Ron Fellows, No. 87 Nortel Networks Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Qualified 13th, was fastest in Practice 2. The Save Mart 350 will be his first race in a Winston Cup car at Sears Point Raceway. Notes: Fellows is regarded as one of North America's...
Ron Fellows, No. 87 Nortel Networks Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Qualified 13th, was fastest in Practice 2. The Save Mart 350 will be his first race in a Winston Cup car at Sears Point Raceway.
Notes: Fellows is regarded as one of North America's best road racers and has been General Motors' development driver on both the Corvette C5-R and the Cadillac LMP. Last Saturday, June 17, 2001, Corvette Racing scored an historic double victory in the GTS-class in the 69th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race.
The No. 63 GM Goodwrench Corvette, driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Scott Pruett, finished 278 laps/2340.76 miles for an eighth overall and first in the production-based GTS class.
Fellows, the leading driver of the GM Corvette Team, also captured the overall title in the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona in February.
Fellows will return to Sears Point Raceway for the upcoming ALMS event, the X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma, July 20-22.
What happened during your qualifying attempt on Friday?
"We cut a tire. I think we probably picked up something going down the dragstrip to start the lap. So we were losing air in the left rear. That was just the luck of the draw. So we basically made a safe lap to get us into the field, and that gave up any chance for the pole. And when you're not a regular - all we really wanted to do was probably a mid-17 to get in the race. You can't afford to go for it because if you blow it, you're going home. We didn't have that option. We had to be a little bit more careful in qualifying, and that's what we were. And here we are - fastest in practice this morning."
How does the Winston Cup car feel compared to the Corvette that you drove last weekend?
"It's a huge difference. These cars are much more difficult to drive. They require a lot more finesse. It's 800 pounds heavier. They've got more power, less downforce, a narrower tire. They're difficult to handle. It's a lot more work - particularly here at Sears Point. And as slick as it is, you've really got to be careful."
Can you compare Sears Point to Watkins Glen?
"They're very different. The surface here is very slick. Watkins Glen has a lot of grip. The corners are a lot faster at Watkins Glen. There's a lot more sharp elevation. They're very different. The good news is that we're using the same tire that we have at Watkins Glen. So we're all learning a little something here. But it's just very different. It seems like it's a lot more work here too."
What do you think of the changes in the track and will there be more opportunity to pass?
"It's going to be tough to pass. That brake zone's pretty tough. It will be possible just because when you're going through the 3a/3b combination there's a lot of elevation and it's easy to make a mistake. That's what it's going to require. It's going to require a mistake on somebody's part where you can capitalize on that and then get inside of them. But there's an opportunity to make a mistake also coming off of (turn) 7."
Having just raced over 2000 miles at Le Mans, does this seem like a sprint race to you?
"No, even though it's not 24 hours, this is going to be an endurance race. I've just got to make sure when I come in the pits the first time that I don't undo my belts and the window net and jump out looking for O'Connell or Pruett."
Steve Park, No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 34th) Note: Steve Park is currently featured in People Magazine as one of America's Top 50 Bachelors. The July 2 issue is on newsstands now. Park is pictured on his Harley Davidson (article, page 101). Following the Save Mart 350 at Sears Point, Park will join Kyle Petty's Charity Ride Across America.
"We are really working hard on our set-up right now. We're not exactly where we'd like to be at this point. We are focusing a lot on the gear ratio and getting the most power and speed as possible through the turns. My dad, Bo, is the gear specialist back at DEI and he is here with us this weekend. I'm confident we'll be able to get it all figured out before race time."
Comments by Richard Childress, Owner of Richard Childress Racing (RCR), at trackside press conference with Sears Point Raceway and the Coleman Company:
"It's great to come out to California and see all the changes that have been made here. I think we've got to take our hats off to all you guys and what you've done for the speedway. And now you're really looking at what we're doing for the race fans. Coleman is a company that really thinks about our race fans. Without our race fans, none of us would be here -- from the writers to the TV to the racetracks. To be associated with a company like Coleman that steps up and does the things that they're going to do for the kids is great. To have a place for the kids to go is going to be wonderful.
"I'm an outdoor person and I've been using Coleman products ever since that first old Coleman lantern when I sat beside a creek a night and went snipe hunting. I can remember my first Coleman lantern on that trip. But I've got two grandsons. They're 11 and 9, and we're leaving here and going to Montana and we'll be using our Coleman products there. We're planning on going camping one night and we'll have all our products. Coleman is just a great company to be associated with. I've been involved in this sport for several years now and to be associated with Coleman and everything that they've got planned for the future is great. We've got a lot of things planned for the kids. I'll be involved in educational programs for them. But again, congratulations for everything that you've done at the speedway here."
What are you going to do during the weekend off?
"We're really looking forward to it. We've got a place in Montana and we're going to horseback ride. We've got one camping trip planned and we're going to ride the horses up into the mountains and spend the night and do some fishing and just enjoy the outdoors."
What are your feelings about going back to Daytona in a couple of weeks?
"It's going to be tough. We have tried to look at it as (just) another race, but it's not going to be another race. It's nothing we can turn away from. We've all got to go back to Daytona and accept it. My wife and I went down there a week or two ago and opened up the house and I got to thinking about everything that went on that Sunday night (after the accident Feb. 18th). It's going to be tough. I didn't think it would be until then."
What's going to happen with your race teams next year and are you going to have a third car?</bi>
"Right now, it's really hard for me to comment on it because I don't have drivers in place, we don't have a lot of things in place. Right now, we've got a lot of balls up in the air and we're very fortunate we do. It's going to come out great. RCR is going to have a great program next year. But until things are finalized, it's really hard to comment. I don't want to get out in front of some of the plans people have for us."
Has Mike Skinner's fate been decided yet?</bi>
"No. We have a contract with Skinner through next year. We both discussed that if we're not both completely happy here in another few weeks, we'll sit down and talk about the direction we're going to go."
Do you think Kevin Harvick isn't busy enough that you're going to put him in a truck race too?</bi>
"He wants to throw one of those in. He really wants to win. That's how determined he is. He said he didn't win in the trucks and he raced in the trucks and he wants to be able win in everything he's raced in. I talked to him and told him the biggest thing was to keep his eye on the ball. You can't take your eye off the ball in this business or you'll get behind real quick. He listens really well to me when we talk. I want to see him accomplish a lot of things. He's young. If I see that the things we're doing are affecting him, then he'll hear from me."
Are you surprised with how Kevin Harvick has handled all this?</bi>
"I think the thing that's surprised us is how quick that he's come around under the pressure. We were looking forward to next year and to him being a teammate with Dale (Earnhardt). He was scheduled to be in the AOL team. We felt we could win some races with him next year. But to come out and be as competitive as he's been right out of the box this year and under the circumstances. Just coming out was going to be tough enough. Under the circumstances and under the pressure, he's really done well."
Are you going to have a Busch team next year?</bi>
"Right now, our plans are to still have the Busch team next year. We feel the Busch teams have really complimented our Winston Cup teams. Right now, it's sort of like our minor league teams going into the major leagues like baseball. Without our Busch teams, we wouldn't have a Kevin Harvick. We have a tire carrier from one of the Busch teams. It's a great source to bring in new talent."
To clarify, is Lowe's definitely back next year as a sponsor?</bi>
"We have one more year on the Lowe's contract."