Daytona Chevy Friday Notes

Friday, Feb. 11, 2000. Daytona International Speedway. Chevrolet notes and quotes from NASCAR media day. DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "I enjoyed the time off. I healed up and got stronger again. I'm in ...

Friday, Feb. 11, 2000. Daytona International Speedway. Chevrolet notes and quotes from NASCAR media day.

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)

"I enjoyed the time off. I healed up and got stronger again. I'm in good shape. I'm ready for racing to start. I went and tested in Las Vegas, and I'm excited about that. I'm looking forward to the Daytona 500. It's always a great week for us. I'm going to drive hard and go as hard as I ever have. I'm 100 percent. If we could win a few more races before the 500, that would be good. IROC is on Friday, so we'll see how it goes. It's always a good week for us and February is a good month for us. We're looking forward to it.

"We (Dale Earnhardt Jr. and I) haven't talked that much about it. He's been learning most of that stuff on his own. Just don't mess with dad.

"I think NASCAR has worked hard through its inception on how to qualify and how to participate for these races. They've devised provisional starting positions for guys in points and stuff like that. I don't know how I would do it any different or fairer or different for whatever reason. They have a lot of good race cars and teams and sponsors. It's really a shame anyone has to go home, but unfortunately it would be hard to start 60 cars at Daytona and be able to pit them all on pit road and get the cars on the race track. I've had provisional starts and finished second and finished pretty good through the years. I'm fine with the way it is. I'd like to qualify first every race. That just don't happen. Maybe we can get us a pole this year.

"I'm ready to race. I had that little problem fixed over the winter. I got over that, took a month off and healed up. I'm in good shape really. I'm looking forward to the Daytona 500. It's one of the most exciting races of the year. It's the next race. It's the one you want to win. It's the one you want to get started off on the right foot to go for a championship, and that's our goal to win that eighth championship with Richard Childress and GM Goodwrench Service. I just signed a brand new contract with Richard Childress and GM Goodwrench. It's good through the year 2003 with options for more, so there's no retirement clause in there or anything, so we're in good shape.

"I think they've got a really good group of rookies this year, not so they didn't have a really good group last year. I think it's going to be a competitive year for the young drivers, really. Of course Tony (Stewart) has proved himself and I'm sure he's going to be one to contend with this year. It's gotten better and better in NASCAR Winston Cup racing each year with rookies and young drivers coming on board and I think that's because of the class of equipment that's out there and the opportunities for the guys, what they've accomplished in short track racing or wherever they've come from. They also have a lot of resources to give NASCAR Winston Cup racing, whether it be on TV or be involved in it some other way. When they come into the sport they're a lot more in tune and smarter with what's going on with Winston Cup racing and with the cars. It's really not totally like being in the dark when they hop in a Winston Cup race car. With NASCAR changing the rules every year like they have this year with the shock program, so pretty much everybody comes in on an even playing field. I think the rookie crop has been good the last couple years and it seems it's getting better every year. You've just got to contend with them and keep racing and dodge 'em if you have to or race with them if you have to. I had a lot of fun last year racing with Tony (Stewart) off and on at different times. It seemed like on long runs his Pontiac would work better than my Chevrolet. We have some good racing though. It was fun."

"To win the Daytona 500 is quite an accomplishment. It's something you think about and something you cherish. You accomplish it and you're so proud you did. It's amazing it took me so long to do it as competitive as I've been at Daytona through the years. I've won quite a few races in different events, but to not win the Daytona 500 was really a heart-breaker until we finally did it. We ended up coming up second last year, so maybe we can improve that position this year. Again, it's really competitive here. Everybody has worked hard all winter and got their brand new cars and brand new stuff here. NASCAR changed the rules and the shock package a little bit and sort of mixed it up a little bit. Whether we can get the handle on it quicker than the other guys and be the dominant car remains to be seen. We've got the qualifying races to go through, and I've been fortunate enough to win those races in the '90s. Hopefully we can continue that in the year 2000 and go forward. The most important race is the Daytona 500 and getting tuned up for it. If you get beat in the qualifying race, you'll definitely be working harder not to get beat in the 500.

"It (2000 Monte Carlo) has got some good things about it, but it's still not as good of a race car as I think we had last year at this point with NASCAR's cutting the car back like they did. They trimmed on the car quite a bit from its introduction. It was a better race car in its original form, but they've handicapped that car quite a bit and more or less let the Fords come in with a better race car. I think we'll be behind the eight ball for a little while until we can figure it out or prove it out or decide what's going on or NASCAR makes some changes.

"I think if I'm hurt and I can't drive, then I can't drive. It's the real world out there and you've just got to go with the rules and the qualifications they have and that's just it. If someone falls by the wayside, it's just like in battle. It happens. It's a shame sometimes. It's unfortunate a lot of times, but it happens.

"The thing about the draft is, if you're racing at Daytona or Talladega, and you're drafting and you do 10 things all day long that's going to help you or make you win that race, you've got to do them right. Fortunately, I've been able to make nine or 10 of them right every time and win the race or be close enough to the front. A lot of guys can make those same moves, but they don't make all 10 of them the right way. We're just fortunate to be able to have the experience and I think experience is a big part of it.

"My health is good. I'm in good shape. I just signed a new contract. I'm good through 2003 with an option for two or three more.

"I think the fan participation and involvement of the sponsors and what goes on there... We do a lot of autograph sessions during the season, but the fans can come buy a ticket and come to the races and be involved. A lot of things go on during Speedweeks, but around any week in racing in any city fans can be involved and be a part of it. If it (NASCAR) isn't the top sport, it's right behind the first one and growing.

"I've given Dale Jr. advice from day one when he was a year old on how to walk and how to talk. We worked with him from that point on and he's done pretty well for himself. The Busch Grand National deal was a pretty good learning curve for him. He's taken all that in. We talk a little bit about it, but as far as telling him don't do this or don't do that, the biggest thing I've told him is don't mess with daddy."

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)

"I don't know how anybody is going to top what Tony Stewart did last year. That was pretty amazing. If anybody can do it, it's this rookie class we've got coming up this year. I think most of the attention is probably on Dale Jr., but Matt Kenseth is a very talented driver and he's got (Jack) Roush behind him, so I think he and Junior are going to have some more battles out there. Scott Pruett, you can't throw him out. He's a very experienced race car driver. It looks like that team is doing everything it can to be competitive. They've hired the best people. They've got good backing. I think they'll be really good also. They might just be lacking a little bit in experience at some of these race tracks.

"(Dave) Blaney has really come on strong in the Busch Series. That's a pretty awesome group of rookies. I've known Dave Blaney for quite a while when he was kicking my butt on the dirt tracks. It is a great class of rookies.

"These guys spend countless hours on these cars getting ready for the race. You can't wait to finally get here. I'm looking forward to seeing what everybody's really got. You see the numbers in testing, but when you go through that inspection line and get out there you really know who's fast. We've made some changes this year, but they've all been real positive and have been accepted. A guy like Robbie Loomis comes in and fits in real well with the team. He's real knowledgeable. We needed a boost like that. We needed someone like that to come in because everybody starts looking around and saying oh man, Ray Evernham is gone. What's going to happen? Things couldn't have fallen in place any better than they have. Brian Whitesell is the team manager and he's got a lot of experience within our team, knowing what I like in a car and he knows how the team functions. I think things are going to go real well for us this year.

"We've got a couple of different things going on. We're getting ready to qualify, but we're also getting ready for the Bud Shootout. I'm glad I'm in the Bud Shootout because I think that's going to be a really good test with the new shock and spring rule and the new Monte Carlo, so we're really going to get a better idea of what we've got. The spring and shock combination they've got, when you unload off the truck, that's pretty much what you're going to have. I don't really think you're going to see guys pick up much speed after they unload. There's not a lot of changes you can make. You can't do a lot with the shocks, you can't do anything to the springs. It's like changing the cowl and adjust the carburetor and that's about what you've got. First, we're just going to work on qualifying and then we're going to work on our Bud Shootout car to get ready for long runs, drafting and things like that. We'll start making longer runs after qualifying to really get the handling. I don't care what they say. It's a superspeedway I know, but this is a handling race track. If you can handle well and get around the bottom of this race track and stay there and not get a big push up off the corners, you're going to be the car to beat.

"It's amazing how when you bring things together and they start to click and everybody is getting along and they're happy how well things come together. For all we've been through and all we've had to do, because this team had to work hard, especially with the new Monte Carlo, we've had to work hard to get ready for Daytona and all the other tracks. Things have gone extremely well. I'm pretty excited about it."

"I had three or four blown tires last year and a couple of malfunctions that were ridiculous -- a transmission, a power steering pump -- silly things that shouldn't have happened. Sometimes it was forced errors where we were just trying too hard, trying to be the fastest car all the time on the race track instead of trying to get the car to do the best it's capable of and see where you end up. Sometimes we should have been just trying to our race them instead of out smarting them. I think we've definitely got some areas where we can improve. We want to work on consistency this year. That means if we don't win five or seven or 10 races, then so be it. I just want to be in the top five and have a shot at winning, hopefully every weekend.

"It's tough (to lose your car to Daytona USA after winning Daytona 500) because that car that we had last year was so good. It really was an awesome race car. I'm hoping we've built something as good this year, but when you look at what we did last year, my teammates were out of the race basically. I had no one to draft with, nobody wanted to draft with me. To be able to win that race was pretty amazing, then they take your car. If you're going to give up your car, you hope it's because you've won the Daytona 500. When we went to Talladega, when we came back here, we suffered quite a bit because of it and it hurt our chances at those race tracks. Basically, that was a one-race car. It's no good anymore. It's obsolete now because of all the different rule changes that have happened for this event.

"I like the way Speedweeks works, especially being in the Bud Shootout. We're going to be able to work together in the Bud Shootout and the 125s. We've been through a lot of changes this year, not just Robbie. My spotter has changed, so there's a lot of different things going on. I can tell already things are going to click pretty well with me and Robbie. He's the kind of guy who's intense. He wants to win and he wants to work at it, but he's also a very understanding person. He works well with people. He gets excited, but he's got patience at the same time. It's a great combination. I'm looking forward to it. I'm glad we've got those couple of races to get to know each other. He's been listening to tapes that we've had from different races last year with my communication between Ray and the spotter. He's kind of getting to know what I like. Through testing, he's been the guy in my ear that I talk to. We're getting to know one another. The intensity is still there. Robbie chews a lot more gum than Ray did.

"This is a track that I like and I think we've prepared well for it. I'm not sure how competitive the Chevy Monte Carlo is going to be because of the numbers. Just look at the drag this car has. It's got good downforce, but it has a lot of drag, also. I feel more excited about going to Rockingham, but I still feel with the gains we've made, we're going to be pretty good.

"This is different than any other place. We're at a condo for 10-12 days and you go shopping and get all the groceries you can pile into a cart. This is your home for two weeks. I'm at the race track every day, trying to drive the car the best I can. At night, you're doing media and sponsor events, so it's a busy time. It's also very exciting because it leads up to our Super Bowl event.

"My guys knew they were leaving and they weren't clicking at the end of the season last year. I think the new group we've got is excited about working together and they've been working extremely hard because of that and they want to do well. When they go over the wall in a race and the pressure is on, there might be some bugs there to work out. So far, from what I've seen, Andy has done a great job putting a great group of guys within Hendrick Motorsports that have a possibility of making some great stops. It's the consistency we're going to work on and that's going to come with time. We might not come out of the box as good as we can be, but I think you're going to see it come together very fast if it's not already there.

"The aerodynamics of these cars, they punch a pretty big hole but at the same time you've got a lot of drag. It's like carrying a parachute. You can suck right up to the guy but as soon as you try to pull out, the car stops. Your drafting partners are going to mean more this year than they ever have."

RICK MAST (No. 41 Big Daddy's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We wish this was November right now. We've tested down here, we went to Talladega and tested, we went to the wind tunnel and we really figure we're about November where we should be. Going with the new team, I'm really happy with Larry Hedrick. He's honest. He's got a lot of integrity. He's willing to let us do what we've got to do to make this team competitive over a long period of time. We realized coming in or from the outside looking in that maybe it's not where it's supposed to be and it's not. We realize that. We've gone through that this winter as far as what the car needs and what the team needs, where we need to go and how do we need to get there. We're working together on that. We've kind of got a game plan for all those things, but it's going to take a little time. I'm pretty happy. Philippe Lopez has come on has crew chief. Garth Findley is our director of technology, and we're pretty happy with all of that. We've got a lot of good things happening, but it's going to take a little while.

"They've taken the shock and spring deal away, so it's put more back on aerodynamics and horsepower. They talk about the multi-funded teams being better off, but I don't see it that way. You could really get super aggressive with the shocks and springs that would make the car go good for a lap. They've taken that away, so now it's just aerodynamics and motor. That's all you've got. If you unload slow, you're pretty much going to stay slow. There's not a whole lot you're going to be able to do other than go borrow someone else's horsepower.

"Everybody is going to use the same rate rear spring. Everybody will have the same four shocks and the same two rear springs. The only variables are the two front springs and the front swaybar because you can't use a rear swaybar. That's really all you've got to spring. Motor and aerodynamics will make the difference. Period. If you've got a $10 million engine budget, then it's not equal or if you've got a $20 million aerodynamic budget, it's not equal. It's never going to be equal but at least when you're down here testing for a couple of days you're still in one piece.

"This is our big deal. All the emotions, when you're 15 years old fantasizing about being the next Richard Petty, all those emotions, when you come to Daytona, those same emotions come out for me still. This is a big deal. Once we get started and we're in the middle of it and you're pulling your hair out, you'll be glad when it's over with and you can go on to the next race unless you're doing real well. If you're doing well, you don't ever want to leave this place."

"I didn't realize it at the time, but a year or two later, after being here, it hit me. I came back a couple of years later in 1991 with Richard Jackson and ran good. Then I started realizing how special it was. We didn't have a sponsor on the car. We had two motors and one car and almost won the Daytona 500. We finished sixth and if you ask Travis Carter (car owner) about it today, he'll still say we're all wrong, but my gas man still says if we hadn't pitted for gas we would have won the race. Travis says he's crazy, but he's the one who's wrong. We would have won that race if we hadn't pitted. NASCAR had our car torn apart when the race was over because we weren't supposed to run that good. We looked at the fuel cell and we were three or four laps to the good if we hadn't stopped. Darrell Waltrip might still be looking for his first Daytona 500 win if we hadn't stopped.

"It was just one of those deals. We came down here and tested and had two motors and it wasn't running good. I told Travis it didn't have any motor. They took that motor out, put another one in and it was a whole different ball game. We came back and qualified good with it, ran good in the Twins and had a great Speedweeks.

"I'm probably a bigger underdog this year. If you're down on drag or horsepower from the other cars around you, you're going to get shuffled to the back. I don't care how good you are. We got aggressive with the shock and spring combination last year. I didn't like it but it was the only way I could keep up with anybody. We were hurting in other areas.

"I'm anxiously, apprehensively excited about it this time. I'm hoping things go good like all of us do here. You've got to be realistic. What you've got is what you've got. What work you put into it is what you put into it. It is what it is and you're not going to change that. If we do well here, I'll be very excited and surprised. I don't expect that going in because we haven't had time to do what we need to do. I kind of know where we're stacking up. I'm in this deal for the long term. I just wish we had got things started a little earlier."

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I'm ready to get on the race track and put up some results and give everybody something else to talk about. That's what being a rookie is all about, trying to prove your worth and prove how much talent you have and trying to gain a lot of respect from the guys who have been doing it for awhile and that's what we're going to try to do.

"The biggest thing my father has taught me is to just keep my head on straight. There's a lot of distractions out in the world and a lot of things that can kind of take your focus away from the job and trying to win races and trying to be champion. He's maintained a good, consistent attitude throughout his career and that's what he wants me to do. That's what's important to him. He wants me to stick with my game plan.

"It (Tony Stewart's 1999 rookie performance) raises the bar a little bit. It adds a little more pressure to all the other rookies. They're going to be expected to compete at that level where previously you wouldn't even expect a rookie to win a race, much less three. We all know it's capable of being done, but it's tougher and tougher every year, so I think it adds a little bit of pressure to some of these guys."

"Last year was a tough year for both of us. By the time the championship was over, he (Kenseth) was probably a little disappointed in his effort and what he ended up with, falling to third in the points. He was a real professional about it. We're good friends off the race track, and we've been able to maintain that the past couple of years. I'm sure it'll be easier to maintain it now in Winston Cup because we're not necessarily in the spotlight we were in in the Busch Series. It'll be just like we're starting all over again and we'll be able to work off of each other as rookies. I pulled in at Daytona and found his coach parked next to mine and Dave Blaney next to Matt. All the rookies are right there together. Hopefully we'll get to spend a lot of time with each other.

"I was really worried about being able to do well on the track last year. A lot of people had a lot of hype for the Winston Cup program. I knew we were only going to run five races and I knew we were going to struggle. Everybody was asking questions about winning races and running in the top five and running in the top 10 and racing my dad. They were totally missing the point. After a while, it gets to you, but I think this year is going to be more routine. Last year, I was kind of pulled in both directions. This year, we know we've got Winston Cup races to run. I can look at the schedule and know where I'm going. It's not going to be that difficult to look after and keep organized.

(IROC battle with his father at Michigan last year) "That's one of my fondest memories of my career. Something like that was not expected. I didn't expect to be racing him ever in my entire life. That was like a bonus. To be able to have that, me and him, one on one, nobody else really in competition with it. Sitting there working with him throughout the whole race was kind of fun. It was really nerve-racking and then to be able to try to make a pass on him at the end of the race with nobody else in the middle of it kind of allowed me to say OK, here's the measuring stick. Here's how much harder I've got to work to get to where he is. It was fair. The cars were equal. You couldn't say your car was handling better. It came down to the last lap and it was pretty cool. To come as close as I did made me feel pretty good that early in my career.

"It would be nice to be able to race with him at the end of this one. Five hundred miles is a long way, and I'm going to need a lot of help. I hope I've got a good enough race car to get some respect from some of these guys so they'll draft with me and work with me. I'm going to need a lot of that. Everybody does. If you're going to stay up front, you're going to need that help back and forth with guys. Hopefully everybody will be willing to do that.

"It's been a big advantage to me so far to get me up to this point so quickly. It's allowed my career to progress, having him (father) helping me out and being there for me and allowing me to benefit from what he's done and what he's accomplished. I've tried to shy away from taking advantage of who he is, but if the shoe fits, wear it. It's fit pretty good so far.

"He hasn't told me nothing (about the draft). He doesn't talk to me much about racing or driving. I ask him from time to time, but he's real reluctant to give advise and assist you sometimes because he wants you to try to learn it on your own. If you're really struggling with it, he'll come in there and help you, but he pretty much lets us do it on our own. Sometimes I wish he would help us more, but in the long run it's better off the way he does it.

"It's just like kids growing up wanting to be Michael Jordan or wanting to be Dale Earnhardt. When I was growing up, I wanted to be Dale Earnhardt. He was the champion. He was my dad, but he was the guy who was winning and he was the guy I wanted to be. I always thought about driving his car and stuff, so it was kind of cool to be able to do that.

"I haven't done anything this off season but lay around and hang out. I'm in terrible shape.

"By the end of the year my opinion might be different as far as how tough this rookie class is. At this point, it would be career lifting to win the rookie title. It would be a great accomplishment. There's good competition in this class. I hope it's me and Matt. I have fun racing him. Him being my toughest competitor wouldn't bother me because we're such good friends.

"I'd like to finish the Daytona 500 and finish in the top 15. I'd like to finish every race this year, but that doesn't happen much. I'd like to qualify first round for every race. That'd be cool. That'd be a good accomplishment. I don't know if that's an achievable goal or not, but that'd be a good accomplishment. I'd like to finish in the top 15 in the points. I'd like to do better, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I think that would be satisfying."

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)

"I suggest they go back to the wind tunnel and read their numbers a little better. It sure isn't as even as they said it was going to be. We need a faster race car. You might see worse than this (practice) tomorrow in qualifying."

RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos)

"You've got to read between the lines what everybody is doing. We'll talk about it after qualifying, but right now, I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed after all the testing. It's the first time I can ever say I didn't look forward to coming and running the Daytona 500."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"It wasn't a big surprise. I expected we'd run a little bit better than that with a new car. I figured we might struggle a little bit in qualifying. The car's got more downforce. It's probably going to have a little more drag on it. We've just got to work hard and get it worked out. I remember when the Taurus came out they weren't all that good on the superspeedways, either. By the time we started racing, they were pretty awesome. Hopefully we can do the same thing with the Monte Carlo.

"We tested before the Fords did. After the Fords left, we went from third to 11th or 13th fastest. I knew we were going to be in trouble with the Fords and Pontiacs, but I didn't know it would be quite this bad. We'll be OK. We're proud of this new Monte Carlo. We're going to work on it and make it better and we'll race the hell out of them on Sunday. Our Daytona thing is usually pretty awesome. I look for the car to be pretty good in other places. We're not throwing in the towel. We're excited about this car. We're real inte rested in the development of it and trying to make it better and better.

"We came down here to sit on the pole and win the race. We haven't given up on that, but the pole looks like it might be out there a little ways. You've just got to stay in the draft and do good. If we struggle, we'll go to Rockingham and do the best we can there."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We almost made the board. The Fords are just that good. This Monte Carlo, you can walk in my dealership, any Chevy dealership and buy one just like it. You might have to go to Mars to get one like the Fords are running, but you might get one up there. They've got us unless NASCAR does something. You can write Ford on the trophy. Our cars are basically stock cars. The front end they let them (Ford) put on, the back end they let them put on... You can look at it and see. Look at the stopwatch. They're laughing about it. We knew when we tested what we ran was about all we had. We knew we would come back with more motor, but we knew we were in trouble. We don't have a shot at the pole. We'll be lucky to get in the top 10."

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo)

"We knew coming into the deal with the changes they've made to the Fords with the nose and body that they got that there would be quite a big difference. We'll just have to wait and see. We still think we've got a good race car. If we get a good solid qualifying lap in, we'll go out there and race 'em. We came to race on Sunday. I said if we got in the top 15 I'd be tickled to death, and I'm going to stick with that. When you unload at Daytona, when you unload off the truck, what you've got is what you've got. It'll be hard to pick up much now."

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)

"I'm trying not to think too much about what happened at the end of practice. We were looking pretty good throughout that whole practice and then right there at the end we dropped down to 18th. We've been around 10th the whole time we've been here, and I'd be happy if I qualify around 10th. The way it's looking, I don't know if we're going to be there and I'm a little disappointed. We're like half a second faster than we tested, but so is everybody else. The Fords are better than I thought they were. Like Rusty that last time out, he had help. Guys are going out and it's going crazy, so it's hard to say where we're really at. I'm hoping we're around 10th or 12th. We can't pick up. When we go to make a qualifying run, we don't pick up much. It seems like other guys do. I won't be too disappointed if we can be within half a second of the top unless half a second means you're 20th. Being half a second off means we can still race with them. I'd prefer to be right there with them. We just tested out in Vegas and the Fords were pretty awesome out there, too. I'm not sure what we've got yet until we start racing."

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Nations Rent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We're just trying to concentrate on what we've got on our car. We knew it would be a real challenge to be the fastest Chevy. We just took what we had and went as fast as it would go. Our test encouraged us that we would be able to be as good as there was. That's way faster than we tested down here. We were a little bit confused about the rule they made on a wedge deal that came out the last couple of days. We were hoping every Ford that tested had that wedge deal. It was worth a couple of tenths, but it appears that wasn't the case.

"You hear about having wedge in the race car. Some people were putting a tremendous amount of wedge in the car and making the car run on three wheels. The right rear spring didn't have any weight on it. That allowed that spring when the car went on the track, the car would just fall down on the corner when it hit the bump and would go faster. NASCAR made a rule limiting you to the amount of wedge you could run. We didn't have it when we tested down here. We thought maybe it would even us up a little bit, but that must not be as big a deal as everybody was making of it. I guess there's usually one Chevy that will break in and be among the first three or four, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. It appears they have us edged out for qualifying. As soon as we start racing, it's a whole new set of factors that make the difference. We're happy to be 10th. I know our car will run well in the race. Every year in the 90s we've been at the front of this deal. Our best finish last year was fifth (at the superspeedways), but we learned a lot. We know we can get to the front and hopefully we can capitalize on our experience. We had this chassis at Talladega last October and were leading the race when we had some engine problems late in the race. We're real confident with what we've got.

"The Fords concern me. They don't scare me. We'll work on our car and continue to focus on it."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Scott Pruett , Richard Petty , Ray Evernham , Dave Blaney , Robbie Loomis
Teams Hendrick Motorsports