ROBBIE LOOMIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: "I think overall, Jeff (Gordon) isn't feeling a whole lot of difference in the tires. They still fall off a lot as usual at Darlington like they always have. After about 30 laps,...
ROBBIE LOOMIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I think overall, Jeff (Gordon) isn't feeling a whole lot of difference in the tires. They still fall off a lot as usual at Darlington like they always have. After about 30 laps, you just hang on until you pit. We're happy with the car. Today, we've just been trying some different things with the handling. We've tried to get the balance in both corners to see if we can stick on the bottom a little bit longer. The thing is, the more you're on the bottom, the more it abuses the tires. At this track, you've got to have a car that handles. And I love that."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We've got a good car. We've got a good starting position. Things went well today I try to just focus so much on our program and the balance of our race car instead of looking too much around us at the times of other cars and things like that. But we're close and we're obviously working to get a little bit better."
(WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY 'BALANCE' WHEN THE TIRES ARE WEARING OUT SO QUICKLY?) "Even when the tires wear out, you want good balance. You don't want the car to slide really bad and yet you don't want the car to be really loose. You want it to be balanced front-to-rear as best as possible. This is one of those tracks where that's very hard to find because you're usually sliding the front end going into the corner and the back end coming off the corner and you'll have both conditions. So it's a pretty tricky place to get that balance. We never stop working on it until the last lap of the race tomorrow."
(WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE TIRE WEAR SO FAR?) "I don't really feel much difference in the tires, which is good. I didn't want to feel much difference. I feel like this place already wears the tires enough as it is. So, I'm really not feeling much of a difference."
(SO YOU'RE LOOKING FOR BASICALLY THE SAME TYPE OF RACE THAT WE SAW HERE LAST YEAR?) "Absolutely."
(IN A SHORT FIELD SITUATION, ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT SOME OF THE GUYS IN THE BACK OF THE PACK BEING IN THE WAY?) "I don't even think about that. I think about who I've got to beat to win the race. Sometimes you get in situations and you come on the radio and ask what some guy is doing and tell him to pick a lane or something like that, but that's certainly not our focus."
(WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON THE WEEK OFF BEFORE GOING TO LAS VEGAS?) "I'll probably just go spend some time on my boat. Any time I've got to spend on the boat I want to take advantage of it. We have a test for a day in Atlanta on Wednesday. And we've got to be out on the west coast early because of the IMAX premiere. So there's not a whole lot of time that we have but it's four or five days and I'm looking forward to being on the boat."
(HOW DOES A WEEK OFF EARLY IN THE SEASON AFFECT YOUR PROGRAM?) "I love it. After such a long two weeks in Daytona that it's nice to get a weekend off early in the season. I wish they were spread out where we had it now and then in the middle of the season and then toward the end of the season. It's in that last stretch that you don't have one when you wish we did."
(ON THE DODGES BEING STRONG IN QUALIFYING) "I didn't really run around them today. You can't talk about tires; you can't talk about much other than downforce and horsepower. That's what worked yesterday, but that's not necessarily what works on race day here. So we kind of separate the two days. I have no idea who was good and who wasn't. I just really worked on our car and our balance."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"Our car is really strong. In the first practice session, we started out with last year's set-up and it didn't really work for us. It was close - a good starting point. But we made some changes and the car is driving really good. It's very predictable. In looking at the sheets, I think the No. 9 (Kasey Kahne) has the strongest car right now. The No. 2 (Rusty Wallace) is really good. But the way my car is driving, I know I've got some reserves if I need it.
(ON THE TRACK) "This has been the hardest track for me to get used to. I finished second here in the fall of last year. So I've got a good impression of it in race form. In Qualifying, we're still terrible. We haven't fixed that part. Hopefully we'll get that sorted out before too much time goes by. There is a certain mindset that you have to have on this track during the race. What I learned in last year's fall event racing with Bill Elliott and Jeremy Mayfield and some of the veterans that know the pace of the track, I feel like I've learned a lot. There are a lot of things I'll be able to apply to Sunday's race to help me out. I know Kasey Kahne has a great car and there has got to be a pace that he'd got to learn for a long event here. He's doing a great job and I'd say he probably has the fastest car right now. But it's going to be up to him to understand the pace and how to conserve his equipment for the whole run. But the Lowe's Monte Carlo is right on his heels and I feel very good about our chances on Sunday."
(WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THE 'PACE OF THE RACE'?) "There is just a mental time clock when you know you need to start pushing. At the beginning of the race you just let some things go by and you don't take as many risks. In a Busch race, it's half the distance. So that mental clock starts ticking really early for you in a Cup race. It's going to be an interesting race. The young guys coming up have a lot of great talent. And here I am in my third year talking about young guys. I thought I was one of the young ones but that is forever changing."
(ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT TIRE WEAR?) "From what I understand, the compound is still the same. As far as wear issues, I don't think we're going to see a big difference. But the tire is a lot different. We tested the tire in Charlotte in last year for Goodyear and they put it on and it really helped the car through the bumps to have a better feel. That's kind of the direction that the construction has gone into the tire. It's to try to help with the bumps and not have the car as edgy over the bumps. But the compound is still the same here."