STACY COMPTON, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: BASED ON PRACTICE, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'VE BACK UP YOUR QUALIFYING TIME... "The car is still good. This is sort of what we've been telling everybody. We can do this stuff. We just need to get a...
STACY COMPTON, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
BASED ON PRACTICE, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'VE BACK UP YOUR QUALIFYING TIME... "The car is still good. This is sort of what we've been telling everybody. We can do this stuff. We just need to get a handle on the aero. There are a lot of things we're trying to get a handle on. Mike Hillman is doing a really good job trying to get things on track and the guys are working 14, 16 hours a day, trying to get this thing turned around. We can do this. This is a good race team, but it's just going to take us a little while. We're building from the ground up. Mike is coming in and he is changing everything but the color on the floor. It's going to take us a while to get everything turned around, but this shows that when we get to a track where aero doesn't make as big a difference that we can compete. We're pretty excited about it. We're out there racing with the guys that we struggle to race with any other time. I'm pretty excited about it. I think this answers a few questions about whether this team is capable of doing this under the right circumstances."
WAS IT A RELIEF FOR YOU TO COME IN AND BACK UP YOUR SPEED TODAY? "It is. There is always a concern that when you untape these things, you wonder whether you're going to push in traffic or what. Even though this is a short track, aero still plays some role. But, Mike has done a really good job. This is the best looking body that we've had since I've been here.
Unfortunately, we're bringing it to Bristol. But, this is the first car that we've gotten done where Mike wanted to make some major changes and I think it's showing up so far."
DOES THIS WEEKEND GIVE YOUR TEAM A REPRIEVE FROM THE AERODYNAMIC BATTLE WITH OTHER TEAMS? "It does, definitely. If you've got a decent chassis, I feel like you can go out there and run well. You've got to keep the fenders on the car, that's for sure. But, aerodynamics just aren't as important here as they are at a place like Atlanta or Vegas or even at Darlington.
"We feel like we've been off a little bit body-wise, and I think this weekend we'll be back a little bit closer to those other guys, just because aerodynamics aren't as important. This is good short-track racing and that's what the majority of us were brought up on in racing. I'm looking forward to it, I know that."
KNOWING THAT THERE IS GOING TO BE A LOT OF BEATING AND BANGING TOMORROW, DO THE DRIVERS JUST SHARE A GROUP APOLOGY PRIOR TO THE RACE AT THE DRIVERS MEETING? "You just come in mad in the morning. When you unload, you just unload pretty much mad. And you know that when you leave here, you'd better leave it behind you because we're going to Texas in two weeks and you can't take anything that happens here to Texas.
"It's a group apology. When you leave the drivers meeting, you snarl at the guy beside you and you kick the guy in front of you and you think it's going to be a long day tomorrow."
DO YOU ENJOY THIS TYPE OF RACING? "I love this kind of racing. I wish there were more Bristols and Martinsvilles and Richmonds and places like there.
"That is what good racing is all about. I love the new speedways, too. But, you look here today and tomorrow at the fans and how many people show up. There won't be a fan sitting the whole day today or the whole day tomorrow and I'd love to see some more tracks like this be built. I think this is where racing started and I think we ought to go to these places a little more often sometimes."
WHAT WILL BE A GOOD RESULT FOR YOU TOMORROW? "I think we've started already. Getting a good qualifying effort in for the Conseco Pontiac was a big part of it. I think another big part of it is to come out of here tomorrow with a top 15. I'd love to come out of here with a top 15 and I think we can do that. This place has traditionally been pretty good to us. We'd like to come out of here with a good run tomorrow. If we can have a little luck, if we can survive the day tomorrow and not break and not get crashed out, I really feel like this team is capable of coming out of here with a top 15 tomorrow. If we do that, it will be a real successful weekend."
HOW MUCH WILL THE RUNNING ORDER ON TODAY'S PRACTICE SHEET RESEMBLE THE FINISHING ORDER TOMORROW? "If you look at the practice sheet today and you look at the results tomorrow, and I think there will probably be a lot of differences. Depending on where you start and whether you get caught up in an accident or not determines where you're going to finish. You've got Jeff Green, Jerry Nadeau, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Rudd, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin Jeff Burton - there are some pretty good names up front. It wouldn't surprise me to see them up front tomorrow, too."
HOW IMPORTANT WILL TRACK POSITION BE TOMORROW UNDER THE NEW PIT ROAD PROCEDURE? "I think it will be just like Martinsville or any of these places with tight pit roads. The closer to the front you are the better off you're going to be because you can block somebody off when you pull out. Fortunately, we get to run in the Busch race today and we get to figure out a little bit of what is going to be better and what's not, what the pit road speeds are going to be and how it is going to affect us. I think there are going to be a lot of people watching the Busch race today to see how it does affect tomorrow's race."
DOES THE MAKEUP OF THE POINT STANDINGS SURPRISE YOU A LITTLE BIT RIGHT NOW? "Yes and no. You almost always see this early on. Points are so easy to get now and so hard to get later in the year. I think you're going to see things shuffle a little bit in the next three or four races and the consistency will start coming out.
"There's no doubt that Jimmie Johnson is doing a great job; Ryan Newman is doing a great job. They've got great teams to work with, but I think that surprised some people that they've run as good as they have. But, there is no doubt in my mind that before it is all said-and-done that you'll see the same group of regular guys will be right back in the points chase by the end of the year."