(ON THE COCA COLA 600 THIS WEEKEND) "We're looking forward to the race. We're taking back the same car that we had last fall that we finished second in and won the pole with. Hopefully can get back there and be competitive this weekend...
(ON THE COCA COLA 600 THIS WEEKEND) "We're looking forward to the race. We're taking back the same car that we had last fall that we finished second in and won the pole with. Hopefully can get back there and be competitive this weekend like we were not competitive this past weekend and try to change our competitiveness."
(ON STRUGGLING IN THE WINSTON LAST WEEKEND) "We just tried something a little different. Our car was just not balanced very good and not handling very good. We tried a lot of different things. We just kind of made somewhat of a test of it. If we had hit upon something that would have been better for this weekend, that would have been great for us. Hopefully we can think right now that it wasn't and maybe what we bring back will be better yet. We just didn't have a handle on it very good."
(ON THE KEY TO LEADING THE POINT STANDINGS RIGHT NOW) "It's been consistency, even though we haven't had that the past few weeks like we had at the first to the year. Still the key is consistency. We've had it probably a little bit better than the rest of them. We've worked real hard to get to this point. Last year we learned a lot trying to make all the right things work and (we're) trying to seal the envelope on every race that we can and do the best we can, and improve from last year to this year. I think that's the key right now. Plus the fact that nobody has been able to win three or four or five races to be 120 points ahead right now instead of three and nobody's been able to do that. So the competition's been there. Nobody has been able to take advantage of anything right yet."
(ON WHAT CAN BE DONE TO MAKE PIT ROAD SAFER) "Well it's kind of hard because a lot of different racetracks have different pit boxes. Some pit boxes aren't as big as some (others). Take California, for instance -- really big pit boxes. Well, you can have those at Bristol or Richmond or Rockingham, so it's kind of hard to make those big pit boxes at other racetracks. That would help out. Even Daytona has short pit boxes. How do you tell somebody they need to remove half of their infield to make room for pit road or they can't race there anymore? So it's kind of tough. The speeds are down quite a bit. It just seems like this year we've had more incidents than last. Some racetracks are a little more dangerous than others so you just have to think about that when you're out there, I think."
(ON WHAT HE EXPECTS IN THE POINTS RACE THIS YEAR) "I don't know. Dale Jarrett ran awfully good Saturday night. He could be the one that wins four races out of the next six or something like that. Somebody could do that. We hit upon it early and lately we haven't been quite as competitive. Some other guys have been better now than they were early. That's no indication of what's going to happen in six more races or in 10 more races. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. has hit on a lot here lately. He could be the one that wins three of the next six races or something. I don't know who's going to do it if somebody does it. I'm not sure that it's going to happen but I would think the chances are before the year's over somebody is going to have five races under their belt. They might not be the one that wins the championship. But to me, right now I would take the one win I have and a lot of second place finishes over five wins and a lot of the DNFs. Hopefully we can put something together. But it's hard to say whether somebody is going to break through and win a lot of races, or will it be that everybody wins to were three?"
(ARE THERE TEAMS THAT ARE MORE INTERSTED IN WINNING RACES THAN WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS?) "Well, I haven't heard anybody out there just trying to win races and not championships. I don't think anybody is going out there and putting any more effort on either win or crash. People that don't win, they still want to finish second. If they can't finish second they want to finish third. They want to finish the best they can. They don't want to have a DNF. They want to run good or try to win. I think all the emphasis is still on a championship. It's just like a slippery pole right now. Nobody can get a hold of it."
(HAS THE NEW TIRE CONSTRUCTION THIS YEAR HAD AN IMPACT ON THE CLOSE POINTS RACE) "To a certain extent. A lot of times Goodyear brings tires to the racetrack that I think are really, really good. But it has made it hard to pass a few times, like at Martinsville or Bristol where the tire sticks good enough where everybody can drive it for at least 40 laps before it kind of gives up a little bit. Sometimes in that 40 laps you needed to pass somebody and you can't. Then you wait and somebody has already checked out on you or pulled away or whatever, or somebody hits upon it. I think Goodyear is bringing great race tires. Sometimes we do have to change set ups.
"Sometimes it makes the cars more equal. A good car can't get much better and a bad car might get a little bit better, and it kind of closes the field up and makes the competition a little closer. Every time there is a construction change or compound change or something, we always change something on the car to make it adapt to that. But you know what? If they didn't change anything we would still change the car to make it better. But it does sometimes make the competition a lot tighter if they bring a tire that's good for everybody."
(ON THE KEY TO SUCCESS AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY) "At Lowe's it's a deal where probably turns three and four are the toughest parts because there's a white line down there at the bottom. Whoever painted it must have been drinking because it's really curvy, so it's like, 'Well, you can't hit that right here because it's going to go up about a half a foot or down a half a foot.' And it's real rough down there. It seems like the track settles a lot. It always has right there. So to me, one and two is pretty good but three and four is tricky, as far as getting through the middle of the corner and exiting to get some speed down the front straightaway. It seems like when you clock corner speeds, that's the corner that makes you or breaks you."
(ON THE COMPETITIVE LEVEL OF THE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX VERSUS THE TAURUS AND THE MONTE CARLO) "I know that I was fortunate enough to win a race at Rockingham and had Dale Earnhardt right behind me. Ward Burton won at Darlington and he had Dale Jarrett right behind him. We both ran good in those races. Ward pretty much dominated Darlington. Those are pretty much handling-type racetracks where tires wear out and you are racing off of the tire more than anything, as far as slipping and sliding goes. We feel like we've been pretty consistent, but it's still pretty tough out there. We're just trying to keep up as good as possible and do the best we can each weekend. Some tracks probably favor the other two makes more than us at some point in time. But if we get to where all the stars lined up just right and we can hit our marks right, that we can do pretty good, too."
(DOES HE EXPECT ANY RULE CHANGES COMING TO HELP THE PONTIACS?) "NASCAR has the numbers, and so does GM and Ford for the wind tunnel test. I was there at the wind tunnel when they blew my car and it showed black and white what it showed compared to the other two cars. I think right now it's just up to NASCAR to decide if there is anything in the future for Pontiac to make changes. It's pretty much black and white on paper, and I was there. I witnessed the whole deal -- not the whole deal -- but my car, and I saw the other ones that were in there. You can't get much more aero matching than that right there as far as black and white goes. Sure, we don't feel like we were up to snuff like the other two, but it's not our battle to fight right now. It's up to them."
(ON WHY HE RUNS SO WELL AT CHARLOTTE, TEXAS AND ATLANTA) "I guess I've always liked that type of racetrack. I've always had a pretty decent set up for them. When I went to drive for Joe Gibbs with Dale Jarrett on board, they always ran good on them so I guess when we combined both of them, as far as a team and a driver go, we excel a little bit on them I suppose. I guess when you like something, when you like that type of racetrack you definitely enjoy it all lot more maybe than some other places."