Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson Qualify Monte Carlo SS 2nd and 3rd *** ROBBY GORDON, NO. 7 HARRAH'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: "We were pretty good in practice. It's going to be important to get the Harrah's Chevrolet in the field today. We...
Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson Qualify Monte Carlo SS 2nd and 3rd
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 7 HARRAH'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"We were pretty good in practice. It's going to be important to get the Harrah's Chevrolet in the field today. We have a lot of Harrah's guests coming. I think there's 3,000 ticket holders, or something. So it's a big day for us today. We're sitting 17th in points, but that doesn't help us this year. We've got to qualify and take one of those spots. We're outside of that top 35, so we've got to get all we can get."
THE WIND IS PICKING UP A LITTLE BIT. DOES THAT HELP OR HURT OR WHAT? "It'll probably hurt the guys. It looks like the track conditions are going to stay pretty similar for everybody. A lot of times with an early draw like we have -- 14th -- it hurts you. But today, being a cool day and the sun not really being on the track that much should make for pretty equal qualifying for everybody."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
YOU SUCKED THE FRONT VALIANCE OFF THAT AUTOMOBILE, BUT IT LOOKED REAL PRETTY. HOW DID IT FEEL? "Well, anytime you put 'suck' and 'pretty' in the same deal when you're talking about a Cup car it's a pretty cool deal (laughs). It was good. It picked up a lot of time. It was much better than it was in practice. I did all the damage to it just coming down on the apron. So there was no shot I was going to make the second lap any better than the first. So you're right, it was pretty."
WAS IT SMOOTH? "Yeah, it was pretty smooth for the first part. You do a little bit of chopping of wood with the steering wheel, but it was just a little bit free. But when you pick up that much time, you really don't know what you're going to have when you gain half a second almost. So, I'm just really happy. Zippy (crew chief, Greg Zipadelli) and the guys and Jason (Shapiro) in his new role as car chief really did a good job. He's already telling me that I'll have to help him replace the valiance and everything. So I'll work on that here later on and go back and see if we can get this Old Spice (Busch) car going too. But the Home Depot car is doing good and we're just excited. Hopefully we can kind of repeat what we were doing in California. We just came up a little short. It will probably never look the same again, but I'll give it a shot (laughs)"
YOU PICKED UP A BUNCH OF TIME FROM PRACTICE, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? "I just tried some things. That's the good thing about having teammates. We're all talking about things that we're trying and that are working for us.
We are able to share that knowledge and that helps. We tried some stuff in practice in race trim, but not in qualifying trim. I heard that Denny (Hamlin) had done this same thing in qualifying trim and it worked. So we did the same thing."
IN CALIFORNIA, YOU SAID YOU HAD A GREAT CAR BUT NOT A GREAT FINISH. WE CAN SEE THE OPTIMISM IN THIS TEAM: "Oh, yeah. With the way the point format is, we've got 24 weeks to get it done. We don't have to worry if we're 600 points out, as long as we're in the top 10. So you can a disappointing day as far as your finishing position, but to me it was five times more important than the loss of the points was just knowing that we had a car that was competitive and that could run up front all day. That was the judge. That and this place are going to be a good judge of where your program is at early in the season. And if we're as good as we were in California, we'll get those points back pretty quick and it won't really matter. Just being in the position to be able to run for those points right now is what matters."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS
pre-qualifying comment: "We're pretty happy with it. When we tested here we were about at the middle of the pack. We found some speed last week at California. Obviously we got a good finish there. We've got a pretty good car. In race trim, we were as good or better than anybody."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"I have a lot of pride in my team today. They changed a lot of stuff in about 8 minutes. We had one shot at it. The car wasn't right. We made a whole set of changes there, but we didn't make quite enough. It didn't stick like it needed to. But it's all about being a team. They told me they fixed the car and I knew what they did. I drove her off in there and it stuck pretty good. You just have to do that. That's part of being a race car driver and having the experience."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"The Lowe's team did a great job preparing this Monte Carlo SS for me. We're doing the best we can and are off to a great start to the season. Hopefully we can come out of here with another top five and take it from there.
IF YOU KEEP RUNNING THIS WELL WITHOUT CHAD KNAUS, HE'S GOING TO WONDER IF HE'S GOT A JOB BACK IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS: "We keep giving Chad Knaus a hard time. But it just goes to show how good a team he has put together. We'll have him back in a couple of weeks and we'll just keep going from there."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
THIS IS THE BATTLE OF THE BUSCH BROTHERS ON SUNDAY, CAN YOU BEAT HIM? "We'll just have to see. I think so. You have those days when it's so hot in the car you want to get out. Today, it's just so cold, you want to get in."