Originally-From: Indianapolis Motor Speedway <firstname.lastname@example.org> DALE EARNHARDT JR.: "Right there at the end of the day -- we were kind of floundering for three-quarters of the day, and right at the end we found a few things that helped...
Originally-From: Indianapolis Motor Speedway <email@example.com>
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: "Right there at the end of the day -- we were kind of floundering for three-quarters of the day, and right at the end we found a few things that helped the car. We always run real good here -- qualify good, test good. And we tested good."
Did the variable weather conditions make it difficult to "chase" the car today?:
"No, that was good. It was good to get different combinations. I've only run here twice and to be able to know what the weather does to the track and learn about that helps me."
STEVE PARK: "More laps. Today was definitely better than yesterday. I think we learned what we came to learn. The Pennzoil Chevrolet, I think we ended up fifth fastest. That's pretty good right now. We have a little bit left so we want to come back with what we know is going to work, and we learned a lot of that today."
What did you find today?:
"Yesterday we just did race-trim stuff, today we kind of taped up and did some qualifying runs. The difference between the race runs and the qualifying runs is the added speed."
This track changes a lot. Was it hard to keep up?:
"Not really 'cause there's a weather station plus all the Pi system stuff, so we try to keep up, so if we make a gain on the racetrack we want to make sure it's not because of wind or weather; we want to make sure it's what we did to the race car. So that's what we did today."
Do you and the team interact with General Motors engineers?:
"Yeah, actually, we do. We have a pretty good relationship with them, and that's helped us quite a bit from an engineering standpoint. Anytime we come here to test, that definitely helps. Actually, Dave Charpentier (Manager of Engineering for DEI) went to ARC (Auto Research Center, in Indianapolis) this morning with one of the engineers to look at some modeling, wind tunnel modeling and stuff. So, development not only here, continues on away from the racetrack, too. It's a lot of help."
Note: Auto Research Center is developing a scale model for aero testing in its 40-percent wind tunnel.)
Was it a productive day?:
"What we really did with the Richard Childress Racing Cingular Wireless Chevy Monte Carlo today was work on a lot of race setup. We went back and forth on setup, played with some body stuff in race configuration. We probably worked about two-and-a-half hours on a qualifying (setup). We're trying to understand where we're at, gather some good data, and hopefully Kevin (Harvick) and Jeff (Green) will come back next week and take off from where we're at and hopefully expand on that and go further."
On working with GM engineers at the test:
"They have been with us and involved. We have been sharing data with them, what we've been doing. Hopefully they can go back and spend some time with their tools to make our cars faster. We worked mostly on chassis and body today."
How was the test, overall?:
"Pretty good. We could always be better. Our Kodak Max car is running pretty good. We'd like to stay focused. I love Indy. I can't wait to come back here. I want to see if we can get a Chevrolet in Victory Lane."
On being quickest yesterday:
"Well, I don't know how many people were making qualifying runs. I think we were decent. The engines that we have in the cars right now both have races on them, so I know we're going to be coming back with more engines. The 26 car (Todd Bodine) ran awfully fast today. We can't run nowhere near that fast, but I think we can run a little faster than we ran."
About the GM engineers who are assisting with testing. Is that an advantage?:
"Heck, yes. I'm telling you. It's really been awesome. Had some good input; they've been very, very supportive. That says a lot for GM and the Monte Carlo brand. It says a lot for the whole deal because we've struggled a little bit, and they're over here helping one of their teams that are struggling. That says a lot for them. I really appreciate that."
On improving for the rest of the season:
"I'm sure hoping so. We ran good at Sears Point, ran awfully good at Daytona, got caught up in somebody else's mistake, and hopefully we can just start sneaking our way back into being competitive. This race team hasn't been competitive in a while; I'd love to think that I've made a little bit of a difference for them. But, it takes it all nowadays. It's tough. We've had a lot of support out of Chevrolet, and we just really, really appreciate every bit of help we get. We need to get these cars in the wind tunnel and get this aero stuff figured out. We're really struggling with some of that stuff. It takes it all to run in Winston Cup."
Will what you learned here help in Chicago?:
"I think so. We'll see."
TODD BODINE: "Refined a real good setup. Been working on race setups all day. Our last race setup was really good, so we have a great qualifying setup and race setup."
With the changing temperatures and conditions, did it make setups hard to monitor?:
"It's a little hard because it changes so much. This track is so sensitive to the conditions. We did pretty good in that department. It changes -- every 15 minutes it's a different racetrack, and you just got to keep up with it and know what you've got and try to learn from what you're doing, taking in consideration what the track is doing. A lot of it, you can't rely on the stopwatch to tell you what you're doing. You have to go by the seat of your pants."
STERLING MARLIN: "We just went through a bunch of standard stuff, changing stuff. The car's tight, late exit tight -- typical deal here. It looks like the Fords are pretty hooked up, so we've got to work on our stuff a little more."
Does Chip Ganassi's Indy-style car experience help you?:
"It's a total different package from what the Indy car brings. I wish it did, but this is stock cars, and it's totally different from Indy cars."
DAVE BLANEY: "It's going OK. All you can do is tune for all the different weather you get and try to get the car as good as you can. A lot of times you can tell where you stand compared to other people, but it's hard here because the weather changes so much, and the track slows up then speeds up. You just go by feel and do the best you can."
What did you find to jump up in speed today?:
"We were in race trim yesterday and did some qualifying runs (early) today, and now we're back in race trim. We're trying a little bit of everything. We were in qualifying trim, and the track was fast this morning when it was cool out."
Can you learn anything from other flat tracks that may apply here?:
"A little bit. This place is so unique on its own. There aren't many tracks that compare to it just yet. We ran Pocono once and then when we go to Miami and Phoenix at the end of the year, but this place has so much speed to it that you can't really get any short-track characteristics out of it."
Thoughts on the diamond grinding that was done to the track:
"We'll see how it shakes out in race trim, but in qualifying it's very fast and by ourselves it seems to be adequate for what we have with the tires. We don't know how it will play out when we come back here a month from now with the heat as far as buildups go and how things progress, but right now everything is great."
Are you excited about this race even though it's a few weeks away?:
"The adrenaline is always pumping when you come to Indy. You just know when you come through the gates that this is Indianapolis, and you're here to race."
What do you learn during testing here?:
"You come with a plan and a book and an outline of everything you can possibly think of and then as you progress, you start to cross things off your list. When you've got two days, you've got time to sort it out, think through it and sit down over night and develop a plan for the second day."
Is it crucial to test here because passing is so hard here?:
"It's like that at any racetrack. At this place, you're caught up in the emotions of Indianapolis, but it's also a fact that this place is so different than any other racetrack. That's why NASCAR mandates we come here and test. The speeds you achieve here, the way the track changes with temperature and the balance of handling versus aerodynamics is something that we don't normally battle with as much as we do here at Indianapolis."
Did you get anything accomplished testing today?:
"Yeah, I think so. We really got to try a lot of different things that we've been wanting to try and really haven't had the opportunity to try. When you go to a race, you only have two hours of practice and then you have to qualify so you can't try a lot of the things that you maybe got in the back of your mind to try. So we tried a lot of different stuff today. I think we're pretty close with one car, and the other car, we never really tried to run fast with it. We just had some race shocks on it and ran some trying to get some comparisons on that. I thought the test went pretty good."
How special is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to you?:
"I know when I come in, anyway, I look at the facility. We don't go to a nicer place than this anywhere that we race. We go to some new racetracks, and this is the oldest racetrack there is. The way they keep it up, keep the grounds and everything, and the track is always in perfect condition. These guys are always a step ahead of everybody. They got the soft walls up and stuff and, to me, it's really neat for us to come up here and race. The Indy 500, to me, is the biggest race in the world. It's pretty neat for us to be able to race our stock cars at Indy. I think probably 90 percent of the Winston Cup guys at some point dreamed about running the Indy 500. Well, maybe we haven't run the Indy 500, but at least we can run at their racetrack."
Despite the variable weather conditions, did you guys have a good test?:
"I think so. Most everybody brings two cars here to choose what car they want, and they will take all the data off the computer and apply it. We're real happy with our test. The track was in real good shape. It was real consistent for a change. I think that might have something to do with the grinding."
HUT STRICKLIN: "We learned a lot of things this week -- a lot of what didn't work, and sometimes that's more important than what worked. When we come back here, practice time is so limited, only a couple hours. Hopefully being able to test here will pay off for us."
Did the diamond grinding of the track surface affect your testing?:
"Our cars -- as far as in the past, this track has always been one of the smoothest tracks we run anyway, and I can't tell much difference in it. It's always been a good place for us to come, and it's still a good place, so I can't tell the difference."
Asked at lunch time how the test was going:
"We know that if it's cloudy when we come back then we've got a pretty good setup, but we can't anticipate it being cloudy. In fact, the only downside to what we've had right now is that we would like to see some sun to see how much different the racetrack is then. I don't think it's going to be as temperamental as what it used to be before they grooved the track, so, hopefully, what we have now will be as close as we can get. I like the setup that we have, and we've learned some things. Our car is good on longer runs, and it's also fast in the shorter runs, so that's kind of the perfect combination right now. How much it will change when the sun comes out, though, is the only thing we're not learning at this point."