Michigan Team Monte Carlo Fricay notes

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The car was real comfortable. We found something late in practice that really hooked the car up. We went through a bunch of shocks and made some decisions. It’s good. That was...

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The car was real comfortable. We found something late in practice that really hooked the car up. We went through a bunch of shocks and made some decisions. It’s good. That was a good lap. I’m happy. We’ve got a couple of new crew members, and that’s the way to break ‘em in. We didn’t run well here in the Cup race last year or earlier this year, but we hope to turn that around. I’m happy we’re back up front in qualifying. Now maybe we’ll get back up front in the race. I didn’t run tight around the bottom off the corner like I wanted to. I had to follow the car off the corner, and that slowed us down a little. The track was 98 degrees when we made our lap in practice. It was 112 in qualifying. That makes a big difference. I think that’s probably where it felt different, but that was as good as the car was going to be. We worked good together today. The team was upbeat, and we made a bunch of changes on that Chevrolet to get it to run like that. We were slipping and sliding a little bit, but we dialed it in and got a good lap. I’m pretty happy about it. We struggled in qualifying the past three months, and we’re working to get back where we need to be. I was glad to get away from the flat tracks and get on some banking. We still haven’t quite figured out our flat track program. We made some gains at Indy, but it’s been difficult for us because we were so lost for so long at Pocono and places like that. We had a string of races where we were just terrible, and we didn’t know what was wrong. Maybe something was wrong with the team, but it’s just a matter of setups -- good and bad. It’s great to be back at Michigan. We qualified eighth here last time, and I expected to run good here today. We’ve upped it a notch, so I think we’re pretty happy with that.”

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) “We couldn’t get a handle on it in practice. I just ran the same thing I ran here before. We didn’t pick up any. We tried a higher gear, and we tried some different springs. We just didn’t pick up. We should have run faster than this. We needed four more tenths. I don’t know if I got on top of it quick enough or what. The guys worked hard and made some changes. We fought a little bit of a miss problem at first. That might have got us behind, but that was the best we could do.”

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “That was better than we’d been in practice all day. We went when the sun was shining nice and bright. The track temperature was up a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad. This is one of our best cars. We thought we could run a little better than that, but we were just off a little bit. They’re putting up some pretty stout times, but the car is running good. We’re looking forward to a really good race.”

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The lap was pretty good. That’s about as fast as we ran in practice, but we thought with a tuneup we’d be a little faster. The car has been pretty consistent all day long. It’s a good race car. We backed up what we did in practice, and that’s always good. I just hope that’ll be good enough to make the first round so we can go to work and get ready for the race on Sunday. I’m pretty happy with that lap. We’ll work hard now and try to get that second win. That first one sure felt good last week.”

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We had real good corner speeds in three and four, but it slipped a little bit in one and two. That didn’t mess us up too bad. We had pretty good speed. We’ll just work on what we’ve got and go racing.”

TED MUSGRAVE (No. 01 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We were loose everywhere. It was loose in all four corners. It wasn’t a good lap for us. We did better in practice, but we’ll work on it and probably go again tomorrow.”

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “A race car driver is never happy if he’s not on the pole. I drove it really hard and got all I could out of it. I think it’s going to be a real good race car for Sunday.”

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) “The car got real tight on me, and it hadn’t done that all day. It’s hard to guess when that sun comes out like that, but the car is running good. We’ll be real happy with it for the weekend. Jerry (teammate Nadeau) is a heck of a wheel. He’s been doing a great job. I wanted him to get the pole, but that’s a pretty sporty lap.”

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “That wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be. In practice, the track conditions were a lot better. It was full sun when we went out. We knew the temperatures were a lot hotter. We knew the car was going to move around a lot more, and it did. The guys did a good job. Anything in the top 10 here at Michigan is a good run. This is an excellent car. It’s smooth, and it’s not scared to drive at all. I think we’re going to have a good run on Sunday. This is a wide open track, and you can pass anywhere you want. There’s not much attrition here, and that’s good. We picked up a little bit in qualifying, so we’re pretty pleased with that. This team has been awesome the past six races. I feel like we’re due to have a good finish, maybe a win. I’m sure pit strategy is going to mean a lot Sunday. We’ll just try to keep our nose clean all day and stay up front. We we can do that, we’ll have a chance to win at the end. I feel great. This is our Indy car, and this place isn’t as tough as Indy. You can pass a lot more here in the turns, so I feel pretty good. Maybe we’ll get our first win.”

RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “That’s all I had. We got through one and two really well. I was slipping and sliding through three and four, but we made it. This has been a good track for us, but we made so much progress today it was incredible. It’s kind of fun. I’d rather do it the easy way, but we made a ton of progress from when we first unloaded.”

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “That was about all the Lowe’s Chevy had today. If I had three more tries, I don’t think we could have done any better. I’m not sure what happened with the smoke. I just kept my foot in it. That should hold up for a good start, and we’ll race ‘em from there.”

KERRY EARNHARDT (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The car was too tight. It wouldn’t turn in the corners. I had to drift up to the walls and just ride it out. All in all, the morning practice we were real good. To come back and qualify like that, it kind of brings you down a little bit. The sun’s out and the track is a little hotter and the car just doesn’t stick like it did in practice. It’s a little different with the tires. The Goodyears wiggle a little in the corners, and I’ve had to try to get used to all of that. We’ll have to go again in second round. I wanted to qualify in first round. That brings you down so much. We didn’t get close. We’ll just have to come back tomorrow and try it again.”

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We just worked on getting the attitude of the car to where I think it needed to be to cut through the air the best on the straightaway without giving away downforce and handling in the corner. The track was 98 degrees in practice and about 113 or 118 when we went out to qualify. I thought that was going to hurt us a little bit, but we actually went quicker. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the hard work and the team and myself putting our heads together this afternoon just making the adjustments we did. You’ve got a short amount of time, especially in a rain delay situation like we had to find speed out of a car once it’s rolled out of the trailer. Some teams improve and some teams don’t. We were lucky today that we made some correct changes and went in the right direction. “We were affected by it last week. That’s the first time I’ve ever wrecked two cars in a weekend, even in the Busch Series. It was kind of difficult when we went home not to beat yourself up all weekend. You wonder what you could have done, but those were mechanical failures and track conditions that caused some of the problems we had last week. That doesn’t dismiss the last month and a half or two months, either. We struggled at Pocono in both races, and we didn’t do that well here. To out qualify the field by the margin we did really puts a lot of confidence in the guys. We changed some personnel. When you change personnel, I’m kind of new in the business, as far as working with people and I tend to get pretty close to every guy on the team. So, when a person leaves it’s kind of difficult to understand what the motivations are and what’s going on. Without trying to sound or put this person down, we had some personnel changes and we brought in another guy. Things are working out. It’s nobody’s fault, but sometimes I guess that’s just the way it goes. A lot of these teams are revolving doors. We don’t want to be that way. We want to continue to maintain loyalty and things we consider very valuable. When you show your mechanic or whoever it may be on the car loyalty and admiration and he gives it in return to the next guy and the next guy and the next guy, then the whole team gets it and everybody enjoys going to work every day. That’s probably what’s held us all together over the past month and a half because it’s sucked. I swear it has. “This is really different than Charlotte shock wise, spring combination is way different, but it’s fast. We came with a spring package that we felt comfortable with. We stayed stubborn about changing any springs and we just worked on shocks. I kept telling them I needed a little here and a little there. I needed a little here to get the attitude of the car where I wanted it to be for optimum downforce on the front and back of the car yet not gain too much drag down the straightaway.”

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “It’s almost like a superspeedway if you really look at it. The corners are flat and smooth and handling is not as big of an issue as it is at Texas or Charlotte. You can run rebound in your shocks similar to what you can at Daytona and Talladega and still maintain some corner speeds. If you can do that you’ve hit on something, and that’s what we did today. “As far as my father, when he does poorly, it’s best not to get anywhere near him. As far as Kerry, he came up in the trailer and we talked a little bit. I found some things out today that improved my lap times and improved my comfort level. I filled him in on some of those things. It’s kind of difficult to explain sometimes some of the things you learn on the race track and some of the things you do on the race track even to your brother. We’ll probably see what Kerry’s position is tomorrow, whether he needs to requalify or whatever. I’m going to do whatever I can with him in power to improve his situation, but yeah, we did talk a little bit. “We’ve been to a lot of flat tracks the last two months and we just haven’t got a handle on the flat tracks. We made some gains and we saw some returns on those gains at Indy in our qualifying effort. The way we ran in that race in the first 50 laps we adjusted some air pressure after the second pit stop and got behind and never really got the car back. The clouds came and the car got tighter and tighter. At the beginning of that race, we were one of the better cars, one of the top five cars I felt like and had good staying power during the long runs. I felt like it just took us that long. From the time we left here and went to Pocono, Loudon, back to Pocono again and wherever the heck else we went that was flat, we just had trouble. We couldn’t get the car to turn. That was our problem. We couldn’t get the car to turn around the corner. Guys are getting on the gas quicker than I was and beating us down the straightaways. I couldn’t drive in the corner hard because of the push in the center. We worked on that and worked on that at the test we had at Indy and improved on it. We still ain’t nowhere near where we want to be. I feel like when we go back to Charlotte, the confidence level there is going to be extremely high after how well we did in The Winston. Coming here and qualifying like this really improves your confidence when you go to tracks that are similar to this like California. We don’t have that confidence level at flat tracks, and we’ve still got a lot to learn there. We need to do a lot of testing, which ain’t a lot of fun, but we probably will. “The increase in speed probably has a lot to do with the tire that Goodyear has brought this year. The new generation tire or whatever they call it. It’s great at some places. At other places, it’s not that much fun to drive on. It’s just like the restrictor plate race tracks the past three or four or five years. In 1990 when dad was running Daytona and blew the tire on the last lap, they weren’t running tie down shocks then. They drove the same shocks they probably drove at Charlotte. Over the years, guys started figuring and thinking and wind tunnel testing and they found tricks and things that we’re doing today that tie these cars down, getting them out of the wind, finding ways to build the bodies to create downforce and take away drag at the same time. That’s also improving the speed. We’re also making gains on motors. The qualifier we had at Charlotte and got the pole there to the qualifier we had here, I’d say is 14 horsepower difference, so we’ve gained 14 horsepower in that short amount of time. Think about five years how much horsepower we’re going to find. They’re improving every week and speeds are getting higher and higher. I don’t necessarily mind it. I like restrictor plate racing. That’s my favorite kind of racing. Some guys don’t enjoy it. Maybe as I get older, I’ll probably enjoy it less. The argument is when you get around other cars, how that other car that’s next to you affects your car aero wise and wind wise. It takes air off your spoiler, and you’re having to share downforce with the air you’re getting off the other car. Race cars have drove like that for years. We’ve seen guys get wind took off their spoilers for 20 years. It’s always been the same, but the more you suck a car down to the ground with shocks, the more that opportunity arises during the race. You just have to be smart and know what you’re doing and know who you’re racing against and know whether he’s going to crowd you or not. You learn what drivers do and what drivers don’t. You put yourself in position to win or lose.”

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Ho