STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Starts 13th in second race on Thursday. "Nobody really knows what these 125s are going to hold, but it seems like year after year the first race is pretty crazy. Everybody in the second one...
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
Starts 13th in second race on Thursday.
"Nobody really knows what these 125s are going to hold, but it seems like year after year the first race is pretty crazy. Everybody in the second one looks and says we've got to be a little bit smarter than those guys in the first race. I think it's important to get through these 125s and finish the race. I think we've got a lot of advantages being in the second race.
"We're 26th in speed and 14th in points. We have a lot going for us point wise, but we didn't come here to take a provisional. We came here to win the Daytona 500. Getting a good run in the 125s gives you a good indication of what the car is going to do in competition. We're looking forward to improving our 13th starting spot and we want to finish somewhere in the top 10 and get a good indication of what we need to work on to make it better in the 500.
"We talked a little bit last night. Dale Jr.'s car is a little faster than mine on the straightaways, but mine is handling a little better. It was great to see what advantages a two-car team can bring to the table. I think that's pretty neat. If we can finish 1-2, I'd say it's mission accomplished. It doesn't matter who's first or who's second. If we can get two DEI cars to run up front, that's really the purpose in having a two-car team.
"Dale Jr. has got to let it hang out a little bit more than we do. By starting right behind him, if we can help him, we're going to try to help him get up in that top 14 and get try to work together like teammates. It's real important to make sure Jr. is comfortable. If we can help each other finish up front and make sure we're solidly in the field, that's what we're going to do. We can lean on Dale Earnhardt pretty much any time of the day, but we're surrounded by quality people on both teams.
"The draft is a big equalizer. I'm not going to stand here and say we're at a big disadvantage because if you do that you are at a disadvantage. I think qualifying was more than a worry than actual racing is going to be. It's a brand new car. It's been running good, and we think there's a lot of room for improvement. In the last week of on-track practice, everybody has been finding things here and there that makes them more comfortable. It ain't over until it's over, so we're going to race hard and try to work with other Chevrolets.
"The Twins are great for the fans and one reason they do it is it's back to the days of heat races on Saturday nights. It's nice to know you've got a cushion to fall back on because the Daytona 500 is such a big race. I think it's pretty neat you have to race your way in. From our qualifying position of 26th, we're hoping to really use the 125 to improve on that qualifying position. If your car is racing good, you can do that.
"I'm pumped up about the 2000 season. I hated to see last year end. We just started getting into our stride. We didn't lose any people over the winter. We gained a few more new people. The winter was tough with all the testing we were doing with the new Monte Carlo. Then you get consumed by the Daytona 500. You've got to realize the week after that you're racing in Rockingham. We're pumped up. We're going to get through Speedweeks and try to get out of here with a solid top 10 run and carry it into Rockingham and do some serious racing the next few weeks."
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
Starts 22nd in second race
"We got the car better yesterday. We went out and drafted with several different packs. We have made some improvements. We're doing a lot of work with the car today. Hopefully we can come up with a few more things, but yesterday it did draft pretty different. I don't have a provisional to fall back on, and it doesn't matter how many years you've been here. I have to race my way into the Daytona 500, and I've had to do it before. I'll just have to do the best I can. There's a lot of effort on my part. My guys have been here every morning when the garage opens up. They're making changes, and we go out on the race track to test those changes. The 72 car is the one I drove in the Bud Shootout qualifying race. Jim Sauter is driving it in the first race and yesterday he ran better than I did. Both cars will have Childress motors, so if he can qualify it, I'll drive it in the 500."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak Max film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
Starts 17th in second race
"We're going to run as hard as we can. We want to get in on time because we feel like we've got a good enough car to start up front. That doesn't mean we're going to go out there and do something stupid. I think the worst case scenario, we'd be the fifth provisional. History has it that the second race is always a lot calmer than the first no matter what. I don't think it'll be a big deal. I think we've got our car handling good enough to run well. I'm happy that I'm in the second race, but it really doesn't matter. I've seen people wreck in the second race, too. I'll be watching that first race. I think the things you learn is what not to do. We're not where we need to be yet, but every day we keep making gains on it. We're getting better and better. We tore it down and did it all again and I think we're catching up on it. I think the 88 could have won last Sunday whenever he wanted to. Our stuff drives good, and we can race him. It just depends on who gets lined up with who. I actually could run with the 88 pretty good in the draft. Then when I lost him I couldn't keep up with the car in front of me. It was a big line that separated us, so it was hard to tell. The shock package has the car in the air more. It makes it harder to pass. You need someone to go with you if you're going to pass. We'll see what happens with the 88. If he starts passing or gets loose, he won't be able to use all that throttle then. It's just a matter of how the race track gets. It's supposed to be warmer Thursday, and that's what we're hoping for. We think it will help us because we have so much downforce. We're hoping for it to get hotter and hotter. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if it was 115 degrees on Sunday."
DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
Starts 11th in second race
"Having Steve Park right there with me should be a benefit, at least in the first of the race. We need to get a good starting spot for the 500. They've got a lot of good cars here, and I know it's going to be competitive. We're just going to try to stick together. I'm not really sure that speed is good enough. It will be if there's no big wrecks in the 125s. If there's a big wreck that takes out a bunch of cars, I might be in trouble."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"You can't give up a whole lot, but you've got to realize you need the car for the Daytona 500. Our car seems to be doing pretty well. We've been trying little things here and there. Everybody else seems to be getting a little bit better in each practice. We just want to keep working on it and try to get even better. It's pretty busy here. You can see the intensity in everybody. I can't imagine how wild it's going to be in that 125 and portions of the 500. It would suit me just fine if everyone was pretty calm in the second race, but that ain't the way it goes. I think everybody in the race we're in, there's not really anybody that doesn't seem like they're not willing to work with you. It's going to be pretty interesting to see who will help who. I haven't raced with a lot of these guys. I kind of downplayed the difficulty of qualifying for the Daytona 500. There's a lot more at stake than I thought, and practice gets kind of hairy sometimes. I didn't anticipate that kind of stuff, but I guess that's what's going to happen in the race.
"Daytona is always going to be Daytona. It's different than anywhere else. It's like a little mini-season in itself. There's a whole lot more gut checks these two weeks than we'll see the rest of the year. The car is here and there. I still feel like we're one of the more competitive Chevrolets, but I think the gap is going to narrow quite a bit the closer we get to the Daytona 500. We want to make the race, but if we get a chance in the qualifier to improve on that at all, we're going to do what we can. I think we've got a good enough car to run in the top five in the qualifying race."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
Starts 21st in first race
"We're just going to go as hard as we can go. Whatever the car's got, it's got. There's nothing you can do. It's the way it turned out. I guess they've got a lot of good cars in our race. We're 22nd in the points, and if we can't finish in the top 14 in the race, that's the only other chance we've got. I'm not even looking at that. I'm just looking at finishing in the top 14. We're forgetting about our speed. I've never seen 42nd enough to get in.
"We were happy after winter testing, but everybody got better than us. It's just dramas unfolding. We can't anticipate a thing right now. We've just got to wait for Thursday to get over with. Right now the talk is about who's going to be in the race and who's not. Who's going to finish in the top 14 and who's going to take the provisionals. Six on speed and seven provisionals, that's 13 spots and that's a lot of cars. If any of these guys get in a bad situation and get to wrecking and need those provisionals or speeds, well, we could be in trouble. There's nothing you can contemplate. They line the top 30 up and then they pick speeds. It just depends on who needs the speeds. You've just got to go racing. I'm going to try to finish as high as I can. There's no story about it. The story is going to be afterwards. History shows all the wrecks are in the first race, so hopefully I'll miss it. There's too many good cars in the first race. When you've got Bobby Labonte starting 14th and Terry Labonte starting 19th, there's a problem right there."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
Starts second in second race
"I think the 24 is real good and the 40 is real good. I don't think we have the only Chevrolet that's going to run up front. I think you're going to see some Chevys up front. I think our chances are good to run good and have a good finish. I'm pumped up about it. The big show is Sunday, and that's the one we want to run good in. We've love to see a Chevy in victory lane in that one, preferably the 31 Chevy.
"A couple of Pontiacs are right there together in the second race, and they're going to be hard to guard. Ward Burton and John Andretti will be tough, and Jeff Burton is going to be strong in a Ford. Some people in that race are pretty nifty in the draft. We'll just have to wait and see.
"I used to go around politicking and lobbying and trying to make deals for working in the draft, but that never works. Nobody ever holds up to their word but me, so I'm not going to do it anymore. I'll work with whoever wants to work with me. If I can help them and they can help me and one hand washes the other until it gets down to the end of the race, then I think that's a very intelligent thing to do. When it gets down to the end of the race, I think it's every man for himself.
"Ricky Rudd will have the best Ford in our race. I think the 88 will have more power than he's already got on Sunday. They're doing a lot of stuff with the engine stuff. They're going to be pretty strong. I hope not, but I've got that feeling. We were pretty good in the draft yesterday. We went out and ran 125 miles non-stop and were pretty pleased with the car. The tire wear looked pretty good and the car was pretty good. We've obviously got a few things we're going to do to try to critique it a little bit and make it better yet, but we're pretty pleased with it.
"I don't know there's an easy race to be in, but it looks like the second race is a little easier than the first race. I don't know there's an advantage to being in it, but if I had to pick one over the other, it would be the second race.
"I don't know if lay back is the proper wording. Maybe you just try to be careful. If you've got a good Daytona 500 car, you don't want to destroy that car in the 125 miler. Heck, this is Daytona. You can start 43rd here and be up in the front. It's silly to be stupid in the 125. We're going to be careful. We'd love to win the race, but we're not going to destroy our chances of winning the Daytona 500 just to try to win the 125."