John Andretti, driver of the No. 14 VB/APlus at Sunoco Taurus, will be starting his first full season with ppc Racing after the team qualified for four races late last year. Andretti spoke about preparations for 2005 during testing for next...
John Andretti, driver of the No. 14 VB/APlus at Sunoco Taurus, will be starting his first full season with ppc Racing after the team qualified for four races late last year. Andretti spoke about preparations for 2005 during testing for next month's Daytona 500.
JOHN ANDRETTI - No. 14 VB/APlus at Sunoco Taurus
HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR?
"I think we've had a good test. We started moving in the right direction on Tuesday and yesterday we crept forward, but so did everybody else so we probably lost ground than we gained as opposed to the competition, although we did go quicker. We need to step it up today."
ARE THE FIRST FIVE RACES A CONCERN AS FAR AS QUALIFYING GOES?
"Yeah. The races we did last year as a new team we got sent home once or twice because of the weather. It's the first five races and anything can happen and one is the Daytona 500. It's not always easy to just go fast here at Daytona in qualifying because you're wide open. Everybody does the same thing driverwise, so that's my big fear, but we knew the hill we were trying to climb. When it comes to Nextel Cup it's not a hill anymore, it's the biggest mountain there is, but we'll get through it. We haven't got there yet, but we've got a few days left for us to work on it."
HOW MUCH DID HAVING FOUR RACES WITH THIS TEAM LAST YEAR HELP IN PREPARATIONS FOR THIS SEASON?
"I think it helped a lot. We got the shop sort of going. We got people hired. We got a lot of things rolling and we got to work together in race conditions, which is totally different than coming to test. Testing should be a little more relaxed. It never is with me, especially when I come to Daytona I get pretty worked up. That's important, just to see each other and do things like pit stops because then we can see places where we can be stronger and work on those."
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THIS SEASON?
"I'm a race car driver and my realistic hopes are to win a race. I think if we get to the right track and all of the right circumstances that we can do that. Do I think that we can be there week in and week out? No, we're a new team and we've got a lot to do and a lot to prove. These teams here are incredibly strong, so we just have to quietly go about our business and, who knows, maybe we'll go in and steal one from them. You never know."
Hermie Sadler, driver of the No. 66 Peak Fitness Taurus, did not participate in today's final testing session. He explained why late Wednesday afternoon as the team was packing up.
HERMIE SADLER - No. 66 Peak Fitness Taurus
ARE YOU PINCHING YOURSELF ABOUT THE FACT YOU'RE ACTUALLY HERE TESTING IN THE CUP SERIES?
"Yeah, the test really couldn't have been any better for us. We certainly want to come here and be competitive right off the bat, but the reality is we're about six months behind most of these guys. We gained a second today (Wednesday). We picked up a whole second on stuff that we know we can go and work on even more and, hopefully, come back and be competitive. We're not at the top of the speed chart, so we're not fully content, but with the progress we've made, it really makes me feel good about the guys I have and the determination to work. We'll get this Ford Taurus where it needs to be when I come back. I feel really good about the potential and that's the main thing."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON NOT STAYING FOR THE FINAL DAY?
"Our main focus is that anything can happen in those qualifying races. Our main goal first is to be able to come in here and knock off a good qualifying run and have something to fall back on. Our plan is to go home and do some work, do a little cutting and grinding, and go to Talladega for a couple days - work on some more stuff - and then come back here. Anything can happen in those qualifying races. Anything can happen drafting in practice here and it would be devastating to us to damage our car. That would put us really far behind, so we made a lot of progress and we want to continue to build on that.
"We're all going to Talladega next week to work on some more things and come back. We've got all week during Speedweeks to work on our drafting stuff when everybody is here and there are 40 cars out there and the temperature is more like what it will be when we come back, but I'm tickled to death. We're happy to be in a Ford. We're happy to have Peak Fitness on board and I'm really ecstatic about the progress we've made."
YOU HAVE FOUR GUYS WORKING ON YOUR CAR WHILE SOME OF THESE TEAMS HAVE MANY MORE.
"Right now, even though we're in the Nextel Cup Series, we're just a medium-sized Busch team right now. We know we've got to walk before we can run. I brought some of my guys from Virginia down so we could leave some of the guys in our shop back at home to continue to work on our stuff for California and Vegas. We can't forget that there are other races after Daytona, so we're trying to use our resources the best we can to do everything we need to do. If you asked me last night, I was a little bit frustrated about the way things were going because, regardless, when you get here you forget the obstacles you have to face. You get on the race track and you want to do the same as everybody else, but, again, there is potential in our car. We've only been working on it for about 10 days and only had a day and a half of testing on it, so it's got a lot of potential. We're excited about that."