RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS? YOU WERE 13TH FASTEST IN PRACTICE ON FRIDAY THE 13TH IN THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSION. "Oh yeah, I'm superstitious. We'll have to get faster in the second session. I don't like carrying...
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS? YOU WERE 13TH FASTEST IN PRACTICE ON FRIDAY THE 13TH IN THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSION. "Oh yeah, I'm superstitious. We'll have to get faster in the second session. I don't like carrying $50 bills. Those are horrible luck. I don't like to walk under ladders, and I keep seeing tails up pennies on the ground. I don't touch those."
ARE YOU OPTIMITIC ABOUT WINNING THE DAYTONA 500? "I'm very optimistic. I've got a good starting spot. I ran good in qualifying. I ran good in the Budweiser Shootout. I ran good yesterday. I practiced good today. We're just going to work as hard as we can getting this Miller Lite Dodge handling as best we can. We've got to make it handle really good."
WILL HANDLING BE THE KEY? "Tony Stewart has the best handling car out there. I watched him work from the back to the front in the 125, and I watched him do it again today in practice. He doesn't have the fastest car, but he's got the best handling car. I don't think the fastest car is going to win the Daytona 500. I think the best handling car is going to win it, so that's what we're working on. It's not usually that way. Usually when the tires are harder and they are more aero dependent you can be a little off with your handling and be fine. You can run and put two tires on and do stuff like that. Now with these new rules, which I like a lot, it's got it back to pure handling. We just ran 30 laps and our right front tire looked perfect. I'd say most cars can run 35-37 laps on fuel. >From what I saw this morning, we won't have to pit for tires before we need gas."
COULD WEATHER BE A FACTOR ON SUNDAY? "It looks like the Daytona 500 might run on Sunday night now. Saturday looks like a washout. I watched three weather channels today and they all showed doom and gloom for the day on Sunday. If it's in the evening, it'll be cool and that won't hurt me any at all. Most of the practices have been in these conditions."
WERE YOU HAPPY AFTER THE 125? "Yesterday (in 125) we had a good run. We had a bad pit stop and it got me three seconds behind. If I could have got up there on those guys' bumpers I think I could have had an easy top-five finish. The car was handling good enough to do that. The guys are back at the shop working on pit stops today, trying to perfect it. We've got two new guys on the pit crew. I guess the right rear was the problem yesterday."
NOTE: Crew chiefs Donnie Wingo and Lee McCall talk about getting their Dodges ready for Friday's practice and Sunday's Daytona 500. Both crew chiefs say they plan to limit on-track time to the first practice Friday.
DONNIE WINGO (Crew chief No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge)
"I'm pretty happy with the way things have been going. We need to get a little better, but Jamie is pretty happy with the car. We've got the tire wear a lot better, but we're still a little bit too tight. In the race yesterday we should have adjusted just a little bit more. We got too tight at the end and it hurt us a little bit. We ran 32 laps the other day and we didn't have anything in the cord. We're going to try that again today and see just to make sure how many laps we can go on the right front. I don't see anybody holding it wide open right now. It's been a long time since you've seen that happen. Some people build cars to come down here and try to race and some people build them to go fast. When you try to be in the middle you get a little tight in the race, but I think you hurt yourself when you try to run it wide open. I think you're going to hurt the tire even more. When you do have to get off the gas coming off the corner you lose all your momentum.
"We're going to make a few changes and try to make it a little better, but hopefully we're only going to run one practice today. You don't want to spend any more time out there than you have to. I think all three (Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates) Dodges are pretty comfortable for the drivers. We're trying to get it where we can get in as many laps as possible and keep the cars from getting tight. Whoever gets up front you've got clean air and it makes a big difference. Nobody can get a run on you. Handling is going to be the key, but it's always the key here at Daytona. That's what you've got to do.
"You saw in that race yesterday that we could run on the bottom by ourselves and still keep up with the guys in line. That was pretty good I thought. We held our own on the bottom for four or five laps without any help. Handling has got to have a lot to do with that. When you get the car where you can roll out of it at a certain point and then get back in it quicker than somebody else, I think that's one way you can pass.
"The laps times were a little quicker in the first race than the second race yesterday. It's going to be hard to tell what's going to happen until you get 'em all together. I think we're going to be good this year. The way we started the second half of last season and the fact we didn't lose anybody, the pit crew has had some good stops so far and everything is looking good. We've got a lot of momentum and we're looking for some big things. We're just trying to fine tune a few things and if it doesn't work we'll go back to what we had in the 125 and adjust from there."
LEE McCALL (Crew chief No. 40 Coors Light Dodge)
"We've been working hard all winter, and it takes everybody pulling together to make it work. When that happens, you get results like we did yesterday. Sterling Marlin drove a great race yesterday. It was like 2001 and 2002 when he really used his head the first two-thirds of the race and then when it was time to go at the end he went. Unfortunately yesterday, the 29 laid back and didn't get a run on the 38 or maybe we could have been up there battling those guys. I was real proud of Sterling and the whole team yesterday.
"We're going to work today to free it up and see what the weather does for Sunday and adjust from there. We'll run the first practice today and then skip the second and put our race motor in. Guys start getting wild on Friday. We've got a good car and we don't want to tear it up. We'll work a little bit on the body and get it ready for Saturday.
"Our three cars are within half a tenth of each other. I think that says a lot about our motor program and the guys that hang the bodies. I don't think any other multi-car team can say that. Chip Ganassi Racing ought to feel proud to do that.
"Our tires look very good. We went 30 laps yesterday and 37 on Wednesday. We have no tire issues. We've been good for 38-40 laps on fuel. I don't think guys will push it that far, especially early in the race until we see how tire wear looks.
"I've got a really good gut feeling about Sunday. This team is motivated like it was in 2001 and 2002. We made some changes to turn things around, and I think you're going to see some good things out of this 40 team this year. Some people may struggle with the new rules, but I think the veterans have seen it from all sides -- hard tires, soft tires, big spoilers, small spoilers. Sterling's driving style will work to our advantage the way he likes to take care of his equipment.
"The way the tires wear and fall off, you can't afford to take a chance on a two-tire pit stop. It'll be four tires all day long for the 40 car. That makes my job quite a bit easier. It was a headache last year because you had to work most of the races backwards, kinda like you have to do a road course. It really makes it hard to take a car that's capable of running in the top five and end up 15th. It's really frustrating. I think you'll see a lot different outcome this year with the finishes and strategies. I think every time you come in you're going to put four brand new Eagles on, and you'd better take care of 'em. Sterling is really good on these slick tracks. He takes care of his tires really good. I have a real good feeling about this year. Hopefully we can wake up a lot of people again. "I hope it's 95 degrees and sunny Sunday and goes green all the way. He takes care of his equipment and when the tires start to fall off, that's when Sterling's the best. I hope it's like a sizzling Fourth of July in February on Sunday."