DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Pre-race update per a Budweiser Team Rep: The plan for today's race remains the same, which is for Dale Jr. will start the race and then turn the wheel over to Martin Truex Jr. during the...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Pre-race update per a Budweiser Team Rep: The plan for today's race remains the same, which is for Dale Jr. will start the race and then turn the wheel over to Martin Truex Jr. during the first caution.
The drivers did not practice the seat swap, but think it will go relatively smoothly. Since Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Jr. are the same size and use the exact same harnesses and seat belts, no major equipment changes are necessary.
However, the team has attached some surgical tubing to the seat harnesses that will act like a spring and make unhooking, hooking, and adjusting the belts a much easier and quicker process. This technique was borrowed from the Corvette Racing program, where multiple drivers of various sizes and shapes drive one race car during an event.
The Budweiser Team has also put a cool box in the No. 8 Chevy.
RICKY CRAVEN, NO. 32 TIDE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
Brought out the caution on lap 60: "I made contact at Turn 2. The car behind me got into my right rear and put us in the wall."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
Comments after making the driver switch with Martin Truex Jr. during the caution on lap 60:
(HOW DO YOU FEEL?) "There aren't many people I'd let drive my car. Martin's one of them. Luckily he was available this weekend. The car is not that good. I think the car might be worse than I am. It's real loose in and real tight in the middle. It won't turn in the middle at all. Hopefully we can work on it and get it a lot better and get a pretty good finish. We were good all weekend in practice with Martin in the car. I know we can get a good run. We've just got to get the car a lot better.
"I was doing okay. The car just wasn't as good as I thought it would be or that it had been all weekend. It ain't no fun getting out, I'm going to tell you that. I like running here. But Martin is going to do a good job for me so it'll be okay."
(HOW DO YOU INJURIES FEEL AND HOW WERE THEY OVER THE COURSE OF THAT RUN?) "My injuries didn't really hurt bad, but it's hard. It's a pain I ain't never felt before. But I was in two burn centers and I saw some people in there that are a lot worse off than I was. It made me really appreciate how lucky I was to get out of there with just the little burns I've got on my legs. But it's not good enough to drive a car all weekend but hopefully next weekend we will be."
(IT WAS A NICE DRIVER CHANGE. HOW ARE YOU FEELING?) "I don't feel too bad. Martin's been doing a real good job all weekend. The car isn't handling too great but we're going to work on that to get a good finish today."
(WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE REST OF THE AFTERNOON? ARE YOU GOING TO STAY OUT HERE AND WATCH THE RACE?) "I don't know what I plan on doing really. I thought I'd get back and probably change clothes. But we're just going to see what happens. This is a winning team. I think Martin can run good. This has been a good track for him over the years. I hated getting out of the car.
"That ain't no fun. I trust Martin and what he can do. Hell, he's probably better than I am at getting around this place. With this car and this team, he's got a great chance today."
(YOU STAYED IN THE CAR FOR 60 LAPS. WHERE DID IT WORK THE BEST?) "It wasn't working at all. The car wasn't handling too good. They've been working with the car all weekend. It's been fast all weekend. I really haven't been tuned in as much as Martin. The car is just not driving today like it has been all weekend. It's a little loose in but they're working on the car and hopefully will make it better.
(THE FANS WISH YOU WELL. THEY JUST GAVE YOU A BIG CHEER) "I'll tell you what, the fans have been great. They've sent cards and well wishes. It's been quite an experience. Aside from the injuries, I wouldn't change anything. I've learned a lot of things through it and I'll be a better race car driver once I'm back to 100 percent."
(ON MAKING THE DRIVER SWITCH) "I don't think it was that big of a deal. My burns weren't bothering me so bad, but the car wasn't driving so good. Martin does a good job around here. He'll be fine as long as he's staying calm and not being too anxious. He's used to those quick Busch races - and being in split mode all day. not staying in the car all day. You've got to take your time here. You've got to save the tires. I think he's the guy who can do a good job for me. He's been driving it all weekend and he's been doing a great job."
(ON HIS BURNS) "It just hurts. I mean it hurts all the time. That's all it does. It just hurts. But sitting down is a whole lot better than standing up."
(HOW READY DO YOU THINK YOU'LL BE FOR POCONO NEXT WEEK?) "I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see. That's what we did this weekend. We just didn't know. And, we won't know."
RICKY CRAVEN, NO. 32 TIDE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I don't know what happened. We spun around and I don't know what happened. I'm pretty frustrated right now. I really don't know what to say. We had high expectations. We got together with Jimmy. I hate accepting the responsibility of getting together with him; it's just typical tight racing. But then we just got lifted in the right rear - just got picked up and turned into the wall. It killed the car. So it took us 50 laps to repair it and we went back out and just make some laps and it just blew apart. I haven't had any thing just blow apart like that in a long time. I honestly don't know why. It's not like you can say you're frustrated about this or that, I'm just frustrated."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 2nd:
"It was a great day for us. I tell you what, when they dropped the green flag I thought we had something for 'em. We just got loose in and really couldn't get on top of it all day. But I'll tell you what, a second place finish makes me really proud of the DuPont Chevrolet team. I wanted to say hello and send my prayers and thoughts to the whole Hendrick family. It's been a tough week. But Pops would have been proud of that effort we put out there today. I'm real happy. To come from where we started and finish where we did - I'm real proud of that effort.
"We were able to get up there and battle with those guys. I don't know if we were a second-place car, but we had a real good car on the restarts. I thought I could get up there beside Kurt (Busch), but we had the No.12 (Ryan Newman) behind us and everything. I would have had to give him a pretty big nudge to get him out of the way for that win. It may have cost us a win and maybe even second. I'm real proud of this team to have brought this car from 24th to second." More to follow
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 5th:
"We kept working on it all day. We got tight there. Greg (Zipadelli, crew chief) made a big change on the right rear. We just cranked some weight in it and got a little too free there. We had a good run there with Matt (Kenseth). I'm tickled to death to go to a track where not very many cars can say they came out of there without a scratch and we don't have scratch one on our car."
(WAS THERE A LOT OF GRIP ON THE TRACK TODAY?) "I don't think so. I think the heat kind of made it a little bit slippery, which made for good racing. It made the track wide and made it to where we could all race each other a little bit. I think it was a good race and hopefully the fans enjoyed it today."
"We had a good day. Obviously we would've liked to be higher than fifth, but it's just another top-five and this is the time of year where we start putting those together. So, that's what we need to do."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 11th:
"We got close to a top 10, but we just weren't with it today. We didn't have anything figured out. An 11th place finish out of that is pretty good for us and we're excited about that. Luckily we stopped the bleeding before we bled to death with that two-tire strategy and got us up in there."
(DID YOU LEARN SOME THINGS THIS WEEKEND?) "Oh, yeah. We definitely learned what car not to bring back here in a month or so. But I would expect that the No. 48 Lowe's team will be back here testing very soon."
(YOU WERE FAST IN QUALIFING, SLOWER IN HAPPY HOUR YESTERDAY, AND DEFINITELY OFF TODAY. WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?) "We're not sure. In Happy Hour, we weren't real pleased with the car and we went back to last year's set-up hoping that would be what we needed. It actually made it a lot looser. With the new shock package, new tire combination, and the track aging a little bit we just didn't have the ideal set-up today."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., RELIEF DRIVER FOR DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 31st:
(HOW WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE IN A CUP RACE?) "We were actually making out pretty good. We picked up some spots there in the beginning. We got up there and that's when we got real tight and of course that's when we got spun out. That was the end of our day. It knocked the tow out really bad and then we actually got really tight and lost another lap.
"If that wouldn't have happened, I think we could have gotten it fixed and gotten the Lucky Dog because I think we were fast enough to do that once we got the car going. But like I said, once we got the tow knocked out and didn't have time to fix it, the car just wouldn't go at all. And that's how we lost the second lap and had no chance of getting the free pass and it just ruined our day. Our car was pretty decent at the end."
(WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU SPUN OUT?) "I don't know. I was really tight and I was running up high. (Ken) Schrader was under me for a few laps. And actually on that lap I moved higher than I had been running. I don't know what happened. I don't know if he locked the brakes up or what he did. But he just drove up my quarter panel and wrecked me. There was nothing I could do about it."
(WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED WITH THE SPIN OR THE FINISH OR WHAT?) "Well, with the finish. It's better than 43rd. All they wanted was last-place points. They wanted him (Dale Jr.) to start the race and me to get in the car and get everything I could. And, 15 spots is 15 spots. I'm just disappointed in the way it ran. If I hadn't have gotten spun out, I really think we could have run good. We had our car going good at the end of the race. We just lost too much time when we got the tow knocked out."
(DID YOU AND SCHRADER GET INTO IT A COUPLE OF TIMES?) "I don't know why he was running me like that. I was trying to run him clean. But what are you going to do?"
(WHEN YOU MADE THE DRIVER SWITCH, WERE YOU EXCITED OR NERVOUS OR ANYTHING?) "I was fine. I thought it was cool that we did it so quick. We didn't even practice this morning like we had planned. I just hopped down in there and threw the belts across me and the next thing I knew, I was going. So that worked good. I wouldn't mind doing that again. But I would have liked to finish better."
(DID YOU FIND YOUR AIR HOSE OR WATER HOSE OR WHATEVER IT WAS YOU WERE LOOKING FOR?) "Yeah, I found them both. It all happened so quick. By the time I finally got my gloves on it was time to go green. We went green and at the next caution I found all my stuff and was good to go. It was a fun race."
(WILL YOU DO THIS AGAIN NEXT WEEK AT POCONO?) "Hopefully not. Hopefully Junior is good to go. I'll get my shot in my own car hopefully some day."
(DID JUNIOR SAY ANYTHING TO YOU ON THE RADIO DURING THE RACE?) "No, I haven't talked to him. I think he got out of here pretty quick to rest up. The team was pretty happy with everything under the circumstances. When we got wrecked, it killed our day because we lost another lap trying to fix it. It just made the car handle terrible until we got the car fixed, which was 150 laps later. Once we got it fixed, the car was really good and I was happy with it. I could pass cars and I was able to run with the top five or six cars."
(NEAR THE END, WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH THE NO. 2 AND THE NO. 88 BEHIND YOU?) "As soon as those guys would get to me, within a half a car length, I'd let them go. And then I'd wait for another opening and I'd go again. Rusty (Wallace) was two or three or four car lengths behind me the whole time. I was just in there (the trailer) changing and I heard them on TV complaining about me holding them up, which I don't understand because I two or three car lengths ahead of him the whole time. So, what are you going to do? I'm a rookie. They'll always blame something on me."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 6th:
"We had a top 10 finish for the NAPA team. We finished sixth. We were up in second spot and then had a bad pit stop and then wound up getting way in the back and fought our way all the way up to sixth. I'm real proud of the effort. We had a brake problem. The fan that cools the brakes on the front end of the car malfunctioned and so I had to really drive the car carefully. It hurt me some. I figured out how to deal with it. But we lost some speed because of that. All-in-all, it was a really good day.
"The points situation was improved and we moved up to 16th. Mainly, we gained on the top 10 again - only 15 points, with seven (races) to go and 200 back If I do the math correctly right quick, that's about 30 points a race. So we'll just have to try to do it and get it done. That's very important to do. We're going to Watkins Glen tonight and spend the day there tomorrow testing. And then it's off to home for a couple of days and then to Pocono."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 13th:
"Track position was key out there today and once we lost it with those couple of bad pit stops, I knew we were going to be in trouble. Not getting a chance to pit and make up some gound really hurt us as well as all those cautions toward the end. My GM Goodwrench Chevy was tight toward the end and at every restart it took about 10 laps to get the tires to stop chattering because they had no heat in them. There was just way too much traffic back in the back to make up any kind of ground there toward the end. It's frustrating because we had a pretty decent car today."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 25th:
"We just couldn't find a good balance today. My front tires were chattering the majority of the first half, and I went back and forth between really loose and tight handling the rest of the day.
"It's disappointing because I love racing here, but not the way we did today. We missed it this time and have won here before. It doesn't make sense.
"I'm still confused about not receiving the Lucky Dog during the seventh caut9ion of the day. The No. 21 (Ricky Rudd) was the first car a lap down and wrecked. I was the second car a lap down, but was denied the Lucky Dog. I did eventually get the Lucky Dog two cautions after that, but I just don't get it. I know if you are the second car a lap down and spin the first car one lap down, you do not receive the Lucky Dog, but I didn't touch the No. 21. Richard Childress and I have a few questions for NASCAR, that's for sure."
TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Finished 16th and advanced from 21st to 20th and is within 147 points of 15th-place Mark Martin with 17 races remaining.
"We started today the way we finished practice yesterday ... just a little off on the chassis. We made some adjustments to the car and it got better, but track position was the whole ballgame and we never really made that big move to the front.
"I know 800 races sounds like a lot and I don't think I ever figured I'd run that many, but it's an honor to be in that small group of drivers that's reached that number (Richard Petty, Dave Marcis, Ricky Rudd, Darrell Waltrip). Today's finish helped us a little in the points, too, so that's important."