Thursday, Aug. 5, 1999. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. First-round Bud Pole Qualifying for Brickyard 400. DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's better than we practiced. I went in a little hard in turn one. I had a...
Thursday, Aug. 5, 1999. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. First-round Bud Pole Qualifying for Brickyard 400.
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's better than we practiced. I went in a little hard in turn one. I had a little trouble getting turned down low enough quick enough. Everywhere else, it was a pretty good lap. We picked up two tenths from practice. We tested up here and ran pretty good. You always want a little bit more. I've been here all week, and we got a lot of laps in on the IROC cars. They're about 20 mph slower, so it really doesn't apply other than you get a lot of laps in."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"I've got to give a lot of credit to the guys on this race team because I didn't feel like it was my best lap as a driver, trying to hit my marks. The car actually was a little bit tight and I slid the nose in some areas. I got up to speed really good coming off four and carried a lot of speed into the corners. I think I carried good speed off two and four, but turn one I was in a little bit of trouble and that kind of surprised me because we loosened the car up. It's hot, slick and I think if somebody catches a cloud they can beat that lap, but I'm real proud of that lap. It was faster than we've been all day long, and to be able to do that puts a smile on my face.
"The fans here in Indiana are so special for me. They are so good to me, and I appreciate them very, very much. If you follow the circuit and you hear the kind of reaction I get at most places, when I come here, it sends a chill up your spine. I'm very thankful. It's an awesome feeling.
"I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to go out to Pittsboro and see a lot of friends I went to school with and a lot of people that support me in racing and a lot of fans. It's just awesome to see that. I'm not surprised very often, but I was surprised by that. I didn't expect the number of people. It was very overwhelming to me to have a boulevard named after me. Tony Stewart was born and raised here in Indiana. I'm kind of adopted, but I think of Indiana as home, and I'm glad the people around here have taken me in the way they have and supported me.
"We went out pretty early and a lot of good cars were left to go. I think the spoiler and air dam we have right now are making more downforce and allowing us to go through the corners better. I've got to take my hat off to this race team. They did an awesome job with this race car all through testing. They were finding ways to make this car go faster. We've got a whole lot of horsepower and it's a great handling race car. I didn't give it the best lap. I'm surprised with the time.
"I was a little choked up yesterday. Getting a boulevard named after you is pretty cool, especially off the highway in Pittsboro. It's a neat little place out there, and I really appreciate all the folks out there."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That was a good run for the Power Team Chevrolet. We'd run a little faster in practice, but it was a little cooler. That was a decent lap. I hit the ripple strips in turn one and the car pushed up a little bit off turn four. It wasn't a perfect lap, but we made it around and didn't hit anything major. Hopefully that'll get us in the race."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We've been having a rough time since we got here. We can't seem to get the car balanced. Went to qualify and had high hopes. The car felt good right off the line, but it pushed really bad. We'll just have to requalify. It's a good thing it's a short week."
DICK TRICKLE (No. 91 All INVINCA-Shield Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We brought a different car than the one we tested and we had to start from scratch. We got to make a quick banzai run there at the end. The car just pushed the whole lap. I couldn't get on the throttle. We've got a good car. We've just got to get it balanced out."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That was a pretty good lap. You've got four distinct opportunities to screw up in qualifying. I made turn one really good and two and three good and then I just didn't get through turn four. My whole focus all day has been on turn four. I was off there a little bit. Something about me and the car just didn't match up. The team made a great effort."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We just didn't hit turn one at all. It got tight. We'd been loose on stickers. Sammy Johns (crew chief) did a good job where it would be tight enough on stickers. It was, but I just attacked the turn a little bit wrong. I knew we wouldn't wind up fifth, but it'll be decent."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The car was just loose. We were about fifth in practice and I thought we could go faster, but we just got too loose. I think the track changed for qualifying. We were almost sideways on every corner."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"It was kind of a hero to zero lap. We were trying to run a 50 flat. We thought it was going to take a 50 lap or a high 49 (second-lap) to sit on the pole. That was our goal. I had a pretty exciting turn one. I got through two pretty good. I felt like I was in pretty good shape, and I probably was a little bit too conservative over there. We got two out of four corners and you need to get through all four to run good. It slowed us down a little bit. We didn't hit our marks perfect, but hopefully that'll get us a good starting spot for Saturday's race."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That wasn't a very good lap. We've got to figure out what's wrong and try to go faster."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I was too tight. I slowed down a little bit from what we practiced. I don't think the track is slower. I was surprised it was tighter. We kind of pushed off all the corners. We slowed down a couple of tenths from our practice laps, but I think we'll be pretty good in the race."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"From what we ran in practice, I was really unhappy with that lap. We went to one and I thought I got the entrance pretty good and started in and then I was tight off. It skated off. It didn't go down where I wanted it to go in turn two. Three was OK, but I wasn't happy with it. Jarrett won it from 24th. I can win it from 18th. I think I've got a better race car. I said this before. If we ever brought this race car I probably wouldn't qualify that well. We qualified 25th with it at Pocono and raced up to seventh. The car we were going to bring here, I qualified 11th with at Pocono and raced up to ninth. I want a car that will go forward and hopefully this one will be that car."
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The car didn't really drive that good on that lap. It drove a lot better today, but we got through it OK. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, but I'm tickled to death to be where we're at. We need a good shot in the arm. That was my worse lap on the track today, but 1997 was the last time I was here. I really like this place. It's close to Owensboro (Ky.) down the road here, so it's kind of my home track. Most of the time in Winston Cup racing if you can match your practice speed in qualifying, you're doing a good job. It's real easy to try too hard, especially at a track like this. We knew if we could run the same kind of lap we'd have a shot at the top 10. We'd like better, but we didn't lose a lot of time. I'm happy for the Kodiak team. This is a good shot in the arm for all of us.
"You try a little bit too hard in Winston Cup racing and you're in no man's land. Everyone will forget about you. That's probably happened to us a couple of times. I think in '97 I qualified ninth and had engine problems and didn't finish good. Whether this track fits my style or whatever, this is a great day for us. We had run pretty well at times this year, but by the same token we've had little stuff bite us and we'd go unnoticed. I'm tickled to be here. The race will be totally different, and we'll have to work hard there. We've worked hard to this point. We can't fall back on points, so we've got to really hang it out and it gets pretty nerve wracking at times.
"This is a new car. We took it to Loudon about four weeks ago and it failed to get hold of the race track. Everyone knows it's slippery there. Qualifying laps there are sometimes difficult and we found it extra difficult that weekend. Whether we didn't have the bugs worked out of the car or whatever, we went home from that race and that's not a good feeling. We brought it back up here for the GM test and it fell right into place up here. That doesn't surprise me because the race tracks are totally different. As soon as we thought that race car was bad, now it's OK. That's how you have to tailor your race car for every situation. Qualifying is one thing, but the race is totally different. We've got to work four times as hard between now and Saturday to get where we need to be.
"Usually I don't get nervous. I usually enjoy qualifying, but the competition level is so tough that it really works on you. In our situation today, the car was pretty good. We just needed to tweak a little bit here, there and yonder. By the time we go through the tech room and have to move some stuff we didn't think we'd have to move, all of a sudden now you don't know what you have. For one lap, it all worked out. We just had to suck it up and go, and that's what we had to do here today. It all worked out OK."
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We went out 40th, real late. Typically I don't like that because you have to sit there and watch all these guys run. To me, that's the worse thing to do, watch other cars on the race track. That kind of worked on me a little bit, but it all worked out good.
"We're all here to do everything we set out to do, practice, qualifying and race. Getting out of here after the race is over, we want to win that race, too. To say we needed this would probably be an understatement. We've been headed in the right direction, but we always seem to hit a roadblock every once in awhile. We had to regroup as a team, and I'm proud of my guys for doing that. This is biggest pressure-packed (day) we probably have all weekend. Those guys from 30th on down in the points, this is a real pressure cooker. We needed it. More than anything, we need a great race on Saturday. We don't need to be watching the race when the checkered flag falls. We need to be participating. Before you can win one or finish in the top 10, you've got to be participating.
"We have to look at the same guys week in and week out. Our target stays the same. It's just a different location. When we walk away from here on Saturday, it's going to hit us that we just ran the Brickyard and hopefully we'll have a big payday."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"I'm shocked. I was supposed to go out third and I think Mike Wallace had to go to the truck race so he went out first. I really thought that a lot of strong cars, especially a couple of those strong Pontiacs like Bobby Labonte and Ward Burton that were going out later, were really going to beat us, especially if they caught a cloud. When I went out, there really wasn't much of a cloud, and track temperature can make a big difference here. I knew we had a strong car. I just thought we drew a little bit too early. I drew it, so I guess I had to make the most of it. Even testing this car, I knew it was a good car. We came back with more horsepower, which was nice. It's handling good through the corners. It was a good lap, but I never dreamed it was as fast as it was. The best lap that I felt like I made all day long was like my second lap on the track. We only made six laps in practice because we felt like we were pretty ready. There's a lot in what the team does to the race cars. Cooling the motors down, taping the cars up, little fine-tune adjustments they make. I really didn't think I made a better lap than that 50.35, but yet the car went faster. I was pretty happy with that, but I thought after I made that lap that there was going to be someone to beat me.
"A little bit in turn one. I wasn't even throwing the wind in there as a factor. After going down pit road just now, I realized the wind was a little stronger than I thought it was, but I thought the sun was more of a factor than anything. I got into one really hard and really good and carried good straightaway speed coming off four to take the green flag. I got into one and got back in the gas and the front end slid around on me just a little bit. It didn't really hold me up that much, I just had to get in and out of the gas a little more than I would have liked. I was a little more prepared for the car to be tight after that and was able to get three more really good corners. I got through three really, really good. I thought I got off four pretty good. I knew I wasn't sideways like I was here a couple of years ago, so I thought that was a good thing."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"I knew it was going to be a good lap for that time of day, but I really had no idea that it was going to be that kind of a lap, and I thought somebody else could beat it.
"This is a special place. I love coming here and competing here. My guys wore me out here testing. Two cars and I don't know how many miles we made, but we made a lot, a lot more than we'll run here on Saturday. I needed a vacation after that, and I got to go on one thank goodness. We just got back from being off seven days. Ever since I've landed in Indianapolis, it's been incredible. I go out to Pittsboro last night and there's a couple thousand people out there for the street naming. To have a street named after you is pretty cool. They could have stuck me with some little road, but they got me the exit off the highway. That meant a lot to me, and it was neat to see a lot of people I went to high school with and people who used to come out and hang out at our race shop and help us out with our cars and go to the races with us and stuff. It was pretty neat. That's how my weekend got started yesterday, and I think that was added inspiration today, the reaction I got from the fans and the race car I had out there.
"I don't know who the best driver in this garage area is. I think Mark (Martin) is one of 'em. I don't know if it always really matters who the best is. It's hard to make that evaluation. Unless you're driving their race cars and you know what kind of equipment they've got, it's hard to judge who's the best and who's not. I think all that really matters is who makes the best combination. Being able to drive the car and feed that information back to the team and have a team that's able to give you the equipment and be able to make the adjustments that are right for you. It takes a good driver, a smart driver who knows how to feel what he's feeling and relate that to the team. I think there's a lot of great drivers out there who can feel exactly what the car is doing and relay it back to the team. I think that's what I've had special with my team. It started with Ray (Evernham). Brian Whitesall, another one of our key guys, he and I kind of have that same kind of combination, and Ray and him are alike in some areas. Those two guys really know how to interpret what I'm saying about the race car, and that helps a lot. If you get that kind of combination, it's hard to beat. We've been able to have one of the best combinations. Look at Dale Jarrett. He's got it this year.
"This has not been a stellar year for accumulating points. We're still winning races and winning poles and very capable of still doing a lot this year, so we do come into this year, and I can't say we come into this race a whole lot different than we do other races, other than it's kind of like Daytona. We come here and test and build a new race car, not always, but this year we did do that. They're constantly getting more and more horsepower out of the engines. They found it here for sure. We definitely go all out for this race, but we go all out for every race really. We're not thinking about points right now. It's not going to happen in one race. One race is not going to turn our season around. It's consistently getting things going in the right direction. A win here would mean a lot, and we're coming in here trying to win this race.
"It's big and flat. This track is very smooth. I think a lot of guys are really able to get the cars down with shocks and hold the cars down to the ground. Aerodynamics are playing a big role. We've actually been kind of Thursday, Aug. 5, 1999. Indianapolis Motor Speedway. First-round Bud Pole Qualifying for Brickyard 400. Chevy notes, quotes. Page 6.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) one of the last ones to catch on to this thing where everyone is getting the cars real, real low. We tried it a couple of years ago and I didn't like it. I didn't like the way the cars drove and handled through the corners. It'd go faster down the straightaways, but now we're getting more comfortable and the shocks and technology is getting further and further. Now we're more comfortable with it, plus I know I have to do it if I'm going to keep up with some of these other guys. The main thing is in the shocks and springs, getting the cars down. It's not the same situation as Daytona. We're getting the cars down to get down the straightaways but also handle good through the corners.
"I knew I had a good car today and that we ran well and had a shot at the pole. When I ran the lap, it wasn't my best lap. We're dealing with the best race car drivers and the best teams there are in the world. These guys usually get that perfect lap somewhere along the way. I was waiting for someone to get that. Maybe they were kind of fighting the same things I was fighting. It was hard to get that perfect lap today. I'm just a person that doesn't expect things. I don't expect to sit on the pole. I try to work as hard as I can and feed the information back to the team and get the best lap I can. I thought I got a good lap, but I didn't think it was my best lap and that's why I was kind of shocked at the time. I knew I slipped in turn one and if someone went out there and didn't slip in turn one, I thought they had a shot at beating it. Especially when you go out third or fourth and you're there all day long, that doesn't happen very often. It happened here last year, but Ernie went out at 5 o'clock because of the rain delay.
"It's funny how your ears open up when they're cheering and they close up when they're not. You learn to kind of just let that other stuff roll off your back. When you come to a place like this or California, they seem to cheer quite a bit there. It just really feels good. I can't say that it feels bad when I'm at other places. I guess I just got used to it that there's mixed emotions out there, but when we come here, there's far less mixed emotions and that feels very good. It's a huge inspiration to me to go out there and run well. I want to be able to give back to them because they're cheering and I want to make them proud of who they're cheering for. This is just a special place for me, not just because it's Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but because of the way the people react. That's great.
"Mastery, there's no mastery to it. If the car sticks, it sticks. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I only made six laps today. We were pretty close right off the truck. A lot of that goes into preparation from the test, continuing to work on certain things and go faster and push myself and push the car to the limits and try to bring that all together. We kind of split the team in half and had them working on this new car and chassis and getting the car down and then the other guys were working on the engine, trying to make as much power and torque and trying to decide what we needed to come back. When they joined those things together, voila. That's how we bring a car like we have here. There's certain cars you drive and go 'hhmm'. That feels good. This one was one of those cars from the start. It felt good. It just has that feel that I like in a race car. That's qualifying stuff. We didn't get to run some of our longer runs in the test, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. We'll see if that thing feels 'hhmm' for Saturday."