Howard-Boss Motorsports News Conference Friday, January 30, 2004 Daytona International Speedway Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace, David Brulem, Milka Dunno and Jimmie Johnson Elliott ...
Howard-Boss Motorsports News Conference
Friday, January 30, 2004
Daytona International Speedway
Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, Butch Leitzinger, Andy Wallace, David Brulem, Milka Dunno and Jimmie Johnson
Elliott Forbes-Robinson , driver of the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Chevrolet Crawford Daytona Prototype
ON THE PREPARATION FOR THE RACE:
"I was able to get in the car last night. (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. and Butch (Leitzinger) were taking most of the time in the car then Dave Brule got in the car. But I got in (the car) last night. The car is actually very easy to drive. I think it's going to be a very competitive car and I don't think it's going to be a struggle to turn the times we want to turn. I'm looking forward to (the race) a lot."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. , driver of the No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports CITGO Chevrolet Crawford Daytona Prototype
ON THE FEEL OF THE CAR AND RUNNING ANOTHER RACE DURING SPEEDWEEKS:
"It's been a real honor to be a part of this program. Anticipation has been building up to the race. I really enjoyed running this race a couple of years ago and want to thank the Crawford's for giving me and Tony (Stewart) both an opportunity to join their program. It's been awesome. We came here to test and worked with the car a little bit and got to drive the car a few laps. Yesterday I really got to put a lot of laps on the car and the car's real comfortable. It's very easy to drive. We have a good car, we have a great competitive program and we should be at the top all day long and all night long. It's going to be interesting. When I ran here last time we had four drivers and now we have three. I'll have to do a little more work so we'll see how that works out."
ON CONTROLLING THEIR SPEED:
"When you go out there - not doing this all the time - you just have to build up to everything. All the braking zones - there are stepping stones into each braking zone that you have to build up to. As the race goes on, by your first double stint you should be able to accomplish lap times you need to accomplish at 80 percent of an effort or whatever that be-90 percent or whatever. Realistically, I'd love to have a whole lot more time in the car before the race starts. Obviously with the schedule and the limited amount of practice you have during the race weekend, we're still going to be learning a little bit as the race starts, which is fine. I think we'll be able to get in there and get comfortable. By the end of that first stint you should have a good idea of what you need to accomplish lap time wise. You should have a good idea of the oppostion and what they're able to accomplish and how you can measure up."
Tony Stewart , driver of the No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports CITGO Crawford Chevrolet Daytona Prototype
ON HOW THIS EXPERIENCE COMPARES TO HIS FIRST ROLEX 24 EXPERIENCE:
"I've been excited about it since day one. This team is a team I drove with last year at the Paul Revere race with Elliott Forbes-Robinson. Max (Crawford) and all his people are from the Charlotte area so it's easy for us to go across and see the cars before we come to the tracks and see all the guys. They have a great group of guys that are working. The biggest thing is Max and his experience with the team. His whole family's involved with it. They know how to make guys like myself and Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) and Jimmie (Johnson) - all these guys that don't get a chance to drive these type of cars very often - they know how to make us very, very comfortable right off the bat. Having guys like Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson. As veteran drivers, they know how to put together the right teams to have a lot of knowledge and depth and experience as well as having young new guys that are coming in. It's really made for an exciting program for all of us with three different cars. I'm excited about it. Like Dale Jr. said, it's a big honor for us to come here and have guys and people like Howard Boss and the Crawford family having the faith in us as drivers to let us come in - and not have a lot of experience in these type of cars -- but to let us come in and join their team and let us have a good time and have fun before we start our Speedweeks."
ON HAVING TO CONTROL THEIR SPEED:
"I haven't been that fast yet to where they've said slow down to 90 percent. I think the road racers are underestimating how good they really are in these cars. I ran my fastest laps last night in the evening. I told the guys when I got out of the car that those were comfortable lap times. I didn't feel like I was being on the knife's edge. I felt like I could do that for a long period of time. I think where that might be 95 percent for us they're at 80 percent. We've talked about what time bracket we want to be in. It's just like when we run (NEXTEL) Cup races, the times we run in practice we never run in the race. It seems like the track conditions always change. Normally the track slows down. Obviously traffic is a big factor here at this race. We're just trying to learn the cars and keep running to where we can find what our 100 percent really is so that we have that flexibility slowing down or when we're in traffic we know what we can get away with and what we can't get away with and not getting ourselves in compromising positions."
ON THE APPEAL OF SPORTS CARS:
"I like driving stuff that's different. I did this two years ago with Max (Crawford) and his group and had an absolute blast. To just run a different format than what I'm used to. I've run dirt and pavement. In the spring we all have cabin fever and you turn the TV on and we watch you guys (sports cars) race. I'm sitting there going, 'why am I not doing that if I have the opportunity to do it?' I like getting out of the house and getting back in a car as soon as possible."
Jimmie Johnson , driver of the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Chevrolet Crawford Daytona Prototype
ON THIS BEING HIS FIRST ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA AND HOW THE VETERAN DRIVERS HAVE HELPED HIM:
"Everybody's been a great help to me. This is my first sports car race that I've ever been in. There's been a big learning curve. There's been a lot to learn and a lot to absorb. I feel like I've become more and more comfortable in the car. When we tested here at the open test, the car was loose and there's a lot going on for myself. The guys have worked really hard to help the handling of the race car. The few laps that I had then I carried over to now and I feel a lot more comfortable in the car. Like everybody else has been saying, everybody at Crawford has done an amazing job to make us feel at home. To make us feel comfortable along with all the drivers. I'm very excited and looking forward to a great race. I know it's going to be a long day for us - for everybody really. But I hope that when the sun rises that our car's still on the road and we're in contention and maybe leave with something on our wrist."
Butch Leitzinger , driver of the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Chevrolet Crawford Daytona Prototype, three-time Rolex 24 At Daytona champion
ON WORKING WITH THE NASCAR DRIVERS:
"It's been great. I don't normally like to compliment people to their face, but they've all been very good. These guys have been up to speed immediately. They all talk about the learning curve, but it's a pretty quick climb on that curve. Jimmie (Johnson) on his fourth or fifth lap was right on top of our lap times. I think it's a little insulting actually because they come down here and they're right on top of us. If the tables were turned and I tried to go into NASCAR racing I think I'd be about three laps behind on the 10th lap. They've done a heck of a job."
David Brule , driver of the No. 4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Chevrolet Crawford Daytona Prototype
ON BEING A PART OF THE CRAWFORD TEAM:
"It's humbling first of all. I'm the genuine rookie of the bunch. Elliott Forbes-Robinson is the guy who got me started. I started driving Porsches back several years ago. He was the first guy who taught me how to drive. He's seeing the fruits of that now, so anything that's wrong is his fault. It's great too to be coupled up with Rick Howard. He's been a super guy in arranging all of this and making all of this happen with the fellows from NASCAR. It's been great. When you're a snowplow manufacturer, there's not a real opportunity in Daytona for sales, but it's great for publicity."
Andy Wallace , driver of the No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports CITGO Chevrolet Crawford Daytona Prototype
ON THE RACE AND THE WEATHER:
"Qualifying was yesterday and that was an important part of the weekend. More than anything we've been making sure that we try to set the car up so that it's comfortable for everybody to drive, come rain or shine. You never really know with Daytona. It's the middle of winter and anything can happen with the rain. If the car is right on the knife-edge all the time and you draw your lap time out of it, it's not necessarily a good race car for 24 hours. If the car is comfortable you may just lose a couple tenths in qualifying but the whole race long you're going to be very glad you set up like that and really that's what we've done. That's what we've concentrated on. The car itself - it's a brand new car. As everybody has said, the Crawfords have done such a great job on this car. Although it's our first race, coming into a 24-hour race, it's not the most ideal situation but we've got quite a few miles on the chassis now and we're very, very happy with everything we've got."
Milka Duno , driver of the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype
ON DRIVING WITH ANDY WALLACE DURING THE REGULAR SEASON:
"The car is very nice and comfortable. For the rest of the season I'll be driving with Andy and I'm very happy because he is a very good driver. We have a good team and I'm happy to be part of the CITGO team. I think we'll have a good season this year."