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NASCAR WCUP: Chevrolet Driver Quotes, Daytona 500 Qualifying

Posted By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 UAWDelphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 2nd):

“It’s a great way to start the year –the same way we ended it last year. The guys did a super job. This winter, we tested and we had one carthat was really good in qualifying but we had one car that was awesome in racemode. So I decided to just take my chances and just worry about the race. I didn’t think much of it; I didn’t think wewere going to have a chance. We actually pulled a lot of stuff out of ourhats. The guys back at the engine shopworked a lot of hours the last couple of weeks building this motor and we trieda lot of new stuff, different stuff, and everything seemed to work out. I’mvery surprised I’m on the front row. But then again with what this team has forpeople and all the guys back at the shop, you know we have 200 people back atthe shop. I’m surprised, but then I’mnot. I’m pretty excited.”

How do you feel about ending the 2000 season with a win,and coming back at the start of this season with the same momentum?

“I think we’ll show more atRockingham with my driving style than here at Daytona. I owe this to our guys. Our guys have workedreal hard. Their morale is really goodand even though they work 12 to 14 hours a day, they’re all smiling all daylong. I spend a lot of time with myguys. I spend two to three days a week at the shop taking the guys out to lunchand just being there just to kind of keep ‘em boosted up. We’ve got 17 new carsback at the shop and we’re ready for 2001. It’s going to be a great season.”

Are you surprised that Ray Evernham pulled off what he did today?

“Not really, but then again, yeah. They weren’t running that good, but then again I wasn’t runningthat good either in practice. He’s pretty crafty. He’s done a lot forHendricks. He helped me out, too. He got my name on the list at HendricksMotorsports. I’m pretty pleased with those guys, and there’s two Dodges upfront, two Chevrolets, two Fords, and Pontiacs so I think it’s a good mixbetween all the manufacturers. It’s agood mix I think with the rule changes. I think it’s going to be one of the best races the fans have ever seenhere at Daytona with the rule changes and that. This is like a bullring compared to Talladega and a lot of peopledon’t realize that. I think the racing’s going to be a lot more fun to watch.”

Tell us about your growing success here on 2.5 miles.

“Again, a place like this, alot of it’s the team, the cars, the engines. I don’t think it’s complete until I win a championship myself. Then I’ll feel better. The last two or three years in Winston Cup for thepast couple of years, I had some tough times. A lot of people didn’t know who Iwas. You know, Jerry who? I think hopefully now, being with a team likeHendricks Motorsports and having the facilities – the cars, the engines, andthe guys – to get behind me, they’re really the ones that are putting JerryNadeau out in front. I’m pretty pleased with what’s going on.”

Can you talk us through both your qualifying laps?

“The Harry Gant line seems towork all the time. You run the outsidefor the first lap and gather up your speed as much as you can. I did watch BillElliott make his run and he was right up on the top on the first lap and hekind of blew his first lap off. That’sbasically what I did. I blew my firstlap off. The whole second lap I ran on the bottom and I had m rpm’s up thewhole time. You know the shortest way around the racetrack is usually thefastest way around. If you can keepyour rpm’s up it’s going to be a good lap, and that’s what I did.”

How do you feel about being on the pole for the 125’s?

“Well if I’m not mistaken,I’ve got my teammate right on my bumper. It’s Jeff Gordon. And we worked real well together last year at a lot ofraces. Hopefully we can work well in the 125’s. I think that’s going to be abig part of it. I know Johnny Benson’sin the race and I think Terry, so all in all it’s going to be a race just likeit was in Talladega. You’re going tosee a lot of passing, and a lot of guys dicing around. And hopefully if I cankeep myself up front, and if I can keep myself in position, we can get a winand then again just have a good start at the 500. I talked about my carsearlier. I have a better car thatqualifies better, but this car here that I qualified on the outside pole withtoday, is an awesome piece when it comes time to race. So that tells you just how much confidence Ihave in this car.”

Can you comment about your former boss (Bill Elliott) being on thepole?

“Bill’s a good guy. I learned a lot from him. He gave me theopportunity in Winton Cup racing. He’s the first guy I ever got an autographfrom when I was 14 years old and it was right here at Daytona. What a coincidence to be sitting here on thefront row with him. It’s prettycool. He’s a good guy, and we’ve got aDodge and a Chevrolet on the front row. I’m happy.”

What do you do now to get ready for the Daytona 500?

“There’s a lot of things theydo to the cars themselves with the rear ends, the right gears, the righttransmissions. Everything we run herein qualifying is all lightweight stuff. Oils, we run the engines right to the max so they only last for so manylaps. So what we do is we put a racemotor in it that’s going to last for 500 miles. We put the right transmission, the right gears, the right hubsand bearings, and everything. So all inall, the car is going to be a lot slower. But when you’re out there in the draft, the speeds are still going to beup. You try to build a car to last the 500-mile race. Really, the carsthemselves never really have the problems; it’s making sure the engines last along time. And I think Hendricks hasdone a great job with their speedway stuff.

Do you think you can find a drafting partner?

“I’m still a new guy, andit’s just my fourth year. But I hope Iget some help this year. I’ve got to earn their respect. I hope I get some help. That’s part of the game here in speedwayracing. I think that’s why so many guys line-up with Dale Earnhardt. He’s just so amazing. People don’t realize how good that guy is onspeedway racing. He can see the air outthere. He knows what line to getin. He’s going to be a big factor inthe race, as is Jeff Gordon. Hopefully we can get the right help and be in theright place at the end of the race.”

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DupontAutomotive Chevrolet Monte Carlo: (qualified 6th):

“It’s a greateffort for the Dupont Chevrolet. I’mvery excited to have run the lap that we did. I saw everyone going faster and faster than they did in practice and areally fast pole speed. I didn’t know how much we could pick-up. We’ve been in the top five, and to finish 6thin qualifying, I’m very, very happy with that.

What do you think about the longer format for the Budweiser Shootout?

“I’m really happy to be inthe Budweiser Shootout. Now that it’s alonger race, now that it’s 70 laps, you’re going to find out what the cars arehandling like. Even though it’s not thesame car that we’ll be running in the 500, it’s still a great test for theteam, for myself, and it’s a great way to get the season started and get a raceunder our belt before we go into competition in the 125’s.

Since you worked with Ray Evernham for a lot of years, areyou surprised that one of his cars is on the pole?

“No, I knew he wassandbagging the whole time. You know I think that that shows what time andeffort can do in putting the right people in place. It’s just an unbelievable effort by him to come down here and dowhat they did. We gave it everything wehad with the Dupont Chevrolet and came up sixth. We’re happy with that effort, but you definitely have to take yourhat off to those guys.”

Dale Earnhardt, No. 3 GMGoodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

“No, I’m not satisfied with it(qualifying run). It’s not fast enoughto be up front. It’s not quite as good as we run this morning, but I think thetemperature and the winds changed on us. I don’t know if we’ve really got a good handle on the car and what itexactly needed. But we’ll take it andwe’ll go race on Thursday and see what happens. We definitely want to have a good racecar for Thursday. The windwas mostly blowing down the front straightaway, but mostly it was more of across-wind to us. I think the firstshort was the toughest as far as the wind goes.”

Dave Marcis, No. 71Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

“Well I had a good lap, had a goodline. The wind was up a little bit, butI would have liked to see another tenth, like everyone else. We did test a tenth better than that. But I guess coming back and going throughinspection and all that it’s pretty respectable. It’s warm, but we had a warmday when we tested here for the Chevrolet test, so I don’t see a lot ofdifference.”

Terry Labonte, No. 5Kellogg’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

“Well that was a pretty good run for us. That’s really where we run in practice yesterday, so that’s wherewe expected to run. We were hoping to be able to run that again, so it waspretty close. But if you watch anypractice, you know it doesn’t matter where you start. You’re going to be in every position before the race is overanyway. It’s nice to start up front,but it really doesn’t make any difference.”

Robby Gordon, No. 4 KodakChevrolet Monte Carlo:

“The team did an excellent job, and if we end up inthe top ten, we’ll be real happy. Think the track’s obviously changing, but then it’s changing foreverybody else too. We’ve got our workcut out for us.”

Steve Park, No. 1 PennzoilChevrolet Monte Carlo:

“We’ve been running fast in testing and in practiceand stuff. The wind’s kind of playinggames out here, but I thought we could probably run a lot faster than that.We’re a little disappointed. You don’tknow what you’ve got until you get through the inspection station and come outhere and run your lap. I just think youneed to have a good racecar, a good engine, and the driver is just pretty muchhanging on and trying to keep it as smooth as possible. We’ve got a good racecar here. We’ve just got to go back and get ‘em in the500.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

“Well, that’s all right. We went a little faster than that inpractice, actually a lot quicker. The wind changes direction here a lot and itreally affects the speeds of the cars. Some of these guys have figured it out. And the wind either slows the car down or speeds it up – either way youlook at it.”

Michael Waltrip, No. 15NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

“Wow. What an effort for a team that didn’t exist last November. We put thisdeal together in a hurry. DEI gives usa lot of stuff to work with, and NAPA Auto Parts is a great sponsor, and I’mhappy about both of them, and the crew, too. Everybody works hard, but you knowyou have to work smart. And if I can help them out at all, that’s what I wantto do. Making sure they understand whatI mean when I say loose or tight or if I explain to them what I’m talkingabout, it will help speed up our learning curve. We’ve had a great off-seasonof testing with runs at Las Vegas and Rockingham that we felt were good. And we felt like we’d be decent here.

Rick Mast, No. 50 MidwestTransit Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

“We’ve got a ways to go. We tested here a while back, but we’ve beenstruggling since we got here. But the good thing about these rules, you knowthe spoilers and stuff I think we’ve got a big hole there so you could take acar and maybe not be as fast as the guys up front, but with the draft and theway these rules are right now, we have a shot at getting in this race. Before,I don’t think we would have. But we’vegot a week to work on the speed yet, and these guys on the Midwest car arereally devoted. So I’m looking forwardto it. You know what, I think we’ve gotanother round Monday and we’ll probably put a race package as far as wheelbearings and stuff like that under the car and go ahead and tape it up and makea lap just to make sure we’re not missing something. But we’re be looking more towards race set-up now.”

Text Provided By Nancy Wager

Editors Note: To view hundreds of hot racing photos and art, visit The Racing Photo Museum and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.