KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: ARE YOU READY TO RACE? "I think so. That was our 500 motor and transmission and all. So, we're ready to go. I can't wait 'til tomorrow. This GM Goodwrench Chevrolet has been good every...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ARE YOU READY TO RACE? "I think so. That was our 500 motor and transmission and all. So, we're ready to go. I can't wait 'til tomorrow. This GM Goodwrench Chevrolet has been good every day that we've been here. It's time to stop racing for trophies and start racing for points."
WHAT'S IT GOING TO TAKE TO WIN TOMORROW? "We just need to put ourselves in the right spot. We've been one short of the right spot so far in both the 125's and the Shootout. I thought we were in the right spot in the Shootout, but we wound up just a little bit short. That's what superspeedway racing is all about. We're just having a good time.
"In the 125's we could have settled for second but I wanted to see what we could do to win the race and do what we had to do to set them up and it cost me a couple of spots. But, better then. If we're in that position Sunday, we'll take the 175 or 180 points and go on with it."
HAS IT BEEN A GOOD WEEK? "Yeah, it's been a good week for us. We had a great race last night. In the IROC race it was a lot of fun. We led a lot of laps. We got a lot of bonus points. We had a little bad luck in the Truck race but it's been good in the Cup car day in and day out. The Busch car has been really good too. I've got a lot going on, but I'm having fun with it."
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CONCERN HEADING INTO THE RACE? "To miss the big wreck. That's the bottom line. We haven't had any tire issues or anything yet. We've been pretty satisfied with our tire wear and we have a good handling race car. We're happy with the speed in the car. The guys have done a good job with that. We just need to keep ourselves out of trouble and keep the fenders on it all day."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ON THE FINAL PRACTICE "The weather is so much different than it was on Thursday. Tomorrow I think we're going to be in good shape. I feel good about the car. Everything seems to be a-okay and I'm looking forward to getting it all going. I'm ready to stop practicing and talking about it and trying things and just ready to get out there and go."
WILL YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS OUT THERE YOU CAN WORK WITH "When the handling goes away, you can make some moves by yourself. But for the most part, you've got to have some friends that want to go with you."
ON HAVING THE SUPERBOWL OF NASCAR AS THE FIRST RACE AND THEN GOING INTO THE REGULAR SEASON "There is so much expectation and preparation that goes into this race. And, for good reason. It really is the event that we all want to win and we all want to be a part of. We do recognize it as our elite event, but we also know that points are the same here as they are next week in Rockingham as far as the championship goes. We try to recognize that and be aware of that. It's one of those things that when you win it, it's one of the highest highs and when you have a bad day it's the lowest of the lows. You have to really let both those emotions roll off your back when you leave here because you're heading to Rockingham and it's time to get focused on the championship.
WHAT CHANGES WHEN YOU GO TO ROCKINGHAM? "Well, the track changes so much. Everything changes. There are about one-eight of you guys (media) that will be there. And an eight of the fans that will be there but the competition is just as tough. It's just back to racing without restrictor plates and checking out the new aero and tire package that we have. That's about the only thing that's different from a normal Rockingham. But to me, it's tracks like that that help you win championships."
ON THE TIRES "I think they're a little bit soft. They wear a little bit more than what we'd like to see them wear. I'm a little bit concerned if there is a big rain tonight and how green the track will be. That first set of tires will take some abuse. But in some ways, I'll like it better because it brings the driver and the team and the aerodynamics back into the picture a little bit more and gives a team like ours a little bit of an advantage over a lot of guys.
"I shouldn't say they're 'softer'. A lot of it is in the construction and the way they're built. They wear more and it gives you that sensation that they're softer. For whatever reason they're sliding across the track. All that matters to us is whether they wear or go away. And they certainly do that. They're chemists (Goodyear). They have a lot of ways to make these tires do different things. For us drivers and teams, we only know one thing and that's whether the grip level goes away or stays the same. And the grip level is definitely going away more than in the past."
WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CONCERNS ABOUT THIS RACE? "Well, I don't want to be starting where I'm starting (provisionsal). But it's just like every Daytona 500 and whether you've got the speed and handling that it takes to get to the front and hold those guys off."
YOUR CREW DID A LOT OF WORK ON YOUR CAR YESTERDAY. IS IT WHERE YOU WANT IT NOW? "The handling is really good on the car. I still think we need a bit more speed. There are times out there when I can get to the front and stay there and there are times when it's a little bit more difficult than others. When you're practicing, it's hard to gauge because you have so many cars pulling on the track and pulling off the track. The real test will be tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting out there and going racing. It's time to stop talking about it and time to stop working on the car. We're going to put our best effort forward and hope that we have a little bit better luck than what we've had the last few races."
DID YOU PLAN ON PUTTING A NEW ENGINE IN THE CAR? "It's pretty much mandatory. Everybody has to put a new engine in. I think I would have liked to keep the other one. I was pretty happy with that one even though we didn't qualify well. In the race on Thursday, the speed was really good. But this one seems to be good as well."
DOES THE HANDLING NOW COMPARE TO OTHER TIMES YOU'VE RACED IN THE DAYTONA 500? "Yeah. I'd compare it to 1993, '94, and '95. Maybe more like a day race in July when the handling was a big issue. I think we've got one of the best aero packages that we've ever had down here. I'm real happy with the restrictor plate and with the spoiler. With the spoiler being bigger, it's great for the draft but it makes it a little bit more difficult to get the cars to handle the way we need them to. We've worked on that. So I would say those races compare more than what we've had the last few years here."
HAS THIS PACKAGE BROUGHT THE DRIVER BACK INTO MIX? AND IF SO, DO YOU LIKE YOUR CHANCES? "I think this helps a team like ours be more competitive and get to the front and stay there. It's a 500-mile race. We're going to take every mile of that and try to work our way to the front. We'll use the entire team aspect of it to win this race."
ARE THE DEI GUYS STILL THE ONES TO BEAT? "Yeah, as far as speed goes. But they've got to handle. I think this tire is definitely changing how this race is going to be run and how it's going to be won. And I think that's the only thing keeping us in the game right now."
ON STARTING IN THE BACK OF THE FIELD "I've never had to start this far back at Daytona, but I definitely know it doesn't matter where you start here. It can be done. I look forward to making it happen. Don't count us out yet."
HAS THIS BEEN A FRUSTRATING SPEEDWEEKS FOR YOU? "Yeah, definitely. Anytime we put all that effort into a race and then we qualified as bad as we did and then we had the bad luck on Thursday in that race. The one good thing about Daytona if you do qualify bad, you have the 125 to fall back on. That didn't work out for us so it's very frustrating. I think we have a really good car and a team that's capable of getting to the front. But certainly that doesn't make it very easy on us to start where we're starting. It's a combination of being back that far and trying to stay out of trouble and not a very good pit selection.
ON DALE EARNHARDT JR'S COMMENT THAT NOBODY WANTS TO WORK WITH HIM "You're joking, right? Number one, he doesn't need anybody to work with him. He can do it on his own. And number two, why would anybody work with somebody who is so much faster than everybody else? I mean he's the guy we're all trying to beat. So, you don't necessarily work with a guy you want to beat to win. You work with somebody that when it comes down to the end, you think you can beat them."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
YOU GUYS ARE ALL SAYING THE TIRES ARE SOFTER BUT GOODYEAR IS SAYING THEY'RE THE SAME OR MAYBE A LITTLE HARDER "I don't know what's changed in the tire but there has definitely been a change in the construction, the compound, or something's gone on. We've had quite a few changes. There's some spoiler changes. Maybe it's a combination of a lot of little things that have made the cars drive a lot different. When you see the cooler temperatures, I think the cars drive very similar to what everybody's seen in the past. And you'll see side-by-side racing in a big pack. But when you have a hot, sunny day like we did for the 125's, it really changes things and the tires give up. Basically you have to slow down and drive it like you would on a normal track. You cannot run wide open all the way around the track. It really brought the driver element back into. It may have been boring to the fans because it wasn't three-wide racing and a huge pack of cars. But it brought the comfort level up in the car for us drivers and put it back in our laps a little bit more to determine the race."
WHAT IS YOUR COMFORT LEVEL AND HOW ARE YOUR CHANCES FOR TOMORROW? "I feel solid. We finished third in the 125's. We ran well in the IROC race last night. We worked on the car this morning and think we found a little bit better package than what we had for the 125's. So I feel good. I had a 15th and then a third here last year, and hopefully we can move it up to a Daytona 500 win."
ON MAKING SEVERAL LONG RUNS IN HAPPY HOUR "We took a gamble on trying something. If it worked out, we were going to run it out for the whole tire run to see what the life of the tire would do. We stumbled across some really nice changes. We wanted to see if it was going to abuse the tire and see if we would have a problem at the end of a fuel run. And everything looks good."
AFTER A FULL OFF-SEASON OF TESTING, ARE THESE TIRES NEW? "I know for a fact that the tires people run on the intermediate tracks and all the other places are a new compound and they are different. We tested on a tire in Las Vegas that was a lot different and very similar to the feelings that we have in the tires here. So, I'm pretty sure that we're on a new tire here. Everybody's been talking about it. I don't know why rumors are circulating any differently. But there's definitely something different going on and it's changing the dynamic of the race. If it's cool, it'll be the same race everybody is used to seeing, but if it's hot and sunny it'll be a race that resembles something from the eighties when it was single file and a few groups of cars that are fast and strung out."
WHAT DO YOU GET, ABOUT 20 LAPS ON THE TIRES? "It ranges. It really seems like 28 - 32 laps. We can go 36 on a tank of fuel. But I don't think anybody is real comfortable in carrying it out more than 32 laps."