BOBBY HAMILTON, NO. 55 SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC/SQUARE D CHEVROLET Monte Carlo (third quickest in Happy Hour): "We don't have an idea what happened to us in qualifying; we were seventh or eighth quickest going into qualifying. I don't know if I messed...
BOBBY HAMILTON, NO. 55 SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC/SQUARE D CHEVROLET Monte Carlo (third quickest in Happy Hour):
"We don't have an idea what happened to us in qualifying; we were seventh or eighth quickest going into qualifying. I don't know if I messed something up or what. We're sort of confused. We were like 16th, 17th quick in the first practice and we made some changes on it and, Bam, we're running real good. We were happy with the first practice, so we've got a good car here; it's been a good race track for me in the past, and it's been a good race track for us as a group so we're looking forward to a good run."
WILL THIS BE A TURN-AROUND? "God, I hope so. We deserve one, don't we? I told somebody the other day, if I get a top 10 in the news feature when the winner's out on the front straightaway doing his burnouts, I'm going to go out there and do one with him. NASCAR's going to get mad, and I'm going to say, Hell, that's like a win to me."
RICHARD CHILDRESS, TEAM OWNER, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:
ON NASCAR'S 'COMMON TEMPLATE' PROGRAM FOR 2003: "I think it's going to be good; nobody can throw any excuses in."
JOE NEMECHECK, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVY MONTE CARLO (24th in Happy Hour):
YOU'RE THE DEFENDING CHAMPION HERE, YOU'VE HAD A FEW GOOD RACES RECENTLY, HOW IS IT LOOKING FOR TOMORROW? "Our Happy Hour didn't go as happy as we wanted it. We were trying some things a lot different than what I've done here in the past, than how we tested here. I couldn't make them work. So we're kind of going back in the direction^Êwe got to make one short run there at the end^Êback in the direction the way we tested here and the car seemed a lot better. We have to do some good testing tonight."
WHAT DOES IT TO TAKE TO WIN HERE? "There are so many things. Number one, you've got to have luck on your side. But you've got to have a very good driving race car, you gotta be able to make the tires live, that's the biggest thing. Because if you run 50 laps you're probably going to be two seconds off the pace than you started. If you can be a 10th better than somebody it's huge at the end of a run."
PASSING OK HERE? "Passing's going to be hard to do, just because the race track's so wore out. Once the tires get old, it's really hard to go on the bottom; everybody's going to be up at the top. It's just typical Rockingham. If your car drives good, you can go pretty good."
DO YOU LIKE IT HERE OTHERWISE? "Yeah. It's a very challenging race track. You gotta be on top of it; everything's got to be right. If you're off just a little bit, Man, you can run 30th and run all day. We thought we'd be a lot better than where we are."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVY MONTE CARLO (30th in Happy Hour):
"We started out the Happy Hour feeling good. The car was doing all the things that it wasn't doing in the morning practice and so we're going to start pretty close to that; hopefully move up from 18th to the front. And this is the place you can pass and can really use a lot of grooves here, a lot of passing, cars go from the front to the back, the back to the front, so it's a fun race track, especially when your car's working right."
YOU FOCUS IN ON THE RACE SETUP WHEN YOU COME TO THE RACE TRACK? "That's what it's all about, getting the car that is comfortable for a long run, and saves the tires, just stays underneath you where you can really use the gas coming up off the corners and not spin the tires. It's easier said than done, but that's the key here. If you don't qualify well, it's not near as big a deal here. Track position is not as big a deal here as it is in other places."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVY MONTE CARLO (Fourth in Happy Hour):
DO YOU LOOK AT THE CHARTS TO SEE WHAT THE OTHER DRIVERS ARE DOING? "It's nice to have a fast lap to go up on the board, but it's hard to really tell what everyone is doing with tires, especially at a place like Rockingham where tires are so important. If you look at that for a little bit^Ê but, more importantly, we have a system on the computer that's called Lap Tracker that keeps track of every lap that we run. And we're able to look and view every single race car that's out on the race track and look at their whole run and you can tell when they go out on new tires and see how much their pace drops off. And realistically that's what we look at more than anything is the Lap Tracker to see the progression of the car over the run, how much it slowed down, then we compare ourselves to other teams and see what's going on from there."
DOES THE HAPPY HOUR SHEET WITH JUST THE FASTEST LAP MEAN ANYTHING? "It shows that you have a good car. It is important for track position to be good at the beginning of a run and try to get away from people, but it usually doesn't always help. That Happy Hour sheet with the fastest laps does represent where the good cars usually are; it does have some weight to it."
HOW DID YOU DO? "We were fifth in one, fourth in the other. We feel over the long haul the car was really strong and secure, and hopefully it will stay that way for the race."
WHICH PRACTICE SESSION IS THE MOST INDICATIVE OF HOW THE CAR WILL RACE? "The second one is. When we can get closer to the time frame of when the race is going to start, track conditions change, we get a good idea of what we'll see come race time. Also, there's more rubber that's put down on the track from first practice to second practice. We're still shooting in the dark a little bit, because they're going to have a Busch race where they're going to run 300-400 laps where they will put down a lot of rubber. So that the track's going to keep changing before we get on it and race, but the last practice is the most important."