Martinsville Monte Carlo Sunday notes

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo (Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate is sidelined on lap 112 in multi-car wreck): "There are a lot of people who don't know how to drive this race -- don't know how to pass.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo (Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate is sidelined on lap 112 in multi-car wreck): "There are a lot of people who don't know how to drive this race -- don't know how to pass. We were having a little trouble with our car, and unfortunately we were back in the middle of them. They get a little impatient and start beating and banging. I guess that's Martinsville. We were an innocent victim."

Rick Mast, No. 50 Chevrolet Monte Carlo (sidelined with mechanical problems): "I can't believe it. The spring that holds the brake pad in, the front caliper broke and the pad fell out. I've never had that happen. This is probably the easiest feel I've ever had on the brakes. I wasn't even hardly using the brakes because the car was so good. This Chevy was a top-10 car. I was tickled to death. I was really happy with it. If we could have adjusted, we probably could have been a top-five car. But it wasn't to be. And then when the brake pad fell out, I got into Nemechek (No. 31 car) and I hated that. At the same time, we broke the rear end gear. So with all that, we just decided to just load it up and go on to Talladega."

Mike Skinner, No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 32nd): "The gas mileage was a lot better in the Lowe's Chevy than the water mileage today. The water temperature gauge started pegging not even one-third of the way through the race, so we kept coming down pit road to add water. We lost several laps because we had to pit under green. But if we hadn't, the engine would've blown up for sure. We think we had a cracked cylinder head that was pushing water out. It's pretty disappointing because our car was good. We made a few changes to the Lowe's Chevy at the beginning that really helped. We were going to have a good car today, but ended up trying not to blow up for hundreds of laps."

Pit Crew Injury Note: Kevin Gabard, front tire carrier on the No. 31 car was injured during a late race pit stop when a lose tire from the No. 9 car (Bill Elliott) rolled into the No. 31 pit. Gabard had just jumped off the wall and was running around the left side of the car when the tire clipped his left knee and sent him down to the ground. He has had ACL surgery on that knee more than once, and thinks he might have re-injured it. He was treated and released from the infield care center and will see his personal doctor first thing Monday morning.

Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 10th): "The race was pretty good. The guys did a great job on pit road. It got real hot. The oil temperature was 300 (degrees), the water was 280 (degrees) all day long. My body is fried. But the guys did a good job. We hung in there. We're just happy that we got a good finish. We finished on the lead lap. The guys that took two tires there at the end were pretty strong. We're happy to come home 10th at Martinsville."

(Can the guys do anything for you in this kind of heat?) "No, all you can do is imagine yourself in Iceland in the middle of zero-degree weather. And even that doesn't work."

Bobby Hamilton, No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo (led the most laps and finished 4th): "It was a good day. The car worked really good. We'd have good pit strategy one time, and then the next time the other guys did. And right there at the end, the stop before last, I told Jimmy let's put tires on. They're in for four behind us. We did that and we was hoping for another caution. And we got it and them guys jumped in. And we were fast. We just was like a half-a-tenth quicker than the fastest car and just back too far."

(Tire wear was not too bad today, but did you have to have the fresh ones at the end?) "Well, the racetrack got so black and I was afraid of that. I seen it in Happy Hour. The shocks put up a lot of gas pressure and the tires put up a lot of pressure and all and it just gets greasy no matter what kind of tire you got. Goodyear had a good tire here. The Square D Chevrolet run great. And I just love being here. It makes my job a lot easier."

(When you didn't pit a little past the halfway mark, do you feel like that was a bad decision?) "No, because we'd have ended up the same way anyhow with our strategy. It's just strategy. Somebody had a little better strategy. We wanted to go early and see how long we could go where we'd know what to do at the end of the race. And 180 laps is just a little too far for us and we had to back it up about 30 (laps)."

(You were able to work your way back up to a good finish) "Yeah, we come from like 15th, 16th, or 17th - something like that - to finish fourth. So it was a good day. The guys worked their tails off on this thing. Everybody at the engine shop that puts the motors together the car together, we hadn't had one failure. I think we're 99.7 on laps completed, and that's what it takes to win a championship."

(How do you feel at this point of the season?) "I feel really good. That's what we want to do is get these finishes, you know. I just want to win. I want to win worse than I ever have. You know, once you win these damn things, anything beyond that is pretty bad. And I bet it's been two years since I've won. I was really wanting to do that today but it just didn't happen."

(You've got to be pleased with team effort?) "They done it you know. They worked on the car. You know, you've got to be able to drive these things. If you got to turn right with them, you don't make a lot of time. This ain't a dirt track, none of these places are. So it's really their deal. I'm just steering it. I'm a decent racecar driver and I've got one hell of a good race team right now."

(Do you feel like a win is right around the corner?) "Oh yeah. I really thought we was going to win here. I thought we was going to win at Rockingham. You know, we come so close in communication right now, if we could just get a little better and it takes time to do that, then the win's going to come to us."

(Can you comment on some of the moves you made out there today) "Well, you don't want to rough anybody up but some of them guys don't care. Early in the race I was able to remember the ones that did and I was able to pass them. I wouldn't do anything intentional, but the ones we owed, we took advantage of and the ones we didn't owe, we passed them clean. But it takes a good racecar to do that."

(Do you think about who you owe and who you don't owe while you're out there driving around?) "Oh yeah, I keep up with it. They get it back if they give it to me."

(Do you have a list somewhere in the car?) "No, I don't have a list but I have a pretty good mind."

(And you remembered who those were here at Martinsville, correct?) "There was three of them, yeah."

(Seems like you're moving from top 10 finishes to top-fives. Are you inching closer?) "We are. You just can't take anything for granted. What we're doing is nice. It feels good. And I've told my guys and they agree that what we're doing is easy. Keeping on doing it is what's hard and that's what we've got to do. That's going to keep us in the points hunt."

(Were there times today when you were out front that you thought you could stay there?) "There was. And I knew we was going to stretch it that time when them guys got by us. You can just tell by how calm your crew stays and we got a great car owner. He just sat up there and didn't say anything. He could read the race real good. When you got people that can stay calm an nobody gets antsy, it makes the drivers job a whole lot easier."

(How much did pit strategy mess you up or help you today?) "I think we had perfect pit strategy. We made that one call to stay out a long time. It bit us. We got lucky and got a caution. But we needed to know how far we could go on tires."

(How are you feeling about your progress during the first eight races of the season?) "I don't get wound up about anything. If you start doing real good, you've got to be careful on the media end of it. And that's not taking anything away from you guys. But what happens, when you really start paying attention to the glory and everything like that, then you forget the job at hand and it starts to fall backward. So we're walking a tightrope. We appreciate all the attention we're getting right now and everything, but we need to pay attention to whatever it takes to keep that car running up front all the time."

(How different was pit strategy today than what it's usually been?) "Entirely different. In the past, you would have to get tires - or at least two tires. Goodyear has such a good tire here, I mean it was worse than Talladega - except we didn't have the drafting factor. If we could have drafted here, it might have helped a little. You just couldn't pass."

(Not to play the "what-if" game, but what if you did pit earlier and change the tires. Would the outcome have been different?) "If ifs, ands, and buts were candy and nuts, Christmas would be an everyday thing."

(Are you ready for Talladega?) "Yeah. We're carrying the car that they finished second with last year and it's been sitting ever since. We tested it at Daytona and really feel pumped up. The motor shop's come up with some more power. We're a little concerned about the rule deal that they changed up and everything. But again, we just need to put a good solid finish out and don't get impatient. If you're 10th, 14th, 18th - just try to get in that top 20 every week."

(Why is everything going so well right now?) "There's no communication gap. It's just the people. I get along real good with the people. We see eye-to-eye on everything. That car was junk during Happy Hour. And Jimmy (Elledge, crew chief) asked me what I wanted to do. And I told him to do what he thought was right and it'll be fine. And we never touched it all day. We never made air pressure adjustments, wedge adjustments or anything like that."

(That must be a huge plus-factor for a driver): "I haven't had that since I had Robby Loomis (as a crew chief). Jeff Gordon's got him now and I had Robby when I was at Pettys. I got the same thing with Jimmy and I'm real proud of that."

(Have you been able to build on things with the two-car concept): "Yeah, it's helped a lot. I wish Joe (Nemechek, No. 33 car) could have had a better day. We're able to talk a lot. We meet after every practice. We meet after every Happy Hour. We meet at the motor home lot with the crew chiefs if we think we've got problems. We pull our books out. We look at everything. We really think we're handling the two-car concept really well. We're not going to quit until we see both of them running up front on a daily basis."

-Team Monte Carlo

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Jerry Nadeau , Rick Mast