MB2/MBV Drivers Joe Nemechek, No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Scott Riggs, No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet Monte Carlo Paced the Field in the First Two Days of the Session TELL US ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS THIS WEEK AT TESTING SCOTT ...
MB2/MBV Drivers Joe Nemechek, No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Scott Riggs, No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet Monte Carlo Paced the Field in the First Two Days of the Session
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS THIS WEEK AT TESTING
"I've said it before but it seems that our team just seems to keep improving when we have to work on our cars or refurbish one after a race. When they come back together they're even better. These new cars that we built for this year all seem like with the rule changes might have hindered some other teams but didn't hurt us. We were maybe searching in some of the spots that they were but I'm glad it all works out the way the rules are the way the cars seem to be driving and running pretty fast. It's all back to the guys at the shop building good race cars and the motors under the hood from Hendrick."
"I think it's going to be a great Speedweeks, both for the Army team and Scott's Valvoline team. We've been very competitive at all of the restrictor plate tracks last year. Every one, I think, was a Top 10 finish. I think we had one problem where we lost a radiator and one with an engine. Otherwise, I think we were in the Top 8 every time. That's good. We were right up to the front qualifying with both cars. That says a lot about the team. When we get to these tracks, it's not so much about the driver until you get in the draft. So much is about the equipment and the guys working on the cars are doing that. It makes it easy for us to go out and ride around. You know, I think anybody in here could go out AND DO IT. I don't know if you'd want to do it when we go out in a 40-car pack. In qualifying trim it's a pretty simple deal. This week the hardest thing is just getting out of one car and getting in the other. But when we get down here for Speedweeks, we've got a race for the 150s. Hopefully we'll have a shot at the pole when we come back. Sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500 is a pretty cool feat. You never know if it's going to happen. You don't know until you get through all your practice sessions and see what everybody brings back."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW INFIELD?
"It's definitely different. It's definitely cool and I think it's long overdue. This is the Super Bowl of where we perform. I think our garages were outdated in the past. Now we have a modern garage facility. I haven't got to see everything. I know there is some beachfront property on the backstretch. There are a lot of cool things that have gone on. Making it more fan-friendly is good. I know we had a couple of suggestions for traffic flow for the race cars because there are too many corners going through the garages, but overall I think it's a great and huge improvement to the facility."
TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIPS THAT TEAMS HAVE BETWEEN TEAMMATES?
"Actually I don't like Scott (laughs). We're good friends. It's interesting because when Scott was getting ready to take this deal last year I told him he didn't know what he was getting himself into. And he got a taste of it last year and he stepped up. It's hard. It's very hard. All the rule changes that we went through last year really changed how the race cars drove. Their team definitely stepped up. Scott stepped up from mid-year on and that was a good thing. This year is going to be even better. The key is that we have to communicate but our teams have to communicate. The crew chiefs have to get along. The chemistry inside the shop has to be good. I think right we've got one of the best situations I've ever been in. As far as all the people we have. We're putting more people on and we're stepping up our engineering staff. We're stepping up a lot of things there to make things better. Everybody likes each other and gets along and we're all friends. That's going to be a key part of how we run this year."
"I haven't been in many situations -of course, I haven't been around that long-being in this situation really makes me feel good. It's somebody that I respect and trust and race hard against. We really leaned on the 01 team a lot last year, especially in the beginning of the season. I could pretty much come to Joe and ask him anything and he would shoot me straight, regardless of how it sounded.
"He would tell me what the truth was no matter what. Having someone like that you can lean in, with experience, runs up front and wins races and in your stable was vital for us a team trying to come together. The better we continue to grow in the 10 team, hopefully the more equal our teams will be where we don't have to lean off the 01 so much. This year hopefully will be a lot more equal ground where hopefully we're learning from each other making each other faster.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW WEEKEND FORMAT AND THE LACK OF HAPPY HOUR?
"It's going to be odd coming in cold turkey one day and putting down a qualifying lap. But as far as changing it around where you're qualifying your race setup, the entire weekend was always split up into two race cars-you had two completely different race cars from qualifying to race package. That's taken a big element out. The way they're doing the points with the top 35 in the field is far.
I think they did a good job there. Ryan might not have eight poles this year but it's probably going to make a distinction of who has good race cars, not who has good qualifying cars. I think it will make a better."
"Happy hour, you know, you'll have to do it all beforehand. That's just part of the situation. Last year they did that a few times in the Busch garage. I was a part of it at Charlotte. Strictly worked on race trim and heck, I didn't even put any tape on my car. I think we qualified sixth. I think the tough thing for a lot of teams is getting your cars to qualify well in race trim. But then, how do you make them go fast for two laps without spinning out? That's going to be the key. Depending on what NASCAR allows you to do to the cars-from how much wedge they allow you to put in what they allow you to do-that will determine how you go. If they don't allow you to do anything, it will be very interesting. As far as from cost, it's a good thing. It's probably going to save money. In the Busch garage I think that's a very good thing because it will allow the owners to save money. I know that because I pay the bills. I know what you spend on different things just to make them go fast for qualifying. Overall it's probably a good move."
DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU UNLOADED THE CARS THAT YOU'D BE SO FAST?
"No, I didn't expect anything less. I figured we should go to the top of the charts. All the cars are basically built like the car I sat on the pole at in Talladega. They've even improved them from there. We should be quick. Having HMS motors in our car is a good thing. I don't think these are the latest and greatest engines-they are test engines. I'm looking forward to coming back down here. I think we're going to step it up another notch."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE FASTEST?
"It just gives everyone confidence coming back. You really don't know where everyone stands until you get back here. Everybody goes through the room of doom and then comes back on the other side and puts down a lap. We were expected to run well. I think we would have been disappointed if we weren't close to the front if not in the front. It's a good shot in the arm for the team, confidence-wise. It makes the guys feel good about all the work they've done in the off-season. What the wind tunnel says is one thing but when you put down a good lap and everyone else is here with you at the same time, it makes them justified for the hard work they put in."
Scott pretty much said it. I think it's good for the team. For me it doesn't matter very much. I've been down here before and struggled a little bit. You can make two quick little changes on your car and go really fast. It just depends on how much you want to kid yourself, how much you want to do, how much you want to learn. We try to stay as straight as we can because that's how you have to be when you come back. There's no sense cheating yourself why you're here-learn on it and learn on it right. It's just like taking the cars through the templates. I know the inspectors have been making a list about what everyone has to fix on the cars. It's an open test session. You come down here and learn as much as you can learn. It's just one of those things.
ON THE UPCOMING VEGAS AND CALIFORNIA TESTS
"I know that as a team we're looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a great test for the new aero package and I think the most positive thing about going there is that NASCAR has given us a good deal in it counting as just one test session. That draws everyone there. Hopefully that will get the race track closer to race conditions than ever before. Having so many cars on the track at one time will change the perspective and you're not going to have that much of a guessing game of what the track is going to do when the rubber gets down. Hopefully we'll have enough cars where it will bring that up to par to where race conditions normally are. As a driver, I think that is something I look forward to. Then you won't say, 'well, we were running well and we ran fast but there were only four cars there and who knows what the track conditions will be like when you come back.' When you leave there, you are going to know where you stand. You're going to know what you need to do. Hopefully you'll know what your car feels like in a pack, hopefully there will be enough guys that feel comfortable enough that can run side-by-side and in a pack of some sort. Everyone is looking forward to that. Down here it's all about getting your car slick and having good horsepower under the hood and down there it's all about how it feels and the driver has an influence of how the car is. Making the driver comfortable is being a big key at both tracks."
"We're going to let all the drivers with two years or less to do that-to go out and run in a pack."
"All right, I'm stupid enough, I mean, that sounds interesting...(laughs)"
"It's going to be interesting. Are we going to Vegas first? So, we'll be broke when we go to California! No one knows what to expect. We did a Goodyear test for them last year, trying to figure out some new tire combinations trying to add some grip. It's just one of those things. We've got to figure it out.
"With so many cars there, it's going to be a really good thing. I know they've taken a lot of downforce off the car so it will be interesting to see how it all works. We don't know how it all works. Goodyear keeps changing the tire and making it better and better so that's a good thing. Now we got to figure out how to get it hooked up to the race track for 20 laps and then 30 laps and then a full fuel run. It should be interesting."