JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (third in Happy Hour): "I guess I'm the only happy guy. We came back with a very similar setup and the same race car from the race earlier in the year [that] we finished third with. And...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (third in Happy Hour):
"I guess I'm the only happy guy. We came back with a very similar setup and the same race car from the race earlier in the year [that] we finished third with. And (we're) just trying to improve on that a little bit. Found some different lines out there this time and different ways to approach the corners that I think helped me out in the second practice. We're third fastest on the board and on the long runs we looked really, really strong as far as lap times were concerned. Hopefully nothing changes overnight and we can go out and have a great day tomorrow."
DOES THE DAILY WEATHER CHANGE AFFECT WORKING ON SETUP? "If tomorrow is different it will mess up our race setup. Right now with the clouds there's a lot more grip, and you can get a lot more aggressive with the setup on the car. If we wake up tomorrow and it's sunny, all the crew chiefs are going to be running around the garage trying to tighten the cars back up because it will get real slick. We learned a lot in the race a month ago. There were segments in the run where the sun was out and it went away and the handling on the car changed suddenly. I think we will be a lot better as a race team, especially myself as a driver coming back for a second time."
STEVE PARK, NO. 1 PENNZOIL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (fourth in Happy Hour):
"The Pennzoil Chevrolet is running good. We just need to be just a little bit better. The guys worked so hard to improve the race car, to make it a good race car, that I feel we can run in the top 10 and put ourselves in position with pit stops and stuff to win. I feel we can do that. You need to be out front at the end of the race to win these races. Track position is so key. We're going to continue to work tonight, and talk, and try to make it just a tick better and see what we've got on Sunday."
ON CHANGING WEATHER CONDITIONS, DOES IT MESS YOU UP? "Yeah, it does. It don't mess me up, but for these guys who are chasing the setup in these race cars it's making them have fits. Right now we've got to look at the Weather Channel. The Weather Channel is our friend right now. They're talking about having sun come out. It might warm up a little bit, but I feel that through the first couple of pits tops we'll adjust the car to make it what we need to have."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (22nd quickest in Happy Hour)
"Just trying to find balance. It's up on springs, down on springs, just trying to find balance. Can't really find what I want yet."
DOES THE DAILY WEATHER CHANGE AFFECT WORKING ON SETUP? "I think there's going to be a big difference from today to tomorrow. If the sun's going to be out tomorrow it will change everything."
MIKE SKINNER, NO. 4 KODAK FILMS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (40th in Happy Hour)
"We're struggling extremely here at Pocono. I don't really know. We've really worked with the balance of our Chevy; we tried really hard a lot of different things. Got the car driving pretty good right now; we just don't seem to have a lot of speed in it. We're gaining on it."
YOU RECENTLY WENT INTO THE WIND TUNNEL WITH GM RACING; DOES IT HELP ON A TRACK LIKE THIS? "Absolutely. I think it helps tremendously. I don't think you can go one time as a learning process and fix all your cars in your shop. I think it's going to take extensive work and a lot of changes. We got a lot of bodies in different locations, a lot of different things. It's a good-looking body on this race car, I can tell you. I'm really puzzled that were running slow 'cdause it's way better balance-wise than the car we brought here last time. Hopefully we can figure it out."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (30th in Happy Hour)
"I think we know where we're missing it, and the ball is in Kevin Hamlin's (crew chief) court. He says he's going to fix it and we're going to be good tomorrow."
ON CHANGING WEATHER: "If it's raining (tomorrow), let's put rain tires on and let's get it on; then we'll handle just fine (laughing). I don't think we're chasing weather; I think we're just chasing a good balance all the way through the corner and then trying to get the best balance for all three corners. This is a give-and-take race track. You have to give up a little bit somewhere to gain somewhere else. We're not junk; we're just not quick on new tires. The board is a little deceiving there (looking at the timing chart). We're not eight tenths off; we're probably two to three off on old tires to the best guys. I think if we can find that, we'll be OK."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (19th in Happy Hour):
ON POINTS CHASE; AND STERLING MARLIN HOLDING ON TO POINTS LEAD: "I don't really look at him and what he's doing; I look at what we're doing. If we do what we're capable of we can make gains. Yeah, he's maintained the lead, but I haven't seen him do something that just has really put a damper on everybody else. Other than he's just had a good solid team and cars and what he's done all year has been very solid. He hasn't had any big failures, hasn't made any big mistakes or anything like that. At the same time, they haven't just come out and wore everybody out, either. That is how you win a championship. But if any of us can get on any kind of a streak or roll where we can get a lot of top fives and some wins there's no doubt that he's capable of catching"
HOW DOES THE BRICKYARD 400 RACE RANK AT INDY? "I don't know. Does it matter? We're there, we're racing, we're happy; that's all that matters. The neat thing that I like about Indianapolis is that there's just a lot of race fans. I don't know if they necessarily look at it as, "Oh, I have to go watch open-wheel cars.' I think they just like to see cars going around that track fast, and a good race, like the rest of us. The point of view that I've always had is that I just like racing. It doesn't matter to me what's there; if it's a good race, it's a good race. If it's unique and different, then I'm interested in it. Like the F1 deal; I think that's cool. I'd love to go watch those cars go around there. I don't really put a ranking on it."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT INDY? "For me there's a lot of things. Obviously I like winning there. I like going to Indiana, I like racing at a track that I went to as a kid watching the Indy 500. I just think that any kid that was there that was in awe of that or drove quarter midgets or grew up in racing just wanted to be at that speedway -- out there where other people (were) watching them go around and competing. To be able to win there is just an added bonus. I guess because of me growing up around Indiana; I have so many people that pull for us there; so that makes it a lot of fun too."
ON GETTING FIRST WIN THIS YEAR: "I'm eager to get it. We know that we can't really do anything other than what we're already doing. We're working as hard as we can; we're working well together, communicating, putting good cars out there on the track. If winning is meant to happen, it will happen, hopefully."
DESCRIBE YOUR SEASON: "A big test in patience. It's been decent because we've been in the top five in points for a long time and we really haven't done anything spectacular, in my opinion. We've had cars capable of winning and we've led laps; we just haven't put it in victory lane. That certainly is frustrating, 'cause we want to do that. As each race goes by, it's going to get more and more frustrating. So we hope that it happens here pretty soon so we don't have tons of pressure on us in the last four or five races of the season."
ARE YOU GETTING GRUMPY ABOUT IT? "I get grumpy when I haven't eaten and when I haven't had enough sleep, not when I haven't won. I've been racing a long time and it really doesn't matter to me. I've been very successful. I realize that there's ups and downs and you appreciate the good times more when you have the bad times. When you've had the good times it makes you work harder through the bad times."
ARE YOU PULLING PRANKS ON JIMMIE JOHNSON AS A ROOKIE? "I'm not a real prankster. I can't say that I do. I like to go out there and deep bang on him a little bit. But he's been running pretty good so it's been hard for me to get up there and bang on him."
THERE'S A LOT OF TALK OF NOT HAVING A 43-CAR FIELD: "A lot of it just has to do with the economy. I think this sport is in a really stable, strong position right now. Racing's really good. I think it really just has to do with sponsorship. The sport is extremely expensive. You can only use your own money for so long. This, to me, is a great venue to be able to offer marketing and get exposure for companies, but if they don't put the money behind the marketing and start to pull away from sports marketing, then that's going to put us in a position to make it tough to fill the fields. I think that's really more where we're at right now."
DOES IT MATTER TO YOU WHETHER IT'S 38 OR 43 CARS? "No. No. Sometimes I think 43 is too many, anyway."