11th Brickyard 400 Day 2 -- Saturday, Aug. 7, 2004 CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge): "I think this is a good feeling of redemption a little bit. We came here in 2001 and tried to qualify for the '500,' and I dreamed of everything as far as ...
11th Brickyard 400
Day 2 -- Saturday, Aug. 7, 2004
CASEY MEARS (No. 41 Target Dodge):
"I think this is a good feeling of redemption a little bit. We came here in 2001 and tried to qualify for the '500,' and I dreamed of everything as far as qualifying for this place. To have such a horrible month and not qualify for the show was just heartbreaking and to come in now and qualify toward the top, and hopefully I will have a good race on Sunday. It would just mean everything in the world."
(About fan support at Indy): "It's cool that people support you, and I enjoy signing autographs. There's a lot of times though when we're busy here, and this is our office. A lot of times I step away from the office and sign autographs. A lot of times when we're focused and thinking about racing, it's like someone sitting at your desk while you're trying to do paperwork. You love the people that support you, but there's a time and a place for it. But I really enjoy it. I enjoy people yelling my name and supporting me. (They say) 'We watched your uncle, and now we watched you,' and it's a really cool feeling."
JASON LEFFLER (No. 60 Haas Automation Chevrolet): (About qualifying run): "It sucked."
(Did you brush the wall?): "Yeah, but it didn't slow us down, just skimmed the paint off the right side. The motor ran great. The car pulled good. I just don't know why it was so slow. It's a little disappointing. I thought we had something. It is what it is, and hopefully it gets us in the show. Our main goal is to stay out of trouble and run the race."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet):
"Not bad. I'm proud of our U.S. Army team. My Chevy was good. I almost had the perfect lap going and got a little bit loose going into Turn 4. As race car drivers, we're always trying to get more, and I got a little bit greedy on the entrance there and the back end stepped out. I think we all saw Greg Biffle crash one pretty hard there yesterday, and I didn't want to do that, so I had to let off the gas, and it cost me some time. I think we'll have a top-five starting spot, and that's a pretty good day at Indy."
TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet):
"It's just the luck of the draw. It's that way every week. It was quite a bit freer than we thought bit was going to be, so it wasn't the lap we wanted."
(About race): "It's hard to say. We'll know better when we get through the two happy hour sessions. But we'll have to run the car way from the back."
(About the week): "No matter what happens today and tomorrow, we're going to have fun this weekend. It's been that way all week. It's been a fun week. When I got up here Thursday, Jay Drake won in our Silver Crown car at IRP, and I went and watched Danny Lasoski at Eldora last night. I'm doing things I enjoy instead of things people try to make us do. I saw my Mom yesterday, and I'm going to see some friends up in a suite here shortly. If we finish 43rd, if I wreck on the last lap while I'm leading, we're going to have fun, no matter what."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge):
"From when we ended practice yesterday, we picked up half a second from there, so it's a good run for the ALLTEL Dodge. The track was definitely better at the start of qualifying, and the schedule's still messed up, but I think for sure we'll come away with a top-10 qualifying effort, and that's definitely good for us going into tomorrow."
WARD BURTON (No. 0 NetZero Hi-Speed Chevrolet):
"The team did a really good job. The NetZero Chevrolet guys worked really hard, and I feel we're heading in the right direction. This was obviously a big step for us to run that quick, a second-plus what we ran yesterday. It's easy to drive a car when they're right. It's hard to drive a car when they're not right. They made the right changes to the car today, and that allowed me to go fast."
BRIAN VICKERS (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet):
"The draw definitely makes a difference here. The car did well. It was tight. We were definitely fighting it yesterday toward the end of practice, and we made a few changes to help it, but we didn't get quite far enough, I don't think."
KURT BUSCH (No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford):
"It wasn't a bad lap. I believe our car's going to be better for the race run and going out early is going to help us start up at the front and give us the opportunity to make better calls throughout the race. This is the most unique qualifying situation we have all year. Normally, we're in the car for two hours, have a couple-hour break, and we're right back in it. This is late-afternoon practice and come back the next morning and go cold turkey. It's a good challenge."
MARK MARTIN (No. 6 Viagra Ford):
"I'm real disappointed. We had a major problem there. We'll start in the back and go to the front. It's just going to make it a little bit more difficult, that's all."
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge):
"The car's handling great. It's the best car I've ever had here, I think. The car drives awesome. We should be in good shape. Track temperature just keeps getting hotter and hotter. From the first guy to sixth, the difference was big. It doesn't take much."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet):
"It wasn't what we hoped for, for sure. We ran about what we did yesterday. Conditions are a little bit cooler for it, so we're disappointed, obviously."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge):
"We had a good qualifying run. We hadn't been too fast since we've been here but we picked up, and in the heat of the day here, that's good."
TONY RAINES (No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge):
"It wasn't very good. They said there wasn't any fluid down there in (Turns) 3 and 4, but it really didn't feel like it. We ran slower than we practiced, so we're disappointed. We didn't get the RPM we had been."
SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline Chevrolet):
"It was tighter that time than it's been all weekend. It's not what you expect when you keep freeing it up all day and freed it up even more for qualifying, and you got out there and it's tighter than it's been since I've been here. It's frustrating. It's got to be something that's out of our control that we didn't have a handle on. We just missed it somewhere."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's/Delphi Chevrolet):
"It's not as good a qualifying run as I hoped for. I think we're going to be pretty good for the race. That's what we've been focusing on in testing."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge):
"It was terrible."
(Thoughts about the race) "Ask me that tomorrow."
JAMIE McMURRAY (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge):
"It was a little too tight. It was good, just wasn't good enough. It's hard to blame it on track temps. It's just hard to get the balance right."
TODD BODINE (No. 50 Arnold Development Co. Dodge):
"It was terrible. It's the worst the car has been since we've been here."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 34 City of El Paso Dodge):
"Terrible. Things have gone really badly for us since we've been here. We missed a lot of practice yesterday; we only got two laps in. It really put us way behind. The car just hasn't performed very well. This is a tough business."
SCOTT PRUETT (No. 09 Miccosukee Resorts Dodge):
"I'm sore. That was a backup car. We just wanted to go out and make an attempt to qualify. The guys did a good job getting everything together. It's tough not coming here and testing and having a big shot and then going in the fence yesterday. I can feel it -- it's sore. It hurts today. We just went out to be sure the car was OK. I didn't think we'd go fast enough to get in on speed just because we hadn't run the car. We'll see if we can get in on provisional. I'm racing tonight (in Grand-Am sports car race). I'll head out of here right after the first practice. We're going to helicopter out of here to the airport, catch a private jet to Mid-Ohio, helicopter to the track. It's going to be close to get there right before the race. Max (Papis) is going to start. We're on the pole there. Then I'll get in and finish the race."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet):
(About pain from burns): "It's tough, just standing up builds up a lot of pressure and a lot of stinging pain. But sitting in the car is fine."
(What was the difference in the car from yesterday to today?): "Well, we made some changes to try to get the car tighter getting in the corner, and it really helped. We were running a lot of race trim yesterday. We really weren't doing any practice qualifying run until the end yesterday. We were a little bit off, so we were really glad the guys made the changes they made, and helped the car."
(How excited are you to get back to doing a full race?) "Yeah, I'm planning on doing it. I shouldn't have any problem doing it. I'm really looking forward to this whole weekend. We got a brand-new car. We got a lot of excitement about this car. We're looking forward to see how it does this weekend."
(What makes it more comfortable in the seat?): "Just sitting down, not putting no pressure on it. All the blood's going down there right now putting pressure on it and just stings real bad."
(What gives you the confidence that you can finish this week?): "I don't know, just get in there and do it. I feel a lot better. I got to go sit down; it hurts right now."
KIRK SHELMERDINE (No. 72 Freddie B's/Embassy Suites Ford):
"Well, it was a little faster than yesterday, but we were so far off, we didn't even put any new tires on there. It wasn't even worth wasting them. We made our lap, and we are going to the next race."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 00 Aaron's Chevrolet):
"Well, it was a good lap. It felt like I hit all my marks, so we will just have to see where it hangs up."
RICKY RUDD (No. 21 Keep It Genuine Ford):
"We weren't real good yesterday. We sort of picked up where we left off yesterday. We made some changes overnight. Picked it up a couple tenths, but not what we needed, for sure. It seems to be pretty stable. The car is going to probably race good if we get the right setup. Not really sure about the qualifying deal. We came here a couple weeks. We didn't do nothing but work for race runs for two days. I got pretty confident racing-wise. We are a lot more competitive racing than we are qualifying, obviously. A little baffled right now."
HERMIE SADLER (No. 02 SCORE Motorsports Chevrolet):
"Well, it was a good effort by my guys. We were just too far behind. We were late getting the car out. We tore up a good car yesterday. We did the best we could, just came up a little bit short. We'll regroup, and try them again next time."
ANDY HILLENBURG (No. 31 Quality Equipment Dodge):
"We picked up a little bit. I was pretty pleased with that part of it. We just didn't have enough time. We needed to come up here and test. Had we ended up today at the end of the first day of testing, it would have been great."
DERRIKE COPE (No. 98 Lucas Oil Ford):
"For a late draw, the car actually drove pretty well. We don't have a lot of engine. We're just here to try to do the best we can. For what we had, we ran a little bit faster than we did in practice. The car was pretty solid; it just wouldn't get down the straightaway very well. We had some issues. We're going to try to keep digging. We're up against a lot of odds right now."
DAVE BLANEY (No. 30 America Online Chevrolet):
"We just haven't been very quick yesterday or today. We'll take what we can get here. Get in the race and see if we can get better in race trim. The track was fine. I think it slowed down a little bit there at the end of qualifying, but not as much as it could have."
JIMMY SPENCER (No. 4 Featherlite Trailers Chevrolet):
"We had to get in the race, and we did. It was a good lap. We thought we could have run that yesterday. If we would have ran that yesterday, I believe we could have run a low 49 (second lap). But that is a big accomplishment for Morgan-McClure Motorsports. Featherlite came on board for this race. We are in the race, and that's the big thing. I think a lot of the cars went home from this race in the past. You need to get in the top 38. That's the key. I guess we ended up 33rd, which is nothing to brag about, but on other side of it, we are in the race, and now we can focus on it, get our car handling good, and hopefully be a top-10 car on Sunday."
(About going out last for qualifying): "I don't think you can sit on the pole sitting last. But then on the other side of it, the track was the first time in a long time that I didn't see the temperature change a whole lot like the previous years. I think going out last with the track changing 25 degrees, you can't even think about it. You have a hard enough time even making the race. I don't think that happened today. The weather was a lot different. No humidity, and the sun didn't just bake the track heat into it. Yeah, I'm sure going out last cost us a couple tenths, but it doesn't matter. It is only a couple spots. We knew we couldn't be in the top 10, because when we tested up here, we just didn't have the car the way we wanted to. So Tim and the guys brought a different car back. A lot of different things. Our focus in on finishing races . We are finishing them. We're making some mistakes. Little odds and ends is costing us better runs. That's what we got to do. We're trying to find a sponsor and get better runs. We need to be in the top 10 is where we need to be."
JEFF BURTON (No. 99 Roush Racing Ford):
"We thought we'd be a lot better than that. Just didn't have the grip we had yesterday. Didn't pick up quite as much as most people are going to pick up. So I can tell we are going to be disappointed."
(Any problem in any particular corner?) "Turn 1 was pretty slow, I thought. Turn 1 and Turn 3, it seemed we couldn't get to the corner like we needed to."
(Did this car seem like it'd be a good race car?) "I am really excited about this car and its race geometry. It races well and seems like it has a good grip. I think it will be fine in race trim."
JEFF GREEN (No. 43 General Mills/Boxtops for Education Dodge):
"The run went really well. But we just got too tight coming out of (Turn) 4. I lost about a tenth or so there. I think we have a good Cheerios Dodge. When we tested here, we were pretty much one of the fastest cars all week testing. It stood up for us. We've been struggling here lately so we need some good runs for us."
MATT KENSETH (No. 17 Smirnoff Ice/DeWalt Ford):
"The run was all right. The car handled good in Turn 3 and 4. But wasn't that great in Turn 1 or Turn 2. It wasn't great, but the track's getting hotter. It's so lopsided how they do qualifying here. We got a decent draw here (on qualifying time slot) so I think we'll still end up decent. We were running about what everyone else was running here around this time period."
ROBBY GORDON (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet):
"We freed our car up knowing the track was going to be tighter in the morning because that's just the way it is around here at Indianapolis, and we didn't go enough. We just plowed the front tires all the way around the racetrack." (What do you have to do for Sunday?): "Pass a lot of cars. We came back and thought we'd have a real shot at it (starting in the front). Unfortunately, we didn't."
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 38 M&M's Ford):
"Life's good right now in Indy. To win the golf tournament yesterday -- That's not the pole, and I was a little disappointed being that close, but we're going to be close enough to see them. As good as we were here in testing and race runs, I'm pumped up, and I think we have a good shot at this race. They gave us a lot of horsepower. We don't care anything about the points this weekend. It's all about kissing those bricks. They brought me a great race car. We've been very good at this racetrack in the past, and I think we have a good setup for the race Sunday, and I can't wait."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge):
"It's a good lap for us. It's the best one we've made so far since we've been in Indy, so it was good. We were a little bit tight from the center off and didn't run quite as fast as we probably could have, but it was still a good lap. It was hotter than that yesterday, and I think we should've run faster than that, really. Mears just went fast. Obviously, there's some speed in the track."
BRENDAN GAUGHAN (No. 77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions/Kodak Dodge):
"We had a really good race car. We knew we were fast, just tight in two corners. Indianapolis, they say it's perfectly symmetrical and that each corner's the same. There's still differences. In (Turns) 3 and 4, it was really good, but (Turns) 1 and 2 were really bad for us. I was going to use track temps as an excuse, but Casey Mears blew that out of the water. Not a very good start for the team that has Indiana roots, but we'll be all right."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 91 Visteon Dodge):
"Former winner, I like that title. That's a good part of what this sport is all about. But Indy has always been special, when I came here back in 1992, I really enjoyed this place. I've enjoyed it ever since. You know it's a great opportunity to be back with the Visteon folks on board. Ray (Evernham) and all the guys put together an awesome car for here. We need to get it just a little bit better. But you know, we're not bad. The thing is just get in this race and get going and worry what we need to do tomorrow."
(About limited schedule this year): "I've been trying to help Kasey (Kahne) and Jeremy (Mayfield) with what ever I can from that standpoint. Kasey don't need much help. He's done a heck of a job on his own. He's a heck of a good race car driver. Really proud where he's at, it's made my transition a whole lot easier. But all in all it's any way we can fit in and make this team stronger, that's what it's all about."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet):
"The car is excellent, a good qualifying effort, and we came here for the race. Wanted to qualify better than we had. Now we really got to get this DuPont Chevrolet up to that number-one spot. If it takes 400 miles to do it, no problem. But the way my pit crew has been lately, the chemistry of the team, the race car has been fantastic, horsepower, everything at Hendrick Motorsports has been going so well, I think we got a shot."
(About the Jeff Gordon Foundation) "We've had tremendous support from the racing community, from the community around Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana. Riley Hospital for Children is just a great children's hospital. We did a lot of research when we found it. You know they're right here in Indianapolis, and it's one of the best and very fortunate to be able to have events like the bowling tournament the other night and have some fun. Get together and knock down some pins and raise a lot of money. We gave $150.000 to them the other day and want to do more. We plan to do more and step it up each year."
(We see a lot of Jeff Gordon shirts out in the crowd. What shirt did you wear growing up? Who did you look up to growing up?): "I was a big Rick Mears fan. He was the man. I remember coming here and getting his autograph back one year. So I was certainly a big fan of his. I was also a big sprint car fan, Steve Kinser, Doug Wolfgang, Brad Dody and all those guys. I raced sprint cars so much that I got a chance to race with a lot of those guys, as well. Wish I could have had a chance to race with Rick Mears. I never have. Certainly a hero of mine. So it's unbelievable for me to get out here and race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and actually have the opportunity to go to victory lane."
(About competing against another Mears in NASCAR): "Casey, boy, that was really a great run for him. He's really been on top of qualifying lately. I'm proud of him and proud of them. I've seen him go through the ups and downs of this sport. Right now, he's on an u pswing, and I'm very happy for him."
(Is there an optimum place to start at this race?): "Well, two out of the three wins I have here I started in third spot. So, I've got to say I like third. It's very hard to get up front here more than any other place out there."
MORGAN SHEPHERD (No. 89 Racing with Jesus/Red Line Oil Dodge):
"It would've probably been pretty decent, but we found out when I got in the car there, we had no front-wheel brakes. That's not very exciting going down in the corners because if you just have rear-wheel brakes and get on them hard, you'll just spin out. That knocked our run way back."
KEVIN LEPAGE (No. 51 Marathon Oil Chevrolet):
"We struggled a little bit when we got here. We didn't come up and test. It's a new race team. I'm just disappointed for Marathon Oil. They stepped up for us this weekend. Their regional office is right across the street here. We picked up a second over yesterday, but we were two seconds off yesterday. We needed to find two seconds, and we just weren't able to. I hate it for the guys."
JIMMIE JOHNSON (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet):
"Things are really looking good for this weekend's Brickyard 400 for us. We brought a new car along. It only has 15 laps on it. We've been able to put it in the top 10. So we're very pleased with that. Hopefully we'll get through race practice and have everything sorted out like we need to. Pocono went very well for us last weekend, so we've got some tricks up our sleeve to try for the race."
(If you had a CD player in your race car, what band would be playing?) "Depends on the day. If it was a nice, mellow day, probably some Jack Johnson. If it was an aggressive day, maybe throw in some old school Limp Bizkit and try to take the steering wheel off." (Will passing be difficult?) "I think it's getting better. But sad to hear that the track is going to be resurfaced for next year. The track's finally developing some character, in terms of bumps. It may hurt Indy cars, but it helps us for our cars. So you actually look to the outside for some outer groove. They also ground the track and took some grip away from the bottom."
(With qualifying at the end of the day does the heat hurt your lap times compared to the first out in the morning?) "It definitely slowed us down some. I don't think if I went out earlier I would have been able to beat Casey Mears' time. He put out such an incredible lap that I couldn't have touched that one. But think it would have put us in the top five. So it does make a big difference in terms of track temperature going up. The track temperature went up over 25 degrees since the start of qualifying to the time we went out at the end of qualifying. But definitely makes a big difference."