As Busch Series testing wrapped up at Daytona International Speedway for next month's Hershey's Take 5 300, ppc racing teammates Kenny Wallace and Michel Jourdain, Jr., and ST Motorsports' Jon Wood commented on the test session and the ...
As Busch Series testing wrapped up at Daytona International Speedway for next month's Hershey's Take 5 300, ppc racing teammates Kenny Wallace and Michel Jourdain, Jr., and ST Motorsports' Jon Wood commented on the test session and the upcoming season. David Green, who suffered from a kidney stone attack early Saturday morning and wasn't able to test until yesterday afternoon, talked about his health and the progress his team made with Aaron Fike behind the wheel of his Brewco Ford.
KENNY WALLACE -22-Stacker 2 Ford Taurus
TESTING AT DAYTONA THIS YEAR SEEMS TO HAVE TAKEN ON A DIFFERENT FACE WITH SO MANY TEAMS SPENDING THE MAJORITY OF THE TIME IN THE DRAFT.
"It's a whole new ballgame with the rules NASCAR has. With everybody drafting, it just shows that qualifying is not near as important as it used to be. Thirty cars are locked in and that's basically all of the players. I see a lot more relaxed atmosphere, but I see people still not understanding that the top 30 are in the race. Everybody really knows how to use the wind tunnel now, so when you come down here it's not like it was six or seven years ago where everybody was chopping and building to their cars at the track. This is what we've got. This is the best that we've got because engineers are better and everybody knows how to read wind tunnel data. When you bring a car nowadays, this truly is the best piece that you have."
WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU FOCUS ON DURING THE COURSE OF THE TEST?
"You're out there drafting to see what you have, and if you can't hang on to the draft you need to think about what kind of chassis adjustments you have to make. There are a lot of guys here that are really good. There are a lot of guys here who are mediocre, and there are a lot of guys here that are really bad. You just have to see how much work you have and compile all the data, and when you come back hopefully you're better."
ARE YOU COMFORTABLE IN YOU ROLE AS A MENTOR FOR MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.?
"I love it. The key to mentoring somebody is how does that person accept you? First of all Michel Jourdain is 28. It's not like he's 19 or 20. He's very mature and he comes from a rich history of racing. He's a standup guy. I 've had a couple of beers with him and I really like him. Besides me wining races this year, one of my goals is to just help him. In the end, it's the only way a two-car team can get along."
A LOT OF VETERAN DRIVERS HAVE LEFT THE SERIES THIS YEAR TO MOVE TO NEXTEL CUP OR THE TRUCK SERIES. DO YOU VIEW THIS SEASON AS A CHANCE FOR YOU TO SNEAK UP ON CHAMPIONSHIP?
"There are so many good drivers that have gone on to the truck series and NEXTEL Cup. You look at Hornaday, who went on to the truck series, but to me, it's about the teams. Mike Bliss' 20 car is still running good. Jason Leffler's 0 car now has Justin Labonte in it, and he's just a kid, and he jumped in it and it's still running good. It's so much about these teams nowadays. Good veteran drivers get out of these rides and kids get in them and they still run the same. I think that sends a message through the garage area that you really have to have a good team, and that's where we stand right now."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE FOUND A HOME IN THE BUSCH SERIES?
"I'm really, really happy, probably happier than I've ever been in my life. When I first started out racing, you're dream is always to be the next Mario Andretti or A.J. Foyt, and I've pretty much come full circle now. I came down here in 1989 and sat on the pole. I've run well in the Daytona 500 and I've got good stats, yet I'm not a superstar. You've got to realize where your stage is in life. I'm married and have great kids and run real good on the race track, and I'm in a new era now where youth has definitely changed. Tiger Woods and Jeff Gordon have set everybody back 10 years. When you were 40 years old 10 years ago, you were simply 40 years old. Now when people are 40, it's more like you're 50 with the way people view you. I see so many drivers like Jeff Gordon, who says he definitely doesn't see himself racing until 45 years old. That's a pretty strong statement coming from a four-time champion. You have to adjust to the times and I've adjusted. I get to race to win races, and Michael Waltrip is a good friend of mine, and I get to race his Cup car. I do a lot of TV and I put away money, so life is good."
DO YOU THINK THE CHASE FORMAT USED IN NEXTEL CUP SHOULD BE ADAPTED TO THE BUSCH SERIES?
"I would have liked to have seen the Busch Series take on the NEXTEL Cup chase format. I think it would have added a little excitement to our series because it did so much for the NEXTEL Cup Series. They tested it one year and it played out good. It operated backwards. Usually the Busch cars and trucks are the testing ground, so it really surprised me that they didn't try it out on us first. I think it definitely needs to be done over here. There are so many Cup teams now involved in the Busch Series. You can now look at Yates and Ganassi, and I won't even go on because every single Cup team is in the Busch Series. With that being said, the drivers that run fulltime, it would have added a lot of excitement. Could you see the race at the end of the year at Homestead play out like it did this year with Kevin Harvick out there leading the race, but he has nothing to do with the championship and the Busch championship contenders are fighting it out for seined and third? That way Cup drivers would really become a pivotal part on who wins the championship. But, maybe that's why we're not doing, but I think it would definitely add to the excitement of the championship chase."