Team Monte Carlo Friday Michigan Notes

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park raced this Monte Carlo at Charlotte and Atlanta. He finished fourth at Atlanta and ninth in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Park ranks 17th in the NASCAR Winston Cup ...

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park raced this Monte Carlo at Charlotte and Atlanta. He finished fourth at Atlanta and ninth in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Park ranks 17th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings (NWCS).

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) Earnhardt drove his Michigan Monte Carlo to a third-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600. Earnhardt ranks third in the NWCS, just 98 points behind leader Bobby Labonte and 16 points behind second-place Ward Burton.

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Hamilton drove his Michigan Monte Carlo at Charlotte and tested it recently at Michigan Speedway. Hamilton ranks 28th in the NWCS.

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Labonte will drive a brand new Monte Carlo at Michigan. The Iceman stands 11th in the NWCS, just 22 points behind 10th-place Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Labonte is scheduled to make a record 650th straight start on Sunday in the Kmart 400.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Waltrip will race his California Monte Carlo at Michigan. Waltrip ranks 27th in the NWCS.

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Earnhardt Jr. will drive a brand new Monte Carlo at Michigan. The 25-year-old Winston Cup rookie leads all drivers by qualifying 10 times in the top 10 this season. Bill Elliott is second with 9, followed by Mike Skinner with eight. Bobby Labonte and Ricky Rudd have qualified seven times each in the top 10. Earnhardt Jr. ranks 15th in the NWCS, just one point behind Bill Elliott and 141 behind 10th place Jeff Gordon.

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) Gordon will drive his Charlotte Monte Carlo at Michigan, but the car has been reworked. It’s chassis No. 2440 and won the pole earlier this season at Darlington. It also raced at California, and Gordon finished 11th there. “We put a lot of the ideas the 25 car brought in at Charlotte,” crew chief Robbie Loomis said. “They had the benchmark Chevy at Charlotte, so we tried to copy that car as much as we could.” Gordon, who finished 10th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, is 10th in the NWCS.

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nadeau will race the same Monte Carlo that he drove at Charlotte. “I don’t know if it will be as good as it was at Charlotte, but we think it’s going to be a pretty good car at Michigan, too,” crew chief Tony Furr said. “We’ll see what happens in qualifying, but Jerry really likes the car and we if we can get a little luck on our side, I think we’ll be in good shape.” Nadeau ranks 30th in the NWCS.

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Skinner will drive Monte Carlo No. 62 at Michigan. He’s driven it at five tracks already this season -- Atlanta, Darlington, Texas, California and Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Skinner ranks 13th in the NWCS and has finished seventh and ninth at Charlotte and Dover, respectively.

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nemechek raced this Monte Carlo in The Winston at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Nemechek ranks 24th in the NWCS and is coming off a seventh-place finish last week at Dover.

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marlin raced his Michigan Monte Carlo earlier this season at Martinsville, California and Charlotte. Marlin ranks 22nd in the NWCS.

KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Irwin raced his Michigan Monte Carlo at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the Winston Open and Coca-Cola 600. Irwin ranks 29th in the NWCS.

RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Craven will race the same Monte Carlo is used at Charlotte with a completely different setup for Michigan. Craven made only 133 of 400 laps in the Coca-Cola 600, parking early with engine failure.

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Wallace will race a brand new Monte Carlo at Michigan. Wallace ranks 31st in the NWCS and is looking for his first top 10 finish of the season. “We keep doing this week after week, and we’re going to get better,” Wallace said. “This is a brand new car, and it’s really too early to tell how it’s going to race, but I think we’ll be competitive.”

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Bodine will race a brand new Monte Carlo at Michigan. Bodine will be making his fourth start of the season following an accident in February at Daytona.

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marcis will attempt to qualify the same Monte Carlo he used at Charlotte. Marcis failed to qualify at Charlotte, but the 59-year-old Wisconsin native recorded his best finish of the season last week at Dover. He started 43rd and finished 29th.

Bud Pole Qualifying Quotes:

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) “I’m happy, and that feels great. This car unloaded awesome. We did a lot of work on this DuPont Chevrolet to come to this race track, and boy did it pay off. All those guys in the body shop, I’ve been getting on ‘em, and this is pay off for all the hard work they’ve been doing. I can’t say enough for the horsepower that Hendrick Motorsports is making right now, but we just need to be doing things a little different. The guys stepped up to the plate and did it on this race car. It’s been perfect. We haven’t had to do a whole lot to it all day. That’s a great lap. I don’t know if it’s going to be on the pole, but boy is sure does feel good to go to the race track and at least have a shot at it. It was a great lap. Rusty had been strong all day long, and I knew he was going to be tough to beat. A couple of other guys out there are going to be hard to beat, too. I just can’t say enough for the guys on this team. We’ve had more downs than ups this year, but that was a great effort. They really did a lot to make this car better from Charlotte, and boy did they do a great job. We had fun at the track today. The 28 and 88 are running real good. We need something like this to happen, and they worked their tails off on this car to make it better. “This is a track we have confidence going into no matter what. You’ve got to have the package underneath you, and right now, we’re just going to try to get our Chevrolet as fast as we can possibly get it out there and get it handling well in the race. This has always been a good handling track for us. We always seem to find a good way around here. If it comes down to fuel mileage, we hope we’ve got that, too. We didn’t test here. We’ll run practice Saturday and get a good fuel mileage rate and see what we’ve got. I like races not to come down to fuel mileage, so first we’ve got to get the car to go as fast as it will go.”

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I don’t know if we’re happy with it, but we’re satisfied. We’ve had a good car all day long. That last practice we put a set of tires on and we were real loose. The guys made a good call at the end. We were good in the first practice and struggling loose in the second practice. We put tires on the car and we kind of ran out of practice time, so they made a good call making some changes to the car. The car was probably a lot better than I was in one and two. We were just afraid of getting it too loose and having a real bad time. I kind of left a little bit in one and two and really carried it through three and four. It was a little uncertainty and a conservative lap to get us in the top 15.”

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I really don’t know what’s wrong. We won the pole with this car at California, and we’re struggling with it here. I don’t know what the answer is right now, but we’ll keep working on it and try to get it ready for 400 miles on Sunday.”

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We were about a tenth quicker in practice, and the wind caught me a little bit in three and four and got me a little bit high. I tried to bring the car down, and it picked up a little push. That might have hurt me. All in all, that’s not too bad of a lap. It’s respectable.”

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We were good the first practice session. We were second quickest. As the weather got hotter, our car got a lot freer. We just didn’t tighten it up enough. Hopefully we won’t have to go out again tomorrow, but we’ll get the car better. We could never get it tightened up.”

KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “That’s about a half a second better than we practiced. We changed some stuff on the car and we picked up. We learned some stuff about three weeks ago, and we keep trying to add it. I think it’s working. We’re just trying to learn more about it.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I was happy with most of the lap. I got a little trouble off four. The last two weeks in a row, the guys on this team have given me a shot for the pole, and two weeks in a row I’ve overdone it, trying too hard. I got in deep in turn three and it just didn’t stick. I had a great car all morning, and I didn’t put it all together in practice and it hurt us a little bit in qualifying. We had to guess at the setup. We had to loosen it up after practice to get it ready for qualifying. I lost the front end off four finally, but it was great to that point. You’ve got to put together a whole lap to sit on the pole.”

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) “The lap felt real good in the corners. I may have pulled the wrong gear. We went back to a 56 and probably should have stayed with a 50. We felt pretty good about practice, and we picked up pretty well in qualifying. This is the same car we had at Charlotte. It was a good lap and then here comes Dale Jr. and he runs a better lap. We’ll see what we can do in a race. We’ve got a good race car. I’m looking forward to the race.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The car was a little bit loose. We had been tight in practice all day. I don’t know what we did to get it freed up, but it was a little bit freer. I guess it helped us get turned. Hopefully we’ll have a good snug car in the race. This was a tricky place for us here last year, so we’re pretty concerned about our race setup. I’m pretty happy with that lap. I’m glad we’re starting up toward the front anyway. I picked up the flu a day or two ago, so I’m not feeling too good. Maybe I’ll be feeling good by Sunday and we’ll have us a good race.”

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I’m real pleased with that. The best we had run in practice was a low .50, and I knew we had some left. I had to get it out of the race car. I wasn’t out of the gas long at either end, and that’s the key here at Michigan. You’ve got to build up a lot of speed in the corners. This is the same car we had in The Winston, and we know what happened there. They got it fixed back, and it’s running just like it ran there, so I’m looking forward to Sunday. That’s all it had today, but you just can’t afford to give up anything here. I don’t think we gave up much today.”

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) NOTE: Gordon qualified third fastest for Sunday’s race. Gordon finished second in both Michigan races in 1999 and has one victory, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 14 starts at the two-mile oval. “I’m pretty excited about the lap. The car felt real comfortable right off the truck. We just kept picking it up, picking it up. I was hoping I could put together a good lap at both ends of the track. We did. I was surprised. I was expecting to run as good of a lap as I did. Rusty put up a good lap at the time, and we were a tenth better than that. I knew the 28 and 88 were going to be strong. I didn’t expect the 18 would run as fast as he did. That was a pretty awesome lap, but to be in the top three right now is great for us. We haven’t qualified as well as we needed to all year long. It’s nice to be real comfortable and having a car capable of going for the pole. “We always try to get the best fuel mileage we can everywhere we go. I think what happens at this race track it’s such a big wide fast race track. Guys feel comfortable here, and they’re able to run side by side, and always trying to find a place to pass. It’s not follow the leader around here. There’s more than a couple of grooves. I think that helps prevent crashes and you see less cautions because of that. These days, people are getting their engines to last 400 or 500 miles with no problems. I think this is a race track where there are very few cautions. If it comes down to fuel mileage, we’ll be prepared for it, but we’ll find out more about it tomorrow. We’ll make some long runs. “If it drives anything like it did today, it’ll be a great race car. This is the first time I’ve got to the race track on a speedway all year long where I felt really comfortable. That’s what we’ve worked on. We made some changes to the car to get that comfort level back in it for me. It really worked. The guys worked their tails off. This is our Charlotte car and it wasn’t that great there. They cut that thing up and did some suspension pieces different on it, and wow, what a difference. I think starting up front is going to be part of the game, but so far the car has been extremely comfortable. It wasn’t like that was a banzai lap out of nowhere. We didn’t just luck out and get the lap. The car was real good all day. “If you’re fast qualifying doesn’t mean you’re going to be fast in the race. Maybe tomorrow practice times might be closer to what’s actually going to happen on race day. You look at the practice times and one guy is running extremely fast and you think he might be tough to beat. On race day it doesn’t matter that those times were on the chart. This is one of those places where it’s consistent. Even today we saw guys run good on older tires, 10 or 15 laps on their tires, and could still make fast lap in qualifying condition. The tire seems to be good. I think the guys who have run good so far are probably going to be able to maintain it, but tomorrow will be a much better judge than what we’re seeing today. Today came down to a pretty hard, fast lap. “I know I had a chance to go to Goodyear in Akron, Ohio, this year and it’s impressive. That tire goes through so many different stages when it’s being built. Then it goes through so many different stages of checking to make sure the tire is balanced to make sure everything on it is true and it’s the safest tire it can possibly be. It has six safety checks when it gets done. The research and development they do themselves. I think what you’re hearing most drivers talk about is the comfort of the tire. Technology, they find things every once in awhile that make the tires grip and give the driver the comfort he’s looking for. I think they’ve found it. Last year we were here and I don’t think too many people were real comfortable. This year everybody is really bragging on ‘em. “I think of a few that got away (at Michigan), but most of all I think of the consistency. This is race track where we always seem to find a top five or even a top two or three just about every time we’ve been here. It’s a track we’ve been very close to some wins. We’ve had the car that dominated but got beat by fuel mileage, different things like that. It’s a track I’ve got a lot of good memories, and I always enjoy coming back here. “The tires are a lot different this year than they were last year. Last year, cars were real uncomfortable and unstable. They’ve hit on something and boy they were extremely fast here. I don’t want it to come down to a fuel mileage race. I think it’s much better when it doesn’t come down to fuel mileage. It puts it back into guys hands of driving the car hard toward the end to be able to win the race. That lap that Bobby Labonte put up there is extremely fast. He could be extremely tough here because he runs well here no matter what. He puts laps up like that, he could be a very tough guy to beat.”

    
    

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Michael Ho
Teams Hendrick Motorsports