Comments after Morning Test Session on the new Dodge Charger CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge) "It's slower and the rules aren't the same, so it's hard to tell a big difference in the cars. We ran at Nashville and a little bit at Las Vegas...
Comments after Morning Test Session on the new Dodge Charger
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge)
"It's slower and the rules aren't the same, so it's hard to tell a big difference in the cars. We ran at Nashville and a little bit at Las Vegas to get an idea of where we stood with the nose of the Charger. Initially, it's better. I think the front end is a little bit better, and I think the car will perform well this year.
"I remember being a kid and watching on TV. Richard Petty dominated in the Charger. I was always such a big fan of my dad and my uncle, and that's who I really followed in IndyCar racing and off-road racing. I didn't follow stock cars as much back then, but you always heard about Richard Petty and the Dodge Charger. My next door neighbor was a huge fan. He had a Late Model he painted Petty Blue every time he went to race. I've heard of it for a long time, and it's cool they're bringing it back.
"The name Charger just sounds hungry. It sounds racy. Hopefully this will be the year of the Charger. I hope it's my year, too. We have high hopes this year, and I'm more confident than I've ever been, too, because I know more than I ever have and the team is really coming around. We've got a good team. Everybody gets along great and I think we've made some improvements on the car. I think we might have gained a little power, too. All the way around, I think we've got a better car, a better team and the whole organization is really stepping up. The new shop is starting to come around. We've got a lot of things on the upswing. We've still got a lot of growth left.
"We had some good runs last year and had some unfortunate luck at the end of the season. We had some tires blow out and stuff at times we really didn't need it. I think we've shown we can run up front. We've just got to see what we can do to make it a little more consistent.
"We've set some good goals for ourselves. We'd like to win a couple of races. It'd be great to be the team to get the first win for the new Charger. We sat on a couple of poles last year, and we'd like to do that again this season. Our big goal is to never finish outside of the top 20. That'll be tough, but if we can do that we'll be in the top 10. We're in the Budweiser Shootout for the first time, and that's going to be a lot of fun. It's a sprint race on a superspeedway. We're going to be beating and banging and getting after it. It's going to be an all-out race. It won't be one where you pace yourself.
"We're going to have six speedway cars between Sterling, Jamie and myself. If one of their backup cars is a little faster than my backup car, then that will probably be my Shootout car. We really don't have a car that's mine, Jamie's or Sterling's."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Charger)
"We're just trying to get a feel for the Charger. We're not going all out. We're trying to get a little repeatability in trying to verify what we learned is what we learned. We're not chasing anything, and that's a good place to start when you're doing testing like this because it's so sensitive. This is the first time I ever sat behind the wheel of a Charger. I can't tell any difference here, but this is probably the worst case scenario for feeling it. It's so sensitive here, but I really look forward to testing the Charger at the intermediate tracks. We'll have a good idea of what the picture is going to look like for the rest of the season after testing at Las Vegas and California.
"I kinda missed the Charger era, but I understand as a NASCAR historian what it was like. I think it's cool, and we'll just have to play around with it and see what happens. We had a real fast car in the last 10 races last year, and that's what I've got to look forward to in 2005. We didn't get the finishes we should have, but when the light bulb's on it's good. When it's pointed in the wrong direction it's bad. It's a lot harder to turn the light bulb on than it is to get it pointed in the right direction.
"One of our disappointments last year was the nine DNF's. We had the last race at Homestead and blew a tire with two laps to go. What do you say? We went through a lot of things last year, and hopefully we won't go through them this year."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Charger)
"To come out of the box like we did this morning with both cars is pretty good. I'm happy with that. Speedway racing is pretty much what you've got when you get here. Guys will pick up a little bit, but we've got two good solid racecars now. They're driving great and running good.
"My car is driving good, but we made a lot of improvements, so it's hard to tell how much is the car. I'm sure the Charger has a lot to do with it. The areas where we were weak last year, we've improved, and hopefully we've gained on the areas where we were strong. The little stuff was hurting us, and we got it fixed. Slugger Labbe (crew chief) has brought a lot to the table. It's showing already. I'm real happy. We've got the same type personalities and we've hit it off since day one. He's going to be good with all the guys, and he's working well with Kenny Francis.
"Our goal is to get back in the top 10 for those final 10 races and go for the championship. I wish they would put the top 10 in the own points deal where they race each other and don't get 38th place points if you fall out of a race. Other than that, I think things worked great last season. It was fun to be part of it, and we just hope we can be a bigger part of it this year."