10 February 2004
Chevy Chat: Daytona 500 practice.
Ford secured the front row for the season-opening Daytona 500, so it was back to work for the various Chevrolet crews as they prepared to make the race via Thursday's Twin 125s.
on having less of a perceived advantage riding Chevrolet rather than 2003 Pontiac:
"I don't feel any different. When we were racing Pontiacs, I thought we didn't have the downforce that some of the other guys had, but everybody said we had a bigger spoiler. But our body was way different. We really didn't have as much. We won a race at Rockingham against Earnhardt and we had 100lbs less downforce. I don't remember the exact number. And yet, they took the spoiler off our car. So if it's fair from A-Z, it really doesn't matter. But if it gets off one time, than that's where it gets more frustrating between the manufacturers and the car owners. "
on the Chase for the Championship and whether it changes his approach:
"I'm going to get me a helmet and some shoulder pads, and I'm going to go after it. I have no idea, really. It's in its infancy. There could be so many things between now and then - and when it was announced - that we don't even know yet. And we're going to be trying so many things. I really don't think we know what we're going to get ourselves into after race 26 yet. We can think about all the scenarios, and that's okay, but I think after race 26 we'll know a whole lot more."
on the Chase for the Championship:
"To be honest, I don't care. They tell us the rules and we race by them. That's pretty obvious in NASCAR. They've done a pretty good job of building this sport to what it is. To second-guess every thing they do, we probably wouldn't be where we are today. They've made decisions to make the sport more exciting at the end of the season. All the drivers have to be optimistic and look at it and try it before we say it's bad or it's wrong. The key is that normally a guy who isn't inside of the top ten doesn't win the championship anyway. That'll just make it more exciting for everybody."
on 'soft walls' being installed for Daytona's Pepsi 400:
"We'd all like to snap our fingers and have this happen overnight. NASCAR does a lot of research before they make decisions on safety things. Obviously, with Indianapolis having them now - on a high-speed race track - I think they need to stick them in here. They make methodical decisions when they make them. They look at all the pros and cons."
"I put the carbon-fibre seat in my car. We take every safety precaution possible to make sure we can race. If I'm not racing, I'm not making a living. If I'm hurt, I'm not racing. So we're going to do everything that I know to make it safe. My owner, Richard Childress, is going to do the same thing. We've got HANS devices, full-faced helmets, carbon-fibre seats - all the things we feel are the best."
on the workload between practice and the 500:
"The first thing was just to see where the speed was lost and if we could find it and make sure that this car has the speed that it had at one time and it does. We changed a lot of things, but we still don't know exactly happened on Sunday. All I know is that I have a fast race car and I'm having fun with it now. We're just working on handling now. The tyres definitely go away fast. Getting the car to work well in the draft and the handling of it is going to be important."
on finding speed in practice:
"We were fast in the first practice. You can't pay attention to any speed charts during drafting. We didn't do a single thing to it. In one practice, we're 37th and, in the next practice, we're first. Being first on the board didn't mean any more or less. It just depends on the draft that you're in. The car has been fine all day - just like it was prior to qualifying. So I'm really not sure what happened."
on working to get the handling dialled-in:
"It's now not just necessarily just a speed thing anymore. With the tyres we've had the last couple of years, it's really just been all about speed. Now there's a lot more strategy that goes into the handling of the car and making sure that you've got a car that you can run wide-open with and run in front with."
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