DAVE BLANEY, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: ON THE NEW INFIELD "It sure is nice in here. I like the way it's laid out. It looks like traffic is tough going in and out. I just don't know where they're going running into each ...
DAVE BLANEY, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ON THE NEW INFIELD
"It sure is nice in here. I like the way it's laid out. It looks like traffic is tough going in and out. I just don't know where they're going running into each other."
ON THE TEST
"I can't say as we've learned a whole lot today - a little bit. We've got lists of little things to throw at it. Some have been a little better and some a little worse - typical Daytona testing. We are going to have one car go out in the draft this afternoon and see what we can learn. We've got some radiators to try and oil coolers and things like that for the draft. Typical stuff."
WHAT KIND OF ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU MAKE FROM YESTERDAY TO TODAY?
Nothing really. The one car that we're the most happy with, we've been playing with some of the air induction stuff, a little bit of suspension, and just little tiny things. We haven't made big adjustments. We've kind of come with a plan and followed through and just gathered all the information we can, that's the main thing. We aren't as fast as we'd like to be. We'd be a little happier if we were about three-tenths better, but is that going to matter come Daytona 500 time? I don't know. We'll be fine."
ON HIS HOMECOMING
It's really good to have Philippe (Lopez, crew chief) and it's great to be with Jack Daniels and RCR. What a group. To be in the middle of RCR, our team feels good. To have Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton and those guys to work with is a big thing for me. They've just got so many people and resources over there. Jack Daniels is excited coming in for their first year and I'm excited to be with them and we're just looking forward to getting started."
ON SPEED AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE UPCOMING TESTS IN CALIFORNIA AND LAS VEGAS?
Well, I don't think you can come down here and worried about speed too much. That equates to a good qualifying lap here and a lot of times that doesn't mean a whole lot. Traditionally the RCR cars have drafted great here. They always go to the front in the race. So we aren't so much worried about flat-out speed for qualifying. They're just going to stick with their plan like they always have.
"But yeah, California and Las Vegas are important tests for everybody - getting with the new spoilers and the new tires. That'll be a good case to just show where you're at compared to everybody else and get a feel for this new stuff they've got going and get some cars built the way you think is going to work."
TALK ABOUT NEW INFIELD AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FANS - THEY'RE A LITTLE CLOSER NOW
I haven't seen everything here. I've just been stuck in the garages. I haven't even seen the tunnel and everything down there. But from what I see, it's great. I was talking about this last night. I've owned a dirt track now for two or three years and it teaches you real quick that anything you can do for the fans comes back to you big time. They really do appreciate things like that. It gives them more access to the sport and more access to the people. Will the drivers and crews like having another set of eyes from every direction on them now? Maybe not, but they'll get used to it. It's just part of our sport nowadays."
TALK ABOUT TRADITION AND A NEW TEAM. WHAT'S THAT LIKE?
Well, it is different. And you don't know how different until you get there and get in the middle of it. Some of the teams I've been with haven't had as much confidence there, but there's a lot of confidence at RCR from Richard on down. They expect to run well. They expect to win races. Hey that's what it's all about. That's a good thing to be in the middle of."
WHAT DOES JEFF BURTON BRING TO THE CHILDRESS TEAM?
I do agree with Jeff on all of us being highly motivated. I know I am. I haven't had much success at the Cup level at all and that's tough to deal with when you come from winning a lot. But a lot of guys go through that when they get to this level. I for sure am motivated. This is my best chance to run well and win races. And Jeff's got to feel the same way. He's come off a couple of down years for him and I'm sure he's looking to get back on top and win races. And that was probably a down year for Kevin too if you look at his prior years. I'm sure everybody's got something to prove. Richard feels the same way. That's a good mindset to have.
"And having Jeff? Man, he's just so professional. He's been through everything. He's won races here and contended for point titles. What a great guy to have on your team and to be able to go to and share information with. He brings a lot - not only driving, but in every area."
IS THERE ANY PRESSURE ON YOU TO GET BACK TO VICTORY LANE?
Well, I think there are always expectations to win races at RCR. And yeah, everybody there knows it was a down year last year and knows I think some of the areas we needed to improve on and they've worked hard at those areas. It's not like they're stabbing in the dark here. They know where to go. And they know where to work. I expect them to be on top again soon."
ON THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM
Everybody had mixed emotions until we went through it one time and saw how it worked. I've got to believe that 95 percent of the guys in the garage agreed it was good as far as creating excitement for the sport. Yeah, it worked against a few guys and for a few guys that maybe wouldn't have come out that way had it been the old system. Whatever game NASCAR puts out there, that's what you've got to try to win at that game and figure out how. It is a good system. Excitement-wise, it makes for a pressure-cooker for the race teams, but that's okay."
IN A NUTSHELL, DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE PACKING IT IN?
Did it cross my mind to maybe go back and run World of Outlaws Sprint Cars? Yeah, it crossed my mind. But I didn't really want to do that. And I know deep down that I can get the job done in one of these cars. If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't do it. I've had lots of support from other drivers and team owners. I'd have felt really bad if I wouldn't have gotten a good shot to succeed here and I feel like I have that shot now. So we'll let her rip and see what happens."
WILL JACK DANIELS MERCHANDISE BE POPULAR?
I think so. I think that's a huge and popular brand and logo. It's hard to gauge right now. We've had a lot of fans so far be excited about it and want to get stuff, but you never know until you get out here and see how popular it is. The stuff I've seen so far looks great - the merchandise I've seen - the cars, the shirts, and all the apparel. It always helps to run well. If we get that thing up front beating around with that Bud car and that Miller car, it'll sell a lot of stuff."
ON THE NEED FOR SPEED
I don't know. I've just been that way my whole life. I grew up around it. My father raced as I grew up and we always had racing in my family. But we had other sports too. We played basketball and my brother and I were very competitive growing up whether it was racing or basketball or whatever. So I don't know. You like the competitive side but you like the challenge of winning. Once you get a little bit of that winning side, it really fuels you to keep going and keep climbing and that's what kind of happened during my Sprint Car career. It's maybe easy to give up when you're not doing well. But once you get winning, it's easy to be hungrier and hungrier for more.
CAN YOU USE YOUR SPONSOR'S PRODUCT?
Can I? Yes. Do I? Seldom. But I do. I'm not much of a drinker in the first place so it's a seldom thing for me. But having a company like that with the history they've had, it's an honor to be with them the first year in NASCAR."
WHAT MAKES DAYTONA SPECIAL FOR YOU?
Well, it's just the history you've seen here. It's just that name, the Daytona 500, is the big thing everybody strives for. It doesn't matter what it pays of when they ran it - first race, last race, or middle of the year - it wouldn't matter. It would be the biggest race of the year. It's more where this sport started and was born and grew up here. I don't know what it is. It's just something about this race track. When you win one here, you've earned it. It's just special in a lot of ways."
DID YOU HEAR ANY STORIES WHEN YOU FIRST SHOWED UP HERE AT DAYTONA?
Not really. I don't really remember coming here for the first time and racing and it being a huge deal. It was more of big deal the first time I came here, period. I was probably about 18 or 19 years old and was racing Sprint Cars in this state somewhere and I came over and sat in Turn 4 and watched the 125's. I remember seeing A.J. Foyt win a 125 and thought that was the coolest thing. It might have even been in a year when Yarborough turned over in qualifying. I don't remember. But man when I saw that place it was like, 'Wow, I've got to get out of Ohio more.'"
DOES THE HISTORY AND THE TRADITION OF CHILDRESS AND THEIR MUSEUM MOTIVATE YOU WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH IT?
"It does motivate you. It makes you feel proud to be a part of that organization and to work there. It gives you more and more respect for what Richard has done in this sport and what he and Dale Earnhardt accomplished. It's just amazing. It just gives you more and more respect for him and what he's done and what he's seen. He's on top of it. He's still in this thing day to day on top of every little thing at that place. He's a pretty buttoned-up guy - a pretty awesome guy to work for and to just learn from."
DESCRIBE RUSTY WALLACE AS A PERSON
"Well, I probably don't know him well enough to describe him as a person. Obviously, he's maybe the most outgoing guy in the garage area. As a race car driver, same thing. I have a ton of respect for what he's done over the years from his short track days, ASA days, and all the way. He's been a winner no matter what he's gotten in to. He's been competitive every year and won for how many years in a row. A guy like that, you've got to respect what he's done. It looks to me like he's no different than he was 10 years ago. To me, he still gets the job done and runs hard and the competition nowadays is just so tough it's made it tougher to get those chances to win."