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NASCAR: How do you Set your Race Car up for 400 Miles Under the Lights at Daytona?

1 July 1998

Jimmy Makar - Interstate Batteries Pontiac of Bobby Labonte - "I don't know how much running under the lights is going to change our setup. It's still going to be pretty hot. The race track's surface is going to be a little bit cooler since the sun won't be beating directly on it. I think it's going to be a bit slicker than it was back in February. I don't anticipate a lot of changes. Maybe just making the car a little tighter than we were in February. The car we'll run at Daytona is the car we ran at Talladega and in the 500 back in February. If nothing happens to it, we'll run it in all the restrictor plate races this year. It was a new car at the beginning of the year that we built over the winter and it really came out nice. It's run well every time we've had the opportunity to run it. It's a Laughlin chassis with our own modifications."

Larry McReynolds - Lowe's Chevrolet of Mike Skinner - "We'll go down there and try to qualify well and get that thing up on the front row. Even though it's going to be at night and under the lights, Daytona is not going to change. It's still going to get slick and you need to focus on getting your car to handle throughout the entire 160 laps. Normally, the best handling car will win the race down there. That's something that Mike and I have talked about and that's what we did with the three car in February. We just worked really hard on qualifying - getting to where he could run that thing wide-open every lap for 200 laps. We tested down there and things went well. We're still critiquing and fine-tuning the 31 car while trying to get a new car for the three team sorted out. They're on their third superspeedway car for the year. The first one went to Daytona USA. It's a problem, but I guess it's a good problem to have as we lost it by virtue of winning the 500. We built a brand new car for Talladega, but we ended up getting in a wreck fairly close to the end. Trying to fine-tune a superspeedway car in a short amount of time is a tough thing to do without going to the wind tunnel. We were fortunate to have as good a car as we did in May with the short time we had to build it. We've still got some work to do, but I feel really good about the Lowe's car. It's the same car that ran eighth down there in the 500 and helped give the three car that last little shove at the end to keep it out front. Even though the race is going to be under the lights, the temperature is still going to be in the high 80s and the race track will get slick. But using the notes from the 500 is an awfully good starting point. We should be able to fine-tune it from there."

Todd Parrott - Ford Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford of Dale Jarrett - "Obviously, it's a lot hotter in July. You need to have a car that's a little tighter than what you had back in February. Bottom line - you've got to have a good race car. Running at night - the temperatures are going to be cooler. The lights are going to make you see other cars around you a little differently. We'll use the same car we ran at Daytona and it's the same car we had at Talladega where we finished third. It's a pretty good race car and we're looking forward to going down there. We just hope the smoke clears."

Robin Pemberton - Miller Lite Ford of Rusty Wallace - "We went down there and tested under the lights a couple of weeks ago. Basically, we'll try to get the car to run as low as it can for qualifying. By getting it low to the ground, you get the lowest drag possible. It's up to the engine guys to get the horsepower out of the engine. Those are the two key ingredients. We thought we were going to see a really big speed difference under the lights. But when we did qualifying runs at three in the afternoon, we ended up running the exact same speed as we did at eight or nine o'clock. We didn't see any big speed difference at all. We'll use the same car we had in the 500."


Jimmy Makar: "I don't think there's anything wrong with common templates. It would eliminate all the finger pointing and controversy over who has the aerodynamic advantage of the week. It would stop all of that. It would put us all on the same playing field. Obviously, we need brand recognition for the car companies. As long as that's achieved, I think most people would be happy with it. The idea of a common template still lets you do all the work you did before, but at least everyone is working off the same template."

Larry McReynolds: "I would like to see common templates. I think we still need to keep the identities of the Ford, the Chevrolet and the Pontiac, but mandating that everyone should have the same shape and size greenhouse, roof, trunk and hood area would be good. Then you put the car back in the hands of the engine builders and the chassis guys and the driver and the pit crew. It would take the fussin' and fighting and complaining out of the aero issue. Let NASCAR get back to one set of spoiler and valance heights where every car make doesn't have a different size spoiler and valance. I think the fans would be a whole lot happier with that and I think we'd have some better racing."

Todd Parrott: "Whatever makes it fair for everybody. Let the race teams be the difference. The guys that work on these cars, from the drivers to the guy who sweeps the shop floor, make the difference. It's getting to where coming to the race track is no fun because we've got to cut on our car every week because something doesn't look right. It's hard to keep a level playing field when you've got great race teams in this sport."

Robin Pemberton: "When it's all said and done, I think there are going to be some good things that come from having common templates and some bad things. It's a 50/50 deal. I'm not sure if we'll eventually get to it or not. If a common template does come around, it probably won't be until the year 2000."

Crew Chief Club at the Pepsi 400

Event: Pepsi 400
When: Sat., July 4 at 8 p.m. EDT on CBS
Where: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)

Together, Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton have led their drivers to 63 wins, 327 top-five finishes, 521 top-10 finishes and 61 poles prior to this Saturday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

McReynolds' driver, Mike Skinner, is the defending pole-sitter for the Pepsi 400.

The Crew Chief Club's last visit to the 2.5-mile oval came during this year's Daytona 500, and it resulted in three of the four members finishing in the top-five. McReynolds and Dale Earnhardt finished first, Makar and Bobby Labonte finished second and Pemberton and Rusty Wallace finished fifth.

Despite not having a win in the Pepsi 400, the members of the Crew Chief Club have six top-five finishes throughout their careers in the July event. All four crew chiefs will be signing autographs on Sat., July 4 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. EDT prior to the NASCAR garage area opening at 12 p.m. EDT. Jimmy Makar and Larry McReynolds will be on the Chevrolet souvenir trailer, while Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton will be on the Ford souvenir trailer. Crew Chief Club souvenirs and wearables are now available on both trailers.