ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD GOODYEAR TIRE TEST QUOTES Tuesday, April 24, Indianapolis Motor Speedway INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 25, 2007 -- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte and Ricky Rudd ...
ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD GOODYEAR TIRE TEST QUOTES
Tuesday, April 24, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 25, 2007 -- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte and Ricky Rudd participated in a Goodyear tire test April 24 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 14th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 29. Quotes from 1996 and 1999 race winner Jarrett, 2000 race winner Labonte and 2006 race winner Johnson:
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge): "Trying to help Goodyear get their mind straight on what tire to bring back here in a few months. It's a really hard track on tires because the wear happens real fast, but over the weekend it gets better." (Does this track differ from year to year? It was resurfaced in 2004, but does it change that much?): "Not really. Did they do anything to it this year? It looks like they did, so I was just curious. It looks blacker, like it didn't weather at all. Maybe they put blankets on it. It's usually about the same and doesn't change a lot from year to year. The tires and our cars, what we do to them changes more than anything else. This track stays the same more than other places we go to. They always take care of it, and that's probably the reason why." (What do you get out of this tire test?): "We brought one car that we just put a body on, and we thought we'd try it. We're going to try it again in a couple weeks at Charlotte, and we'll try it again at Charlotte before we bring it back here, and hopefully we'll be able to compare notes. Just like every weekend, when you get back here and there's 50 cars trying to make the race; everybody figures it out pretty quick." (Without a regular open test here this year like in past years, do you feel like the guys here today will have an advantage?): "I sure hope so. I think we'll all sit on the first and second row (laughs). I don't think that will happen; I'd like to think that will happen. Definitely without an open test, it's really weird because you'd almost count this as a mini-vacation. Come up here, test, sit in the pool for a while; it's always hot. It's going to be different because a lot of guys come up here pretty green, a lot of guys that haven't been here before, it's going to be challenging for them. We really only had a day (today), and whether we come back with the same tire we ran today, we really don't know, so I think it (our advantage) is going to be miniscule by the time its done."
DALE JARRETT (No. 44 UPS Toyota): "Our perspective on this is a little different than the other (three) guys. We need track time, and that helped us. Obviously, Matt's (Borland) been here as a crew chief and I've been here as a driver, and with this team we need time on the race track with the right tires, and even though we ran a lot of different kind of tires today it gave us time to see differences, what difference it made with the race cars. And we had a few opportunities to make some changes, try to improve our cars, and we were able to do that. Something like this is invaluable to a team like ours. We really needed this, and it couldn't have come at a better time. We appreciate the opportunity, and it's good to be here with other good race cars so we can measure ourselves." (Do you feel this team is making progress?): "We're heading there, it might be at a snail's pace, but we are moving forward. We're probably about eight or 10 weeks behind where we'd have like to have been. That's nobody's fault; that's just the way everything has come about. And with the limited amount of testing, it's hard to catch up, especially when we only have one or two of our cars making each race, it's hard to get information. It makes it more difficult, and trying to start up three race teams (is) very ambitious on our part. We had to make a quantity of cars at the beginning, not quality, so we had enough vehicles to get everybody to the racetrack. Now we've been able to start massaging on these cars and make them better aerodynamically, and that will allow us to do things chassis-wise that we need to, and Toyota is making improvements on the engine, so it's all coming together. By three-quarters of the season, we should be there and be a lot more competitive." (So, that's about Allstate 400 at the Brickyard time): "That would be a good time for it all to come together, yeah. There is not a more special place to me, than being right here. So I'd think that we've got enough of these type races with these type cars. That's anothe r thing that's held us back is going back and forth between cars (Car of Tomorrow and older version), and we had nothing to go off of. You got to give the Chevy guys credit; they have been working on this deal (Car of Tomorrow) for a year and a half, and it has proven out. This (Allstate 400) should come at a good time for us. We'll have Charlotte and Pocono to run these type of cars, and we should be able to come here and make a good showing. This is a very important race to me, and I would like to come back here and have another opportunity at winning." (Do you find it interesting that everyone testing today was former race champions? Did it feel like getting a past champions provisional?): "It was kind of cool to see only champions of this race coming back here and testing. Everybody here today was a winner of this, and three out of the four of us have won championships, and Ricky (Rudd) has done everything but that. Nice group here today. This was like getting an extra one of those (past champions provisional), to be able to have track time with the proper tires." (They moved the Brickyard to a week earlier, does it really matter to you?): "I don't think so, as long as it makes the fans happy. We're going to be happy whatever date they give us to come here."
JIMMIE JOHNSON (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet): (Some good feelings coming to this track this year, more so than previous years?): "I think so, coming into this race, not only myself, but the team will be a lot more confident coming into Indy. In the past, it's been a troubling track for us, and the success we had last year really paid off and we came back and did this tire test for Goodyear. The car really seems to like that same setup, and we seem to be up to speed. Granted, there's only (four) cars here, but the times we hoped to run, we went a little faster than that so we're excited for when we come back." (It's been a great start for you this year, too): "It has, it has for Hendrick Motorsports. I couldn't be more proud of our race team and the whole operation and the hard work that's gone into it. Regular car, the Car of Tomorrow, we're up to speed on each front. Three of the four cars are running really good, and we're working hard to get Casey Mears and his program in the right direction. We feel like they have the speed now and we've got some things under control there, but the poor guy has had the worst luck. It seems like he's caught up in every first-lap accident we have." (What has Indy added to your mantle, if you will, over the last season?): "Looking back over last year, and the (Daytona) 500, the (Allstate) 400 and the championship, it really was a dream year for us. We won all the big races and got the big trophy at the end of the year. It really was a special year, and to come back here and have those feelings inside -- the first few laps I made driving down the front stretch I could see the burnout marks I made from our celebration last year, I was like, 'All right, those are my marks, and I can do well here.' So it's been exciting to coming back and something I'm very, very proud of, to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway." (Was today's invite just for former winners?): "Typically they have the winner come and invite other makes and try to keep peace in the garage area. Goodyear really wants to keep it equal, and throughout the year they invite all the manufacturers and all the teams. I believe this is the only test we'll have for the 48, and past history, they always bring the past winner in to do the test so that's why we're here."
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