DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY / NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: QUALIFIED 2ND MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS: QUALIFIED 3RD MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: "It was a great lap, it was kind of odd out there today. When...
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY / NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS: QUALIFIED 2ND
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS: QUALIFIED 3RD
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: "It was a great lap, it was kind of odd out there today. When we first went out on the race track, the car was a real handful. I went out there and tried to drive it like I did during the test session, not thinking about the tires, and went "whoa, what's going on." Big difference from what we are used to here. It was really kind of a crapshoot, we didn't really know what we had going in to qualifying. Then I saw the lap Jeff (Gordon) ran and I figured the track was a lot better.
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: "We had a good test last year here. We were good off the trailer. The car was fast in practice, obviously. I had a little bobble coming to the green, so that cost me a little speed from the flag down into (Turn) 1. But overall, I'm pretty thrilled with my team. And the car they brought was beautiful and it' real fast. I'm real glad for just how hard everybody has worked. We've had fast cars every weekend up to this point and that's saying a lot for our team and I'm pretty happy about that."
ON RUNNING THE NATIONWIDE MONTE CARLO SS:
JUNIOR: "The Nationwide car was pretty good today. I was pretty happy how it was running. That team is holding together pretty good going through the suspension with the crew chief and they brought the same car they ran in Vegas. I do like running here. And this is one of my favorite tracks. So if I'm going to run a Nationwide race, this is a nice track to pick. I'm pretty happy about that. We're going to start our 100th race, I reckon. So that's pretty neat. It's not that huge of a milestone, but I'm just glad I had a job that long. And Martin's going to drive the No. 5 next week for us in Bristol, so that's going to be a lot of fun. We've got to thank DEI and Max (Siegel) for letting Martin do those kinds of things. Me and Martin are good friends so we're pretty happy to have those opportunities to be able to do fun stuff like that. That's really pretty neat. Hopefully Mark (Martin) will continue to drive the car in the future over the next couple of years as long as he wants to run and Martin and other friends of mine who have the interest will be able to chime in too. It's pretty fun when you do it that way. I have a lot of fun driving it too. I'm looking forward to this weekend."
DID YOU THINK THAT YOU HAD GORDON ON YOUR RUN, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MARTIN TRUEX JR?
JUNIOR: "Martin is a great talent. We've worked together a lot you know; his whole career. He's just so talented coming in. Right out of the box, you know, when he first started driving, he knew what he was doing. He just sharpens himself as he goes and becomes a better driver every week. He's really dedicated to his craft and that's the type of guy you want behind the wheel. So, I know he can get the job done. He's got a good team. Those are great guys he's working with and Bono is really talented and pretty dedicated himself. They've got a good thing going with that group.
"It's really hard to tell if you've got a good lap because none of them feel like you've got a great lap going. Even in practice when we were the fastest one at the top of the chart, I didn't think my lap was comfortable or fast. It didn't feel fast. It was wobbly and loose and sliding and I was fighting the car really hard. So, it's hard to tell. I know when I didn't beat him, I thought now where did I think I lost it? I think I lost it coming to the green actually."
ATLANTA IS TRADITIONALLY TOUGH ON TIRES AFTER A FEW LAPS. IS THE NEW TIRE EXPECTED TO BE ANY BETTER? DO YOU THINK THE NEW CAR WILL MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE?
TRUEX JR: "Generally we'd go out here and run real fast and then we'd slow up the longer the run went, the slower you'd get and you'd wear tires out. Today, as hard as these tires seem, I don't know if you'll be able to wear them out. They did fall off really fast but we couldn't go out there and go real fast right out of the gate like we used to be able to do. But I don't think wear is going to be an issue. It's just that they slide so much, I don't think you'll wear them out they're so dang hard."
TODAY WITH THE NEW CAR, WAS THIS TRACK HARDER TO DRIVE OR LESS FUN TO DRIVE OR JUST DIFFERENT?
JUNIOR: "For me, it still is fun. The tire makes it harder to get a hold of. They made a change to prevent excessive tire wear over the last couple of races here, the track has been a little harder on the tires. So, it is slick and I think it challenged a lot of guys today. You can't enter the corner nowhere near as hard as you used to. And you really have to be patient with the COT in the first place, no matter where you are driving it. With the change in the tire you had to really roll down into the corner easy. But it's still fun. I mean Martin ran a lot of race runs today. I didn't. He'd run around the top a lot and it looks like you can do the same old things you've always been able to do."
CHEVY TEAMS HAVEN'T GOTTEN OFF TO THE STRONGEST START THIS YEAR, BUT IT SEEMS LIKE THE MANUFACTURERS ARE ALL BUNCHED UP. HAS THE NEW CAR LEVELED THE PLAYING FIELD?
TRUEX JR: "I think it definitely has. All the cars are so similar. The same template goes on all the cars. The parody is better than it's ever been. That's why you're seeing that. I think when you go to plate tracks some guys might have a little better motor package than others and some manufacturers might stand out on qualifying day. But come race day, we've all pretty much got the same thing. Whereas before, there were some drastic differences in the bodies of the cars."
EVEN THOUGH YOU GOT YOUR FIRST VICTORY IN THE BUD SHOOTOUT, DO YOU FEEL THAT FIRST POINTS VICTORY COMING UP HERE THIS WEEKEND?
JUNIOR: "Yeah, it would be great to win here. I love this race track. I love coming here. And I loved coming here when I was a kid. I loved to race on it. Getting a win in Atlanta any time for me is a good feeling. And that brings up another thing. Martin pointed out to me this week that last weekend was not my first win as a car owner. We have won some Chance 2 races several times before. But the first win for JR Motorsports. For our Cup team, we need to get to victory circle a.s.a.p. I think every team in the garage feels the exact same way. But we would really benefit quite a bit from that kind of boost in our confidence and our ability."
-credit: gm racing