RON FELLOWS (No. 87 Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Fellows, a 40-year-old from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, will once again drive the No. 87 Bully Hill Vineyards Monte Carlo for car owner Joe Nemechek in Sunday's Global...
RON FELLOWS (No. 87 Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Fellows, a 40-year-old from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, will once again drive the No. 87 Bully Hill Vineyards Monte Carlo for car owner Joe Nemechek in Sunday's Global Crossing @ The Glen. Fellows, who won the NASCAR Busch Grand National race earlier this season at Watkins Glen International in Nemechek's Monte Carlo, finished .763 seconds behind Jeff Gordon's Monte Carlo in last year's Winston Cup race at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course. "I hope I can improve a spot on last year's finish, but being one of the non-regulars on the tour, that might be pretty tough," Fellows said. "Even though I was disappointed with a second-place finish last year, thinking back, racing just one race a year with these guys, I was pretty fortunate to finish second. "There's nothing like a challenge. Brian Pattie (crew chief) and the guys gave me a great car last year, and we had some great pit stops. Step one this weekend will be to make the race. Step two will be to try to win it. I think we've had seven races together (with Nemechek's crew in NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series races). We've only had one DNF, and we've won some races, so maybe we can put it all together and put on another good show in the Winston Cup race. "I love Winston Cup racing. It's the most competitive form of racing in the world. I just wish they had more road races, or I wish I could get some more oval track experience. I really like the fast ovals, but it's tough to win a Winston Cup race. So many more guys are possible winners on the road courses now, although Jeff Gordon has had a monopoly winning lately on the road courses. There's a lot of competition in the garage. There's a lot more money and a lot more talent than the Busch circuit. The talent behind the wheel is just incredible, so I'd say it'd be 10 times harder for me to win a Cup race at Watkins Glen than it was to win the Busch race. "The evolution of Winston Cup racing in the last two years has been incredible. They're running basically the same engines, but they make a lot more power. Two years ago, a pit stop in less than 20 seconds was good. Now they need to be less than 15 seconds. It's just unbelievable. "I really would like to get some more oval track experience, but I think maybe my age is preventing that from happening. Anybody coming into Winston Cup, unless you're someone like Matt Kenseth or Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Tony Stewart, it's going to take you a couple of years to be competitive. I'm 40, but I've never been driving better in my life. I've never been more determined or focused. It really doesn't matter how old you are. It matters how big your heart is, and mine is feeling pretty big right now. "I was disappointed last year when we finished second. You get so few opportunities to be in contention to win, and it was only my third or fourth Winston Cup start. To not be able to make it happen, you wonder if you'll ever get the opportunity to get it done again. I lose sleep over it. We only lost by three-quarters of a second to Jeff Gordon, but he's the road course king right now. On both coasts, he's the guy to beat. I'm sure Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd will be strong, too. "We had an excellent test at Watkins Glen. I think we ran about a second faster than Rusty Wallace's pole speed last year, so I'm really looking for the qualifying record to fall. I think we're going faster for a number of reasons. I noticed a different level in the grip of the track, so the tires must be better, and the new Monte Carlo is a much better downforce package. "I really, really, really want to win a Winston Cup race. As a team, I think we're better prepared to do that this year, and we'd better be. The competition is so much better. If we haven't improved, then it'll be tough just to crack into the top 10. We're taking the same chassis we had there last year with the 2000 Monte Carlo body on it. "I love Watkins Glen. It has tremendous history. Race tracks like that just aren't built any more. It's just a tremendous place to drive. The only time I thought about it (who I was racing last year) was early when I passed Dale Earnhardt. I thought that was pretty cool. I gave a wave to him. "After that, I was focusing. Other than catching Jeff Gordon, I couldn't really tell you who I was passing. They were just cars to get by trying to get to the front. I watched Jeff Gordon's car and used what I could to take advantage of where I was just a little bit better. It just wasn't enough. "The Camaros I used to race was the best training for these cars. They require a lot of finesse. They're quite heavy, but they do require a lot of fine tuning. I know what I want on a road course, and I guess that's the difference. When you've got a team like Joe's with (crew chief) Brian Pattie, Brian has quickly come to understand my driving and what I need the car to do. I have a tremendous amount of respect, and it's a real level of comfort working with Brian. I'd really like to continue to build on that."
JOE NEMECHEK (Owner No. 87 Bully Hill Vineyards Monte Carlo and driver of No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "If the experience level plays into it, Ron should beat everybody there. He's probably got more laps at that track than anyone else who'll be racing there. I think the car is a lot better this year. Brian Pattie and the guys have really done a good job with it, and they had a great test up there. "The car is awesome, and they're going to be running one of Peter Guild's motors from Pro Motors. I just hope I'm able to run with Ron. I know Jeff Gordon has been the guy to beat on the road courses the past few years, but times are fixing to change. Ron's car is going to be painted the same way we had the truck and Busch car at Watkins Glen this year, and if I can't beat him, then I hope that No. 87 Monte Carlo ends up in victory lane. "Everything is going to be ready by the time we get there. I've got to be real careful about that so it doesn't demand a lot of my time once we get to the track. Anything that comes up at the track, Brian Pattie will handle. He's a great young crew chief. He's 24 years old, and he has a very young family. He has two young children with a third one on the way, so I know his life is real busy, but I'm having a hard time keeping him. He's ready to be a Winston Cup crew chief, and a lot of people know that. They've been trying to get him the past two years. I think he's going to be at the top of the heap for crew chiefs real soon. "Right now, all he's thinking about is helping Ron Fellows win that road race on Sunday at Watkins Glen. Ron led three laps up there last year, and he's going back with intentions of leading the last one this year. It's going to be tough for a guy to come in like that and beat all these Winston Cup regulars, but Ron is one of the best road racers I've ever seen. He's taught me a lot, and if anyone can do it, Ron can. I know he's determined, and we're going to give him the equipment to get it done. If we can get a little luck rolling his way, the sky's the limit for Ron Fellows at Watkins Glen."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) NOTE: Gordon won his sixth straight NASCAR Winston Cup road race on June 25, 2000 at Sears Point Raceway. Gordon will be going for his seventh straight road course victory on Sunday at Watkins Glen and a record fourth straight win at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn track. "It's not hard for me to go back just three or four years ago when a good road race for me was if I stayed on the race track and didn't miss a shift. Or I guess I should say, didn't miss five shifts. Nowadays, it's just trying to get the most out of the car and be smooth and not be too aggressive. "It's funny because when I look back to when we first started coming to these road courses, I can physically see where other cars were beating us. I didn't know how they were doing it, but I could see it. I was able to get more comfortable with shifting. When you get more comfortable with shifting, you're able to get more aggressive with your driving style. You can get the most out of the race car in all the corners. "You've got to be conscious of your brakes on the road courses. You can run hard every single lap, but if you do come down to a one or two or five-lap shootout at the end, you're not going to have anything to race those guys. You've got to keep that in mind. Plus, I think it helps you be a little bit smoother by not being too aggressive. "I race with the best race car drivers in the world every weekend and it's a privilege any time you get into victory lane. I think it definitely is very gratifying. I know how good Ron Fellows is on a road course. He's so smooth. He makes no mistakes. You always wonder what those guys have, they're road course specialists. You wonder what they have that you don't have, and it was nice to put a package out there that was able to pull off a win, especially with a guy like Ron chasing me. Racing a guy like that makes you a better road course driver, so I enjoyed that last year. "At times, I had Ron on my bumper. I wanted to stretch it out and get some distance between us if I could. At times, I would try to run a hard, fast lap and I'd actually slow down. Once I got in a rhythm and slowed myself down and didn't make mistakes, the times started coming back down. For the first time on a road course, when the fuel level went away, the car actually got better. That said a lot about Goodyear's Watkins Glen tire."
CHEVY SHORTS -- Jeff Gordon will also try to extend another record on Sunday at Watkins Glen. In just 243 career starts, Gordon has won 51 NASCAR Winston Cup races. Forty-nine of those wins came in a Monte Carlo, the most successful nameplate in NASCAR Winston Cup history with 281 career victories. Darrell Waltrip is second with 48 triumphs in a Monte Carlo, and Dale Earnhardt ranks third with 44.... Jerry Nadeau, fresh off a fourth-place finish last Saturday in the Brickyard 400, has finished fourth in two of his last three starts and has three top-10 finishes in his past five starts. Nadeau, driver of the No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Monte Carlo, finished eighth in the road race at Sears Point on June 25. Nadeau finished fifth last year at Watkins Glen.... Mike Skinner finished ninth last year at Watkins Glen in his No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo. Fresh off a ninth-place finish in the Brickyard 400, Skinner has finished ninth four times in the past eight races. He's 11th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings, 147 points behind 10th-place Mark Martin and 631 behind leader Bobby Labonte.