Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo - 2nd fastest in the day's test session "We have computer sensors in every piece that moves in the car and a team of engineers that studies all that stuff. They're not even really concerned...
Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo - 2nd fastest in the day's test session
"We have computer sensors in every piece that moves in the car and a team of engineers that studies all that stuff. They're not even really concerned with how fast it goes as they are with just collecting the data. They go back and work through that information based on how Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kenny Wallace ran when they were here and how they believe the car is supposed to ride. They'll come back and adjust it all for tomorrow. I used to give them a little input, but nowadays they listen to me to make me feel like I'm at least a part of the puzzle. But I don't think they pay much attention to me.
"It's pretty cool to have a fast car at Daytona for qualifying. If I could get the pole, that would be the best thing in the whole world. Because that would be a great gift from your team."
Since Dale Jr. won here in July, is February your turn to win? "I think that's the way I see it. I think Dale Jr. would be all right with that. But there's a lot of other people that are going to want to mess that up. But I'm confident that like last year, our cars will be part of the story. That's a great feeling to have - especially when you're coming to the place where we hold the most important race of the year. A lot of people have never really had a chance to win this race because they've never been in the right car at the right time. I'm still blessed that I was in the right car at the right time. I feel pretty confident that I'm in it again."
Are you using some of the same set-ups that your DEI teammates used here at last week's test session? "What they found was great and that's where we started. I think we had an advantage by testing second to those guys because we were able to take advantage of what they learned."
Do you like the mixed test session rather than just testing by manufacturer? "Yeah, but it's too crowded. We sat on pit road more than we got to run. There's 25 teams here and each team has two cars. The crews get one car ready while the other is being run. The problem is that when you drive out on pit road, you have to sit there for 15 minutes and you can't use all the time. They need to look at that. I'd rather be here for two days and not sit in line. I'm going to sit in line for a day. Maybe next year they can look at having four tests for two days each and that way you could take advantage of all the time you have on the track."
Is Kerry Earnhardt and his team a vital asset to this test? "Yes, they're real important. And if we can get them running fast enough, we're thinking about running them here. I'm really happy for Kerry and his Busch ride for this year. Kerry's really talented and he can give you some good feedback. He's certainly qualified to help us and I'm glad that he's here."
Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo - fastest in the day's session
Did you draw a good baseline from the Hendrick teams that tested here last week? "Oh yeah, that helps a lot. We were able to gather a lot of notes from what they did and what helped on their cars. We've got one car that we're working on engine stuff and one car that we're working on aero. Hopefully by the end of the three days we can mix and match and put the best of everything on both cars. We haven't decided which cars we will run in which race yet. The car that raced good is seventh fastest overall which isn't that bad considering that this is Daytona. Our new car is the quickest. We really don't know where we are right now. In the end, we hope to choose which car handles the best because that's the most important in the 500 is having a car that can last for 500 miles and race good for 500 miles. Qualifying doesn't mean that much."
What is the biggest thing your team needs to work on this year? "Consistency. We thought about this all winter. I'm tired of being inconsistent as a team and as a driver. We've got the team. We just really need to put our heads together and work on consistency. I've been a pretty impatient driver my entire life. I've had to learn a whole different routine in Winston Cup. You have to have patience. Being with Hendricks for the past two years, I've learned a lot. We finished 17th last year. We had a chance to win a couple of races but they got away from us for one reason or another. We need to concentrate on being more consistent as a team and I need to be more patient as a driver. We've hired a lot of key players over the winter. I feel like this is going to be our year. I think we're going to be a competitive team - a top ten and even a top five team.
"I've never had anything given to me. I've never had anything easy. My whole career has been that way. Unfortunately that's the way I was brought up and that's the way it's going to be except we're going to be more consistent and more of a front-runner, and we're going to win some races. Hopefully I'll win a championship down the road."