WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Burton was second fastest in the morning practice session with a lap of 49.163 seconds, 184.529 mph. "I'm very optimistic about the whole year coming up after we...
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Burton was second fastest in the morning practice session with a lap of 49.163 seconds, 184.529 mph. "I'm very optimistic about the whole year coming up after we started gathering strength at the end of last season. This car was torn up pretty good at Talladega, but my guys worked hard getting it fixed and it looks like the hard work is paying off. It's going to take the draft to see how the car feels with these new aerodynamic rules. That was a clean lap, but we'll get some drafting in later and see what it feels like. I think it will eliminate three-wide racing. I think you'll see mostly two-wide."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T) "You won't be able to tell the difference in the aero package until you get out and get racing. We just slowed the closing rate way up. With the other package we had more power. You knocked a lot bigger hole in the air. I like this new package. In the test at Talladega (with new package last August), it took out all the wild driving. At least you've got to think a little bit before you can pass. Before, it was 'here I come. Get out of the way.' We've got a new car and an old car here. The fastest car will run in the Daytona 500 and the other one will run in the Budweiser Shootout."
BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 44 Georgia Pacific Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I don't think you can really say much about these cars until you get to racing with each other. You've got to make your passing a little bit different. Most people were complaining about the cars in race mode, not so much in qualifying mode. We're not where we want to be right now, but it's early yet. We're just getting started."
TIM CULBERTSON (Program Manager, Dodge NASCAR Winston Cup Engineering) "NASCAR continues to try to improve their product. What you see here is an attempt to do that. I think they worked a process where they reviewed their speedway rules with the teams and got some data there. This is an attempt to make the racing safer but still have good racing. Right now it's pretty tough to tell what's going on from practice like this, but we'll learn a little more once we start drafting. There was so much downforce in the other aero package that the cars were sticking and they could go in places with the speeds they were running where they can't go now. It wouldn't surprise me if they eliminate three-abreast racing or a lot of it anyway."
SANDY WEINSTEIN (Product Engineer, Aero/Thermal Development, Dodge Engineering) "Because the teams have never worked with these exact rules, they've worked with rules that are close to this, pretty much everybody spent the morning trying to figure out exactly what the car wants. Times from this morning's session doesn't necessarily reflect everybody's true performance. I think we can expect to see big changes and big progress as the days wear on. The purpose of the whole aero package is to break up the big packs. That's what we saw in August. They didn't get quite as crazy (with new aero package). The drivers were all a lot happier. It wasn't like the 2000 rules where nobody could do anything. It was a raceable package."