Crew chief Alan Gustafson signed a four-year extension two weeks ago to remain at Hendrick Motorsports. But with the addition of Kasey Kahne to the team for the 2012 season, he's not sure what his roll will be.
Gustafson talked about his new contract, as well as the uncertainty that remains at Hendrick on how the team will deal with Kahne's arrival and Mark Martin's departure. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: Now that you've got a new contract, what's your plan for the rest of your life?
Gustafson: Win a lot of races and live until I am 130, that is my goal.
Question: Will you be working with the No. 5 team, which right now includes Mark Martin?
Gustafson: What it is for is for is it for Hendrick Motorsports. I am going to work at Hendrick Motorsports. As far I am concerned, I am going to retire there so that is what I am going to. Whatever it takes for us to be successful, that is what I want to do. Beyond that, no matter what it is, where I need to fill, what role I need to fill to help make this team the most successful, that is what I will do.
Question: Does that mean sweeping the floors?
Gustafson: I might be sweeping floors; I am pretty good at it. I am a good landscaper too. I can make that place look good.
Question: Are you relieved to get this behind you?
Gustafson: Extremely. I love this company, I love working for Hendrick Motorsports. I love Rick Hendrick, everything he has done for me and my career. To continue that on in the future is everything I wanted. Like I said, I want to retire here, that is really my goal professionally to be able to contribute to Hendrick Motorsports and make it a top-notch successful organization that it is and take it in to the future. It is a great opportunity for me and I am really blessed to have it.
Question: If you had your choice at Hendrick, what would you like to do?
Gustafson: I am doing what I love to do. I truly love what I do. I love Hendrick Motorsports more than I love crew chiefing. Whatever it takes for that company to succeed. I love going to work there every day. I love the people. I love my boss, it is a great situation so, whatever that is, is fine by me. It is something I am really happy about and I really feel blessed to do and be able to wake up and go to work in a place that you really believe in and you stand behind. To work for a great boss like I've got, it is just a dream come true.
Question: Since Stewart-Haas Racing operates as a satellite team for Hendrick Motorsports, is it possible you could be sent to work over there?
Gustafson: To be honest with you, I didn't read it. I just signed it, so I don't know. I am not worried about that. Mr. Hendrick has always been...I didn't read it, but you know me, I didn't study it, I didn't go through all that stuff. Mr. Hendrick has always been above and beyond, he has gone above and beyond for me, so, I am not concerned about it. I haven't even thought about it to be honest with you.
Question: Would you be willing to be the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr.?
Gustafson: If that what Mr. Hendrick and the management at Hendrick Motorsports deems to be the best fit for the company, yes.
Question: There are so many questions about the No. 5 team, like will Martin move to a different team to open the door for Kahne? Is it possible you won't be with the 5 team?
Gustafson: I believe No. 5. I have been here for 11 years. It is something I have put a lot of effort into. It is something I take a lot of pride in that team. I have been with those guys for a long time. I want to be with them for a long time in the future. But, who knows where it is going to go or where the future goes. I don't know. All I am saying is I am going to do whatever I have to do to help keep this company successful. Whatever that is, I don't know. I don't think any of us can sit here and project the future. My goal right now is to win a championship with the No. 5. That is what I started out to do. That is what I have always said from day one. Those are my goals. If I don't that, I feel like I have fallen short. I have a good opportunity to do it and I am going to push hard to do that. When that happens, hopefully that will happen, when that happens, who knows what goes on there. Right now that is what I am focused on doing.
Question: What do you think of Kasey Kahne?
Gustafson: I love Kasey. I think he is a great driver. I don't know him all that well but I love the way he races on the race track. I think he is a great fit for our organization. I think he is a great fit for the No. 5. I think he has the potential to go win a lot of championships and a lot of races. I think it would be a great opportunity to work with him. He can put Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 5 in a good position to carry on what Mark has helped us build. I think he is a great fit, he is a great person, a great race car driver so I think that all will work out well.