DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 BP Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Blaney will begin his Final Four races with car owner Bill Davis at Rockingham. He'll also be working with new crew chief Philippe Lopez for the first time Sunday. Blaney qualified 16th and...
DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 BP Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Blaney will begin his Final Four races with car owner Bill Davis at Rockingham. He'll also be working with new crew chief Philippe Lopez for the first time Sunday. Blaney qualified 16th and finished ninth earlier this season at Rockingham. He qualified sixth for Sunday's race. "I understood what Bill and his guys were trying to do, and that's fine. Everybody's got to do what's best for them next year. We're still going to run hard and try to do the best we can do no matter what. We had a good day yesterday. Things went smooth from the start and we ran good. There's no reason we can't run good the rest of the season. "Philippe and I have said hello to each other in the garage, but we never really met until yesterday. I've been in Ohio all week, so I didn't get to come to the shop. We got here yesterday morning and talked about what we did here in the spring. "We handled good here in the spring. We stayed on the lead lap and finished ninth. That was a pretty good run. We had long green flag runs. We had a couple of good runs here in the Busch car, so I really don't know why I seem to run well here. You've just got to get the car handling good and you've got to be willing to search around on the track and find a place that your car likes to run. During the race there's lot of places you can run, but you've got to be willing to move around. "The tires are hard and the track doesn't have much grip. You're just sliding around. You've got to make the best of it and find a spot where your car stays smooth and you don't abuse the tires. It's easy not to abuse the tires if your car is working good. If it's not, you tend to abuse them just trying to keep up. "If the car's decent, you stay out for a long run in practice and see how it progresses. You'll see some guys stay out for long runs and you'll see some guys coming in all the time if they're not happy with it. You've got to get it close here before you can stay out for a long time. "I wish I could have finished the year out with Doug (former crew chief Randolph). I felt like we had some strong tracks coming up. Last week I felt like was be a good one for us and we ended up fading a little bit in the race and not running good. We're going to run hard no matter what. "I'll be in Winston Cup until I quit racing. There's nothing else even close. The IRL is pretty cool and I think it's going to get a lot better. I think those groups will end up merging. I'm too old to go do that now. This is the best racing for me. I learned how to drive these cars better this year. I learned a little bit what I need with them and what to do in certain situations. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to learn this stuff. "I think the teams that have been strong in the past took a longer time to figure out what the tires needed. They wouldn't want to deviate from what they've been doing. We're pretty open minded. We'll do whatever it takes to make the car good. It'd be tough on teams that had been winning races. It'd be tough for them to throw that stuff out." "I think we can win here. I think we can win at Atlanta and Homestead, too. Hopefully we can race for it. No doubt, I think we can. I wish Atlanta was more like it was in the spring. We've got a lot of changes to deal with. We've got a new nose, no bump stops and kind of a whole different crew. We had a pretty sporty setup there, but that's the way it goes. "I can't say there's been one thing this season that really stuck out. There's been some days when we ran good and we ended up not taking advantage. Atlanta was one, and we ran really good in the Southern 500 at Darlington. We had two flat tires and came back was running fourth on the last lap and wrecked. Days like that, if you could just finish it off and get a decent finish, it would have been a great day. We haven't seemed to be able to do that this year."
PHILIPPE LOPEZ (Crew chief No. 93 BP Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I just met Dave yesterday. Under the circumstances, things went pretty good. I was joking around with Bill Davis. I told him he dropped a bomb on me Wednesday. I told him when the driver shows up to point him out to me. I need to know who I'm working with. Dave was one of the few guys I haven't had any dealings with in the garage area. Things went OK. The car wasn't right right off the bat. Between me and Jimmy Penland (car chief) who they brought over from the 22 car, we worked things out. Jimmy helped me get my feet on the ground. We made the right changes at the last second and got pretty good. That was the first time I'd worked on a Dodge except my dad's Charger in 1969. "We haven't signed anything yet. Everything came together on Wednesday. I'm still employed by Sara Lee, but since Hills Bros is going to Bill Davis next year, I guess they're loaning me out. Me and Bill will put together a deal in the next couple of weeks. I've known Hut for about 12 years and we've worked together for two years at Stavolas and the 90 car. I was more of a consultant with the 90 car than anything else. "The consulting job was fine, but I didn't want to do that too long because I thought I'd get too far away from the cars. All I've ever done is work on the cars. That's what I've been doing for 14 years. I don't want to stray away from that now. "The biggest thing that's different with Dodge is the aero package. Tommy Baldwin (crew chief No. 22 Dodge) has done a fabulous job getting me up to speed in about two days on the balance of the cars. Give me a couple of weeks so I can understand what kind of animal I'm dealing with. I've worked on Chevrolets, Fords and Pontiacs and they all have their little characteristics. I've just got to find out what it is about a Dodge that makes it run. "It would be great for the people going out and the people coming in if we could do well Sunday. Dave had a good run here last time. He finished ninth. We're going to start right where they left off in the spring and see if we can get better. With Jimmy Penland over here as car chief, he's fabulous. I don't see any reason why we can't have a good run Sunday."