ANDY GRAVES, Cup Series Senior Program Manager, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) How helpful has this test been for the Toyota teams? "This test has been extremely beneficial to all of our teams, as well as TRD (Toyota Racing Development).
ANDY GRAVES, Cup Series Senior Program Manager, TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development)
How helpful has this test been for the Toyota teams? "This test has been extremely beneficial to all of our teams, as well as TRD (Toyota Racing Development). We have been able to gather a bunch of information that will help us in the off-season prepare for next year with this new car, in what has been optimal testing conditions. The cars are running on tires that are comparable to what we will see here next year in the race, and the cool temperatures give the track a little more grip than normal."
What are the goals for Toyota heading into the off-season? "Our main goal is to finish the season with good runs for all of our teams, build momentum into the off-season and come to Daytona next year with a stronger program overall. We have seen all of our teams make considerable progress in our first season, and I'm optimistic that will continue through the winter and into 2008."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 55 NAPA Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
What are the goals of this test for you as a driver? "It's not about the driver it's about the car. You have to get your car balanced so you can put your big foot on the floor and hold it down at a track like Atlanta. It's real important here to understand the very thin line we walk trying to get the car hooked up. It's a real difficult job to try to figure out the balance. You want a car tight enough to hammer it like we need to, but free enough where we don't slide the nose. I've been racing here for 25 years now, so I know it's not about the driver. It's about talking to the team and getting the car balanced."
As an owner, what do you want to take from this test? "I want to have happy drivers. Happy drivers are drivers that like what their car is doing and how it feels. If we can get on the plane today and have everybody like what their cars are doing, as an owner, that makes you happy. The fact that I'm out there on the track with them as an owner makes me understand the challenges that they're faced with. For me, it's really neat to be an owner and driver at this level because I'm really able to relate to what my guys are telling me."
DALE JARRETT, No. 44 UPS Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
What have you focused on as a team at this test? "I think the biggest thing for us was to try as many things as we possibly could so we can compile a lot of information. When we get back, the engineers look at it more than the drivers. I just try to give them feedback with some stuff, and they can compare that to what they see. Hopefully from there, we'll be able to make some decisions. We'll have to look at the information quickly, because we tried some things with Phoenix on our minds next week. Looking at these tracks, it's definitely going to be a work in progress. These cars are a lot different than the older cars."
Is there an advantage to having three cars to pull information from? "It was definitely an advantage here this week. Having everybody doing something different gets us a lot more information. We can take that information and the teams will get together and decide what we really need to focus on. From there, we can get to the destination we're looking for a lot quicker."
How important is this test knowing the types of tracks on the schedule early in the season? "That was one of the biggest reasons for me being here, trying to help in that scenario. Finding out today that we're going to have a different right-side tire we're going to have in the race hurts a bit, but we still gathered a lot of information. After we gather that information here and go to the California and Las Vegas tests next year, we'll have a much better idea of what we're going to try to do."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE, No. 27 Unicef Camry, Bill Davis Racing
How different is the COT from the truck you drove here? "The car is so much different than the truck to drive. In the COT, you carry a lot more speed down the straightaways and slow down a lot more in the corners. It's a lot different to drive and more difficult to drive. The tires drop off quite quickly, so to get your best lap, you have to go out hard and figure out things at the same time. It's tough, but it's fun. We're trying to make progress all the time, and that's what matters."
What happened when you brushed the wall early in the session? "Yesterday, we seemed to be our fastest on the high line, so this morning we tried that again, but were too tight. I came in fast like yesterday, but the car didn't turn. I used the wall to turn. The car was okay, and it didn't do a lot of damage, but that's not the way to go."
Is the long NASCAR schedule going to be difficult for you? "I don't think it's any worse than what I'm used to in Formula One, where there is less racing, but a lot more testing. Also, there are a lot of overseas flights to places like Australia. It made it very difficult. I don't see that as a negative. As a driver, when you're in the car, you'd rather be racing than testing anyway."
How important is this test for you and AJ Allmendinger? "This is the first test for next year that we're really concerned about, and we'll be able to go to California and Las Vegas to test there. Those first five races next year will be everything as far as what it means for us to be in the top-35 in points. Right now, all we worry about is qualifying, but here, we can put an eye towards next year."
Can you talk about the team's recent success with the COT? "AJ has been pretty good in the COT car lately. We weren't that good early on at the short, flat tracks, but our team has worked really hard on the car and made some gains. AJ likes the car, and that's always a positive thing. When you like the car, you're going to run better in it. He's looking forward to running it all the time next year, and that's a good thing for him."
-credit: toyota motorsports