BUSCH POLE QUALIFYING NOTES -- 2-10-96 CHEVROLET NOTES (From Ray Cooper) DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Monte Carlo) -- (First career Daytona 500 Busch Pole for Earnhardt, who is the career victories leader at Daytona...
BUSCH POLE QUALIFYING NOTES -- 2-10-96
CHEVROLET NOTES (From Ray Cooper)
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Monte Carlo) -- (First career Daytona 500 Busch Pole for Earnhardt, who is the career victories leader at Daytona with 26.) I have to hand it to Richard Childress (team owner) and David Smith (crew chief) and Bobby Hutchens (shop foreman) and the guys. We worked real hard during the winter at the tests and that's where it was at -- the hard work they put up. Mike Skinner came with us to Daytona and helped test. He ran one car and I ran the other one. A lot of input went into this. Dave Marcis and Mike (Skinner) helped us out quite a bit testing. It was a big, solid effort to get the car running as smooth as possible. We're ready for 'em. I think we're ready to race. We've got a good car. It's been a long, hard winter -- an exciting winter really. It's paying off already, and to sit on the pole gets the Busch Clash out of the way for next year. I felt like the car was capable of winning the pole. We kept working with the tires. Tires were a big thing. We didn't change a thing on the chassis setup from the tests. It was a great day for us, and I've got to hand it to the crew. They did a great job. This is our first pole in the Daytona 500, so maybe it'll be our first win in the Daytona 500, too. Ernie (Irvan) is a great racer, and I'm looking forward to racing him. He was away for awhile, and we missed him. He's back, and he's back with a vegenance. He looks awful strong out there. Qualifying is the first step. We'll get in the Busch Clash on Sunday and see what the chassis is going to do. It's a long week before the 500. A lot of work and practice and racing will go on before next Sunday, and we're going to try to make the most of it. We pretty much felt good about this car when we unloaded it. We felt like we did our homework well. We went back and checked a couple of notes, but we were in good shape for qualifying. I felt real good about it. We ran faster than I thought we could run. I didn't think anybody would break a 47.50, but we did it and it surprised me a little bit. It's not just Chevrolets. Those Fords are right there with us. They're all strong. I don't think it's an uneven playing field. I think it's as even now as it's ever been if not more so for Ford. When Ernie ran his first lap, I thought he was going to beat us because it was better than Jarrett's first lap. That worried us. We ran a slower first lap than we thought we should have, but still, it felt good coming off four and seeing your number on the board second after the first lap. We held on. A lot of effort and man hours went into this. The effort is what put us here, and I've got to thank all our guys for putting that effort forward. We spend more time testing here than probably 10 other tracks together. The effort that goes into the Daytona 500, the engine dyno time is probably double the time that goes into Charlotte, Atlanta and Michigan all put together. With the restrictor plates and downsizing of the engines, the guys have kept the dynos running pretty hot and heavy. The ice storm the other week in the Carolinas (knocked out the power) and Childress had the generator hooked up so we would have power to run the dyno all weekend. This car was developed for Daytona, and hopefully it'll be the car to beat. It's a little better than the car we're going to run in the Busch Clash. You've got to put emphasis on each track and Daytona is no different. Daytona and Talladega are not the same. The corners are a little different. It's a little tighter. The chassis is a little different. It's a little different on handling and torque curve on the engines. We're focusing a little different on the car for Daytona and not worrying about the Talladega stuff. Winning the Daytona 500 is what it's all about. That's what everybody works for. We've just been unfortunate to be close a lot of times and somebody like Ernie passes you on the last lap. That's the way it happens. It's the race to win. It's the race everybody wants to win. If I had to weigh it between the championship this year, I'd give it up for the championship. That's how important the championship, the big picture is for me. I'm going after each race. We're not going to give up anything, but we're going out and try to win the Daytona 500 first. You've got to take 'em one by one. This is the first one and it's the most important to you right now.
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo) -- We're disappointed, but actually, that's better than we've been practicing. We've had some bad luck. We broke a transmission yesterday. Little things happened to us and we couldn't get on the race track. We've been fighting it. We found some stuff right before qualifying but we couldn't go too far with it. We didn't want to jeopardize the lap. We'll just have to wait and see if we can get the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet faster on Monday.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) -- I'm real happy with that lap, and I'm proud of this race team. They've been working hard to get the car that fast, and that's the fastest lap we've had since we've been down here. We knew it would be good in the race, but we weren't sure what to expect in qualifying. That was a pretty good lap.
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Monte Carlo) -- The battery went dead and we couldn't get it cranked. We had to push it off there and it took us two or three times. It was kind of tough. I didn't know if we were going to get it off in time or not. The car is running good. We still got in a pretty good lap, but that was a close one.
KEN SCHRADER (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- That wasn't a bad lap, but if you're not on the front row today, it really doesn't matter. We'll just have to get a good run in the 125 on Thursday. We're working hard, and this is basically a new team. We've got a lot of new people. It's a long season, and I'm looking forward to it.
DARRELL WALTRIP (No. 17 Western Auto Parts America Chevy) - - We've been slow all day and it continues. We brought it back in one piece, so I guess that's worth something. Other than that, I can't think of anything real good. We're down. We're not out, but we're down right now. Obviously a Chevrolet will run if you get everything right.
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Prodigy Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- That wasn't too bad. We've had some problems with a miss in the engine, and we really weren't sure what we could run. I'm really looking forward to '96. We've got a great sponsor, and we're looking forward to a good year.
STEVE GRISSOM (No. 29 Cartoon Network Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- We're a lot better than when we tested here in the winter. We slowed down a tick from yesterday, but so did just about everybody else. We've been working hard, and we've really improved. I'm happy with the progress we've made.
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 87 Burger King Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- We're tickled pink. When we've come to Daytona the past couple of years, we weren't too happy. We've really been working hard, and we qualified right where we had tested. In fact, we ran a 48.20 right off the truck and we qualified at 48.19. Our goal is to be in the top 15 in qualifying, and I hope that holds up.
RICKY CRAVEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- I was hoping for a little more, but that's about what we expected. We were in the same position last year and ran real good in the 125. If we can follow up on what we did last year in the 125 (seventh place finish), I'll be satisfied.
ROBERT PRESSLEY (No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) That's about where we thought we were. We were hoping we could be a little bit faster. The car rubbed a little bit too much. We're real happy with that. It'll give us a good starting spot in the 125. We had a real good handling car down here in the test, so we're looking forward to racing it.
STERLING MARLIN (No. 4 Kodak Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) -- We ran this morning, and I don't know if something happened to the motor or what. We didn't run the last run like we thought it would. We'll be OK for the race. We were hoping for the pole, and we gave it our best shot. We'll just have to see what happens now. We're sure going to try hard to win the race. The guys have worked hard. We'll give it our best shot, shake it all up and see where it falls.
BRETT BODINE (No. 11 Lowe's Ford) -- Losing our primary car in practice (Friday) really set us back. It really hurt us, bad. We put all our eggs in that basket. Now that basket's gone, and we just have to try to do the best we can with what we've got. Hopefully, this car will repeat itself with what it did last year. It never qualified good, but it raced real well, and we're just going to have to race our way in on Thursday. This stuff just happens. We just didn't expect it to happen in the first event, in the first practice day of the season. We'll work through it. We've got a great group of guys that will bear the load and keep on getting it.
PONTIAC NOTES (From Brian Hoagland)
RICK MAST (No. 1 Hooters Pontiac Grand Prix): Rick Mast and Daytona have not got along the past three years. This is one of my favorite race tracks. This place kind of propelled me I guess back in 89-90. We've been struggling here ever since. But we've got a new car at Pontiac and a new sponsor. The best part about it is that the new car isn't tapped yet. We're a little bit behind on development right now, so when we get to Talladega we'll be a lot better than we are now. I know we can make it a lot better. That's the good part. The bad part is that my Busch Clash car isn't as good as this one. But we've got all week to work on the 500. We don't have to worry about the qualifying so much now.
JOHNNY BENSON (No. 30 Pennzoil Pontiac Grand Prix): That's pretty good. We're pretty excited about how things are going. We were a little slow getting started. I'm still not sure how good we are. We haven't drafted with anyone yet. But that was our best run since we've been here. I can't be happier with the guys. The car handled fine. We haven't had a problem with the handling, just speed. Maybe this new Pontiac has a little bit too much downforce because we've been a little slow. But for the race that could be a good deal.
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): We're pretty happy with it. Robbie (Loomis) said if we could run somewhere in the .30s that he would be happy. The tech line is real tough, but they're doing it to everybody. We're pretty happy about it. I'll let you know how the new Pontiac will be after Thursday. The car did everything it needed to do. It was a little down on RPMs. It did that earlier too, and we don't know what's causing that. It might be a tape situation or something. The car handled great. In fact, I thought it was going to jump out of gear, and I drove it one-handed the whole time. I held it in high gear. Their making everybody's heights right. The tech guys aren't letting a sixteenth get by anymore. Little things like that slow the cars down.
WARD BURTON (No. 22 MBNA Pontiac Grand Prix): I don't know what to say. The fastest we'd run in practice was around 22nd today, and that's better than 34th.
KYLE PETTY (No. 42 Coors Light Pontiac Grand Prix): That was a good run. The best we've run since we've been here is a .65 or .60. We tested at Talladega. We never came and tested at Daytona. We're pleased. The guys are working their rear ends off. The guys back at the shop are working their rear ends off. That's what we've got right now. We'll start things from there.
CHAD LITTLE (No. 97 Sterling Cowboy Pontiac Grand Prix): That's right in line with what we've been running. It's hard to get a clean lap (in practice) and I'm sure we'll hear that all day long. Everyone runs quicker in practice. It was the best we could do, and we're happy with that.