RESPONSE TO RULES CHANGE FOR PEPSI 400 AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY JIM JULOW (Vice President, Motorsports and SRT Marketing, Dodge) "I'd like to congratulate Ray Evernham for putting the No. 9 and No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/Ts on...
RESPONSE TO RULES CHANGE FOR PEPSI 400 AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
JIM JULOW (Vice President, Motorsports and SRT Marketing, Dodge)
"I'd like to congratulate Ray Evernham for putting the No. 9 and No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/Ts on the front row of the non-Chevy segment of the Pepsi 400. Based on yesterday's results, we clearly don't have a level playing field for all manufacturers. But, we've showed that we know how to run on the flat tracks this season and proved we know how to win at Michigan, so we'll just have to work twice as hard today and tomorrow to get the Dodge back to victory lane."
RECORD 12 DODGE INTREPID R/Ts IN PEPSI 400
For the first time since Dodge's return to the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit last season, 12 Intrepid R/Ts will start a race. Stacy Compton and Derrike Cope join the 10 regular Dodge entries to form Dodge's Dirty Dozen.
STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Regal Corp./Dura Bond Cam Bearings Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"Mark Melling has been talking to a lot of people. The main thing we wanted to do by coming up here is to make sure that everybody knew Mark Melling is still around. Everything is still in place. He kept people in place and all the equipment is still there. We've got a car that we'd like to take to Talladega that's a rocketship. It won both poles at Talladega last year and qualified second and third at Daytona. Robert Pressley was forth fastest in Daytona 500 qualifying with it this year. Mark has got everything sitting there ready to go racing, but if you don't have sponsorship, you can't do it. Regal stepped up, and we're excited about the one-race deal with them. To be able to come out and get in the show after a six-month leave, I think that says a lot about the equipment we've got.
"It was a lot of pressure knowing we had to qualify. We ended up 23rd and had an early draw, so I was happy with it. We picked up a second from practice. We made some good changes. We were struggling in practice. We knew it was going to be close and if we didn't step it up we were going home. We had to outqualify the other three cars that didn't have enough points, and we knew we were going to have to be in the top 36. If not, we were going home. We made some wholesale changes and picked it up.
"We need to come away with a top 20. If we can do that after a six-month leave, I think that would be very impressive in Winston Cup. It was a mutual parting with me and A.J.Foyt. I didn't feel like I could be competitive over there, and he felt like he needed to make a change. I enjoyed working with those guys, but it was a change I had to make. I didn't feel like it was doing my career any good, and we weren't going anywhere. We weren't making any headway, and we were breaking in a lot of races. It was a mutual parting. If it's not a good Winston Cup deal, I'm not going to get back in it. If it hadn't been for Mark Melling, I probably wouldn't have come up here. I've got a really good Busch situation right now. We can win races and win a championship. We may can still do it in Winston Cup if it's the right deal where one program can help the other.
"I'd like to leave here with a top 20 and run on the lead lap all day. We've got an Ernie Elliott engine. We've got the same package we had last year. We were concerned that we had missed a little bit because when you miss a week you're three weeks behind. We've missed six months, and there's benn a lot of changes on the bodies in six months. Actually, it's been eigtht months since we ran this car. We knew we'd be a little behind the eight ball. Dean Johnston (crew chief) hasn't been but to one race this year. We are a little behind, but we've got a good enough car to get in the show and tune on in Happy Hour.
"We're going to do Phoenix, Richmond and Homestead I know in the Dodge Ram. We may try to squeeze in another truck race, too. I've been with Dodge for a long time. They've been awful good to me, and we've been awful competitive in 'em. Hopefully that'll be the case again here Sunday."
DERRIKE COPE (No. 49 MNR Productions Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"The Dodge chassis is different than what I've had under my cars. Dodge has been in the tunnel and it seems like it has a lot of downforce. It turns well, and the engine was very good. The Ernie Elliott motor ran very well. It's a good combination and the crew made some good choices on the car. We were fast right off the truck. I'm just trying to get used to everything they have, and we qualified 33rd and I thought that was pretty good. We were overall in practice and we had some trouble with the Heim joint. It was binding the car up. We didn't know it and we found it going through inspection. I kinda babied the lap just because we kept bottoming out going into turn three. I felt like we had a mid-pack car, maybe a top 25 car. We brought a group that brought some money for me to come here and really showcase myself. It may be an audition more than anything else. My team just doesn't have enough money or people. This is a way to come to a full-fledged team that's up and running that has quality people and quality equipment. I'm receptive to a lot of things now. I'd like to have enough funding to where I could get my team proficient. Obviously we don't have the money to do that right now. If I could find a ride, I would do that and try to grow my team. I want to drive, and that's the bottom line. I've just got to come back here and show people that if I have the same stick as these other guys, I'm capable of racing with them.
"Things change and you have to adapt to those things. If your team is away from it, you lose sight of a lot of changes. If you're here, you parasite knowledge. I got in this Dodge and we knocked off a good lap. I don't think I've lost it as a driver by being away, but certainly if you're away car-wise, you're going to lose sight of things. This is a good track for me. I like the fast speedways. They tested up here with Shawna, so they had some sense of what they needed for the car. That was good, too. It's a good place for me to showcase what I can do. You never know what can happen from something like this. It's Shawna's ride and I understand that. I'm just trying to show people that I can get the job done and I deserve an opportunity to drive. I don't know where we stack up overall. You never know what is going to happen here, but if we can be in the top 20 or top 25, I think that would be a good, solid effort. I know I can race up in the top 15 if we can stay online and keep the car working OK."