Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Global Brand Center, announced Friday night at the annual Dodge team dinner that a Dodge team will receive a $1 million bonus if it wins the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. The winning driver will be awarded...
Jim Julow, Vice President, Dodge Global Brand Center, announced Friday night at the annual Dodge team dinner that a Dodge team will receive a $1 million bonus if it wins the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. The winning driver will be awarded a 2003 Dodge Viper.
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"Naturally we are going to try as hard as we can to win the championship, but that extra million and Viper just gives us more incentive if that's possible. Dodge has put together a great racing program, and we were honored to win the first race for Dodge last season. Now we'll try to be the first team to win that bonus. Maybe we can kick it up a couple of notches from last year.
"We'd really like to win the Daytona 500 (Marlin led the 2001 Daytona 500 11 times for 39 laps and finished seventh), but the way things are now, it would take a lot of luck for a Dodge to win it. If it stays green flag and it's hot, we'll be in pretty good shape. Handling will come more into play then, but handling won't be enough. We haven't got the straightaway speed them other cats have got. I can't pass. My stuff stalls out if I get by somebody.
"From what I saw the other day, they shot Tony Stewart back to about 12th with four or five laps to go and within two laps he was back to second. I can't do that. Mine just won't go. I couldn't tell anything different after yesterday's practice with that quarter inch off the spoiler. They gave Ford a quarter inch, too, and it sped them up a little more. It looks to me like they would have added something to the Chevrolets and Pontiacs. Pontiac had the best numbers in the tunnel.
"I know it's raining and we might not get to practice this morning, but I'd just as soon race right now. We've been here long enough. Let's get on with it. We're going to try our best to win. It's going to be tough to get enough Dodges up there to help each other. All I've seen up front are Chevrolets and Pontiacs. Some of the Fords got better in practice yesterday, too.
"I guess we'll just take our lumps and go on to Rockingham. If they're going to run all this, let 'em run these spoilers at Rockingham and everywhere else.
"You've got to watch out for the 15, 8, 24 and 20. Schrader is pretty good, and the 29 car could be up there, too. About the only shot we've got is to hope it stays green all day long and try to beat 'em through the corners. You can't plan on working with anybody. You get separated, and it's just hard to make any plans.
"We haven't had as much fun down here this year as we did last year. Our stuff would run last year. After this race last year, we had to raise the roof wickers up on the Dodges. That killed the Dodges. We sat on some poles, but all it did was knock more air off the spoiler and we couldn't drive 'em. It was like driving a buggy turning sideways. If you did get the lead, you knocked such a big hole in the air, it was short lived. We had some good Dodges here last February, but we got victimized by the rules.
"You just need to lay the spoiler down, put on a bigger plate and let 'em go. They won't let 'em run over 200 mph, but I think we could run 195 and that way you could separate the cars. The good handling cars would come to the top. The other guys could hang for 15 laps or so.
"I ran wide open in the 125 once we got out of the two by two stuff. I followed the 28 but never could get close enough to put a bumper on him. I've been successful drafting down here, and I've got a lot of experience at it, but you've got to have a car that can pull out and pass. I've been fortunate enough to have some good cars. You can't be handicapped and make it happen."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton's Intrepid led the most laps in last year's Daytona 500. He led nine times for 53 laps but finished 35th after being involved in an accident late in the race.
"Dodge did a good job of showing their commitment to the race teams last night. They really get involved with all their teams. They really support them in an unmatched way.
"And my daughter says I'd look good in a Viper.
"Some of our competition is just better than it was last year. We didn't know how good we were until Happy Hour last year. Once we ran Happy Hour we had really gained a lot on the car. This year we've had more handling problems than we had last year. I've had a horrible aero push. We had a problem in July here, and it was loose. Now it's tight in the front. The rear spoiler (adjustment) could possibly help us out a little bit. We've made some other subtle changes that could help us, too.
"An aero push is a bad, bad feeling. A chassis push, the more wheel you put in it, the tighter it gets. In a aero push, the nose takes off quickly. You've got just a moment to know it's going to happen. When you're taped off, the car takes off and you're out of control going to the right toward the right or outside competitors as fast as it can get there. It's like the front end is skating and the air is up underneath the nose. It's almost like all of a sudden you receive a lot of air pressure in both front tires and you have no grip when you have the nose taped off.
"We had it better yesterday. I don't know if the blade had anything to do with it or not. We did make some other changes. Thursday showed us that the last 10 laps of the run, we got really bad.
"Everybody works hard to get ready for Daytona, but nobody works harder than our team. We expected more in the 125s, but we tried to stay out of trouble and save what we've got for Sunday. Starting in the middle of the pack, it's going to take some time to go anywhere with the two abreast racing. There's nowhere else to go. That's the problem.
"There's so many cars equal. Thirty-five cars can run the same time I can. You need a track about five times as wide so you can run five by five. There's nowhere to go now even if you've got momentum. That's one good thing if the sun comes out and gets hot, handling comes into play moreso than if it stays cool and will get people strung out a little bit if you're handling good or handling poorly.
"If we get our car to handle like the best guys out there and we can keep our foot in it all day and we're in the right place at the right time like everybody else has got to be, then we've got a shot at it. We know some cars out there, some of the Chevrolets and Pontiacs that's been strong since we got here, other than qualifying. The fastest car doesn't always win. We showed that last year. Sterling and I worked real good together, and so did Jeremy. Maybe we'll get some of those Dodges hooked up Sunday. We really haven't been able to do it yet. Having all 43 cars out there at once will definitely make a difference. We don't want to stay in a 43-car pack all day because something will happen.
"Get the cars strung out a little bit. Have some pit strategy and find some cars you can work with, and we'll see what we've got. The main thing is not getting caught up in somebody else's mess. We need to run the entire race, and I think that's on the mind of some other drivers. Some of the guys that can stay out front all day long have less chance to get beat up.
"Everybody has put in their race motor, and I'd like to get at least one more practice. I don't think anybody had their race motor in yesterday.
"I'd say the favorites are the 8, 15, 24, 20 and 18. All the Chevrolets that did their homework are really good, and you can tell by the guys in the 125s that could pass. They could be at the end of the line and pass. That's saying something right there. About seven of them could do it, and we actually did it late in the race. I feel like we can be the top Dodge if we get the handling right.
"One of the things we're going to adjust today is cowl pressure. It's really poor around other cars, and we're going to try some different things. After that plays out like I think it will, I think we'll be in the top 10 or better. You never want to count anything out. This time last year, I didn't think we had as good a car as we did. That car wanted to lead more it did run in the pack. I could get shuffled back and move back to the front. I might do it again tomorrow.
"We're at a disadvantage this week, but I know that my team and Dodge has put forth all the support we need. We'll address that next time."