Thursday, Oct. 7, 1999. Lowe's Motor Speedway. Advance material for Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500. Chevrolet notes, quotes. KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "My guys are on top of their game as far as the development of ...
Thursday, Oct. 7, 1999. Lowe's Motor Speedway. Advance material for Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500. Chevrolet notes, quotes.
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"My guys are on top of their game as far as the development of RAD (engineering trifecta with Richard Childress, Andy Petree and Dale Earnhardt). We've got the new car coming out next year, and we dropped the development of this car about the middle of the year and put all our focus on the new car. The guys did a really good job with our Charlotte car, and obviously I have a darn good Chevrolet. It might be the best one here. It may not race good, but for qualifying we did our job. It shows we're doing our homework.
"When it gets hot and slippery, I'd say me and my crew chief are trying to get better so we can compete with the Hendrick people. I'm proud of our body development. I'm not going to make a big deal out of it, but obviously the Chevrolet is at a disadvantage to the Pontiacs and Fords here. Obviously, it's hard to make all the cars the same. I think the media and all of us have just realized that Chevrolets haven't run that good on big tracks this year. I think we all got so tired of talking about it a year ago that we just let it lay. With the resurgence of Pontiac and some new drivers coming along, Little E and Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart, all in different makes, Chevrolet, Ford and Pontiac. I think it's just made us to where we've just got to run what we have and try to make it as good as we can.
"One thing I've always learned. NASCAR gives us the opportunity to do what we love under their format. We're competitors and we'll do whatever it takes to win, but sometimes you've got to realize it's a show and you've got to wait your turn. Chevrolet has been awesome for so many years. Then Ford came along with the Taurus and it's got more downforce than the Chevrolet. Now Chevrolet is coming back with the 2000 Monte Carlo.
"My mom always told me that good things come to those who wait. I told mom I didn't want to wait. I asked her where they sold patience. Can I go to Wal-mart and get me a can of patience. It is very hard to be patient when you want to win as bad as I do.
"The Pontiac has a quarter-inch more spoiler in the rear and a quarter-inch more front valence. Overall, it's a great balanced race car. It's like anything. You've got to give a body to a really good team, a team that can really develop it. For example, my team is in the wind tunnel a lot but maybe not as much as some other teams. Bodies are really underestimated by a lot of teams that don't have the funds to develop it. Sometimes you can't make a car handle because the bodies aren't balanced properly. If they're not balanced, you'll never make them handle. That's why Bobby Labonte and Joe Gibbs Racing have really brought that Pontiac up to par. They're a team that can develop things a lot quicker.
"As far as the Chevy goes, I think we're right there on top. We were a little bit behind Hendrick and we might still be. With the new car and the development of RAD, I think we'll be right there out of the gates with them. I really look forward to testing the 2000 Monte Carlo at an intermediate track. My team has done a ton of development. We've done it with all three RAD teams and have created our own adjustable body and have tried everything there is to try. Until we run out of time, we'll keep adjusting.
"I was pretty much convinced by other people that I didn't know what the hell I was doing at this place (Lowe's Motor Speedway). Then all of a sudden I changed teams and qualified third and ran 12th in the Coca-Cola 600. Then I came here and qualified 11th. There's a little bit of hope. Obviously I enjoy coming here. It's like I'm reborn. There are race tracks that people have gone to and never have done good. I've noticed Bobby Labonte has performed well at tracks where he used to not run good. One of them is Pocono. You keep coming to a track and beating your head against the wall and you never run good. Sometimes they can knock you down. It's very common to hear, 'he's not good on short tracks. Or he's better on banked tracks.' I think that's just a low tolerance level for a lot of people. I run good at Bristol, and that's a banked track. All I can say is Andy Petree Racing has shown me a different way around Charlotte. It's really helped me. It's made me competitive to where I can race 'em.
"It didn't slow us down at all (Schrader's decision to leave APR at end of season). It just took everybody off guard. It's really unfortunate that I wasn't able to spend more than a year with Schrader. At the start of the year, it was like rah, rah, rah. All of a sudden, it's no, no, no. It was a little discouraging, but I'm excited about Joe Nemechek coming over. He's got a lot of chassis knowledge. With the development of RAD, and Andy (Petree) is head over heels with the motor program, I wish Schrader the best of luck, but I wish he would have been able to capitalize on what I think is going to be a better year next year.
"I keep my head screwed on straight. I'll win when I think I'm not going to win. I just stay level. I learned that throughout the years. It's like a roller-coaster. As soon as you're excited about something, it all goes to hell on you, so you just stay normal. I come here to do business. If it all works out good, that's good.
"I've wrecked more than four times and fell out of the race and that's hurt me, but we've had some motor problems. There's eight races right there. All the other races we've been in the top 15 pretty much. We've improved a lot. I guess that's one of my downfalls. I've never wanted to stand on top of the mountain and be the greatest. I want my wins. People want to categorize ev erything. You're the A team and you're the B team. The stronger we make both of these cars, the more we're going to get in everything. It doesn't mean a lot for me to win everything. If Joe's not doing good, then it doesn't do Andy any good."
ANDY PETREE (Owner Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlos)
"Kenny doesn't mind being an underdog. He doesn't mind going out there and proving that he's better. Harry Gant was a lot like that. He always wanted to feel like he was an underdog and then go out there and kick their butts. Joe's kind of like the type of guy to can stand on top of the mountain and say I'm the man. I think that'll be a good balance between our two drivers next year. I don't think there will be an A team and a B team. I think we've got a good mix.
"I'm going to be Joe's crew chief next year. This is the first year I haven't done it since 1989. I feel like I needed to step back. The 55 team was able to function on its own this year and it took a lot of my attention on the 33 car trying to keep it up to snuff. I've missed being a bigger part of that. I feel like I need to get back in to it. I'm strong on the technical side. I really like the hands-on approach. I feel like the 55 team is strong enough that they don't need me to have more attention to that team as far as a daily type thing. Sammy (33 crew chief Johns) is leaving at the end of the season. I think we're going to be really good next year. We've got a really good mix between the two drivers and their chassis knowledge and the way they think. I think Joe is going to bring a lot to our team.
"I wanted to sign a winner, and I'm glad Joe Nemechek won at New Hampshire. I kind of wish I had signed him the week before he won, but that doesn't really matter. He was the kind of guy I wanted. He's going to bring a lot of confidence to our team and a proven record. I'm real happy to have him come in and work with Kenny and myself. He's got a lot of chassis knowledge and we can work together.
"I've worked with drivers like Harry Gant that basically tell you every spring to change. I've worked with drivers like Earnhardt where he just tells you what it's doing and you figure it out. With Joe, I feel like I've got a little bit of both with somebody to help me with the direction of the car. That's going to help both teams.
"You never know about a new car. Right now, the 2000 Monte Carlo doesn't look like it's going to be a world beater, but it looks like it's going to be OK. I hope we're pleasantly surprised when we get into next year. I don't know about the Ford, either.
"It's probably going to take circumstances we haven't been able to create at this track for us to win Sunday. I'd like to think we could get a top five finish for either or both cars. A win could happen, but usually the same guys check out. Right now, the Pontiac has the best aero package out there and this is a perfect track to capitalize on that. I see them being real hard to beat Sunday.
"Don't you think it's a little silly we come here Wednesday and have only two practices on Thursday and then don't show up again until Saturday afternoon? I don't know why they'd do that. You have to get ready to go and it disrupts your whole flow because you have to be over here Wednesday morning instead of Friday morning. Now you're trying to figure out how to use the day or day and a half you're not doing anything. Some teams are out of town. We're 100 miles away, so we're just screwed out of a couple of days. I'll probably just give the guys Friday off because they didn't have a day off this week."