Chevrolet Friday Watkins Glen notes

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park will race the same Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen that he drove earlier this season at Sears Point. Park qualified 15th and finished 17th at Sears Point. Park finished 16th last...

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park will race the same Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen that he drove earlier this season at Sears Point. Park qualified 15th and finished 17th at Sears Point. Park finished 16th last week at The Brickyard 400 and ranks 17th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings (NWCS).

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) Earnhardt will race his Sears Point Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen. Earnhardt qualified 29th and finished sixth at Sears Point. He finished eighth last week at Indy and ranks third in the NWCS, 145 points behind leader Bobby Labonte.

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Hamilton will compete in the same Monte Carlo he drove at Sears Point. Hamilton qualified 14th and finished 14th at Sears Point. He finished 40th last week in the Brickyard 400 and ranks 30th in the NWCS.

RON HORNADAY (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Terry Labonte's record streak of 655 consecutive starts ended last week in the Brickyard 400. Hornaday, a Busch Grand National rookie, will drive Labonte's Monte Carlo on Sunday at Watkins Glen. It's the same car Labonte drove at Sears Point. He qualified 25th and finished 27th with it there. "We found some things that were wrong with it and we think we've got it fixed," crew chief Gary DeHart said. "It should be a good car here. It might even be a pole-winning car." Labonte ranks 16th in the NWCS.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Waltrip will run chassis No. UM7 at Watkins Glen, the same Monte Carlo he qualified 28th and finished 12th with at Sears Point. Waltrip finished 20th last week in The Brickyard 400, and he ranks 27th in the NWCS.

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Earnhardt Jr. will drive the same Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen that carried him to a 24th-place finish at Sears Point. Earnhardt Jr. finished 13th last week at Indy and ranks 13th in the NWCS.

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) Gordon will drive the same Monte Carlo chassis that's carried him to three straight victories at Watkins Glen. Gordon, who won earlier this season at Sears Point, will be going after his seventh straight NASCAR Winston Cup road course victory. He finished 33rd last week at Indy and ranks eighth in the NWCS.

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nadeau will drive the same Monte Carlo at The Glen that he finished eighth with earlier this season at Sears Point. Nadeau finished fourth last week at Indy, his second fourth-place finish in the past three races. He finished fifth last year at Watkins Glen and ranks 25th in the NWCS.

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Skinner will drive his Sears Point Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen. Skinner qualified 13th and finished 20th at Sears Point. He finished ninth last week at Indy and ranks 11th in the NWCS.

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nemechek will drive the same Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen that he raced earlier this season at Sears Point. Nemechek started 19th and finished 11th at Sears Point. He finished 18th last week at Indy and ranks 21st in the NWCS.

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marlin will drive his Sears Point Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen. He started sixth and finished second behind Jeff Gordon's Monte Carlo at Sears Point. Marlin finished 30th last week at Indy and ranks 20th in the NWCS.

P.J. JONES (No. 01 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Jones will make his first NASCAR Winston Cup start of the season in a brand new Monte Carlo.

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Wallace will drive his Sears Point Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen. Wallace qualified 17th and finished 13th at Sears Point. He finished 29th last week at Indy and ranks 29th in the NWCS.

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Bodine drove the same Monte Carlo at Watkins Glen last year. He qualified 21st and finished 35th here last year. Bodine, the 1996 Watkins Glen race winner, finished 12th last week at Indy.

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marcis brought the same Monte Carlo to Watkins Glen that the team tried to qualify at Sears Point.

TODD BODINE (No. 34 I Love N.Y. Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Bodine won the pole at Watkins Glen with this Monte Carlo in 1997. It's got new 2000 Monte Carlo sheetmetal, and Bodine says he's ready to roll.

RON FELLOWS (No. 87 Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Fellows will drive a new Monte Carlo, owned by Joe Nemechek, on Sunday at Watkins Glen. Fellows finished second here last year behind Jeff Gordon.

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I'm just trying to come in here and run the best I can and win a race. If I do, there's going to be some records set because of it. That would be special, but I think 10 years from now, to say, 'I won seven in a row. Man, that was unbelievable' Right now, I'm thinking that would be cool. "It's a challenge. No matter what type of racing I've ever done or what kind I'm doing now. I want to go out and compete against the absolute best. I do that every weekend. These guys we race against are the absolute best there are on a stock car on an oval track. It just doesn't get any better than that. A lot of those guys are very good on a road course. You throw in a guy like Ron Fellows and some of these other road racers that come and race with us and to me, it's a huge challenge. I look forward to it. It really meant a lot to me to win this race last year because Ron Fellows pushed us all the way to the end. I knew we had some things and we were a little bit stronger than him. I said, 'hey, if he gets his program even better next year, I don't know who's going to win if it came down to the two of us.' But it might not. A lot of other guys are going to be tough to beat, but I don't think there's any one driver tougher around Watkins Glen than Ron. He's got a lot of experience, and he's a very good road racer. "We feel like it's an opportunity for us to have a good, strong run, but that opportunity gets less and less every time you go to a road course. It used to be you didn't focus on a road course. You said, 'that's just one we throw out the window.' Now for the championship, you've got to run good everywhere. More teams really put a lot of special things in for the road courses. They go and test the road courses and because of that everybody continues to get better and better. It's something we've focused on for probably the last three or four years. That's probably why we've become so good on 'em, because we've put a lot of attention toward our road racing program. "I hope nobody ever wins 12 (races) again (in a season). I look at what we did in '98 and I continue to shake my head. I constantly tell people there's no way we should have done that, and I honestly believe that. It makes it that much more amazing. It seems like that was a decade ago, but it was only a couple of years ago. It seems like with the new body styles, and with what Goodyear has done to the tires, huge hurdles were covered in the offseason. It seems like the teams have gotten so much better and the cars so much faster. The competition is so much tighter. It just seems like there's always somebody different that can win each and every weekend. Because of that, there's not going to be someone who's going to win a ton of races. I think somebody is capable of winning five, maybe six races before this season is out, but I don't see anybody winning more than that. I don't know if it's just this year or every year is going to get more and more like that. It's hard to say. "I love what I do. I love Winston Cup. I get asked a lot of times why I don't run other types of cars. I love to drive. I love to race. Right now, with as hectic as our schedule is and our commitments to our sponsors, it doesn't allow me to do that. I always joke around and say some day when I retire I get to go do some of these other fun races -- 24 Hours of Daytona -- something like that. I do like the road courses. I've really gotten comfortable on the road courses. It's fun. It's exciting. I see some of these unbelievable race cars they have -- the Corvettes and Cadillacs and different types of cars GM has out there -- they're amazing vehicles. It'd be a thrill to get behind the wheel of them, at least once. I'll be old and gray by the time I get to do that. "I think as drivers and as teams, we can only do so much and we're trying to do everything we can with seats, helmets, seat belts, all the gear inside the cars, all the netting and padding. We're doing as much as we can, and we probably need to do a better job with that, but I also feel that the track owners and NASCAR need to step up. The switch on the steering wheel, all that is is drivers saying if the throttle sticks, we can't get to the dash. That doesn't solve the impact to the wall. If the throttle sticks today, hopefully I'll get the switch and I'm going to slow the car down some, but I'm still going to hit extremely hard. It's not going to save me from hitting the wall. I don't know what the solution is. I just want to make sure that we're looking into something. Either the cars need to be slowed down or we need something to make the impact less when we do hit. "I'm sure they're looking into things. It's funny and ironic that we just came from Indianapolis Motor Speedway where Formula One is coming to Indianapolis. You look at what Formula One made them do to that facility, they had to spend a ton of money and I'm sure that they didn't want to spend that kind of money to make those types of walls and things. But if you want Formula One, that's what you've got to have. I don't see why it should be any different for NASCAR. "We're the leader in motorsports in this country. I feel like if we're going to go to these facilities, there's certain things that have to be done. I know there's certain requirements, but I think maybe they can take that a step further. I know it's just become an issue here recently where we've had some accidents and it's kind of been an eye opener. It's not going to be done overnight. It takes time to develop it, but it sure would be nice to know they're in development of those things. I just want to know that something is being looked at. As a team, we're constantly looking at ways we can make the interior of that car safer. NASCAR does an excellent job with making the cars safe, but an impact with the right front or driver side into these concrete walls, it doesn't give, not at all. "I think any race track we go to where we don't run close to the wall, would be improvement. New Hampshire is a track where I promise you we'll never run near the wall. For whatever reason that race track seems to be the worse one, just the angles of the walls. You just don't think you're running fast enough to hit that hard, but boy, you really are. "I'm hoping they add three of four (road races). We only run four superspeedways a year. Are they going to get rid of those? I don't think so. Is it time? Maybe. I think that depends on the fans. If the fans like road courses and the attendance is good and the TV audience is good, they'll stay. Is that the case? Probably not. I don't know. It's a personal thing for me. I like the road courses. I know some other drivers like the road courses. There's probably some others who don't care whether they're on the schedule or not. It doesn't matter to me. It's a track on the schedule that we run well at, so we take advantage of it every time we go there. That's the way we approach it. Whether they're here tomorrow or not, I don't know. If they're not, then we continue to find places we run well."

RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos) NOTE: Childress discusses Larry McReynolds' announcement to take a job with Fox next season as a TV racing analyst. McReynolds will finish the season as driver Mike Skinner's crew chief. Royce McGee will take over as crew chief next season for the No. 31 Lowe's team. McGee, a 34-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., native is now assistant crew chief. "Mike Skinner has worked side by side with Royce McGee for three years. He feels good about our selection there. Skinner is going to be in that car for two more years. We had a meeting with our team. The team said they want him and he says he wants to stay. I've got a contract for two more years with him. Lowe's is happy. I'm happy. Everybody is happy. He's getting offers, and when he starts getting offers, I get other drivers coming to me. It opens a chain. Everybody is trying to make something out of something that isn't there. Mike Skinner will be in the 31 car next year. "I knew it was in the making for Larry (McReynolds), but I didn't know if he would get the job. I knew he was one of the people they were talking about. I knew if the opportunity was there I couldn't hold him back. It was a great opportunity for him. We'll take his opportunity, and we'll have to make something positive for us with Royce, but I feel good about Royce. He's been with us since 1997. He's ready."

LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I talked to the Fox people last December. When we first started talking, I was thinking about what I've been doing, maybe some Saturday stuff, off weekend stuff. There's only three off weekends next year. I guess I wasn't thinking about fulltime make-a-living career. We talked and they called me before Charlotte to see if I'd like to go up and do some mock stuff with Darrell Waltrip during the Busch race. I did it, and they called back. It got pretty heavy the last couple of weeks. They liked what they saw with Darrell and myself. They thought there was some chemistry there. During this decision, what I tried to do was take myself out of the equation and think about what other lives it was going to affect. My wife and kids, RCR and Mike Skinner, NASCAR, everybody. I dwelled on it a lot. I had to think fast and in a hurry because there was a short time in here. I had to think long and hard about it. I took a step back. I've been doing this 20 years. My kids are 11, 9 and 2. Linda and I have been married almost 17 years. If I can give some more time to them and make as good a living as I'm making now, still be in the sport, still do something I enjoy doing, it's basically a no-brainer. That's what Richard Childress told me when we sat down and talked about it. Am I hunting an easier way to make a living? Not really. I feel like broadcasting will be no different than being a crew chief or a tire changer. You're going to get back out what you put into it. I can't go work Thursday through Sunday and sit on the lake Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I don't think I'll do a good job. I've got to stay close to this garage and stay close to this sport. It's going to be walking a fine line. Tentatively, Richard and I are trying to create something where I can stay affiliated with Richard Childress Racing and help him in certain situations. "They had a crew chief depart from Mike Dillon's Busch car a few weeks ago. Let's move the clock ahead. If this were next season, I could have looked after that deal for him until they came up with something. Again, I'd just go wherever they'd need me. It's going to keep me close to the sport, close to the garage where I can do a better job in the broadcast booth. The fine line I've got to walk, when I walk through this garage area, I want to develop a great relationship with all the other crew chiefs. I want them to feel good about talking to me and not have their guard up because I'm not still RCR affiliated. I won't be able to do a good job. I've got to try to walk that fence post. My first commitment is to Fox sports. "My short term goal right now is to cool my jets, give this 31 team every ounce of energy, focus, everything I can give it between now and the checkered flag in Atlanta and even a little longer if they need it and want it. I'm going to catch my breath in December and January and work as hard as I can in Daytona to become the best color analyst that's out there in racing. "I believe in this team. If I didn't believe in it, I'd have told Richard the other day to maybe go ahead and end this now. I believe we can get to victory lane Sunday. I believe we can get to victory lane the next Sunday. So many good races are coming our way. If we were sitting here winning consistently, nobody is winning a bunch, the decision may have been a little tougher. I'd be pulling your leg if I didn't tell you that, but that's not the reason I made this decision. "It's not going to get any easier. Our schedule is growing by two races. Do I wish I could work on the car more? Yes, no question. Was that a reason for the decision? Absolutely not. I enjoy a challenge. I enjoy solving the people problems. The good thing about the role of the crew chief, that role is spread out now among three or four people. You've got to have somebody like David Smith. You've got to have a Royce McGee. It takes at least a small triangle of people to do the crew chief role. That's where I messed up a little bit at Roberts Yates'. I drove myself away a little bit. I kept taking all these roles on -- crew chief 28 car, team manager 28 and 88, making sure we didn't leave anybody off the airplane. I wore myself down. "I think it's a very freak opportunity. This opportunity might not come along again in five years or 10 years. I just think if I hadn't taken it, I always would have questioned it. I'm going to Fox with intentions of a long term. I think if you're going to a job, that needs to be your goal. You don't start thinking already, what am I going to do next? Maybe it is a Bill Parcells or a Lou Holtz scenario. I don't have that answer right now. At the end of two years, hopefully I've had a ton of success with Fox. I may look at myself and say, I want to go back racing. Nobody knows. "It's basically a two-year deal with a two-year option. You'll probably hear me use the term, 'If I was his crew chief.' This is why they're doing that. It'll be current, and that's why I want to stay current. You stay away from this garage long, you may wake up one day and they'll have six wheels on. You'll go, 'when did that happen?' That's just how fast things change out here. "We've got to remember that we're going to be dealing with a different audience. There's so many things this TV package is going to do. The biggest thing is it's going to build consistency. A guy is going to know, other than the Saturday events, he's going to be able to go to church, go to the cafeteria and come home and cut his TV on at a certain time on a certain station and that race is going to be there. Every week. That's got to help."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Mike Skinner , Joe Nemechek , Ron Fellows , David Smith , Michael Ho
Teams Richard Childress Racing