DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "Last week's deal isn't going to change or hurt or help for Darlington. I'm a little behind right now. I missed my qualifying setup. I went out to make a banzai run and I pushed a...
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"Last week's deal isn't going to change or hurt or help for Darlington. I'm a little behind right now. I missed my qualifying setup. I went out to make a banzai run and I pushed a little and got loose and got close to the wall in three and four. I aborted the lap. We're tuning. I need to run a .30 or better to get in good and safe this week. I don't need to be pitting on that back straightaway and get in any more controversy.
"We've been busy this week. I went to St. Louis and tested and went to an autograph session on Wednesday down in New Bern. I ordered a new boat. It'll be ready in a little over a year. I signed some autographs for the Hatteras folks. Thursday was a busy day with business. I haven't had a week to relax and think much.
"It feels good to win anytime. I hated it happened with Terry and I like it did. I have a lot of respect for Terry. We've got along good all the years we've raced together. There's no need to get in that kind of situation with him. I haven't talked to him yet. He's been busy, and I've been busy. I don't want to make a big deal about it with everybody around. He said on ESPN he was going to shoot my horse out from under me the next time we went hunting. The last time we went hunting, I carried his gun for him, so I'll have to give him his gun to do that.
"Our team is OK. We just need to run better here. This is a tough track, and we haven't quite got hold of it yet this time."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"There really isn't anything to say about it. What happened last week happened last week. It's over and past us and behind us. We've got to go on and work toward this week and the rest of the season. We can't let what happened last week affect anything. Unfortunately it happened, and I hate it happened, and I'm sure Dale hates it happened. It just did. There's a lot of races left. Our goal halfway through the year was to try to win another race and try to finish in the top 10 in the points. We came close Saturday night. We're going to work hard to try to win another one before the end of the year, and we're going to work hard to try to have a good finish in the point standings. We'd like to finish in the top 10. We'd rather it'd be eighth than 10th. That's some things we've got to work on.
"I was disappointed, definitely. I think I was a little surprised. What happened last week happened last week. It's over. It's behind us. You can't do anything about it. We've got to go out here and do our job, and he's got to go out here and do his job. Neither of us can let what happened affect us.
"No, we haven't (talked). He won't come talk to me. I guess I'll have to go talk to him. We're parked next to each other in the garage. I'm sure before the weekend is over we'll run into each other. I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't need to go to the trailer.
"You can't let things bother you. You can't hold grudges. You just can't do that. You've just got to go and put it behind you. I did the same things I would have done Monday whether I finished first or seventh or eighth, wherever we finished. At the time, I was disappointed. I tell you what I was really disappointed for -- our team. Andy Graves (crew chief) and the guys, it's been a tough year for us. They've done a great job and worked awful hard and I hated as much as anything for them to lose the race like that. It happened. It's over."
"I don't owe anybody anything. You can't go out and do things like that. What happened happened. It's over. That's it.
"I think it was definitely a setup (for NASCAR), and I don't think anybody will disagree with that. One of the comments I said earlier in the week, I said, 'what do you tell your son who's racing go-karts or something that's 10 or 12 years old? You're trying to teach him right from wrong. You tell him if you're running second it's OK to turn the guy around. I don't think so. To me that's the biggest issue. It's the signal it sends. We're no different than NFL football. It's a judgment call. People in the end zone have to make calls, whether it's pass interference or in bounds or out of bounds or whatever. It's the same thing with this. You might not agree with it all of the time, but you can't do anything about it.
"It's completely different. You can't do the things today that you could have done 20 years ago. Nobody can. You can't get away with it. If that would have been Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, they would have been fighting after the race. Things have changed. We don't need a sport like that.
"There's only a few, and I think the thing that really impressed me the most were the number of competitors who stepped up and said something about it. It just showed you... believe me, if Dale had to do it over again he wouldn't have done it. I know that. He's a seven-time champion. The guy has a tremendous amount of talent. I'm sure he regrets that he did that. I'm not going to hold it against him. We still lost the race, and we're still disappointed that we lost the race. We've got to go on and put that behind us. We can't be worried about it.
"The bad thing about it a lot of times when something happens on the track and somebody retaliates, it's always the guy who retaliates that gets in trouble. It's never the guy that initiates it.
"I'm going to run this race and the rest of the year just like I've run all of 'em. I'm not going to give anybody a cheap shot. If I can win the race, I'm going to try to win the race. That's the way I am. I can't change myself.
"I was a little disappointed, not really disappointed, a little surprised. I really expected him to call me at home, but he didn't.
"I hated to hear that (Ernie Irvan's retirement). I heard about it this morning. That's too bad. I hate it for Ernie, because I know he didn't want to retire.
"There's a lot of fans there. They all saw the same race we did. It makes you feel good that the fans know the difference between right and wrong, which we always knew they did. I was a little bit surprised maybe at the reaction.
"The first lap doesn't pay nothing. I don't think that's the philosophy we need to have (anything goes on the last lap). I don't think that's the right philosophy for sure. I think 90 percent of the drivers out here will agree with that. If you're trying to race somebody for the win and you get into them, hey, you get into them. That's the way it goes. If that happens, you can't do anything about it. To me, that's racing. When you deliberately run into the back of them and turn them around, then I think that goes over the line. That's a little bit different, and I think that should be handled differently.
"You'll have to ask Darrell. I have no idea. I just assumed he was trying to make his lap back up. The caution had been out and the guys in front of me were slowing up. I wasn't going to try to beat them back to the line and put them another lap down.
"He (father Bob Labonte) said he was glad he wasn't there. He said he didn't think he would have been as cool as I was.
"We touched a little bit coming off turn four. Bristol is a tight, small race track. I was trying to pass him and he didn't want me to pass him.
"It cost a lot of money for all the tore up equipment. It's awful expensive. It cost us over a quarter of a million dollars.
"The incident between Dale Jarrett and I is a great comparison. I was on the inside of Dale (Jarrett) trying to pass him. I didn't run into the back of him and try to turn him around. There's a big difference.
"The tires, you go out here (Darlington) and make a qualifying run, the tires are only good for one lap. It's really hard to get the car set up for qualifying here. Darlington is an old race track. It's been here a long time. It hasn't gotten any easier. The tires only last a few laps and then they're worn out. You've got to be careful. We really aren't running as good as we need to be. We've got to step it up a little bit for qualifying so we can get on the front straightaway. I think we'll run good in the race. Qualifying is going to be tough for us.
"It's over. It's done. Forget about it. That's all you can do. Nobody hates it happened any worse than I do except maybe Dale. I know if he had to do it over again, it wouldn't have happened. It did, and we can't let that have any long-term affects. I've never held a grudge against anybody. I'm not going to hold one against him. I know if it comes down to the last lap somewhere, I might treat him a little bit different than I would somebody else.
"I've known him for a long time, and he's known me for a long time. We've raced together for several years. I hate it happened, and I know he hates it happened. You've just got to go on. I've got a great team here with a great sponsor and owner and I can't let what happened last week have any affect on our performance."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We picked up from practice, but so will everybody else. It was sort of a hit and miss lap for me, mostly miss. We've just been off all day. The car felt decent, but every time I try to hustle it up and get quicker, it either slides the front or back. We haven't really been able to pin down what the problem is. It feels good, but then it doesn't go. It's disappointing. We always qualify well here, but we didn't today. You get one lap to try on stickers and then after that you go to hanging on. It feels like my car will hang on good, but we'll have to come from the back to get there."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I wish we could have got a real good cloud. The sun kind of hit us. I don't know if that hurt us, but you think it does, anyway. We picked up two tenths from practice, and that's what we normally pick up here. Maybe we'll hang on and wind up in the top 10. The track grinds up the tires, and they really fall off quick. You just hang on for one lap, hold your breath for 28 seconds and hope you get a good one. You've got to race the track, and not make any mistakes. It's going to slip and slide. You've just got to live with it. I've won here, so I guess I like it. It's a little hard to be patient, especially if you're racing somebody real hard, but you've got to be patient. You go hard as you can go all the time. You can't lay back. You'll get lapped. You've got to go."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"After two runs, you're done. They need to give you about 10 sets of tires to practice here. We'll race good, but we're going to be starting in the back again."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We thought we were going to be pretty good. This is the car we ran here in the spring and finished seventh with it. We haven't been running that good, so we pulled the car back out. We need a good race for Kodak and Landair and all our sponsors. We worked on the car all day to get it free, and it was free for qualifying. I thought we had a shot at the pole, so we're pretty happy with that. We'll take it."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We've been real good right off the trailer. It's an old car with a new body on it. We're at Darlington. This hasn't been one of my better places, but Michigan hasn't been, either. I'm really excited to be here. We got the Busch car and Cup car qualified solid for the races. Now we've got to go to work on these race setups and help Chevrolet with that manufacturers championship. I'm pretty happy with that left. I said before I went out that I wanted to run in the .80s, and we did. That's pretty much all we had. I cost us a little bit getting into turn one. I had thoughts of running it wide open down there, and then my brain kicked in. I let off the gas, but it was a good lap for the Lowe's Chevrolet. It should get us on the frontstretch. We'll race 'em from there. We've got to get better at Darlington, and this is a start. We qualified better than we normally do here, so hopefully we'll race better."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"We weren't that bad in practice. We just missed our qualifying run. I didn't make it on the tires. We knew the car was good. There's just a little something there missing, and I could have been a lot better. I should have gone a little more with it, but we were scared to without trying it in practice. Hopefully our qualifying run will hold out and we can stay on the frontstretch. That'll make it a lot more competitive and we'll have a better shot at it. It's been a great week. We tested a lot and did a lot of other things this week."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We just didn't change enough stuff. We were a little bit too tight. We ran two tenths quicker than we'd practiced. We probably left a couple of tenths laying there, but it's a good frontstretch pit and we'll be fine."
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were a lot better than we were in practice. We lost an engine this morning. We didn't get any early morning practice. I don't know if it's going to be good enough to get in or not."
JEFF GORDON (NO. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"It's getting fast. These clouds coming in, the track is getting real fast. We gave it everything we had. I thought we had something for them today, but we came up a little bit short. We'll have a good starting spot here for Sunday. We had a great lap, but three other guys went faster. I think I was just a little bit too tight. These guys have been working hard all day to get this car capable of winning the pole. We just came up a little short.
"This is a great race car we've got here. We'll try to get a setup underneath it and a way to get these tires to last as long as they possibly can. I think we've got a really good shot at winning another Southern 500. Sometimes starting on the pole or front row, you tend to take off early and wear out your tires and go backwards. I'd like to be able to get in a position to really save my tires and work on 'em as the run goes on.
"We're real excited. Things are going well. We've got some momentum right now, and hopefully we can put some pressure on these guys ahead of us in the points and make this championship exciting to the end.
"It's amazing this track has been that good to me and this race team. They put some great equipment underneath me, and I love to drive this race track. Qualifying and racing are two totally different things at Darlington and I like to do both of them here.
"I hung it out a little bit today, but to get on the pole here you've got to be smooth and I bobbled just a little bit. The car did get a little bit tight. It's Darlington, it's the Pepsi Southern 500, and that means enough for me to try to go out there and win this one. I guess instead of going for a million this weekend, we're going to try to keep some other guys from winning it. Those guys are going to be tough.
"The history of Darlington and how tough a track it is makes it very special to win races here. To look back and think I've won four straight Southern 500s and going for a fifth is pretty awesome."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"In practice, everybody was spread out. Now, everybody is running about the same speed. I don't know what the deal is. It's like it's only so fast you can go around this place. I gave up a little bit in three and four. I was as good as anybody in one and two. To go really, really fast, you get one lap out of the tires. We don't know how much more consistent they're going to be. Hopefully, they will be."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We've been loose since we've been here. That's the best we've run. We just haven't run good."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's pretty good for us. It's the same old Darlington. It's a tire war out here. I'm real happy with the run. It was a little hairy. I gave it everything I could. We ran high a little bit down in three and four, but we were on the gas. I'm happy for the team. They did a great job, so we'll get ready for the legendary Southern 500."