STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park will drive a Monte Carlo with a brand new body in Saturday's Pepsi 400. It's been tested in the wind tunnel and the team is optimistic about running it at Daytona. "Our performance...
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park will drive a Monte Carlo with a brand new body in Saturday's Pepsi 400. It's been tested in the wind tunnel and the team is optimistic about running it at Daytona. "Our performance has suffered here, and we're working hard to change that," Park said. Park finished 31st in the Daytona 500 and 17th last week at Sears Point. He ranks 18th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings (NWCS).
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) Earnhardt race the same Monte Carlo chassis in the Daytona 500 and again in the DieHard 500 at Talladega. He finished 21st in the Daytona 500 and third at Talladega. Earnhardt has scored six straight top 10 finishes, including a sixth-place performance last week at Sears Point. Earnhardt, a 49-year-old seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion from Kannapolis, N.C., stands second in the NWCS and trails leader Bobby Labonte by 57 points.
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Hamilton will race the same Monte Carlo in the Pepsi 400 that finished 43rd at Talladega. Hamilton also finished 43rd in the Daytona 500. The 43-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native is fresh off a 14th-place run last week at Sears Point, and he stands 29th in the NWCS.
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Labonte will race the same Monte Carlo in the Pepsi 400 that finished third in the Bud Shootout qualifying race at Daytona in February. Labonte also finished seventh in the DieHard 500 at Talladega with the same chassis. Ranked 12th in the NWCS, Labonte finished 27th last week at Sears Point. He's scheduled to make his 658th career start on Saturday night in the Pepsi 400.
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Michael Waltrip will race the same Monte Carlo in the Pepsi 400 that he's used in the previous two restrictor plate races this season. Waltrip, a 37-year-old driver from Owensboro, Ky., wrecked in both of those races, but crew chief Bobby Kennedy says the car has been rebuilt and is as good as new. Waltrip ranks 26th in the NWCS and is fresh off a 12th-place finish last week at Sears Point.
DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) This will be the third race for the 25-year-old rookie's Monte Carlo. He finished 13th in the Daytona 500 and 42nd (engine trouble) at Talladega. Earnhardt Jr. finished 24th last week at Sears Point and ranks 14th in the NWCS.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) Gordon will race the same Monte Carlo in the Pepsi 400 that he drove in the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway in February. The same Monte Carlo also won the DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in April. Gordon is fresh off his second victory of the season, a 4.101-second triumph over Sterling Marlin in last week's Save Mart/Kragen 350 at Sears Point. Gordon ranks 10th in the NWCS, just 30 points behind ninth-place Rusty Wallace.
JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nadeau will drive the same Monte Carlo he drove at Daytona and Talladega earlier this season. He finished 35th and 19th, respectively, in those two races. Nadeau is fresh off a season-best eighth-place finish last week at Sears Point. He stands 30th in the NWCS.
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Skinner will drive the same Monte Carlo he drove in both previous restrictor-plate races this season. He finished 16th in the Daytona 500 and second in the DieHard 500. Skinner finished 20th last week at Sears Point and ranks 11th in the NCWS, 153 points behind 10th-place Jeff Gordon.
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nemechek ran the same Monte Carlo earlier this season in the Daytona 500 and Diehard 500, finishing 42nd and 22nd, respectively. Nemechek finished 11th last week at Sears Point and ranks 23rd in the NWCS.
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marlin is riding high after a runner-up finish last week at Sears Point. He drove the same Monte Carlo at Talladega and finished eighth in the DieHard 500. He started 38th and finished 24th in the Daytona 500 and ranks 17th in the NWCS.
KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Irwin raced his Pepsi 400 Monte Carlo in the DieHard 500 at Talladega and finished a season-best fourth with it there. His Pepsi 400 backup Monte Carlo was raced in the Daytona 500 and he finished 14th with it then. Irwin started 42nd and finished 23rd last week at Sears Point. He ranks 28th in the NWCS.
RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Craven will race the same Monte Carlo he used in both restrictor plate races this season. He qualified 32nd and finished 29th in the DieHard 500 at Talladega.
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Wallace raced his Pepsi 400 Monte Carlo in the Bus Shootout and DieHard 500. Wallace went out early with engine problems at Talladega and finished 40th. He led 16 laps in last week's race at Sears Point and finished 13th. Wallace is ranked 31st in the NWCS.
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Bodine will race a brand new Monte Carlo in the Pepsi 400. He failed to qualify for last week's race at Sears Point, but the 51-year-old driver from Chemung, N.Y., says he's ready to bounce back at Daytona.
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marcis will race the same Monte Carlo he drove in the DieHard 500 at Talladega. He qualified 27th and finished 38th in that race, leaving early with engine problems. The 59-year-old Wisconsin native says he's optimistic about the Pepsi 400. "If I wasn't, I wouldn't be here," Marcis said.
JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's great. That's awesome. The guys did an awesome job. We were 14th in practice, but we had one of the best Chevrolets out here today. We're pretty excited. This is great for Michael Holigan.com. It's a great weekend. I love the 400. It's a night race, and we're looking forward to this weekend. I've got to thank all of the guys. They're working real hard. You just hold it wide open. Michael just came by and asked me if I burped it a little bit, but here it's pretty easy just to hold it wide open. The guys worked hard. They did a good job, and they know what they're doing. They did all the right stuff. Whatever we did, we did it right."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The boys put a hot coat of wax on it, and we picked up quite a bit from practice. We didn't have it completely taped off in practice. We got it slippery. Heck, who knows I might make the race or even the top 25. I led 18 laps last week (at Sears Point). I might even get up on the wheel and do it again this week. We've got great race cars for everywhere else, but we're looking at a lot of drag right now. We'll have to work it out. It's just a different race track. You're turning the wheel more at this track (than Talladega), and it pulls the motor down. It's just a little bit different characteristics."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's about what we ran in practice. We had a little bit of help late in that last practice. We thought if we could back up that speed it would be good enough for the top 25. These guys have been working hard, but we've struggled in these restrictor plate races. I'm happy with that speed right now. It's not a pole speed, but hopefully it's a speed that will get us in the top 25. I think at nighttime you get a good show with how low these cars are. We probably bottomed out a little bit too much and got the car upset a little bit. It might have cost us a little bit of time, but that's about as fast as we can go. We'll hang on to that, and hopefully that'll get us in the top 25 and we can go racing Saturday night. They've put a smaller restrictor plate on us now, and it might have thrown some of the high horsepower teams a little bit of curve ball. That's a good race car right there. We've had it in the wind tunnel three times. We elected to go to the wind tunnel instead of testing it at the track. We had a grin on our face early this morning. We thought we'd unload it off the truck and be pretty tough. We had some disappointment with it. The engine department was happy with the motor. It's just a matter of pushing air. It still might be carrying too much drag."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) NOTE: Gordon started 35th and won the 2000 DieHard 500 at Talladega. "We picked up speed. The motor ran great. We saw more rpm than we've seen all day long. We're pretty happy that we picked up, but it looks like some other guys have picked up, too, so we'll just see where we end up. It's a little bit different starting back at Daytona than it is at Talladega. There's a lot more room to race on at Talladega than there is at Daytona, so handling is a key and track position is important. We'll find a way to get up there. This pit crew has been awesome lately, so we might rely on them a little bit, too."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We did something wrong. We tuned up and slowed down. We never would have been what those Fords did, but we should have run a 48.50. I guess we're still learning."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Any time you come here, that's the great debate. The motor men say it's the body, and the body men say it's the motor. We just have a really good record at these places. Since I've been with this team, we've been able to qualify up front. We got the car tore up at Talladega, so we don't know for sure if it's motor or body. We've got a different package than we had then. We've usually been able to get it running pretty good. Here we haven't been able to hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle. It could change Saturday night. When you're got a fast car here at Daytona, with the way the rules are now, everybody is going so slow, everybody runs wide open. It doesn't have anything to do with handling. Whoever has the fastest car can generally get to the front as proven here last July. Dale Jarrett made a quick pit stop there on the last deal and got out front and nobody could pass him. It's going to be a real task, especially with a car that's no faster than ours is tonight. I want to say this about my team. We've always come to these places prepared, and I've got confidence that the car is prepared. We've just got something that biting us somewhere. We just don't know where it is. We've been off since we unloaded, but qualifying is one thing and racing is another."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "I feel better about our car. I know we're going to be able to get in there and race with them. We're really lost in qualifying, but qualifying isn't the race. We picked up a lot from practice. We did some things after practice and adjusted the car. We pulled some things out of our head really. We changed some gearing around in the car, and it got better. We're happy with that, and I think we can adjust the car and go racing. It's not a Ford track. It's a Ford restrictor. It's frustrating coming down here and having to race like this. This is not what we wanted, but we gained a lot. We threw some mystery things at it after the last practice, hoping they would work and some of them did. Our fastest lap in practice was a 49.25, so a 48.67 (in qualifying) is quite an improvement. Daytona is more of a handling, horsepower track. It takes a lot of horsepower. I think they hurt us, more than they did some of the other cars with the restrictor plate size and all that. It's tough we're racing for a points championship. We're racing with what you might say is a disadvantage or an advantage, I don't know. The things we have to go through here just to race here, the shocks, restrictor plates and all this stuff. I'll be glad to get back to the unrestricted tracks. It'll be a lot more fun. I think we'll be OK here. Our race car races good. That's the one thing we've got going for us. If we can race good here, we'll be in good shape (regardless of where we start)." JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were hoping to go faster than that. We haven't been that fast since we've been here, and we know we're going to be better in the race. We've been struggling, so we've got to go back and do a little more homework."
DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The car wasn't really stable, but we just ain't been that good this weekend. We've got a lot of effort put into our speedway program. We just ain't really seeing the results we were looking for this weekend. We qualified well at Talladega and didn't get to see what kind of car we had due to the brake problems on the first lap. We were kind of excited about this weekend to see what kind of car we had to bring here to Daytona. We've got a lot of work to do on it, and hopefully it'll race better than this. It's going to be a lot of fun (running under the lights). I'm looking forward to that. I'll just be getting going and everybody else will be getting ready for bed. Maybe I'll have that to my advantage. It's kind of frustrating at these restrictor plate races. Hopefully we'll have a good race car and a good drafting car and we can work our way up through there in the race. We picked up four tenths from practice and I thought we could do better than that. This obviously lets us know we've got to improve and work harder. We've got a good race car in the Monte Carlo to take to places like Texas and Atlanta and Charlotte. I think it's a good short track car. It just needs work. It took Ford some time to get the kinks worked out of the car they've got. We'll just have to work hard and keep tuning on our car."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Both cars have been off a little bit all day, the 3 and 31. I don't know, we're just a little weak right now, but I think we can race 'em from there. These cars will draft good. We looked at segments going through the corners. It was real close to what Dale Jarrett was doing through the corners earlier. We'll get that race motor in there and we'll be OK."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's about what we practiced, so I'm not sure what's going on. I thought we could pick it up a little bit, but we didn't. It's the same car we qualified seventh with at Talladega, so we're really scratching our heads right now."