Spencer puts on horns for Las Vegas JIMMY SPENCER (No. 40 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We worked on qualifying and race setups when we tested out here. We unloaded and ran a lot of race runs. By the end of the day, we'll run qualifying runs.
Spencer puts on horns for Las Vegas
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 40 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We worked on qualifying and race setups when we tested out here. We unloaded and ran a lot of race runs. By the end of the day, we'll run qualifying runs. The next day we'll run qualifying runs and go back into race mode. They're really organized. I'll give them credit for that. I'm getting used to the cars, and I really like this team. We're doing really well. It doesn't show in the points, but I feel like we get stronger and stronger as a team every day. Chip Ganassi has given Tony Glover and Andy Graves (team managers) total control of the organization. I have to give him a lot of credit. They've done a great job assembling a bunch of people for me.
"It started out at 75-1 on me to win out here, and then it dropped to 50-1. I don't pay much attention to it. I don't mess with that. I like to play craps, but I don't bet on the races. I'd either jinx somebody or jinx myself. I just don't do it. I think we're running well, and our pit stops are good. From indications at testing, we're good. A lot of cars are running well. Johnny Benson had a great test here. Kyle Petty ran well. He's got a really good car. Our sport is getting tougher and tougher every week. You've got Kyle running better and Jimmy Spencer running better, but don't forget you've got Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Rudd, Sterling has been running strong, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, right on down the list. We want to be one of those guys. Whether we win this race or not, our goal is to be in the top 10 at the end of the day. That's what we're going to try to do.
"Missing Daytona didn't make me mad. I was very upset over it. Everyone on the team apologized to me, but that's life. I'm still really glad I made the decision to come over here. I don't regret it one bit. I just realized we've got championship makings on this team. Sterling showed that last year, and he's leading the points as we speak. I think as time goes on with the Team Target Dodge, we're just going to get stronger and stronger and stronger. We're going to have two really strong teams.
"I really like a race track that doesn't have blind spots. I was raised on a race track in Owego, N.Y., that never had any blind spots. The thing I like about a race track that doesn't have any blind spots there's less chances for accidents. You see what other drivers are doing, the line they're taking. I really like Las Vegas. When I came out here with my Busch car a couple of years ago, I ran really well. I really adapted to the track well. It's a handling facility. Any flat track is handling. They proved last year at Ganassi Racing that they can get that 40 car handling on the flat tracks.
"We're concerned about the one-engine rule a little bit out here. You turn some big rpm's on the front straightaway out here. I think Ernie Elliott has done a great job. We don't foresee motor problems. The motors ran flawless last year, and they're not going to change. They're not going to experiment with stuff. Ernie is a well-known engine builder. He's won the championship. I have a lot of confidence in our engines.
"When we first heard the Dodge announcement, I was glad to hear they were coming back. They did it right. It took them a year to build the car and do a lot of testing. There were a lot of things they did. They had some problems with the car, and they worked on fixing that. They're not afraid to admit that we've got to do something with the weight of our engine and stuff like that. All-in-all, the support we get from all the Dodge dealers, that to me is so important. Every time you go to the track, you see Dodge people. You see the Ram on their coats. It's really good for the sport to have another manufacturer in, especially one that supports the fans and competitors.
"I got in trouble one time by saying, 'you mess with the boy, you get the horns.' I guess it came back to get me.
"A lot of circumstances are involved with racing. I never predict a win. Tires, lapped traffic, so many things can happen during a race, there's no sense in ever predicting whether you can or can't win. You've just got to prepare the best you can and have a lot of confidence and try to have a mistake-free day. That's how you win races, have a mistake-free day. This is the best we've been prepared so far for a race. We'll see exactly where we are in Happy Hour. All indications show we're pretty close. We're thinking we're going to be in pretty good shape."
ANDY GRAVES (Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
"We came out here and tested and ran well. We qualified well and haven't had any problems off the truck. I think tomorrow will be a good day for Spencer. Jimmy ran well last year at all the fast tracks. We expected him to have a good showwing out here and so far he hasn't disappointed us. I think we'll have a good shot at it.
"Sterling was in race setup mostly yesterday. He struggled a little bit, but they got it a lot better right before qualifying. I think if he could have given those guys another half hour of practice, they probably would have qualified in the top 15. We'll have to work on it a little harder, but I think Sterling will be right there contending for the win tomorrow, too.
"We'll try to get the balance right today and see how the tires fall off. We've got to take it easy and keep laps off the motor, too. If you go out there and the car's pretty decent and balanced, there's no reason to practice a lot. If you go out there and you're pretty good, I'd say pull it in after about 30 percent of practice. We're really not too worried about the one-engine rule here. We're going to be worried about it at Atlanta next week though.
"We've had two good runs with Sterling this year. It could easily have been two wins. Any time you're leading a race with 10 laps to go as we have the last two weeks, you can't be too disappointed in your run. Obviously we'd be feeling a lot better if we had at least won one of those races, but we've been running pretty strong and so has Ward Burton. I'm pretty confident that Tommy Baldwin and that bunch will have their act together all year. I think we'll see them in the top 10 in the points.
"We'd like to have a shot at running for the championship this year with the 40 car. It's my philosophy that you can't worry about it until after Daytona in July. If you're within 200 points of the leader after the Fourth of July race, then it's time to start looking at the big picture. Right now we just have to go out and get race wins.
"We're still in a pretty conservative mode with Spencer. We have to be until we get to Darlington. If we felt pretty confident that we were higher in the points, we could have taken a shot at the pole yesterday and really hung it out. Qualifying fourth, that was a pretty conservative effort really. We kind of got ourselves in that position with the way we ran last year and ended up 38th in the points. If we have a good week this week and a good week at Atlanta, we'll move up to the top 25 in the points and it'll be time to go for some poles.
"They usually take off pretty good here. They take off like rabbits really. The tires don't drop off much and it kind of gets into a single-file deal. You pretty much need to be going for it from the start. Las Vegas isn't a Bristol, but I enjoy the track out here. I think it's going to be a good race. It's not as boring as tracks like Michigan and Fontana. I enjoy those places, too, but I guess it's not quite as exciting for the fans.
"I don't gamble, so I haven't been in any of the casinos. We'll do our gambling on the race track Sunday."