CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTATIONS FOR SPEEDWEEKS? "We didn't have a whole lot of speed in the test here. I think the car is going to race well. It's got a good balance through the whole run. We've got...
CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTATIONS FOR SPEEDWEEKS? "We didn't have a whole lot of speed in the test here. I think the car is going to race well. It's got a good balance through the whole run. We've got to work on that a little bit more in practice. I don't expect us to qualify great, but I expect us to run pretty good. If we can come out of here inside the top 10, obviously everybody wants to win but these races are somewhat of a crap shoot, right place, right time we could win this race. But if we come out of here with a top 10 we'll be happy."
YOU WERE VERY CONFIDENT WHEN YOU CAME HERE FOR THE 24-HOUR RACE. CAN ANYONE BE THAT CONFIDENT HEADING INTO THE DAYTONA 500? "We knew we had a fast car and a good team. We knew if we didn't have any issues we'd be tough to beat. Fortunately we didn't have any issues. The Daytona 500 is a totally different deal. You can be totally confident going to Texas or Martinsville, but going into Daytona or Talladega your fate lies in a lot of other people's hands. You've got to make it through that first 490 miles and then hopefully make it through those last 10 miles if you're running up front."
COMMENT ON YOUR LAS VEGAS TEST: "I feel like we've got a consistent car. The speed is there. The biggest thing was working on the balance for longer runs. We still have to play with it a little bit. I feel like it might be evened out a little bit more on race weekends. It's hard to judge how good you are when some guys are on old tires and some guys are on new tires. I think when it comes down to the race we're going to have a good race car."
COMMENT ON THE CHARGER: "We've figured out a lot of things about the Charger. You'll always have issues. Things can always get better, but we did a good job making the car work good. I think we can do that again this year. I don't see where anything should change."
CAN YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM THE SHOOTOUT BY JUST WATCHING IT? "I'll watch it on TV and see what's working this year. Rules haven't changed much over the off season. It should be similar to last year, but you always watch and see what moves are working for certain people. It's a good way to find out who's got a fast car and who doesn't and who can make moves and who can't. You've got to be knowledgeable about who's around you and what they can do around you. What everybody else does dictates what you can do to an extent and where you're going to finish. Hooking up with the right people and the guys that can help you will help a lot."
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE SEASON? "My goal is to win some races, sit on some poles, be in the top 10 at the end and run for the championship. If we can do that, I think a lot of people would say we came out of left field to finish in the top 10, yet I know it's something we can do. We've been capable the last two years but things have happened out of our control. As long as we have a season that's fairly clean and not too many stupid, off the wall things happen, we've got cars that are competitive and I know we can run up front."
HAS THE ROLEX WIN SETTLED IN YET? "It really has. It took a little bit the first couple of days. First of all you're half delirious because you've been up half the night. You watch your car take the checkered flag and you're not in it but you know you've won. It's a different feeling. When you wake up the next day it sinks in. It's awesome. What a big win for our team. I'm pretty happy about it. So many guys have tried over the years and to be the first NASCAR regular to win is amazing, especially for as long as that race has been going on. To be the first guy out of this stable to win is unbelievable."
HOW IS YOUR CONFIDENCE NOW? "I feel really good about the season. I feel really good about Daytona. It (Rolex victory) really doesn't apply much to this side of things. You kind of clean the slate. It gives you a good feeling going in. You've won a race in the Texaco firesuit. Those guys are fired up. The team is fired up. At the end of the day, as far as applying what we did on that side and applying it here doesn't work. It's just two different things."
COMMENT ON THE WATCH YOU'RE WEARING FROM ROLEX WIN: "The best thing I've done with it so far was when Tony (Stewart) was doing his interviews over there I gave him a hug and put the watch up in front of his face. He's a good sport. He's a guy that's going to get one of these one day. I don't want to rub it in too bad. Tony can get mad sometimes, so I gave him a little bit and walked off."
WHAT DID GANASSI SAY TO YOU AFTER THE VICTORY? "I can't remember it word for word. He was very excited. To have a dry spell and start the year with a major win was huge for him and the whole organization. So far everything has been going in the right direction, and he's excited about this season."
COMMENT ON YOUR GANASSI SENIOR DRIVER STATUS: "It's come into play a little bit. I'm here for Reed and David as much as they need me, and I'm sure they're going to bring some things to the table as well. So far it's been pretty mellow. We haven't been to a race week situation yet where we work together. We worked together a little bit at Vegas. We were all tuning on some things, but we haven't been intensely working together yet. I think that's going to start this week."
DAVID STREMME (No. 40 Coors Light/Lone Star Steakhouse Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON PRESEASON TESTING AND PROGRESS THE TEAM HAS MADE "With having a new team, with me being a first-year NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver, we have to build a book of notes so we can use them as the season goes on. The first few races are very important to get in the top 35 in points. I think that's for the rest of the season, too. You can finish 20th in the first 10 races and be up there in points. It's just about being consistent. You can't have any DNF's right away. California and Vegas and Atlanta will be very exciting for me. I've run well there in the Busch cars. I don't really practice well at Vegas, but in the race we run well. I didn't really get too juked out at our test out there. We just kinda minded our own business and made sure we had our program where we wanted it. Probably the biggest thing was we had two totally different cars out there for the Vegas test and we had the same problem with both of them. A lot of it is just the team working together. The second day at Vegas rolled around and we had to start over basically. I thought we got running well by the end of the day. It's just the team getting accustomed to each other. You are starting over because a lot of things the Busch car likes the Cup car doesn't like."
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR YOU TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL SPEEDWEEKS? "I think being realistic a top 15 in the 500, but I don't think a top 10 or top five is out of the question. I think our cars are going to race well. They did a lot of work on them when we were down here testing. We were able to use a lot of information from our teammates. We have a lot of practice time, so we don't want to get in a situation where we might tear up something and I have to run my backup for the 500. The qualifiers are going to be big so I can learn to work with some other Nextel Cup drivers out there so when we go into the 500 they'll be able to help us."
WHAT ARE YOUR SEASON-LONG GOALS? "I want to be respected by my peers for one, but I'd definitely like to get a win and I think that's something we can do with the people that have been put around me and the equipment that I have. I think we can go out and surprise some people. I don't think that's out of the question."
WHAT'S YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE CHARGER SO FAR? "Last year we were doing some testing with different noses on the car with the R&D team at Ganassi's. I think the Charger is fine. I don't see anything wrong with it. Look at Casey Mears and how he ran at Homestead last year. Two other teams ran '04 cars and maybe they ran a little better, but I think that just probably better suited their programs. Everybody in our organization has done a great job getting the Charger where it needs to be, and we're still working on it. We've made a lot of gains on it during the winter. I think we'll be fine for the race."
REED SORENSON (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR SPEEDWEEKS AND BEYOND? "I would like to leave here without wrecking and finish in the top 15. That would be a great way to start out the season. We'd like to win a race this season and finish in the top 15 in points. I think that's what we're going to work toward. I'm not sure what we'll have to do yet to win the rookie title. David said he thought to win the rookie title you'd have to make The Chase. I'm not sure about that, but I do think you'll have to be near the top 15. We had a good test at Vegas. We weren't the fastest car, but we made some gains in the car and learned a lot. I think we had a top 15 car. Everyone was there, and that was cool. I felt like we were competitive. That's going to be our goal to start out with, to be consistently competitive everywhere we go."