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Chevy teams steam ahead with 2000 Monte Carlo
'99 News
Dave Rodman, NASCAR Online

Dover, Del. (June 7, 1999)
NASCAR officials announced last week that the 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo has been approved for competition in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. In the midst of what has become a grinding 1999 points race, teams are redoubling their efforts to construct new race cars, while keeping pace with the competition for the upcoming events on the schedule, including Sunday's Kmart 400 at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn.

Eddie Dickerson, 43, director of chassis engineering for the three-team NASCAR Winston Cup Hendrick Motorsports operation, is a native of Milford, Del. While at Dover Downs International Speedway for Sunday's MBNA Platinum 400, Dickerson took time to discuss the status of the 2000 Monte Carlo.

"I'd consider it approved now, but there's still a slight discrepancy over a couple of templates," Dickerson said. "We're only talking about how far they wrap around. We're talking about a quarter of an inch. As far as I'm concerned, the approval deal is behind us and we'll receive templates probably in less than two weeks."

The delivery of the templates is critical because they dictate the exact shape of the race car's body. Working within the limits of the templates, Dickerson intends to construct a new car that is flexible and adjustable.

"We're currently getting ready to build our own downforce car right now and we'll use that as a workhorse," he said. "We'll make the panels very adjustable and work within NASCAR's mandated templates they give us.

"We'll take the car to the wind tunnel and adjust panels and try to get the balance on the car as good as we have now and shoot for better, of course.

"We built a superspeedway car and it was good, and I'm happy with what they gave us. I really believe we can work with it, and I think it'll be as good or a little bit better than what we've got right now. NASCAR can always come back and change the size of the rear spoiler.

"That's pretty critical on the car. We're probably going to start out with the same size spoiler the Taurus has right now. It's 55 inches wide and 6 and a quarter inches tall.

"I'm sure as we get cars built, NASCAR will want to confiscate one and take it to the wind tunnel and compare (the manufacturers' cars). They're not going to let us come out of the cracker box ahead, that's for sure. We'll get templates and we'll build this first car and work the heck out of it in the wind tunnel and at the track."

The approval process for the car was lengthier than originally anticipated, to the point that Chevrolet teams more than likely will not debut the car in competition until the 2000 Daytona 500 next February. But, Dickerson said, the teams will be thrashing to get "test cars" assembled.

The struggle for superiority among manufacturers is constant in the NWCS. Ford currently leads Chevrolet 6-5 in victories, and 92-81 in NASCAR Winston Cup Manufacturers' Points. Pontiac trails in wins with two, with 74 points.

"We've already done that with the speedway car," Dickerson said of the ongoing test program. "We've learned so much more since we put the first body on the speedway car. We'll put the body on the downforce car next Monday and we'll turn around and take that body off that speedway car and put a new body on and then we'll have two mules, two workhorses to learn from.

"Unless we totally destroy something, we're in pretty good shape right now for the rest of 1999. We'll maintain cars. We're just about in the point in the year where we won't put any new bodies on. We had some cars that we just put '99 bodies on because they were chassis designed for the 2000 Monte Carlo.

"We were anticipating a May run with that car. Those cars were sitting around naked, so bang, once we got the official word we won't run the new car until the 2000 Daytona 500, we had to cover those up with current sheet metal.