California Speedway West test quotes, final day

Notes & Quotes - NASCAR test session Thursday, February 3, 2005 SIMPLY EN FUEGO: To show its appreciation of those who watch out for the public's safety, NEXTEL presented two checks-for $2,500 apiece-to swift water rescue and Riverside County...

Notes & Quotes - NASCAR test session
Thursday, February 3, 2005

SIMPLY EN FUEGO: To show its appreciation of those who watch out for the public's safety, NEXTEL presented two checks-for $2,500 apiece-to swift water rescue and Riverside County Fire Department at a Wednesday afternoon press conference at California Speedway. Riverside County Fire Department, as we know it, began in 1946 with Truman Holland's appointment to County Fire Warden. It has serviced Riverside County for more than a half century, valiantly battling dangers such as last year's wildfires.

LET THE FESTIVITIES BEGIN: Bill Miller, president of California Speedway, spoke Wednesday about the festivities of Fontana RaceFest to take place at the end of the month: "We are excited to announce an event for all of the race fans called the Fontana RaceFest on Thursday, Feb. 24 from 4-9 p.m. The RaceFest is being presented by Pepsi and has been set up just for the fans. We are excited and grateful for the city providing us with this opportunity."

Mark Nuami, mayor of Fontana, also chimed in on RaceFest: "This is a unique opportunity for the city of Fontana. Last year during the Labor Day race, we launched our first Fontana race week where we had a block party downtown and we had three drivers out signing autographs and we had around 5,000 people show up. This year, we will have 22 drivers concentrated in the downtown civic center area where we will be celebrating our new town square opportunity and venue. We expect and we are planning for upwards of 20,000 people this year to attend the event and celebrate as Fontana gets a little closer to our friends of NASCAR here at the California Speedway."

16 QUOTES FROM THURSDAY MORNING'S PRESS CONFERENCE:

KEVIN HARVICK (No. 29, GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing):

"We've never tested here and really only ran good here one time. It was big for us to come out here and do the couple days whether the wind was blowing or not. (Turns) one and two are where you're doing most of your testing. (Turns) three and four, there's a lot of wind blowing, and it's hard to get anything done. But you can still get a lot accomplished and get your car handling well."

"A lot of people have made a big deal about Robby Gordon and myself, but it was like a lot of other things. It got blown way out of proportion. Robby and I actually get along fairly well and didn't really have any problems. He raced hard and I raced hard."

On being a part of a team: "It really helps on the superspeedways. It helps if you're struggling, you can walk over and say, 'My car's terrible. Yours is good.' We'll take the full package out of their car and put it in our car. It's important to have good team camaraderie and have everyone-as far as drivers-get along. We've got to come to a general conclusion that a win for one is a win for the other. There's not a big ego battle. There's not a power struggle with the three of us. We want to go out and make the best of our situation."

"I'm really excited about Daytona. We've always done well there. We're looking forward to everything that's going to go on down there. We're ready to go."

On the drivers' increasingly young ages: "I think it's becoming like any other sport. It's so important to have the next talent. I don't think you're going to see people hanging around as long. I don't think you're going to see the guys that are here now drive until they're 50, at least I'm not. I can tell you that right now. It's just something to where people come in earlier and get out earlier. It's a long season. It's a lot of work. Eventually, it will wear you down, but it's just something that you have to do until you don't like it anymore."

17 On coming home to California: It's nice to see everybody when they come out to the race. I actually haven't been home so I'm probably going to be in trouble with my sister."

HARVICK LIGHT: Kevin Harvick (No. 29, GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing), spoke early Thursday morning about his new schedule in the upcoming year. Channeling his efforts into his Busch and Cup cars (He'll run 20 Busch races), Harvick is planning on cutting out IROC and Southwest Tour races, and trimming his NASCAR Craftsmen Truck Series schedule to just two races (Martinsville and Michigan). Ron Hornaday will drive his truck.

"We've taken a different approach to my schedule this year," Harvick said, "just trying to keep it to two races per weekend. We're kind of cutting some stuff out. We're trying to concentrate on the Busch car and the Cup car."

BELLY UP TO THE BUFFETT: Bobby Labonte, who is testing here at California Speedway February 2-3 along with his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup peers, has been deemed a renowned "Parrot Head." The moniker is given to fervent fans of Jimmy Buffett. Both Bobby and his brother Terry became members of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2001; the same year, a park in their hometown of Corpus Christi was named in their honor.

LAST CHANCE: After today's testing runs, drivers will shove off, and for the majority of them, they will resurface in Daytona at Speedweeks starting on February 10. It is the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Super Bowl, the World Series, the Stanley Cup (albeit currently defunct). And it's at the beginning of the season. Starting it off with a bang, as the cliche goes. "I think it's cool," Elliott Sadler said. "It just gets everything started on the right foot. There's no preliminaries. There's no preaseason. There's no practice games. It's just, hey, this is the Super Bowl; let's see what kind of preparation you did during the winter, and let's go from that."

QUOTES FROM THURSDAY'S LUNCHTIME PRESS CONFERENCES:

KURT BUSCH (No. 97, Sharpie IRWIN Ford, Roush Racing):

"It's been a good offseason. We're refreshed, ready to go. We've done quite a bit more testing than we normally have at this time of the year. We're excited with the way our test has gone. Everybody's up and up and ready to go for 2005."

On Jack Roush: "Jack's a guy that's very hands-on. He's active with all of our teams. He's the guy that keeps us on the same page."

On this year being Mark Martin's last full-time season: "With Mark creating the identity for Roush Racing, it enabled me to jump into a competitive car and win races right away, the same thing for Matt (Kenseth). Mark is the essential ingredient that built Roush Racing. To look at Mark and see what he's done. He's a true competitor. He inspires us to look at him and want to be like him."

On the changes in his car: "On a normal spring weekend, we'll make a change of 50 pounds. Now, we're changing 100, 150 pounds, just to get out of the box, to try something different."

On racing in the Rolex 24-Hour Daytona Race: "I'm going to fly straight into Daytona and I'll be in practice tomorrow morning. I'll get my rest after that. I'll get a nap tomorrow afternoon. It's going to be a long 24 hours. There's no need to too uptight about doing quick lap times."

On the portrait he won at California Speedway: "That's hanging up in my shop next to another nice portrait California Speedway gave me."

MARK MARTIN (No. 6, Viagra Ford, Roush Racing):

On last full season: "We're focused pretty intensely on 2005, the whole team. (The Viagra Team) paid me a great compliment and honor. It will be the first time that I've had such a successful season, that I can remember and not lost team members to other races teams. And it wasn't because people didn't try to get them, it was because they knew that we had a championship caliber team and they wanted to give me a shot at it."

On intensity: "I'm excited and intense because the 2004 team showed it can compete for the titles and they stayed with me. I'm feeling very confident."

"Our team couldn't be better. I believe in them and they believe in me. I just couldn't be better."

On wind: "This is by far the windiest I have ever tested anywhere, anytime."

On life after racing: "I'm 46. I've been racing 30 years, I've been married 20 years and have made every compromise and sacrifice possible to enhance my entire career, for 30 years. I'm fixing to do something about that. I don't regret it, but I don't choose to continue on."

"I have a lot of pride. I'm very proud of the career I've had and the things I've done in my career and I don't want to go out hanging on, just hanging on. I could do this for a long, long time, but it's very important to me to get out when I'm close to the top of my game and it's also very exciting to open a new chapter to my life."

"I truly want media and fans to get the feeling that I gave them more than ever before. I want to give them the respect they have given me over the years."

MOVE OVER, MARK BURNETT: Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, and Kenny and Rusty Wallace will be featured in the greatly anticipated second season of the acclaimed "NASCAR Drivers: 360," an unscripted reality show featuring some of the top drivers from the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Riding the ever-swelling waves of both NASCAR and reality TV, "NASCAR Drivers: 360" gives an unvarnished look at some of the up and coming drivers, families and teams of the Cup Series, focusing primarily on their lives away from the tracks. Produced by Tony Krantz ("24," "Sports Night") and Scott Messick ("Survivor"), "NASCAR Drivers: 360" will run seven one-hour episodes on FX.

BUT I STILL LOVE TECHNOLOGY: While drivers were enjoying their offseason, California Speedway was working diligently to revamp the already top-notch media accommodations. Two rooms were added at the East end of the main media center to provide for more interview space. Right now, the rooms are providing a cozy home for empty Gatorade coolers. But come race weekend, they will house quiet enclaves for TV and radio interviews. In addition, the Speedway's Internet access has taken a leap into the 21st century. High- speed Internet connections will be provided to the individual spaces in the main media center, the Terrace Press Box and the photo center by the time race weekend hits at the end of February.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 15 , NAPA Chevrolet):

On testing: "I think the testing was good. Our Goodyear tires were exactly what we asked of them, like always. I felt very optimistic about our testing and learned a lot about the car. Now we have to go home and dissect it all."

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18, Interstate Batteries Chevrolet):

On coming back for the Auto Club 500: "After two days here and two days in Las Vegas, I think we gain a lot, so I think when we get home we're going to try some things. We still need to be better. Our cars need to be a little bit faster on the get-go, more consistent. But I think we can make that happen."

LANCE MCGREW (Crew Chief, No. 25, GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet):

"Everything's fine. We're just trying to shake down a couple new cars, get a little idea of what the tire combinations are going to do for us. It seems to be that the tire falls off real quick, a lot like Darlington. You go out and you run a few laps, and the tires fall off a whole bunch of times. You continuously lose grip all over your run."

On coming back for the Auto Club 500: "I don't know. It's definitely going to be a challenging race. After you run 20, 25 laps on the tires, you'll be hanging on for the rest of the time. I think the pit may come into play with people short pitting and getting a lot of track position back. It's kind of hard to tell just yet."

-cs-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Kevin Harvick , Robby Gordon , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Kasey Kahne , Jack Roush , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin
Teams Richard Childress Racing