At the conclusion of the first day of Dodge testing, Stacy Compton is posted second on the time sheet with a 49.953-second/180.169 mph lap around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway.
YOU WERE FAST OUT OF THE BOX, AND STAYED QUICK ALL DAY
"I sort of had an uneventful day, the driver doesn't do much here at Daytona. We've got a good car, good equipment, good motor. I think we've got a good combination. We're pretty excited about the way we unloaded. We've got a little ground to gain, but we've got another day yet. We tried a lot of things today. We unloaded good, and we backed it up every time we went out. We made a lot of changes and learned a lot. People say they look a lot like Fords, but I tell ya', it doesn't react at all like a Ford. We tried a lot of stuff that we tried last year and nothing seems to work as far as that's concerned. But, the cars I think are gonna be pretty good. They're balanced real well. They may not have the big downforce numbers that the Fords and Chevrolets have right now, but I think they're gonna race real good. We're pretty happy so far. We made some huge gains from where we thought we were gonna be when we unloaded."
WAS THIS AN UNKNOWN SORT OF DAY, OR DID YOU HAVE A BASIC IDEA OF WHERE
YOU WOULD BE?
"I think we had a basic idea from where the Fords and Chevys ran, plus we were fortunate to be able to come here last October and test another car. That car wasn't that good, so we learned what we didn't want to do. We took that car to the wind tunnel, it didn't show what we were hoping. We built a new car, and this car showed considerably better and it's running considerably better. The wind tunnel doesn't lie. So, I don't know if it was an unknown -- I think we had a grasp on where we thought we should be, and then with the Chevys and Fords already being here, we had an idea what to shoot for. The conditions are a little bit different, it's a bit warmer today (than they were when the other manufacturers were here), but I think we had an idea of where we needed to be -- we just didn't know where we would be."
WHAT DOES YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH DODGE MEAN TO YOUR CAREER PERSONALLY?
"Obviously for Melling Racing and Kodiak, it's huge, and for me as well. In 1999 when I switched to Dodge (in the Truck Series), I don't know if it turned my career around, but it certainly helped it. We had some strong showings, six poles and 17 or 18 top-fives, had a shot at winning the truck championship. Being involved with Dodge is huge for me because I've been involved with them before and I know what kind of organization they've got. I know how dedicated they are to the program and I feel like we'll have a shot to run with these guys week in and week out."
IS BEING PART OF THE DODGE PROGRAM A DISADVANTAGE OR AN ADVANTAGE
FOR A SINGLE-CAR TEAM LIKE MELLING RACING?
"I think it's probably an advantage for us. It's almost impossible these days and times to compete against the multi-car teams. I think we can benefit more from this than the multi-car teams because all of the sudden now we've become part of a 10-car team. We're not just a one-car team any more, and Dodge's one-team' concept really works. It has certainly helped us -- with the wind tunnel, the teams have really communicated well up to this point. But, come race day, it's gonna be a different story. Everybody's going to try to win races, but still yet, when we're here at Daytona I feel like the Dodges will really work together. So, I think it's been a big benefit to me and to Melling Racing because we are part of a multi-car team now."
THE DODGES ARE STILL A LITTLE SLOWER ON THE TIME SHEET THAN THE OTHER
MANUFACTURERS, ARE YOU CONCERNED?
"I don't know exactly what the other guys ran on their first day, but that certainly concerns us. We feel like we need to be a little bit better. The conditions were a little bit cooler for them. We certainly feel like we can gain a little bit by the end of tomorrow. We got a baseline of where we thought we needed to be, and then we started working on aero things and really didn't try to make a qualifying run. I feel like by the end of the day tomorrow we'll be close."
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO QUALIFY?
"You really want me to answer that (laughing)? Obviously it'd be nice to have a Dodge front row so we don't have to worry about the 125s. I'm gonna take a shot in the dark, but I'd say a 48.50 when it's all said and done."