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You seemed to have a close relationship with Jim Jannard (founder and CEO of Oakley). Do you think he will be backing you again in the future?

Cannon: I think he probably would, but he’s also probably a little burned out because I didn’t do so good (in Funny Car), either. Call it what you want. I did okay the first year when I won Rookie of the Year and that was a good stepping stone, but we went through crew chief changes, actually went through a different culture of racing. And then we finished sixth the next year with me and three of my own guys. But then we got this wild idea, me, Jim, and all the management, it was no one person’s decision, and we all agreed to hire Wes Cerny.

What happened was I think we went through an era when one guy could crew chief a car. John Force used to have that when he had one car, but now he’s got three and he’s got four crew chiefs, some of the best in the business, and he’s still kicking everyone’s butt, but it takes that many to stay on top. Well, we were trying to do it the first year with one crew chief and then the second year we had me, Bill Schuler and Jimbo (Ermalovich), who used to crew chief for Al Hoffman. So you had three people and my old clutch guy off my Pro
Mod car who is one of the best clutch guys that ever lived. So you had four people that knew everything there is to know about a car, and then we chose to hire Wes Cerny. Now I love Wes to death, but when he came on he called all the shots so it was right back to the old way. Despite how smart he is and how innovative he is and there’s nothing on that car he can’t do, we fell back again and ran worse than we did the first year.

Then it set up the stage to go to (Don) Schumacher. We wound up at Schumacher, but I actually never did work for Don Schumacher, I worked for Jim. So, you know, me and Don had a few of our problems because everybody there except for me and my crew worked for Don. Well that kind of caused a few ruffles, but I can honestly say me and Don left on good terms, we’re fine. He even comes up and high fives us when we win at the Pro Mod races, but I never have actually worked or drove for anyone except for Jim at Oakley. So that was good in a way and bad in a way, because you’re actually racing under another guy’s umbrella (Schumacher’s) and he’s the boss and he’s got all the money invested, but he can’t really tell you what to do, so that’s got to be kind of frustrating to him, and at the same time if he tells you something to do that you don’t like, it gives you an easy way of saying, ‘Hey, I don’t really work for you, I’ve got to call the other guy (Jannard).’ And the other guy doesn’t really see all the ins and outs, and it did cause a little bit of a ruffle in the system, but never no serious falling out because we always handled it like professionals.

Do you feel you could work or drive for a different team owner now?

Cannon: I’ve told people before that if I was working for Don or Snake or whoever, and I was driving directly for one of those guys and I knew I signed up for their package, I know when to keep my mouth shut and when not to because the man that pays the bills is the boss.

I can honestly sit here and say that I worked for Jim for five years and never crossed him once, not one time. There were a few things he said that I didn’t like; there were a few things he did that I didn’t agree with. A lot of them were right, but some of them were wrong, but I never one time bucked him because you know what? He signed the checks. And that’s just the way I feel about it.

Click Here to Read Part II: Cannon describes how he hooked up with Jannard, his rivalry with Force, and what the future may hold for him.

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