Chevrolet Rockingham Race Notes

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "When I was on new tires, I just sort of saved my tires and did the best I could with it. It was tire management. I just ran out of time. I needed a few more laps to catch him (Bobby...

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)

"When I was on new tires, I just sort of saved my tires and did the best I could with it. It was tire management. I just ran out of time. I needed a few more laps to catch him (Bobby Labonte), but my tires were going away pretty bad trying to run too hard after him. He got away from me and then he started taking it easy so he sort of saved his tires. I think he took off harder at the end. It was just a situation where he wanted to go a little harder than I could go. If I could have run hard on sticker tires, I could have run with Bobby. We were handicapped with a lot of shove on the front end, no downforce. I just took it easy on the tires and ran easy. A lot of other guys were taking off and burning their tires off early. I'd watched that early in the race. I made my mind up to take it easy on the tires and run toward the end. That's what we were doing. We just ran out of time. Bobby was awfully strong. He got way away from us and then we just couldn't get back to him.

"I watched at the first of the race and I knew I needed to take care of my tires. Bobby's tires went off and I went up there and led the race at one point to get five points. Then we both pitted and he ran off from me again. It was just that kind of day. They could go better on stickers than I could go. My car wouldn't turn good, so if I ran too hard with it pushing as bad as it was with the front end as light as it was, it would just burn the tires up, so I just took my time and saved my tires and tried to run toward the end. It paid off for second place. I wish it would have been a win.

"They introduced the Taurus and the Taurus beat us bad. I think this is a race track that downforce works but also I think if you've got a car that's handling you can overcome some of that. Gordon proved it here two years ago against the Tauruses. It's just a race track if you've got a car that's balanced you can overcome the downforce.

"I think the Pontiacs are pretty competitive with us. If we just had a little more nose where we could have a little more downforce and run hard at first like they did. Again, I think everybody will attest with worn out pavement it doesn't show much. You're just taking care of your tires and if you haven't got a car that's pushing or real loose you can maintain and baby the tires and make 'em go on a long run."

RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos)

"I wish we could have won it. Who knows? Another 10 laps might have won it. We made some improvements, but I think we finished fourth here in the race last year with the '99 (Monte Carlo). Look at what won. They're going to go to the wind tunnel. We'll see what happens after that.

"That's the car we're going to run at Las Vegas (Monte Carlo that finished second today and is now headed for wind tunnel testing in Marietta, Ga.). We'll probably get it back sometime tomorrow and work on it all night tomorrow night and leave Tuesday morning with it. We planned on going back this evening and doing some work on it. We had some guys lined up to do the work.

"Dale did a real good job today of managing the tires, not abusing the tires early. I think that was a big key for us being up there at the end of the race. Early on we couldn't run with the guys, but he was really good at managing his tires, saving his tires, just trying to have a long, consistent.

"This is downforce. We run these cars at a lot of places. Where it will really show up is when you get to a flatter track like Las Vegas, California, Loudon.

"If NASCAR is doing everything they can to get us a level playing field and if that's what it takes, we'll stay up all night and get it ready to go. Tomorrow they'll get it out of the wind tunnel, hopefully by lunch. We'll work all night tomorrow and tomorrow night. It should be back at the shop by three or four o'clock tomorrow afternoon. We'll work on it and leave sometime Tuesday morning.

"Let's see what happens at the wind tunnel. I don't think there will be any surprises at the wind tunnel. I don't know who's been crying. Everybody is just wanting to see a more level playing field. All you've got to do is just look at some of the finishes. Let the finishes speak for themselves."

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We had the best car on the track today, and the team was doing a great job. We just had a problem that knocked us out of contention. The distributor went out. End of story."

LARRY McCLURE (Car owner No. 4 Kodak MAX film Monte Carlo)

"We struggled when we got here and didn't qualify well. We kept working with the race car and chassis, and Bobby drives this race track really well. He's won here before. We have to go back and look at the part failure we had when we were leading the race and see if it's going to be a problem for us. We were 20 laps down when we went back out, and there's really no reason to go back out there and run hard after that. The car was good. Pit stops were excellent. Even though we didn't have the best pit, the crew did a good job for us. It was a brand new engine, a brand new distributor and it just failed on us. I'm real fortunate. We've got a good bunch of guys that work together. We've had success before and they know how that feels. That's why they keep getting up and doing this. I don't really have a big problem motivating most of them. When they have a failure like that, it's almost like it's a fluke thing. I don't know if we're snake bitten or what, but we need not to let these things happen. Look at the 99. It's a really good race team and they broke a part in their motor and lost a cylinder. The 40 car had something break. It's disappointing, but you've got to go on. The best car doesn't always win the race. We've got next week. That's one thing about NASCAR. Bobby feels a little uncomfortable because we've finished 40th or worse the last two races to start the season. We haven't been a team that qualifies good. He's going to have to step up and take up some slack and we're going to have to step up and take up some slack. Hopefully we won't have to worry about that. You've got to get in the race before you can win it. This is a good, solid team. That was only the second engine we've ever broke at Daytona and Talladega (in 2000 Daytona 500). The only reason it broke was because we had a valve spring failure. We used the same valve springs today and they didn't fail and we turned them 2000 more rpm's. We'll get it right."

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We got a lap down early and had to play catchup the rest of the day. That's tough to do for a rookie at a place like this. We learned a lot and we'll be better prepared when we come back here next time."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We were good. We easily had a top-five car. We were as fast as the leaders all day long. We led some laps and had a set of tires that got real loose. That one set wore the right rear smack out. We struggled and combined that with a bad pit stop and that got the leaders right on our butt. I tried to hold them off, but I couldn't use up my stuff because we had 30 laps left. I finally had to let them go and just pick off some more spots where we could. It was a good day for us. We were good on short runs, long runs. It seemed like we were better than a lot of people on real long runs. We were getting excellent tire wear. It seemed like this was our best effort at a track where you need more downforce. We're fighting tight. We've got to get the car so mechanically loose to get it to turn that we still have a hard time turning in the center of the corner and then you're mechanically loose. If we can work on the balance a little bit more we'll have a good race car. I'm glad to pick up where we left off last year. To come back here and come out with a top-10 finish is a credit to this whole team.

"Dale Earnhardt and I sat and talked last night and he told me the setup in his car. I told him the setup in my car. I was real happy with my setup and he was real happy with his and they were totally opposite. He's the guy who taught me how to drive around here. I drove behind him for about 120 laps one time. He taught me how to drive around Rockingham, but I guess I've still got a lot to learn."

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)

"I was pretty decent on the short runs, and we were pretty decent the first half of the race. We got real loose in the second half of the race. We didn't have the drive off we needed to hang with those guys. I thought we were going to be in pretty good shape, so I tried to take care of the tires, but it never came in for me at the end of that run. We learned a lot. We got in the top 10 and we're getting better. We're going to get better each weekend. I'm real happy with the job (crew chief) Robbie Loomis is doing. I'm real happy with the whole team. We'll get a little more experience working together as a team. We had a few things that happened to us that got us behind and we had to try to make up for it the rest of the day. We should have been better than we were. I thought we were better than a 10th-place car most of the day. We're a little more competitive with the Fords. It's the Pontiacs we've got to worry about now. We got a caution to fall our way today, and that really helped."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We had a good car. We had a fifth or sixth-place car. The alternator went out again. It went out early and we had two batteries in the car. I kept switching back and forth. Finally the last 50 laps it barely would run so we went from fifth to 15th. We'll be competitive at Vegas. I think me and the 3 and 4 and 24 had the best Chevrolets today. Our car was good on long runs. We outrun the 88 all day, but the alternator went out and we were riding around with about 500 horsepower. That just ain't quite enough here. We did all we could do today, so we'll just go to the house now and hope we have a little better luck next week at Las Vegas."

TED MUSGRAVE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"You always have a good time when you're out there racing good. There was a little inconsistency on the tire codes and things like that. That bit a lot of the teams. We had a set on that got us a lap down, but after we got them back off we were OK again. We kept adjusting the car for them, not knowing what was going on. All-in-all, the car ran good on long runs. It wasn't too sporty in the beginning, but 20-30 laps into the run we were in really good shape and we could start picking them off. We just got caught by these guys short stopping. The cautions came out and got us down a lap. You've got to gamble sometimes, but it didn't quite work out for us this time. Otherwise, we probably would have been on the lead lap at the end. We had the same setup in the car that Geoffrey (Bodine) drove here last year. It was really good on the long runs last year. From 1999, the 2000 body didn't seem to make that much difference. We've just got to get a little drag out of them for the bigger speedways and we'll be all right."

JIM LONG (Crew chief No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"You've got to handle at Rockingham. You can have the fenders knocked off the car. Aero plays some part here, but if there's a big difference, you're going to see it next weekend at Las Vegas. Just because some Chevrolets finished up front today, it didn't matter. You've got to handle here, and you've got to be good on the long runs. You're going to find out more next week. The aero is going to show up at Las Vegas.

"I talked to Geoffrey last night. He had an operation this morning on his hand to repair his wrist. He's doing really good for what he went through. It's going to be awhile before he gets back, but we just hope he heals up really good. He's pretty swelled up and he's pretty sore. He's pretty broken up, but I think he looks pretty good considering what he just did.

"The biggest thing he needs is rest and he hasn't had much of that. It's just going to take him awhile to recover. He tires easy right now. He's sore and the pain is catching up with him.

"I'm very impressed with Ted Musgrave. The man stayed up on the wheel all day. He adjusted to the car as we went from tight to loose conditions and chased the tires all day. He took care of the car and drove a smart race. I'm really impressed. I'm looking forward to going to the next races with him."

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We remained consistent and got a 24th-place finish out of it. That's nothing to write home about, but we'll take it. We didn't wreck. We didn't blow up and a lot of cars finished behind us. It was a positive effort the team. In the middle of the race we were loose. We tried to tighten up the car, and that made it worse. But we can't complain because we are a lot better off now than we were last year at this time. I never know what position I'm in while I'm on the track. Only the boys in the pits know. I try to focus on each lap, and I don't worry about who is in front of me. At a track like this, the only time you worry about position is during the final 20 laps. We don't race other cars here. We race the clock. We focus on making our laps as quick as possible. If you try to race other teams, you end up going slower."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bobby Labonte , Ted Musgrave