Dario Franchitti and No. 40 Dodge Journey Team (NSCS) and No. 40 Fastenal Dodge (NNS) Reed Sorenson and No. 41 Target Team (NSCS) Juan Pablo Montoya and No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Team (NSCS) Bryan Clauson and No. 41 Texaco/Havoline Team ...
Dario Franchitti and No. 40 Dodge Journey Team (NSCS) and No. 40 Fastenal Dodge (NNS)
Reed Sorenson and No. 41 Target Team (NSCS)
Juan Pablo Montoya and No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Team (NSCS)
Bryan Clauson and No. 41 Texaco/Havoline Team (NNS)
Topic: Your thoughts on the season-opener at Daytona and your outlook for the 2008 season...
Dario Franchitti: "At 34 years old, I'm doing something completely different. I never thought I'd get this chance to learn something completely new. I achieved more than I ever thought I'd achieve in open-wheel, now I'm getting the chance to come and race in NASCAR. For me, it's brilliant."
Reed Sorenson: "There's nothing like getting down to Daytona and getting the season started. Everyone starts out with a clean slate and although it's the first of 36 races, it's important to get the season started off on the right foot. It kind of sets the stage for how the season is going to go, at least it seems that way. We had a good test in January, but we really won't know how good the car is until we get out there in a big draft and turn a good number of laps. Handling is going to play a big role at Daytona, unlike the first CoT race at Talladega. The teams that put their finger on the handling will be up front at the end of the 500.
"Overall we're looking forward to the season. We had a lot of DNF's last year, but we finished higher in the points. We improved how the car ran at most of the tracks last year, but we had a ton of bad luck. I think if we can get rid of that we'll be good. Jimmy (Elledge) and I are great friends and we know what the other is saying and thinking. This is our year and our goal is to win a race or two, eliminate the mistakes and finish consistently in the top 15 each week. If we can do that we'll be in line to make the Chase."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "It's really hard to say that we're going to have a great Daytona 500 or we're going to struggle at it in the Texaco/Havoline Dodge. Hopefully we have a good race and everything goes really smooth and well. At the same time some things in these races are completely out of your hands. That is part of the excitement of it, you just don't know what will happen.
"The Daytona 500 is way up there on the list of important races to me. It's always a big race. There are maybe three or four races in the world and you always want to be in them. I've always run pretty well in those pressure-filled, high-profile races and I hope I can make something happen here.
"I think the Daytona 500 is a really cool race. The fans make it what it is more than the drivers do, and that is what's so great about this sport."
Bryan Clauson: "We had a really good test in January. I had never even seen Daytona until we came here to test so all of this has really been a whole new experience for me. When I think about this track I always think about Dale Earnhardt winning in 2001, which I think I was only eight-years old then. I can remember watching that with my dad and thinking how cool it was when he won especially how the entire sport seemed to come together to congratulate him.
"Looking ahead to what is to come for me this year, there are a lot of uncertainties right now because of sponsorship. I know Chip, Felix and everyone are working to make sure I am on the track but it is hard coming into this deal not having a lot of stock car experience and then throwing on top of that not running every week. It's tough. They are piecing things together and I am confident they will do the best they can and make the right decisions as we move forward. It's about continuing that learning process we started last year that went pretty well between the ARCA and Nationwide races. We have a good start lined up right now. Definitely not being in the car adds a few more hurdles to overcome but all you can do when you aren't out there on the track is go, watch and listen to learn as much as you can to keep the momentum you've started going.
"I'm also very fortunate to have guys like Brian Pattie and Brad Parrott to guide me, as well as Dario, Juan and Reed. Reed has been especially helpful here lately. He stuck around at the Las Vegas test and got in the car, told me what he felt so we could compare notes. I really appreciated that and it really did help a lot."
No. 40 Dodge Journey Dodge (NSCS): New Chassis, #810.
No. 41 Target Dodge (NSCS): The team used chassis #748 is last season's second Talladega race and first CoT superspeedway race (10th-place finish)
No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge (NSCS): Crew Chief Donnie Wingo and the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline team brought chassis #750 to Daytona International Speedway for the first race at the 2.5-mile track in the CoT. Montoya piloted this chassis last season at Talladega Superspeedway where he finished the 188-lap contest in the 15th position. Montoya and the team also tested this chassis in February, and while it wasn't the quicker of the two cars they brought to Florida, it was the most stable and drafted the best.
No. 40 Fastenal Dodge (NNS): The blue, black and white Fastenal colors will be carried aboard chassis #751 this weekend. Montoya last raced this car at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2007 during the Aaron's 312, which he and the team started 20th and then finished seventh.
No. 41 Texaco/Havoline Dodge (NNS): The No. 41 Texaco/Havoline Dodge--chassis #551--made three starts in 2007, including two runs at Daytona International Speedway and one at Talladega Superspeedway. Sorenson raced the same car in the 2006 Daytona Nationwide race during which he and the No. 41 CGRFS team took two early-race setbacks and turned them into a second-half comeback. The team maintained a top-10 run the remainder of the race and survived a last-lap colossal collision to grab a ninth-place finish (started 13th).