KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished 3rd) "In restrictor plate racing you can go from the front to 10th in about a hundred yards it seems like - maybe a half a mile, but it seems like a hundred yards. We put ...
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished 3rd)
"In restrictor plate racing you can go from the front to 10th in about a hundred yards it seems like - maybe a half a mile, but it seems like a hundred yards. We put ourselves in position all night. I was really calm in the car. All you can do is ask yourself to be in position and have a chance to win with the way the racing is at these places. I had a lot of fun and we had a really good race car. I know we've got a lot better race car for the 500. This is the car we raced last year in all four (restrictor plate) races. We gave ourselves a chance to win but just came up a little bit short."
THE RACE SEEMED A LITTLE WILD. HOW DID IT TAKE SHAPE?
"The real action was there at the end for me. We were fortunate enough to have a strong enough car to position ourselves at the front of the pack all night. I don't know that we ever fell back further than fifth or six. That's a tribute to our team. But it was pretty wild there at the end."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO BE IN FRONT AND USE YOUR MIRRORS TO TELL WHICH LANE IS FASTEST?
"Well, it is hard to drive backwards when you're trying to go forward. But it's really a key part of what we do with the bump draft and who is pushing and shoving the best. But we came down into the tri-oval and I saw Rusty (Wallace) was coming and by the time we got out of the tri-oval I has chosen the wrong one."
WITH A LAST-LAP PASS FOR THE LEAD IN THIS RACE, DOES THAT LOOK GOOD FOR THE GUY WHO IS RUNNING SECOND IN THE DAYTONA 500?
"I hope so. As bas as you've said the racing is for the past two years. It looked pretty good tonight - at least is was from the driver's seat. The high groove was working and you could run side by side. It was a lot of fun. Cars suck up really good and you could push and shove all you wanted."
DID YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES TO YOUR CAR DURING THE 20-LAP BREAK?
"No, we worked on handling in practice - the two Shootout practices - and on just making sure we stayed in the pack and ran our tires off because we know that's what we're going to have to do next Sunday. The car was a little bit free all night and we never had to crack the throttle one time in the pack or anything like that. We've got a good handling race car and we gave ourselves a shot at being in the right position."
WERE DRIVERS RELUCTANT TO WORK WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR.?
"I saw him in about five laps and he came up there and was immediately in the thick of things. So I didn't really see that. He was beside me and that's all I saw. You'll have to ask him."
WHAT DOES A STRONG FINISH TONIGHT MEAN FOR QUALIFYING TOMORROW?
"It gives us more confidence going into Sunday than anything else. We're happy with our car for tomorrow. You just never can tell what everybody's got until its time. I spent most of the day taking a nap, so I don't really know what everybody else was doing."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (finished 2nd):
"We didn't really have the right set-up under the car. After talking to Tony Eury Sr. after the race, we had some things we probably could have done different that would have helped us out. The car was just real loose most of the race. On brand new tires, I was okay. That's why I was okay there at the end. We ran that first run and then Jimmie (Johnson) jumped in the middle and he had a pretty fast car so I followed him up through the middle and we got up to third or fourth on the outside. And then it was just like you flipped a light switch. The car just wasn't drivable. I couldn't even stay full throttle around the whole track. I had to lift quite a bit in the corners just to keep the car underneath me. We made some changes and got the car a little bit too tight on the next run. And then the last run wasn't really long enough even wear the tires out. I could push people real good. But I couldn't seem to get anybody to close up behind me when I needed it except at the end when Mark (Martin) was behind me. He'd get a massive run on me and I'd have to make sure he didn't try to pass me. I'd have to take whatever shot he'd give me and I could go up there and help (Dale) Jarrett.
"That top line is where it's at when it comes down to the end of the race. When I was on the bottom line in the first run, guys were crowding the right side of the car and they'd give you about a foot in between you, the apron, and them. And you had no room for air and you'd have to lift a little bit to keep from sliding up the track into them or spinning out on the inside. The outside is where it's at. You've got all the room in the world to move around and race. You don't have to lift too much. That's where I needed to be at the end of the race to have a chance to win. I just wasn't leading on the outside line. Jarrett was. He's been a good friend to me on and off the race track. I figured I'd stick with him to push him into the lead. Once he got the lead, it was his job to keep it."
DID YOUR TEAM PUT THE WRONG SET-UP ON THE CAR TONIGHT?
"It wasn't the wrong set-up. You're limited so much with what you can do to these cars. Basically you've got two front springs and a front bar. That's basically all you fool with - plus the trackbar in the back. The characteristics of the car as far as it being loose and hard to drive when other cars got around it, we've seen before. We look back over when that happened and we look at what we did to the car at that time and it's very similar to what we're doing now. You can't just sit on top of whatever runs good all day long and just think you're going to keep going fast everywhere you go. They're closing the gap on us as you saw tonight. It was pretty much anybody's race to win. So you've got to keep trying stuff. What we had under the car just wasn't what I needed. We took some bar out and that just wasn't the right move. But we got an advantage in running that race tonight as far as what to expect on Sunday for the Daytona 500."
YOU LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A CAR ON THE OUTSIDE THAT WAS RUNNING REAL GOOD.
"I knew at the end of the race that the outside line was the one to be in. Unfortunately we were behind Jarrett, and all we could do was push him and get him out front and try to make a move on him. Congratulations to Dale. He had a rough season last year and this is a great start to a new year for him. Hopefully we've got a better car in the 500. It's a brand new car. We've got to work a few bugs out of it, and we'll be all right."
IT LOOKED LIKE EARLY ON YOU COULD HAVE USED THE HELP OF A TEAMMATE LIKE MICHAEL WALTRIP. DID YOU HAVE MUCH HELP THERE IN THE DRAFT?
"My car was real good at pushing everybody else to the front. But for some reason I couldn't get people to pull up behind me. I don't know how we need to work on that aerowise. Yeah it was tough out there. There was a bunch of them teaming up, doing this and doing that. But coming home second, I'm pretty happy. It didn't seem like a second place car to me.
ARE OTHER TEAMS CATCHING UP TO YOU GUYS?
"I'd say so - just by the results of tonight's race. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and moving around. It was exciting out there if you were in my car. Some ended up in the fence and crashed their cars up a little bit. Once you weed those guys out you can get up there and have some pretty civilized racing after a while."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE OTHER GUYS WERE HANGING YOU OUT MORE THAN NORMAL OR WAS IT JUST THE CAR?
"Yeah, I didn't want to use that as an excuse, but I'd go with that (laughs). I was pushing people up front. As soon as they would get an opportunity, they would ditch me. I really didn't ever have a really strong car behind me that was committed to me. When Jamie (McMurray) was behind me, he would push me a little bit but you could tell in the attitude of how he was driving that he wanted by me, and he was going to take any hole I left open. So when you're blocking, or watching somebody, you're not gaining on anybody in front of you.
"That was a brand new car. We tested here with two cars - the one we've always run and the one we won last year's Shootout with. We didn't like the second car. We went home and built a new car and we didn't run it until tonight. Maybe we should have run that other car. But I'll bet you the car that won here last year in the Shootout is a better race car. And I wish we would have had it tonight. But we got second place and we didn't wad it up in the fence and we learned a lot about the tire."
DO YOU SENSE A NEW DEDICATION IN THE OLDER DRIVERS LIKE DALE JARRETT?
"Well, in the three days that I've been here, I don't know if I can access that. Maybe in a couple of months I can get back to you. I think Dale Jarrett did a good job tonight. He's been pretty upset about how his season went last year. I don't know if you can get any more determined than that when a man is upset with how his performance is going. I pushed him as hard as I could push him. I'm glad he won if I didn't win. It would have been nice if Elliott were up there helping us.
"That would have made it a lot more fun. But I'm pretty happy with second. I think the cars are getting a little bit better. Maybe the softer tire compound is more suitable to the older-style tires they used to run years ago. I don't know, I can only guess."
ON DALE JARRETT'S WIN
"I was real happy to see him win. I'm one of only a few drivers in the sport (in the top 15 or so) that hasn't bought an airplane or a helicopter. Nor will I as long as I've got friends like Dale Jarrett who are hauling me to places like Martinsville and back. I push him to the lead every once in a while or sign autographs for him at his dealership during his open house or whatever to return that favor. I was real happy. It was better to push him to the lead than a lot of other guys in the field that I don't have that relationship with. I was glad I could help him."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I thought we ran really good. The car handled really good. You need some help out there. It was really good and fun, but you still needed some help. I think Sunday (Daytona 500) will be a lot better because it will be spread out a little more. (About the tires): "I thought my car was really good. It handled good. We got up there to the top five and hung there around sixth or seventh. It wasn't too bad."
MIKE SKINNER, NO. 33 RCR CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE.
"We were getting beat on really, really hard right there, and they crashed behind us. I couldn't see out my left corner, and you're supposed to slow down. No one slowed down. I was like, man, as soon as I check up, it's going to be the biggest wreck you've ever seen. Hopefully I didn't do wrong. If I did, we still had a great run in the Valvoline car tonight, and hopefully it'll help them for Scott's setup for the 500 and the 125. You know, it's all good. I love this place. I love drafting and I thought we had a shot at it there for a minute, especially with the 8 car behind me, and he was pushing me a little bit. But our car wasn't quite as strong on the outside line and that was hurting us, and our car wouldn't run off the corner very well That'll give them something to work on and I just want to really say thanks to Valvoline. And I want to thank Richard Childress for giving us a shot to make the 500 here. Whatever happens, whatever the call is we'll just live with it."