Report from Motorsport News International
NASCAR Public Relations
UAW-GM Quality 500
Charlotte Wednesday Quotebook
CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 1, 1997) Quotes from selected drivers after Busch Pole Qualifying for the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:
GEOFF BODINE No. 7 QVC Ford
"The car has been good. We tested it here last week. We did a tire test in Dover last Tuesday and came back here that night to test this new car. I was so tired I ran about 15 laps and was so tired we all went home and went to bed. The car has been fast since we've been here. It's a brand new car. The whole team really worked hard on it. It's an engine out of our shop, and we're real proud of that. It was a good effort. Race fans don't realize the effort that went into getting that kind of speed out of the car here. It's a brand new car and it was built in about three weeks. We tested last Tuesday just a little bit here at night. Things are starting to happen with this team. Jim Mattei is here and his whole family. John Porter has had a good day in the stock market today. This is a great effort. "Yeah, we expected that. We knew we had a good car. I had run like a .69 in practice, but I missed Turns 1 and 2. I was up in the second groove. I told 'em if I could run down in the groove and keep it down there, I could run in the .20s, and we did it. There are some good cars left, so we'll have to wait and see. A tremendous amount of work went into this car. We've got a lot of new people with this team. We're changing a lot of things and things are starting to happen. Monday wasn't a good race for us at Martinsville, but that was Monday. Here we are at Charlotte. We put all that behind us. We're looking forward to this weekend, and we think it's going to be a great one for us."
BOBBY LABONTE No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac
"We ran well earlier today in practice, and we're real excited because we're running a new Pontiac here. The guys did a great job in the motor room.. It's a good qualifying motor. It was a great effort, any way you look at it. It was a great lap for us. We needed a good run here at Charlotte. I've had two poles this year, but I really don't have good feel for qualifying right now. We really needed to do well tonight. I don't think I'm really good qualifying on these superspeedways, I guess I'm just bad on the others. The car didn't do anything weird. It was really good. I really didn't get down as low as I wanted to in (Turns) 1 and 2, but I was still in the gas getting it, so I thought that was all right. It felt pretty comfortable. I knew somebody was going to bust off a good lap. It was getting cooler. It was still a good run for us. Our race team is always getting stronger, and last year got stronger at the end of the season. We're kind of along the same lines right now and hoping to do the same thing. I think our race team is getting a lot better."
MARK MARTIN No. 6 Valvoline Ford
"I'm real happy with that. We've been good ever since we unloaded. Every lap we made was a fast lap. That was an awesome lap. It wasn't enough for the pole, but we weren't really going for the pole. We wanted a good starting spot. I knew we had a good draw and we could have probably loosened the car up some, but I didn't want to take any chances. We're in this thing for the long haul. We weren't going for the pole. We came here to get a good starting spot and go for these points. There are no points here tonight. We've got three poles this year. We need to win a championship. We've got to finish ahead of Gordon. Starting is one thing, but we've got to finish ahead of him. This not a big deal. We've been fast since we got here and we've got a good race car. We wanted to be conservative. I knew we could be close to the pole, and we were, but we were not desperate for a pole tonight. We need to win this race. That's what we need to focus on this weekend."
JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Automotive Refinishes Chevrolet
"This place gets your heart pumping. It's so fast and a night like this is so exciting. That was a good lap for us, but I left a little bit out there. Going into the first turn, I drove in a little too deep. I delayed a little getting back in the gas, but I think it would hold up for the pole. Some guys have been faster than us all day long. I love to qualify and race here at Charlotte. My heart was pounding going around those corners. This place has been good to me. It's exciting to come out here and shoot for the pole under the lights. It was a good, solid run for us. We've been thinking about Charlotte and running good here. This is the first step to that, but the race is what we're here for."
DALE JARRETT No. 88 Ford Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford
"The car was great. The guys gave me a really good car. We weren't really sure how good it would qualify, but I think it's going to be really awesome in the race. The car stuck great. The guys made all the right decisions tonight. I like our chances on Sunday. This is the race car we came and tested here last week. We weren't sure how good it would qualify, but the race package seems to be really good. I'm more excited about Sunday, but that should get us a good starting spot."
DICK TRICKLE No. 90 Heilig-Meyers Ford
"We're getting better as a team. I didn't do this, the team did it. We unloaded and we were off a bit. I told the guys to keep working on this car and I'll keep working on the driver, and by the time to qualify, we'll be all right. We've just got a good group of guys and we're trying to work as a unit. We ain't there yet, but we're creeping up on 'em. We want to make this team one of the top runners."
WARD BURTON No. 22 MBNA Pontiac
"I got a little loose going into Turn 1. I think I waited too long on the throttle. I was still happy with the run. We picked up three-tenths over practice. I wanted to be a little bit better, but the guys did a good job of getting it better all day."
JEFF PURVIS No. 12 Opryland Chevrolet
"I was hoping we'd pick up from practice, but I didn't have any idea that we'd pick up that much. I about lost it 10 times. I watched some of those times and it'll just about take your breath away watching how fast they're running. We've got a good race car and we've got a good bunch of guys working on it. If we can stick together we'll be okay. Qualifying in the top-10 is a big accomplishment on any track in the Winston Cup circuit, but to do it at Charlotte is just almost unbelievable. Now we need to go to work on the car and get ready for 500 miles on Sunday."
JIMMY SPENCER No. 23 Camel Ford
"I'm really excited. Our goal all year is to put the car in the top-25 and then worry about the race on Sunday. Hopefully, that will do us. The car was decent. We didn't really pick up a lot until the last hour or so. We started changing a lot of things. We've been struggling playing with shocks, just trying to get it comfortable."
MORGAN SHEPHERD No. 1 R+L Carriers Pontiac
"We had a little problem dragging out there. In practice we had a shock rubbing in the right front. We were lucky we didn't plug a left front tire out. The guys moved a shock mount and we got that taken care of, but the last run there we were still dragging. We stuck a rubber in the right front just for safety, because I knew if the car hit the pavement that it would mess our lap up.. It was a little bit tight, but it was a good run."
KEVIN LEPAGE No. 91 Pionite Chevrolet
"We picked up about two-tenths from practice, but we had a good lap. We left a little bit on the table in Turns 3 and 4. We just wanted to get in the field and turn a good lap. These guys have been struggling and I kind of let 'em down at New Hampshire. We tested here last week and it looks like it paid off. That's a load off my shoulders. We run good here in the Busch car, but you can't drive these cars like Busch cars. I really nailed 1 and 2, but I probably gave up a little bit in 3 and 4."
TERRY LABONTE No. 5 Spooky Fruit Loops Chevrolet
"We've got a great team. Things with Gary caught us off guard a little bit. We haven't changed anything. Everybody is still doing the same thing. We approached it the same way tonight, the same way Gary would have. We had a real good car in practice, and I thought we really had a shot at the pole. It bottomed out in the first corner and I almost lost it on the qualifying lap. We'd been fast all day and hadn't bottomed out once. That's the way it goes, but we'll have a good car for the race. This is a pretty good track for us. We usually run well here. We need a good run Sunday. We need to win a race."