EARNHARDT'S VICTORY CLOSES GAP FOR MONTE CARLO BRAGGING RIGHTS -- Dale Earnhardt's 75th career victory on Sunday in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway helped the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion inch...
EARNHARDT'S VICTORY CLOSES GAP FOR MONTE CARLO BRAGGING RIGHTS -- Dale Earnhardt's 75th career victory on Sunday in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway helped the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion inch closer to the head of the class on the Team Monte Carlo Winners Circle scoreboard. Chevrolet's Monte Carlo is the most successful nameplate in NASCAR Winston Cup history with 277 career victories, and Earnhardt ranks third on the all-time Monte Carlo win list with 44 triumphs. Darrell Waltrip leads the way with 48 wins in a Monte Carlo, and Jeff Gordon ranks second with 47. Earnhardt ranks sixth on NASCAR's all-time win list, just eight wins behind Cale Yarborough. Yarborough, a three-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion, won 38 of his 83 races in a Monte Carlo and is fourth on the all-time Monte Carlo win list.
TEAM MONTE CARLO WINNERS CIRCLE
Here are the 24 drivers who have won races driving a Monte Carlo. Team Monte Carlo drivers have made Chevrolet's Monte Carlo the most successful nameplate in NASCAR Winston Cup history with 277 career victories.
<pre> Darrell Waltrip 48 Tim Richmond 9 Ricky Rudd 2 Jeff Gordon 47 Harry Gant 6 David Pearson 2 Dale Earnhardt 44 Geoff Bodine 6 Buddy Baker 2 Cale Yarborough 38 Richard Petty 6 Charlie Glotzbach 1 Bobby Allison 15 Neil Bonnett 5 Ken Schrader 1 Terry Labonte 15 Sterling Marlin 5 Greg Sacks 1 Benny Parsons 14 Bobby Labonte 4 Earl Ross 1 Joe Nemechek 1 Donnie Allison 3 Bobby Hamilton 1
</pre> WIND TUNNEL RESULTS -- According to Doug Duchardt, GM Racing NASCAR Group Manager, Chevrolet might have won Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup race in Atlanta but didn't come out ahead of Ford in Monday's wind tunnel test. NASCAR took Mark Martin's Taurus, Mike Skinner's Monte Carlo and Bobby Labonte's Grand Prix to the wind tunnel for aerodynamic tests following Sunday's race. "Ford won the wind tunnel battle again," Duchardt said. "I'm proud of the way our teams performed this weekend, and we have a workable package now with the Monte Carlo. We're going to continue working to get drag out of the car for the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega. Changing the nose on the Monte Carlo helped balance the car, but there were other issues to deal with at Atlanta. Goodyear had a new tire, and the teams did not get the normal amount of time to practice on the new tire. Our teams did a great job, and it was a heck of a race. I don't think I've ever seen a closer finish."
MANUFACTURERS RACE TIGHTENS -- Pontiac leads the NASCAR Winston Cup manufacturers standings after the first four races. Pontiac holds a 27-26 advantage over Ford. Chevrolet is third with 23 points. Team Monte Carlo won its first race of the season Sunday at Atlanta, and Mike Skinner's No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo led more laps (191) than all the Chevys combined in the first three races. Chevy led 140 of 741 laps in the first three races, but Team Monte Carlo drivers led 244 of 325 laps at Atlanta. Chevys have led 384 of 1066 laps in the first four races. Ford has led 357 laps and Pontiac 325.
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
NOTE: Labonte, the defending champion of The Winston, talks about the increased purse and altered format for this year's all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"The Winston has always been one of my favorite events, especially since we were able to win the one last year. I can't imagine what would happen when it pays $500,000 to win. I know what happened when it paid $80,000 to win. We're looking forward to it. Last year's race was exciting. We started out and kind of struggled and got in a wreck early in the race. We went through three sets of tires in the first 30 laps. We got the car pretty decent for the second segment and felt like we were pretty close. We came in for the last segment and put on four new tires. Jeff (Gordon) and Tony (Stewart) were racing each other. They thought it was going to be between them. They both took two tires and we got four. It was a great night for us, and I'm looking forward to going back. The Winston is always a great show. I can remember running the whole season and if you won $500,000 it was a good year. Things have really changed. It's nice to see R.J. Reynolds up the ante in this event. It's been a great event. All the guys really look forward to racing. It's really our all-star event. When you're in The Winston, you're proud to be in it. You put a lot of effort into it. You're racing at Charlotte, and that's in everybody's backyard. The guys in the shop work a little bit later at night and everybody works a little harder because everybody wants to win at Charlotte.
"Both of them (Labonte's victories in The Winston) came down to a last 10-lap deal. The other one was a Hoosier-Goodyear tire deal. We had Goodyears and they were good for 10 laps. The Hoosiers were good for 30 laps. Last year we put on four tires and Jeff and Tony put on two tires and that made the difference. Our car wasn't handling good enough to put on two, so we put on four.
"We're excited about Gary (crew chief DeHart) being back. He's done a really good job. We kind of look at it as a new team. We've got a lot of new people there. We've got new cars and things and kind of just started over from scratch. The Chevy, we feel like the changes they've made on it will probably help it. We feel like the more we run the car the more we'll learn about it. We'll get better with it. You can kind of throw Daytona out. At Rockingham and Las Vegas our car was real tight and we had a hard time making it turn. You try to overcome that with your chassis and sometimes you do and sometimes you don't. We feel pretty good about our Monte Carlo. It's like any other new car you've ever had. It takes a little while to get it figured out. Some guys can get it figured out from the start. Other guys, it takes a little longer. We've got a little work to do on it, but I think we're pretty close. Gary has done a good job. We had a lot of turnover during the winter, and we've got a lot of new people building these new cars. We've got a lot of things going on.
"Tires are really important, and a lot of times, if people are having trouble, you only have a couple of guys who hit the setup. If tires are working good for everybody, then everybody hits the setup good and the competition is closer and tougher. The most important thing on the car is your tires. They've got quite a facility up there developing these tires and doing a lot of work. They bring the safest, best tires they can every weekend, and that's their goal.
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"You can always have room for improvement for anything, and they're working hard to bring the best product they can.
"I know at Daytona, we had a couple of guys that got hit on pit road by cars that were out there picking up tires and a jackman got hit, too. We've seen things like that happen before. NASCAR'S got pretty good rules there with pit road speed and you can only leave the pits when your car is so close to your pit box. I guess we had a little fire on pit road last week. It just seems like we've had a rash of little problems here.
"The pit box a lot of places we run at are a little bit small and a lot of places they're pretty good size. If a car is in its pit box, it's not going to block the guy in behind him. I do see a problem with the right rear tire that's laying out there on pit road. That's probably where some of the problems are coming from. There are some teams that will deliberately leave the tire out there so you have to go around it.
"We've got a good team, and Bristol is a good race track for us. We're going to go up there and we're going to do our best to have a good run and hope we can do that and do as good as we did last time there. We're going to take the same car back. It's got a 2000 body on it. We hope we can have that right combination again and have a shot there. What happened last year at Bristol, happened last year at Bristol. There's really nothing you can do about it. I wish it wouldn't have happened. I know Dale (Earnhardt) wishes it wouldn't have happened, but it did. You've just got to go on about your business. I'm not a person that lets something like that bother me long. I'd be pretty miserable if I was, so you just go on about your business and hope you have a good run there."