NEWMAN'S TEAM REPLACING ENGINE -- MATT BORLAND (Crew chief No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) "When we cut the tire down, the motor spun backward. We've got to change it. It could have hurt it and it might not have hurt it, but we can't take the chance going...
NEWMAN'S TEAM REPLACING ENGINE -- MATT BORLAND (Crew chief No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
"When we cut the tire down, the motor spun backward. We've got to change it. It could have hurt it and it might not have hurt it, but we can't take the chance going into the Daytona 500. You can break stuff when you spin it backwards, and some of the things you might not see for the first 10 laps or 30 laps. We were starting 20th, but this is really no big deal. The biggest thing is unfortunately the new motor probably won't be as good as the one we're replacing but hopefully it'll finish."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge)
"It blew a left rear tire (in Saturday morning practice on first lap). They said it had a cut in it. The car went around, and I got lucky keeping it off the fence. We came in and changed four tires and went back out. The car feels pretty good. We'll be a little above average compared to everybody else. It's no different than before. You try to avoid the wrecks and not cause the wrecks and that's pretty much it. You try to keep your nose clean, and if you've got a good piece at the end you see what you can do with it. That showed up two years ago, my rookie year, with the big crash. We missed it and ended up finishing seventh. It felt good winning the IROC, but this is totally a different race. The favorite is the guy who's going to be out front at the end. It could be a fuel mileage race. It could be a handling race. It could be the fastest car wins. You never know. Hopefully we've got a little bit of all three."
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 77 Kodak Easy Share/Eckerd Drug Dodge)
"I'm very happy. The guys have built us one hell of a Dodge. The car has done everything I've asked it to do and the driver has run out of talent. I can go from top to bottom in one move. I can go from bottom to top in one move. I ran through the middle for a bunch of laps. I ran on the bottom three wide for a bunch of laps. I ran on the top three wide for a bunch of laps. I put it everywhere I wanted to go and it did it. It sucks up well in the draft. We know we have horsepower. I don't know what else I could ask for. It does everything I want. Let's try to get a Dodge in victory lane.
"The driver runs out of talent a lot. Then you hope that Dodge engineers or Penske engineers or someone can take over and give us just a little more horsepower. The driver has given it all he's got. I don't know what else to tell them to change. It feels almost perfect to me.
"A rookie has never won the Daytona 500, and a rookie has never won in a lot of places, but a rookie has never had the opportunity like we have right here. With Roger Penske backing us and to have a sponsor like Kodak... They're not putting pressure on me, but I sure would like to make them proud. It doesn't matter if a rookie has never won it. It just means that one has to go out and do it.
"This is what we're doing this for. Dodge has sponsored me my whole life, and Kodak jumped on this team, they've all jumped on this deal hoping we can get some of that media exposure. Now we've got to back it up on the track. We know that. We did enough in the 125 to warrant my big mouth, but this is what they wanted me here for a little bit. That's what everybody is here for, to sell their products and get their names in front of the camera. Hopefully I can do a good job for 'em.
"I don't want to even think about it if we do well in the Daytona 500. If we finish in the top 10 I would be more than pleased. My goal right now is to get to the last 25 laps with the Dodge nose in the same place we started with, the rear fenders in the same place and then let's go have a chance. It's just like last year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. We had a chance to win the championship. All you ever ask for is a chance. If we can have the last 25 laps and be near the front pack and give the Kodak guys a chance, I'd be happy.
"With the short period of time we've been building our Dodges, it says a lot for the help we've got from Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace. It shows a lot for what Dodge has given us. We've been to the wind tunnel with this car three times. It's just an effort from a lot of great people helping out.
"I know why our pit box is already broke in the truck series after last night's race. I did a little of Shane Wilson beating on it. It was ugly last night. Steve Park did a fantastic job. He went from 22nd to 10th in the first three laps. He had a nice hole and got hit by a rookie. The other time he got nailed by a rookie. There's nothing you can do here at Daytona. You're at everyone else's mercy."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
HAS IT BEEN A PROBLEM MOVING FROM THE CUP TO BUSCH GARAGE?
"We've been fast this week in a Busch car, so it's not a bother. When you're slow like we were out in Vegas and they're on top of you, then it's aggravating. Jeremy told me it's not like this every week, so I've got that to look forward to. We look forward to the Daytona 500 and getting started racing again. Two months ago it seemed like it was so far away and now it's here. It seems like it goes by too fast sometimes."
HAVE YOU HAD A HECTIC SCHEDULE?
"Being with Ray and Bill and Tommy Baldwin, I think I've approached it perfect. I feel great about what's been going on. It's been hectic, but everything is going smooth. I think there's been more going on than I expected. There's definitely something every day and every night. They give me plenty of time to sleep at night, so that's good."
ARE YOU RECOGNIZED WHEN YOU GO OUT NOW?
"It just depends on who you run into, but I definitely get recognized more than I did this time last year. It feels good. You watch Tony Stewart and Dale Jr. and everybody recognizes them and it looks like they get irritated by it sometimes, but that's because they're awesome racecar drivers. That's what I want to be, and that's what our team wants. That's what everybody is after."
IS THIS YOUR BIGGEST BREAK IN RACING?
"I think I've had some really good breaks in racing, but this is the ultimate break. This is the best opportunity I've ever had in racing. For qualifying there were lots of nerves. By the time the 125 rolled around it was just like any other race. I know by Sunday I'll have a lot more nerves again."
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO SPEND MUCH TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY?
"I've been so busy I haven't been able to spend much time with them, so tonight we're going to have a big dinner, just a family barbecue at the motorcoach. I get Saturday nights off after the Busch race. That'll be kinda nice."
HAVE YOUR TEAMMATES BEEN ABLE TO HELP YOU?
"I think that Bill has been around a lot more. Jeremy has his own deal. I talked to him a few times when we were doing some media stuff, but Bill has been around a lot and he had a few things to say today after the first drafting practice that helped me. Ray is spotting for me in the Busch race and Michael Landis is going to spot for the 500. He was Jeff Gordon's spotter for two years, and he was Brian Vickers' spotter last year."
HAVE THE SOFTER TIRES BEEN A PROBLEM?
"The tires didn't fall off much at all (Friday) with the colder weather and the colder racetrack. In the 125 they fell off a lot, but it didn't bother me. I think we got faster than some of the other guys toward the end of the run on old tires."
DID THE PIT INCIDENT IN THE 125 EMBARRASS YOU?
"I'm glad there was a yellow. I was a little upset at the time. I wasn't embarrassed that it happened, but I was a little upset. Being under yellow, it didn't hurt us. We got back to 13th and we should have run better than that. I think it's a big learning experience. Hopefully, I got that out of the way and all the pit stops will be clean for the Daytona 500."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge)
WHAT WILL YOU WORK ON TODAY IN PRACTICE?
"We've got just about everything ready to go. We've got the race motor in today, so we'll go out and practice this morning and see how everything works out. We didn't practice in the second deal yesterday. The car was driving pretty good, and we just didn't want to wear it out."
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT TIRE WEAR?
"Our stuff looks good. We made a 35-lap run, and with a little luck, that's about as far as we'll have to go. We can go about 39 laps on fuel if we have to, but hopefully we won't have to stretch it that far."
CAN YOU PICK A FAVORITE FOR THE 500?
"It's hard to tell until we get going, but I think things will equal out a little bit with the DEI cars. Handling is going to be very important, and it'd be fine with me if the track was hot and slick and it went green all the way. You look at the chassis dyno results and it looks like the Fords have a big advantage. I'd say the Fords have the advantage with the motors, but the fastest guy doesn't always win. I think if we can get a break here and there and the car handles the way I think it's going to that we might have a pretty good chance to run with 'em up front. It's been a long time since we've been to victory lane at Daytona, and it'd be real sweet if we could park this Coors Light Dodge in there Sunday."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
NOTE: Mayfield was the third fastest in final practice for the Daytona 500 and is starting 22nd on Sunday.
"We've picked up every day we've practiced. The Dew Crew has really worked on the cars. They've taken what we learned in the 125s and the Bud Shootout and made it work for us. That Dodge has just gotten better and better.
"The tires aren't going to be an issue. We've taken two, we've taken four. It doesn't seem to make a difference.
"I feed good going into tomorrow. We were fifth fastest on Friday, then third fastest on Saturday, so hopefully we'll be the fastest on Sunday. I feel great about our chances tomorrow. We've got a really competitive car and we're ready to go."