Monday, Nov. 8, 1999. Preview for Sunday's Pennzoil 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes. BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I've run on both configurations at Homestead in All Pro races. The first race on the old ...
Monday, Nov. 8, 1999. Preview for Sunday's Pennzoil 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I've run on both configurations at Homestead in All Pro races. The first race on the old configuration I ran fourth, and the second race with the configuration as it is, I ran second. It's a nice facility. I don't know how Cup cars will race there, but I'm sure it will be a good show. It's just a real fast, real flat race track. It's going to be hard to pass, but you've got long straightaways so you've got time to work with it.
"I raced 2800-pound cars with restrictor plates there because they were so fast, fiberglass bodies, straight-rail cars. The Winston Cup cars will be a lot different, but you still have that time on the race track. It's no mystery to you. If it's nothing more than knowing where the garage is and how to get down pit road, it helps.
"It's a good idea for us to go in a little early (Thursday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) and get a handle on the tires and cars and things like that. The truck series does that a lot, and it helps. It saves money for extra testing and things like that.
"Homestead is very smooth. The surface is probably as smooth as Indy. You'll see people with more Daytona-style stuff, real stiff shocks, real soft springs for qualifying to get the car down out of the air. It's not real equal for everybody because some people have tested there a lot before. I think the Penske cars have been there two dozen times. Other teams have been there, too. Probably 10 or 12 others have been down there, too. It was a good test facility for places like Indy and New Hampshire.
"The guys who have run the Busch cars there might have a leg up, too. I drove Terry Labonte's Busch car there one year when he was hurt. We had a flat tire when we were running 13th, and that was the end of that. Bobby Labonte runs good there. The Pontiacs just have more down force. It has a lower nose and more spoiler. The Ford has a little better car than we do right now, but that's why we're updating our Monte Carlo.
"We're testing the 2000 Monte Carlo at Homestead on Monday and Tuesday. Any time there's a test, I'm going to be there. It was hard to tell much about the new Monte Carlo at the Talladega test. We were doing shock and spring deals for NASCAR. It was really just a shake down. You do a shake down like that and then take it to the wind tunnel and tune from there. The second test will tell us more.
"We're testing a downforce car at Homestead. We'll probably take the same one we tested at St. Louis. That was one of the quickest cars at that test, so we'll probably take it back. The potential for the new Monte Carlo is really up to NASCAR. NASCAR is trying to keep the competition level. Everybody has got good enough race cars, and I guess you'd call the body a tool. You've got a good enough tool to work with that if they give you the measurements of the wing, we really run an airplane wing but it's straight, the more they let you do to that wing, the faster the car is going to be. A sprint car has got a wing on top. Our whole car is a wing. How you tune that wing is how fast the car will run. They control what you can do with that wing. You look at a Winston Cup body as a single wing with stuff added to it to make the wing work.
"Homestead is a fast, flat track, and that's where you need maximum downforce. If we get it where it drives good at that place, then it'll go to a banked track and run good, too. Being so smooth, we can monitor more at Homestead. The computer can work with a lot more data. You go to Charlotte and Atlanta where the track is up and down with the wheels, it's hard to record all that. The smoother the race track, the better the speed, the more data we can get. These people have been doing this so long, once they get the numbers they can get to work.
"I'm a little more involved than some drivers are with the cars. I'm really almost too much of a perfectionist with the way I like the car to drive, and it bites us sometimes. I like for them to drive perfect, and that doesn't happen all the time. Sometimes when they're perfect and drive good, they're not as fast as they need to. Across the board, a good race car will pay dividends for you.
"I think the new car will benefit us. We've got so much inconsistency with our program right now. The bodies are located differently. When we start from scratch again, we'll have a more consistent program. I think that's what we're lacking, consistency.
"We're using three cars everywhere. We ran one so much the firewall is breaking out of it. We've run car 50 so much, we're running it at Homestead and then we're going to Atlanta with it. We ran it at Darlington, but it's been run so much the firewall is breaking out. We've run the wheels off the car we ran at Phoenix, too.
"I want to win. I've got two more chances to win, and that's all I'm concerned about. We've got some top 10s lately, and I'm proud of that, but if I'm good enough to win, that'll be a top 10 and everything will fall into place. We're not here to finish in the top 10.
"We're behind from last year, but not that bad. We've had a lot of stuff that's set us back and we've had to overcome a lot of stuff. I think we've done that. I think we'll get the handle on these new cars and we'll be ready to roll next year."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We ran some laps at Homestead about a year ago in a Cup car. It was one of the first tests for the 2000 Monte Carlo. We took a 1999 Monte Carlo to have something to compare to the 2000. The only thing I'm concerned about is having some good side-by-side racing there.
"It's really flat the way they've done it. I don't pull no bones about it. I think when they first built the track it was awesome. It was just a miniature Indianapolis. I didn't agree with changing it the first time. I didn't seem to have any problem racing on it. They needed to alter the corners some, but I don't know if they needed to make it an oval.
"You could get up under people coming up off the corners and run side by side. You couldn't run side by side getting in the corners. I think that was their goal, to get it where you could do that. I don't know if it's got enough banking to hold that or not, but we're going to find out.
"Gordon won the Busch race at Phoenix and in Happy Hour he wasn't happy with his car at all. They figured something out and really got that thing to turn really good. We struggled real bad. I think if someone like that hits on it in the Busch race at Homestead, and establishes the feel you're hunting, they might have a little advantage in the Cup race on Sunday.
"We're not taking the same kind of race car to Homestead. We don't know if that's a mistake or not. We didn't know if we had the right kind of car at Phoenix. I wasn't totally happy with it. We could get it on both sides of the fence, but we couldn't get it on the fence."
"We're going to be pretty busy at Homestead. We're going to run the Yellow Freight Monte Carlo in the Busch race, and we get a day of Cup practice on Thursday. We're going to do a deal on Thursday night in Tampa and doing a NASCAR deal Friday night. I'm going to rest on Saturday night, but we'll be busy. We'll test the 2000 Monte Carlo at Homestead on Monday and Tuesday.
"We tested the 2000 Monte Carlo at Atlanta last week. It's the first time it's been on that kind of race track. We were pretty pleased with it. It wasn't that fast, but I think it will stay right in there. I think we've got a long way to go with it, but the potential is there. I'm pretty optimistic about it. I need to start getting optimistic about it. That's what we've got to race.
"These cars need to be as equal in downforce and balance as they can get them. Right now, they're not that way. The new Monte Carlo has got more stability getting off in the corner. If we were still doing the five and five rule, it would be pretty competitive in that program. We're not, so we've got to get the front balanced with the back and get the whole car stuck down.
"I remember when the Taurus came out. They complained about a lot of drag, and they complained that it wouldn't run on the speedways. It didn't take them long to get it going pretty good. We're still searching for the same thing they were searching for then. The first couple of tests with the Taurus nobody was happy with it. The next thing you know, it was a good race car. They're getting a new nose and stuff for it next year.
"RCR has been a big force in the development of the 2000 Monte Carlo. I feel like the 31 team has probably done more for the speedway program than the average person knows. We've done a lot of testing and come up with a lot of stuff.
"Larry (crew chief McReynolds) and I have been really anxious to go to a test where that's all we're focusing on and we can go through the whole spectrum of ideas we want. One of the distractions we have is the cooling problem. We've got to get the duct work and stuff like that worked out. Then we can go to work on the race car. If we can get that stuff knocked out where we can really try some things with the race car, I think we can do some good with it down there.
"We're not wild about the bodies we had on the cars at the Talladega test. I think the fab shop is pretty busy. They're redoing some things. We'll go back to Talladega and test it again, and then we'll go to Daytona and test it before next year's Daytona 500. Hopefully by then, it'll be ready to rumble."