Team Monte Carlo New Hampshire notes and quotes

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The 97 was on the outside of me and broke loose or something. It caught my right rear. I’m fine. I was going in the corner, and I was trying to stay out of everybody’s way.

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The 97 was on the outside of me and broke loose or something. It caught my right rear. I’m fine. I was going in the corner, and I was trying to stay out of everybody’s way. Chad was on the outside of me, and I guess he broke loose a little bit and caught me in the right rear and we both went into the wall.”

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I really don’t know what happened. I think Bobby (Hamilton) might have lost control going into the corner. I’m sure it was unintentional. I know Bobby wouldn’t wreck us on purpose. He just kind of got into us there and spun the Lowe’s Chevrolet around. I didn’t think we were going to be very good, but the car was getting better and better every lap. We were passing cars. It evened worked on the outside. It was unfortunate for us, but we’ll get back out and get a few points. That’s racing. That’s the way it goes. This is an awful good race team. If it can get put back together, these guys can do it. We had a little better car than we thought we’d have. We qualified bad. I was going for it. I slipped a little bit qualifying, but we were moving up through the field today. I think we were going to have a decent day.”

SKINNER ON HELPING FIX THE CAR “We’re all in this together. We’re all a team. If I have to under there and straighten the frame, I was a frame straightener and body man long before I was a driver. We were straightening the rear clip up enough so it would hold the fuel cell off the ground. All the suspension in the left front has been replaced, the brakes, everything. In a dealership, it would probably take three of four days to fix that kind of damage. The dealership would fix the body, too, but we’re not going to do that.”

LARRY McREYNOLDS (Crew chief No. 31 Lowe’s Monte Carlo) “Mike has worked on these things. He understands what you need to do to ‘em, and I think it’s pretty neat that he doesn’t go off and sit on the work bench and watch everybody else work and call him when we’re ready to go. Earnhardt used to try to help us fix wrecks. I think we could have saved about 20 or 30 laps if we had had somebody take care of him and keep him out of our way. Mike knows what we need to do and what needs to be done. It makes a pretty good statement about him to be under there working with us. This was just one of those racing deals. I’m a firm believer, and Earnhardt and I used to get in arguments about this, your race starts when you qualify. When you start at the back, like we did today, it puts you in a bad position. We were back there where we never should have been to begin with, so we didn’t do a good job on Friday. What’s the real problem? Getting in a wreck today or starting 31st? I think our real problem was starting 31st.”

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We’d been running in the top 10 all day. We had to come back in for gas because we didn’t get it full on the last pit stop. We had to pit again with 50 to go. They shouldn’t have ever stopped the race in the first place. It rained the longest. I guess somebody needed a caution and they threw it.”

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) “I had just about as soon they stop it. I’m a pretty good racer, but we’re going to have to stop and get some gas probably. Maybe we could stop and get four tires and gas and come back up to these guys, but we’re ahead of the 88 and 18 right now, so... The track had been slick. I was hoping they were going to stop it sooner. I was raising hell about it. They were just trying to get it in. We should be up there about third or fourth. The car was that good, but we lost a lugnut on that pit stop and it threw us way behind.”

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We didn’t pit that first caution. We got in the lead and way out front. We pitted and you lose a lap when you pit, and then Spencer wrecked. Just as we were going to get ahead of Tony, I almost thought I did before the yellow came out, but we didn’t. That just put us behind the whole race. The first rain helped because we were on the lead lap and got it back, but we had been at the end. It’s hard to pass here. Some good cars are here, and it’s hard to motor by them. I have pitted and have four new tires. Some of the guys ahead of me have to pit. That’ll put them behind me. I’m up for the challenge. It’s been a real good race for us. A good day would be winning, but just finishing on the lead lap and saying we ran good is nice. We were out here trying to win. I hope we get back racing so we can try to do that.”

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I’ve been practicing here all week long and we’ve had a good car. We start the race and the car is good. I get halfway through the race and all of a sudden I’m so loose I can’t drive it. I don’t know what happened. I feel like an idiot right now. We went from being in the top 15 to one lap down and 26th. I don’t understand why my car went so loose. We’ve got a little different setup than we had here in the past, and we’re way different than the 33 (teammate). Obviously, he’s got the right setup. This is the car I nearly won with here last time. We ran plenty of practice. The car stayed for 30 or 40 laps. I just couldn’t read it today. We’d like to see it go back green, but I didn’t think it was going to.”

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We tore the car apart this morning. We changed springs, shocks, rocker arms, just everything. The guys didn’t give up. They were the last ones to push the car through inspection and just barely got it out on the line for the beginning of the race. It paid off. The car was competitive. It was just a situation where the pit stops didn’t cycle out right. The car was good. The pit crew did a great job. Mike Skinner is a good driver. Although we don’t hang out, I consider him a friend. It was hard to race two-wide out there today. It’s too loose to do at this track. Under any other circumstances, Skinner would have been able to hold on to the car. We just got loose and got into each other, and it was my fault. I would have never done it on purpose.”

LARRY McCLURE (Team Owner No. 4 Kodak MAX film Monte Carlo) “We took a chance on the car. We had some new ideas and implemented them. We went for broke. This team worked non-stop today. We took a 43rd-place car and turned out a 22nd-place finish. We have been down. I’m real proud of this entire team. I think you’ll see us back in competitive mode read soon. We are making changes.”

RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We were screwed when they threw the yellow. We were sitting in great shape. We were one of probably five or six cars that didn’t have to pit. We were going to come out of this nice. If it’s a safety issue, nobody should debate it (caution). But you know what, it wasn’t raining a bit harder than it had been for the 30 laps before that, maybe 60 or 70 laps. It doesn’t make sense to me. We’re still strong. We just got out of sequence, and that just took us out of the game. On lap 28, Rusty and a bunch of us didn’t pit. If you’d do it again, you’d say, why would you pit? From the middle back, they pitted. It’s looking pretty smart right now. There’s a bunch of cars on the lead lap that can’t even come close to us. We’d drive by ‘em on new tires if we had the opportunity. But this sport is a lot more than brut speed. It’s strategic. When we were leading the race, we opted to stay out. I’d put that car up against any car here for 60 laps. Then from laps 61-80 we’re fighting for our life. Those first 60 laps, it was awesome. When you start the day running that well, and you know you have a chance to win, and you’re coming down to the last 30 or 40 laps with a chance for a top five. When we get a car like this what it does, it just reestablishes in your mind, if your car is right you can run with the best of them. If the equipment is not right, you’re just another team. I still maintain there’s no way I have an advantage over guys like Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin. I don’t have an advantage over those guys here. That’s probably the reality, but we can pretend and make believe like I do. We had a good run. We did everything we could do. We played our hand the way we played it. This late caution is very disappointing, but if they felt it was a safety issue, then we’re all for it.”

RICK HENDRICK (Car owner Hendrick Motorsports Monte Carlos) “I guess if I had enough gas to go all the way, I’d want it to go back green. Sitting here having to pit, I’d just as soon take the fourth (Nadeau) and fifth (Gordon) and go on home. If you could pass on this track, get some tires and see who had the best deal at the end... But it’s kind of track position here. It’s so critical, you could wad up some cars if it went back green. It looks like they want to start it back, but I think it was ready to stop it. “I’m looking forward to the second half of the season. We’ve learned a lot and our people have been together. We’ve seen the tracks one time. I can see it getting better. We’ve got some work to do, still, but the pit crews are good and we’ve got the bodies better. All around the cars are getting in the top 10s and top fives and are leading. Little Nadeau, he’s due. He’s had some rotten luck. I think he’ll win a race in the second half or really be a contender. Terry has had horrible luck. I’m ready for the second half. We’ve learned a lot about the new cars. We’ve had so many changes, other than the car itself.” “I’m not giving up yet (on Jeff Gordon winning the title), but there’s an awful lot of good cars ahead of him. It’s so tight. It’s going to be a real dog fight to the end. I think this will be one of the years you’ll see who can handle the pressure. Earnhardt is going to be tough. He’s sitting there. He’s been there a lot of time. I know he’s pretty hungry for it. I don’t know if I’d bet for him, but I wouldn’t bet against him.”

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) “Sometimes you’ve got to play the rain race. I think a lot of us knew the rain was going to be coming and it might not make it all the way to the end. We short pitted, which really got us about three positions, so that was a good call by Robbie Loomis and the guys. I’ll take a top five. Track position is so important. If we had gone back green, we would have had to come back in to pit. Some guys would have stayed out and that would put us behind. I’m fine with fifth. I’d like to see it end under checkered conditions, but we had to play the game. We played it to the rain, and we hope it plays off for us. I’m going to Indy to test for a couple of days and then relax at home for the weekend off.”

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) “The rain changed our strategy a lot. We were anticipating rain a lot earlier than it came. We thought before that first run after it went back green that it was going to rain and it didn’t. A lot of the guys were in different sequence. Fortunately, only 13 cars were on the lead lap, so we should be could no matter which way it goes. We’ll get tires, but it’s so hard to pass at this track. I’d take a top five and be happy with it.”

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “The car has been good. We had a good qualifying run. We’ve been staying up front, and the guys did an awesome job on pit road. That means a lot. We haven’t had to fight from the back yet. That’s been a big plus for this team. I just want the race to end. I think everybody wants to get out of this place and get next weekend off. It’s been a long, tough week for everybody here. If we get a top five here, I’ll be happy. Whether it’s Jeff or Terry or me, we’re all a team. It’s the best run we’ve had all year long. We ran great at Charlotte, but we lost an engine, so this is our best overall performance of the season. We’ve had a strange season. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I guess you could say it’s the Jerry Nadeau roller-coaster year. We’ve had some great runs at a lot of places, and we’re getting closer.”

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We pushed all day. We couldn’t get it to do nothing. It was good to have that caution because we were way off. We’ve had a couple of race tracks that we’ve never been to and a couple of race tracks that we haven’t run good at, so we’re struggling a little bit right now. We’ve been on a streak of tracks that we don’t like. I’m going to a couple of concerts during the off weekend and get this stuff off my mind. We’re going to test a couple of days, and then I’m just going to get away from it for a little bit and take it easy.”

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “It was one of those close but not enough days. I think our Oakwood Chevy ran good all day. We overcame a lot of odds today. We put a new motor in this morning. We didn’t quite think the one we had in yesterday was quite right. We put a new one in today. The motor shop has been working hard and have been having some really good motors lately. This is the car we ran at Martinsville, and we just happened to go to Greenville (S.C.) and test last week and this car was a little bit better than the other one. It had that feel, and I said this is the one we need. We just messed up qualifying. We were fourth or fifth fastest on the board before qualifying. We had to pick up two tenths from where we were at, and we thought we could do that. The adjustments we made weren’t the right ones. When you’re going sideways into turn one, it puts a dampener on your time, and that’s kind of what happened to us there. “It’s fun. I was kind of in cruise mode all day. Starting 30th, we passed a lot of cars early. We ended up running in the top 10. Tony was really tough. I wasn’t sure I had anything for him. At times, I have Andy (car owner Petree) telling me times of what I’m running and what he’s running. I think our cars were very comparable. It’s just one of those situations. I wish I could have run with him more and put some pressure on him. The green flag stop we had, our stop was a little bit slow and it cost us about a quarter of a front straightaway or more of where we were running to him before we pitted. We’ll just have to take that. I’ll take it. “We think we would have had enough to get to just a couple of laps to the end. I don’t know if we had enough to go all the way. I think we were in a lot better shape than Tony was and also in better shape than a lot of the cars behind us -- the 25 and the 3. I think they were in worse shape than we were. We could have had a couple more caution laps, and we would have been sitting pretty good. “I think the only close calls were on the restarts. For some reason the track is really slippery, and no one can really figure out why that is. It’s been that way for the last four or five years since we’ve been up here, especially if they put new tires on for restarts. It’s kind of strange. The top groove will be better than the bottom for a couple of laps. It swaps around. Just a lot of crazy things go on. I was sideways out there, especially on the restarts. Once the tires heated up, I think Goodyear made a good decision on the tire they brought here. It seemed to stay real consistent with my car and my car felt great all day. We’ll take that. “When you are out there focused on everything you have to do, you try to block out everything you can to do your job as perfect as you can. Believe me, the accident that happened this weekend, it probably hits nobody harder than myself. Losing my brother three years ago in a racing deal, it’s tough. I still ask myself why this is happening to all these young drivers. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Believe me, I’ve been thinking about it ever since i t happened, but when you get out there in that race car you’ve got to be focused on what you have to do. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to win a race. “There was Earnhardt at one time. He was up underneath of me and got me sideways and lost a couple of spots. I passed a lot of race cars today, outside and inside. It just shows how good my car was working. When your car works good, it’s easy. The things with Tony, it seems like he could get through a couple of cars a little better. I’d get held up and he’d get that distance. It would stretch out and then it would shrink. It would just depend who you were around. People held me up worse than they held him up. That would determine how we were. Overall, we didn’t change hardly anything on our car, a little bit of tire pressure all day. It started out sunny and we were loose at the start. Then the clouds came in and we got tighter. On one tire change through there when we should have been tight, we got loose. After about 15 laps, we were good. “The cars I was racing with, the 25, 20, 3, that was pretty much the group we were in the last part of the race. I knew they were pretty much on strategies like we were. I didn’t know how far we could go on gas. I knew they were in the same boat we were, but we were faster than they were. I was trying to just focus on Tony and make sure I hit my marks on every lap and did everything I needed to do to run fast laps. “For Andy, this is definitely a good race, a good momentum builder. We’ve had some good race cars this year. We don’t really have the finishes to show for ‘em. We’ve had some good finishes, but we should have more good finishes. Situations just worked out where I wrecked the car or we broke the motor or something happened and it’s cost us. I think we were 23rd in the points coming into this race. The last four or five races, we’ve been really good. We’ve been in the top 10 in just about every race we’ve run. Pocono, we were there and had an engine problem. At Daytona, we finished 11th. We’ve been good. All the guys and all the work that’s going on at Andy Petree Racing, everybody is working hard. Everybody is focused on what needs to happen and we’re trying to help my teammate Kenny (Wallace) as much as I can, and they’re helping us, too, in return, and I think it’s showing. I think both teams are running better. “The only time we led was when we started making green-flag pit stops. Tony was doing exactly what I would have done in the lead. I was trying to run as hard as I could. He knows you’ve got to run as hard as you can every lap. There’s no conserving. You’ve got to get as many guys down a lap as you can. When he pitted, I kept up my pace until we had to pit. Then, the next guy did the same. The only time we got to the front was during the pit stop sequence, but we were running second at the time. There’s all kinds of things that could happen. If we had had the killer stop under green, we could have maybe made up some time there, but we didn’t. We got a little farther behind. Running second is not bad, considering I beat him here the last race. A little different situation, but I think we had a good race today. “I didn’t know how far I could go. I didn’t have any worries out there. I never even asked them how far we could go or if we could make it or what the situation was. My job was to run that thing as hard as I could every lap and then they would let me know when I needed to make a pit. At the first rain, everybody knew the rain was coming, so I think everybody was geared up for that. When it came, it worked out good for me and Tony. We were expecting it to rain, but we got pretty close to the end of the race before it starting raining. Tony gambled early when he pitted. Mark stayed out a long time. I don’t know how he could go so far on gas. We were close on gas. He went 20 more laps than we did. We definitely need to work on our fuel mileage. “I don’t think he was too dominant. He definitely got to the front, but believe me, I would love for myself and him and Mark and a bunch of us to put on new tires and go out there and have a 20-lap sprint. I think that would be pretty cool as long as I could start first or second. But it rained today and the race got shortened. “When we were practicing in the morning (Saturday) we broke a motor, so we put in our race motor. We got like 20 minutes of practice at the end. They did a good job of changing the engine. We just never really ran right, but we requalified and picked up three spots by requalifying and started 30th. In the final practice, something just wasn’t right in the engine, so they decided to go ahead and put another one in. It paid off, because it definitely ran a lot better today.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Mike Skinner , Jerry Nadeau , Andy Petree , Michael Ho , Robbie Loomis , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports