Darlington: GM team qualifying quotes, notes

Darlington, SC -- May 9, 2008: Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Mountain Dew/AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS and Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS will start second and third respectively in Saturday night's ...

Darlington, SC -- May 9, 2008: Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 Mountain Dew/AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS and Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS will start second and third respectively in Saturday night's Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Johnson's qualifying effort was a remarkable recovery from a day of frustration for the two-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion who crashed early in practice and was forced to a backup car. He then crashed again, damaging the Lowe's Impala SS splitter, which the team was able to repair prior to qualifying.

"I'm just proud of this whole Lowe's team," said Johnson. "They gave me two great Impalas today."

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS and Scott Riggs,No. 66 State Water Heaters Impala SS, qualified eighth and ninth respectively to give Team Chevy four top-10 qualifiers

A total 13 Chevrolet Impala SS drivers will take the green flag for the 147-lap/500-mile race scheduled to start at 7:20 p.m. with live coverage on Fox TV, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.

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DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 MOUNTAIN DEW/AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS -- Qualified 2nd:

ON HIS LAP: "That was a pretty good lap. The car probably had a good 30 in it. But we're going out so early, there really is no point in just going 110% because the guys are going to beat you. We just got a good, clean lap in and kept it off the fence trying to give us a good shot for tomorrow. We've got a great car. We've had one all weekend. That'll do okay. I think it'll be something to see how far they'll speed up as it gets later in qualifying here."

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JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS -- Qualified 12th:

HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALIFYING TODAY SINCE TOMORROW, PASSING IS GOING TO BE EVEN MORE DIFFICULT? "I think it is. Because the speeds are up, it is going to be harder to pass. There is less falloff in the tires, which means there's going to be less variance between running lap 10 to lap 20. I do believe thought that lap 20 to lap 40 or lap 50 is going to get slow. The way these tires are, you can't really drive them loose. You've got to be tight. The problem with that is by lap 20, they're just going to keep building tight. I think qualifying is important. But it's a 500-mile race. If you can't get it done in 500 miles from wherever you are, you ain't going to get it done."

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JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Qualified 3rd

WHAT GREAT WORK BY YOUR TEAM TO GET THE BACK-UP CAR READY AND YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN THIRD: "Yeah, I agree. I'm speechless myself, with the equipment these guys give me week in and week out. Fortunately today we were fast the whole time, but I kept hitting things. I'm just glad I got that out of my way and I got a good clean lap in. Track position is going to be very important in the race, plus a good pit stall pick. It's going to be tough to pass with the speed in the track. I'm just proud of this whole Lowe's team. They gave me two great Impalas today.

"The faster you go, the more room you need to run side-by-side. And this is a very narrow track to begin with and with the speed in it now, it makes it even more difficult to run side-by-side. But as time goes on, this track will come back to what we all know and love, and we'll be racing hard like always."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Scott Riggs
Teams Hendrick Motorsports