RON FELLOWS, NO. 33 THE OUTDOOR CHANNEL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: YOU HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE ON ROAD COURSES. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS WEEKEND'S RACE IN MEXICO CITY? "We're feeling great. This is a tremendous event as we witnessed...
RON FELLOWS, NO. 33 THE OUTDOOR CHANNEL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
YOU HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE ON ROAD COURSES. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS WEEKEND'S RACE IN MEXICO CITY? "We're feeling great. This is a tremendous event as we witnessed last year with all the fan support. It's very much like a Formula I atmosphere -- being a road race guy. This is my first race with Kevin Harvick's team and the Outdoor Channel and my teammate, Burney Lamar (No. 77 Dollar General Chevy). We're looking forward to getting the car in the race first of all, and we'll hopefully be close to the front and we'll see what we can do."
ON HAVING A BUSCH RACE SERIES IN MEXICO CITY "This a road course race obviously, and having won at a road course and no place else, that's why we're here. It's a little bit different for me than for the guys. They're in a points race, I'm not. We've got to get in on qualifying time. But the goal here is to come here and try to win. This is a big deal. It's a big deal for me and for everybody with Kevin's team. But particularly for me, being a fan of Formula I and following the history of it. This has tremendous history with the Rodriquez brothers and the fan support and this Formula I atmosphere is cool. That's what I grew up watching."
BURNEY LAMAR, NO. 77 DOLLAR GENERAL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES ON ROAD COURSES AND WHAT YOUR APPROACH IS FOR THIS WEEKEND IN MEXICO. "Actually, we've done quite a bit of work preparing for this race. Kevin Harvick told me he's hired one of the best road course racers in the world, Ron Fellows, and that says a lot. It's just exciting to be here in the Busch Series. Mexico is quite an experience for me in my career just to be here racing with all these guys. I just want to go out there and finish the race, most importantly, and hopefully be somewhere close to our teammate. He'll be up front. I hope we just have a good race and keep the fenders on it and keep all four tires on the pavement."
J.J. YELEY, NO. 18 HOME DEPOT/VIGORO CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
HOW IS THE RACE TRACK? "The race track is pretty slippery and definitely very dirty. A lot of guys were going off course. The car is just handling really good and turning really good. It's still a little bit loose on exit. So we're going to do a couple of things and work on that. But this Chevrolet has been really easy to drive so far. We went to VIR and did a little bit of testing a couple of weeks ago. We learned a lot at Watkins Glen and we're just bringing that here and hopefully we can qualify out front and stay up front because I know this place is very difficult to pass."
IS EVERYONE BEING FAIRLY CAUTIOUS RIGHT NOW? "I don't think so. I saw a lot of guys off course and a lot of guys just trying to brake too late and going off the course into the grass there, so I don't think anyone is really taking it easy. We're all race car drivers and as soon as you get in the race car, anything you said beforehand doesn't really count. I'm sure everyone is trying his hardest. I don't know how many guys got the opportunity to get a refresher course, but I'm sure a lot of the teams will be a lot better when they go into second practice, and I'm sure we will be too."
HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU SHIFT ON THIS COURSE? "Ten times up and down total. I know that I'm not shifting as many times as others. Sometimes it might hurt the exit a little bit, but I won't have as much wheel spin. I'm sure when it comes down to time if someone is really pressing, we'll go into extreme mode and start shifting and pressing the car a little harder, but for right now we're just taking everything easy."
ON THE CHICANE: "It's very narrow and unfortunately the way it's set up, if you're the fourth car in a single car line, you can't see. So you hope the guy in front of you makes it, because if he doesn't you're going to follow him right into it."
SHOULD THEY PUT FLASHERS OR LIGHTS ON IT OR SOMETHING? "I don't know if any of that would help. But if they just widened it out.. At Watkins Glen you have to downshift. You have to slow down to get through the chicane on the backside there. That's something they might look into in the future. I know they don't have a whole lot of room to work with there on the front straightaway. So unless they wanted to revamp that part of the front straightaway, they're pretty much stuck with what they've got."
ON THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT "I'm disappointed with it. Last year, we were not one of the top 30 in points. There was a lot of pressure put on a rookie to go out there and run one lap. We were able to do that. I don't know why they decided to change the format here. There are some heavier hitter teams that don't have points that have rookies in the cars. It might have something to do with that. I'm not exactly sure. It might make qualifying a little bit more exciting. But in my point of view, I'm a little bit disappointed they changed it. This is something that should have been put in place before we came here."
DOES ANYBODY LOOK REALLY STRONG OUT THERE? "Oh, you know, the guys who have been doing this for a long time -- you're regular road course guys are going to be tough. To me, your tough guys are going to be the Cup guys who have a lot more experience in a stock car. You take Paul Tracy or some of the guys who come from a different series and put them in a stock car, they're going to be good just because of their road race experience, but they still have to make that transition to a stock car. The way the car shifts and handles is definitely a lot different."
WHAT IS YOUR ROAD RACING EXPERIENCE? "This is road race number three for me. Last year, Mexico was my first race and we DNF'd. We had engine failure pretty early in the race. And we finished 10th at Watkins Glen among a bunch of Cup guys. So I'm definitely pretty excited about it. I really had no road racing experience until I started racing stock cars. I've been the Bob Bondurant twice and anything I can pick up from those guys definitely helps. But the big thing is just having good equipment and taking care of it."
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 20 ROCKWELL AUTOMATION CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
THE GIBBS TEAM SEEMS TO BE RUNNING STRONG TODAY "Everybody knows how good Gibbs equipment is as far as road courses with Tony Stewart. We take a lot of information and bring it over here and we've got two cars at the top."
HAS TONY STEWART GIVEN YOU ANY SPECIFIC TIPS ABOUT RUNNING HERE? "We've got good data to go off of. We've looked at Tony's data and ours. Tony is one of the best right now. Between he and Jeff Gordon, it's pretty close. I could see I was driving in harder than him in almost every corner. Even though our lap time may have been similar, he's probably saving his car a little bit better than I was. So he's a good person to get information from in that aspect. But you can't really learn a whole lot just by talking to somebody. The bottom line is looking at those charts and seeing what's going on. Our Rockwell Chevy is really fast. We definitely have a shot at the pole and we have a race winning contending car."
DO YOU LIKE THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT? "Humm..I don't know. Our fastest lap was the first lap on the race track. So that tells me we can get going good right off the bat. A lot of guys have got to race their way in, so it's kind of a deal where if people make a mistake, they've got another lap to try to make up for it. So it's going to be interesting to see if they have a caution, what are they going to do? I think they're going to put them 10 seconds apart. Over the course of four laps, all you need to be is a 1.5 second faster and you're going to end up catching somebody. There are five seconds separating some of these guys, so it could be interesting."
IS THE COURSE DIRTY? "It was fairly dirty. There was a lot of on and off-road racing going on. You just have to be aware of it."
HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU SHIFT ON A LAP? "Oh, I shift about six times through the whole course. I like shifting; and when you're doing that, the driver has a little bit more input about what's going on in that race car, so it's fun for me.
"You've got to try to play it safe. You've got a lot of guys out there who turn a fast lap, but in every corner they're locking up their tires. That's not going to last in the race. You're going to have to back it down just a little bit and run a steady pace. We know that. You run as hard as you can in practice to see what the car is going to do. But in the race, you always step it down one notch to protect your car for later on. With that in mind, we're ready to go. Our car is in good shape. The transmission is shifting good. We've got a good Chevy."
ARE THERE ANY GOOD PLACE TO PASS? "No, you're going to have to do it on the high-speed straightaways. I noticed a lot of problems with catching guys in the esses, but you just can't (pass).
"A lot of people don't have spotters over there, so you're not going to be able to stick your nose in there and not expect a wreck to happen. You're going to have to be patient with everyone and wait until your passing opportunity is on the long straightaways."
ON THE CHICANE "I'm not a big fan of it. I believe we'd be safer without it. You may be running faster through the straightaway. I think it's pretty much a hazard to have a thing that's supposed to slow you down where you're actually running wide open through, it just makes your car on the edge and causes trouble. And on top of that, when you get behind somebody, all you can see if their back windshield and you can't even see those things in the road. That's like painting lines on the road and inside the car you can't see it. So, I don't know. It is what it is though, right now."