CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge) -- Second fastest in final Tuesday practice "It's always nice to be at the top of the sheet, but it really doesn't mean much. We were pretty far back and caught a draft and drafted up to the pack. The Target...
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge) -- Second fastest in final Tuesday practice
"It's always nice to be at the top of the sheet, but it really doesn't mean much. We were pretty far back and caught a draft and drafted up to the pack. The Target Dodge is running good. We ran up front. The first few laps on new tires you run wide open, but after 12 or 15 laps it starts to get pretty tight and the rear tires fall off. It's hard to get the right front tire to lift. We made some changes and got back out in the second session and the car was pretty good. We feel like we made some gains. We went from one end to the other and we're at a happy medium right now. So far, I'm pretty happy with the car. I'd like to see it a little better. We've got the 125s to work on that. I feel a lot better period. When you've got those yellow stripes on your car, nobody wants to work with you. I was talking to Brian Vickers and he asked me if it was this bad last year. It was. Nobody will go with you. Experience is everything around these races. I can look back and see with what I didn't know why these guys didn't go with me. You're going to need help to run up front. I think this is going to be a better year. I made some rookie mistakes the first half of last season and from there on out we just had little problems. We had good runs going and just couldn't bring it home. My goal this year is to bring it home and improve on that. I know we can do it.
"Jamie is in my qualifying race, and we've talked about working together, but you can't just talk to one person. It's so much dicing going on, you've got to take very opportunity you can. You hope several guys will work with you. Jamie and I are teammates and we'll work with each other if we can, but we won't hurt ourselves trying to do it. I want to win the race. We've got to be a little concerned. We don't want to tear up anything because we've got a great piece for the Daytona 500. At the same time, we want to win it. We'll be running hard."
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) -- fifth fastest in final practice
"Our car is really good. I'm pretty excited. We started out in the Shootout, and it was pretty tight. It drug a lot. We finally got it where it wouldn't bottom out."
WHAT HAPPENED WITH EARNHARDT Jr. IN PRACTICE?
"I did something I shouldn't have done in practice. I get pretty upset when guys do that to me. John Andretti just did it to me a little bit ago. You don't want to tear up your car in a practice session. I had a huge run on Junior and had some guys behind me. I didn't want to let off because I didn't want to get run into. It got three wide in the tri-oval. He was upset like anyone else would have been. He's like me. He gets real mad. Five minutes later I went over to talk to him and he was giggling about it. I went over and apologized. There's no need to get somebody mad at you before the race even starts. It was no big deal.
"A lot of times here it seems like you can catch guys and can't pass 'em. If I get near you I can pass you. This car seems to be similar to our Shootout car. We've got another practice before the 125 and I think we'll be a contender. We'll try to make two more 25 or 30-lap runs tomorrow to see how far we can go. I'm afraid you're going to pit and someone is going to blow one out and you try to stay out. We'd get caught a lap down, but we've just got to make sure we can take care of the right front tire and make the car drive as good as we can. We've still got a little work to do.
"Some guys might pit on lap 35 and some guys might stay out to lap 37. You can go longer on fuel than you can tires. I don't know what we're going to try to do. I'd rather pit a little bit early. It seemed to me like in the Shootout the guys that pitted first came out a little bit ahead. We'll probably try to be one of the first cars on pit road just to be safe."