Daytona Twin/500: GM teams Wednesday practice quotes

KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROL.ET MONTE CARLO: "I won the ARCA race here last year. The 150's are going to be fun. We're in the show, so we just need to get out there and get in to a rhythm and learn some stuff from the guys out there and...

KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROL.ET MONTE CARLO:

"I won the ARCA race here last year. The 150's are going to be fun. We're in the show, so we just need to get out there and get in to a rhythm and learn some stuff from the guys out there and earn some respect that we need to in order to work with those guys on Sunday in the 500. It's going to be a big deal to do that and I'm looking forward to it."

(HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO STEP BACK AND LOOK AT THE LEGENDS BEHIND YOU THAT HAVE PAVED THE WAY?) "I've been able to watch all the past Daytona 500 races and I'm looking forward to making my own history now that I'm a part of it. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and I keep saying that, but it's amazing to be here at my age and have the chances that I have is really great."

BORIS SAID, NO. 36 CENTRIX CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

ON THE MB2 TEAM STARTING THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH IN THE SECOND GATORADE 150? -- note: Joe Nemechek starts third, Scott Riggs fourth and Boris fifth)

" I'm going to be like Tom Cruise in Top Gun tomorrow-- I'm not going to leave my wingman -- whether it's Scott or Joe, whoever I tuck in behind, that's where I'm going to stay. For good or bad, that's where I'm going to be.

"My goals for tomorrow are the same as they were for today's practice-- keep a conservative approach and keep learning from my mistakes and form a better game plan for Sunday.

"I can't wait until Sunday, that's the big day, but even tomorrow will be the biggest race of my life. I've been walking up to the grid here for a lot of years with Ernie (Irvan, former Daytona 500 winner) and now he finally gets to walk up with me."

(HOW WAS PRACTICE?)

"It's going great. I'm learning and I got to follow Joe (Nemechek) for a while. He taught me a few things. Everything is going great. The car started off really tight and the team has made some changes and it's been getting better and better.

(THE TIME SHEET INDICATES IT WAS A GREAT RUN)

"Yeah, I don't really put much stock in the time sheet because Joe and I went out at the top of the pack, and when you kind of catch the pack like that you get that really fast lap. I've just been experimenting with the draft, trying things and learning from my mistakes. I've been pulling out and going to the back, you know. It's a lot of fun.

(WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ON DRAFTING?)

"This is really the first session where I've been able to feel the draft so it's just starting to float now. It's so cool, it's unbelievable."

SCOTT RIGGS, NO. 10 VALVOLINE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

(HOW WAS PRACTICE?)

"We've got a good car and what's good about it is that all of our teammates are all up front with us and the car drives really well. You know, we made a fast lap and that's really not what's important. What is important is how it feels in the draft. It pulls up well, it's stable and it's fun to drive.

(ALL OF THE CARS ON YOUR TEAM ARE IN THE TOP 5)

That's pretty cool. That just shows what kind of cars they're building back in the shop. They're doing a great job. We've got great horsepower under the hood with Hendrick. I'm just going to try to keep the fenders on it and see what kind of magic we can pull out of our hat. Hopefully these three cars can work up there together and stay up front for the 150.

JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

(YOU'VE BEEN GUARANTEED A SPOT FOR THE 500, SO WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE 150?)

It's good for the car owners. It's one of those things here at Daytona that's kind of strange. Hell, we're guaranteed in, so why do we even need to race? But, the Army pays us to come here, they want us to be up front in these races and I'm here to win. I'm not here to run last. We're going to do everything we can to win every race we're ever in.

(YOU HAD A GREAT PRACTICE TODAY WITH ALL OF YOUR CARS)

Yeah, I'd rather be in the top 5 than 35th in time. It just shows all the cars are quick. They are built almost identical to each other and mainly we made two really long runs out there, wore the tires out and we were just about out of fuel. So, we're just trying to get them to drive where we need to drive for the 150s tomorrow. If we can get that stuff dialed in, we're going to be tough.

(COULD YOU GET IN BORIS'S CAR AND RUN THE SAME TIME?)

Oh yeah. The cars are set up almost identical. That's the way they're supposed to be.

TONY EURY, JR., CREW CHIEF, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

(HOW WAS PRACTICE FOR MICHAEL WALTRIP TODAY?)

Yeah, we were really happy with practice today. That kind of just shows what we had down here at the test. We knew we weren't going to be really good with the single car runs, but in the draft the car is awesome and it handles great. We're happy everything is showing up the way it did.

(ANY CHANGES PLANNED FOR THE AFTERNOON SESSION?)

"We're just fine tuning and making sure the cambers are all right on the front tires. We're not going to make any major changes. We expect to see about the same thing in the second session today.)

(WHAT CAR ARE YOU RUNNING IN THE 500?)

"This is a brand new car and it would be car #33 (in the team's stable). This is the first time we've ever run it. Our backup car is the one we had at Talladega last year."

RYAN PEMBERTON, CREW CHIEF -- NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET

(DO YOU HAVE A TIRE PROBLEM?)

"We have a tire issue. If it's just the setup then I have a lot of searching to do to figure out what it is. On the other hand it could be a combination of both (tire and setup) or it could be isolated or it could be just us. We have to take another look at it and make sure we cover all of our bases. We have to be real smart and do our homework. I've talked to Goodyear and they're crunching the information. I wish we had one more practice session before tomorrow's race."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

"It was our first time to run our Daytona 500 car. We have good speed, we just have to work on the balance a little bit. I felt the car was a little bit too tight. If we were out front leading the entire time, we'd be perfect, but I can't guarantee that. So we've got to do a little bit of work there. We'll adjust it, see what we get tomorrow and then adjust it again for Sunday."

(ON HIS STRATEGY FOR THE 150 RACE)

"Well, if there is a risk worth taking that's going to get you a really good starting spot, and it's late in the race, maybe. You can't just got out there and be totally concerned. If people around you are being aggressive, then you're going to have to be aggressive. I certainly don't want to tear up the car or do anything dumb and we'll play it by ear, I guess.

(YOU'VE BEEN VERY STRONG THESE WEEKS, SHOULD HENDRICK BE THE FAVORITE OR SHOULD D.E.I. BE THE FAVORITE?)

Well, our team has been doing a fantastic job but I don't know how you pick a favorite at a restrictor plate race. I just don't. It's tough to get out front and when you do, it's the place to be. The strongest car I've seen out there today was the #8 car. So, I think everybody wants to make a story out of the fact that they didn't qualifying that well, or didn't run that well in the Shootout, but I think from what I've seen of the #8 car-and from what I've seen from the #15 car-they seem like the strongest cars. But I don't think that we can't beat them."

(HOW IMPORTANT IS THE QUALIFYING POSITION FOR SUNDAY'S RACE?)

"I want to start the best I can. I want that third starting position. I'll do the best I can. I'd love to start there and I'd love to win another qualifying race. It's important to me but I'm not going to get in a position where I'm taking huge risks just to get that third qualifying position. Starting the Daytona 500 with a good car is most important."

(IS IT DIFFICULT TO PASS?)

"It's mainly difficult to pass the leader. You know, you've got a little less horsepower. And NASCAR is doing a great job of mandating the rules. It makes it that much little more difficult to get momentum. You basically have to run into the guy to shove him up the track and do stuff like that to get a move on him. You've got to work harder at it. You've got to be smarter, you've got to be more patient, and you've got to really work with the cars around you. Maybe that's the way it should be-it shouldn't be just easy to pass."

(HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW FAN ZONE?)

"I think it's awesome for them to get that opportunity. They certainly get a lot of access and if we can do our jobs inside the car and in the garage area, that's all that matters to me. So far it hasn't been too much of a distraction.

(IT SEEMS HENDICK HAS BEEN GOOD HERE AT DAYTONA)

"I feel like we've always been good here. I think that other than the DEI cars, we've always been one of the best cars out there. We made some headway last year when we won two of the restrictor plate races, but I still think that from where I sit, the #8 and the #15 are still the guys to beat."

(HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN THIS RACE?)

"It's awesome. It's the ultimate. It's been a few years since I've won. Having those two victories under my belt are two of my most memorable moments."

(DO YOU GET A CHANCE TO ENJOY DAYTONA?)

"ou know, this is one of the first times in a long time that I can remember getting two days off. And that was really nice. It gave people the opportunity to go home; I went down to Miami, other guys went and did things as well. When we're here at the track, there is a lot going on and I've got a full day today. I'm not going to be doing much relaxing or enjoying. To have a boat and a place to put it here certainly makes my life a lot more enjoyable."

(ANY TIRE PROBLEMS?)

"We haven't yet and I hope we don't. Our stuff is looking pretty good. I don't know if we're a little more conservative than other guys or if they are just having rare instances. I'm not really sure but so far things are good with us and I hope it stays that way."

(ARE THE TWIN 150 RACES AS IMPORTANT AS YEARS PAST?)

"I've always felt like I was locked in. For a long time I haven't had to worry about missing a race. I want to get the best possible starting position I can and the best place to put the car on pit road for Sunday. That's our goal and it's been our goal ever since we've been coming here."

HOW IS KYLE BUSCH DOING IN HIS FIRST YEAR IN NEXTEL CUP?

"I think he's very talented and he's going to make a great teammate. So far the communication seems to be pretty good."

(HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW RULES?)

"NASCAR is pretty smart and they've made it very difficult on us. They continue to cut down on the gray area. And that makes it tougher and tougher to really have creativity, but our guys are pretty sharp. They find ways to find things all the time."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

(HOW WAS PRACTICE?)

"With a smaller plate, the cars don't pull up as easily as they did in the past. I think that is probably aggravating some people. Handling is going to be such an important key and I think all of us realized that today. When the sun is out, this track is so different. And it's been very tough to get a handle of the race track for the past few 500 races. It doesn't matter how much horsepower you have. You're not running around here wide open anyway. I think it did hurt the racing a little bit at night during the Shootout. But in the 500, I don't think you'd notice a difference with a big plate or a smaller one."

(ON HIS STRATEGY FOR THE 150'S)

"We're hopeful that we're able to keep it up near the front and to stay out of trouble. If we find ourselves in a situation that we don't like and the chance of losing a race car, we'll find our way out of it. For the most part, the car has been great and I think we'll be able to stay in the front. We'd like to get another trophy."

(WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW FAN FEST AREA HERE?)

"Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a fish in a fishbowl? That's what it's like. It's great. I'm sure the fans love it. For us, it's different to have so many people staring at you from every angle. It's just a different animal in the garage. I don't think it's very user-friendly. It's fan-friendly, but for us - even as far as the width that we have to get through the garage area with the cars, we've had some near accidents. Everybody is spread out. It's just not a user-friendly facility for the competitors. But for the fans, I'm sure they love it."

(WHO IS FAST?)

"It's tough to say. The cars really have a lot of drop off in handling. I stayed out there the whole run that time and I saw a lot of cars cycle out and then a whole new group cycle in on new tires. More than anything, I realized that new tires are going to make a big difference. If it's sunny out, I don't think you'll see too many two-tire stops. I think it'll be four tires every time."

"Yeah, with the smaller plate it is harder to pass - especially when the conditions are right at night - at the Shootout - but it didn't hurt my feelings too much when I got in the lead. But when I was in second, it was a little frustrating. But in the 500, I think it's going to be so hot and slick that you're going to be letting out of the gas. I would say 15 laps into that run in practice, I had to let out of the gas."

(A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE YOUR YEAR. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT PRESSURE?)

"I hope they're right. I felt like last year could have been the year - even the year before that. The race team and I are taking it in stride. We think it's respect from the racing community and the garage area and that everybody respects the hard work we've put into this. So we take it as a compliment. But that doesn't mean it's done. We still have a lot of racing between now and then. We'll just see what happens. We've got to make the Chase. We've got to make the cut and then we'll take it from there."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek , Scott Riggs , Tom Cruise