JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: NOTE: Benson will start 26th in Sunday's New England 300. YOU WERE 13TH AFTER THE FIRST PRACTICE. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THAT? "I think we're OK. We have another practice session to go yet, and...
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
NOTE: Benson will start 26th in Sunday's New England 300.
YOU WERE 13TH AFTER THE FIRST PRACTICE. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THAT? "I think we're OK. We have another practice session to go yet, and that will tell us a little bit more what's going on. The guys have made some adjustments and we got a little quicker. We just need to make the car a little better. We're just having a couple of issues right now. Once we get by those, we'll be OK."
HOW WAS THE NEW PAVEMENT FOR YOU? "It was the same as it always is here. It's got a little bit of grip right now coming off the corner, which this place usually has some. In the past, you'd snap loose up off the corner. Right now the track doesn't have that. It's still slippery getting in and through the middle, but it's always been that we here."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
NOTE: Harvick will start 7th in Sunday's New England 300.
AFTER YOUR FIRST TIME OUT ON THE TRACK, WHAT ARE YOUR GENERAL COMMENTS? "The car was reasonably good right off the trailer and we made a few adjustments and made it pretty good. We just have to keep up with the race track. The track has different asphalt on it this year, but other than that it drives about the same."
DID YOU NOTICE A DIFFERENCE IN THE TRACK FROM LAST YEAR TO THIS? "No. They just painted a few more dots on the asphalt, and that's about it. It still drives exactly like it did last year."
BOBBY LABONTE. NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
NOTE: Labonte will start 4th in Sunday's New England 300.
AFTER YOUR FIRST TIME ON THE NEW TRACK, WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS? "It was OK. We didn't get on the track yesterday, we weren't as close as we like to be, but we have something to work with, I think, and the track seems like it's in pretty good shape."
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TRACK LAST YEAR AND THIS YEAR? "The groove is higher and it's got a lot of grip. Those are the only two things I noticed."
TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/got milk? CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
NOTE: Labonte will start 14th in Sunday's New England 300.
HOW WAS YOUR FIRST TIME OUT ON THE TRACK? "It was good. The track is in good shape and they did a good job paving it. It's real smooth. Hopefully it's going to stay like that and we won't have any problems."
YOU WERE IN THE TOP 10 MOST OF PRACTICE. ARE YOU GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING? "We're making a couple of little changes, not much. We're pretty happy with it. We ran pretty good and scuffed some tires in, so we'll just run the next practice and see how we stack up."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
NOTE: Gordon will start 15th in Sunday's New England 300.
HOW WAS YOUR CAR THIS MORNING? "A little different than we were here last year. The track's got a lot of grip. The groove's a little higher than it was last time. Last time, we were running down toward the flat, and now it seems like we're running a little higher. It was our first outing and we want to see what tires will do on a long run. We'll do a long run and I think we're in pretty decent shape."
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAST YEAR'S TRACK AND THIS YEAR'S? "It has a lot of grip, and if the sealer wears off--if there is sealer on it--it still seems to have a lot of grip. We're going to change rear springs, front shocks and put a sway bar on the rear."
JOHNNY SAUTER, NO. 4 KODAK PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
NOTE: Sauter will start 41st in his second start for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.
HOW WAS YOUR RUN? "We were decent. I got in a little time yesterday in the Busch car, and I kind of knew what to expect today. We're sneaking up on it. I fell like we'll be pretty decent."
HOW WAS THE PAVEMENT? "I don't know. It seems real similar to what it was last year. It has a lot of grip, and I think they did a pretty good job with it."
JOHN ANDRETTI, NO. 0 NETZERO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
NOTE: Andretti will start 39th in his maiden voyage in the No. 0 Pontiac.
HOW WAS YOUR FIRST RUN IN THE NETZERO CAR? "It was OK. It's the first time in the car and everything went pretty good. We're kind of seeing what other people are doing. Obviously, the track has changed since we were here before with the new corners and it wants different things. We feel pretty good about it, but we're going to make some big changes."
HOW WAS THE NEW PAVEMENT? "I think it's pretty good. It's going to be tough to pass, but it's tough to pass wherever we go because it's so competitive in here. It's never going to look like Daytona and Talladega, but it never will unless they add an incredible amount of banking."
MIKE WALLACE, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
NOTE: Wallace will start 33rd in the New England 300.
HOW WAS YOUR RUN TODAY? "We were 14th in the first practice, so the car drives pretty good. We have to work on it a little bit, but all in all, for a brand-new race car, it was pretty good."
HOW WAS THE NEW PAVEMENT? "The pavement is good, but I wish the bottom groove was the same banking as the rest of the track. It appears to be flatter than the rest of it, so there's a little transition difference there. You're going to see all the racing done in the second and third grooves. They keep trying to make improvements and I commend them for doing that."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
NOTE: Nemechek will start 24th in Sunday's New England 300.
HOW WAS YOUR FIRST TRIP ON THE NEW PAVEMENT? "The car wasn't bad. We were trying to make a run to see how the balance was, and we slid all over the track. We're just trying to scuff tires in and get the balance halfway close. In the second session we'll try to get it driving right."
DID YOU NOTICE ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE PAVEMENT? "I couldn't really tell anything. I think it's the same as it was before."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We really didn't get a chance to run the car hard during that first practice and get a good lap in like we did in the second practice. But the car is fine. We were fast here last year. The guys that were in front of us in practice can run fast laps, but that can't do it for long. We're going to be consistent all day on Sunday. The track is a lot faster. It's got more grip. I don't know how long that's going to last. It seems to build up a lot of stuff on the outside of the edge of the groove there. And if you kind of slip the tire into that you'd have big problems. That's the only thing. I think the biggest problem for Sunday is going to be for NASCAR to keep the track clean throughout the day. I'm going to tune into the Busch race just to see what happens to the race track. And I want to see where the guys are running, how the outside groove is working, and just how much debris they build up on the outer edge of the groove.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"As long as the pavement stays together, I think we'll have a good race."
SOME OF THE DRIVERS THAT DIDN'T TEST HERE ARE NOW SAYING THAT THE ONES WHO DID WILL HAVE AN ADVANTAGE. DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY? "We had a pretty good practice. We had very few, if any, cautions out there. The guys were able to get a lot of laps in. The track is similar but a little bit different than when we tested here. There's a little bit more grip; a little bit more rubber. Kenseth didn't test here and he's running awfully good. I would say that our advantage that we had was evident this morning when we first got on the track. But after the first session of practice, I wouldn't say it's a big deal."
EVEN IF THE TRACK COMES APART, DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE AS BAD AS IT WAS LAST JULY? "Well, I hope not because the track is wider and the groove is wider that there's a little bit more room to maneuver around it if it does happen. Any time we have something like that happen it's not a good deal. We're not going to be able to race like we're capable of."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"The track is good. It's wide, that's for sure. I think it'll be great to watch the Busch race just to see what develops. It seems like there's more grip up on the top, but you can run on the bottom too. I think they really did a nice job."
DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE TRACK FALLING APART? "Well, they've had that happen here a lot. So there is concern. But with technology the way it is today you'd think they'd be able to pave it without it coming up. We race a lot of places that don't tear up."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I think the track is virtually identical to what we had in both races here last year as far as the way it looks and drives. I know they got the asphalt down a lot sooner so I think we're going to be fine where the track won't pull up. But it's the same. It really drives the same and we have a similar set up. I'm looking forward to a race like we saw here before, but hopefully without any marbles on the outside and no issues with that."
IS IT GOOD OR BAD THAT THE TRACK IS THE SAME? "We all get used to running on banked race tracks with multiple grooves. When you get on a flat race track, it's just harder to drive and it's frustrating. Here, the bottom lane is now the second lane. And it seems like the first lane is almost to the apron now -- especially since it seems like it has a little off-cambered banking in it. There are some other options out there to make passes. There is only one groove. But we see that at other places. We're just used to going so much faster on bigger tracks and with more banking that when you come here you've just got to slow everything down."
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE CAR? "I think we're good. We ended up third in Happy Hour. We're starting sixth based on points and we should be good."
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THE TRACK WILL CHANGE AFTER HAPPY HOUR TODAY? "There are two races that will go on today. So there are going to be a lot of changes. If the asphalt acts like it did before, we anticipate it getting tighter and tighter. But with Brian Vickers (HMS teammate) out there -- his driving style is similar to Jeff's (Gordon) and mine -- we'll get some good information from the Busch race."
DID YOU LEARN SOME THINGS FROM JEFF GORDON'S TEST HERE THAT WILL HELP YOU IN SUNDAY'S RACE? "Yeah, there are a lot of things. We were able to look at the data on the race cars and understand how it might work for my style vs. Jeff's. But still, our cars are built the same and we have very similar driving styles. We came relatively close (in practice). We made a change late in practice that they learned in testing and we applied that to our car and we picked up some more time."