Saturday, March 6, 1999. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Las Vegas 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes. JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I learned we were horrible here last year and we'd better not do anything...
Saturday, March 6, 1999. Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Las Vegas 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I learned we were horrible here last year and we'd better not do anything like we did here last year. We qualified well last year, and we just went backwards in the race. I think that's sort of why it was important for us to run the Busch car here, just to get more laps and hope I can learn a little bit in the Busch race. So far, I think it's helping me get ready for the Winston Cup race. Getting those extra laps and testing like we did last week helped. We're still fighting a few little things. We're much better, and I think a lot of it has to do with the downforce. The spoiler and air dam help us a little bit. We're closer than we were last year, but we're still a little bit further off than I'd like to be. "I qualified better than I thought I would in the Busch car. I really wasn't expecting that straight out of the box. I knew how well this team has come together, how great of a job Patrick Donahue and Michael Landis did by getting these cars and this team where it is today. I still had no idea everything was going to come together the way it has. A lot of people that made that happen. Our engine program is a big plus. Hendrick engines and Kenny Bingham and those guys build 'em. We just hope we can keep that thing up front. It's exciting for Pepsi and Freetos and all our sponsors that helped bring it together. I want to have a good showing for my car owners, Brooke and Ray. They put the pressure on me a little bit. "I think we have strengths where we have guys who are very talented and have built great (Busch) race cars. Our weaknesses is we just don't have the experience with the 9-to-1 engines, with this type of race car. You come here and get very little practice. You go out and qualify and you've got to do it one time. I think Mark Martin and some of the other Winston Cup guys and even some of the Busch regulars like Dale Jr. and Matt Kenseth, they have more experience in what direction the car is going to go. We hope our experience with what I've done in Winston Cup and Ray's experience in Winston Cup, hopefully that will weigh out even. "It's hard to say, but we're going a little faster and that could be a reason for the tire wear (on Winston Cup car). This tire is a little bit different. I haven't looked at a lot of tire wear. I've just been trying to get the right balance. I did feel the right sides seemed to go away a little bit on us. "We're a little far off from thinking about the million right now. It's not like we're going to Darlington or Rockingham or something like that where we know the setup. We know that no matter what that by the end of the race we're going to be a factor as long as we're in the race. Here, we've got work to do to make sure we're a factor toward the end. We'll just keep working on that. If we're in that position toward the end of the race, then hopefully we'll pull off that million, but we've got some work to do before we can talk about that. "I think we're looking better. Qualifying is one thing, but the race is something else. The Fords still have a little bit of an advantage, and the Pontiacs look real good, too. I still think it comes to the good teams and the teams that have their act together and get the right balance. I think there will be a few surprises. Some new guys are running good, but I still think that Mark, Burton, Jarrett, those are going to be the guys to beat. "I don't think about that (possibly getting hurt in Busch car). I think I'm getting behind the wheel of a race car, just like I get behind the wheel of a sprint car or midget or anything. The aspect of getting hurt, even though it's there, it's usually in the back. You don't try to put that in the front of your mind. You're going to be worried more about that than focusing on what your job is. We went to all our sponsors on the Winston Cup car and told them we were doing it and asked if they wanted to be a part of it. They have pretty good coverage on the Winston Cup car and a pretty big investment there. Pepsi wanted to do more, and that's why they're on the car. "It's opportunities worth taking. I look at it as a way to get this Busch team up and going. Hopefully some day it can function without me being the driver and we can put some young talented drivers behind the wheel. We want to get Ricky Hendrick behind the wheel. We want to get some guys from open wheel or ASA, whatever and get sponsorship so they can go and maybe run a full schedule some day. I feel like in order to get the thing off the ground, we had to do it this way. Plus, there's a lot of young guys we want to see come along and fill Ray's shoes or other guys shoes and be able to be in Winston Cup for the next 10 or 15 years. "It's more than a farm team, but that's just one aspect of it that I think is a plus. You've got to think long term. You've got to think future. We're not going to be able to have the dominance we've had the past few years if we just stay the same. We've got to be able to bring new, young talented guys who have experience that can get the job done. This is a way for us to test them at this level and not put them in the pressure of Winston Cup. This is a way for them to get comfortable and for us to evaluate them later on. "Patrick (Donahue) is a young guy but he really stepped up and took on the responsibility. He took guidance from Ray, and he's a great guy doing a great job. There's a lot more of them. I'm very proud of what they've done. "It depends on how you're doing odds. I do odds based on the race track, not what we've done on other Winston Million races. When I look at it, our odds aren't that great here. I certainly wouldn't be putting money on me. I feel like we capable of getting a top five, but to win here -- it's a shame Mark Martin isn't in the Winston No Bull thing because I'd put all my money on him. Kenny Irwin and Michael Waltrip are running good. I just know I'm not the best one. I wouldn't bet on myself, but then I never would."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I think the odds are better on the guys who win every week, but I think this team is going to win a race. I would never bet on me because I think it's bad luck, but I don't think I would be a guy who would bet against it, either. We've got a good car, a good race team, the motor is running good. I like this place. It might be the place where we can get our first points victory. "We won last year with this car in Japan. It's a situation that you have to put yourself in contention to win. If you do that enough times, it'll happen. It happened for Jeremy. It happened for Rusty. If happened for Jeff Burton. That's inspiration that Mark and Jeff or Dale Jarrett ain't going to win every week. You've got some other guys out there knocking on the door. I feel good to know we're one of those guys. We're knocking on the door. We're going to win a race soon, I hope. If we don't, it won't be from a lack of effort because everybody on this team are busting their tails. I'm doing everything I can to drive the car smart. "Las Vegas has some similarities to the Japan track. It's flat, fast, long, smooth. It's a good race track. It's a place I think that the Lowe's Chevrolet has a good chance of running good. We've run good at the flat tracks. My first top-five was at Loudon, and it's a flat track. We finished in the top 10 at Richmond. Our track record has been good at places like this. Hopefully we can do well. If not, if we can get out of this place with a top 10 finish, then it just keeps the momentum going. "I think you're better wherever you get your car hooked up. We ran good at Atlanta. We ran real good at Charlotte and got caught up in an accident that wasn't our fault. I think a race car driver can drive anywhere. If he's a good race car driver it doesn't matter. I think it's a matter of how good you get your car. That's why Mark Martin stands out so good and Jeff Gordon stands out so good. They've got the ability to get that car good everywhere they go. "The 6 is really the man, I think. The 24 is the man every week. Jeff Burton is going to be good. Some guys who didn't qualify up front are going to be up front. You hang it all out and if it sticks, you're going to qualify up front. I think we were favored for the pole. I think we had the best shot at the pole. We hung it all out and I slipped down here in three and four and missed the pole. We slipped and still qualified fifth. Normally, if you slip in Winston Cup you're 35th. That says a lot about our race car. "Our tire wear has been pretty good so far. That makes me feel real good. I hate to get into longshots or whatever, but I think we've got a top-five or a top-10 race car. If we adjust on that car properly all day, you never know. We might go up there and slip one in on them. "I've played a little golf, did a little gambling. I've had a great time. I'm going to stay out here at the race track tonight and kick back and have a good meal and get ready to race. I made my contribution (gambling). I'm helping pay the light bill here. They've got such beautiful lights here that I want to make sure they're burning the next time I come back. I left a little money to help pay the light bill. "I found a nice humidor I like. It's a pretty expensive piece and it's something I'd never dream of buying, but if we win tomorrow I'll probably ease back by there and pick it up on the way to the airport."