DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "It's got a lot of possibilities. I think it's going to be a good downforce car, and a good car in the draft. Our qualifying speeds may be a little slow from what we've seen with our...
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"It's got a lot of possibilities. I think it's going to be a good downforce car, and a good car in the draft. Our qualifying speeds may be a little slow from what we've seen with our other cars, but all new cars have been in history. We all work to understand what the car wants and what it likes and we'll go from there. I see a lot of potential.
"When it's up front, it'll look real racy. It's got that little funky wave in the trunk back there like the Pontiacs do. That sort of resembles the Pontiac, which I ain't crazy about. I don't want to be like anybody. I want to be different, but it's still a good race car. We tested at St. Louis. It's tough to test on a track where you've never been before, but it was fine. We ran pretty good.
"It will go through many changes before it races at Daytona. We'll have a lot of test time with it on the track between now and Daytona, plus we'll probably work on some stuff to change the way we qualify. Basically, getting the time with the car and understanding the car will be the big thing for us. I think the racing in '99 was good on the restrictor-plate tracks. I don't think they should change anything as far as the racing goes, but I do think they're going to do something on qualifying. The 31 car is basically doing the qualifying stuff, and the 3 car is doing the race stuff at this test. We've got two different packages.
"I watched the Braves lose last night. That's how I celebrated (after winning Winston 500). I think Bobby needs to call me before he makes some of those moves. I'd have taken the rookie out before he loaded the bases. I think Bobby was worried about Tuesday night. It was getting late, but I think it was the time to put them away. Let's win tonight (Sunday) and not worry about Tuesday night. I'd have brought Millwood in there and tried to shut them down when I had that one-run lead, but they just blew it up.
"I haven't met Rocker personally, but I like what I see. I think that's the way you've got to play the game. That's the way you've got to race. You've got to be fired up about what you do. Every time I race I'm fired up."
DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"It drives like the old car. A whole lot won't change, but I never got a lot of time in any Winston Cup car, so it's fine with me. Everywhere except Daytona or Talladega, it'll be a learning experience for me. At Talladega, you either come here and get beat or you run good. I think the car will look good once it gets paint on it. There's a lot of new body curves and lines in it. I'm sure we'll mold and change it and things will happen. Every time somebody comes out with something, the next guy is going to try to come out with something even better. It's going to continue to escalate. This is early to be making judgment on it, but my car drives good. I'm comfortable in it, but I've got a lot of things to learn and try.
"We've got one more Cup race this year at Atlanta. That's a fast track. It can scare the hell out of you. We ran pretty good there in a Busch car. We ran second both times. I really like the track, but it's going to take some getting used to. Hopefully we'll be comfortable by the time we get through testing."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We're running some of the same stuff we ran in our other car this weekend and right now we're probably about seven tenths off. It's a new car, so we were kind of expecting that. We've got two speedway 2000 Monte Carlos ready, and we've got almost three intermediate cars ready. I tested at Gateway in Earnhardt's car, but this is a completely different feel. That current Monte Carlo is going to be hard to beat. It's got five or six year of development in it. It's been a tried and true car. I think right now we're just fighting a little bit of the new car blues and working some of the bugs out of it. I don't think we could take a car right out of the box and beat a car that's had five or six years of development on it.
"For a new driver and a new team like us, we're just starting to get our program in place, and we're just starting to run good. We're starting to get our cars figured out aerodynamically and now we've got a new car coming out. I think it's good from a standpoint that you need to go forward in development
to keep up with the Joneses. We've got a whole stable of cars that are just starting to work for us, and now we've got to go to a whole new body style. It might be a little bit of a setback in the beginning, but that's why we're working on them so early, to make sure that we can get it figured out before we need to race it next year.
"Right now, the car just looks different. We're trying to find the right balance. We've worked so hard to get that other Monte Carlo balanced and to make it a good race car. Being optimistic, we knew we'd come in with a little balance problem. This car has a fresh new look. The rear windows are different. The deck lid is different. The hood configuration is the same, but it has a little bit of a different nose panel on it. You'll see a big difference with the rear spoiler and the way the back of the car looks more so than the front. It's got a different greenhouse on it, different grooves and stuff. We're just hoping this car can be as competitive as our original Monte Carlo. It's just going to be a matter of time until we see that.
"Remember what the Pontiac looked like when they first came out. Everybody looked at them and said man those things will never work. It took them a little while to get them to work. Now they're a good car and a car to beat week in and week out. Just because it looks a little different doesn't mean that it's bad. We kind of like the way it looks. It's got a little bit of a futuristic look about it going into the year 2000. That's something Chevrolet was looking to do. Now we've just got to make it a car that likes to park in victory lane."
TERRY LAISE (GM Raceshop Engineer)
"We're trying to see how the new Monte Carlo stacks up against the old Monte Carlo. We're trying to do some on-track development of the aerodynamics of the package to make it a better race car. We have to do it here because you can probably do only about 80 percent of the development in the wind tunnel. There's a lot of things that can happen at the track only. We need to evaluate it on the track.
"I'd say the baseline seems OK. It's not real far behind the current car. I don't see anybody jumping up and down for joy, and I don't see too many people ready to slash their wrists. Subjectively, we don't know exactly where we are. If we unloaded something that was lightning fast, we'd know we were in trouble. I don't see that. If we unloaded that was two seconds off the pace, we might have a problem. I think we're about where we hoped we'd be, about where NASCAR wants us to be. They wanted us to come out about equal to the current car, and with development, we might be able to get there.
"You never know what's going to happen. NASCAR is monitoring what we're doing, and well they should. If the wind tunnel tests correlates well with the way the cars are coming along, we'll probably fall where they want us to performance wise. Gateway didn't show anything that said the car was revolutionary or anything.
"The big change in the look is that it looks like a 2000 Monte Carlo and not a '95 Monte Carlo. The rear end is shaped very much that way. The headlight is shaped very much like the 2000 Monte Carlo. The window cutlines are made to be the same as the 2000. We try to take the design cues that give the look of the car and make it look like the model we're racing.
"It's a totally new body. There's nothing the same as the current Monte Carlo. One of the goals of the 2000 Monte Carlo is to look very different than current cars. We want to get away from this every car looks the same kind of thing. The Monte Carlo certainly accomplishes it. Focusing on the production car, I drove one to Charlotte and back and I've never experienced a car, in many, many years, where people driving beside me on the highway pointed their fingers and gave me a thumbs up or thumbs down. People asked me to roll down my windows at traffic lights because they wanted to talk about the car. I think almost every time I gassed it up, I ended up talking to somebody about it. It's a very distinctly different looking type of car, and hopefully we've retained a lot of that look for the race car. I think we have.
"With the success NASCAR has had and the growth it's had, you'd expect every manufacturer would want to participate. Dodge coming on board isn't shocking. They have a heritage of having been here. We've got to expect that NASCAR will make it where Dodge comes in as a competitive car but not a super competitive car versus the existing cars. As such, we welcome them aboard for some good competition. Competition is healthy. That's what we're all about.
"In terms of working harder, I don't think we'll work a whole lot harder. In terms of putting more money in it, I think you have to match the competitor's money. It's sort of like free agency in all sports. Free agency makes it expensive. If there's four manufacturers to choose from instead of three, it make the bidding a little tougher for the top team."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
NOTE: After taking his first four laps in the 2000 Monte Carlo.
"The car drives really good, but you've got to get around 42 other cars and get the worst scenarios thrown at you to see how the car performs. We're not cutting and banging on the body right now. Our guys have been working on the body all summer.
"I've been though every scenario there is. I've been with independent teams. I've been with teams that just want to qualify. This is my first year with a professional team, and I'll be honest with you. I'm learning this up front thing. Coming in the pits running in the top five, trying to get in my pit box as good as I can and trying to be competitive at every section of the race track. I'm just fortunate to be in the position I'm in and tickled to death with a 29-year-old crew chief, Jimmy Elledge, that's been tutored at RCR and he's worked with Andy Petree before. It's very possible for this first-year team to be up in the top 15 in the points, if not for some DNFs. I think the RAD thing has been the biggest benefit. It's meant a lot.
"Sweet Daddy is taking his favorite car to Phoenix. I qualified third there and finished seventh last time, and it's going to have an Aerosmith paint job on it. If momentum is anything... we want to get our first win anywhere, but I sure do like Phoenix. I won my first Busch race at the oddest place anyone would have ever thought, Volusia County, but it sure would be awesome to do it at Phoenix.
"Earnhardt taught me this a long time ago. He said don't tell me what you're going to do. Tell me what you've done. I've learned to be a little less cocky than I usually am."