RICK HENDRICK (Car owner Hendrick Motorsports Monte Carlos) "I don't think we needed a wind tunnel to find we were at a disadvantage. Now we've got to figure out what to do. We had a manifold and some things we asked to be approved last...
RICK HENDRICK (Car owner Hendrick Motorsports Monte Carlos)
"I don't think we needed a wind tunnel to find we were at a disadvantage. Now we've got to figure out what to do. We had a manifold and some things we asked to be approved last year for the motor side and they didn't want to look at it. That's really what happened to us with the car. We brought a car out and waited and waited and waited. We showed them a car and Ford saw the car and made something better. Hopefully, they'll react now and we'll get it even.
"I still say give us a long template, common templates, make 'em all the same and let's quit all this and start racing. I think we're a little bit off on restrictor-plate stuff, but I think we could be OK in the open motors. If we could get the aero stuff figured out.. I think everybody would like to see, all the competitors and NASCAR, would like to quit bickering about too much, not enough, I'm at a disadvantage. I think it would be better if... I'd vote for a common greenhouse and all the templates the same, the same overall length. Let's just race, and we wouldn't have to be cutting up cars every year or so. Somebody brings out a new nose, so somebody else has got to bring out a new nose. I think it would be a lot easier on the teams, and I think the fans would like it. They wouldn't have to worry about their favorite driver being at a disadvantage.
"I hope they'll (NASCAR) will do something after this race. I know they have some more wind tunnel time. I don't know if they're going to put the trucks or cars in there. Hopefully they'll make a decision because we've got an imbalance problem. We're going to see that big time when we get out to Las Vegas. To me, it sounds standard to say the Pontiac, Ford and Chevrolet ought to be the same length. The wind shield to the nose ought to be about the same and we (Chevrolet) are four inches shorter than the Pontiac and two and a half inches shorter than the Ford. All we want to do is take ours and pull it out to the same overall length that they've got. I don't think that's asking for a whole lot.
"Richard Childress and I spent a lot of time together and Earnhardt and I did. As a matter of fact, a lot of Chevrolet teams are in our shop working on a nose together. We're just trying to make something to cut the time down so we don't have everyone coming up saying I'd like to have this and I'd like to have that. Along with General Motors and their engineers and all of the Chevy teams body guys are trying to come up with something that will work.
"I'd like to see if we can get this thing close. I wore them (NASCAR) out and they wore me out down at Daytona. I came up short every time. I went in that trailer more than I've been in that trailer for 10 years. I came out empty-handed every trip. I told the other teams that maybe they needed to get someone else to go because I wasn't doing too good. If I was making a living selling cars like that, I'd be broke.
"Four or five of the teams and the Chevrolet people, we're doing a lot of what we're doing based on what NASCAR is telling us we can do. It's a small package you've got to work with there. You don't want to have 15 different ideas, so it's better to get everybody together and say what do you think will work?
"We tested some things when Jeff tested out in Vegas. We pulled the nose forward a little bit and did some work to the fenders to make the front end have a little more downforce. When you get a little more down on the front, it takes a little off the rear. That's what we need. We've got too much on the rear. The overall downforce on the Chevrolet is still less than the other two. If we can get some on the front and eliminate some on the rear, I think we'd have a good, well-balanced car. Just pull it out a little bit longer.
"They wouldn't let us do it (submit the car with a longer nose). They told what it had to be. Something happened. We basically were basing our car, they wanted it 10 percent dirtier or more draggy than the old Taurus. That's the way our car was developed. That car was approved, but Ford came back with a new car that was better than their old car, so the gap actually increased.
"If I was Ford, I think they built a great race car. It was a well-balanced nice piece. If I could get that approved, that's what I would have served up. We were not in that position. We were told what we could do and about how far we could go. I think the time lag bringing out the Monte Carlo, and everybody seeing it and knowing the numbers, then the natural way to do things is to make something better than that. We were really just basing that car off data that's a year and a half old. That wasn't the thing to do.
"I don't think it was intentionally done by anybody. You can't let three people go off in a corner and build something and bring it and it all be even. That's why I think this common template thing would be good.
"I think we could do it now, like today. We've already shown them (NASCAR) what we'd like to do. You can do it with what we've got. A band-aide would be to pull it a little bit. That would help.
"I hope it won't be the same thing here this week that we saw at Daytona. It should be a little better show than that. It's still going to be tire management here. It was obvious in practice, in qualifying, the whole time at Daytona. I don't know why they didn't make a move. It's nobody's fault. We just laid our cards on the table too early, and they (Ford) came in behind us after we were trying to measure up to their old car and they made a better car.
"I was real happy with Jerry Nadeau at Daytona. He ran up in the top 10 and top five. He really used his head, but he broke a shock mount. We've never done that before.
"The same fitting we'd been running for three years on Jeff's car and it breaks. We were competitive. Terry had the top finishing Chevy. We didn't have anything for those top five Fords, but in our class, we would have been OK. We'll see how we do here. I feel like we'll run good."
CHEVY SHORTS -- Rick Hendrick announced Friday morning that his son, Ricky Hendrick, will compete in 15 Busch Grand National races this season in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Monte Carlo and be sponsored by GMAC Financial Services. NASCAR Speedparks, Pepsi and Quaker State will join GMAC as associate sponsors. "GMAC has loaned over a trillion dollars since they've been in business and financed 140 million cars. I think I owe them part of that trillion," Rick Hendrick said.
"It's a thrill for me to know that everything has come together now," Ricky Hendrick said. "Consistency is going to be the big thing for me, and a win is the goal for this year. In the future years, a NASCAR Busch Series championship is the goal."
Regis Philbin asked a stock car question earlier this week on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. The question: "In what sport was Dale Earnhardt rookie of the year in 1979?" The contestant correctly answered the question.
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Camouflage Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We made some gains. That's better than where we practiced. It's a very tough deal, but we'll take it. We were better than that last year, but we'll see how it shakes out. I don't see the Chevrolets busting anybody's butt. They're going to be a little bit better in qualifying, but they're not in the race. You're going to have to manage tires here. You always do for whatever reason. It's very tough on tires. I look for the Ford and Pontiac to be the better cars."
RICK MAST (No. 41 Big Daddy's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The car had been tight in the center, and we just kept working with it. We made some adjustments right before qualifying. I wish I had gone further now. We went the right way, but we didn't go far enough. We'll just have to take it and go on. Tires and downforce. I think we'll see it shake out in this race and we can see where we're really at. I'm reserving judgment. Unless I'm the best Chevrolet, I'm not going to comment on it, but I enjoy Rockingham. For whatever reason, we do well here."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were OK. We actually ran a little better than I thought we would. The car is driving good and the motor is running good. I just don't qualify well here. It's an entirely different deal for the race. We just need to get in and we'll go from there. It's a slick track. The tires really go away. Goodyear works hard to get a better tire here, but it's almost impossible for 'em. We can get 40 or 50 laps out of them before we have to pit, but we always have to pit for tires before gas. The race track gets sandblasted so bad. I don't save the tires. It's so bad on the tires, but Goodyear has enough rubber on them now to make them last. If you save them, you might get three or four more laps out of them. It ain't like 10 or 15 laps."
JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's the best we've run since we got here, so I'm happy. The guys did a great job. We're still fighting an aero problem, and we're trying to get some downforce on these cars. We're trying to get them to turn a little bit better, but we'll get it turned around and run up front soon."
KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were tight in the middle and loose off. That's the worse we've been all day. I don't know if the track changed a little or if there's more sun. I'm a little disappointed because I thought we were going to run faster than that."
DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The car felt pretty good. I didn't think it was going to pick up that much. We made some mistakes in practice and how good the car was really wasn't showing by the times we were running. I told 'em to make a few adjustments and leave it up to me. I think the car is a lot better than that. I did the best I could. I think there's a lot more to learn here as far as the difference in the weight and the power from the Busch cars. I think I can better myself a little bit by getting in the corner a little better. I need to learn some things, but I'm real happy."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"Goodyear brought a new tire here, and it's performing well, so we're excited about Sunday. He (Earnhardt Jr.) busted off a lap. We were talking earlier. We thought we could run a .50 and he said he hoped he could run a .60. He ran a .39, so I'm sure they're pleased with that. It's good to have two DEI cars up there. We've been back and forth all day today trying to make both cars competitive and that's what a two-car team is all about. Those Chevrolets struggled a little bit last week at Daytona, but it's good to be back at one of these slick tracks with our new Monte Carlo. We still feel we have a little work to do in the front panel area. We're still fighting a little bit of a tight race car, but it's going to be nice on Sunday to have a little downforce so we don't slip and slide so much. I think we'll have a good run on Sunday."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We'll just be a footnote when qualifying is over. We'll be lucky to end up in the top 25 (Waltrip qualified 24th). I think we were 40th fastest in both practices. The fastest I had run was a 23.90. I talked to Bobby (crew chief Kennedy) and told him the car was driving good but I think it's too tight. It's too much effort turning the wheels, and I think that scrubbed off speed. He listens to me. I felt like I needed a change in the car, and he provided it for me. I didn't know what I needed, but I explained to him what it was doing and he fixed it. I'm thankful for our communication, and I'm looking forward to the race. I've always raced well here. Last year in the spring we lost our brakes for some reason and in the fall we had a shock break, so I haven't raced here in awhile. I nursed it home both races. I'm looking forward to going the distance Sunday. I think I'm a good tire management guy. I usually run good on long runs when the tires give way. That'll be a key on Sunday. We had a really good car on our first run last fall and were coming toward the front. Then we had a problem. I enjoy this track because you've got a bunch of grooves. You can run from the top to the bottom. If your car is not right, you can adapt and create. I like all that because it makes for better racing for the fans."
TED MUSGRAVE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"Everybody has been fighting a tight condition. We did a few things to take care of that. I had a killer lap in turns one and two. It was great. Everything was fine, but when we entered turn three, the newness of the tire wore off and I should have had a little more right front in it. As soon as I entered the corner, it started coming around and I just had to keep up with it from then on. We lost a little time. Jim (crew chief Long) and I will talk about it and try to figure out where to go from here."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's all we had with the Lowe's Chevrolet today. If you drive the car in the corner another half a car length, it's going to push to the top of the track. If you go in any less, it's going to be slow, and any more, it's going to be slow. I just was fortunate to get a good line and a good lap on the race track. I felt like I might have cost us a half a tenth in one end of the race track, but if you give me 10 more tries, we probably couldn't have done a whole lot better than that. We'll take that and get ready to race."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We've had a good race car since we've been here. Jimmy (crew chief Elledge) made some adjustments just before qualifying that caught me off guard and made the car turn a lot better. It was an OK lap. I'm a little disappointed at myself in turn one. The car turned better than I thought it would and I chopped it a little bit. I'm real happy with the progress. You can see from the first practice session to right now, we're still adjusting on the new car. I don't think it's going to be a massacre (Sunday's race), but I still think we've got our homework to do. I'm not complaining. The car has a lot of potential. It has a lot of downforce. It's a great race car. I'd say Chevrolet is going to be there and get better by the week. Dale Earnhardt qualified great, and that's just about his boy. When you see your kid qualify good, and all the pits are on the front row, that just eased his mind. He had two things going for him. His boy was up there and he had nothing to do but go for it. I think the car is a lot better, but we've got to stay calm. We've got to see what the car is going to do once we get all the tape off of it in the morning."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"It felt good in qualifying. We'll see how it races on long runs. That's my biggest worry. How's our downforce on the front? We'd run good in practice. We'd stayed out 14th or so. Some other cars were behind us, like Dale Jr., and the 17 and some of the other ones. I think the Monte Carlo did qualify and will qualify well at the race tracks, but we're really worried about the front end on long runs. If the front end doesn't go away, I think we can race pretty good. Kevin Hamlin (crew chief) and I are really going to be working hard on getting the car balanced for long runs. We got in here on the first round, so we'll see what we can do in the race. We were pretty comfortable the way we ran off the truck. We felt pretty good the whole time.
"I think we're OK in qualifying. I think racing is what we need to think about now. We're going to need some downforce to race and we're a little slack on downforce on the front of the car. Maybe we can get the balance right on the car and be good. I was pretty proud of that run. I just wanted to concentrate and not run too deep. It was a good, solid lap, just what I wanted."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That was a real good lap. Actually, it scared me a little bit. I had the left sides down on the apron in three and four. I wasn't even on the track. It hooked and got on with it. You've got to be in the gas a long time here to go fast. Andy Petree and the whole crew gave me a good car today, and that's what it takes. You've got to have it. You've got to have all the right stuff. Goodyear has a new tire here. It's better, but it still eats 'em up. The track is so abrasive it just tears the tires up. In practice, we really didn't get to show our best times. The first time we went out on stickers, we had a carburetor problem and had to come back in. On the second run, I had 'em make some adjustments and we were way too tight. We really didn't know what we had until we went to qualify and the car was good. It's going to be better than Daytona. Hopefully it'll be more competitive, but we'll just have to do the best we can with what we've got and see what happens."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's about the same thing we ran in practice, so it's OK. It'll get us a good starting spot. It's going to be a tire race. It always is here. I feel like this is a pretty good track for us. We run good here. So far, I'm pretty happy with my car. I think it's good."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's all we had. Sideways, every way, but we finally got it freed up. We didn't go too far. It was just right for qualifying. It was probably my premiere effort here at Rockingham. I usually start about 30th and we get to the front. Now I can see the front from where we're starting (14th). We had the best Chevrolet last fall and started 26th. Hopefully we can get it handling better than we did then. The Fords still have us a little but, but maybe we can make up for it with good handling."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"The time was good. The lap was certainly exciting. We were tight all day long and kept freeing it up. We went a little bit too much, but it was a good effort. These guys did a good job making small adjustments all day, trying not to panic. We were out of the top 10 all day long, and I told them, let's do it when it counts. It came around for us. It almost came around too much, but it came around pretty good.
"We went over it 100 times, what happened and why. Those nickel and dime things will get you every once in awhile. We know how to prevent it from happening in the future. It wasn't anybody's fault. You can't help when something breaks. Unfortunately, it did. We'll put that behind us and go on. Me and Brooke were talking the other day. I won the Daytona 500, came to Rockingham and won and lost the championship one year. I've been to Daytona and not finished well there and still won the championship. We're not out of this thing. It's only one race. We come here pretty serious and we're looking to see what this Monte Carlo has got in store for us.
"This is a hit or miss place for us. One of our goals this year is to get more consistent at a track like this where we've been really good at one race and not so good at the others. My biggest concerned is finishing. We've come here several times and have had problems and didn't finish. I'd rather be struggling or working on that chassis all day long trying to get it better than have something break. That's what we're shooting for. We know if we finish, we'll have a shot at winning this thing.
"The things we're having to do is very drastic to have to compensate. I still think we're a little unbalanced, but at least we can make changes here. We can do things to compensate for it. We've been doing that, but they're pretty drastic. I'd like to have some help on our nose. Look at the noses on the other cars and look at ours and I'd like to have a little more downforce on that front end. That would help us out a lot. I'm really just thinking about getting this thing in the race like we did today. They were pretty awesome today, Fords and Pontiacs, but we hung in there with them. I think when we get in the race we're really going to find out exactly what we have with this Monte Carlo."