NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 2
Topics: Gatorade Duel
February 23, 2012
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: These two drivers raced their way into the 54th running of the Daytona 500. That's Dave Blaney. He drives the No.36 Ollie's Bargain Outlet Chevrolet. And Joe Nemechek, he drives the No.87 AM/FM Energy Wood and Pellet Stoves Toyota.
Congratulations to Joe and Dave.
Joe, you were very, very excited over the radio coming across that start/finish line. Talk about the excitement of racing in Sunday's race.
JOE NEMECHEK: I tell you what, our race was a tough race to be in. It ended up everybody split up, but it was just a tough race. I knew Dave is a great plate racer, he was going to be up in the front.
The start of the race I had a teammate, Bill Elliott, he said, I'm going to do the conservative approach. I said, You do that, if mine fails going for it, we'll have a backup plan.
Man, you just had to go because it seemed like when the field separated, those cars got bogged down so much, they slowed down.
I definitely had my ups and downs during the race. Everybody was overheating I think today. Definitely going to be an issue. From overheating to having to pit two laps before we were supposed to because we started running out of fuel, just a lot of stuff went on. We're still here.
Got to thank the Lord for that.
KERRY THARP: Dave, congratulations getting into the Daytona 500. What are your thoughts about having that opportunity?
DAVE BLANEY: You don't want to come down here and miss this race. We got too good a team, too good a racecar to miss it.
I was confident we could get in. We've had strong runs here lately in the restrictor plate cars. Baldwin's group always brings good ones. It ran well today. Could run near the front early. We settled in for a while. We had to be so cautious not to slide the tires. That could have killed our race. We gave up staying with the pack because of that, but it ended up fine, uneventful, which was good for us. Relieved, I guess.
KERRY THARP: Questions now for Joe or Dave.
Q. Joe, can you tell us what this means for somebody like you. This is a big deal for you to race your way into the Daytona 500.
JOE NEMECHEK: It definitely is. You know, there's so much that goes into trying to make it in the Daytona 500, and all the teams down here, I know from being the driver and the owner, how much it costs to come down here. I mean, it's just incredible. If you don't make this race, I mean, you never recover it. It just has you behind all year.
So I know from one aspect on what it does. Making this race, it definitely starts our year out right. But basically it just helps pay some of the bills we already spent to get this year going.
This is an expensive year with fuel injection. It's tough for the small teams. We only have sponsorship for not every race. I mean, it's just a few races. We're constantly trying to pick up sponsorship. It makes it really tough.
But that's what's so gratifying. I mean, we have a small group of guys that have worked really, really hard over the off‑season to get down here. It just makes it all worth it.
Q. Dave, business is business. We all know what happened with your points from last year. Any satisfaction level for you that you raced your way into this race, you didn't have to depend on points, especially from somebody else?
DAVE BLANEY: No, I'm just happy we made it (smiling).
You know, like I said, I felt like we had the team and the car to make it the whole time. I wasn't worried about that side of it. But when you can't make it on qualifying day, anything can happen today. You can have a flat tire. Anything can happen.
Worried about that side of it more than anything else, me making a mistake coming to the pits, the pit guys having something go wrong. Lots of things could happen.
But, no, I don't care about the point thing. We'll go and try to make the races every week. That's what we'll do.
Q. You're an old‑school racer. This is the way things used to be. You had to race your way in. There's got to be a lot of satisfaction.
DAVE BLANEY: Old school doesn't mean much anymore, does it?
JOE NEMECHEK: These races are kind of tough because the only thing we're racing out there for is the two guys to get in. Everybody else, I mean, they're racing for a starting spot, but it's not as important as it used to be.
Q. Dave, you said you felt good coming in. Obviously, anything can happen. Throughout the race, did you have any scares? Did you or your group come in here with maybe any sort of chip on your shoulder in a sense of this group was a top‑35 group last year, we belong in this thing?
DAVE BLANEY: Not chip on our shoulder. Just scared we wouldn't make it. Worried about doing the right things. I say, it worked out so we're happy.
As far as the race goes, no scares. There wasn't much going on. Honestly, guys were shoved pretty tight together early on, two lanes. But there was no big, aggressive stuff going on.
No, no scares. The only thing was getting off pit road, on and off clean, without messing that up, that was it. Good day to have an uneventful race for me.
KERRY THARP: We'll have David Stremme join us of the Inception Motorsports Toyota, as well. David has also qualified for the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Talk about having that opportunity.
DAVID STREMME: Well, we had a couple days to let it sink in and stuff. The guys did a great job preparing the car for this season, coming down to Daytona. We really didn't think we'd have a chance of locking in through time. Without being able to come to the test and everything, when we unloaded, we actually kind of surprised ourselves.
They worked really hard. Still, even when guys, Dave and some of the other guys, rolled off, they pulled off some pretty good times. We were able to put that time up. I was really proud of them. Changed our agenda throughout the rest of the week, been able to sleep pretty good, kind of relax.
But it's been frustrating, too, because today I wanted to get up in there and race, see more of what we have. But we'll just wait till Sunday.
KERRY THARP: We'll open it back up for questions.
Q. Joe and Dave, what did you see as far as max temperatures? How did the different drafting configurations affect your temperatures and what was the max you saw?
JOE NEMECHEK: We run hot all day. I saw a lot of guys pushing water out. Seemed like the closer you got to the car in front of you, the worse it was, especially there towards the end.
Seeing temperatures 260 to 280 all day long, you know, it's pushing water out. That's not pushing. When you go to try to push, it would go to 320 pretty quick and start pushing a lot of water out. Really hot today.
DAVE BLANEY: My car never did push water, luckily. Maybe went to 260. I didn't know what everybody else was doing, but I was nervous about 260. Maybe even 210 all by itself. So I thought it was maybe warmer than it should be.
But no issues.
Early on I learned I better be piquing out a lot when I was in draft to get some air. When you start doing that, you give up a little bit of speed, but it's safer.
Q. Dave, now that you're in the race, do you think your team will get you a more visible fire suit?
DAVE BLANEY: Yeah, this was the preliminary suit here (smiling).
Q. About the overheating, this is not just a case of the car suddenly starts overheating and then you're in trouble; it's a case of the car is not going to perform once you reach that level, not at the level it should, right?
DAVE BLANEY: Well, I don't know about that. Once it pushes a certain amount of water out, it's never going to recover and you're going to have some issues.
I'm sure it does slow down a little bit when it gets too hot, but losing the water is going to end your day.
Q. Joe, you mentioned what should they do, add a couple more psi on the pop‑off valve?
JOE NEMECHEK: I don't know. It seems like somehow you got to get more air in 'em. Especially just doing a normal draft, I mean, everybody's overheating.
Probably the easiest way to do that is open the front grill up just a little bit more, but do it on the left so it doesn't give you an advantage when you push. You know what I mean? Just something to think about.
KERRY THARP: Guys, certainly congratulations. Wish you a lot of luck this weekend. Thank you for coming in.
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