NOTE: Joe Nemechek crashed in Turn 2 in this morning's first practice session and will be forced to go to his back-up Chevrolet for tomorrow's MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Dover International Speedway. Nemechek, who was...
NOTE: Joe Nemechek crashed in Turn 2 in this morning's first practice session and will be forced to go to his back-up Chevrolet for tomorrow's MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Dover International Speedway. Nemechek, who was qualified 37th, had posted the seventh-fastest speed in the session prior to the incident.
NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I think that one I've got to chalk up to driver error. We were in practice and went out and made some changes. We got our car really good there in Happy Hour, and I ran down a car, ran him down real quick. I started to go underneath him, and I don't know if he didn't know I was there or what, but all of a sudden he was coming down, which is a typical thing here at Dover. I should've known, but I just clipped the inside of the apron and it got me in a little bit of a slide, and I just ran out of room before I hit something. I hit that outside wall pretty hard."
YOU HAD A PRETTY GOOD CAR IN PRACTICE BEFORE THAT HAPPENED - WHAT ABOUT THE BACK-UP CAR?
"I think it's better than this one. It's actually the car we had at Rockingham, and the thing was pretty awesome, so we'll be all right."
NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO RUNNING WELL AND WINNING AT DOVER?
"The big key is staying out of trouble. Things happen to you pretty fast here, kind of like Bristol. All of a sudden, you're in a wreck and there's nothing you can do. It's too narrow, there's nowhere to go. You have to have a car that's on the edge of being really free and fast, but if you ever go over that edge, that's probably not good. That's the main thing."
STRATEGY-WISE, IS THIS A PLACE YOU CAN ATTACK?
"You can run hard here, but you have to have the stuff to do it with. The last couple of years, it's gotten to the point where you run a little more on the edge than you used to. You can go for it, because you have downforce to hold you, but you see a lot more guys who go, go, go and then all of a sudden lose it at the end. You can attack it pretty hard, but again, it's that fine line you have to run with. You get your car too loose, and obviously, if you attack it then, you're going to wreck."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST FACTOR IN YOUR RECENT STREAK?
"I think we're coming to some tracks we enjoy going to. If you look at the records, you'll see that this series of races is a good one for me. That kind of comes into play too. We're getting more confidence from where we started at the beginning of the year. It just keeps growing and growing and building and building. The rest of the truck, the maintenance, the engines, the bodies, putting the cars together right, getting to the race track and not having to rebuild anything or do anything like thatâ^À¦it's all coming together. Not that it wasn't to start with, but it's getting even better."
CAN YOU DRAW ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THIS SEASON AND YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON OF 2000?
"It's way too early for that. We still have a long way to go. It definitely has the makings of a season like that, as far as the consistency goes. I've fallen out of more races this year than I did in two years (1999-2000), but at least we're backing it up with the right stuff (seven top-five finishes). We were fast in practice, fourth, and I've been here the past couple of years and been 28th and 23rd in practice. We were trying to pick up that three tenths and never could. It goes back to confidence and preparation."
YOU SAID YOU WERE LOOSE YESTERDAY IN QUALIFYING. HAS THE RACE SETUP TIGHTENED THE CAR UP?
"No, we're still too loose (laughing). It's still a little free. Loose is usually fast-for a while. That's the edge I was talking about. You have to be as close as you can to that edge, which is fine with me because I would rather know now what we can do. That's a whole lot better. If you don't ever get there, if you're always on the conservative side, you're always going to be that half-second off. It's kind of a rejuvenation, because you get to that edge and you know where you're at and where you need to be when the race starts. I'd rather find out today than find out tomorrow."
MICHAEL McSWAIN, CREW CHIEF
NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN SETTING UP A CAR FOR DOVER?
"Tire management. It's easy to be fast for 10 laps, but it's hard to be fast for 75 laps. Guys do this every week, and somebody will do it tomorrow, they'll get their car really fast and then next thing you know on lap 30 or lap 60, they'll blow a tire. With this rain, this is not good. I promise you right now, the Goodyear guys are [up for a challenge]. Historically, Dover has been hard on tires, and we make the cars faster and faster every year. It's all about tire maintenance."
THIS WOULD NOT BE A GOOD PLACE TO TRY A TWO-TIRE STOP?
"I wouldn't think so. In the spring race last year, some guys put on none or two, and we put on four. When the green flag came out, in three laps we were on Jimmie Johnson's bumper, but we had a loose wheel."
HOW MUCH DOES THE CHANGE IN WEATHER ALTER YOUR RACE SETUP?
"When it's really hot here, the rubber builds up and stays there, and when it gets cool, you still get buildup, but it blows off. You don't get the rise through like you do with asphalt, but on concrete, when it's hot and the rubber piles up, the rubber itself gets kind of greasy."
NOTE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo with two minutes left in the first NASCAR Winston Cup practice session on Saturday. The crash happened on the backstretch of the 1.032-mile Dover International Speedway, and the car sustained heavy damage to the right rear. His Dale Earnhardt Inc. team pulled the backup car off the trailer and was busy preparing it for the second practice session. Shortly after the team had the car in the garage, NASCAR officials canceled the second practice session, so Earnhardt will start from the rear of the 43-car field. He had posted the 11th-fastest speed in practice prior to the crash.
According to team sources, Earnhardt Jr. had reported the car was very loose just prior to the crash. The backup car Earnhardt Jr. will start on Sunday is the same chassis the team used last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway.