DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "It looks like we just lost the front end coming off turn four, not really sure if a tire went down or what. The car just took off towards the wall. The more you...
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "It looks like we just lost the front end coming off turn four, not really sure if a tire went down or what. The car just took off towards the wall. The more you let off the gas, the harder it slides. We got in the wall a little bit but we are going to fix that car and get it ready for the 150s."
HAVE YOU HAD ANY TIME TO ENJOY YOUR SHOOTOUT WIN? "A little bit. Had a little bit of time to do that but now it is time to move on. We have got a big race to get ready for with the 150's and then the 500. I am looking forward to it and pretty excited about this weekend."
DO YOU HAVE A GAME PLAN FOR THE 150? "We are going to see how it unfolds. We have a good starting spot so we are in pretty good shape there. We want to finish the deal and get a good starting spot for the 500 on Sunday. I know if we start up front, we can stay there.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE DIFFERENCE IN THE RACING AND DRAFTING IN THE 150 THAN IT WAS IN THE SHOOTOUT? "I don't think there will be a huge difference. It will be toned down a little bit but other than that, it is pretty much the same race."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
WITH REGARD TO BUMP-DRAFTING, HOW WAS PRACTICE TODAY? "Oh, it was calmest day I've had here at Daytona in a long, long time. It was actually nice and pleasant."
ON NASCAR POSSIBLY PENALIZING DRIVERS FOR BUMP-DRAFTING IN THE DAYTONA 500: "I'm for it. I question how you're going to make a judgment call and how you're going to make that call and what constitutes a penalty because there are some circumstances when you've got a guy pushing you from behind and you might run into the guy in front of you. They've got to be careful with that. In the instances where guys are going it through the tri-oval and the corners, I think it would be very easy for them to make a good call on that. I'm for it. I've been asking for the past year -- maybe even longer, every since the bump-drafting started -- to do something before it got out of control. Or, after it did get out of control, let's do something. Either change the way the bumpers are so you can't do it, or...
"The thing I support NASCAR far is they've at least tried to give the drivers the benefit of the doubt to control it on their own. But as we all know, that doesn't happen very often. We're competitors out there and we're going to do everything we can to get an advantage. Once it's started, you've got to do it as well. You don't have a choice."
WHAT IS 'OVER-ZEALOUS' BUMP-DRAFTING? "Well, it happens all the time and that's my question. How are they really going to know what is and what isn't? There are so many instances out there. Obviously, anything in the tri-oval or the corners is completely out of line and shouldn't happen. You've got a ton more momentum than the guy in front of you and you don't even check up, you just run straight, square into the back of him and you start to see the guy get out of control. Then, that's obviously out of control and too much.
"I don't know. I haven't talked to NASCAR to see how they're going to govern that. But I am curious to talk to them about it."
IS BUMP-DRAFTING AN EVIL OR AN UNNECESSARY EVIL? "Well, it's just something that's evolved. I think it's an evil. I think there are ways to pass without bump-drafting. It just takes a little bit longer. I think that what's happened, we've found ourselves getting more and more competitive among cars out there. You get side-by-side and guys know how to block the passes up the middle and different things. So we found ourselves starting to use our bumpers. And then they started putting quarter-inch steel plates in the bumpers so we could use them more. Once that starts happening, you're not going in the right direction. Then you're just bumper-cars going 190 mph out there.
"I've never been for it, but unless they do something about it, I've got to be a part of it. I don't have a choice. That's the way racing has evolved. And until they do something, I'm going to go along with it because I'm a competitor. I want to win."
ON TONY STEWART'S POST BUD SHOOTOUT COMMENT? "I've made many comments. Just because I didn't do it after the race the other day, it's not like this all of a sudden came out of nowhere. I really was hoping that last year after the October race in Talladega, when we saw so many crashes and incidents. I was shocked that over the off-season that nothing was done. We're not going to control it ourselves. Somebody has got to step in and do something. I at least give them (NASCAR) the benefit of the doubt that they wanted to try to see if we could handle it on our own, but it didn't work out that way. Right now, this is the best answer. We'll just see how it goes.
"But I said something in the Media Center the other day prior to the Bud Shootout. And then afterwards, somebody made a comment that, 'Jeff was the first one to bump draft'. When Tony is out there driving the car, he needs to be careful how he uses those terms because I said something in regards to the bump-drafting, and it happened out there on the race track about 30 minutes later. And then everybody is saying something and then all of a sudden, everybody is doing it. Nobody is innocent in the bump-drafting scheme of things."
ON THE PENALTY OF THE NO. 48 LOWE'S TEAM, IS NASCAR MAKING A STATEMENT? "Obviously, they are. These guys spend all winter long doing everything they can to build the fastest race car for Daytona within the rules and pushing the limits of those gray areas. Chad (Knaus, crew chief) is the best at doing that. It's unfortunate that happened, but NASCAR is cracking down on those things and if they find something they've got to set the precedent for the rest of the field and also for the rest of the season."
THE PENSEKE GUYS HAVE SAID IF THEY GOT CAUGHT LIKE THAT, THEY'D PROBABLY BE FIRED "I don't have all the answers to that. I think that (with) Chad's past, he might have more of a target on him going through that inspection. He's known for pushing the limits and you want a crew chief out there that pushes the limits. But there is a limit and you've got to know where that limit it."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS
ON BUMP-DRAFTING: "I think bump-drafting is something that the drivers have definitely taken too much freedom with. It used to be used in a special situation -- an every now-and-then kind of thing. It used to be when people sun up behind you and gently push you. But now, they just knock the hell out of you and it's used every lap. Before, people were much more concerned about the timing of it and making sure you did it right. We've done that for so long that now people just do it all the time. I think it has gone past where it needs to go. One minute we're screaming at NASCAR for making too many rules and the next minute we're screaming at them for not making enough rules. I think at the end of the day, this falls on the drivers' shoulders. But you can't have bumper systems behind the noses that are any less than what we have at California or Las Vegas or any other race track we go to. There is no question that the teams have gone to much more rigid and sturdy and strong bumper braces than we run at every other race track and that we ought to have things that are similar to what we run at other race tracks that will slow them down some. You can't eliminate it. That doesn't make any sense. There is some absorption there for impact and there is a safety issue there.
"Tony's (Stewart) point should be well taken. He said it really loud and in a way that you couldn't miss it, but the conversation has been going on for quite some time. But we have reached a point that anytime somebody touches somebody, they immediately point to you and say, 'Hey, he was trying to bump-draft.' I don't think that's the case all the time. Last year at Talladega, there were a lot of people who said, 'Hey, all those wrecks were caused by bump-drafting.' I disagree. I think people put their bumpers where their didn't belong. In most of those cases, they weren't trying to bump draft. They misjudged the distance in much the same way wrecks happen in California or anywhere else we go to. So, every time a wreck happens, it's not the fault of bump-drafting. Although, bump-drafting has gone too far. There's no question."
ON NASCAR POLICING BUMP-DRAFTING: "I think it's NASCAR's place to say, 'Hey look. You guys are complaining about it, so we're going to help you with it and if you bump-draft somebody and it causes an issue, we're going to penalize you'. In my opinion, you can't bump-draft cars into position to have to make the call every single time somebody pushes somebody. As long as the result's okay, then no harm no foul.
"The only way to say for this race we'll stop, is for NASCAR to step in and penalize you. If you run into the back of somebody and you caused a wreck, we're going to penalize you. It's a tough situation. I think the drivers need to huddle up and do go. Let's be smart about this. Let's use good judgment about this. It's not wrong to do it, it's just wrong to do it all the time in all circumstances."
DALE EARNHARDT JR SAID THIS WAS ONLY A BIG PROBLEM IN SPRINT-TYPE RACES LIKE THE BUD SHOOTOUT AND NOT IN THE DAYTONA 500. DO YOU AGREE? "I agree 100 percent. It's much more aggressive racing. As far as the Cup race goes, if you get a re-start with 20 laps to go, it's going to be just like you saw (in the Budweiser Shootout). There's no question about that. I think that the Cup race, because it's 500 miles and because the points do matter and people want to transfer to the Daytona 500 -- they don't want to get their back-up cars out, that these (Duel) races are much more tame than what you saw on Sunday. But we still have to be cautious not to blame every wreck on bump-drafting."
HOW IS YOUR NEW MONTE CARLO SS HANDLING? "When we tested our new Monte Carlo SS here in January, I was very happy with it. It seemed to handle very well, which is mostly what I'm concerned about. A lot of race cars, when you get beside another car, they really just fall out very badly. This car seems not to fall out quite as badly as last year's car. I think Chevrolet did a great job on setting the goals that they wanted the new Monte Carlo SS to do, and I think it'll do it. I think it's an improvement over last year's car. It drives better. It goes faster. And I think we'll see those results both in the Daytona 500 and throughout the year. Hopefully we can outshine this accomplishment."
ON RULES VIOLATIONS "There has been a lot of cheating going on at Daytona and Talladega, and it would be unprofessional of NASCAR not to take a tremendous amount of time to make sure everything is right. The main fabric of our sport is integrity. If we don't have a level playing field across the board, then we don't have integrity. So it's their job to give us the rules and then make sure we obey them."