DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "It's a big adjustment trying to figure out the right gear and the right combination. We're working with different horsepower, so you've got to judge your chassis and your ...
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "It's a big adjustment trying to figure out the right gear and the right combination. We're working with different horsepower, so you've got to judge your chassis and your gearing to suit you and to fit. We're just going through all that right now. It's not like anything we know anything about. Nobody has ever run it here with this combination. Winston Cup racing shouldn't be this way. Winston Cup racing should be Winston Cup racing. It's an elite group. We're running like a bunch of Late Model Stock guys around here. Park's test at Milwaukee helped us figure out a few things, but you've still got to learn it yourself so you know what you want and what you don't want."
JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It feels a lot worse than a Busch car, but I think it's going to be fun. The fans are going to see what they wanted. They're going to see some good, close racing, but I don't know if it's the answer. You feel like you're crawling around here. You restrict so much air, when you get out of the gas you just don't have it. The speeds are down a good second and a half. It's going to be superspeedway racing everywhere we go if they end up doing this. I don't mind it, but that's not what we're here for. We're here to race. Thirty years ago they were going faster than we're going now. "I still think you have to have a good car underneath you to go fast no matter what. This is the same car we finished fourth with here last time. Joe Nemechek finished second here last time, and we're both on top of the speed chart. We've got a good race car, but we're still having to fight it. Any minute change you do means a lot on the race track. When you had the power, you could kind of make it up. Now you've got to be right on it. "Tony Furr (crew chief) is an optimistic guy. That's what I like about Tony. He keeps the guys pumped up. We'll win no matter if we qualify dead last. I like his motto. I hope we do win. When that day comes, you'll know it out of this camp. "One lap is not enough for qualifying here. You almost need two laps to get the tires warmed up and get the speeds up. It's going to be tricky."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "This is the same as when I used to race Late Model Stocks. This is Late Model Stock racing. We've got 450 horsepower. You can go buy a Late Model Stock engine for $1,800 and it has that much horsepower. We've got a $70,000 motor making 450 horsepower. They don't run down the straightaway, and you've got to really go fast around the corner. You just don't have any power. Maybe that's good and maybe that's bad. What's fun for me, and I'm having fun right now because we're throwing everything we've got at this car. We're running pretty good, but you've got to make the car go fast around the corner. I'm driving quite a bit deeper into the corner. I'm driving in there until I can't stand it any more. You have to if you're going to go fast. The corner is going to be the name of the game, getting in and getting off. Everybody is on the same ground. You can say a lot of negative things about it. The positive things I can say about it right now is I've had fun trying to make the car go as fast as it can around the corner. The corner speeds are way, way faster than what we were with the open motor. You're not going as fast down the straightaway, but you carry that speed so much further in and through the center because you're not going as fast going in. You're doing all this crazy stuff to make your car go fast, and to me, it's not even racing. "I don't think there's going to be a difference between qualifying trim and race trim. When your car is underpowered, your car has got to be free in qualifying and in qualifying you've got to do different things to make up for all that additional horsepower. We started with what we raced last time, and I think everybody else did, too. "NASCAR had to do something. A lot of drivers complained, so they had to make a change. I've been coming here since 1990 and I've never experienced anything like this in my life. My first Winston Cup race was here, my first Winston Cup victory came here, so maybe I can win the first plate race at New Hampshire, too. That'd be something cool. "I haven't quite figured out how you're going to be able to pass yet. Without being able to get a run, all the cars are going to be so even through the corners. How do you pass? You'd better have a good bumper on the front of your car. Pit stops are going to be key. Qualifying is going to be key. Starting in the front is real important because I don't know how you're going to pass. Right now, everybody is running on the bottom of the race track, and that's where they're going to stay. If that top groove doesn't get broke in, you're not going to see any passing."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I was so totally against it when I first heard about it that I was almost disgusted. When we went to Milwaukee, it was like, 'this ain't too bad.' The cars aren't stumbling on themselves. It's not like they don't have any throttle response. It took away some horsepower. We thought we could recover by driving down into the corners and it was going to be more dangerous than it was, but it's not. We're lifting at the same spot. We're probably just using a little bit less brakes and letting the cars coast a little bit more to handle. It's giving us more bite up off the corner because of less horsepower. I don't think it's going to be put everybody on a level playing field, but it's going to make guys who have struggled in the past here a little bit better. Guys who have run well here in the past are still going to be able to shine. Look at the facts. Do we want to go out and injure another driver or do we want to try something that's going to make it a little safer? I've raced here probably more than anybody, and I never thought New Hampshire was a dangerous race track until the recent tragedies. We don't want to see any more of that. Is this the answer to it? Nobody knows, but it's a quick fix that we're going to be able to get through this weekend with that's going to make the cars competitive. We might see one of the best races we've seen here. With slower straightaway and corner speeds you might see the outside groove open up and see some two-wide racing at New Hampshire that you haven't seen in a long time. Right now, the fastest way still seems to be on the bottom. I think we were in the top 25 in practice. There's nothing wrong with that. Our car is not really that bad. A lot of guys are going two or three laps. We're in qualifying trim doing one lap. We get one lap in qualifying, so we practiced what we need to know for tomorrow."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It's just a lot slower, definitely a lot slower and not much power. It's just a different obstacle that we have to work around. It's even less power than a Busch Grand National car has, so it's going to make things very interesting. The momentum you carry through the corners is what gives you the straightaway speed. Trying to get the drag out of the cars is real important. You treat it a lot like a Busch car except for you've got five inches more wheelbase. The cars tend to drive a little different.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PASS? "That I don't know. Start up front. Passing is going to be a real tricky thing from what I'm seeing so far. I'm hoping (outside groove opens up), but we haven't seen that much here even in the past. Typically what I've seen that pushes that groove up is the modifieds, the Busch North guys. Those guys work in a little bit of a groove, but for us, right now, I don't see it. You never know. A lot of us are still working on qualifying. We haven't worked on what's going to happen in the race or driven around a lot of other cars yet."
IS THIS GOING TO ACCOMPLISH WHAT NASCAR WANTED? "It's definitely slowed down the cars. I think that was something they wanted to accomplish. Right now, if we did have a problem, I think the impact would be lessened for sure. For the time being, this is working."
HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING? "It's going to be big. A huge deal. It's tricky because you've got to drive in real deep. Normally here I drive a little past the 4 marker. Now I'm driving past the 3 marker. I'd say that's a little more than 100 feet, but I'm not using hardly any brake and then I'm getting right back in the gas. I'm just really trying to carry a lot of speed and momentum through the corners. I'm just glad we got on the track. It was a big plus to get on the track. NASCAR worked hard to get us on there today, and now tomorrow we'll just come and get qualified. That's going to help a lot. If we wouldn't have gotten any time on the track before the race, that would have been a real tricky situation.”