Chevrolet Daytona Gatorade 125's notes

Dale Earnhardt, No. 3 GMGoodwrench Services Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 3rd in Race1): "One-lap restart, two-lap restart, guys like that you can't do anything with it. Yeah, we looked pretty good. It's just I think the guys ought to not...

Dale Earnhardt, No. 3 GMGoodwrench Services Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 3rd in Race1):
"One-lap restart, two-lap restart, guys like that you can't do anything with it. Yeah, we looked pretty good. It's just I think the guys ought to not lay back until the end."

Robby Gordon, No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 23rd in Race 1):
"The car was really running good. We're not sure what happened. We might of broke a motor."

Jeff Gordon No. 24 Dupont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 6th in Race 1):
"Jerry Nadeau and I have been working real well together. We worked well together today and if I would have had him with me, or me with him, I know who would have won the race. It would have been a Hendrick car."

Are the Fords at a disadvantage?
No, nobody is at a disadvantage. I'll tell you what. All the cars are equal, but you've got to have somebody to work with you. I saw Dodges working with other Dodges, other Chevys working with other Chevys, and I didn't see too many Fords working together. And unless you get guys working together, you're not going to do anything."

Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 2nd in Race 1):
"This is definitely a good car. I knew it would run strong. Today showed how well this race team is. And that thing illegal. We weren't the only team that got in trouble. There were 18 other guys out there. Unfortunately ours was a little bit bigger deal, but hey, we'll pay the price. We'll go out there and attack it. It's part of the sport. Everybody's going to take a chance.

Starting from the back of the pack, what was working for you out there today?
"Well I think the new aero package that NASCAR put out helps everybody and makes for a lot better racing. People can pass. It showed that today. I went from to the front, from the back to the front I don't know how many times. But it's a little bit more frightening than it's ever been here at Daytona. Even though we're going slow, its amazing how close we are and how much bumping there is. That's just a taste of what the500's going to be like. I think it's going to be amazing. I think that's why these race fans are out there paying$150 a seat. I tell you, I'd pay $1000 to sit up there and watch it. This place is a little frightening for the drivers, but then again it puts us on our toes and we go out there and do the best we can for the team."

Joe Nemechek, No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 16th in Race 1):
"We're just having trouble these past two races. The car just isn't right. We're not having much luck."

Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 9th in Race 1):
"That last adjustment just wasn't what I needed. Overall we were surprisingly loose. I didn't need those cautions because we were shining on the long runs. My car was awesome on the long runs and great low in (turns) three and four. We didn't execute perfectly today. The Chevy's drafted well together. We probably had a push because of the hole in the left front (from a run-in with Sterling Marlin, No. 40).

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 2nd in Race 2): "We got some help from Jeff Burton and you know, the guys helped me out. He (Burton) kept us up there. We about fell back, a couple of spots there, but he kept pushing us. I got right on Mike (Skinner) on the back straightaway. He blocked pretty good. It was kind of like Talladega last year. It was pretty interesting. My car got real loose -- it did the same thing in the Budweiser Shootout. We put a new set of tires on it, and they were good.

"We had a good car. I've been practicing real well, and it really showed. I think the car's a top five car, just as long as I can make the right decision. I didn't really like being on the bottom there at the end. I was kind of bound up, but Jeff Burton stuck with me and didn't leave me. He hung with me and helped me stay up there. So you know, he's a lot better guy than I probably give him credit for."

Was it evident that tires and handling are going to be critical on Sunday?):
"I think just the first set of tires was real loose. Once we changed tires, it was just like the Budweiser Shootout we were a little too tight. I don't know what to tell you. I think it's just for the first set. The first set out there, everybody's loose, and taking air off each other. After that, after about 50 laps, get single file, your car snugs-up."

What's it going to take to win on Sunday?): "For the first300 miles, the first 25 laps of a tire run, everybody can pretty much run wherever they want to. But the last 25laps of a tire run, the tires get slick and the cars start sliding around a little bit and you really can't run side-by-side. You can't pass guys with ease like you could when you had better grip with a newer tire. I think you seen it in both (125)races. We ran side-by-side and three-wide and what-not for the majority of the first 25 laps of a tire run, and the last 25 laps of the tire run, your car slides around so much you pretty much got to fall in line. What we did in the Shootout, and what we did today, was kind of sit in line and wait for somebody up front to make the mistake of pulling out to pass somebody. And then we just left him out there. Everybody just kind of moved up."

Is this a driver's track?
"The driver really does a lot here -- more so than people really give him credit for. There is a handling factor to this racetrack. (Turns) three and four are pretty much the same thing as three and four at Talladega. But(turns) one and two down here for some reason is almost like a short track. We go through there sideways. Cars are getting loose and moving around. You're really having to wheel the car through there. The cars get so tight coming off that corner sometimes you'll have to breathe the throttle in advance in the center of the corner so you don't push into the wall off that corner. You're doing all kinds of things during the race to combat that. I think that the drivers will play more of a role this year than last year because we're running side-by-side and whatnot. I mean guys have got to use their heads more. I was getting ready to say with three laps to go, for my spotter to get over there and tell the 31 car not to do anything dumb and that I was happy running second. That's what you're worried about when you're running side-by-side with somebody. One position is not a big advantage, but you can't get out of the draft. You're pretty much stuck there. I think it's mental more than anything. You're looking for a guy who makes good judgment calls."

Did you think you had won when you crossed the stripe?
"I didn't think I had won. The 31 got a run off the side of my car coming to the flag. It was just like the IROC race when my father did the same thing. If you come off that corner, and you're half a car length behind the fellow, you're have the advantage to get to the flag first because you get to draft off the side of his car. I tried to stay as low as I could -- almost went into the tri-oval on the apron -- maybe I should have just turned right and went into the side of him to slow him down. But it's only the 125's. Wouldn't want to take such a big risk."

Any dreams of late?
"I've been asked that a lot. I haven't had any reoccurring dreams or anything like that. But I stand behind that as if it happened last night. And that's all I can really tell you about it. You know you have them dreams when you wake up and realize you're back at home in your bed. You know what I'm saying? Sometimes you wake up and you're glad. This time, I was not happy. But it was cool. I remember as I was waking up saying to myself, 'I won in my second try. I won in my second try.' And the dream started re-playing. It was cool."

Mike Skinner, No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"Angela said you might be sick, but that's when you've got to get tough. We got tough today. It's a situation where anybody can win right now -- the way the rules are. And it was a tough race, and Little E' made it real, real hard. Ward Burton, I guess I really had to put a block on him there at the last. But it worked out good. It was time for this Lowe's Chevrolet to get in Victory Lane.

Will your feelings be hurt if you get the cold shoulder from your teammate in the Daytona 500?
"Absolutely not. In the first place, I won't get the cold shoulder. Dale(Earnhardt) would be the first guy to come up and say, I don't know exactly what he'll say, but it'll mean 'good job'. He might not say that, but that's what he'll mean. He don't treat anybody any different. He beats on Little E or the31 car or the 1 or whatever. Dale's a fierce competitor."

Can you describe your emotions after the race?
"Well unfortunately, I got the flu last night. The stomach flu. And I spent a couple of hours over there in the Infield Care Center this morning getting some fluids put back in me. Richard(Childress) even asked me before the race if I wanted somebody else to run the race. I knew we had a good racecar. We were pretty embarrassed about the Budweiser Shootout. The car got a really bad handling problem. So we just hung around and kept the fenders on it. This race here, we changed the chassis around and made the thing better and the car drove all day. We were fortunate enough to post some good speeds the last couple of days but we really wasn't trying to. We wasn't looking at the stopwatch. We were trying to make that car handle on wore-out tires. And it handled good, and then we got those four fresh ones and thought that was real good. We would have to hold back."

How important is it towing here at Daytona?
"This is a major deal. It's like the Superbowl here at Daytona. To win a race -- any race -- here at Daytona is an honor. Just to get to race here in Winston Cup and have a job making a living doing something I enjoy is worth a lot to me."

Take us through that last lap, and did you think you had won?) "You know, for two or three laps, Ward(Burton) was hitting me and giving me a big, big boost getting down in the corner. And I think he was trying to get the two of us to clear Little E and whoever else was right in there mixing it up And we just could never get cleared. It's probably best that we didn't because then Little E would have pushed him back by me. Fortunately that didn't happen. I didn't want them in a straight line behind me. We got a little advantage there in the corner and his car was really sticking good on the bottom and he pulled up beside me and it looked like he had a run on me and we just pulled a little air off the quarter panel of the car there and got a little boost of air. When we got to the finish line, I didn't know if we'd won or not. I thought we had won, but the guys -- it was dead silence on the radio four three or four seconds that seemed like three or four days. But when I heard 'em come on the radio, I knew we'd won."

Question to Team Owner, Richard Childress:
How do you feel about the four manufacturers and how they're running so far?
"Well we won, so we're pretty decent. Just watching the Chrysler's wind tunnel numbers -- I say Chrysler because I'm back years ago -- the Dodges. They've got a strong racecar. The Fords ran good today. I seen the Pontiacs lead the race. This aero package, NASCAR's done a great job to equal the field. I don't think anybody's got a super advantage at the end of the day."

You almost had a sweep today, what were your thoughts on the restart in Race 1 and the last lap of Race 2?
"Dale (Earnhardt) knew he was done and we did too. You're sitting there and you're kind of a sitting duck when you're out front. This goes back to the old days when you had to slingshot to draft. I think the race fans have seen the best race today than they have for quite a few years. That last lap when Mike was out there, it was kind of hard to watch because you didn't know what was going to happen -- who was going to come by first. The other race, when you're sitting there like that, you're pretty much a sitting duck."

Who is going to win the race on Sunday?) "It's going to be the best Daytona 500 we've ever seen. I couldn't tell you who is going to win. The Dodges look awful strong, so we'll just have to see. Mike (Skinner) has a good car. Dale (Earnhardt) has a good car. It's going to be a different race. This Busch Clash (Budweiser Shootout) was a good race, and the Daytona 500 will be a good race. NASCAR has done a great job on this new aero package."

Regarding slingshot moves, is this like it was in the old days?
"I think it's close to the old days. The only difference is that back then, you'd have three or four cars. Today you've got 15 or 20 cars in that front pack. That's the biggest difference. A slingshot would work now, just like it did then. But today, the guys do a lot more blocking. And you got a lot more cars going for it at the end."

Is restrictor-plate racing, real racing?
"I've never been a big fan of restrictor-plate racing. But technology, and tires, and cars, and wind-tunnels and everything has made the speeds so high today that NASCAR has to do something to make the races a little safer. And I think they've done a good job. But I think the aero package they put on it makes me think of the old days when I was racing -- watching Petty and Pearson come across there and Cale and those guys on the backstretch. That's what racing's all about, and that's what we've seen today."

Since you've been waiting a while for the No. 31team to win, how good does it feel?
"It's a great feeling. I feel like RCR has let Mike Skinner down. The last two or three years we've changed crew chiefs -- and we didn't know if we were going to be car owners or if we was going to be media, and we've changed right in the middle of the season. You know, we've not had stability. I think now with Royce McGee and the team we've put together that these guys are stable. They know where they want to be, they know what they want to do. These guys want to win races. And I've been to a lot of winner's circles and this team was pumped. You could see it in their eyes. They want more of what they had today."

-TMC

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Jerry Nadeau