Larry Carter, crew chief of Paul Menard and the No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion, watched his driver win the pole during last night's Bud Shootout Draw Party. Carter spoke about starting first in tomorrow night's race and how the off-season has ...
Larry Carter, crew chief of Paul Menard and the No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion, watched his driver win the pole during last night's Bud Shootout Draw Party. Carter spoke about starting first in tomorrow night's race and how the off-season has progressed with his new team.
LARRY CARTER, Crew Chief -- No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion --
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE SITTING ON THE POLE? "That was good. You go over there and pluck a number of a bottle, so there's a little bit of luck involved, but you have to be lucky a lot of times because that will certainly help you. It was good and exciting for everybody, so it was a good start. So far this year we're perfect."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW THINGS HAVE PROGRESSED WITH PAUL SINCE YOU GUYS WERE PUT TOGETHER? "We've been putting stuff together and getting used to people, and kind of just communicating and talking to Paul. I like doing all that, so it's been enjoyable for me. Paul is a really super-nice guy and pretty laid back, so it seems like he and I are getting along really well. We'll just keep working in that direction and make sure we build him some good race cars."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE? "I think the key thing for us has to do with confidence. I think Paul is pretty confident in his ability and I'm pretty confident in his ability. I'm really confident in the ability of the cars we have, so, hopefully, that's part of the thing when you go into something and everybody feels like it's an unknown, and I feel like we have a lot of things that are known factors that will work to our advantage. I'm sure there will be some growing pains finding the knobs that we need to twist to get things comfortable for him, but we've got some pretty good experience with this car so, hopefully, it will go well."
ARE YOU GOING TO BE DISAPPOINTED IF YOU DON'T WIN THE POLE OR WIN THE DAYTONA 500, DESPITE THE FACT YOU'RE A NEW TEAM? "I hope our car will qualify really well. We've put a lot of work into it. Qualifying at Daytona and Talladega are the only two places we go where the driver really doesn't affect the outcome of qualifying that much, unless he just doesn't mash the gas. I think we've got a good race car, so if our car doesn't qualify fairly well, then I'm gonna be a little disappointed because I think we've put a lot of effort into it and I know we have good engines. Paul ran really well on the superspeedways last year. I've been down here before and kind of knew the writing was on the wall that you didn't have exactly what you needed and you were gonna try to hang on all day and get a good finish out of it. I know we can come down here this year with this car and the driver we have and if we win the race, I wouldn't be surprised. We'll just see."
YOU HAVE BOBBY AND TODD AS TEAMMATES THIS YEAR. WHAT WILL THAT DYNAMIC BE LIKE FOR YOU? "I've drafted with him just like we'll get out on the race track and do drafting. We sit right beside each other at work everyday and we've talked our way through this Daytona thing up until we got here. Our car and his car are very similar and we hope to be able to use some of the success that Todd has had. As far as Ford goes, he's the most successful speedway crew chief they've had. He's sat on a lot of poles at these superspeedways, so, obviously, I've used him as an invaluable resource."
Todd Parrott, crew chief of the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion, has been reunited with Bobby Labonte as one of two new teams at Yates Racing. Parrott spoke about working with the former series champion and his expectations for Daytona Speedweeks.
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief -- No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING BACK WITH BOBBY? "I think it's great. When I heard about it, Max Jones called Larry and I into the office and told us what was going on and I was like, 'Man, that's cool.' I really enjoyed working with Travis, but obviously the experience level he's got and winning a championship, and then in 2006 we worked together from January to August and we had a lot of success at Petty Enterprises. I really enjoyed it and hated to leave, but I had to do it for my family to get closer to home and here it is two years later and we're back together again. I told him when I heard about it that we've got some unfinished business to take care of and that's exactly what we're gonna do."
YOU'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE -- AT DAYTONA WITH A NEW DRIVER -- AND WON THE 500 IN '96 WITH DALE JARRETT. CAN THAT HAPPEN AGAIN? "I feel like we have a shot at winning the Daytona 500, sitting on the pole and doing all the things we did in '96. We had a year of building at Yates Racing with our speedway program and learning all the cars and systems about the Roush Fenway cars they build for us and we put together. Now that I've got all that hopefully figured out, we can bring Bobby in and he can just drive. I'm really excited about it and I know he is. We've talked a lot in the last three weeks since the decision was made and he's really excited, along with our whole team."
YOU PUT SO MUCH INTO THESE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES. WHY IS THIS SUCH A PASSION? "Because I know how important it is to Doug Yates, being at Robert Yates Racing and what restrictor plate racing meant to Robert Yates Racing in general. I came to Daytona my first race and won the Busch Clash and won the Daytona 500 -- finished second in the 125 and qualified third for the Daytona 500 -- so right out of the box we were successful. And the other thing is my dad was very successful on speedways at Daytona and Talladega and always had fast cars. It's just something that I really enjoy and it's a lot of fun. I take it to heart and Doug does, too, and hopefully we're successful while we're here at Speedweeks."
HOW HAS IT BEEN WORKING WITH LARRY CARTER AND THE 98 TEAM? "It's gonna be great. We've been together ever since we started this deal -- basically when I came back from a little vacation on Dec. 1. We've been together and we talk about everything. We share all the information. I tell him what I'm doing and tell him what I'm doing on his speedway cars and he says, 'OK, I don't care. You just go do it,' so we've had great communication and I think having Paul and Bobby and Travis back in the mix, I think it's gonna be really strong for our organization to have three classy drivers and know that they're out there and they're teammates. Now they have somebody they can work with -- also with the Roush Fenway Fords -- but there are three of them and that's what it's going to take. We saw last year that Penske had the 2 and the 12 working together and won the Daytona 500, so this year we've got the 28, 98 and 96 and hopefully one of the three wins."
IT'S A CASE OF NOT IF BUT WHEN YATES RACING GETS ITS FIRST WIN? "Oh yeah, I think so. Me and Bobby talked about it Wednesday before coming down and said, 'What are your goals?' He hadn't ask me that yet, so I said, 'To win two races and make the chase.' And he said what he planned was to win one race and make the chase, so we're on the same wavelength. We just want to run good and finish well and be around at the end of 26 races and hopefully be in the top 12 and make the chase."
Paul Menard, driver of the No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion, will start on the pole for tomorrow night's Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Menard spoke about being the luckiest driver at last night's drawing before Friday's first practice session.
"It's a great way to start the year. Just being in the Shootout first off is pretty exciting. This is gonna be my first one and to have all the guy working on that car and then we can translate a lot of that to our 500 car, too, so it will be a big test session for us. We'll learn a lot and just have some fun."
DID YOU HAVE THAT BOTTLE PICKED OUT? "I had my eye on that one basically since we sat down. I was gonna grab one of the end bottles and somebody had already grabbed the other side so once that happened, I knew which one I was gonna pick right away. The biggest thing is my hands were frozen, so I was trying hard to keep my hands from shaking so I could pick it up, but it all worked out."
SO WHAT'S YOUR PLAN AS FAR AS STARTING THE RACE TOMORROW NIGHT? "You just want to have a good, clean start. I was on the pole in July here and it was a lot hotter, but the bottom line was still good then and the bottom line is gonna be really good tomorrow night, I think, with it being colder. It's the shortest way and you're gonna have the grip to make the car stick down there, so if we get a good, clean start and get through the gears and hug the bottom and make them pass us the hard way."
IT WOULD BE NICE TO LEAD THE WHOLE RACE, BUT THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN IN RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING. WILL IT BE GOOD TO GET BACK IN THE PACK TO SEE WHAT YOUR CAR CAN DO? "Obviously, you'd like to lead the whole thing, but if we do get shuffled to the back then it's time to play around a little bit and try some stuff. We'll do that in the two practice sessions today. Usually in these draft session I'll go to the back and try to see if I can work my way up through there, as opposed to starting up front and just staying there. We'll play around with it and if the car drives good it should make my job pretty easy."
-credit: ford racing