NASCAR BGN Series Gateway 300 -- Quotes from Thursday Practice
24 July 1997
MADISON, IL - By Gateway International Raceway Public Relations TIM FEDEWA (#33 Kleenex Chevrolet Monte Carlo) - "You've gotta give a little bit up in (turns) one and two and try to get it all back in (turns) three and four. It's kinda like Darlington (S.C. Raceway) will be in the fall (after the front and backstretch are flip-flopped). One and two are a lot like some of the short tracks we've raced at. The entrance speed is real high because of the long straightaway, so you've really got to brake pretty hard. Then getting into (turn) three, you're running pretty fast there also, but you've got a little more room, more like Milwaukee or Loudon (New Hampshire International Speedway). Because one and two bogs you down so much, you need more gear to get you going down the straightaway. I think some people are shifting in the turn so it'll give them more pull coming off the corner, and that gets 'em down the backstretch quicker. I don't think it'll be as critical as it is at Darlington, but we don't have a second groove worked in right now. Hopefully, by race time, there'll be a little bit more of a groove out there. I'm not real worried about (turns) three and four, but (turns) one and two are gonna be real tight if you try to get in there two-wide. You're gonna have to respect this place or something's gonna happen. We've been working on a little bit of both (qualifying and race setups). We've never really worked on a qualifying setup, per se -- we just get the car comfortable. It's a little slippery out there in places, but it's a hot day. The more your tires heat up, the slipperier it gets. But it's nice and smooth out there." MIKE MCLAUGHLIN (#34 Royal Oak Charcoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo) - "It's different. (Turns) one and two are real tight, and (turns) three and four aren't bad. It's more like a sweeping corner. It's kinda like a flat Darlington. The corners there are that much opposite. You're gonna have to run hard here to go fast, that's for sure. But I'd just as soon be up front all day than running in the middle of the pack. It's not bad running in the groove, and the more laps we get on it, the better it'll get. It's a little different than anything we've run on, that's for sure. A lot of people have been here and tested, so that puts a feather in a few caps, but the ones who didn't test are pretty much on equal ground." ELLIOTT SADLER (#29 Phillips 66 Performance Chevrolet Monte Carlo) - "We did test out here and learned a lot. This track is so unique because the corners aren't alike. One and two are so tight that it's kinda like Martinsville (Va., Speedway) only with a little more banking. Three and four are a little bit flatter, but it's a little bit longer and you've got a whole lot more momentum going in that it kinda reminds me of Las Vegas (Motor Speedway). This track is so different in both corners that you've got to find that happy medium. We think we did that during testing, and we ought to have a good car for the race. It looks a lot like Darlington, but there in three and four you run right up against the wall, while here you can run down on the bottom of the turn. It's gonna be a tough race track. This new asphalt has a lot of grip, and that's gonna put us on the edge more. I'm looking forward to it. Nobody's got an advantage here because nobody's raced here before. That puts us all on equal footing, and that ought to make for a better race. We've got a 300-mile race here, and that's plenty of time to tune your car during the race. We ought to see an awesome race on Saturday. It's gonna be pretty hot, so there could be a lot of mental and physical fatigue, but I'm still looking forward to it." TERRY LABONTE (#5 Bayer/Alka-Seltzer Chevrolet Monte Carlo) - "I don't think we've run anywhere like this. It's like a frontstraightaway at Atlanta (Motor Speedway) with a Martinsville turn down there (in turns one and two). Then you run down that back straightaway, but I can't really describe what that turn (three and four) is like." DALE SHAW (#4 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo) - "I really like this place. Turns one and two are really tricky -- I haven't really figured it out yet -- but three and four really remind me a lot of Loudon, except faster. I guess that's because I can drive the car down into the turn the same way I can there. I have a pretty big advantage coming here, because I'm not the ONLY one who hasn't raced here before. The Winston Cup guys have a lot more experience because they race more laps every week, but we didn't come here to finish behind them, I'll tell you that. Johnny (Allen, crew chief) told me he was gonna set my car up to run a little tight since it was our first time here, but the car's not right. Whatever he's doing seems to be working. We're really running better in three and four -- I can drive the car in there pretty deep, and I can still get on the throttle way early. We're making some changes to help us in one and two, so we'll have to see how that works out." STEVE PARK (#3 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo) - "Anytime you can go test, it'll help you. The conditions today are nearly the same as when we tested out here (July 15-16), but it feels a little bit hotter because of the humidity. We've kinda pleasantly surprised with the way we've run today because we're running a little bit faster than we did during the test. Then, it seemed like the hotter it got, the slower we went. We're pretty happy with the way the car's handling now, and it's only gonna get hotter as the weekend goes on. We're pretty satisfied with the way the car's driving right now. I don't know if we're the fastest car, but it's driving real good. We'll just have to wait and see how the weather goes the next two days. The track's only gonna get better, and the groove's gonna get wider. That'll also take some of the slipperiness away from the track. Right now, everybody's running into the 'new-track blues' because the IndyCars don't put that much rubber down because they're so light, but things ought to get better and better, not only this weekend, but in years to come. This place has two completely different corners, and it's almost impossible to get the car to handle good in both corners. We're just taking the corners apart and trying to get the car where it'll accelerate the best and make up the most time. What do I compare it to? Three and four is like New Hampshire, and one and two is like turns three and four at Nashville (Tenn., Speeday USA, where Park won his first Busch Series race in mid-March). Then you throw New Hampshire's straightaways in between the turns." RANDY LAJOIE (#74 FINA Chevrolet Monte Carlo) - "It's gonna be the same for everybody -- it's got two straightaways and two corners, and both corners are completely and significantly different. The track's pretty smooth, so we should be able to put on a good show. This place ain't even close to being like Darlington; there's no comparison. It reminds me more of Miami (the Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in South Florida), but the corners are all different. But this place has it's own personality -- there ain't nothing else like it." TODD BODINE (#36 Stanley Pontiac Grand Prix) - "No comment...my momma taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."