For the Goodyear Tire) test in April, you ran the high-horsepower Monte Carlo that was later demolished on the first lap of The Winston in Charlotte. Since you've had to re-group, what car did you decide to bring for this race? "That car (for...
For the Goodyear Tire) test in April, you ran the high-horsepower Monte Carlo that was later demolished on the first lap of The Winston in Charlotte. Since you've had to re-group, what car did you decide to bring for this race?
"That car (for The Winston) was a great car. But we've brought an even better car back. We're ready. We've brought the same Chevy we raced at Pocono. Finished second. This one's even better and faster."
Without any previous data or notes, how do you decide how to set-up a car for a brand new track?
"We basically look at the track size and the bank angle. And then we try to compare it to some racetracks that we've been to in the past. It's pretty similar banking to Michigan. We look at the straightaway lengths and stuff like that and that's how we determine where we're going to start."
During today's practice, what are you concentrating on?
"Since we tested here, we have some ideas. But the track's going to change a lot. It's already gone through a lot of changes just sitting over the last month or so. It'll change a lot from today to Saturday's practice to Happy Hour. We're concentrating on one or two-lap runs today and saving our race stuff for Saturday because the track will be a lot different then."
Because it's a new track and it might be hard to pass, is qualifying more crucial?
"No, qualifying is important everywhere. When we tested, we couldn't do much to simulate qualifying. We mainly focused on the race. So today, we're doing a little bit more towards our qualifying."
Do you think that this first race will be won with horsepower rather than finesse and pit strategy?
"Every racetrack takes the whole package to win. Any one little thing can mess you up. It takes everything. It's going to be a handling racetrack. It's going to have a lot of grip, so the car will tend to push. But at the same time, you're on the throttle a long time so it does take a high-horsepower engine. Fuel mileage will be a big part of it because the tires will be so good that you'll have to play your fuel strategy right. A lot of elements go into it."
What was you first impression of Chicagoland Speedway and what track compares with it?
"My first thought was 'Man, this place is big'. To a certain degree, it's a smaller Michigan. It's fast. Speeds entering the corner are around 200 mph. It's a true oval. It's nice. The front straightaway really flows into the corners good. There's going to be some good racing this weekend."