Darlington post race Chevy drivers'' notes

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That was the second lap. Can you believe that? People just aren't using their heads today. I don't know if the threat of rain has some something to do with it or not. We'll get back...

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"That was the second lap. Can you believe that? People just aren't using their heads today. I don't know if the threat of rain has some something to do with it or not. We'll get back out there, but it's torn up pretty good. I think Steve Park and Sterling ran into each other right in front of me. I was on the outside, and all of a sudden I got wedged into the wall. Then I got hit from behind and got turned around and the other side got up into the wall. I was like a pinball. There was nothing I could do. If they want to go, you've got to let 'em go. You just get in line and ride and race the race track. These guys are being idiots out there today."

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I don't know what happened up front. Everybody checked up. I checked up. I didn't hit anybody, but I got nailed from behind by Jeremy Mayfield. It wasn't his fault. Everybody was just impatient."

KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"Everybody was just checking up down the back straightaway. Whoever was behind me got in the back of me and that's what started the whole deal."

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

"We cut a right front tire. I was just out there running, trying to stay out of trouble and biding my time. I don't know if we ran over something from one of those first wrecks or what. It's torn up pretty bad, but we're going to fix it and get back out there somehow."

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

NOTE: The seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion finished third Sunday and retained third place in the series standings. He trails leader Bobby Labonte by 32 points after the first five races.

"This is the car I ran second at Rockingham with. I felt like it was a good car for this race track. We qualified well and we raced well with it. I was a little too tight on the short runs. I couldn't really get out there. I had to take care of the tires, and then on the long runs, I'd get on the neutral. It was a day of saving your tires and biding your time. It worked out at the end. I'd like to see maybe a caution with 10 or 15 to go and I could have got tires and raced 'em. On the start of my run, I was really saving my tires.

"It's going to be a good year for us I hope. The guys are working awful hard and we've got good race cars. If we just keep doing what we're doing, we've got an opportunity to race for that championship anyway. That's what makes you feel good. You can race and be competitive and have a chance to win.

"I had a couple of wins last year, and Ward (Burton) went quite awhile without a win. I know it feels good to win. That's what Bill Davis and them guys need. You work awful hard and you don't win or something happens, when you do finally win and you win at a place like Darlington where it's tough to win. It makes you feel great. I know how it feels, and I know how it is to win. That's what we all want to do. You want to race good and be competitive and win races, so congratulations to Ward.

"I think the strategy for short pitting there toward the end of the race did work for Burton and Jarrett more than me. I had to bide my time on tires, and I was just taking it easy on tires. I couldn't go hard. I wish we could have had a caution close to the end and we could have got tires and just raced as hard as we could and we would have seen what we had.

"I just got out of the car, and I haven't talked to Park or him (Earnhardt Jr.) or any of the guys. I hadn't had time to go over and chat with him. I don't know what happened. I'll have to find out the facts and we'll see what goes on on Monday.

"I don't know where I was at. Everybody talked about me being gone or whatever. I've been there. I just kept working and the guys kept working and we didn't give up on each other. Here we are winning races and being competitive to win races.

"Darlington, there's a lot of history here, and I've won a lot of races. I'm not the one that makes the calls on where we're racing or how many races we race a year. I know we're racing a lot of races now and time to work and fix cars is very short. They're talking about adding races, and talking about changing templates at the first of the season, and they're going to work our guts out some more. They're changing restrictor plates at Talladega. They're going to work the engine guys some more. It's just costing the car owners a lot of money. I don't know what they're going to do. They might add five more races. It's NASCAR's call and whatever they do, we'll try to step up to the plate and do it. Our sponsors are maxed out, and it's a tough call right now. I don't know that I want to see Darlington go away. It's a good race track for us. It's a tough race track to run. It needs some asphalt on it, but other than that, it's a good place to race."

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

"We were real happy with it. We broke at Daytona and Rockingham and we were 37th in points. We had a shot at going home this weekend. We jumped eight spots in the standings (after today's seventh-place finish), so that'll give us a little security blanket. I'm really proud of this race car. We took it and built it brand new for Bristol. It ran so fast there. We got a little confused after the nose change that NASCAR gave us, so we decided to bring it here and it worked out good for us. We're looking forward to Bristol. We came to Darlington with a new car and didn't put one scratch on it. The car ran way up under the track record there. We're pretty close to pole material there, so we're excited about it. The 99, his brother, well, I figured they must have had dinner together last night and traded off shock setups or something. I'm really glad for Ward Burton and Bill Davis. They've been struggling for so long since they won that race at Rockingham. You can't find any better people.

"We were so far down in points, we needed to have a good showing here. We ended up seventh today, and we finished seventh in both races here last year. That was our best finish of the season, and I guess we've got a lock on seventh-place finishes at Darlington now. We'll try to kick it up a notch or two next time, and I feel real good about Bristol next week. I think we've got this team headed in the right direction."

LARRY McCLURE (Team Owner No. 4 Kodak MAX film Monte Carlo)

"We had a good car. It was a lot better finish than we've had in the past. It was our first top 10 of the year, and we're looking forward to Bristol now. This is the same car we tested at Bristol, and we're looking for an even better run up there. We'll fluff and buff it and go to Bristol."

RICK MAST (No. 41 Big Daddy's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We had that one stop and got a set of tires and it felt like the right rear was flat. That's when we lost all our time. We lost two laps during that run. We pitted early to get the tires off and a caution came out and got me down another lap. It just kind of ended our whole day. We ran up front a little today, but it was a little short-lived."

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

"After the first stop we got so loose I couldn't drive it. It was just a matter of time. They didn't want me to come in there and pit, and you take chances by staying out on the race track like that. The car wouldn't drive right and I wrecked it. We tested down here, and we had a fine test. I don't know if we had a bad shock today or what. I was having a good time at first, but when the car got where I couldn't drive it, I was just trying to get out of everybody's way without wrecking. I hope we learned something today. We had a real good car to start the race. I kept telling Tony and the guys in the pits that the car was real bad loose after that first pit stop. We couldn't get it fixed. Hopefully we learned a valuable lesson today. We took a chance and tore up the race car. When the car ain't running right, you need to get in there and fix it. It was terrible. If it (weather) affected it, it affected my car more than everybody else's. Everybody else seemed to be driving just fine. My car just crashed in every corner. I was in the way. I felt like I was wrecking every lap."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"That's the same thing that happened to us at Las Vegas. We blew an engine. It's a shame. We had a great race car. The guys were working hard, and I drove my heart out to stay on the lead lap. It looked like we were going to get a break and run up in the top five, then the motor broke. We're really disappointed."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"The only thing I feel good about is we missed a couple of wrecks that we should have been in. The pit crew did an awesome job. We owe this pit crew a lot. I can't enough about them. I did my best to keep all the fenders on the car so we can take it to Texas. I don't know how wild it looked today, but it was plenty wild. Nobody would calm down. On the second lap, we were jacked plum sideways over there. I'm asking myself, 'What's this about?' That's Darlington. After three or four laps you just slip and slide and hold on for dear life. Our car was good on short runs and real bad on long runs. I just haven't figured this place out, but we're not going to give up."

LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe's Monte Carlo)

"I'd say we jumped a few rungs on the ladder. This place has been disastrous for the 31 team. We held our own today. This is my fifth race with Mike here and the last four races, it's like wherever we started we lost about 20 positions before lap 25. We didn't do that today. We just never got the front to bite like we needed it to bite. I think that's Mike best finish here by a long way. We lost a lot of ground on that last pit stop. We were 12 seconds ahead of the leader and the guys had a 16-second stop. We pitted within one lap of all of 'em, and we went from 10 or 12 seconds in front of them to about three or four seconds behind them. I'm not sure what happened there. Otherwise, we may have finished 11th or 12th. We'll take it. We can build on that. The last few races here, we were either trying to build on a 30th-place finish or a bunch of carnage loaded on the trailer. We can build on that. If someone had told me that our best finish in the first five races would have been a 14th at Darlington, I'd have asked what tree you fell out of. Our graph has been going the wrong way. We started with a 16th at Daytona and got shuffled there at the end. We were 21st at Rockingham and 27th at Vegas and 30th at Atlanta. We were going the wrong way. This will shoot us back up a little bit. I'm disappointed. How in the world can you be excited about finishing 14th? But, if I step back and look at this team's performance here and Mike history here and how our season has gone so far, I can't be all down."

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

"It was a good, solid day for us and the guys did an awesome job in the pits. We led some. We faded a little bit, but I think it was as much me as the car. The car was pretty good. The guys were running so hard on new tires. I just knew they were going to burn their stuff up and come back to us but they didn't. They just kept pulling away. Finally at the end, I ran real hard and found out I could stay up there fairly decent and not fade too much. I learned some things about Darlington. Different tire, different beast here. You can run hard at the beginning and it'll stay with you longer than I thought it would."

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

"I thought we made real good adjustments all day today. I kept saying it was loose, loose and we finally tightened it up too much and went too far. We're going through all those little trial and error things you've got to go through. I'm happy with all the calls Robbie (crew chief Loomis) is making. We're just going to keep working and getting better each weekend. We'll keep chipping away. We got an eighth today and we were ninth last weekend. We'll keep going after it. I'm not happy with it, but we're making gains. We're not expecting to go from being a 10th-place car to a winning car. It's going to take some time. I think we were much closer today than we've been. I knew how good he was early on. He (Ward Burton) was on older tires and I was on new tires and it was tough for me to run him down."

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo)

"We've led three of the first five races. We sat on our first pole this weekend, and we're going to get some more poles this year. We've still got a long way to go as far as our communication during the race. I'm getting better when I can look through the window and talk to him in practice and see his reactions. When you're talking on the radio and can't see him, it's hard for me because I haven't been around him to be able to tell by his voice how bad the car is or how loose it is or how tight. Definitely progress. A true champion looks a lot at himself and what he's got to do, but we've got a long way to go with our team and our communication so we can help him. I think when we bring it all together, as long as we all recognize what we can do to improve, then when we do get there, it's all going to come together. We made a pretty good move in the point deal. If we can start stacking some top fives on top of these top 10s, that's what you've got to do to win the championship. I think the year Terry Labonte won the championship, he only won two races. We've got to keep growing as a team. I said coming into this year that we had to use this year as a learning curve. At the end of the year, we'll find out what we've got. We're still fighting that front end deal. We've got some work to do. A couple of Chevrolets have got some stuff figured out a little bit better than us right now. I think we're improving on it, but we've still got a long way to go."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Terry Labonte , Steve Park , Michael Ho