DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I was so nervous about making this race. I knew we had a good car. I want to thank my dad for everything, all the effort he's put forth to make this team so competitive so quickly. He...
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I was so nervous about making this race. I knew we had a good car. I want to thank my dad for everything, all the effort he's put forth to make this team so competitive so quickly. He had not left any stone unturned trying to make us as fast as we can. Richie Gilmore, my head engine guy, built a good powerhouse and that's surely something we needed today. We worked real hard getting the push out of the car off the corner. Tony Eury and myself got together and worked on some things that made the car free. It bounced around through the middle of three and four pretty good. It was a little loose up high. I didn't want to be behind those guys and get tight. I kind of hung the right front out all I could to keep the right front tire on the car.
"It just depends on who gets their car driving the best. It has a lot to do with handling here. There are some powerhouses out there, but Yates has always had some powerhouses and it's going to be hard to outrun those guys no matter what kind of springs and shocks you've got on the car. I'm real thankful for what we've got today. It's something we can definitely build on for Sunday.
"I think they need to look at something, just a tick to get the front tied down on the car. They're bouncing and getting a lot of air under the car. They're pushing, especially when you're behind somebody. If you're careful about that and kind of hang fenders out you can save the tires, and that's what I was trying to do. We wouldn't have gone much longer before we had to pit for gas, but I know my car will make it that long.
"I had a lot of pressure that I put on myself. I feel like I owe it to my team and Budweiser and all the other sponsors on board that have put forth such an effort to get us here. I'm real happy.
"It was pretty exciting. We started out and couldn't get a lot of help on the bottom. Finally we got on the top line and stayed up there and tried to save the tires. I learned from my dad in the first 125, and he helped us out with some thoughts about which line to run. I just tried to keep the fender out in the turn to keep the tire on the car and not push the tire off. I saved the right front so we could stay wide open.
"My car was good enough to race some of those guys up there. With Ricky (Rudd) towing us like he was, it was kind of hard to get runs on Skinner or Ward. Our car was a little bit better than theirs, but I didn't want to abuse the tires or make a mistake. I felt like we had been handed something special just to finish in the top five, so I was pretty happy with that.
"They all bottled up down in turn two, and I got a run on Nemechek and that was something I really wasn't looking forward to. The last thing I wanted to do was leave him by himself or not be able to help him, and Michael, too. It seemed like their cars just went away after about 25 laps. I couldn't stand to sit back there and help 'em and try to draft with 'em. I thought it would be a good time to advance our position. They got bottled up and I just went to the bottom. I got a little help from the 7 car, but he was unable to follow through. We were clear by turn three."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We did pretty good. We just didn't have nothing for Ricky. These shocks are making our cars push really, really bad and Ward could get a run at me and then he'd have to let off. His wouldn't turn. I don't even know if Ricky's would turn. I know ours wouldn't.
"It was mostly handling. I couldn't get any help from behind. When Ward would get close to me, I think it would push. That's what it looked like. My car was really, really tight. We didn't show that tight yesterday. We knew the car was going to push really late in the run. If I couldn't get clean air on the nose, that car wouldn't turn a bit. Ricky was strong. I congratulate Robert Yates. They seem to be wearing this Daytona place out this week.
"I wish we could have had it handling a little better. It's awfully tight with the shock package that's on the Chevy right now. We've got a little work to do before the 500. We need to work on it and make it handle a little bit better. I don't think Ward could get his car to turn, either. When he'd get up to me, he'd have to let off because his car wouldn't turn. He couldn't help me get Ricky.
"If there was an easier race, this was probably it. I felt like we could win the race, but he (Rudd) just out horsepowered us there at the start and I couldn't get any help from behind. We just had to fall in line and it was kind of a tough deal. If I had it to do over again, I would have tried to make a move long before I did. We should have tried to make our move when the car would still turn, and it wouldn't turn. We just had to ride it out and finish second. It was pretty boring, pretty frustrating. Every time I'd get close to him, I'd have to let off the gas because my car wouldn't turn. We'll get it better for the 500.
"I couldn't breath. That Ford was pulling all the air. Our Lowe's Monte Carlo ran pretty good. We felt like we had a shot at this race, and we should have made a move a little earlier. We waited too long and the nose went away and the car pushed really bad. I think when Ward would get to me, his would pu sh. He couldn't help me, and I don't know if Little E could help him. It was pretty frustrating. Hopefully we can make the car a little bit better before the 500.
"They might consider something with the shocks. At least we'd have another thing to work with. I feel like our Monte Carlo will draft pretty good with them. Everybody in the first race complained about push. I think if you weren't out front in this one, you were in trouble. We weren't fortunate enough to power by them at the start. We tried to be patient and get in line and ride awhile and try to break away. If I had it to do over again, I think I'd try to make a move a little earlier. After the 25-lap mark, there wasn't a move to be made. It was just hold on tight and hope that Ward and Little E didn't get a run on me.
"If anybody can, Larry McReynolds and this Lowe's team can. We're going to make our Chevy the best we can and we're going to give it 100 percent. That's all we can do. I think the car was driving pretty good in practice. We tried the best we could, and we just never could get the car to turn. I knew we could loosened him up, but every time we'd make a run, we'd have to back off or we were going to hit the wall. It's kind of frustrating, but if anybody can do it Larry McReynolds and this Lowe's team can do it."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"When you see Dale Earnhardt finish out of the top five at Daytona, you know his car wasn't very good.
"If our cars had been handling good, we could have stayed in each other's tracks and got a good run. Then you race each other when that happens. In a perfect world, he would have pushed me past Ricky and he would have got by and then Ricky would have pushed him back by me at the end. That's pretty much Daytona racing, what all the people jump and down about. The Lowe's car ran good early, and I thought about trying to make a move. We were talking to our spotters and we elected to line up and get away a little bit and settle it amongst ourselves. Twenty-five laps into the race, no one's car would handle. I think the only car that would handle was Ricky's. He had the downforce on the nose, he was keeping the front tires cool and Ward and I were burning our front tires up just trying to keep up. I had to start running high just to try to keep the right front tire on my car. I noticed Ward had to run low, probably trying for the same reason. When you do that, you're not helping each other. If we had tried to stay in line, we'd probably have backed up and Ricky would have got away from us. We need to work on our handling a little bit. I think the Pontiacs and Chevys are going to draft fine. We've just got to work on our handling.
"I heard a lot of people snoring up there. It's one of those situations where we've got to make it more exciting. Daytona and Talladega, restrictor plate racing is awesome. NASCAR I'm sure will do whatever they can to make it an exciting race. Mike Helton and Gary Nelson will work hard at making it work out. It's just one of them situations. You can't pass. If Ward had been in front, we probably couldn't have passed him. If I had been in front, they probably couldn't have passed me. The cars have got to handle a little bit better to make it an exciting race. We've got to get some side by side racing.
"At this point, I think the shock rule was an excellent idea for qualifying. For racing, I think we might should go back to our other shock package, or closer to it. Maybe not just turn it loose, but maybe come up with a little different package. It's pretty consistent. Everybody pushed. When we had that luxury of coming back in and changing that rebound or putting more compression some place or whatever, we could adjust the car a lot with that, and we don't have that right now. Maybe that would be a thought, somewhere between where we are now and where we were before.
"We're not laying back on purpose. We're laying back to try to get a run, to get enough air on our car to make it turn. When it won't turn and you're pulled up right behind somebody, it's even worse. We were actually having to let off the gas coming off turn four at times to keep from hitting the wall. I think Goodyear has got a great tire here. I don't see any problem with the tire. The main thing is we're on a safe tire and everybody is on the same tire. Let us work on our race cars a little bit to make 'em turn, and we'll be OK. We'll have a good Daytona 500.
"I'm not going to jump on any bandwagon's with what other drivers say, but I think that if we can figure out a way in between now and Sunday.... It's pretty consistent. Everybody pushed. Ward has his car loose enough at the start of the race where it was going to be OK for three or four laps and then it even bit him. If you've got to start the car off that loose to get it to drive good, then you've got a chance of an accident early with everybody piled up. I would like to see us have a little better handling package. If they leave the shock rule alone, then we've got to figure out another way to do it."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"It was just a little bit too tight, but it just wasn't fast enough. We had a little more right rear spring to make it turn. It accomplished that, but maybe we gave up a little on the straightaways. It was plenty good handling wise, but it just wouldn't go down the straightaways good enough and that has to do some of the adjustments. That's part of it. We were better than most. We'll work on it some more and hopefully have a car we can contend with in the Daytona 500.
"He (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) made me mad because he was so fast. He would fall back off me 15 car lengths in the turn and be right on me in the straightaway. It would take me two laps with my tongue hung out to pull that far up and he did it in one straightaway. If he doesn't make something of this deal before it's over I'll be surprised. He's a smart driver, a great driver. Man, his car makes me envious.
"I learned you had to handle. The guys out front got on the bottom and got away in that first race and everybody else was searching up high and low for the groove. I was committed to the bottom, but I also didn't want to burn my tires off. I was kind of sneaking up high every now and then. I was impressed with my car. Bobby Kennedy and the guys gave me something at the end of the race I could run wide open all the way around the track.
"A Ford won the second race too, and there wasn't that many of them in it. I wouldn't be optimistic for our chances yet in the Daytona 500 based on that race, but one thing I was impressed with was Jeff Gordon in the first race. He was able to sneak his way up through there and was running competitively. I knew we could do that as well, and we were competitive.
"We're going to make changes for sure. Whether they're what we need, only time will tell. We'll put our heads together and take out notes out and we'll make the best guess we can at the setup we're going to run. Sometimes it's important to run 45 or 50 laps before you stop in practice, and that takes up a lot of time. I've been pretty optimistic all week. I was going to be the most optimistic guy in the garage area to go home because today when the race started we weren't in it yet. I just knew that I would be good, and that's a good feeling."
JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I can't believe how tight it got during the race. I can't believe the different from how it felt yesterday in practice. The guys did a good job, though. I just feel bad that we couldn't do better. I still feel like we've got one of the best cars out there and we've got the best guy (crew chief Tony Furr) to fix it for Sunday."
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I've been battling it all week. You can't draft up with the car. We've been working on it. It'll sit right there and run with a single car great. The minute we see another pack of cars in front of us, their car will go up to them and mine won't. I was in great shape. I tried the low line one time in one and two, and that cost me about six positions. I couldn't get back up in the outside line until about six cars got by. I was running pretty good, and then they'll just pull away from you. The car won't draft up. When I got at the end with Ed Barrier, I was good until we got close to that next pack. His car went up and mine wouldn't.
"It's not the end of the world. My people worked really hard. Everybody is going to be disappointed, and I'm disappointed, but all I can say right now is don't count me out yet. There's a lot of veteran car owners here with a lot of rookie drivers. Maybe somebody wants a veteran in the car. They might have a better chance on Sunday. I can say my car is working very good. I don't see hardly any cars on the track that can run low. I still can run low and was doing it at the end of the race when I caught up with Robert Pressley. I was just a little too late.
"I'm not trying to take anybody's ride. I thought if I tried to do it before the 125 miler it would look like I'm giving up, and I'm not giving up. I had it on my mind. Now, that's my next move. That's my only next move.
"It's a tough streak to swallow. Hardly anybody is ever going to beat it. Richard and I are tied (with 32 starts in Daytona 500). Mine are consecutive and Richard's are not, but that's beside the point. I still have next year and the year after that to make it 33 and 34. It's not the end of the world. Everybody is behind us. We're not throwing in the towel.
"My car was good low and high. It doesn't seem many other cars are that way after about 16 laps. Everybody is running high. I see very few cars down on the white line. I have the chassis in my car good enough where I can run on the bottom, but you need people down there to help you. Especially with the new Chevrolet Monte Carlo, they will not draft up. They just won't draft up. I don't know why. I've been working on it, but it's still by no means fixed. I was still able to run the bottom line in one and two and three and four in the last laps of the race.
"I don't know what to say about that. NASCAR made the rules and Gary Nelson has been in the wind tunnel. They don't mean for it to be this way, but that's the way it is and that's the way they've legislated it to be. As far as I'm concerned, Ford, Chevrolet, Pontiac, all of us need to go back to whatever is sitting on that showroom floor, bring it down here and race it. If it's not a good car, you don't run that brand. Did you see Junior Johnson stick with Chevrolets his whole career? No. He went to Fords when Fords were good and went back to Chevys when Chevys were good. He was the first one to go to the Oldsmobile when nothing else was any good. That's what makes this sport interesting. That's what got this sport where it is today.
"What you're going to hear from everybody is shocks, shocks, shocks. It's really not shocks, shocks, shocks. The rebound in these front shocks is pretty close to what everybody runs. As far as the Monte Carlo goes, the car won't draft up. Why? I don't know. I've been working on that since Monday. I have improved it. When we started Monday, the car is probably three tenths faster today or yesterday in practice than it was on Monday. I have some more ideas on things I can do to my car or to help Richard Childress. They're not restricting the front springs and the rear springs right now are just what I need. I doubt if anyone would be running a softer spring than a 350 anyhow. I don't that's the deal.
"It's pretty frustrating, but we knew going in that the Monte Carlos were a little short. I think that was obvious today. I hope it was. I know NASCAR doesn't mean for it to be that way, but that's how it is. I would like to see them go back to the automobile that's sitting on the showroom floor.
"I'll be here (next year). I'll get in anything. I want to start my 33rd Daytona 500. I'll get in a wheelbarrow if they will put it in. I guess I'll go home if I don't find a ride. I gave it my best shot. I was sitting in a position where I should have made it."
RICK MAST (No. 41 Big Daddy's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I'm thrilled to be in it, but I'm a little disappointed. We thought we had a little faster car than that. We missed the handle a little bit. Everybody got tight, but my car, I had to burp the gas off of four and then on the 30th lap I had to get off the gas. Now we've got a couple more practices. If we can get it handling good where I can keep it wide open, this car is a fast race car. That's a big if. Everybody here is doing the same thing.
"It was like four or five of us going for that last spot. The last 15 laps, I really wasn't concerned about that. We were good enough on speed the way everything transpired. It's a matter of pride or ego not to use a speed deal. From where we were four weeks ago, I think we've done pretty good. I'm encouraged from where we were a month ago. We just missed the setup today. It really wasn't the chassis. It was an aero problem."
KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We actually had a pretty good start and then we just started getting tighter and tighter and lost the draft. When we were leading it, we were OK, but we couldn't run with them. The car was just too tight off four and turn two. We've worked for a week on trying to get it to suck up. We've messed with the cowl and fenders. One thing hurts the other. I'll be glad when the 500 is over."