DRO: When the Skoal Funny Car didn't produce the desired results, did you resent the fact that you took the fall?

Ace: Lynn's (Prudhomme) involvement in the company, which is in the background- she's a huge part of that company- plays an awfully big role behind the scenes and she does a great, great job. The way they treat their people, as far as taking care of them and paying their bills and all of the financial end of Prudhomme's organization, could not be any better. It's a premier [operation] out here. Now, that being said, sometimes when it comes time to make a change in personnel, how that's done, I mean I was on the cut list and I'm gone from there. He used to come in all the time [and say,] "We've got to get more people. OK, who do you want to get? We want to build our team. We want to get more people, a brain trust. This is not about firing anybody. Oh, by the way, you're fired."

DRO: Is there a missing component somewhere?

Ace: I don't know that it's a missing component. But there's a component there that really muddies the water, and it's the guy that owns the place.

DRO: What's your relationship with Don Prudhomme?

Ace: We're OK. We talk. It's business. When our deal ended, did I like it? Was I happy with it? No. But did I like the position that I was in there when it was going on? No. So probably all in all, it was best for everybody that it did end. Or something needed to change.

DRO: If you had wanted to stay there, what would you have liked to see change?

Ace: I would have liked for him to stay completely out of the Funny Car trailer and have no influence, no pressure, of him coming in and telling you that the sponsors want to win a championship and we have to win and we have to qualify and we have to do this and we have to do that. I know that's our goal. But you coming in and beating on me every day and telling me, "We have to do this," is that helping any? No. What it does is make you make bad decisions. You go up there and you really want to do this, but you know you've got to go down the racetrack. You know it'll go down the racetrack, but it's not going to run as good as it could.

DRO: Nobody likes to get fired. Does the stigma of that bother you?

Ace: That really doesn't bother me, no, because in my opinion, anybody out here that counts knows the situation and knows how it is. So they either take me for what I am or they don't.

DRO: How did you and Doug Herbert get together? Who approached whom?

Ace: Really, I knew that Doug was looking and I said something . . . and he called and we talked about it. I flew down there (to Cherryville, N.C.) and we talked about it. There were a
lot of other things going on right at that time.

DRO: Such as?

Ace: There were some other deals in the works.

DRO: Were you under contract to Bob Gilbertson?

Ace: I only went over there with Gilbertson for the last three races. Nicky Boninfante is the crew chief over there. He's a good friend of mine and he needed some help. I told him I'd go with them for the last three races, just to see if I could help 'em. They wanted me to stay over there and do that deal. I like the guys and everything. It's just that they're not really serious about the deal and what they need to do. That really wasn't a consideration, per se. That AT&T deal was floating around, and numerous people thought they had that in the bag. And there were numerous people who thought if they get that deal, "We want you." So I mean it's a wait-and-see game. Well, I waited until the first part of December, and Doug was in a position that we're either going to do this or we're not. So OK, let's do it.

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