Chevrolet Friday Richmond notes

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) NOTE: Earnhardt reacts to the possibility of running one-inch carburetor restrictor plates next week at Loudon, N.H. "I think the same things about restrictor plates I've...

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) NOTE: Earnhardt reacts to the possibility of running one-inch carburetor restrictor plates next week at Loudon, N.H. "I think the same things about restrictor plates I've always thought about restrictor plates. It's not racing. Racing restrictor plates anywhere or restricted shocks rules or restrictor plate racing, any of it. That's not racing. Racing is going out there trying to be the fastest guy on the race track and racing unrestricted. They give us a cubic inch size and that's what we're building our engines from. That's the limit. That's the maximum. Now they're putting a restrictor plate on it, and that's an unknown. How much does it restrict my engine versus the next guy's engine, so you've got to tune and work and spend money on that. "I applaud NASCAR for doing something, but they're doing this because everybody is hollering and everybody is hollering... they should be hollering at every race track, not just one. All race tracks are the same. Phoenix, New Hampshire, they're basically the same racetracks. Homestead, any of them. We run 200 through the speed trap at Indianapolis, but I applaud them for doing something. I think it's the wrong thing to do. Our speeds are still going to be the same, probably what Adam Petty's was. There's a lot of issues, a lot of things we can do. The biggest thing, I think, is happening, people are stirring this issue up more and more instead of working on the issue and working with NASCAR and working together and being positive about it. There's too much negativity about it. In turn, it's creating a big rift. When there's a big rift, you guys are going to write more about it. It blows things maybe the wrong way, not out of proportion, but maybe the wrong way. It is an important subject. It's not something we should turn our back on or ignore, but it's a fact. We have a racing environment. We race on race tracks. It's not a totally save situation anywhere you race. I accept that when I come in to racing. The walls are there and the fences are there to protect the race fans. We used to have guard rails. We used to have wood boards. We used to have all kinds of fences and they came to cement walls which protect race fans the best. Our cars don't go through the cement walls. Where are we at today? I think we're going about it all the wrong way. I think we're creating too much negative press, too much negative energy out here about it. NASCAR did something. They put a restrictor plate on it. "That's one of the most dreaded things a driver likes to drive under or a race driver. Some of these guys might want to go slower, but a race driver hates a restrictor plate. In turn, it's costing the hell out of car owners. Right now, the unknowns are gears, setups, plus the engine development. Will it heat the valves too much? What are we going to do as far as setup with the engine on a race run? You've got three or four days to figure out something. Everybody is talking about going to test now. We're calling and getting race tracks all over the country. What can NASCAR do to stop that? Say, 'OK guys, just come to Loudon on Thursday morning and we'll run a couple of hours of practice Thursday afternoon and give you an idea of where you're at.' That would be a smart thing to do. I think they may do that, but it's costing the car owners. It's astronomical what that rule right there just did for the car owners over some whining and crying drivers out here, whining about stuff when they should be trying to talk about a fix for it in the office with NASCAR and amongst their teams. "If I go out here and I start hollering loud enough and you guys write loud enough and long enough, it'll put so much pressure on NASCAR that they'll make some decision and do something about it. They'll have it. They've got to. They will. They've done it in the past. That's what's happened. I guarantee you, all the drivers that were hollering are probably wishing they didn't have to run a restrictor plate, and I know all the car owners are say, 'wow, this is costing my butt.' But this is something. NASCAR did something, and I applaud them for that. "This crap of blaming a race track or blaming people and pointing fingers, if they can develop a new wall or safety feature at a race track to make it safer, I'm behind it. Brake switches or whatever, I'm behind it if that's something they can do. My throttle hung wide open here at Richmond in 1985 or '86 maybe, and that's the last time my throttle hung wide open. It's preparation, driver, the responsibility for something like that is for everybody. It's not for just one man. It's not the crew chief or the engine guy, it's everybody's. It's the inspector's position when they inspect these cars from the safety side of it, does everything look safe? Do the floor mats look good? Do the throttles look like they're going to clear? That's part of the safety inspection. Everybody is responsible, not just one man, not just one person, not just one race track. "Bob Bahre is one of the greatest promoters we have in racing. He's the most caring person we have in racing, if not the most, then one of the most. He takes care of guys who don't make the race. He writes them a check. He takes care of guys who have trouble in races. He tries to the do the best, anything you need, anything you ask for. The man has tried to give it to you. I know the man would not want to hurt or do anything wrong to anybody, any one driver or any one person. "Martinsville took two modified drivers because of situations like that, and it's a half-mile. All race tracks have that element of danger. How can you single out one track and say it's an unsafe race track? Is there something we can do to fix it or make it better? Yes. "I don't know who in the hell came up with a boycott. Who would write something like that? We're all in this business together. I drive a race car and it takes my sponsors and my fans to make it all happen. They support me. In turn, it creates a sport that you guys write about. It's your livelihood. Without this sport or without our sponsors we wouldn't have much of a sport. If we put restrictor plates on 'em, we make our racing dull as hell, I'm afraid we're going to lose more sponsors and more fans. That's going to hurt us all. There ain't no way you can point your finger over there to NASCAR and say they're to blame for this. They're the blame for that. You can't point your finger over there at this guy and say you're going to blame him for the carburetor hanging up. Or you can't point your finger over there and say this race track is the reason this happened. "I started going to racing as a kid, watching my daddy race. He raced at some damn race tracks that were dangerous. If you went over the bank, you would hit head on in a fence post and stuff would drive through the car. I saw it all, pretty much a lot of it all. I saw a train rail track come through the pits in Columbia, S.C., and cut a man's legs off. The car hit and it came spinning through the pits and cut a man's legs off. It cut him down like a toothpick. Unsafe equipment. We have cement walls now to protect people behind the walls. Now we're hitting the walls and we're worried about protecting the drivers. OK. Let's look at every safety aspect we can, whether there's anything we can do to the walls or anything we can do to the cars, anything we can do to the driver's compartments. You want to talk about something. I'm not saying I'm an expert. I'm not saying I'm right or wrong. What about the helmets? Did the helmets have anything to do with them guys (getting hurt)? I've hit the wall pretty hard in my life, and done OK with that situation. Is there a safety issue there? Is there something that needs to be tested? NASCAR is testing things like that, looking at things like that. There are a lot of issues. There are a lot of things we can all talk about and do to make things better. "Modified cars run 'em up there, and they run just about wide open (with restrictor plates at New Hampshire). They run about one gas stop up there now. If the tires will stand it and your car is OK, you can run about one gas stop. "I looked in Rusty's car after he hit the wall up there at Watkins Glen. If that piece of Styrofoam had come through the driver's compartment instead of behind and would have hurt Rusty, we probably wouldn't have seen Styrofoam walls up there. Then they would have been a bad thing. They tested them up there at Loudon, and they were hitting those things and they were flying up in the grandstands and flying up higher than the fence. When they hit them, they pushed them out and other cars would have hit them coming around the corner. You can't do that. The other thing, and I'm speaking out of turn probably because they said the G-force difference between hitting the concrete and hitting the Styrofoam was not that big of a difference. That's why the other alternative was the restrictor plate, try to slow 'em down maybe 10 mph at the end of the straightaway so you were 10 mph slower. "If it makes a safer race and that's what they want and the fans are excited about it, OK. I hate restrictor plate racing. I hate racing with restricted shock rules or any kind of rules at all. You give me a rule book and tell me we can go race, then we'll go race. If they run 'em at Loudon, where do you think is going to be next? Charlotte, Atlanta. What do you think they're going to do when we go to Miami? "I don't know who did or didn't or what was said in the press. What I'm saying today may (tick) 'em all off. It's like going to Daytona and test. We did the deal to make the cars race better. What NASCAR came up with does make you race better and you're drafting up and pulling up. Before you couldn't pull up and they were bitching about you couldn't pull up. The first thing they started grumbling about after the test in the meeting was, 'now they're going to run in the back of me. People are going to be running all over each other.' Before they were grumbling about not being able to draft up and now they're grumbling about everybody was going to be able to draft up on each other. That's what they wanted, a better race. You draft back up and get beside somebody. The problem is with restrictor plates is you can't go past 'em. They've taken a lot of the restrictor plate out. They're trying to go in the right direction. Again, it's just a lot of why can't people go and sit down and talk to NASCAR and come up with solutions. They go out here and holler loud enough, they're going to write something and the fans are going to believe it or whatever and get to hollering. They're getting letters now that they don't like what they're hearing in the press, fans and sponsors and people. So they make a rule and now they may be hollering the other way. Then what do they do? I don't know if it's a win situation."

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I think it's a smart play for as quick as the race is coming up. They ain't got no other choice really. They've got to do something. If something happens there, the public will tear 'em apart. It's a smart play. It's probably not the best alternative in the minds or in the eyes of the engine builders, and some crew chiefs and some owners, but it's probably the best thing for NASCAR. Everybody is going to have to be more patient because the car ain't going to come up off the corner as fast. Guys are going to get impatient because it ain't going to be as easy to pass on used tires. If it's (like) a Busch race I won't mind it because I was always good in a Busch car there."

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I don't think that's the answer. What the hell are we doing? We're supposed to be racing. We used to run 426 cubic inches and run 200 and something mph. They don't have good races today like we had in those days. (I'm not scared to go fast) as long as I'm comfortable. I don't care if you want to go 300 mph. Just give me some spoiler and let me get my car comfortable. It don't make no difference to me."

Don Parkinson, Brand Manager, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, will be the honorary starter for Saturday night's Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race. Darwin Clark will be the grand marshal. Clark is Vice President, General Manager, Industry-Dealer Affairs, General Motors Corporation. STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park will be driving the same Monte Carlo that qualified second here in May. Park finished 11th in that race. Since winning at Watkins Glen on Aug. 13, Park has finished 33rd, fifth and 10th. He's 13th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings (NWCS). TED MUSGRAVE (No. 01 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Musgrave will drive a brand new Monte Carlo in Saturday night's Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400. The team tested the car on Tuesday and Wednesday at Martinsville Speedway and plan to run it at Martinsville in October. Musgrave finished 13th last week in the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington. With 11 starts this season, Musgrave ranks 43rd in the NWCS. DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) Earnhardt will be driving the same Monte Carlo that he piloted to a 10th-place finish at Richmond in May. He also drove it in both Pocono races this season and in New Hampshire (fourth, 25th and sixth, respectively). Earnhardt finished third last week at Darlington and ranks third in the NWCS.

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Hamilton will drive a brand new Monte Carlo at Richmond in the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400. The team tested it this week in St. Louis. Hamilton started 31st and finished 24th here in May. He finished 22nd last week at Darlington and ranks 29th in the NWCS. TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Labonte will drive a brand new Monte Carlo under the lights at Richmond. Labonte finished second behind winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. here in May. He finished 15th last week at Darlington and ranks 18th in the NWCS.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Michael Waltrip will drive a new Monte Carlo at Richmond. Waltrip finished 19th here in May. He finished 40th last week at Darlington and ranks 28th in the NWCS.

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) A winner here in May, Earnhardt Jr. will drive the same Monte Carlo under the lights Saturday night. It's chassis No. 10. He crashed the car testing it at Pocono, and he raced it at Loudon, N.H., with a 21st-place finish. Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th last week at Darlington and was the highest finishing rookie for the second straight race. He ranks 14th in the NWCS. JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nadeau will drive the same Monte Carlo that he wrecked in practice last May at Richmond. He recently tested the Monte Carlo at Richmond. Nadeau finished 30th in his backup Monte Carlo at Richmond in May, 29th last week at Darlington and he ranks 24th in the NWCS.

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) Gordon will race a brand new Monte Carlo in the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400. It's car No. 2447. It's been tested at Indianapolis and Richmond but has never raced. Gordon finished 14th earlier this season at Richmond, fourth last week at Darlington and he ranks 10th in the NWCS. MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Skinner will drive the same Monte Carlo he's used the past two times at Richmond. He qualified third and finished 33rd with it earlier this season and won the pole and finished 11th last fall. It's chassis No. 55 and has also been used this season at Martinsville and Loudon. It's a Mike Laughlin low snout chassis. Engine problems plagued Skinner at Darlington. He completed only 15 laps and finished 43rd in the 43-car field. He's tied with Matt Kenseth for 11th place in the NWCS. JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nemechek will drive chassis No. 22 at Richmond. It hasn't been raced this season but competed last year at Martinsville, Indianapolis and Phoenix. Nemechek finished 23rd here in May, 31st last week at Darlington and ranks 20th in the NWCS.

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marlin will drive the same Monte Carlo at Richmond that he piloted earlier this season at both Michigan races, the second Pocono, the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway and Martinsville. Marlin qualified 21st and finished 29th earlier this season at Richmond. He finished fourth in last year's fall race at Richmond, 17th last week at Darlington and he ranks 17th in the NWCS.

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Wallace will drive chassis No. 17 at Richmond. It's the first time it's been raced this year, and hasn't been in competition since 1998. Wallace finished 20th here in May, 35th last week at Darlington and ranks 30th in the NWCS.

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Bodine will race the same Monte Carlo he drove to a 13th-place finish (along with relief help from his brother Todd) here in May. Bodine finished 39th last week at Darlington.

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marcis will drive a Monte Carlo that he attempted to qualify at Las Vegas earlier this season. He tested it recently at Richmond. Marcis led 12 laps and finished 23rd last week at Darlington, his best finish of the season. RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Craven will drive the same Monte Carlo that finished 40th here in May. He qualified 14th for that race. Craven has competed in only nine point races this season with a best finish of 17th at New Hampshire.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Adam Petty , Michael Ho