NASCAR-WCUP: Pennzoil Team Getting Ready For 1999 Monte Carlo
28 October 1998#1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo Crew Chief Philippe Lopez knows the 1999 season is already shaping up to be a busy time for his Dale Earnhardt Inc. team. General Motors plans to introduce the new Chevrolet Monte Carlo body sometime around midseason. The introduction means Chevrolet teams will have time to test the new body and still continue to use the current Monte Carlo that has amassed 63 victories and the 1995 and 1996 manufacturers titles plus all drivers' titles since 1995. Lopez said the new body means more work, more thought on using test dates, and more victories.
Impact Of Change:
"This Monte Carlo body has a lot of wins and quite a few championships and has proven to be a great car, but we have to keep up with the times. Ford has come up with the Taurus and this is General Motors' latest and greatest. A new body is always a major change for us. Anytime you change the aerodynamic package on a car you really have to test that car. Not just for those aero changes but also for their impact on the shocks and springs and the car setup. I think you will ultimately see this car in victory lane a heck of a lot in the coming years."
"A midseason change means we have to almost run two bodies during the year and we don't have the off season to work on bodies. So, as soon as the sheet metal comes out we will start hanging it on three brand new chassis we have at our shop. Then we will do some testing as soon as possible but that is going to be up to NASCAR's new testing rules. Testing the new body on short tracks isn't a big deal. We can always go to Greenville-Pickens Speedway and test there and that doesn't count against us. But, testing on a high-speed track is different. We have to use one of our seven tests there. Then we have to decide whether we want to test the current or the new body style. I hear NASCAR may be altering testing rules so everything may be different by the time we get to that point."
Will Your Current Notes Help With The New Body?
"Your notes are a good place to start especially if you have really good notes. If you have good setups then after a couple of races you will start to pickup on the new body. For example, if you have really good setups for the current body at Rockingham, Richmond, and Atlanta and you find after those three races the car was tight each time then you know with this new model you have more rear downforce to work with. If the car was loose at all three places then you know you have less downforce to work with."
How Have The Teams Helped General Motors?
"We have been included on a lot of the wind tunnel tests. I know several of the teams have sent their engineers to talk with GM about aerodynamic packages. The engineers are really the experts. All of us crew chiefs try to stay out of that stuff. Crew chiefs always want the same thing: a low valence and high spoiler."