JIMMY SPENCER (No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We had a real good car here in the spring and had an ignition problem. Sterling ran really good, too. I like Rockingham, but it's definitely a tire management racetrack. You need good pit stops,...
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We had a real good car here in the spring and had an ignition problem. Sterling ran really good, too. I like Rockingham, but it's definitely a tire management racetrack. You need good pit stops, the same as everywhere else, but I feel really good about this race. I think we can run up front. You never know what could happen. Anybody can say they can win it, but to go out and do it is another thing. I really believe we can win. We've had a really rough year, but we've been competitive at a lot of places. Rockingham would be a great place to win.
"I drive really hard, I won't deny that. Junior Johnson always liked that about me. Some guys don't like that. I feel like Andy (Graves, team manager) is working hard with me to figure out how we can get the cars working. Once we do that, we'll be all right.
"The tire has hurt me a lot. It's a very hard tire. I think the tires have some inconsistencies. If it was a year where someone had dominated or whatever, I would agree that it had been a lot of our problem, but if you look over the whole year, I've never in my life seen the Winston Cup Series have such a variety of leaders, winners and most of all point hunters. It's been the weirdest year I can remember, and I'm a part of one of those inconsistent teams. There are a lot of inconsistent teams, but we're definitely inconsistent, It looked like we were going to win Bristol and got bumped out of there. We ran well at Martinsville and cut a left rear tire down there. We've had a lot of problems.
"(Sterling Marlin's and Jamie McMurray's success) makes me feel good. I know we have good cars, good race motors, good teams. It doesn't make me mad. I think it's great. Jamie did a great job at Charlotte. We had a good car, too. We weren't going to win the race, but we had a solid, top-10 car. We had an engine problem. I think Jamie and Sterling pretty much have the same driving styles. My guys have worked hard for me all year long and have been trying to get stuff figured out for me and I think we're going to do real good next year. I think it's a one-team deal, the 40 and 41 and next year I guess it'll be the 28. Andy and Glover really stress the team effort. They're trying to figure out what I like. We talk a lot. We'll get it figured out.
"It took a lot of wind out of our sails when we didn't qualify for the Daytona 500, but I think getting knocked out of the lead and win at Bristol probably took more out of us. Those guys felt stepped on at Daytona because we missed the race, but to come back and get stepped on at Bristol again and NASCAR didn't do anything about it, that was really hard to handle.
"I'm ready for a break. This season is just too long. Somebody is making a lot of money. I don't see it changing in the future. Most of all you can see the toll it's taking on the crew members and their families. I'm not going to do anything in the off season. I've got a couple of appearances and trips to take for Target, but I'll be home for Christmas and New Year's. For about three weeks, I'm not going anywhere.
"We'll get through these last three races first. I really run well at Miami and Phoenix, and we've got a good shot to run well here Sunday. Three top 10s would be a big step in the right direction. We lost our top 10 consistency. We had a top-10 car every week and we lost that. Hopefully we can get that consistency back for the last three races."
ANDY GRAVES (Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
"Jimmy's confidence might be down a little bit, and we've got to do all we can to restore that. We're behind him 100 percent. We need to finish out the season on a positive note and get ready for next year. This is one of Jimmy's better tracks. I think he'll be real strong here and I think he'll be strong at Phoenix.
"It's been a tough year on Jimmy. We've had a couple of positive notes. We should have won a couple of races. We were real strong at Bristol and Richmond. We've had some rough times, too. I'm sure when your confidence is shaken it makes things a lot harder. Jamie has proven with his confidence being up right now that it's hard to do anything wrong.
"With the tires we have now, you've got to back off early and roll the car in the corners. That probably goes against the way Jimmy has driven in the past. He's more aggressive and really attacks the corners. That's something he's struggling with, too. We're trying to help him the best we can and get our communication on the same page.
"It wasn't good for any of us to miss Daytona. It was a big disappointment, but hopefully we won't have to go through that again next year. Hopefully we can come out smoking with all three teams next season and win a bunch of races."
HANK PARKER Jr. (No. 91 USG Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Parker Jr. will make his Winston Cup debut on Sunday, starting 25th in the Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/T.
"I was just over talking to Jimmie Johnson, trying to get some ideas from guys who came from Busch to Winston Cup. The car is really, really smooth. The biggest difference is it has so much more power than the Busch cars. You can't manhandle it like you can a Busch car. Knowing how much throttle to give it and how fast to put it down is the biggest thing I'm working on. Overall, I'm very satisfied with the car.
"It's not night and day different going from the Busch car to the Cup car. When I'm on the Busch side now I feel like Superman. I've learned so much over here, and I've been able to take it over there and run well in my Busch car. Both cars are running good, and I think that's made it easier for me.
"To have your first opportunity in Winston Cup is big, but to be with a team like this.... Those guys do such a great job working on the car. They changed a lot of things from the test. They taught me a lot. It's the same car we tested. To be with a team this good raised my level I think.
"There's only two full-time Dodges in Busch, but I love racing a Dodge. Dodge has been good to me, letting me test at Kentucky for the driver development program and that's what really got all this started. I can't be thankful enough to those guys to give me an opportunity like this. It's so big for someone like myself. They've given us more technical help on the Busch side than we ever got from any of the manufacturers and we were supposedly under their umbrella. I've really enjoyed working with Dodge. It's opened a lot of doors for me and I hope to stay with them for a long time.
"I have no idea what I'm going to do next year. I want to definitely race a Dodge. I wouldn't mind racing in the Busch Series, being really competitive and winning some races and run for the championship. Maybe I could run a limited Winston Cup schedule, too. I wouldn't mind moving to Winston Cup. I just want to be competitive on a consistent basis. If I get with a team like this that can teach me what they've taught me, I'm ready for Cup. I've learned things that I've been able to carry over to my Busch car.
"Ray has been hanging out and more or less making sure I'm having a good time and making sure I'm not getting too nervous before qualifying. I'm really looking forward to the race, and I just hope we'll be able to go the distance and get a decent finish."