Daytona Crew Chief Club Preview

Crew Chief Club at the Pepsi 400 Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 64 wins, 345 top-five finishes, 553 top-10 finishes and 64 poles prior to this Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona...

Crew Chief Club at the Pepsi 400

Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 64 wins, 345 top-five finishes, 553 top-10 finishes and 64 poles prior to this Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. McReynolds' driver, Mike Skinner, is the defending pole-sitter for the Pepsi 400. The Crew Chief Club's last visit to the 2.5-mile oval came during this year's Daytona 500, and it resulted in three of the four members finishing in the top-five. McReynolds and Dale Earnhardt finished first, Makar and Bobby Labonte finished second and Pemberton and Rusty Wallace finished fifth. Despite not having a win in the Pepsi 400, the members of the Crew Chief Club have six top-five finishes throughout their careers in the July event. In last year's Pepsi 400, the Crew Chief Club finished in the following order: McReynolds/Earnhardt Start: 2nd Finish: 4th Status: Running Parrott/Jarrett Start: 16th Finish: 5th Status: Running Pemberton/Wallace Start: 6th Finish: 6th Status: Running Makar/Labonte Start: 20th Finish: 10th Status: Running All four members of the Crew Chief Club will be signing autographs on Sat., Oct. 17, from 10 am to 11 am. Jimmy Makar and Larry McReynolds will be on the Chevrolet souvenir trailer, while Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton will be on the Ford souvenir trailer.

HOW DO YOU SET YOUR RACE CAR UP FOR 400 MILES UNDER THE LIGHTS AT DAYTONA?

Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "I don't know how much running under the lights is going to change our setup. It's still going to be pretty hot. The race track's surface is going to be a little bit cooler since the sun won't be beating directly on it. I think it's going to be a bit slicker than it was back in February. I don't anticipate a lot of changes. Maybe just making the car a little tighter than we were in February. The car we'll run at Daytona is the car we ran at Talladega and in the 500 back in February. It was a new car at the beginning of the year that we built over the winter and it really came out nice. It's run well every time we've had the opportunity to run it. It's a Laughlin chassis with our own modifications."

Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "We'll go down there and try to qualify well and get that thing up on the front row. Even though it's going to be at night and under the lights, Daytona is not going to change. It's still going to get slick and you need to focus on getting your car to handle throughout the entire 160 laps. Normally, the best handling car will win the race down there. That's something that Mike and I have talked about and that's what we did with the three car in February. We just worked really hard on qualifying - getting to where he could run that thing wide-open every lap for 200 laps. We tested down there and things went well. Trying to fine-tune a superspeedway car in a short amount of time is a tough thing to do without going to the wind tunnel. We were fortunate to have as good a car as we did in May with the short time we had to build it. We've still got some work to do, but I feel really good about the Lowe's car. It's the same car that ran eighth down there in the 500 and helped give the three car that last little shove at the end to keep it out front. Even though the race is going to be under the lights, the race track will still get slick. But using the notes from the 500 is an awfully good starting point. We should be able to fine-tune it from there."

Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "You need to have a car that's a little tighter than what you had back in February. Bottom line - you've got to have a good race car. Running at night - the temperatures are going to be cooler. The lights are going to make you see other cars around you a little differently. We'll use the same car we ran at Daytona and it's the same car we had at Talladega where we finished third. It's a pretty good race car and we're looking forward to going down there."

Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "We went down there and tested under the lights a couple months ago. Basically, we'll try to get the car to run as low as it can for qualifying. By getting it low to the ground, you get the lowest drag possible. It's up to the engine guys to get the horsepower out of the engine. Those are the two key ingredients. We thought we were going to see a really big speed difference under the lights. But when we did qualifying runs at three in the afternoon, we ended up running the exact same speed as we did at eight or nine o'clock. We didn't see any big speed difference at all. We'll use the same car we had in the 500."

NASCAR HAS BEEN TRYING TO SLOW THESE CARS DOWN FOR YEARS, ESPECIALLY AT TRACKS LIKE DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA. ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO THE RESTRICTOR PLATE?

Jimmy Makar: "There are a lot of alternatives, but I don't know if they're good ones. There are a lot of ideas out here floating around. They all have negatives to them. There are a lot of things you can do to make the cars slower, but you sacrifice drivability to the drivers, reliabilty of engines and even the race itself, the show, to be able to go out there and race, have a good race. This discussion has been going on for a long time, a different way to do it without the restrictor plate, and a lot of things have been tested. We've been involved in a few tests that have tried some of these things and there's not a simple answer or you would have seen some things tried up to this point. I think it's an issue that's always out there and it's always being addressed and talked about. There just hasn't been a better way that they have come up with."

Larry McReynolds: "Smaller cubic inches will slow these cars down, and Robert Yates has been pleading that for eight years. Everywhere we go, not just Daytona and Talladega. Restrictor plates are not the answer to other racetracks. We went to Atlanta last year and we put a restrictor plate on and we ran just as fast because they don't carry much straightaway speed getting into the corner so they run through the corner faster which makes the overall time the same. Taking cubic inches away, I would totally disagree if the other 29 or 30 races we go to besides here that taking downforce away from these cars was a way to slow them down. It really hasn't slowed them down that much. It's got the cars driving very ill in race trim, and it's got these guys to where they don't want to race side by side with each other and the shows aren't as good. We haven't had that many good races this year. Sure, you get down to a deal where somebody is chasing somebody else with a few laps to go and the fans are on their feet, but I tell you across the board when you listen to fans in general that watch it on TV, most of them go out and mow their lawn or wash their car during a race because there's just not enough side by side racing. They need to put downforce back in these cars, and I know that's not about Daytona and Talladega, but I think cubic inches, taking them away, smaller engines is probably one way of doing that."

Todd Parrott: "Slow these things down? They're going slow enough as it is. If they go any slower you could ride a bicycle around there faster than they're running. No, I think that right now other than taking the restrictor plate off and letting them race and let the cars and the teams do what they do every week, there is no answer for slowing them down. They're going to be bunched up in packs, that's the way the draft works and other than just not racing the restrictor plate tracks at all, which I don't forsee that happening, I don't see a whole lot of ways you could do it. If you slow them down, you're just going to have more of them running closer together. So I don't really have an answer. If they were to get rid of restrictor plates, I'd like to see more spoiler angle. Obviously you're going to have to have more spoiler angle because you're going to run a little faster. Keep the cars down on the ground. It's going to add more drag to them. That's the only other thing I know to do. Just do what we do everywhere else we go."

Robin Pemberton: "There might be other alternatives, but I think in the grand scheme of things we've got, I don't know how many, years invested in the restrictor plate technology. It would be a pretty big change and pretty big financial hardship on the teams and probably NASCAR to make any big changes like that now or for a long while. And basically if it wasn't for the fact of a few big wrecks, restrictor plate races are very good races to watch."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Robert Yates