Friday, March 12, 1999. Atlanta Motor Speedway. First-round qualifying for Cracker Barrel 500. Chevrolet notes, quotes. DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We thought we could pick up, but instead we slowed up. The...
Friday, March 12, 1999. Atlanta Motor Speedway. First-round qualifying for Cracker Barrel 500. Chevrolet notes, quotes.
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We thought we could pick up, but instead we slowed up. The track is a little bit hotter now, and that might be part of it. It just pushed up too bad on me now and I had to get out of the throttle."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "The car was better than it had been all day long. I was sort of expecting the car to get a little bit tight and it didn't at all. I'm kicking myself right now because I feel like I could have gone a lot faster than that. In the middle of both ends I was expecting it to get tight off and it didn't. It stayed right on the bottom and stayed right with us. I should have drove harder. The car was handling great. I could have gone a lot faster. It was tight during practice. I asked Ray to free it up and he did, but I guess I didn't have enough faith in him because I was really expecting it to push. I got down in the middle of the corner and I was waiting for it and I should have been hard in the gas."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were just a little bit too loose. It wasn't real good. We haven't been very good since we've been here."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Monte Carlo) "I got real loose in three and four. We've had real trouble getting this car to do what we want it to in the transition in the center. It just gets crazy, and we've been fighting that the whole time."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I was loose, but it felt like a good lap. I thought it might be a little quicker than that. You've just got to be in the gas a little bit longer as close as the times are here. A little bit is a lot."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I expected a lot better than that. Well, maybe not a lot better, a tenth better, but that would have been a lot better. We just got too tight in three and four. I was turning the wheel a lot, and I had to feather back. It killed us. I'm looking forward to the race. I really hope we'll be good. If we are, that'll be a first for me at Atlanta."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "In racing jargon we were too tight. We fought that a little bit in the last practice and made a little adjustment. It wasn't quite enough. We discussed going a little bit more as I climbed in the window and strapped in the car. We didn't do it and I wish now we had. Second guessing is easy, but it was still a good run. We've had good runs everywhere we've been, and this is our best qualifying effort and we're proud of that. We're looking for a good race. I think I took the wrong angle into the corner, and that just messed up the whole corner. We're still proud of this team. We're a new team, and we're excited about our efforts. We're going to race good at Atlanta. We tested the car in Texas and ran good. I think we've got a good race setup. The track changed today and slowed a lot of guys down for qualifying, but it didn't slow down Bobby Labonte. He's real fast, and he's going to be tough."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I sure wanted to upset the apple cart and put a Chevrolet on the pole, but we just came up short. Those Pontiacs were pretty tough today, but we're going to race them. We've got a brand new race car and it's been awesome since it came off the truck. I even thought about not running the last practice in the Busch car to keep my rhythm going, but I was fine. I got loose in one and two and it cost me some time there, and I might have been a hair conservative in three and four worried about it, but I think we'll be all right. "Bobby is awesome here at Atlanta, and the 20 car ran a good lap. I really felt like we could run a little quicker than that, but my race car got awful loose down there in one and two. I felt like I got through three and four pretty good. I maybe left a little on the table, but it'll get us a good starting spot in the race. We're going to put a Chevrolet in victory lane one of these days. We can't keep doing this without getting one if we keep on trying hard. Maybe we'll get one one day. "Bobby Labonte is the man here. He's got this place figured out pretty good. He had that thing taped way, way off. It was pretty intimidating when he ran that lap. I think I overdrove a little in one and two. We just couldn't get the balance with our Chevrolet good enough to tape it up solid. I know if you tape it up close to solid you get a lot more straightaway speed, but we had a heck of an engine in that car. We had all the tools to do it. We just came up a little short. "It's pretty neat, but we're just taking each week one day at a time and see what we can do in the points race. "We haven't been to Darlington yet. That's one of the places where we struggle a lot. We struggled at Rockingham last year and we had a good finish at Rockingham. We really thought we had a shot at it (pole) today. When Bobby made that lap, it probably made me drive a little harder. Our car got really loose in one and two. I really wanted to see a Chevrolet on the pole for this race, but unfortunately it didn't happen today. I do feel good about our season. We're qualifying good and we're trying to keep the fenders on the race car and stay out of trouble and just keep on clicking along and take what these race tracks will give that Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse car. If we keep on, me and Tony are going to have a all home improvement front row one of these days. "I think any driver that has Larry McReynolds as their crew chief would think that. It's awesome. He makes me look good, and hopefully I make him look good. It's a good relationship and we're good friends off the race track. We threaten to burn down each other's house about every week and then we come down here and we're best buddies. It's a great relationship with Larry. It's a double-edged sword because I'm really pulling for Larry to get his own deal going and have his own race team and be a car owner which would fulfill one of his dreams. Then again, I'm pulling against it because I don't want him to leave. We're real close to putting our deal together with Richard Childress for the next three years, and I'd sure like to see Larry stay. "Richard has been awfully good to me. He's kept me in some times in my career when the shoe's been on the other foot. I don't know if I would have kept him, but he's just been super to me. I owe him a lot. Of course, I'd love to drive for Larry McReynolds, but my loyalties right now are with RCR. I remember when we started this team how much trouble we had getting a crew." "I'm not sure that I'm ready to go through that again right now. I'm ready to have a good year or hopefully five or six or eight or 10 good years. At this time, Larry's deal isn't solid and it's time of us to put our deal together, so that's what we're doing. "That carries a lot of weight (Childress' record as a team owner). I've also got a great teammate, Dale Earnhardt. He's the guy who's won six of those Winston Cup championships (for Childress). We were fortunate enough to win Richard Childress a Craftsman Truck Series Championship. I just couldn't ask for a better guy to drive for. Richard and Judy (Childress) have both treated me like a million bucks since day one. They're caring and that means a lot. I've got a lot of loyalty there. "I've been thinking that Lowe's car was going to win a race halfway through last year. We started getting a top five here or there or top three and leading some races and being in contention. I really thought we could win Talladega. I thought we could win Daytona. We got awfully close. You've got guys like Tony Stewart who are going to win a race. Jeremy Mayfield is going to win some races. Hopefully this 31 team will win some races. I think you're going to see some new faces in victory lane this year. That 6 car is going to be hard to guard. The next thing you know here comes Mark. He's such a great chassis man. He's going to be hard to beat every week. I lack a little bit in that department thinking about championship, but there's no better way to get experience than doing what we're doing right now. "It's way too early in the season. I lack a little bit in the chassis department compared to Mark Martin. I think I'm much better than some of the guys but I'm not as good as some of them. To win a Winston Cup championship, you've got to be consistently good every week and you can't have a lot of problems. I think we're coming and getting better and better. It's a heck of a race team, and we've got an awesome pit crew. They don't have any hired guns. It's a family deal, and that's the kind of race team I want to be a part of. "We qualified good here two or three times and the last race here last year we ran pretty good. I think we finished in the top 10 here and had a pretty awesome night here. We're just getting that valuable seat time and valuable chassis time and learning how to give Larry the right information on what the race car is doing in order to put a good race car under me. I think he's doing a good job at taking that feedback and carrying it to the next level. Atlanta is not a bad race track for me. When we got hurt here it was a freak thing. We blew out a right front tire and we were running well when that happened. I don't blame Atlanta. It's a good race track for us."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We're a little disappointed in that, but things are looking up. We've got a good race car. The weather turned and we didn't make the right adjustments, but this is probably our best qualifying run this year."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had a good lap going and then got a little wiggle down there in three and four and didn't get it to where I needed it to be on the track. The back end hopped around and shot me up the track and I had to get off the gas. It would have been close, but you've got to put the whole thing together."