was one giant misunderstanding. This misunderstanding led to your departure. Is this true, or is there a little more to it?
Scott: Yeah, it was a giant misunderstanding. I was upset that I wasn’t more in the loop and informed about what was going on, and how these decisions could affect my future and even the rest of my year this year. So, really without any knowledge, we did the natural thing and tried to plan for the worst-case scenario, saying “If this merger happens and they shut the No. 11 team down or put somebody else in the car.” It could be Dover and I could be out of the seat and looking for something else. So, we basically just asked around to see what people were doing, and tried to get an idea of if the metaphorical s*** hit the fan, how we could be a little bit more prepared.
The Braun-Turner deal got us a little paranoid and ultimately, it circled back and got them paranoid when they heard we were talking to other teams. They thought I was looking to do something different this year and panicked. Lawyers got involved and everything happened. It just kinda got sideways and turned around just due to poor communication from them to us, and then ultimately, from us to them. When we weren’t hearing anything, we started calling them to try to bridge the gap. We tried to look around and feel around for what could happen in a worst case scenario, and ultimately, it ended up happening. It was induced by both us and them.
Allaway: Were there any assurances made to you by Steve Turner that you would actually see out the season, or was this a continuation of the poor communication?
Scott: I can’t fault Steve Turner at all. It was none of his doing. Steve Turner, I think, is a great standup guy and a team owner that the sport of NASCAR is lucky to have. The lack of communication really happened between myself, Todd Braun, and the former Braun Racing side of things.
Allaway: As of now, you’re 13th in points in the Nationwide Series with one top-5 finish and five top-10 finishes. Team strife aside, does this performance meet some of the goals you set before the season began?
Scott: Frankly, I’m very disappointed at our performance this year. It’s just been all over the board. It hasn’t been consistent. We haven’t shown up to the racetrack consistently in a time bracket or in the top 15. There were times where we had really good runs, like Chicago, Gateway and California. We’ve been impressive at some places, but overall, no consistency in it whatsoever.
Trying to work with two different types of chassis and equipment [has been difficult]. Phasing in the new car, I don’t think we were really prepared for as a team. The last bit of the season has just been disastrous. We haven’t been running well, we’ve had mechanical problems, we’ve been caught up in wrecks. The finishes haven’t been there. It’s kinda been like we’re bleeding out right now. We’re just trying to stop the bleeding and win the Raybestos Brakes Rookie of the Year title for me.
Allaway: You talked a little bit about the new car. We’ve done three races with it on three different types of tracks now. What do you think of it so far?
Scott: Well, I think it’s a good direction. I think it will really connect the fanbase to NASCAR with the looks that are more similar to production cars. It’s just something new, a new rule deal. We’re getting a little more horsepower in it. I think that they’re a bit more difficult to drive, which should make for better, closer racing. I think it’s really helping the Sprint Cup Series, and it will trickle down and help the Nationwide Series. Personally, I love the fact that they’re safer. They’re putting the impact foam in and we’ve got more room in the chassis.
They’re built with the driver in mind to be safe and support things like the carbon-fiber seats, the SFI seats and stuff that is coming out, absorbing more of the impact and keeping drivers healthier and…not hurt and beat up. From a personal standpoint, breaking my wrist in a wreck, I know the dangers involved, and it’s nice to see a lot of improvements being made for the driver on the safety side.
Allaway: Ever since the Sprint Cup Series went to the COT, there have been very few injuries.
Scott: You look at Elliott Sadler’s crash at Pocono and some of the other big wrecks. They make you cringe, your hair stand up, and you think how you could survive an impact at 190 mph that ends like that with a stop. It’s great. I love to see those aspects of it trickle down to the Nationwide Series.
Allaway: When you’re away from the track, what do you like to do?
Scott: Well, the sport of racing is a great sport and I love all aspects of it. Ultimately, it’s not something that I can just separate myself away from. When I’m not at the racetrack, I’m just obsessed. I love being at the shop with the guys, I love to keep learning more about the cars so that I can be as informed as possible.
But, I do try to get out and try to play golf, go out on the lake, or just hang out with friends and watch football. I think everyone needs a break from things sometimes, but I don’t mind my life totally revolving around racing.
Allaway: There’s six races left in the Nationwide season. Are you going to be in the No. 09 for the remainder of the year?
Scott: We actually don’t know. Its more of a race-by-race deal. I know that I’m going to California with them. As long as it continues to be a good relationship on both ends, if I can help the team and the team can help me, then we will continue to work together. If, for some reason, it ends up not being as good a deal as it started out as, I don’t want to hurt the team or bring anybody down. It’s equally important to them to try to help me for the rest of this year and not give up the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title.
Allaway: Is Shore Lodge going to be back on the car this weekend?
Scott: As far as I know, Shore Lodge is going to be the primary sponsor at California, yes.
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