JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Hit the wall during qualifying attempt. "Well, that's what happens when you give up the first lap. The tires, the way they work is that you give up a little bit of momentum. That...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Hit the wall during qualifying attempt.
"Well, that's what happens when you give up the first lap. The tires, the way they work is that you give up a little bit of momentum. That second lap is really the one you're looking for. I went down into (turns) one and two on that second lap and the car got loose on me there. But I still had a good lap going. I came through (turns) three and four - probably trying to make up a little bit of time - and unfortunately it got loose. It hurt the car pretty bad. I got into the wall pretty really hard out there. It's unfortunate. These guys had a great car underneath me today. We deserve to be a lot further up there. But hopefully we'll get this thing fixed. It hit hard with that right rear. We'll have to see how much damage there is. But right now we think we're going to try to fix it."
WITH THE WAY THE CARS ARE HANDLING, DO YOU THINK WE'LL SEE GOOD RACING AT LVMS THIS YEAR? "The tires are going to fall off. I think you should see a pretty darn good race. I don't think you're going to see near as much single file, follow-the-leader, and all that stuff. I think you're going to see a lot more passing for the lead. You're going to see cars coming from the back to the front and from the front to the back. It depends on what you consider good racing. Ifyou're talking about side-by-side racing, no. I don't think you're going to see a lot of that."
IS THE TRACK ACTUALLY TOO WIDE? "No, not at all. The groove can never be too wide. I think that it's going to really widen up during the race and that's going to be good. I think there will be two or three different grooves and that'll be good."
IS ATLANTA A WHITE-KNUCKLE TRACK? "Atlanta is the most white-knuckle track there is on qualifying day. On race day it's one of the best. It's comfortable and fun and exciting. From a driver's standpoint, it's great. You can search all over the track. On qualifying day you don't have much choice. You run around the bottom as fast as you possibly can."
DO YOU EVER HESITATE ABOUT SHARING A TIP WITH A TEAMMATE THAT MIGHT HELP HIM BEAT YOU? "No, we try to share as much information as we can. That's the way I approach it. You've got to have enough confidence in yourself and your team. My set-up isn't always the same has the No. 48. We just share and talk as much as we can. I do the same with Jimmie as I do with Brian (Vickers) and Terry (Labonte). With the teams run under the same building, it just closes up the gap in communication. Our goal is to be as good as we can possibly be and then get out there on Sunday and do our job as best as we can with our own team."
KURT BUSCH, NO. 84 CARQUEST CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Qualified for his first-ever Cup race
"We're in the show solidly and that's all that counts. We're ready to go for this race. This Carquest Auto Parts Chevrolet is running good and the car is running awesome."
HOW MANY LAPS DO YOU HAVE AT THIS PLACE? "I ran a truck race here and probably about 300 laps testing. So far, five laps today."
DOES YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE BULLRING COUNT FOR ANYTHING? "Not really. Just coming back to the hometown track and fans really gets the Adrenalin going to try to do well. I don't think you can translate anything from a three-eighths mile to a mile-and-a-half."
WHY DID YOU COME OUT LATE IN PRACTICE? "It took us a while to get through the technical inspection. We're down on the owners points list. It took a while to get around to our fuel cell so we could get it in the car and get over to the tech line. Once we got out, we unloaded in qualifying trim, so we just went out there and spiked off a lap that put us in the top 10. But it fell down to 19th. We went out there for a second run right after they put oil dry everywhere so that didn't count for anything. We had to throw that one out the window."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO GET INTO THIS RACE AND RUN WITH YOUR BROTHER, KURT BUSCH? "I'm glad we're basically in the show. To come out here and run with Kurt and everybody else will be a lot of fun. We have to worry about 41 other guys too. We'll be somewhere up toward the front. I don't know how far we're going to fall.
"You're not going to beat the Dodges at flat race tracks like Las Vegas and Kentucky and Kansas. It's really tough to come out here with a Chevrolet and try to get the aero like the Dodges have. Nevertheless, Hendrick Motorsports is doing an awesome job."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We had a test out here that didn't go quite to our liking. So the guys went back and worked real hard in the fab shop and motor room to get this car a little bit better. It was tough out there but we gained a little bit. I don't know where we'll end up but it was a good run for us."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"That was the best the GM Goodwrench Chevy has been all day. I got through Turns 1 and 2 really good, but may have used a little too much brake in Turns 3 and 4. That's all we've got. We'll definitely take that and run with it."
WARD BURTON, NO. 0 NETZERO CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - NOTE: The team changed a motor after practice and before qualifying, so Burton will start Sunday's race from the rear.
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"The Dodges are pretty tough right now and so are the Fords. But I'm real proud of the GMAC Chevy crew. We improved from practice and anytime you improve from practice speeds you're doing something good. We've got a great starting spot for the race on Sunday."
EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE A ROOKIE, YOU'VE GOT A LOT OF LAPS AT THIS TRACK DON'T YOU? "Yeah, I have run several races here. This is one of the tracks I ran my first year. I've always enjoyed coming out here. I think it's a great race track and the fans are great. I don't think anybody complains about coming to Las Vegas."
DO YOU THINK THE NAP YOU TOOK BEFORE QUALIFYING HELPED? "Yeah, that helped. The guys on this GMAC team are the key to my success. This Chevy team did an awesome job. The Dodges are tough right now, but we're going to give them heck in the race. I'm real proud of the guys."
WHAT DID YOU DO TO IMPROVE THE CAR BETWEEN PRACTICE AND QUALFIYING? "The car really didn't need a lot. We just crossed our fingers."
CAN YOU COMPARE THE TIRE COMPOUND RUNNING IN THE SHORTER BUSCH RACES TO THE CUP RACES? "The tire is good. I like it. Goodyear worked so many years to get a perfect tire, which is great for street car stuff. I'm sure they applied that technology to their street car tires, but it's not great for racing. We had that perfect tire last year that never went away and that gripped good but there was just single file racing. Now they've hurt the tires. They've made them a little bit softer which helps in qualifying, but they're going to fall off real quick which is going to make the racing better."
WHAT COULD YOU HAVE DONE BETTER ON YOUR LAP, OR WAS THAT THE BEST IT COULD HAVE BEEN? "It could have been better. If I could have combined Turns 3 and 4 on the second lap, and Turns 1 and 2 on the first lap I think we would have had a low-eighty timed run. I got through Turns 1 and 2 really good on my first lap. I was just on the edge and used up every bit of it I had. It was the same in Turns 3 and 4 on the second lap. It just didn't happen together."
A LOT OF YOUNG GUYS EXCELL ON THESE 1.5 MILE TRACKS. WERE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS TRACK? "We like these kind of race track. They are good for the youthful enthusiasm and to not know when to lift. It's good for qualifying and it's good to go fast. But sometimes it gets us in trouble."