Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo How are things coming together for you and the new team? "We fully expected to win that race yesterday, and as a driver with a new team, it's pretty cool to have that much confidence in my guys...
Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo
How are things coming together for you and the new team?
"We fully expected to win that race yesterday, and as a driver with a new team, it's pretty cool to have that much confidence in my guys that we think we can just go out and win the first race we ever run together. But we've been good during the off-season and we've had some good testing and then practicing leading into the race here. So everything's gone perfectly well. We were in a spot to win the race yesterday, but then that didn't go good. But that's just a tune-up for Sunday, and hopefully we can repeat our performance then."
Do you like the aero package?
"Yes, it's great. Everybody wants to race. Last year we couldn't hardly race and this year we're seeing a lot of great racing and that's what we want to produce for the fans so they can look forward to coming to Daytona like they always do"
Are you okay with the blocking?
"Yeah, it's part of it so long as somebody doesn't get carried away. You try to throw a block, and if you get them blocked, great, but if you don't, don't continue to try or you'll cause a wreck. As long as everybody keeps it like that, we'll be fine. So far that's what we've seen."
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet Monte
"Now that we've got the 125'sunder our belt, it gives us a much better indication of the direction we need to go in. Things that we would have liked to try yesterday, we're trying today. You know, maybe a gear change, checking our fuel mileage, doing a few things to the car to improve the handling."
You probably don't have to do much to the car, do you?
"We're really happy with the car. I think that was the best thing that came out of the 125's was how well our car performs. It has plenty of speed and it handles good. But I think we can get it to handle a little bit better."
When the fans and media are chasing you guys, sometimes you make better
moves than you do on the track. What is the secret to getting away from
"There's no secret. You usually have to get to a certain location and do a certain thing, and if you can sign and talk and do all those things while you walk, that's the best way to do it."
Seems like Dale Earnhardt avoid camera people the best
"Sometimes I draft off of him. But sometimes I just do my own thing. Some days you're in good mood, some days you're not. This is our work place and we try to do the best we can in all areas."
Questions and answers with Jeff Gordon, Steve Park and Joe Nemechek
Is the aero package as popular with the drivers as it is with the fans?
"Oh, I don't know, I think it definitely equalizes the competition and gives everybody an equal chance to win. I'm sure there's some guys that like it, some guys that don't. But the biggest thing is that it's very popular among with fans and people watching at home. So that's what we have to remember. Sometimes as competitors, we look at purely from a selfish standpoint. And in this situation, we recognize that this is the best for everybody."
Steve Park, No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"Oh, it's probably more popular with the fans than it is the drivers. But it's working out pretty good. It worked out good at Talladega. We had a good race out there. The 125's were pretty uneventful and the fans got to see another good race. So I think it's going to be good. They guys have had a lot of practice time. We've had the Budweiser Shootout, we've had the 125's to get used to it. And hopefully we're all professionals here. And as long as we treat each other like professionals, we can go out there and have a good 500."
Joe Nemechek, No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"That's a good question to ask. I don't know how popular it is with the drivers. I guess if you run well, it's popular, when you don't it's not. You know, overall, I think it's probably good. And I think that with the quality of drivers that we have in the Winston Cup Series that everybody uses their heads pretty good. It just makes the cars really draft tight together and you can run into each other and do a lot of dumb things if you're not paying attention. Right now, I think it works pretty good."
During a race like this where you're running three-wide with a lot of blocking and bumping, how important is mental concentration?
"Oh it's extremely important. That's something that I've recognized that is so amazing. Your mind, your eyes, you never have a second to take your thoughts off of what's going on around you or take your eyes off of what's going on. And it's mentally draining, it really is. You know the 125 is a short race and I wasn't worn out from being hot. It was from mentally putting every thought I had into. After the (Daytona) 500,you'll see a lot of that."
"It's probably more important here than anyplace else. It seems like you never get a chance to take a break on the steering wheel. You're always three-wide, two-wide, you know cars closing in on you quick and you have to react to that. You're pretty busy behind the wheel."
"Mental focus is very important. You just have to know where you are and who's around you at all points in time. Before, you just used to have to worry about looking in the mirror and you never had to worry about running into the guy in front of you. Well now, you can really run into the guy in front of you, and the guy behind you can run into you, and there's guys passing you on both sides. So, there's a lot more happening since they went to these new rules. After Talladega, it was very mentally draining."
At the end, if you do everything perfectly, do you still need help in order to win?
"Oh yeah. Definitely. You gotta have somebody that can go with you. If you're out in front, you can only hope that the guy behind you doesn't have help. You just don't know how this race is going to turn out. It's hardtop have a strategy for this race. In the past, you wanted to be leading on the last lap to take the white, but now I think you don't want to be leading until you get off of Turn 4. So it certainly makes things interesting. Yesterday was a good experience for me and probably for Earnhardt about if there's a last lap re-start. And so that's going to be interesting."
"Yeah, without a doubt. You definitely don't want to be out in front. We've seen that before. I think if you're running in the top five, or top eight, it's going to be anybody's win. We've seen that at Talladega. Earnhardt came from 14th to win. He's been leading the Budweiser Shootout on the last lap and hasn't won it, so I think he's realized that he doesn't want to be out front. I think if you can put yourself in the top five, top eight, you're going to be in a position to win. And nobody knows who's going to come across the line first."
"Absolutely. Absolutely. You've got to have help. I mean it just depends on the situation. If there's three cars kind of broke away in the front that are a few car length's ahead, then maybe the second or third-place driver could win it on his own. But if it was to go much more than a half-a-lap like that, the rest of those guys are going to catch you and pass you. So, timing is going to be crucial."