NOTES FROM TUESDAY, APRIL 23 TEST SESSION DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Wallace, Hillin test at Daytona for Talladega and July 6 Pepsi 400
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 23) -- NASCAR Winston Cup drivers Mike Wallace and Bobby Hillin spent the first day of a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway Tuesday breaking-in a pair of new Ford Thunderbirds at speeds in the 181-182 mph range for the April 28 Winston Select 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and the Saturday, July 6, Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Wallace's Donlavey Racing T-bird replaced the car that was wrecked in the season-opening Daytona 500. Hillin's Jasper Motorsports car replaced the Ford that was damaged in the first Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race for the Daytona 500. Hillin said that car had been converted into one that would be used at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Wallace's team did extensive motor R&D work on Tuesday, trying three different engines. The test will conclude on Wednesday. A section of the Oldfield Grandstand will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at no charge with access through the Visitors' Center. Guided tours of the Speedway will also be offered from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. =20 MIKE WALLACE (No. 90 Heilig-Myers Ford) -- ON THE TEST: The reason we're here is that we wrecked our speedway car here in February during the 500. We just got a new speedway car done and we don't want to go to Talladega (for April 28 Winston Select 500) without at least running it a few laps. We finished the car too late to be able to go to Talladega for testing. The guys got the car done last week. Then we had to go to Martinsville. That left us a couple of days where we could come here to Daytona and get everything all lined up It's a totally brand new car from the ground up. It should be a good car and roll off good. The team took a lot of time building what is its first complete superspeedway car. This is the first time I've had a brand new speedway car. We're hoping for something special -- a little better than what we had. We've run pretty good on the superspeedways -- now we're hoping to win a race. The way things are going anymore there's qualifying and then there's the race itself. We lease motors from Power Tech Engines in Concord (N.C.). The engines were good here in February. We had a top 10 car here in February until we cut a tire and ended up wrecking off (turn) two.
ON THE SEASON: The biggest change this year is that crew chief Bob Johnson and myself have had some time to work together finally. We're understanding each other, I believe, to a certain degree. We've struggled this year. We've had good runs, but in the middle of them we've had mechanical problems that have bit us. We've missed making a couple of short track races and that's pretty disappointing. We got that problem changed around and went to Martinsville where we qualified pretty decent. We were running well when we broke a rear end gear. It seems any time we're running good and have a shot at gaining a bunch of points something goes wrong. This is a tough sport and a tough business. We=FEve just got to work hard and keep on digging on it. =20
BOB JOHNSON (Crew Chief No. 90 Heilig-Myers Ford) -- ON COMMUNICATION: Good communication between the driver and the crew chief makes a big difference. It takes a while. It doesn't happen overnight. It'll take a half a season, really, for things to fall into place. It's been real good so far.
BOBBY HILLIN (No. 77 Jasper Engines Ford) -- ON THE TEST: We started out with a set-up where we were trying to get the spoiler down out of the air and we just kinda messed up. The fenders were rubbing -- the same problem we had during Speedweeks. We got that problem fixed but we've only had two chances to make speed runs. Tomorrow's gonna be our key day to find some speed. Right now we're not there. This car was finished at 1 o'clock last night (Tuesday morning). The truck driver actually got here the same time we arrived on the plane. It's been one of those times.
ON THE SEASON: It's been a frustrating year -- up and down (qualifying for only four of eight races). The spirits on the team are about as good as you'd expect. We're just trying to get back to square one, really. We've got two good sponsors, Jasper and Federal Mogul. They're sticking with us and in the second half of the season we're hoping to make them proud. Talladega (site of his only Winston Cup victory) is a good place to turn things around but you've got to have a good, fast car. That's why we're down here. If we can get the car fast I think we can get to Talladega and do big things.
ON THE STATE OF NASCAR WINSTON CUP RACING: Let me put it this way: Before the year's out, I believe a provisional starter will win a race. Ernie (Irvan) was a provisional starter (in the Goody's Headache Powder 500 at Martinsville) and he finished second. That'll give you an idea of the competitive level of Winston Cup. It's never been this way before... We said it three years ago, two years ago, last year and we continue to say it. It's tough!