JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "Right now we've got one car we're really happy with and we're primarily doing engine stuff with the other car. It's not quite as fast. We're pretty happy with some of the things we've...
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"Right now we've got one car we're really happy with and we're primarily doing engine stuff with the other car. It's not quite as fast. We're pretty happy with some of the things we've seen. We'll really know when we see the Fords and what they run and when we get back here.
"We have some unknowns as far as working together, but I feel really good about the things we did in the off season, and I feel really good about the cars we're building. Our guys could not have done a better job with everything they've been through. Things could not have come together any better or any smoother than they have. I'm sure we're going to go through some things we're not used to going through, and we'll have to see how it goes.
"The combination or Robbie Loomis (crew chief) and Brian Whitesell (team manager) couldn't have worked any better. Robbie is a good, down-to-earth guy, but he's very knowledgeable, too. The way we're structuring the team now with Brian as team manager, I don't think anybody could have come in and fit in any better than Robbie has.
COMMENT ON A.J. FOYT RETURNING TO NASCAR
"I'm going to make sure I know I've won the race before I go to victory lane. It's exciting. A name like A.J. Foyt carries a lot of prestige and respect. I certainly was a big fan of his when I was growing up and going to Indy and watching him. He was the man, but he's also done quite a bit in NASCAR. It's great the sport is growing to that level where the interest of people who have been involved in IndyCar or CART series come over here and be involved."
COMMENT ON NEW SHOCK RULES
"It's going to be real interesting. I think it's going to make things much more competitive and much tighter. It makes the teams work extremely hard, even harder than they already do trying to get more horsepower out of the cars, trying to find ways for the aerodynamics to be just right and get the car with the right attitude and get the car up to speed as fast as you can. We're not able to get these cars way down now, so it definitely changes things quite a bit when it comes to qualifying. The ride is much better on the driver so we don't mind making all the laps out there. We want things to be equal among everybody, and I think this is a good way to do that. I still think we need some adjustments for the race with the shocks. I don't think we're right where we need to be yet with the race package.
"I want to talk to other guys and see what they think and get a good idea of what we need. I think the whole reason the shock idea came up was to slow the cars down and make them safer. If you slow the cars down but they're moving around more, then that defeats the purpose. I'd like to get some feedback from the other guys and see what they're saying. I feel like my car is moving around quite a bit with the shock package, but it's good and comfortable for qualifying and it'll be fine for the race, but it takes you back five or six years with what we used to race with.
"When you have a car that has more drag, it usually punches a bigger hole. Based on what we saw at Talladega when we did do some drafting, that's the case. It also seemed to make it harder to pass. You'd think that you'd suck up faster, but when you pull out you go nowhere. It seemed for the Chevrolets we were running with at Talladega, that's certainly not what we were looking for. We had a great package at Daytona and Talladega with the old Monte Carlo and we've got to get back to that. At the other places is where we struggled to keep up with the Fords and Pontiacs and this body is certainly going to help us out there. We've got to make up for Daytona and Talladega."
COMMENT ON $3 MILLION 2000 NASCAR WINSTON CUP CHAMPIONSHIP
"I don't think we can ever brag on R.J. Reynolds and the Winston brand enough for what they've done for this sport. The championship is enough on its own. You put those kind of numbers up and it gives you more incentive, but anybody will tell you the ring and trophy and being named Winston Cup champion and experiencing that accomplishment means the most, but the money is nice, too, because it costs a lot of money to do this."
COMMENT ON 2000 NASCAR WINSTON CUP ROOKIE CLASS
"It's quite a field. Big names and big talent. Those guys are going to put up some good numbers, but I don't know if anybody can top what Tony Stewart did last year. That's going to be tough to do. I think you're going to see some guys run real well and be very competitive and give us all a run for our money."
HOW WAS YOUR OFF SEASON?
"I enjoyed it. The highlight was we were resting and relaxing and spending time with our family. That's what you look for during the off season."
COMMENT ON YOUR CONFIDENCE ENTERING 2000 CAMPAIGN
"I feel really good about it. I've never said we were going to go out and set the world on fire in any season. I wouldn't say that again this year, but I think we're going to be competitive and we've got a really good package together. I'm really excited about that. This is the first test with Robbie Loomis. So far it's going real good. He's got bragging rights. His car is faster right now than Brian's. We've got two cars and one is doing one thing and one is doing another. It's neat. We've been able to split it up and it's almost like having two whole teams that are going full bore on each car. That's how we're going to get the most out of this test because you don't get a lot of time on the track."
WILL IT BE TOUGHER TO QUALIFY THIS YEAR?
"You get more teams out here and it just makes the competition tougher. We're getting more talented drivers and crew chiefs and crew members. The well-funded teams, it's just going to make for some great racing, but some guys are going to go home. It's going to be interesting to see. I'm glad I've got a champion's provisional if I ever need it."
ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo)
"It went real good this morning (in first test session with Gordon). It's good we start out here at Daytona because it's not as strenuous with the chassis work. As far as the driver-crew chief communication, you can kind of work into it a little more instead of starting out somewhere like Rockingham or Martinsville where you've got to sling a lot of shocks and springs at it. So far it's going real good.
"We've separated the two cars we have here, and we're doing a lot of motor stuff with one car and a lot of chassis stuff with the other. It's working out pretty good so far." "It's got to happen right away, but it's working real good right now. Brian and I are talking back and forth before we make any changes on either car. We want to make sure we know exactly where we're standing and we don't kid ourselves with the changes we're making on the car.
"Right now, it's almost like they need a little more control in the cars because of the new shock package. We were talking this morning before we even ran about how guys used to wreck here coming off the fourth turn. With the rules they have right now, when you hit the bump out there in turn four, and the big bump down there in turn one, the cars really move around a lot. I think they might need to take a look at it and give the guys a little more control or at least for the race.
"I think you'll see the speeds pick up when they tape up with their qualifying stuff. Our biggest goal is to learn what we need to know which car we're going to bring back here and race in February. The Pontiacs have had that body with those rules all last year. They've got a lot of stuff worked out. The Chevrolet teams are going to have to work extra hard to figure out where we need to place the bodies and how to build the fenders to get what we need out of it. I think we've got a real competitive race car.
"I'm the most excited I've been around racing probably since 1989 when I came down here with Richard Petty. The excitement there is the same when you're sitting out there in the morning waiting to get in. You can tell the guys who haven't been doing it very long because they're always running at the gate to get in. The guys who have been doing it for a long time are just sitting in the car. This morning I was vibrating to get inside. It was real special. I'm getting out of this deal what I wanted, and that's to learn a different way, a different approach. Working with Brian Whitesell and the guys has given me a lot of insight to another way of doing it. For years you'd stand on top of the truck and you'd look at a team and say, 'I wonder how they do this or that?'
"That's the main reason I took the job. It's given me a whole new perspective on a lot of things. It's just a different approach. It's just like going to the store. Everybody can go to that store and they might go five different ways. Everybody is going to get to that store, but somebody is going to get there a little quicker than the other guy."
ANDY HILLENBURG (No. 91 Little Joe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
NOTE: Hillenburg, a 36-year-old Indianapolis native now living in Charlotte, N.C., is driving an unsponsored Monte Carlo for car owner Joe Falk and led Monday morning's test session at Daytona with a lap of 185.586 mph. He left Daytona last week with the fastest time in the GM test.
"We stumbled across a couple of things last week and we were able to go back and work on it. When you come to Daytona, you've got three areas -- your chassis, aerodynamics and motor. Last week we worked a lot on suspension because if you get a car to drive really good, that's the key to going fast, even here. If you keep it in the groove, you're fine, but if you get it to drive good without any effort, I think that's a big key to it. The guys are working pretty hard on the aero package. Hopefully our motor guys can work on the motor package for when we come back in February to really have something for 'em.
"Our fastest times have been in the 2000 Monte Carlo. We've got one car and one motor for this test. The '99 Monte Carlo is on the truck, but it doesn't have a motor in it. This is a good race car and these guys are putting out a whale of an effort. We're a little under financed and a little under staffed, and these guys are making up for it with hard work.
"Right now, the only race that's important to is the Daytona 500. If we get through that in great shape, then I'll start talking to Joe about Rockingham. Joe is constantly working on finding a sponsor, but he hasn't had too much luck on finding one. He's got a couple of meetings this week, and hopefully he'll come up with something.
"I'm going to concentrate on going out and qualifying and racing great rather than repainting the car and changing decals all week."