sunday Dodge Daytona notes

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) MARK MELLING (Car Owner No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) Compton qualified second fastest for next Sunday's Daytona 500. Compton and his car owner discuss their outlook for the rest of...

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) MARK MELLING (Car Owner No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
Compton qualified second fastest for next Sunday's Daytona 500. Compton and his car owner discuss their outlook for the rest of Speedweeks and share a humorous moment from the golf course earlier this week.

"We've still got some golf to play the next couple of days," Melling said. "We play a fairly spirited game. I'll share this experience. It'll show how spirited our game is. The car was going through tech last Thursday, and Stacy and I went out to play golf with a couple of our friends. Stacy is on the phone with our crew chief (Chad Knaus) asking how tech went. Then he drove away on the golf cart kinda of shaking his head. I asked him what happened, and Stacy said they had to cut the roof off the car. They said it was a quarter-inch too something. I said, 'You've got to be kidding me.'

"So naturally, my game went right in the tank. Later in the round, and I'm sulking about this most of the day, the crew chief gets on the phone again and I said, 'you'd better tell me the truth. Did you have to cut the roo f off that thing?' He says, 'absolutely, there was a new template and I wasn't expecting it.'

"Anyway, I came off the course, and still won $15 from Stacy by the way, but going to the car, he said, 'oh by the way, we didn't have to cut the roof off the car.'

"That was dirty pool. The whole round he's there jabbing about having to cut the roof off the car, so you can see how spirited our golf game is."

"Mark owns a golf resort and he's got Rick Smith as a teacher," Compton said. "What kind of golfer do you think he is? Scratch? Yeah, he scratches behind his ears and neck a lot. I think he's about a six handicap, but he claims he's a 10. I usually try to get some strokes, but most of the time he won't give them to me. He owns a golf course, and I'm a lowly Winston Cup driver. I'm anywhere from a 10 to a 25 handicap."

"I gave him two strokes a side, four strokes total," Melling said. "Stacy went out and shot a hundred and something one day when he was trying to negotiate the bet. Then all of a sudden, he takes 20 strokes off the score when you're playing for cash, so he's a sandbagger. He's a better putter than I am. I'm a better driver. We had a north-south match. The north is still winning the war, but Stacy says the south is about to rise very soon."

"My partner is Jim Harris," Compton said. "He's one of our associate sponsors. He's a businessman out of Lynchburg, Va. He's been involved with me for a long, long time. Mark Harmon is a businessman out of Pennsylvania that's a friend of ours. He comes down every year and plays with Mark, so it's a north-south deal every year. Mark and Mark play Jim and I. It's an on-going deal, and it'll probably go on as long as we can still walk."

"The north is leading the series now 3-1, not that I was keeping score," Melling said. "I haven't played in five months. There's snow on the ground up in Michigan. I just got lucky the other day."

"I think I played six or seven times last year," Compton said. "Before last year I was playing about twice a week, but then I went Winston Cup racing and you don't have a lot of time. I had gotten down to a 10 handicap. Right now I'm probably about an 18."

"We have a lot of fun racing and golfing, but today I can honestly say I have more fun racing," Melling said. "I don't know if I could have said that last year."

MARK MELLING (Car Owner No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
WHAT'S YOUR GOAL NOW FOR THE DAYTONA 500?
"Finishing the race with a car that's not smashed up would be nice. You've got to assume there's going to be a big wreck. I think we're about eight for eight in the last eight big wrecks, so we'd like to miss one. We'd like to win the Daytona 500, but we need to get off decent in the points. That's a big concern for us. If we finished in the top 20, we'd probably be pretty happy. That might seem like a modest goal, but our goal is to start building our points so we don't have a situation like we had last year, running out of provisionals and you've got a little safety net going to the track every weekend and not be so nervous. It would lift the team up to be respectable week in and week out instead of just a one-shot deal here at Daytona."

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) WHAT WILL YOUR STRATEGY BE IN THURSDAY'S GATORADE TWIN 125?
"We're hoping to win it. We don't have to. We've got Ward Burton sitting right there behind us. There's nothing more I'd like to see than Ward and the 43 and me get hooked up and try to get away from some of these guys. Tony Stewart is starting on the outside of the front row, so that's going to be a little tough to do, but if we can get some of the Dodges hooked up, who's to say we couldn't get away from 'em and have a shot to win it. It's not as important now. If we get shuffled to the back, we're not going to take a chance and tear up our car. It's not a necessity for us now to race our way in, whereas before it would have been. It would have been a good finishing spot in the Twins to get a good starting spot in the 500. It's not that important now, so we can use this as a test session. Hopefully we can test all day up front or in the top five or six and have a shot to finish well and go from there and have a good run in the 500. We haven't had an opportunity to do a lot of drafting yet, so we don't know how the Dodge is going to do in the draft right now."

HOW DOES IT FEEL THE DAY AFTER QUALIFYING SECOND FOR THE 500?
"It feels just as good as it did yesterday. I slept like a rock last night. It feels good for me, but you don't know how excited I am for the guys who have put in all the effort to get this car ready. They're worked hard to get to this point. Mark has worked hard to get the team back to this point, and Kodiak has stuck with us through thick and thin. Dodge came out and was strong right off the bat. It couldn't have happened at a better time. The Daytona 500 hasn't been run yet, but to start off the season and come out and run like we have from testing to practice Friday to qualifying, we're pretty excited about it.

"We struggled a little bit yesterday morning to get through tech. We feel like we could have been a little bit better, but we're not going to be disappointed with second place. We hate we didn't get to go celebrate in the winner's circle with Bill and have two Dodge drivers there, but still, we were still the second quickest legal car. I hate if for Jerry Nadeau's guys, but NASCAR is pretty much black and white. We've talked about it before. We've felt like choking them before qualifying when we were trying to get through, and we felt like kissing them after qualifying. We hate we didn't get to celebrate, but we're looking forward to Thursday and Sunday now.

"We don't always agree with some of NASCAR's rules, but it's still NASCAR's rules. It's the way it's got to be. They've found some things on our car that they felt like needed to be changed. We changed them, went back through tech and were OK. We went through a pretty rigorous inspection after qualifying and everything was fine. You don't always agree with them, but you've got rules and we've all got rules we've got to go by. Everybody pushes it to the limit, not just us. Every team out there qualifying for this race is doing everything they can possibly do to get that speed and to be the best they can possibly be. There were a whole lot of springs and parts sitting on the table after qualifying, not just ours. A lot of Chevys, Fords and Pontiacs and that just shows you've got to do all you can possibly do. NASCAR has said it before, 700 guys are trying to outsmart 30 of us, and that's part of the game. We all know that. NASCAR knows it, but you've got to do everything you can do to be as good as you can possibly be."

WHAT WILL YOU BE WATCHING IN BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT?
"We're curious how the cars are going to draft together. We don't know if they are going to draft better with Dodges, which we won't know today, but they may draft better with the Pontiacs than they do with Chevrolet, or they may draft better with the Fords. Hopefully we can watch and see if that's going to happen. With this new aero package, we're sort of unsure what's going to happen. I'm curious to see if the cars are going to get spread out at all or if they're going to get bunched up like they did at Talladega. That can help us figure gas mileage for next Thursday and next Sunday, so a lot of questions can be answered.

"Bill Elliott has won a ton of races, and he certainly knows how to draft. He knows how to get it done, so it's going to be curious to see how the car reacts with other cars around it. We feel like the cars are going to race real good. We said all along with didn't know how they were going to qualify, but we feel like they're going to race good. Hopefully today will tell a little bit of the tale.

"You're always curious how it's going to do. We've got two Dodges on the front row, but we'd like to see a Dodge in the winner's circle for the Daytona 500. To do that, there's going to have to be a lot of hard work, and a little bit of figuring and a little bit of luck. Hopefully we can realize a little bit of that today, and as the week goes on, hopefully we can figure out what we need to get a Dodge in the winner's circle."

IS YOUR TEAM READY TO WIN A RACE?
"I think we're always ready, we're always wanting to go out and win a race, and that's certainly our goal. We wouldn't be here if we didn't want to go out and win every race we're at. A lot of guys out there are in the same boat, a lot of guys with a lot more experience. But you look at the Daytona 500, and Derrike Cope won it a few years ago. There's no more experienced driver out there than Dale Earnhardt. How many years did it take him to win it? A lot of less experienced drivers going out and winning it. Our goal is to go out and win a race, but we've got to put in perspective what we're doing. We sure want to take a shot at it. That's the reason we're here, but 50 more cars are here as well. I think we're all ready to win races. I think Chad (crew chief Knaus) has been there and done that. Mark has been there and done that. I've won races in different series. We've got a team that's capable of winning races. I think that's the best way to put it."

DO YOU LIKE BEING IN THE LIMELIGHT?
"Bring it on. I'm excited about it. It's great for Kodiak. It's great for Mark Melling, and it's great for Dodge. The more limelight, the better. That's the reason we're here. Our sponsors need that exposure. We didn't give them what we feel like they needed last year. Hopefully this will start it off on the right foot and give them a little bit more than they expected."

BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We've still got a long way to go. The car seemed to perform pretty well, but we were just a little bit off handling wise. I learned we were too tight. This is a brand new car, but we learned quite a bit. The biggest thing we needed to do was run this thing and run the whole race. I got a little bit tight down in one and two and couldn't run through the corner wide open. I got around those other cars and developed a pretty good aero push. We're going to have to work on that here the next several days. This was a new car. It's a little different than our 500 car. I think our 500 car will be a little bit better.

"I think we're real encouraged. We've got a pretty good car to work with. We ran with the rest of the guys. We just need to work on our handling package a little bit. I think the 500 car will be just a little better in that department. This car was just kind of a last minute guesstimation. It's a pretty good race car, but I still think our 500 is considerably a bit better. We'll just have to wait and see. A lot of things will change between now and next Sunday. We'll know more when we run the 125s Thursday afternoon.

"When I got behind somebody it made my car too tight, especially down in turn one. We'll learn and go from here."

RAY EVERNHAM (Car owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"We tried a little bit different chassis setup, and we know we need to go back to where we were headed. I was spotting today, and it's the first time I've done that. I got a different perspective. You go back and look at it now, and there's a lot of things we would have done differently. We had a race car that ran 175 miles and we were not that far off of being competitive. If we could have got that thing to quit shoving the nose a little bit, we could have got a better finishing position. Woulda, shoulda, coulda, but bottom line is, the foundation is there and we've just got to make normal adjustments to run better, and I feel real good about that.

"It's fun because it's been different. I've not been working on the car, not had a lot of input on some things. Maybe they should give me some input for Thursday, but it's just been different. It was fun up there spotting, and I like to be on the radio, so it was good to be on the radio with Bill. I'm learning a new job. I don't know if I'm doing a good job, but I am learning it.

"I'm not going to spot on Sunday only because I think I can be of more value to Mike in the pits. Here I knew they were probably going to make just one pit stop and not have to make a lot of changes. I really wanted to help with our new spotter and listen to Bill on the radio. Sunday, I'm going to be in Bill's pit. We're probably going to requalify the 19 car tomorrow and I don't know. I'd like to be in both pits, but possibly I'll spot for Casey on Thursday.

"It was a pretty good race I thought. You're not going to see three wide here. I thought there was a lot of great drivers using their heads, and I thought it was a pretty good race honestly.

-Chevrolet racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ward Burton , Derrike Cope , Bill Elliott , Jerry Nadeau , Mike Harmon , Chad Knaus