Michigan Team Monte Carlo Race Notes and Quotes

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “Something fell off the car about five laps before that. I’m not sure what it was. I think I was running without a right front shock. I ran about five laps, and it started ...

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “Something fell off the car about five laps before that. I’m not sure what it was. I think I was running without a right front shock. I ran about five laps, and it started flopping around real bad on the right front. I think a shock came loose or broke or something. I knew something was wrong, but you’ve got to perform these days. We ran a little bit too long and cut a right front tire down. Goodyear’s got an excellent tire here. They really do. I’m not just saying that. Something just got against it. You make your luck. That’s the way it is. We’ve just got to button down as a race team and get it together. We’re not getting it done. I drive hard. We’ve just got to keep all the wheels in line, and we’ll be OK. We’ll overcome it.”

LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe’s Monte Carlo) “The bright side of this deal is we need to go back racing. Forty laps ago, I was hoping it was going to pour down for 40 days and 40 nights and let us get out of here. We made some pretty major wholesale changes on that last stop and we sat there and ran with the 99 car. Maybe we’ve walked across the fence and found what it was looking for. There’s only 13 cars on the lead lap. Realistically, we’re racing for 14th right now even though we’re sitting 24th. We’ve got a better race car than most of those that are in front of us -- 23rd through 14th.”

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Marlin was 12th during the rain delay. “That’s the best we’ve been all day at the end. We didn’t do nothing to it. I don’t know why it got better. The rain will change the track, but we’ll figure out which way to go when we start back. We were about as good as Jeremy at the end. If we get started back, we might have a shot at the top five. Our car has been real good on the bottom of the track. Something could happen or we could wind up in the top five if we start back. I think we’ve got a better car than a 12th-place car right now, but I don’t know how the track is going to change.”

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) NOTE: Earnhardt was seventh during the rain delay. “If we tune on it, I think we’ve got better than a seventh-place car. We’re going to keep adjusting. We’ve gotten a little better, but we’ve got to keep working and trying to make it even better.”

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The car is tight, but we’re working on it. It’s not helping us starting so far behind. We were pretty good at the start. We’re 17th now and there’s 13 cars on the lead lap. I think we can be the first car a lap down. We put on two tires on that last pit stop trying to gain some track position. A couple of guys caught us at the end because of that. Our tires have a bunch of laps on ‘em. The rain might change things. I’m not sure what it’ll do, but I don’t think it’s going to make it any tighter. It seems like the track got tighter as the race went on. I hope the rain washed a little rubber off the track. You don’t get a lot of time to work on your car here. You just don’t have time to make many adjustments. If you’re not right from the start, you don’t get a lot of chances to make it right.”

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) NOTE: Earnhardt, a seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion, moved to second in the series standings with his runner-up finish on Sunday in the Kmart 400. Although passed Ward Burton for second place, he failed to gain any ground on points leader Bobby Labonte. Earnhardt entered the race in third place, 98 points behind the leader. He’s now second, still trailing by 98 points after 14 of 34 races.

“That 18 was awful strong behind us. I was just doing all I could with it. We did real good. We’re pretty happy with it. We kept adjusting on the car and kept getting better and better. “Our day was a little tight most of the day. We kept adjusting on the car and as we adjusted, we kept getting it a little better. We sort of got equal with some of the top cars, but we still weren’t quite as good as the 18 and 20 there at the end. Then on the last restart, I felt good about my chances. I had four tires and the 88 and a couple of them other guys had two. On the restart, I just drove the car a little bit harder than I’d been driving it and raced ‘em hard. I got on the outside of Tony and Jarrett down in one and two. They beat me off the corner a little bit down into three. We did get by Jarrett. Then the 18 raced me up off this corner coming to the caution flag. We were lucky to hang on to second. I think it was a Pontiac day if the rain had stayed away. “On a two or three-lap restart, I might could have mustered up to race ‘em hard. There was a lot of guys behind him there that might have could, too. I really don’t know. They keep adjusting these cars, and I think eventually NASCAR will get ‘em close in the wind tunnel, whether they’re close on the race track or not. That’s a subject for NASCAR to discuss and I don’t think the drivers. I drive the race car as hard as I can, and I feel like I’ve got a good of a race car as anybody out there. I’ve just got to go get ‘em. I was just lucky when the caution came out. “I finished ahead of him (Bobby Labonte), but I didn’t gain any on him because he led a lap and I didn’t. We’re even.”

RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos) “I wish we could have restarted the race. I don’t know what would have happened, but I do know it would have been a hell of a race.”

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We were good the first 10 or 15 laps and then the car would fall off. I’m feeling much better. I got some fluid this morning, and that really helped. It wasn’t a great day, but it wasn’t too bad, either. We’ll take it and get ready for next week at Pocono.”

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Monte Carlo) “Well, we’ve been tight all day and it seemed that when we came in for a pit stop it made the car right, but just for a few laps. I messed up on the last pit stop and we lost a bunch of places, but we got them back before the rain came. It’s too bad they called the race because I think I could have made it a top-20 if we were able to race again. The crew did a great job today. We’ll just head to Pocono now and keep working at it.”

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We really don’t know for sure what’s wrong with the car. They did a heck of a job adjusting on the thing. They stayed after it and stayed positive. That last run before the rain delay, we came out with the sixth-place car and stayed with him for the whole run. If we could have started like that, we would have had a chance to have a good finish. We’re hoping the rain stops. Normally when you have a car like this, you just want it to be over. You’re ready to go home and try it again next week. This is one day that we can beat 10 or 12 cars out there that are ahead of us. It might bite us. We might lose 10 more spots, but I think we can gain some. If we only gain two spots, that’s that many more points. Our goal is to finish in the top 10 in the standings and win a points race. We can still do both of those. We ain’t throwing no towels in. We’re going to be OK. We’ve missed something on this race car. We struggled with it since we got here. We’re still struggling with it. The guys are doing the best they can do, and I’m doing the best I can do get out of here with the best finish we can so I can go to Pocono and try something else. This car has been awesome. We dominated Atlanta with it. We sat on the pole at California with it. We ran up front at Charlotte with it. We love this car. Aerodynamically we were ahead of some people when it first started. We’ve stayed the same and they’ve passed us up, so it’s time to make a change with it. We’re going to make some body changes with this car. If it’s worse we’ll put it back like it is now. If it’s better, then we did the right thing.”

NOTE: Skinner picked up four spots after restarting the race. “We could have picked up more than that, but we lost some ground after the restart. I wish I could have been up there racing for the win, but we’ll regroup and get ‘em next time.”

KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We just never hit the setup today. We had an aero push early in the race. The guys tried several different things and it helped a little. We’re pretty disappointed because we thought we had a pretty good car going into the race today. We’ve found something lately that’s helped us. But we lost the motor there at the very end. We’ve got holes in the oil pan and may have broken a rod.”

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We were loose when we started back from that first rain delay. We came in and tightened it up and got it a little bit better. We picked up a couple of spots from where we were, so I’m glad we got it started back. I don’t know if we could have moved up much more if it had gone the distance. We’ll take another top 10 and go to the house.”

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The car was tight all day long, but I’m not sure why because the power steering went out after the first pit stop. It’s a good thing I’ve been working out. Once the adrenaline got going, I didn’t think about it. It just got really tight after the rain, and we weren’t able to free it up.”

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) “We got a lap down and it was unfortunate. I think on the longer runs we might could have run with ‘em. I wish we could have got the lap back, but we just couldn’t quite do it. We’re trying to constantly make things better with this team. We’re trying to get the chemistry and get this team clicking again. We ran with the leaders for awhile today. We qualified well, and this is a very bright spot in the season for us. This is the best we’ve run at a speedway like this. It’s nice to be able to run again with these guys. Michigan has been a good track for us, and with a little luck, it would have been good to us again today, I believe. We’ll keep working hard and get ‘em next week at Pocono. This was very, very encouraging. No one on this team is going to hang their heads.”

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “Plain and simple, we had a wheel loose. The left rear wheel was loose. We came in and it just rained about 15 laps too late. If we had caught the breaks right..., but you can’t play into other people’s hands. You’ve got to take care of yourselves. Today, we made a mistake and we’ve got to overcome it. We’ll come back to Pocono and get ‘em. Our racing has been up and down. I’ve been comparing it to the stock market, but today we had a car that was capable of running in the top three and the way it shook out, I think he would have been right in there at the end. The Pontiacs are real strong. With the addition of the new tail, I’m sure that helped them a little bit. You look at the two Pontiac teams up front and they did it again. We’ve got a lot of areas to work in before we complain about that. We feel real good about going to Pocono. With this team and Jeff, I feel real good about going anywhere.”

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Bobby Labonte , Michael Ho