Monte Carlo Texas race notes

Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo (involved in a 4-car crash on lap 4): "I was real tight and I had the wheels cut. And the guy behind me was right on me and it just took the back end out from underneath of it. It wasn't...

Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo (involved in a 4-car crash on lap 4): "I was real tight and I had the wheels cut. And the guy behind me was right on me and it just took the back end out from underneath of it. It wasn't anybody's fault but my own. I just lost it there on (turn) four. We're going to try to get it (the car) fixed up and ride around for everyone can see our NAPA Chevrolet. I've got to do a commercial since everything else is messed up."

Joe Nemechek, No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo (crashed on lap 204): "We were just minding our own business there. The No. 19 car (Casey Atwood), he was in front of me, and we caught the No. 92 (Stacy Compton) and I guess he got loose up underneath of him. When he got loose, he just kind of took me right up into the wall. It's a shame for this whole Oakwood Homes Chevy team. We just can't seem to get a break. We were going to have a decent finish - hopefully a top ten finish - but we just need a little luck."

Steve Park, No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 2nd): "The back of that No. 88 car is getting pretty familiar and I'm not really liking it too much. The only consolation to anything is to look where we were a year ago when we weren't even contending for a win. I think just the competitive side of me is not happy with finishing second, but when a day or two goes by you look back and look at the points and everything that really mean a lot and you think maybe second isn't that bad after all. But we're definitely getting tired of finishing second to that 88 car. (Johnny Benson added, "Especially as bad as his car's been lately. He's really been crying about it.") Yeah, you're right. Good point, Johnny. Those Fords have absolutely no aerodynamic downforce."

On the tires:

"We had the opportunity to test here in January. Obviously the conditions weren't the same, but Goodyear brought us a whole slew of tires here to try to slow the cars down and do what they've been doing all year long to try to mandate a handful of tires for a lot of these race tracks that we go to. I think they've done a fantastic job. A lot of people are struggling with these tires, but the tires just last and last and last. For us, it seems to be working. It seems to fit my style and Paul's (Andrews, crew chief) style. To be able to come out here and test and decide what tires we should come back here really wasn't our decision. It was Goodyear's decision. We were just as surprised as everybody else when we got here. I just think our team is able to adapt fairly quickly to changing conditions and when they change the tires and I think that's what's making us fairly strong right now."

Do aerodynamics play a big role at this track?:

"Oh without a doubt. We're running 190 mph around here so aero plays a big role. My car was just a little aero tight all day long in traffic, but when I could get out front man I could take off. My car was perfect. You don't want to adjust on it to get it too loose so that when you get out front, you can't drive it. So we were kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to keep the car where it was fairly decent in traffic and then real fast when we got out front. We just didn't get out front during the late stages of the race in order to capitalize on that."

Talk about that pit stop and your fuel & tire decisions:

"That wasn't by design. We thought we could make it the rest of the way on fuel and then after how much gas the car took we knew that we couldn't. So we knew we were going to have to pit again. So, a little bit of a miscue, but we were able to rally back from it and it shows you how strong this Pennzoil team is. By in large, it was a good day. But we're getting tired of finishing second."

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 5th): "We gambled, took two tires and it was a good try. But I think if we could have been out front on that restart, we could have had him. (Johnny) Benson really held me up and my car was so tight I just couldn't get by him. But a great effort. Texas has not been one of our good tracks. So to come out of here with a top five is like a win to this team. They're just on a roll. They're just doing great things and having great pit stops. I can't say enough about the guys on this Dupont Chevrolet team."

Are you feeling pretty steady in the points right now?

"Well, unfortunately Dale Jarrett got the points on us today. But we kept him in check. We were right there battling with him all day. It's going to be a heck of a championship battle, and we're just glad to be in it right now."

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 8th): "We thought about a two-tire stop, but it just didn't pan out for us. We didn't have a great set of tires. You know, they're a little different here and there. They were able to get through the traffic better than we were. I was just too tight. We had a really good car before that. But we're happy for Goodyear and what they're doing this year. And I had a great time today. I hope we can come back here and do that every time. The crowd is just awesome. You come out here and these people are real excited - especially after the success we've had here. It's a great place to come. I always have a good time here, always.

"I'm just happy we didn't tear a fender off or anything. When you get a good car like that, it's a lot of fun to just sit there and ride and be patient and practice on patience and things like that. That's what I was doing most of the day. I'd get out there and get a big lead and when you get out there that far ahead, it's hard to stay in rhythm because your mind wanders and stuff. Then I'd lose ground. They'd come catch me and pass me and I'd get behind them and we'd run okay. The best part was when me and Steve ran together on a full tire run. That was pretty exciting, man, to see them two cars up there running good."

How do you focus after being in the lead and then having a slow pit stop?

"Yeah, you come out and you say, 'That's how it is'. There ain't much you can do about it. I knew everybody was frustrated. I was too. We were sitting there with an opportunity to win the race and then we weren't. We lost two or three spots on pit road and then our tires weren't that good. And coming off pit road that far back, the odds are against you compared to where we were two minutes before that. There wasn't much I could do about it. I drove it as hard as I could, I moved it around, I couldn't get nothing to happen.

Any thoughts about moving to Texas with all the success you've had here?

"I might get me a condo. What do you think about that?"

Kevin Lepage, No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo (finished 11th) "Oh, I'm telling you. David Ifft (crew chief) and Larry McClure (team owner) and the whole team did a super job from the time we unloaded that Kodak Chevy on Friday. The car was ill handling. We made a bunch of changes for qualifying and got it in the show. The car was ill handling yesterday during Happy Hour. I learned something from the Busch car we brought over. David and all the guys worked while I was in the Busch car. They were listening to me on the radio. They were listening to what I was saying the car was doing and they worked real hard last night and this morning. We even changed the car just before the race started. To come home with an 11th place finish, my hat's off to these guys. Just before I got out of the car, Larry McClure told me I could drive it next week in Martinsville."

-GM Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Michael Waltrip , Steve Park , Joe Nemechek , Kevin Lepage , Stacy Compton , Johnny Benson