DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T) Blaney will start seventh in the second Twin. "You can have all the intentions you want, but it probably won't work out. You never know. Hopefully later on in the race, all the Dodges can ...
DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T) Blaney will
start seventh in the second Twin.
"You can have all the intentions you want, but it probably won't work out. You never know. Hopefully later on in the race, all the Dodges can get together and do something good, but you never know how it's going to go. It's so easy to pull out and go now, you have a hard time sticking with a guy. The new rules have just evened out everybody. If the car is handling good, it's fairly easy to pull out and get a good run on a guy. If you get just a little bit of help, you can go on by. It doesn't take quite as much help to make a pass. It still takes help, but you can start it easier by yourself. "The car was pretty good on Monday I thought as far as handling and the way it was pulling up in the draft. Yesterday we weren't handling very good. We tried a couple of things it didn't like. We'll be fine. We're just trying a variety of things to see what helps and what hurts. "There's so much passing and maneuvering going on, it's just hard to stick with the guy you're trying to work with. You can definitely get in there and help the guy when you can. You just don't know when that might be. We blew a left front tire in practice last year the day before the Twins and got into the wall. We started up front in the Twins, and the car wasn't very good. We went to the back and stayed there. It wasn't very good last year. Hopefully we can get to the front and stay there this year. "Everybody here is pretty much prepared when they show up. There's a lot of waiting down here. That's part of it. As long as you can race good, it's worth it. We kept improving the whole second half of last season. We had some good races the last month of the season. It helped me. It helped my confidence. It helped the whole team's confidence. It's one thing to think you can do it, it's another thing to know you can do it. We're just looking to pick up where we left off. We know these Dodges are going to be good. We hope we don't have any little things that will set us back. We've got a good piece to work with. "You almost have to wait and see how good your car is in the Twins compared to what you're racing against. If your car is just real, real good maybe you can afford to wait a little bit. It's hard to say. You can't be too conservative. You'll drop to the back and have a hard time getting back to the front. You've got to run as hard as you can and hope you make the right choices. "You saw the guys on the front row Sunday get knocked right to the back if they didn't get a good restart. We've got a good starting spot and some good guys behind us. Ward isn't too far in front of us. Who knows what's going to happen?"
STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) Compton will start
first in the second Twin.
"When you get out there racing, you hope you can draft with them, but it depends on who gets in line with you. That's the whole thing in a nutshell. If the outside line is moving, you ain't got no friends. If the inside line is moving and you're on the outside, you ain't got no friends. It would be great to say we're all going to draft together. Hopefully we will be able to some, but we're just going to have to wait and see how it works out."
"We're at Daytona and sometimes you don't have any choice who you work with here. You might have to drop your teammate. We've seen it here a lot of times. We've seen Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd. We've seen Mark Martin and Jeff Burton leave each other. It's not that they are dumping them on purpose, but you've got to look after yourself, and you've got to get in the line that's moving. I don't think it's a fair assessment to say this is the first time on the track to try the Dodge one-team concept because a lot of times you don't have a choice. "I've worked with Sterling in practice a little bit. His car is real good, and my car is pretty good behind him. He's about the only one I've had an opportunity to work with. I've tried working with Ward some but it's the same scenario. He was in line, and I was in the opposite line. We never could really get hooked up together, so I didn't get a chance to work with him very much. "This will be my second Twin. We got together with Wally Dallenbach going into turn three and knocked the fender in. We had a push the rest of the day, so that sort of ended our day right there. Here aerodynamics is so important. You get a fender knocked in and you're pretty much done for the day. We didn't finish where we wanted to, but we were able to get in the show last year."
WILL OTHER DRIVERS WORK WITH YOU IN THE DRAFT?
"A lot more than they did last year. Yesterday we were able to work together really good with a lot of cars. We worked with Gordon some and worked with Stewart some. We worked with the 2 and 28 some. It didn't look like they had any problems working with us yesterday. Hopefully that will translate over into tomorrow." WILL YOU BE CONSERVATIVE?
"We're not going to be conservative unless we get shuffled back. Hopefully we won't. Hopefully we can run up there in the top five and top 10 the majority of the day. If we do happen to get shuffled back, we're going to tip toe. We don't want to take a chance on getting this car torn up. We do have a guaranteed starting spot on the front row as long as we don't tear up this race car. We're guaranteed to be in the show, but we'd like to start from that front row starting spot. If we get shuffled back, which hopefully we won't, we'll have to think about it a little bit." ARE YOU STILL HAVING FUN?
"I'm having a blast. We've been busy. Media has been great. I'll be glad when Sunday gets here. I'm ready to race. Things have been wild in practice. I've heard four-wide twice since I've been here. Four-wide at Daytona isn't good. Four-wide in practice at Daytona really isn't good. This is Daytona, and everybody is doing all they possibly can do. Sometimes the helmets get put on a little bit too tight and cut the circulation off to the brain, I think. It gets a little crazy sometimes. It depends on which lap it is when it gets crazy whether you back off or not. In practice, it depends on where you're at. If you're on the outside or inside, it's not that big a deal. If you're in the middle, then you back off a little bit. If you're on the outside, you ain't got very far to go to hit. Inside, it's a good possibility you're going to slow down before you hit. In the middle, then you're going to take out a lot of people. You can't get away from anybody anymore. You're not going to see the cars gets stretched out like you did last year. It's going to be pretty hard to see a car get a lap down unless they have a problem. You can get back 20 or 30 car lengths and if they pull out two wide, you're going to catch 'em. It's going to make for some pretty hair-raising racing, no doubt. You can get away. If your car is off just a little bit, you can hang around the back until you can come in and get it adjusted and then go back out and potentially win the race. It's going to make it interesting. The new aero package is definitely going to make it a better race. "Our biggest adjustment is that we came back with a lot better car. We've got a good group of guys. Chad (crew chief) and I are working really good together and the guys are pumped. We've got a lot better car than we had last year. We're able to draft with those guys now. Last year, they avoided us. This year, they're working with us. "By the way, Mark (car owner Melling) and I got back to the golf course the other day, and I won $40 off him. Actually, we were playing the north-south teams again, and the south rose again."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T) Petty will start 15th
in the second Twin.
"I don't think you can have any strategy going into these races. John and I draft terrible together. We ran in practice yesterday and we were incredibly slow. I couldn't push him and he couldn't push me. For some reason, we didn't work well together. If you watched the Budweiser Shootout, you saw four or five cars go to the front. The 20, 3, 8, 18 and the 88 got up there and messed around, but there were only four or five cars up there. Everybody else rotated between fifth and 13th. They just kept circling, fifth to 13th, fifth to 13th. That's the way it's going to be. If you're not able to break through and be in that first pack, you're going to go fifth or sixth to 15th or 16th. All the help in the world is not going to help you. It's just going to be how it rotates out and where you end up. "There will be four or five cars that will be able to change positions and pull out on each other. If the Bud Shootout holds true, Mark Martin got up in there and they shuffled him out and boom, all of a sudden he's 20th. Cars could get up there and stay for a lap and they'd get kicked out. It's all going to be about being in the right place at the right time at the end of the 125s. "Bobby Hamilton and I drafted good. As long as everybody is running in a pack, everybody can hang on. From Jeff Gordon to Norm Benning and everybody in between can run in a good pack. If they start single filing or get two or three together, it begins to drop people and people begin to drop off a little bit, especially in the later part of the run. It won't happen in the first 20 or 30 laps, but in the last 10 or 15 laps. "Since '96 since I started my own team down here, I've had to race my way in the Daytona 500, so that's nothing different. Some of these guys are panicking a little bit and worried about it, but I think we're in better shape this year than we've ever been down here. So I'm not as worried about it this year as I've been in the past, but we've got to run all day and we've got to be there. All three (Petty Enterprises Dodges) cars are built the same. The only difference is in the springs and shocks. We allow each driver to change their springs and shocks and gear and stuff like that. Body wise, John's car is a little better in the wind tunnel than the other two. Other than that, the cars are all but identical. If we go back to our shop and lay our templates on them, the only reason they're different now is because they rolled through the NASCAR room and they made us make 'em different, but other than that, they came down here the same. "The Twins used to get real crazy. The last two or three years they haven't been that bad. Practice has been pretty calm. Some crazy stuff is going on out there, but everybody has been watching for it. In my heart I'm hoping there's an early caution in our race so we can pit. I think everybody is kind of concerned about fuel mileage, but being in the second race you've got the advantage of watching the first race and knowing if you're going to have to make a pit stop or not. I hate to go to school on Buckshot in the first race, but we're going to have to. "You've never had to make a pit stop before (in 50-lap race). Now we're running 183 or 184 mph and we've got this aero package with a lot of drag. We saw Schrader run out in the Budweiser Shootout in 50 laps. I don't know if he got his car fully fueled when they stopped, but 50 laps is a 125-mile run and that's going to be borderline. Before, you had plenty of window. If they go by the history like they saw the guys pitting at Talladega under race conditions, then everybody is looking somewhere between 48 and 52 which is a very narrow window."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It's an every-man-for-himself kind of race. If you try to strategize beforehand, you can't even do that in practice. If you tell someone you're going to go out and draft with them, two laps later you're not even close to each other. You want to learn what you've got to learn and do what you're got to do. The 125s aren't only a place where you've got to make the 500 but you've also got to figure out what to do in the draft. Here's a time when nobody can just pull off because the car is a little warm or this or that. You've got to stay out there and go for it, and everybody is doing the best they can. If kind of gives you an idea of what you're stacked up against in the Daytona 500, even though you're only racing half the field. "I'll work with anyone who is willing to push me like crazy. I don't know if I can push that many guys. We can get some guys going, but we're still trying to find more and more speed. The more speed you have in the race car the easier it is to be the guy everybody wants to be with. I think it's tight for everybody on fuel. With these new rules, I don't think anyone really knows. It's a big question mark. Can we make it the whole way? I hope we get to go green the whole way and see. If we go green the whole way that means we didn't destroy any cars. "I'm going to race 50 laps. At the beginning I might try to get a feel of where we're at and stuff, but if you fall back, the track is too narrow to get back up, especially with that many cars. I think there's going to be some bumping and grinding and when you do that, you'd rather be in front of it or way, way behind it. Way, way behind it is a bad place to be, too. If they don't do it, you're going to end up way, way behind 'em. It's best to lead, but I don't know if we can do that. We're probably going to be really conservative to start with and as the race goes on, obviously at the end, everybody's got to do what they've got to do. "I think the first race dictates what the second race is going to be like. When you say that, it's almost always the opposite. If they wipe out a bunch of cars in the first one, we're probably going to have a nice, clean race. If they don't, I'm prepared for a wild one in the second race. "You want to be the quickest. You want to be up front. You want to be on the pole. You want to be the guy to beat for the race. I think we've got some work to do. Obviously, we didn't get the pole and right now, I don't know if anybody is an outright favorite to win the race. We're going to work as hard as we can to make the 43 the one to do that."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We'll see how it shakes out. Hopefully everybody will use their head and we'll have a good, exciting race. Some of the guys you'd like to run around more than others, but everybody says that. We don't want to get these cars banged up and have to go to a backup car for the 500. This is the car we've put all the effort into this week. We're going to race hard. We just want everybody to use their head, and hopefully nothing silly will happen. "There's a difference between getting in front of somebody's line of momentum and blocking. If a guy's got a little run on you, a little push, and you pull down on the inside or outside, I think that's OK. But when a guy's got a huge steam of run on you, two or three mph, and they're car lengths very quickly and you pull out in front of them, you're endangering not only your team's car but everybody else out there, too. It's a thin line, but most of the time you can tell if a guy's got a hell of a run, the best thing to do is hold your ground, not actually block. That's probably