Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2000. Daytona International Speedway. Winston Cup GM Test Day 4. Chevrolet notes and quotes. ANDY HILLENBURG (No. 91 Little Joe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Hillenburg once again posted the fastest time in the morning...
Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2000. Daytona International Speedway. Winston Cup GM Test Day 4. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
ANDY HILLENBURG (No. 91 Little Joe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
NOTE: Hillenburg once again posted the fastest time in the morning practice session at Daytona with a lap of 186.834 mph. Mike Skinner was second fastest in the morning session at 186.772 mph.
"I think we can gain on it some more," Hillenburg said. "We have one car, one motor and it's got a lot of miles on it. Our biggest concern right now is coming down here and making the Daytona 500. We'll work on the race stuff after we get the qualifying package down. I'd say 80 percent of our laps have been in qualifying trim.
"The other teams are going to come back and throw a lot of things at us that they're not throwing right now. I just hope we have as much to throw back. Everybody can put their qualifying transmissions on and qualifying oils and greases and little things like that. Hopefully we'll be able to keep up with them when everybody goes for the throat.
"It would be really great coming down here in February and being the underdog and being able to put on a great show and a great qualifying effort. I really have the confidence we can run up front. I've been able to run a lot of plate races in the past and have had a lot of success. I know the way I want the car to feel when we're out there in the middle of the drafting pile. If I can get that feel on race week, I feel we'll definitely be a strong contender.
"I've run three Winston Cup races at Daytona and a couple of 125s. I've run the ARCA race seven or eight times here, and I've run a couple of Winston Cup races at Talladega. I've run the Busch race down here a few times, so really out of all the tracks, Daytona is the one I've had the most experience on. I love it. It's Daytona and Indianapolis and everything else is just practice.
"When you get to this level, the guys out there doing it are comfortable. I enjoy it. The guys trust me enough to work with me in the draft. They have in the past, and I don't really see that changing. I'm concentrating on pushing the right pedals, and Joe (car owner Falk) is working on the sponsor. Mike Hillman (crew chief) is working with the guys and keeping us moving in the right direction.
"We've got about four guys back at the shop and everybody else who works for LJ Racing is here. We went past the point of watching laps on our one motor yesterday. We're just doing the best we can with what we've got. The underdog is really the best way to put it. We're going to take a shot at these guys, and maybe we'll have something when we come back in February.
"Right now, my only goal is qualifying for the Daytona 500. I'm not thinking about winning the Daytona 500. I'm thinking about coming down here and running a perfectly flawless qualifying lap. Hopefully the guys will give me a flawless race car and we'll get in the Daytona 500. After that, we're going to concentrate on the 125 and after that, providing everything is going great, we'll start concentrating on getting a good finish in the Daytona 500.
"It's been a lot of fun. I've been with teams that struggle and I've been here as a second driver for other teams, helping them get going. It's helped me build credibility in here, and hopefully I'll get my shot and we'll get a sponsor and be able to race every Sunday. All race car drivers have a really big ego, but I think some hide it better than others. I'm not sure these practice speeds have done anything for my ego."
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
NOTE: Marcis, a 58-year-old NASCAR veteran, is making a bid to qualify for his 33rd straight Daytona 500. Marcis ran into some problems Tuesday morning.
"He (Greg Sacks) was coming in and they were pushing him. I saw him coming. A lot of people were in the way. I stopped, but he just kept coming and hit me. He came and talked to me and said he didn't even see me. You can't see real good out of the low corner of these cars. It didn't help our car any. It's something we didn't need, but it's over now. There's nothing we can do but fix it. That's the only car we've got here, so we've got to fix it.
"We're not as good as a lot of cars here, but we're not that bad. My guys have put a hard winter in working on this body. It's been pretty good. We'll get it good enough to make the race. I don't know how much longer I'll go after this. I suppose it depends on how good the fish are biting. I haven't had a chance to go since Christmas.
"We went ice fishing back in Wisconsin during Christmas and did really good. We caught a bunch of fish."
JIM SAUTER (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"We're not quite where we want it yet, but we're doing well. We're making headway. It's great to have a couple of cars to work with. We've been going back and forth and there's hardly any wasted motions. If you're wrong, you're right. You've learned what not to do.
"I didn't get much of a chance to drive last year's Monte Carlo, but they'd better watch out for them on the short tracks. They're going to be real good. It's going to take us a little while to know what we need for the speedways, but we will have a lot of downforce for the short tracks. Once we get qualified and get in race trim, we'll be in good shape.
"I've never tested before for Dale (Earnhardt). I guess they picked me because no one else was available. I've got a lot of laps at Daytona. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to drive at Daytona and Talladega, but I'm pleased they called me.
"A good test driver needs to be able to hone in on the same position every time. The position on the race track and being able to follow your last lap around the track is very important. If the driver can't repeat every lap, it makes it tough for the team to make the subtle changes necessary to go faster.
"We've got two different things going on all the time. That's the name of the game. Then when you're finished, you can put them all together. There's always one car that's a little better. I don't care if you've got a two-car team or a 15-car team. We're still looking for another half second from both of these cars. I'd believe it's still in there. I believe we'll be getting it."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"From what I've seen, NASCAR has done a good job with making it even. We're still bottoming out, but we've softened the car up so much we can't put all that rebound in it. It's going to be slower, but I don't think the people in the grandstands will ever know the difference."
"We think we're about half a second off from the Fords. I think they're going to be here the next couple of days, so we'll have a little bit more to compare to after that. I think they're pretty proud of their new nose and tail, and they haven't pulled any bones about saying how great it is. I don't see why they would hold anything back. Mash the gas and go for it.
"We really haven't had any handling problems. Our car has handled good since we've been here. It's always going to create another set of problems no matter what they do. I've been in the car for a day and a half and my back doesn't hurt and I still have all the fillings in my teeth. My kidneys are beat all to death, so I'm kind of enjoying the new shock rule.
"I don't think our race package will be a lot different. I think the cars are going to pull up good. I know when we went out and had a fast lap, we had some help. The car was really trying to pull up to the next car. If the Fords are that fast, we're going to need them to pull up good.
"We're doing the same things we've been doing for two weeks, tweaking here and tweaking there. Somehow we lost our B car, our brand new car. These cars were tit for tat when we left the last time. Now all of a sudden, one is faster than the other. They're both off a little bit from where we were, but the A car is faster than the new car. We really don't know why. We're going to try to get some speed back into our Bud Shootout (B) car. It was going to be our Daytona 500 car, but if we had to leave right now, we have no choice but to bring back the old car for the 500.
"I'm happy. I think our Chevy is as good as most of the other Chevys. I know a lot of them are not showing what they've got, so we might not be as good as we think we are. But I think we're going to be OK. I'm pretty excited about it. There's so many politics involved in this thing. We never were the car to come down here and run fast and now we're trying to run as fast as we can go. We're not leaving a lot on the table.
"The engine shop leaves a little on the table. We'll come back with a better engine. We'll make the car as fast as we can make it and let the engine shop do the rest."