Team Monte Carlo Richmond race notes

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Marcis decided to pack up and go home without trying to requalify. “We cannot make our car go fast enough to get qualified. We learned some things this morning working on...

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

NOTE: Marcis decided to pack up and go home without trying to requalify.

“We cannot make our car go fast enough to get qualified. We learned some things this morning working on the car. We learned some things with shocks. We can get the car in a loose mode. We can get it in a push mode. We can’t make it. I might be stupid, but I’m not ignorant. To go down there and spend $1,500 on a set of tires just to do what, to prove you’re an idiot. I don’t need to do it.

“NASCAR says they’re looking at it (second-round qualifying), but it’s too late to do anything about it this year. That’s what they’ve been saying for three years. What would be fair is either have one round of qualifying and let that be it or make all the cars that aren’t qualified after first round, and that means from 26 back, make them requalify. If it’s 100 degrees, it’s 100 degrees for everybody and you’re on equal ground. Everybody would have to work extra hard to get their cars good in the heat and they would be extra good in tonight’s race. I’ve told them all sorts of solutions. I don’t

know if they go for it or not. They’re going to do their thing. “They’ve got a great organization. They’ve done a lot of great things, but this qualifying situation needs to be addressed. They always talk about a level playing field. Those are key words around here. Well, if we speak it, let’s do it.

“I’ve made three races this year. We got rained out a couple of times. At least you’d feel like you were standing on equal ground. I can’t stand here and say I’d have made ‘em all if the rules were different or I would have made two more. If I don’t have my car good enough to beat those guys the first day, hopefully I’d have it good enough the second day or I’d be in the same boat. It ain’t equal and it ain’t right the way it is now. It would still be on my shoulders to get the car better for second round if they changed the way they did it. I just want to see it equal for everybody. It ain’t equal and it ain’t right now. The job would still lie on my shoulders. At least you’d have a fair shot at it.

“Spending $1,500 on another set of tires to requalify today would be like throwing money away as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t have it to throw away. It’s a tough deal. If they want a level playing field, then let’s level it up.

“We had a problem yesterday. We lost a gear that was a key gear we needed. I didn’t have a spare. I feel like that cost me a good shot at making it. I lost a 500 gear. That’s a key ingredient here. I had to put an 86 gear in, but you needed the 500 gear to pull it off the corner. You lose a lot of sleep over these deals. You ride home thinking about it and talking about it, talking to yourself about it. I chose to bring a standard snout car here, and now I personally think that was a mistake. We should have brought the low snout car, but hindsight is 20-20, too.

“Helen (Marcis, wife) tapes the races for me, and I kind of look through them kind of fast. If there’s something I’m interested in, I’ll watch it. Beyond that, I don’t watch them. I’m not ready to watch the races on TV. I want people watching my car in the races.”

JOE FALK (Car owner No. 91 Little Joe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

NOTE: As of 1 p.m. Saturday, Falk had only four members of a seven-man over-the-wall pit crew assembled for the Pontiac Excitement 400. The jackman, two tire carriers and a gas catch man were signed and ready to rumble. However, Falk was still looking for a front tire changer, rear tire changer and gas man. Todd Bodine drove Falk’s Monte Carlo earlier this season in Atlanta and finished seventh in that race. Members of a Busch Grand National team pitted the car in that race, but most of that crew had to go home after last night’s Hardee’s 250 at RIR. Falk was waiting to see which teams failed to qualify for Saturday night’s race and then find the three additional over-the-wall crew members from those teams.

“You can’t hire people to hang around your shop and practice three days a week when you’re not running all the races,” Falk said. “You can’t really put a team together. Everybody says it’s easy. Just go get a Busch team. That was our intention, but these guys have backed up work at home and they had to leave. Even though we pay them real well, that doesn’t help their Busch team owners. We get them over here and they do well like we did at Atlanta and everybody is looking at them. Then everybody is over there trying to hire them away from the Busch guys.

“We had the fastest car on the sheet this morning. Those two ahead of us were in qualifying mode. We got some bites from Atlanta, but nothing worked out as far as sponsorship goes. We put a lot of effort into this. We’ve got a brand new car for tonight’s race. We’ve got a brand new car for Charlotte, but we don’t know if we’re going yet or not. We’ve got 12 full-time employees, and it’s hard to keep ‘em. We lose tons of money on this deal. Fortunately, the car business is good.

“After Todd wins the race tonight, we won’t have any trouble getting someone to pit the car. Todd knows we’re going to give him the best stuff we can. We don’t crimp. If we’re running up front and the leaders pit for tires, we’ll pit for tires, too. We’re renting motors from Pro Motors, and they ain’t cheap. We spend $42,000 on a motor for each race. This is a good team, and we’d like to run more races. But we’re not going to run ‘em if we can’t afford to run ‘em.”

TODD BODINE (No. 91 Little Joe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“We ran over something and cut the right front tire down. It’s a shame because the Little Joe’s car was flying. We had the fastest practice times, and I was just working my way up through the field. We were taking our time and pacing ourselves. Mike Hillman and this whole crew builds great race cars. We’ll try it again sometime. I don’t know when. Joe (car owner Falk) doesn’t have a sponsor. We need a sponsor. If we can get one, we’ll run some more. If not, you never know. We definitely ran something over. The car wasn’t pushing that much. I knew it didn’t wear it out to blow it out. It’s just one of those things that happen in racing.

“Goodyears don’t normally blow. You’ve got to run something over to cut a tire down. We had a good race car. It was a new car and we had it hooked up in Happy Hour and the morning practice session. We were the fastest in both sessions. We were trying to pace ourselves. We were taking our time. It’s a shame we ended up with a flat tire. That’s racing, and we’ll get ‘em next time

“It was good. Jeff Burton was actually holding me up a little bit. I tried him a couple of times and couldn’t get by him, so I just decided to ride him because he was pretty good. He was working the traffic well, and they were getting out of his way. The car was good on the long runs, and that’s what we needed. The rumor in the garage area was we had the car to beat, and I think they were right about that. It’s disappointing. It’s a wrecked race car now, and these guys worked their tails off to fix it. It’s a shame to have a good car like that and not be able to capitalize on it.”

JOE FALK (Car owner No. 91 Little Joe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“That’s pretty heart breaking. I don’t know what we’re going to do now. This car is pretty well done for. It needs a new front clip, and it was a brand new car. We probably won’t go to Charlotte now. If we don’t get a sponsor, we won’t.”

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“I’m OK. I was afraid I wasn’t going to make the whole race. It’s pretty humid and hot tonight. I just thank God I was here. We got part of what we needed to do. We qualified pretty good. We were racing good. I made a few rookie mistakes out there. I told the crew I was a little rusty. I’m sorry Todd crashed, but there’s nobody I’d rather have in my car than Todd Bodine. He’s a great driver, plus he’s my little brother and I love him. I want to thank all the fans for all their support and all their prayers to get me in this car. It’s really helped. I’ll get better and I’ll be all right. This is really a tough track to come back to. I wish I’d run California last week. It would have better prepared me for this one.

“It felt good. I was having fun. The car got a little loose in the beginning. We made some adjustments and we were running really good. I made a couple of rookie mistakes. I stalled the car leaving the pits. The first time. The second time, I came in when the pits were closed. I didn’t see the flag for opening and closing the pits. Nobody told me it was closed, so I came in. I knew it was going to be tough to finish. I wouldn’t have anyone else but my brother in the car. Todd is a great driver. He’s the best guy to be in there right now. I’m sorry he had trouble, but I’m glad he’s out there right now. I saw him wreck. So I knew he was available. There’s no one I’d rather have in the car than him. It looks like he’s doing a great job.”

RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“It just got away from us. We made some adjustments and went the wrong way on it. The track was real slick. We’re making progress though. We took two tires on our first pit stop. We had done it in practice and knew it would work. We’ll try anything once, but it was a good call. It got us track position, and that was the idea. Come to find out, I think it was the best the car ran. The only liability that late in the run, it gave up left-side wear. It told us how we need to come back. If we had raced under 7:30 or 8 o’clock conditions all day, I think we would have been very tough. It got dark and cooler and we got worse and worse. I know there was something on the race track. It just got slicker and slicker. My car got loose getting in. I about lost it four or five other times. That time I got up in the marbles and that was it. I was good high and low up until about lap 150. The things we were doing just weren’t helping at that point. We needed a caution to get in the pits, but we ended up being the caution. It was fun running up front. That’s the greatest motivator in the world. I think that will be very healthy for us. We’ve got some good tracks coming up. We’ve got both Charlottes and Dover. We’ll probably skip Pocono and Michigan, but we’ll be at Daytona and New Hampshire and try to have some more fun.”

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“Tony Stewart had the car to beat. We would have been running for third if he hadn’t had that problem on pit road. We pulled out there pretty good one time, and Tony ran us down and pulled out on us there pretty good. Our car was about like Junior’s. We were pretty equal. He was ahead of me. I tried to save my tires and tried to make a move there at the end. I didn’t really have enough to get by him. He did a good job. He had a good car. It was a good run for us. I’m tickled with a second-place finish. I think we’ve got a much better team this year than we had last year. We’ve had some good runs. We haven’t been quite as consistent as we need to. We’ve been working on that. I’m happy with second place. It was a good run for us.

“It was my fault. I had ‘em tighten my car up. I’ve been racing here a long time, and I know the track gets tighter when the sun goes down. I was pushing pretty bad early in the race. We just worked the whole race trying to get it where it would turn. It was so tight in the middle of the corner. We made adjustments on every pit stop and finally got it pretty good about the last 100 laps

“The 22 car cut into the back of me getting into the corner and about turned me around. Luckily, I didn’t hit the wall. I really feel like we’ve got a great team. We kind of got off to a slow start there. I really think we’ve equaled everything we accomplished last year except for winning a race. We’ve had more top fives than we had all last year. The only thing we haven’t done is win a race. I think we’ve got a good team. We go out every week and work hard. I think Gary has done a good job. He’s put together a great team. We’ve got a really good group of guys.

“That’s pretty much the same setup we ran last time when Gary was here with us. We made some little adjustments, but it wasn’t a whole lot different.

“We lost a right front tire here the last time we were here. It was because of brake heat. It wasn’t because our car wasn’t handling good. It was because our brakes were too hot and it burned the inside of the tire and blew it out.”

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)

“They made the call for two tires. We were going for it. We went for it and got got. We finished 10th, but it was a sorry 10th. The car was a lot better than that. It was top five easy and maybe a second or third or maybe a win. Junior did a good job. I didn’t have anything for him with two tires. I really wish I could have raced him for the win. That would have really been fun, but he did a good job. I guess he’s going to make a habit of winning. He’s the first repeat winner this season, and I guess that’s a pretty good deal for a rookie.”

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“We struggled with a tight car the entire race. We made every adjustment possible and just weren’t able to get it competitive. The rear end went out. We had to fall out of the race with only 28 laps left. The gears in the rear end must have burned up.”

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“He (Tony Stewart) didn’t give me a whole lot of room. I think he cut a tire down. We ran as hard as we could. We weren’t the fastest, but we held on to it. I drove as hard as I could drive. I didn’t think I could hold off Terry. He was coming pretty fast. We didn’t have the best race car. I really feel bad about Tony Stewart, but he didn’t give me a whole lot of room. I hate he cut his tire. He really had the fastest car. I’m pretty happy for Budweiser. I want to thank my dad. He’s doing a great job hiring the right people. I might drive a pretty good race car, but we’ve got some pretty good people making these things go fast right now. I’m pretty happy. I’m proud to take it to victory lane for them because they deserve. The car never was great tonight, but halfway through the race, we got it where I could drive it. Our long runs weren’t that good, so the cautions helped us out. We’ve got a great motor program. The guys are doing a great job. It makes the driver look pretty good when they go that fast. Steve Hmiel and all the guys, all the engineers, work real hard. They believed in me, even though I didn’t have any experience in Winston Cup. That’s how we got here.”

STEVE HMIEL (Technical Director No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“Our pit stops were slow. We made great downforce and had great horsepower. We’ve got great team leaders. Our pit stops were slow. There’s no excuse for Steve Park coming in the pits and not at least going out even with everybody else. I’m no all wound up about it. We’ll settle it Monday morning, but we’re not doing the job for Steve Park on pit road that we need to be doing. (Little E) is unbelievable. He had a good car. Made it better, made it better, made it better. Drove the wheels off of it. Terry Labonte had him up there, and he still won the race. It’s just Little E.”

TODD BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“Geoff runs a different seat, and I just wasn’t comfortable in it. I had back cramps from about the 10th lap on. He’s just really got it straight up and down, and I’ve got mine back a whole lot more. I was just all hunched over and I got cramped up. It was hard to drive. I worked my butt off. It was a good race car. It was a pleasure to drive, a lot of fun. I had a lot of motivation, getting Geoff back so soon. Qualifying fourth and running so good, I just couldn’t let him down. He had a good car and knew it in practice. He told me. It’s a lot of motivation to go out there and run hard. It’s a lot of fun. Any time you get two laps back it’s pretty incredible, especially against Rusty Wallace and those guys. It’s a shame we got two laps down. We would have been racing them for the win. I don’t know how much I’m getting paid, but I earned my money tonight. I got a lot more out of it running that good than I ever could getting paid. To run that good in two different cars on the same night in the same race, hopefully some of these people in this garage area are paying attention. I don’t know how many times I’ve got to prove this to people. I belong over here. I love it over here. You’ve just got to get the right opportunity and the right equipment. I can do it. I’m having fun, doing good in the Busch Series. These substitutions roles seem to agree with me pretty good.”

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)

“We were up there battling up front. I guess Dale Jarrett just decided he was much faster than me, which he wasn’t. He just slammed me. I think it’s a little payback from Martinsville, but it’s a little bit different when you’re racing for an up-front position in the closing laps. We’ve got way too far to go to be racing like that.”

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Monte Carlo)

“This was a long weekend. We were fast in the final practice so we knew we had a fast car when the race started, but it felt like I had no brakes. The right front tire went flat, and we hit the wall. The right front tire kept going flat. I never really had to push the car since we were so many laps down, but the car was good at the end of the race. We’ll just pack it up and head back home.”

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“We got extremely loose and lost a lap early in the race. We worked our butts off to get back on the lead lap. I’ve got to thank my team for sticking with me. We were lucky to have a good set of tires at the right time. I think (while the team was on the tail end of the lead lap) we had less than 10 laps on our tires and the leaders had about 30. That allowed us to remain on the tail end and another caution gave us our lap back. We got lucky that the leaders couldn’t pressure us and we were able to stay ahead of the pack for awhile. During the last pit stop (lap 362) we got cocky and went for two tires. Unfortunately, the car didn’t respond the way we had hoped. But, from where we were to where we ended up, I’d say we had a good night. Our goal was to finish in the teens, but I’m more proud about how this team rallied. Now we need to focus on our next race and improve on this night.”

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“We had an awesome car to start with. I thought we were going to be in contention to win the thing. The car just did what it does a lot. It started getting away from us. It got tighter and tighter and tighter and we couldn’t get it to free up. We just can’t keep up with these race tracks. The adjustments we made were wrong. I drove it harder and it got worse. I just overdrove the car and wrecked it. We were real tight over there and I kept breaking the back end loose to get it to turn. I just tried a little too hard and got the back end broke loose and lost control of it. I tore up a good race car, and it’s a shame. We should have just taken what we could get and we might have finished 10th or 12th.”

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

“We started off pretty good, about a fifth or sixth-place car. We trickled on back to about 11th or 12th. The car was loose in, loose off. We came in and made an adjustment. The car was a little bit too tight in the center, but our car was real good when the run started for about 20 or 30 laps. I could pass the people and make up some positions, but on the end of a long run, we’d suffer a little bit for me to be too loose in or tight in the middle. Right there at the end, Tony and the guys got the car where it was giving me all it could give me. We got it turning good and got it good and snug getting in and good and snug getting off. I was pretty happy to finish second behind Tony. Then we had the caution and Tony kind of made it tight coming out of the pits and I did all I could to keep from running over them boys in the 60 car. I knocked the right front fender off my car and tore up Tony’s car pretty bad to where it couldn’t stay out. He had to come in and get a tire put on. Then the last 30 laps or last 20 laps or whatever with the right front fender knocked off the car, it was real tight. The last 10 laps, it pushed the car and chattered up off the corner or else I think we would have been able to hold our own. We had a good enough car before tearing the fender up to keep our distance.

“I felt like he was pretty tight on me coming out of the pits. The guy who was changing the right rear tire on the 60 car was jumping out of my way. I couldn’t have got no closer without hitting that car. It was just a bad situation. Tony was coming out of the pits behind us so he couldn’t just make a hard right and left and come out of the pits. He came straight out of his box. I guess he just didn’t anticipate me coming out at about the same time.

“I may have been able to make it close, but getting around him I doubt. It was pretty tough (those last few laps). My car had gotten pretty tight. I was having to really concentrate on my entrance in the corners to be able to get off the corner fast. He (Terry Labonte) was coming quickly. I didn’t know what his intentions were, so I was just holding my breath.

“I felt like turns one and two was the tighter corner for me. He would gain on my getting into three, but I would get off that corner a little better where I could kind of pull what he gained, I could gain it back. Turn one and two I felt like he would just eat me up.

“It could have easily tore my tire up. I was lucky and fortunate it didn’t, but it did tear up the fender bad to where the car didn’t handle the same it was. We were still good enough and had new tires where we could hang on there. We had a pretty decent lead. I don’t think if I had been able to get by my dad and get that lead we had that we’d have won the race. Terry and them were pretty strong there at the end.

“It surprises me that it’s me in the car. It don’t surprise me that the car is doing it. I’m pretty surprised that I’m winning races in the Winston Cup Series from looking back on where I’ve been and what I did and the racing I’ve been having all these years. With all the effort put forth and the people hired and personnel brought in to put together a program like we’ve got, we had a good race team in the Busch Series, and Tony and Tony Jr. make the calls on what people we brought with us and what people we added to the team. I’m really getting used to letting them guys pretty much make the decisions. I’m getting comfortable with that. They’ve also hired a lot of good personnel in the engineering department and bringing Richie Gilmore in for our motor department was a big plus for us. I can’t go out there and do that without a good motor. I can’t go out there and do that without a good race car. I can’t get in another race car and be able to do the same thing. All those things factor in, and that car was probably a lot faster tonight than it showed. I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot of experience to gain to be able to use that potential.

“He got a little high there on the restart going into one and two. I got a good run on him, and I think I got into him a little bit and kept him from coming off the corner where he could hold the position. Once I got beside him, he (Dale Earnhardt) might have backed off a little bit and let me go on by, to get behind me to keep from getting trained, but he still trickled on back there to about 10th. That was a pretty gutsy call to get two tires with that many laps to go. He had about 40 or 50 on his left sides. I know he was pretty much just a sitting duck for those first four or five guys.

“I’ve been there every minute of it. Not to be smart aleck or nothing, but I’ve had my eyes wide open the whole time. It’s been pretty surprising some of the things that have been said, some of the people that I’ve met. You meet pretty interesting characters going this type of pace. I’ve been fortunate enough to... the best thing about it is I’ve been with my dad and he’s not going to let any fool come in there and mess with me and take advantage of me. I think Tony and Tony Jr. feel the same way. They know exactly what kind of potential we’ve got and what we can be a few years down the road. We’re smart enough to sift through the parts and pieces of our lives and get the good and get rid of the bad and keep adjusting until we’re better and better. It might not be going nowhere, but I talked with Tony and them and they knew the way they were running that Busch team was going to be OK in the Winston Cup Series, but they knew there were some things they were going to have to adjust to, some new things and different things. Their work ethic has just got harder. They’ve been putting in a lot of hours and I’ve been tearing up some race cars. I walk in that shop and they’re all shiny and ready to go. It’s been a big surprised, and I think that’s why things have happened so fast. What the public sees is just me, but there’s a lot of people in the background working at that same pace making things work and come together.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Steve Park , Michael Ho