Stremme, Sorenson Preseason Thunder press conference

Note: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will field three Dodge Chargers on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Circuit in 2006 with rookies David Stremme and Reed Sorenson occupying two of those seats. This isn't the first time for a Ganassi/Sabates rookie...

Note: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will field three Dodge Chargers on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Circuit in 2006 with rookies David Stremme and Reed Sorenson occupying two of those seats. This isn't the first time for a Ganassi/Sabates rookie tag team. In 2003, Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears (the G/S senior driver in 2006) were Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders in Ganassi/Sabates Dodges. McMurray won the rookie title that year, and another Dodge driver, Kasey Kahne, won the 2004 Raybestos Rookie of the Year championship. Stremme and Sorenson met the press in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center after the second day of testing on Tuesday.

DAVID STREMME (No. 40 Coors Light/Lone Star Steakhouse Dodge Charger)

WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING A ROOKIE ABOUT TO START THE DAYTONA 500 FOR THE FIRST TIME?

"I don't know. It will probably be pretty wild. I've already started thinking about a lot of things growing up. Right now we'd be working on cars to race locally at home in my parents' garage. On Daytona 500 weekend, we'd always stop and cook dinner and watch. It was a pretty big thing for us because there's not a lot of racing in Indiana at that time. The first time I came down here was in 2003. I walked around and I was telling Tony Glover (team manager) on the way down here it was pretty neat the first time I walked in the garage area. I asked what all the wooden tables were doing here. They were kind of in the way. He said before all the big pit boxes they'd come and sit their tools boxes and everything up there. I thought that was pretty neat. It's a neat racetrack. It's fast, and I enjoy racing on it because you slide around a lot. The last two days (Monday and Tuesday) it's been pretty boring. I'm looking forward to tomorrow (Wednesday) getting our car driving better."

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE NOT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT QUALIFYING -- AT LEAST FOR THE FIRST FIVE RACES?

"I've run a few Cup races, and it was probably a lot more distracting knowing you had to qualify. You're doing more qualifying runs than you are setting the car up for practice. It probably affects the racer in you more than how your car is handling. One of the things my crew chief and I have been talking about the past few days, we've been working on the car trying to make improvements. We haven't made a lot of gains, but more than anything we're just trying to get the car driving better. What's neat about our organization, Reed's car has made a lot of gains, so when we go back we'll be able to share that within our teams. I feel really good. I look forward to tomorrow (Wednesday) just getting the car to handle well. I think the first five we'll just put in solid efforts and build on this year and make sure after those races we're still in it."

IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE GOING TO BE CHASING THE SAME GUY -- TRUEX -- YOU'VE BEEN CHASING THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS. HOW CAN YOU BRIDGE THAT GAP?

"I'm not going to lie about nothing. I thought he's had a lot better equipment than I've had the last couple of years. I think Martin is a very talented driver, but I've been with two different organizations working out of house. Now that I'm in-house working with Chip Ganassi and the Felix Sabates organization, they have brought in a whole new crew. I think Chip and Felix have restructured the organization as far as the teams, too. I think Martin and Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley and everybody in the rookie class are very, very good drivers, but I think whoever is going to win rookie of the year is going to have to make The Chase and win races. I don't look at the first five or 10 like we've got to go out and beat the rookies. We need to build on for later this season and be consistent. Starting with a new crew chief and basically a whole new team -- the only person that's the same on the 40 team is the truck driver. Everybody is different, so we're all having to work together. Already I feel like we've been together for six months. Martin and Reed and a lot of them are going to be tough to beat, but I look at it as there are a lot of other drivers you've got to beat on the weekend, too."

COMMENT ON TWO ROOKIE DRIVERS ON THE SAME TEAM

"Already this season when we're talking about what we need to concentrate on, Reed's brought up situations that I haven't thought about, and I feel I've brought up situations. We're going to be able to lean on each other along with Casey (Mears). Casey has been through a lot. He's developed as a really great driver. I think a lot of people saw that toward the end of the season. I remember a couple of years ago when he was a rookie. He came in and he didn't have hardly any stock car experience. We were able to go over and talk to him a lot about the struggles he's gone through going to the Cup level, so there's a lot of people within our organization that has a lot of experience, and we're going to lean on them, but I very seldom think about the rookie of the year battle and what you're going to have to do. This series has as whole is a tough series, and I look at it as something we need to go into and be competitive and do a lot for our sponsors and team and the organization as a whole. We have such a great group of people there and so much talent. I think the last couple of years it hasn't gone how they wanted it to. We've had some success, but not what they wanted."

DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE A BUSCH SERIES CHASE?

"I don't know. I like The Chase format. It's kind of like the playoffs going on now. It's interesting. I know being an outsider last year watching The Chase, it was great to watch. Every race you didn't know what was going to go on, but I think there are other things that could make that (Busch) series better. NASCAR is always working on stuff to improve our sport. I think they're doing a great job."

HOW LONG DO YOU THINK YOUR RIDE IS SECURE?

"People talk about age and everything else. There's an age difference between Reed and myself, but Greg Biffle had a heck of a year last year. I think Bobby Labonte will show a lot this year. My job is to go out and perform. You've got to have the right people around you. One person can't do that. I think the owners see that. I've seen stats where people are being replaced when they're not winning races. It's kind of BS. It's a team organization. It's not one person. I hope I don't get replaced, but I don't think about it. If you go out and run good, you could probably go out and win the Daytona 500 and not win nothing else and race for the next 10 years. I don't know. I just want to race. I don't look at what kind of money I make or anything else. I want to go out and win, and if I'm not happy it's because I'm not competitive. Maybe I'll change the older I get with money and everything else, but I enjoy what I do. I think back when I used to have to change snowplow blades working for the city, and that sucks. I enjoy my job.

"Reed and I both drove Homestead, and it was cool because Ricky Rudd was racing and Rusty. We got to race against them guys. I think if they came back it would be really neat, but I wish I could go back and race against David Pearson and Richard Petty. To be able to go out and race against guys we're going to be racing against, I feel pretty good. Ken Schrader going to the Wood Brothers, I'm excited for him. I think it's going to be a good year for him. I want to see him go out and do good, but on the other hand I want to beat him, too. I don't think age matters. I think it's the people you're around."

DOES MAKING IT TO THE CUP LEVEL MEAN YOU'RE REALLY NOT A ROOKIE?

"I was thinking about that the other day, looking at the mistakes I made in the ASA Series and even the Busch Series. When you come to this level you don't need to make mistakes like that. Instead of having a handful of teams that are pretty good, here you've got a lot of teams that are pretty good. You've got to stay on top of your game. It's easy to start out strong and then fall off. That's one of the things my crew chief and I talked about. If we do start out pretty good we need to keep that going, but I'd almost like to start out middle of the road and work from there. You see a lot of guys and it's hard to keep that going. As a driver you need to carry your crew, be mentally on your game."

REED SORENSON (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger)

WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING A ROOKIE ABOUT TO START THE DAYTONA 500 FOR THE FIRST TIME?

"Daytona is not just one of the biggest races for NASCAR but in the United States and the world. I'm pretty excited to be a part of it. It's a different kind of racing. It's new to myself and new to David as well. It's pretty cool to go down here and go around that turn and see that Daytona on the wall. I'm just proud to be here and get the opportunity to start out the season. I look forward to going to some of the other places we're going to and having a chance to run well and competing with David and Truex for rookie of the year. I'll give it a good shot."

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE NOT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT QUALIFYING -- AT LEAST FOR THE FIRST FIVE RACES?

"We didn't have any points in the Busch car and we had to qualify for the first five races. That was the most nerve-racking thing I've been through in racing -- those first five races. Then we go to Mexico. We travel all the way there and get one lap to get in the show. That's horrible, so it's pretty nice to relax a little bit, especially during qualifying times. That's when you're on the edge and you've got to push yourself a little bit, so it gives you a little bit of breathing room. Hopefully we won't need a provisional and we can make our races by qualifying. For sure we're in it and that comforts everybody."

IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE GOING TO BE CHASING THE SAME GUY -- TRUEX -- YOU'VE BEEN CHASING THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS. HOW CAN YOU BRIDGE THAT GAP?

"I think the last two years Martin and his team were a championship team, and they proved it last year. Other teams like ours and a couple of other teams made mistakes and theirs didn't. They came from behind and won the championship. I don't think you can point the finger at the driver, the crew or the car. I think their whole package was good and they all did their job and that's why they're champions. I think that's what you've got to do to be the champion in Busch or Cup."

DO YOU THINK THE ROOKIE WINNER IN THE 2006 CUP SERIES WILL HAVE TO MAKE THE CHASE?

"If not, I think it will be very close. That's hard to say. It's tough to come in as a rookie and make The Chase. That's not to say one of us isn't good enough to make it, but look at last year. Jeff Gordon didn't make it and he's one of the best there is. I think you're going to have to run up front and at least challenge for wins and get some top fives to be close."

COMMENT ON TWO ROOKIE DRIVERS ON THE SAME TEAM

"I think when you get to this level it's almost a deal where you need each other's help to have success. If you start working against each other, that's definitely not going to help anything. I believe this year that the teams are a lot closer together than they've ever been. I think we're going to work together a little better. If I can't win it, I want David to win it, and I think he thinks the same way. We're not going to be battling each other. We've got to work together to beat 41 other cars out there. It's going to be a hard job, so we're going to need each other to get through."

DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE A BUSCH SERIES CHASE?

"I think it would be pretty cool. It's been exciting for the Cup Series for sure. Everybody was worried about it to begin with, but once it came around it's been pretty neat. The only thing it might do because it's a lower level as far as sponsorship goes and things like that, it might be a little hard on some of the Busch regulars and those teams as far as getting sponsors because they can't make The Chase and the sponsor doesn't feel like they have a chance to make The Chase. That would be the only thing that might hurt a little bit. As far as the racing standpoint, I think it would be pretty cool."

HOW LONG DO YOU THINK YOUR RIDE IS SECURE?

"I'll be 20 in February. Some of these guys are going to their high 40s. That's a long time racing, but as long as I've got the physical body to do it.... I think NASCAR will probably change a lot by then, but I'll do it as long as somebody will give me a chance to drive their car and I'm competitive."

HOW MUCH DID YOU FOLLOW BILL ELLIOTT GROWING UP AND WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DO YOU HAVE WITH HIM?

"When I first started watching on TV, Jeff Gordon was winning a lot. He just got into it and started winning. I was a Dale Earnhardt fan. Those are my two favorites. I've got pictures with Jeff and Dale when I was three years old. Davey Allison, I was a fan of him. I followed Bill a little bit and I know him now. He was connected with our organization a little bit. I think he ran the Bud Shootout last year for us. I've talked to him and he's helped me out a few times. He helped me out at Michigan with some stuff. I haven't got to spend as much time as I'd like with somebody like that who's been around for so long and has gone through so much and had as much success as he's had, but I know him a little bit. I know he was a Georgia driver who dominated. Some tough footsteps to follow, but maybe I can fall in there and make him proud."

DOES MAKING IT TO THE CUP LEVEL MEAN YOU'RE REALLY NOT A ROOKIE?

"Everybody in this series is not somebody who just started driving. Everybody has been doing it for a long time. That's all they've been doing their whole life, so I just want to gain respect from those guys out there and try to learn as much as I can about these cars being a little different than Busch cars and just trying to absorb everything I can. If I learn about the cars mechanically, I can gain experience going into next year and be a little bit stronger and get better."

-dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Ken Schrader , Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Richard Petty , Kasey Kahne , J.J. Yeley , Chip Ganassi , Denny Hamlin , Reed Sorenson , Felix Sabates , David Pearson , Davey Allison
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing