Fifty-four driver/car combinations practiced today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The quickest time was set by Jerry Nadeau in the No. 10 Pontiac, at 49.6350 at 181.324 mph. JOE NEMECHECK, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO ...
Fifty-four driver/car combinations practiced today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The quickest time was set by Jerry Nadeau in the No. 10 Pontiac, at 49.6350 at 181.324 mph.
JOE NEMECHECK, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (50.5086/178.187):
"It's going pretty good. We're just trying to make laps, mainly in race trim, just trying to find the proper balance on the car. This is a brand new race car. We tried building something like the 24 and the 48 have been running. It's driving pretty good. Depending on the sun and the heat and all that stuff, it's typically Indy. We're learning a lot."
ON THE SOFT WALLS: "Never even noticed them. They're all white. You don't pay any attention to them. I'll be glad they're there if you happen to hit them; it will be good. You don't even know they're there."
HARD TO DRIVE THIS TRACK: "Indy, the best way to describe Indy, you have four distinct corners, so, instead of two corners you have four. But you have an entry and and an exit to each one of those. So, now there's eight times that you can mess up, compared to four on a normal track. This track you have to really hit your marks. If you can hit your marks you'll run well. For qualifying you have to hit your marks perfectly, be at the right speed, not too fast. You've got to be right to be fast."
ON THE DIAMOND GRINDING: "The track is extremely smooth. It seems to have grip. It's really hot today, so traction is a premium. Either you're tight or you're loose, but the straightaways are extremely smooth. All the ripples are gone. They did a good job grinding."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (51.2267/175.690):
"It's got a lot more grip than it had last year, with the grooves and stuff in the race track. It's still the same race track it was last year, though. You're still fighting, trying to get the car to turn up off and not to have it too loose in the center. We're gaining on it; we got a pretty good race car; we're just trying to make it consistent for race runs."
ON THE SOFT WALLS: "I don't even pay attention to all that stuff. We just worry about what we've got to worry about."
ARE YOU TIRED? YOU WERE WINNING YESTERDAY AND NOW YOU'RE HERE TESTING: "We're all a little bit tired; we'll be better tomorrow. We just wanted to get the standard stuff worked out today and run both of the cars. This is the car we ran in Chicago. The guys worked harder than anything. They had to change the motor and transmission and everything underneath this car to get it here. We're all a little bit tired, but we'll go get ourselves something to eat tonight and come back tomorrow."
KEN HOWES, DIRECTOR OF COMPETITION, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (Jeff Gordon's No. 24 duPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo - 50.7617/177.299 - and Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo - 51.4541/174.913 - testing here):
WHAT DOES A TEAM WITH THREE CARS LEARN HERE? DID YOU GET INFO FROM THE TEAM THAT WAS HERE LAST WEEK? "A little. You learn some things, but some of it is so driver specific. Some drivers like one thing, some like something else. You can use some of it, not all of it. It's a big race here so you always seem to try to make that little extra effort, try more things. Speeds keep going up; we've just seen that here, pretty fast. We've probably still got Monday blues. We haven't really woken up out of our fog yet. So hopefully tomorrow will be better. At least we found some things today that didn't work. I'm not sure that we found anything that did. There's different things going on. Jimmie hasn't been here before, so he's taking his time and hasn't really been running in race setup, just getting familiar with the track. So I think tomorrow we will see a lot more out of Jimmie. Start making some qualifying runs."
BOBBY LABONTE (testing a 2002 Monte Carlo for Joe Gibbs Racing, No. 18 - 51.8805/173.476):
HOW MANY LAPS HAVE YOU RUN ON THE MONTE CARLO? "Thirty laps."
BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MONTE CARLO AND THE PONTIAC? "There is a little bit of difference. We seem to have a ride height problem right now and we're not quite as good on our cars, either car, as the 20 car is, and they have a little better idea. Our cars were equal this morning. Now it can be just a little better than the other car. I think it drives good, its balanced good. I just need to compare off the 20 car today, because they did a little bit better job getting their car down on the ground and their aero package better on both cars than we did. For some reason or another we can't seem to find the problem yet. I'm happy with it."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO DRIVING THE 2003 MONTE CARLO? "Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. we're excited about it. Everybody is. It's a lot of work for us. We have to change a lot of body styles over, but I think that we're up for it, and we want to try that, hopefully we can be competitive out of the box next year."
TONY STEWART (testing a 2002 Monte Carlo for Joe Gibbs Racing, No. 20 - 51.2947/175.457):
YOU'VE BEEN IN A CAR ALMOST 24 HOURS: "I'm ready for a nice, cold shower, a very light meal, and I'm looking forward to a face to face meeting with a pillow for about the next 16 hours."
ON TESTING THE MONTE CARLO AND GRAND PRIX TODAY: "Busy day, that's for sure. Just trying to sort out things. We've tried different packages as far as what we ran last year with the Pontiac and the direction we've been going this year with the Pontiac. And kind of throwing both setups at the Chevrolet too just to see how it reacts. We had some problems with an oil leak problem over there that kept us from running as much as I would like to have run the Monte Carlo today, but all in all, both cars I thought ran fairly good times in race trim today, and just excited to take what we learned today, sit back tonight and get a game plan on what we want to do tomorrow to maximize our practice tomorrow."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO MAKE CHANGES TO A CAR AT THE END OF A SEASON? "To me it doesn't matter. If you go in my office in there, it's still gray, still has the same dash, and the same rollcage it had before. To me it's not a big change; it's a bigger change for the crew than anybody. The guys are having to cut a lot of bodies off cars and remount a lot of bodies. It puts a lot of extra load on those guys, but we'll know a little more tomorrow night. But if it seems like it's a better package, then those guys don't mind spending the extra time to make it right for us."