Chevrolet Racing Rockingham race notes

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "There was no indication. That just shows how this sport is. We almost won last week. We were running 10th today. The car was there, handling real well. We just had the bottom end of...

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "There was no indication. That just shows how this sport is. We almost won last week. We were running 10th today. The car was there, handling real well. We just had the bottom end of the motor blow up. We'll have a week off and then go to Phoenix."

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had been working on it. We had been way too loose, so we were trying to tighten it up. We lost a lot of spots in the pits. Every time we get around that tractor car (97) I get wrecked it seems like. He got me."

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It bottomed out really bad when I went into turn three. When it hit it just jumped up into the wall. I don't know if I had a tire go down on the front, like the left front maybe. When it bottomed out, I was running up next to the wall and there wasn't room for that. We were running good today. We were good on the long runs, and we were getting better on the short runs. That was the best we'd been all day. For some reason, when we got to the corner, it got the urge to hit the wall."

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I'm not sure what happened. I was out there riding and the next thing I know I was headed in the other direction. My car was good. They said the 97 got into the back of me. I was the same way the first couple of races. He probably ain't used to all that motor."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I was inside of the 16 going down the back straightaway. We were almost in turn three, and I don't know what happened. I was going straight and the next thing I know I'm turned around. He might have got in the outside wall and come back and clipped us or what. I might have run into him. I just don't know. We were just racing."

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "The adjustments we made there at the end and what we were going after is exactly what ended up happening to us. We were a top five car all day long. There was one time I took the lead, but I really couldn't keep it. Jeremy and Jeff Burton seemed to be the class of the field, but my guys just never gave up. They kept making good adjustments. The pit crew was incredible today. That's what really got us to second place. We came out of the pits third there that last time. We made a major adjustment there at the end and it worked. We were very fortunate we could get by Ricky real early on that run. I thought I might have a car to get by him (Jarrett), and I thought if I could get by him that I might be able to stay ahead of him. I knew the car was going to fade the longer we ran. I just hoped we could distance ourselves enough from those guys behind us to hold them off. It worked out perfect. I made a bad call there one time. I told the guys to put a round of bite in it. It really hurt me. I went from being a third or fourth-place car to a 10th or 11th place car there for awhile. We weren't a threat at all. We made some good adjustments those last few stops and the pit crew was awesome. "I'm not exactly sure when it was, but I know we kept raising the track bar because I was real tight. The car kept getting freer and freer and going faster and faster. I thought that we got it freed up just enough that it was time to give me the drive off I needed off the corner. We had talked about it earlier, and we went ahead and did it there. I guess it was about the fourth stop from the last one, I don't know what lap that was. If I had a gun in that car, I would have shot myself because it was absolutely a horrible call. I just wish it had never even happened. We had an opportunity the next stop to take it out. We decided we'd just raise the track bar some more, maybe that would be the way to go, and it still wasn't near enough, so there at the end we took two rounds out of the left rear. That still wasn't even enough but it was good enough to make the car a lot better. "Actually I did think I could get by him (Jarrett). Whether I could stay in front of him or not I wasn't sure. I was working that bottom pretty good. When he went up to the top, I thought that might be my opportunity. I had a lot of clean air hitting the nose, and I was getting the car through the corner pretty good. After we ran a few laps, I knew I just didn't have the front grip in the front tires I needed to get underneath him and get by. Once he got that outside lane working for him there really wasn't any way I was going to get by him. Once the tires get some laps on 'em and he moved up to that outside lane, it was almost impossible to get by him. "I think you set up for long runs here for sure. When you set up for tire management, the best tire wear you can get with the shocks and springs and all that, but I think what you can do is air pressure adjustments. That can make a big difference for short runs. That's where if you're going to make a short run, that's where you make the changes in my mind. We sort of semi-set up for a short run there at the end, and that's what got me to second I believe. The car was really good when they dropped the green flag, and that's why I put some heat on D.J., but the longer we ran the slower I got and that's why I feel back. I'm just thankful that Ricky didn't get to me. I don't think he would have had a problem getting by me if he had gotten to me."

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We just picked away at it all day. I knew we had a decent car. Randall (team transport driver Helbert) had to help me get out of the car. I was worried about that, but once I got in there the thing drove good and we just took our time. I had to drive sort of a safe race. I couldn't afford to take a lick until we find out what's wrong with me. The car drove good, and that last set of tires was a little tighter than what we needed. It was a tire war on pit road I heard, people swapping tires and stuff like that. Goodyear put a harder tire here and it's hard to get a handle on it, but it definitely lasted longer. That was a benefit from it all. I'm proud of these guys. We needed a good run. We had a good run going at Talladega and we needed it for Kodak. I'm real happy. Maybe we can do that at the rest of the races. "We've got a pretty good record here, and we dominated this race in the spring and had a distributor go out, so we brought back the same car. Now that we've run this race, they'll know what to bring back next time. "It seemed like you could run good for three or four laps on the bottom. The tires started going away and naturally your motor would slow down because you don't run a fast speed. Then you make the race track bigger and bigger to get the rpm's up to pull the motor down the straightaways. That's what was happening. There's a few cars like Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte that could run the bottom all day long, but we were better off up top. "They made a lot of good calls on tires. They were really working on tire stagger and Goodyear started coming out putting rates on tires for us. We're just learning about that stuff. They worked real hard on that stuff and made some good decisions in the pits. We had some pretty good pit stops. We lost a couple of times, but we were having to work on the car and they can't help that. We had one in the 15-second range and another 15.8 and another 16.20. As long as they bounce around in that area, it'll put 'em in good shape for next year. "It's my right shoulder, the back of it. We don't really know what it is. We just know something is bad wrong. "I just knew that we needed to pass a handful of them to start off with. I said, 'OK, if I can get that done, then I need to take care of the car and finish this thing.' I told Danny last night at Happy Hour that we didn't have but a 15th-place car. They put their heads together and dug up notes from years back and made a bunch of changes. We threw stuff in it that we've never even run here. We changed spindle, motor, two front shocks, two rear springs, swaybar, adjusted wedge different, tire pressures, caster. We did all that stuff and it was a shot in the dark. You feel good about that stuff. I just felt good about all the changes they made. That particular car, I've always run good in it. It'd take a lot to knock the confidence out of me here with that car and as good as everybody communicated yesterday evening. I'm glad for Larry. It seems that everything is coming back together for him. When me and him did our deal, I told him it probably would because it makes everybody step up. That last set of tires was real tight, but it seemed like everybody was fighting for tires. I'm just really happy for Larry. I wish we'd had that other set of tires, and we'd finished fifth or so. "It's a slick track, and I cut my teeth on slick race tracks. A lot of people think wide open is fast around here. Sometimes it's not. It just takes a long time to learn it I guess. "I felt it (shoulder) in traffic when I really had to hustle the car, but it never gave me a big problem. I had to get out of the car, and I knew that would hurt. It happened in my sleep, and I felt it pop whatever it is. Maybe something happened at Talladega and I just didn't realize it."

LARRY McCLURE (Car owner No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo) "We passed a few cars,and we had some opportunities right there at the end but the car got tight again. It was a better car than we showed right there at the end. That's what Bobby Hamilton said. I'll take his word for it. We went back out seventh, and the car was just a little bit too tight and we got held up in a little bit of traffic and had to race Earnhardt pretty hard to get around him. The pit stops were pretty good. I've got a good race team here, and we're looking toward 2001. We're 32nd in the (owner) points, and it's a car that should be in the top 10 every week. We've had some tough times, but we're getting a handle on our engines and cars. The race team is working real good. We had a good run last weekend and I thought we had a car that could have won the race easily. We got caught up in that accident. It just hasn't been our year. Bobby has won at Phoenix. I think we'll have a good car, and we've got an opportunity to win that race."

DANNY GILL (Crew chief No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo) "It was a little nerve-wracking there at the end. I really wanted to get that first top 10. I thought we might get up a little higher than that, but that last set of tires got tight on us. We're really starting to come together. It's a neat deal, but with Bobby leaving and everything you don't know where you're headed without a driver. If we can keep the whole thing together maybe it would be a good deal, but I'm afraid some of the people might start going separate ways. We had to adjust on the car a little at the start, but once we got it where it needed to be, it was just a matter of keeping the tires matched up all day. As long as we kept the tires matched up it would stay good, and this is a good track for Bobby."

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "After the second pit stop, I thought something broke on one of the wheels, but we must have just had a bad set of tires. We short pitted to fix it and then the caution came out and got us a couple of laps down. After that, the car was really unpredictable. I didn't know what it was going to do. The guys had some great pit stops today, though. They kept working on the car all day long, and it was the best it had been at the end of the race. But then we had a broken valve stem on the left rear tire on the last stop and had to come back in again. We've had a couple of tough days like this. It's really hard when you just want to do so well. You just have to regroup and start again at the next race."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We made some adjustments for Happy Hour and it actually hurt the car. It made it tighter. We put our original package back in it and made it better. We were about an eighth-place car we felt like. We didn't come to run eighth. We're not points racing anymore. We made some adjustments. We softened up the right front spring, made a shock spring. Maybe we should have come in and put more spring in it and left the shock alone, but if we learn something by it, it'll make us stronger. The pit crew had a rough day to start with. Then they really redeemed themselves. Those guys came back those last four or five pits and gained us positions every time. We've got a strong race team. We've got a strong pit crew. This is a good race team. I really want to thank those 65,000 or 70,000 Lowe's employees for pulling for this old blue and yellow car. We're still going to try to win them a race before the end of the year."

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "I don't know if I had a bad set of tires or a mismatched set of tires there at the end. The car just went all to heck. It was pushing so bad I couldn't turn it. We were running pretty good there at first, but the track got tighter and our car got tighter. It just didn't do nothing for us. There at the end, I don't know what was wrong with it. I just couldn't go anywhere. At the least (the tires were inconsistent). They change tires, you adjust. They change tires, you adjust. You change, you adjust. They don't want anybody to be consistent. They want to keep changing tires so we don't know what's going to happen the next race. We probably gained a few on him (points on Bobby Labonte), but nothing like we needed to. The numbers will still work."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I wasn't going to put him (Rusty Wallace) in harm's way, but he was pulling me off the corner and up the straightaway and stuff. I could get on him in the corners. I think I was handling a little bit better through the corners. He was strong. He was putting his car where I needed to put my car. I was trying to fake him out by putting by running up high for a little while and then making a bid on the bottom. He kept adjusting his line because he knew where I needed to be. He did a good job. Any time you can race here at Rockingham with Rusty Wallace, you're doing something. It was a great race there at the end (for fifth place). We didn't cut him any slack. We ran him hard and ran him clean and tried to gain a position, but we had to settle for sixth today. "Those segments there where we kept getting the cautions hurt us a little bit because we were real good on a long run. We started rethinking what we were doing and saying if we keep having cautions like this we're going to have a short run at the end. That wouldn't be good for us. We started adjusting a little bit and got it where it would be good from the start and still have longevity to it. The guys did a good job. We made a couple turns of wedge and some air pressure adjustments and they got the car where it needed to be at the end. We just needed a little air pressure adjustments. They got the car where it needed to be there at the end. We just needed a little track position to run with the guys up front. "Goodyear brought a good tire, but they always change the tire and make it hard for us to get the cars set up. It seems like what they're doing really pays off in the race. We didn't see many tires that had problems. We didn't run out of tires. We started getting nervous, but our guys did a good job of hunting around and getting tires. My hat's off to Dale Jarrett. I ran behind him for awhile, and he started pulling away from me. I knew he had a good race car and would put a hurting on somebody if he got up front." "We'll take that sixth-place finish and go out to Phoenix. I'm not disappointed with that. I'm happy. It's our best finish at Rockingham. As long as we keep improving on our finishes at each race track, I think we're doing the right thing. You need to run in the top five, but today we'll take the sixth-place finish. We really didn't know what we had yesterday. Any time you can run near the top five, you make yourself available for the win, and that's what we're want to do. We want to win again. We're all happy. We've got a weekend off and we're going to enjoy ourselves a little bit. I'm going down to the islands to relax a little bit. It's been a long stretch, and I'm looking forward to the time off before we head out west and do these last three races."

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It was a good day. It seemed like we'd get ahead and then we'd back up. We'd get ahead and then we'd back up. Sometimes the tires would get really tight. One set got really loose. It was weird. You couldn't blame it on the clouds today. Overall, we had a really good day. Having those top 10s is cool. It means a lot. We've got some momentum going right now, and we're looking forward to these last three races."

RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Craven scored a season-best 15th-place finish. "The car was decent. It wasn't the kind of strength I've had in the past here, but it was good and it was a good effort by everybody. I kind of feel like we didn't start with track position and we never got it. If we could have got it, I think we were certainly a sixth-10th-place car. It was still a good effort. We've got to build on this. The team is certainly improving. I'm proud of it. Today was certainly respectable. I hope we get something done this week where we're a little clearer on next year."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Ho