Bristol Chevrolet Racing Saturday Report

Saturday, April 10, 1999. Bristol Motor Speedway. DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Marcis will start 22nd in Sunday's 43-car field. He missed a front stretch pit stall by just one position. "I...

Saturday, April 10, 1999. Bristol Motor Speedway.

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Marcis will start 22nd in Sunday's 43-car field. He missed a front stretch pit stall by just one position. "I was happy with the car Friday. We did our homework and worked hard on that car this winter. We cut the body off of it and did some chassis changes to it. It's actually a car we had here last year. In practice we had run a 15.75. I decided to go on scuffed tires. I know a lot of guys went on stickers, but scuffs were working better for me. I felt like we could pick the car up two tenths when it came time to qualify with the tape, the qualifying oil and a little bit of timing in the motor and take a little fuel out of the motor. The first lap I just tried to be a little bit conservative so I wouldn't get out of shape like I saw a lot of other guys do. It all worked good for us. The luck of the draw went good for us. We qualified toward the tail end. I guess the temperature didn't change a lot, but I got to watch a lot of other guys qualify, and I saw some of their mistakes. The fresh qualifying engine our guy had built. We had taken the engine out we had run at Texas and Darlington and found we had lost a camshaft and it was down about 18 horsepower. We missed those shows by such a tiny little bit. That probably had something to do with it. We ain't going to be able to run these qualifiers as much as we've been running them without rebuilding them. "We got bumped off the front stretch by one spot, but we were happy with the car in practice. We went through our old notes. We actually went back to some things we had run in 1995. I used the old Monroe shocks. There's nothing trick about those. I don't know if it's my driving style or not, but when we put them on yesterday, we picked up a tenth, so we left them on and qualified with them. "We're going to have the opportunity to work on our race stuff this morning because we're locked in. We've changed engines, and I know what it takes to keep a car good and comfortable here. We've got to get things worked out in practice so we can make long runs and not get loose. It's tough. There's so much money here. We're strapped a little bit in some of those areas in what we can do. It's difficult, but this is a good boost for my guys. Everybody is happy about it, and they see some of their hard work has paid off. I'm happy about that. I'm happy for our sponsors, Realtree and Kawasaki. Kawasaki called us from California yesterday. They were watching on TV and they were very excited. "I guess that might go to prove what I've been trying to tell NASCAR all along. They need to throw out these provisionals out and quit giving stuff away, make people earn it and qualify for it. You'll have a better show and the race fans will see the fastest 43 cars. It's quite obvious that it's stepped their program up (Darrell Waltrip's). They have no provisionals left, no previous champions left. Everybody said Darrell couldn't do it and he's done it two times in a row now, so it's stepped up their program. By them having to step their program up and get qualified, it's got their car more competitive and it's got Darrell more competitive. The beneficiary of that is going to be the race fan who buys the ticket and sits up in the grandstand. "The bigger spoiler is going to make for a better race and it's going to keep the car stuck on the track. We've all seen, and I would hope NASCAR has seen, that it's helped the race shows. The race fans say it has. Cars are racing together. Down force is what you need everywhere. Part of the tire problem at Texas was camber-related. Some guys just have to put more camber

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) in. NASCAR doesn't give us the front valence that they used to. So to make these cars turn, you've got to play with tire pressures and you've got to put more camber in 'em. "Camber is if the wheel is sitting straight up and down, 90 degrees from horizontal or the ground. If you tip the wheel in at the top, at the right-hand side, that's negative camber. When you tip the wheel out on the left front at the top, that's positive camber. The more of that you put in there when the car goes in compression, the load on the tire, the way it distorts the tire, it helps that distortion factor not be as great. The car turns better in the middle of the corner. To make these cars turn, like at Texas with the very high speed but the cars wouldn't turn so we put more camber in them. You play with tire pressures, and the tires don't really like that. That's what you had to do to make 'em turn, but that hurts the tire and tears them apart where the sidewall meets the flat, right on the edge of the tire. That's a weak spot there, a hinge, and you lose a tire. NASCAR really needs to give us more width on the front valence. We used to have 76 inches. Now you can only get about 74 or 73 and three-quarters. They've given us the spoiler. They've lowered the front air dams. Those both helped us. Now, probably at a place like Texas or Darlington need to give you a little bit more front width on the valence and that would help nail the front down again and we probably wouldn't be putting as much camber in the cars then. Then it wouldn't be as hard on the tires. "Goodyear can't go back and change a tire every week just because NASCAR changes the rules. That's impossible. So NASCAR needs to get some people that are a little bit educated in some of those areas to help the racers talk to them and be able to make a good judgment call on it just to benefit the racers and fans for a better race. Now it seems like when you go talk to them and you want something like that, they're offended by it. It's like you're trying to get something you shouldn't have. All we're all trying to do is get these cars comfortable so we can drive them and be comfortable and race. "You can work on it and try to. It takes a good handling race car here on long runs. You can't run around this race track when you start getting loose. By the same token, you can't get around here if a car starts pushing bad, either. Right in the middle of the corner, the cars want to pick up a bad push here. It's a fine line. When the racers go to NASCAR and ask for some things, I don't think it's because Ford is trying to get an advantage on us or Chevrolet is trying to get an advantage on Ford. I think we're trying to get the cars more comfortable so the drivers are more comfortable so we can race better. Sometimes they get offended it seems like when you go in there to talk to them because they think you're trying to get an advantage. I just feel like right now, the cars need more width on the front valence. "This is a very tough, very demanding race. I'm ready for it. It'll wear you out, but I'm ready for it. I've been worn out before. If the car's driving good, that's the key. That's the key everywhere. Just the bouncing and the jarring around here and the speed and concentration level you have to maintain here will wear you out. It jerks on your neck. I think you see a lot of guys have the headrests. That helps. It jerks you neck up and down. That's why the seat Dale Earnhardt uses in his car, I don't like on a place like this. It keeps jerking you up and down. It's hard to nail yourself down good and solid in a seat with a lot of padding in it. He gets a better ride than I do, but it also snaps you and jerks you against the belts. You keep the belts tight and let her rip. You're thinking about racing a lot. You get tired. You get worn out. It's the concentration level here that probably wears you out more than anything. You've got to try if you can to glance across turn two if you're on the front straight away. That's difficult to do because you're traveling so fast and covering so much ground so quick. You've got to try to drive as far ahead of you as you possibly can. "I remember years ago I was coming off turn two and the spotter said there was a wreck in turn four. You can't get stopped by the time you get there. You're bouncing and bobbing and weaving around so bad. You don't just jam the brakes on. Somebody is going to run over you. It's a tough deal. "This has been a good race track for me over the years. I've been in position to win this race three or four different times in my career. I did win one race here one time driving in relief for Bobby Allison. I drove the last 175 laps for him and won it. I've had some good finishes here on my own, but I've been in great position here to win several times. With nine laps left one time I had a pretty healthy lead and Dick May blew a tire between three and four and I got caught up in it. I had Roger Penske's car here one time and was very dominant in it that day. A bolt in a left front steering arm broke, and in those days that was a problem. Everybody was breaking them. One other time we were running really good here and on a pit stop a lug nut got down in the wheel and tore off the brake caliper. I've had some tough luck. "The concrete has changed it some. It's made it a one-groove race track. The races probably aren't as good as they were on the black top. Some guys could run down low and run good on the black top and some guys would run good up high. Harry Gant would set up high and run good up against the wall. Richard liked to run high. I ran high on one end of the race track and low on the other. You can't do that on the concrete because there's never two grooves. It seems to be a one-groove track. We have the same problem at Dover. The concrete is not a bad surface. It stays consistent, but it doesn't make for a good race during the race. "You pass coming off four on the inside if you can get your car down low and get under somebody, same thing off turn two. That's two of the better places. It's hard to pass. Sometimes you've got to bump a little to pass. When you're running this competitive, if a guy is all over you lap after lap after lap, you need to just let him go. If a guy is running up on you and can tap you off the exit, he's better than you are. He's got a faster corner speed. If a guy's bumping you on the entrances, I don't think that's right. Anybody can drive down in the corner like an idiot and not use the brakes and bump somebody. "People will disagree, but I think short track racing needs to remain a part of NASCAR. It's important. You can't take everything away. You can't take the apples out of an apple pie. It ain't going to be any good any more. I'd like to finish on the lead lap Sunday. That's the key. That would be a great finish for us. It's damn tough staying on the lead lap here, but that's what we're going to try to do."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The car's a lot better. It's good on long runs. We just put our race stuff on there instead of the qualifying stuff. When you can slow down half a second, it makes the car a lot tighter getting in the corner, and the car has been way too loose getting in the corner. Race pace laps, the car is a lot better. I plan on it (going the distance on Sunday). We put Randy (LaJoie) in there for awhile, and he did a great job. He ran the car real close to where I did. Randy has a lot of experience. He's won championships. I think he'll be a good guy to put in there, but hopefully we don't have to use him. "First and foremost, I think Goodyear makes the best tire in the world, but everything has its boundaries. We've either got to get stuff, at Texas anyway, to where it will stand it or slow the cars down a little bit. We're going too fast at some of these places. This place is awesome. My son Jamie told me the other day, he said, 'dad, I feel for you. I'd hate to run Bristol with a broke finger nail.' I'm going to try it Sunday. I'm going to go until I can't stand it anymore."

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had a couple of problems this morning, but we found 'em. We're not really worried about anything. The 2 car is setting the pace. I ran with him one time and we could catch him little by little. You don't know how hard he was trying. He was working on another car. It's hard to say. I know we'll have a good race. I'm not even concerned about that. In order to put yourself in a winning position, you've got to be there at the end. I think we're good enough to be there. "I've come from the rear here every time, so it ought to be easier. You don't know. The front guys might wreck. Anything can happen here. It's so fast and everybody is just holding on. The odds are for you to stay out of trouble starting up front. "I've got one eye on that man's back bumper that's in front of me. Every time I go into the corner, if I'm going into turn one, I'm looking at turn two. If I go into turn three, I'm looking at turn four. You just learn to do that. They always say drivers have split personalities, so maybe they've got eye sights for both of them. I can drive an inch from the guy in front of me and be looking across the race track with the other eye. I've been doing it forever. I think it helps you stay out of trouble. "This is probably our best shot to win so far this year. I think we could have won at Darlington if we'd had some long greens. The driver has got to have confidence first, but this will be a good shot for us. The next two or three races will be a good shot for us to win. The same guys here are the ones you've got to beat. I finished fourth here one time, and I'd like to better that. If I'm there, who knows what can happen at the end. "We're going to work on keeping the car turning and getting forward bite during Happy Hour. That's tough to do because when you get forward bite you don't turn as good. It's hard to get both. I hope we've got a top-five car. All you can do is fire your best shot. If you've got good pit stops and I felt like I did all I could do and the car is as good as you can get it, then there's nothing to be disappointed about. If you do that, usually you end up with a decent finish. I think everybody is pretty pumped up after qualifying on Friday. At least they don't have to make that long walk to the back stretch pits."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Allison , Harry Gant