Team Monte Carlo Charlotte Saturday notes

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I don't know if they think that way or not. I'm sure we're considered one of the contenders after The Winston, and I hope to be. I hope to be running up front in the Coca-Cola...

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I don't know if they think that way or not. I'm sure we're considered one of the contenders after The Winston, and I hope to be. I hope to be running up front in the Coca-Cola 600. That's where I expect to be, actually, and if we're not running up front, I'm sure there'll be a good reason for it. It's a long one. The last hundred laps will be the hardest to concentrate on. It's very difficult mentally. Physically, I don't think it'll be that demanding. I think the mental fatigue just sets in with 100 miles to go. I did OK, and I was pretty comfortable in it last year. The car didn't drive all that good, but the last hundred miles I was wandering around and thinking and carrying on and wondering what I was going to do the next day. I was thinking about little crap like, 'did I leave the stove on at home?' Things start to creep in your mind easier, and you let your guard down a little bit. You just have to dig in and concentrate. It's long and it kind of drags you out. "Sometimes it's overwhelming. It's always to a point overwhelming. Failure, too. Everything is overwhelming at times. Sometimes you can't believe what's happening. I get in a little mode there when I'm at the race track where I'm focusing on the race car. I don't pay attention to a whole lot else. We get to the house and kick back on the couch, sit in an air conditioned room and drink beer."

COMMENT WHEN TOLD HIS NAME WAS SPELLED WRONG ON POLE CHECK "I didn't even look at it that good because I knew I wasn't going to see it long. That's just the way it is. Something good happens and they mess it up, but that's cool. I've seen my name spelled wrong before."

COMMENT ON TEAM We're suffering badly on consistency. We need to change our consistency. We're kind of a hit or miss deal. The car is either hauling butt or it ain't. We need to be able to take those days when we're not running well and come up with something to be satisfied with. That's when you get those top 10s and top fives when you're not a race winning car, and we need to be doing that. I watch a lot of other race car drivers, and I learn from them. You can learn from everybody and everything going on. You see Mark Martin struggle and still finish fifth. You wonder how in the world he did that because you might be faster than him. Somehow they get up there through a pit stop or some strategy they pull and we need to be able to do that and do that on a regular basis. You just get smarter. You get a lot more confident and you start being more gutsy. When we get to a point where we feel like we've got everything to gain and nothing to lose, that's when we'll get gutsier. We don't feel like we can stand taking a lot of risks. That's kind of contrary to what we did in The Winston, but that's $500,000. They don't all pay that much."

COMMENT ON ROOKIE RACE "Matt (Kenseth) has been awesomely consistent. He walks around here talking about how bad his season has been, but it's obviously been good enough to be one point in the lead in the rookie points. They're going to get better. They almost won that race in California. I would have given them the trophy anyway for the effort they put forth. They're going to be racing that way again, so we need to be on top of our game, too."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I eat a lot of bananas. Instead of grabbing a piece of chocolate or something when I walk out the truck, I'll grab a banana. I just love bananas. I usually eat about eight or nine of them a day when I'm at the race track, and it keeps me from eating junk food all day long. Last week I was goofing around eating a banana, and the label was stuck on my finger. I looked down and I had a yellow suit on and it reminded me of the banana skin, so I put the Chiquita banana thing on my fire suit. I thought it might bring me good luck, and we ran well in the Winston Open and won. We decided to leave it on for the Winston Open, but it fell off with about eight to go I think. We couldn't find it after the wreck. It probably got stuck to a blue race car. I'm not a very superstitious guy. I don't know if I'll do it again this week or not. "We had a real good car last week, and unfortunately it got wrecked. These guys busted their butts getting it ready. We were curious to see how it would run here. The Monte Carlo we have here for the 600 is the one that ran so well here last year. Both cars really take different things, so I'm sure they're going to build another one just like the one we had in The Winston. "I've never been in The Winston before. The Winston Open was a good race. We were pretty much up on the wheel the entire race to see how the car would sprint in The Winston. That Winston was the baddest thing I've ever been involved in. It seemed like you couldn't get off that wheel for a minute. It seemed like everybody was running each lap like it was the last lap. It was cool. It kind of fit my driving style. When I first started running Winston Cup and Busch, I was too aggressive. It was nice to know you only had to run 30 laps. Paul (crew chief Andrews) has a habit of running me until I'm out of gas and tires, so it was nice to not have to worry about the gas or tires or making pit stops and just running as hard as we could from the get-go. "The majority of stuff I did up in the Northeast was under the lights on Saturday night. I've adapted to these Winston Cup night races well because it reminds me of what I was used to. It's cooler. The tracks are in better condition at night. I'm a big fan of racing at night. We've been working hard getting our car good on the long runs and getting some good tire management under it. The pace will be more controlled where you need to get through all these laps and get to your last pit stop. The car is looking good. Tire wear is looking good. "It's a guessing game going from day to night, and you need to have some adjustability in the car. We want to start off good and end up good. I've always liked Charlotte, ever since I came here in the Busch car. The bottom line is you need a good race car. I've had some pretty scary race cars here. The guys have been putting some good cars underneath me, and it sure makes it a hell of a lot more fun being able to get up on the wheel and drive it than hanging on and trying not to crash it. It's been a giant step the last year, which started at the mid point of last year. We're qualifying better. We're disappointed with the qualifying we had here. Last year we might have been happy with 18th, but we've sat on the pole and outside pole and qualified in the top five. We're not settling for anything less now than a good qualifying effort and a good run on Sunday. "I think if I stay with Earnhardt, I'm going to make him adopt me as a son so I get that last name. I think that's what it is. It's the key. You

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) just need to have that last name. Dale had the last name in the 80s and 90s and ran well. Junior has it now. Maybe if I get officially adopted and acquire the Earnhardt last name, I'll be able to drive like him. Steve Earnhardt. That sounds good. It's got a little ring to it. (All said in jest). "Seriously, I think we can do it. We've got a good team here. The kid (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) is awesome. He's a great race car driver. He showed that in the Busch Series. They've got something that a lot of teams work hard to get and that's chemistry. They've been together a long time and they're literally family. To go out and do what they did in the Busch Series and then move that to Winston Cup, they've got their stuff together just like Gordon and Evernham and those guys did. They're qualifying well. They're racing well. It's going to be scary once they get some experience under their belt. They're like the Hatfields and McCoys. If we can keep them from fighting with each other, they're going to do real good. "Chemistry goes all the way back to the guys in the shop. If they're not happy, it's a downhill slide. You need to have guys who are motivated in the shop, and what motivates them is running good at the track. Running good is everyone's reward. We're still lacking in some spots. We've been working hard on getting our pit stops better. We feel like we've got most of the ingredients. We just need to work on a few small things to get to victory lane. "Joe (Nemechek) and I talked Saturday night and then we talked Wednesday morning. NASCAR called us both to the truck. I'd heard he got a big fine and the next thing I know they call me to the truck. I didn't know what was going to happen, but they were just making sure we had talked and things were behind us and we were OK. I thought we were fine that night after we talked, but we talked again under the presence of Gary Nelson and Mike Helton. We were both fine. It hasn't been a second thought. "Moving the nose out has helped the Chevrolets, but we're still not positi ve that's the proper thing to do. Those Fords are pretty slick, and they're still running pretty good, but if you look at the finishes, it looks like there's parity among the manufacturers. When Earnhardt isn't complaining, it can't be too bad. Junior is running so good. He's taking Team Monte Carlo to the front, and that's cool for all of us. We just hope it doesn't get in the situation like it used to be when Gordon would win and the next Chevrolet would be 15th. They've got everything going for them right now, good chemistry, good pit stops, a lot of motor, good cars and he's a great little race car driver."

PAUL ANDREWS (Crew chief No. 1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo) NOTE: Andrews celebrated his 43rd birthday two days ago. "I've been a Winston Cup crew chief for 12 years. It's probably more fun now than when I started. I think we're where we need to be, but we just don't have any wins yet. I think there's always something you need to work on to get better. Our cars are good every week, and Steve is good every week. We're running good every week, so that's definitely where we need to be, no doubt about it. "I think (Saturday night's fireworks) can fire a team up and fire a driver up. You want to go out and try to prove that we are good and we can Saturday, May 27, 2000. Lowe's Motor Speedway. Advance material for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 4.

PAUL ANDREWS (Crew chief No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) win. It's terrible for the team, but it's also good for the team sometime to get some extra motivation going. It won't be all bad. "I've always liked Charlotte. I enjoy the home track atmosphere and going home after the races. The track is tough. It changes from one minute to another, but that's good. I enjoy the challenge. I really like racing at Charlotte, not only because it's at home but I enjoy the race track. It's a good, two-groove track. That's something we're lacking a little bit. You do a lot of things here you do on the smaller tracks. You have to have a car that handles good and goes over the bumps well. It's not just aero and downforce and horsepower. It's the whole combination. You don't have to have a whole lot of either one of them to run good. "The track gets a little tighter here when it gets cooler, but it also gets faster and sometimes it's a kind of wash. Sometimes it's not. It depends on how hot the day is. How much changes from year to year. How much is it going to change? How much tighter is it going to get? The direction of change is always the same. The amount is usually different. "Most of the time you make your own luck. We've got to run good Sunday. It's a 600-mile race. A lot of things can happen, but we're right there and right on the edge of winning. "(Dale Jr.) is a heck of a race car driver. The fan support he's got is fantastic, especially here at Charlotte. He's doing a great job. That whole group is doing a great job. They're hard working people, and I'm glad to see it. "I'd like to do this as long as I enjoy it, and I still enjoy it. It's frustrating, too, but that's part of it. That's going to happen no matter what you do in life. You've got to be realistic. My son won a Legends race here Wednesday night. He's been racing a long time. His brother is driving a Late Model. They're a lot of fun to watch, and it's fun working with them and coaching them. I don't have enough time, but I make time to help them. I want to be with them as much as I can and go to as many races with them as I can. Tim is 17 and drives the Late Model out of Concord. He's doing pretty good. Troy is 15 and drives the Legends car."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Mike Helton , Mark Martin