Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 UAWDelphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 2nd): "It's a great way to start the year --the same way we ended it last year. The guys did a super job. This winter, we tested and we had one carthat was really good in qualifying...
Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 UAWDelphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 2nd):
"It's a great way to start the year --the same way we ended it last year. The guys did a super job. This winter, we tested and we had one carthat was really good in qualifying but we had one car that was awesome in racemode. So I decided to just take my chances and just worry about the race. I didn't think much of it; I didn't think we were going to have a chance. We actually pulled a lot of stuff out of our hats. The guys back at the engine shop worked a lot of hours the last couple of weeks building this motor and we tried a lot of new stuff, different stuff, and everything seemed to work out. I'm very surprised I'm on the front row. But then again with what this team has for people and all the guys back at the shop, you know we have 200 people back at the shop. I'm surprised, but then I'm not. I'm pretty excited."
How do you feel about ending the 2000 season with a win, and coming back at the start of this season with the same momentum?
"I think we'll show more at Rockingham with my driving style than here at Daytona. I owe this to our guys. Our guys have worked real hard. Their morale is really good and even though they work 12 to 14 hours a day, they're all smiling all day long. I spend a lot of time with my guys. I spend two to three days a week at the shop taking the guys out to lunch and just being there just to kind of keep 'em boosted up. We've got 17 new cars back at the shop and we're ready for 2001. It's going to be a great season."
Are you surprised that Ray Evernham pulled off what he did today?
"Not really, but then again, yeah. They weren't running that good, but then again I wasn't running that good either in practice. He's pretty crafty. He's done a lot for Hendricks. He helped me out, too. He got my name on the list at Hendricks Motorsports. I'm pretty pleased with those guys, and there's two Dodges up front, two Chevrolets, two Fords, and Pontiacs so I think it's a good mix between all the manufacturers. It's a good mix I think with the rule changes. I think it's going to be one of the best races the fans have ever seen here at Daytona with the rule changes and that. This is like a bullring compared to Talladega and a lot of people don't realize that. I think the racing's going to be a lot more fun to watch."
Tell us about your growing success here on 2.5 miles.
"Again, a place like this, alot of it's the team, the cars, the engines. I don't think it's complete until I win a championship myself. Then I'll feel better. The last two or three years in Winston Cup for the past couple of years, I had some tough times. A lot of people didn't know who I was. You know, Jerry who? I think hopefully now, being with a team like Hendricks Motorsports and having the facilities -- the cars, the engines, andthe guys -- to get behind me, they're really the ones that are putting Jerry Nadeau out in front. I'm pretty pleased with what's going on."
Can you talk us through both your qualifying laps?
"The Harry Gant line seems towork all the time. You run the outside for the first lap and gather up your speed as much as you can. I did watch Bill Elliott make his run and he was right up on the top on the first lap and he kind of blew his first lap off. That's basically what I did. I blew my first lap off. The whole second lap I ran on the bottom and I had m rpm's up the whole time. You know the shortest way around the racetrack is usually the fastest way around. If you can keep your rpm's up it's going to be a good lap, and that's what I did."
How do you feel about being on the pole for the 125's?
"Well if I'm not mistaken, I've got my teammate right on my bumper. It's Jeff Gordon. And we worked real well together last year at a lot of races. Hopefully we can work well in the 125's. I think that's going to be a big part of it. I know Johnny Benson's in the race and I think Terry, so all in all it's going to be a race just like it was in Talladega. You're going to see a lot of passing, and a lot of guys dicing around. And hopefully if I can keep myself up front, and if I can keep myself in position, we can get a win and then again just have a good start at the 500. I talked about my cars earlier. I have a better car that qualifies better, but this car here that I qualified on the outside pole with today, is an awesome piece when it comes time to race. So that tells you just how much confidence I have in this car."
Can you comment about your former boss (Bill Elliott) being on the pole?
"Bill's a good guy. I learned a lot from him. He gave me the opportunity in Winton Cup racing. He's the first guy I ever got an autograph from when I was 14 years old and it was right here at Daytona. What a coincidence to be sitting here on the front row with him. It's pretty cool. He's a good guy, and we've got a Dodge and a Chevrolet on the front row. I'm happy."
What do you do now to get ready for the Daytona 500?
"There's a lot of things they do to the cars themselves with the rear ends, the right gears, the right transmissions. Everything we run here in qualifying is all lightweight stuff. Oils, we run the engines right to the max so they only last for so many laps. So what we do is we put a race motor in it that's going to last for 500 miles. We put the right transmission, the right gears, the right hubs and bearings, and everything. So all in all, the car is going to be a lot slower. But when you're out there in the draft, the speeds are still going to be up. You try to build a car to last the 500-mile race. Really, the cars themselves never really have the problems; it's making sure the engines last along time. And I think Hendricks has done a great job with their speedway stuff.
Do you think you can find a drafting partner?
"I'm still a new guy, and it's just my fourth year. But I hope I get some help this year. I've got to earn their respect. I hope I get some help. That's part of the game here in speedway racing. I think that's why so many guys line-up with Dale Earnhardt. He's just so amazing. People don't realize how good that guy is on speedway racing. He can see the air out there. He knows what line to get in. He's going to be a big factor inthe race, as is Jeff Gordon. Hopefully we can get the right help and be in the right place at the end of the race."
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Automotive Chevrolet Monte Carlo: (qualified 6th): "It's a great effort for the Dupont Chevrolet. I'm very excited to have run the lap that we did. I saw everyone going faster and faster than they did in practice and a really fast pole speed. I didn't know how much we could pick-up. We've been in the top five, and to finish 6th in qualifying, I'm very, very happy with that.
What do you think about the longer format for the Budweiser Shootout?
"I'm really happy to be in the Budweiser Shootout. Now that it's a longer race, now that it's 70 laps, you're going to find out what the cars are handling like. Even though it's not the same car that we'll be running in the 500, it's still a great test for the team, for myself, and it's a great way to get the season started and get a race under our belt before we go into competition in the 125's.
Since you worked with Ray Evernham for a lot of years, are you surprised that one of his cars is on the pole?
"No, I knew he was sandbagging the whole time. You know I think that that shows what time and effort can do in putting the right people in place. It's just an unbelievable effort by him to come down here and do what they did. We gave it everything we had with the Dupont Chevrolet and came up sixth. We're happy with that effort, but you definitely have to take your hat off to those guys."
Dale Earnhardt, No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"No, I'm not satisfied with it (qualifying run). It's not fast enough to be up front. It's not quite as good as we run this morning, but I think the temperature and the winds changed on us. I don't know if we've really got a good handle on the car and what it exactly needed. But we'll take it and we'll go race on Thursday and see what happens. We definitely want to have a good racecar for Thursday. The wind was mostly blowing down the front straightaway, but mostly it was more of across-wind to us. I think the first short was the toughest as far as the wind goes."
Dave Marcis, No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"Well I had a good lap, had a good line. The wind was up a little bit, butI would have liked to see another tenth, like everyone else. We did test a tenth better than that. But I guess coming back and going through inspection and all that it's pretty respectable. It's warm, but we had a warm day when we tested here for the Chevrolet test, so I don't see a lot of difference."
Terry Labonte, No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"Well that was a pretty good run for us. That's really where we run in practice yesterday, so that's where we expected to run. We were hoping to be able to run that again, so it was pretty close. But if you watch any practice, you know it doesn't matter where you start. You're going to be in every position before the race is over anyway. It's nice to start up front,but it really doesn't make any difference."
Robby Gordon, No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"The team did an excellent job, and if we end up inthe top ten, we'll be real happy. Think the track's obviously changing, but then it's changing for everybody else too. We've got our work cut out for us."
Steve Park, No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"We've been running fast in testing and in practice and stuff. The wind's kind of playing games out here, but I thought we could probably run a lot faster than that. We're a little disappointed. You don't know what you've got until you get through the inspection station and come out here and run your lap. I just think you need to have a good racecar, a good engine, and the driver is just pretty much hanging on and trying to keep it as smooth as possible. We've got a good racecar here. We've just got to go back and get 'em in the 500."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"Well, that's all right. We went a little faster than that in practice, actually a lot quicker. The wind changes direction here a lot and it really affects the speeds of the cars. Some of these guys have figured it out. And the wind either slows the car down or speeds it up -- either way you look at it."
Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"Wow. What an effort for a team that didn't exist last November. We put this deal together in a hurry. DEI gives usa lot of stuff to work with, and NAPA Auto Parts is a great sponsor, and I'm happy about both of them, and the crew, too. Everybody works hard, but you know you have to work smart. And if I can help them out at all, that's what I want to do. Making sure they understand what I mean when I say loose or tight or if I explain to them what I'm talking about, it will help speed up our learning curve. We've had a great off-season of testing with runs at Las Vegas and Rockingham that we felt were good. And we felt like we'd be decent here.
Rick Mast, No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"We've got a ways to go. We tested here a while back, but we've been struggling since we got here. But the good thing about these rules, you know the spoilers and stuff I think we've got a big hole there so you could take a car and maybe not be as fast as the guys up front, but with the draft and the way these rules are right now, we have a shot at getting in this race. Before, I don't think we would have. But we've got a week to work on the speed yet, and these guys on the Midwest car are really devoted. So I'm looking forward to it. You know what, I think we've got another round Monday and we'll probably put a race package as far as wheel bearings and stuff like that under the car and go ahead and tape it up and make a lap just to make sure we're not missing something. But we'll be looking more towards race set-up now."
Joe Nemechek, No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"We've kind of been struggling a little since we've been here. We had a good test yesterday and then his morning, we kind of got side-tracked a little bit. And you know, when the do all their special things to it, the cars usually pick-up. I'm just along for the ride. I think we're chasing a lot of weather here today. You know, the guys in the motor room have been working real hard to get more power and as the weather changes, it changes the tune-ups on the car, and we thought we'd run a lot faster than we would have in this morning's practice. We just went back and made sure everything was where it was supposed to have been and we went and qualified."
Bobby Hamilton, No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
"That's better than we've run today. The guys have really worked hard in the motor shop at Andy Petree's. The car's driving good. We had a really good test, we're really excited about the 500, and looking forward to good things for Square D. So that's what we've got. I'm pretty excited about everything now.