Team Monte Carlo Indy test day one

Testing didn't start until after 1 p.m. because of rain and was cut short by another rainstorm at 5 p.m. TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: DO THE NEW SOFT WALLS AFFECT THE LINE? "Well, I haven't really noticed it, but I ...

Testing didn't start until after 1 p.m. because of rain and was cut short by another rainstorm at 5 p.m.

TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: DO THE NEW SOFT WALLS AFFECT THE LINE?

"Well, I haven't really noticed it, but I guess it has taken a little bit of it away, a foot and a half or so away. But, it's been a year since we've been here so no one probably notices it."

ON THE NEW GROOVING OF THE SURFACE: "I didn't really notice that either. These tires are so hard you couldn't wear them out anyway, probably. The tires seem to be working fine. If I wouldn't have known about the race track...It looks different, that's the only thing. It's not all one color. That's the only thing I noticed different about it, but I don't notice the way it grips, or anything. We haven't really run enough laps to tell the tire wear."

DO YOU LIKE THIS TRACK? "It's OK. It's a fun track to race on and every place we go to track position is very important and this one here is as important as anywhere. It seems like you need a really good car 'cause it's hard to get to the front. Track position is pretty important."

WHAT DO YOU LEARN AT THESE TESTS? "I thought we had a pretty good car here a year ago. Our cars are a lot better now. We really came to try different stuff and so we'll play with that for a little while before we go back to our basic stuff tomorrow. You don't have an opportunity to try a lot of things on a race weekend, you just don't have time. A test gives us a chance to try some different things that we think might work, might not work, who knows? It's good for the other three (Hendrick Motorsports) teams that aren't here. They'll know coming in next week; all the engineers are here. They'll know not to try what we've tried. If they learn something we'll come back with that."

ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

"You know, I didn't even notice the soft wall. I guess probably 'cause I was here driving the Indy car so I didn't notice it as being a difference. The biggest thing I see is probably the grooving gave us more grip. It did with the Indy cars and I believe it did with these cars as well." ON TESTING TWO CARS: "Today we're not really track testing, we're testing different configurations, different packages, and not really looking for speed here at Indianapolis. We have one car with a different package than the other car, and we like that car a little better. Hopefully this will give us a little bit better direction. I'm just starting to work with Kevin (Hamlin) and these guys. Every time we run together he learns what I like or don't like more, and it's going to make us better."

DO YOU HAVE AN EDGE BECAUSE YOU RACED HERE IN THE 500? "I don't think so. I don't think there's an edge here. They're such different cars. You're talking about 2000 pounds almost, 1800 pounds to be exact. But there's a big difference between an IRL car and a Winston Cup car. They're both fun to race around here. The track's still a fun race track. I know it's difficult to pass and that's one thing we're going to have to work on tomorrow is getting a good enough, and fast enough car that we can come out and qualify well (with)."

WHICH CAR DO YOU LIKE BETTER? "I have more experience around here in an Indy car, but every time I run the Cup car here I start to like it more and more."

BOBBY HAMILTON, NO. 55 SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

"I forgot all about the soft walls. I didn't even notice them, so that shows how different it is. I forgot about it until you just mentioned it, so there's nothing different on the race track."

ON THE GROOVING: "That's the same; it's just the same old place. I run here one time a year. We're just shaking two cars down trying to figure out what we're going to do a full blown test on. We've been wide open, haven't done any kind of qualifying stuff or anything."

DO YOU LIKE THIS TRACK? "Yes. I have and I haven't (done well here). It's been up and down for everybody. The third year here I sat on the outside pole and led a lot, finished fifth or something like that. Another time we blew the tire. It's been a sort of roller coaster-type of race track. It's a pretty neat race to come to."

STEVE PARK, NO. 1 PENNZOIL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

"It's hot. The humidity is so high, it's making us all sweat. We're not only working hard, we're sweating hard too."

CHANGES TO THE TRACK? "The groove seems to be the same. The soft walls for us stock cars you don't really notice it. It's not in the groove, it hasn't changed the groove for us. Right now the race track seems to be in good shape."

ON THE GROOVING: "It just seems real smooth, probably a lot smoother than it was, but the track always, for stock cars, was smooth. So I think you see it more in the Indy-type car because of how low they are. The big old stock cars are used to going over rough surfaces."

DO YOU LIKE THIS TRACK? "Yeah, this track is really good. It's great to come here. It was always a dream of mine to race at Indy and if you don't do it in an Indy car, now we can do it in a stock car. That's fortunate for us 'cause I took the path coming up in NASCAR and developing to be a Winston Cup driver and thought I'd never get a chance to run Indy and all of a sudden we're at the Brickyard; that's pretty cool."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

DID YOU NOTICE THE SOFT WALLS? "No, I didn't even think about it. I didn't even notice that. I'm glad they're there."

ON THE GROOVING? "I didn't even notice that."

HOW DO YOU LIKE THIS TRACK? "I like it pretty good. It's kind of difficult to get your car to handle good going around here for some reason, but we've run all right here the last couple of times. We didn't finish real great, but we've been up front all day."

SHORT DAY, WHAT CAN YOU GET OUT OF A DAY LIKE THIS? "Not a whole lot. We tried a few things, but don't know whether we really learned much from it. Tomorrow will be a long, hard day for us. Probably be pretty warm. It'll be kind of tough on us." DAYTONA IS SAME LENGTH, BUT YOU HAVE TO TREAT THIS TRACK MORE LIKE A SHORT TRACK: "It's difficult as a driver to get around a flat corner, that's for sure. it takes a lot of finesse and ability and a good handling car."

WITH RULES CHANGES, HOW DO YOU TRANSLATE OLD INFORMATION TO THIS YEAR? "We went and tested in Chicago, we kind of brought the same setup we gained from there to here. That's what we do. A lot of tracks we (run on) do cross over."

-tmc-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Hendrick Motorsports