RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 alltel Dodge Charger) NEWMAN WAS FOURTH FASTEST IN FIRST PRACTICE "We've got some work to do. We had some old tires on it, but it wasn't' driving good. Obviously it's not at night right now, but those were some tough...
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 alltel Dodge Charger)
NEWMAN WAS FOURTH FASTEST IN FIRST PRACTICE
"We've got some work to do. We had some old tires on it, but it wasn't' driving good. Obviously it's not at night right now, but those were some tough driving conditions for sure. Kurt and I worked a little bit together, but it's hard for me to stick with anybody. The car is real inconsistent right now through the air and lack of grip. This is the same car we had in the 500. It was capable of winning then and it's capable of winning now. We just need more grip. We need to make it stick better. We've got to get it hooked up to the race track. It ain't going to be easy, but we've got to work on it. Qualifying doesn't matter. We'll start where we start."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
BUSCH WAS FIFTH FASTEST IN THE FIRST PRACTICE. HE LED THE MOST LAPS IN THE 2007 DAYTONA 500 -- 95--BEFORE SETTLING FOR A 41ST PLACE FINISH AFTER WRECKING WITH TOY STEWART
"We had to rebuild the (500) car, but we built more downforce into it because it's more slick and hot in July. The first practice gave me an indication that the car is just as strong. I feel pretty good about it right now. Ryan and I drafted a little bit and my little brother seems strong. It's going to be a matter of sticking it to the low lane, and I think that's where it'll pay off. It's tough to see the Charger go, and I feel like I've come a long way in my restrictor plate racing. Now when we go with the new Dodge Avenger it's completely new. It's like starting over again. All of this is such a well-oiled machine that maybe it is time for a big change.
"We were close in February. I think Tony might have had a little more power on the straightaways but we were handling better than he was. We were definitely the two best cars out there. He got loose in front of me and I never even expected it in a million years. Thinking we had a car that could have won the Daytona 500 and then to come up short, it was a bittersweet finish.
"I just like to play the defensive role. I don't get too aggressive changing lanes and moving to different drafting partners and taking advantage of other people's mistakes. That style has bought me consistent finishes, but it hasn't brought me to victory lane (in a plate race) yet. I keep trying to learn and tweak and change and maybe I'll learn the combination that carries us to victory lane. It's nice we race at night. Those boys that used to do it, that was a hard chore. The cars slide around so much in the heat and you're just soaked in the car with sweat. Maybe the track will have a little more grip if it's cooler, too."
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON NEW TEAM DIRECTOR SCOTT MCDOUGALL
"We just decided as a company last week at that Josh Browne, even though I enjoyed working with him, would be better suited for this company as a whole, we felt we lost a little as far as front end geometry in concerned on all three teams and we think putting Josh back in that role where he's helping all three teams will make us more prepared when we come back to the racetrack. The 19 is sacrificing a little bit for the benefit of the whole company, and that's where we kinda stand right now. We brought in McDougall who has been working with Evernham a little while working with the truck and ARCA. I like him a lot so far. We've been talking a lot this week and tried to get a good plan straight for Daytona this weekend. I'm looking forward to working with him. We've still got everyone else in place. It was just the team director change. Ray will be on the box help calling some races for now, just because he's called some for me in the past and just to make sure the communication is good until Scott and I are clicking and get a good feel for each other. Ray's going to be like the mediator here for a couple of races. We'll see. We need to do something as a company, as a whole. Neither of the three teams are running like they should. We were very successful last year and the year before last when Josh was really the head guy as far as running the computer programs for the tire data and stuff like that. As Goodyear changes the tires each and every year, it seems we've got to have somebody in the company that's really just focused on that 100 percent and that's going to be his role."
DO YOU THINK IT'LL BE A DIFFICULT ADJUSTMENT? "Yeah, it's going to be tough in mid season. I feel like I can do it. This is my ninth season in the sport and I've worked with different crew chiefs. We've had a good talk about what I like to say as a driver and what I like to feel as a driver. He told he what he likes to hear as a team director so we'll go from there. It might be some tough times at first until we get each other feeled out. How loose is too loose and how tight is too tight? That's where Ray is coming in with his experience and how many races has he called on the box. It's not like we're putting all the load on Scott in the first race. Ray is going to help him with race strategy so we can really concentrate on our communication part.'
COMMENT ON SUSPENDED CREW CHIEFS "I know when our crew chiefs got suspended from Daytona they had to pretty much go home. They could not be on the grounds of the racetrack. I think you need to keep them at home and on no property the race track owns. I don't think they need to be around anywhere with communication with their teams. That's part of being suspended. Keep on escalating the fines. They'll get their attention one day. It seems like the same guys are getting it over and over again. Maybe some driver suspensions or staying at home for a year maybe. You've got to do something. It doesn't look like points are working and suspensions aren't working. I do like what NASCAR is doing. They keep going up and as a driver I want to know that everybody is on legal stuff every time I go to the track. All you want is a fair chance to be competition and win a race each and every Sunday. If I know that NASCAR is making heavy fines and heavy suspensions and got their nose to the ground, I know as a driver I've got a great chance."
COMMENT ON LAST RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACE IN A CHARGER "We'll see. That means everybody is probably going to be going all out Saturday night. There's no use to save your car anymore. It's kind of a sad moment for me. It's the only car I've ever raced at Daytona. We're coming off three top 10s in a row at this racetrack. I'd definitely love to finish second here in this type of car before we come back next year for the 500 with the COT "
HOW DO YOU HANDLE A COLD STREAK? "I just get really frustrated. I want to run well so bad. I want to be competitive. When you win some races and then you get to a point where you run 20th, you start to get frustrated. As a leader you've got to kind of hide some of that. You've got to kind of leave it at home when you come to a racetrack. The guys feed off of you as the quarterback of the team, but it's frustrating. This year has been a very frustrating season, not only for me but Scott and Kasey both. That's why we decided to make some changes. You start questioning things you do and the things you've got to change."
-credit: dodge motorsports