Friday, July 9, 1999. New Hampshire International Speedway. Bud Pole qualifying for Jiffy Lube 300. Chevy notes and quotes. JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It's very important to start up front, ...
Friday, July 9, 1999. New Hampshire International Speedway. Bud Pole qualifying for Jiffy Lube 300. Chevy notes and quotes.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It's very important to start up front, especially on the inside. There's not much of an outside groove. Hopefully by Sunday there will be more than one. It's more important to stay up front once you're there. Last year I wasn't able to stay there very long. I had to work my way back up through the field a few times. We're going to do everything we can to get that car to run fast, not only on old tires but also on new tires. We got beat here last year on newer tires. On the longer runs, we were really strong. I don't think we can totally be focused on Dale Jarrett. A lot of guys are running good. We've got to go to every track and run the best we can as a team. We weren't very happy with our performance at Daytona. Hopefully that fire is burning inside right now. This is a great way to get this weekend started. "These guys on this team did a great job today. We were really quick most of the day but never got that lap I needed. We just fine-tuned, fine-tuned all day long. I talked to these guys, especially Ray (crew chief Evernham) about freeing it up just a little bit. Man, they did and the car was just perfect. It was so perfect, I didn't think the lap was that good. It just went through the corners so nice that I thought I just didn't drive hard enough. At this place, it's knowing when to be aggressive and when to be patient in qualifying. You've got to be aggressively patient, and I'm really thrilled about that run. "I like this race track, but the race car and the race team has to give you that confidence. They do that for me everywhere we go, but especially here. This is a very tricky place to get around. It's one groove. They've done a great job with the track. The track's in the best condition we've ever seen it, especially for this first race of the '99 season. The car has been comfortable. I think everybody has been pretty comfortable most of the day, moreso than normal. "That was a very, very good lap for us. We're very excited about it, and it's a lot faster than we thought we could go. "They strike when they're strong and they get those top fives when they can get 'em, and they're very consistent right now, doing a great job battling for the championship. They're going to have to have some things go wrong in order for them to lose it because right now they're doing everything right and I don't see anybody catching them as long as they keep doing what they're doing. "I'd been pushing most of the day and expected it to do the same thing. I drove in pretty deep into one but was trying not to get in there too hot. The car turned really nice for me in the middle and kind of caught me by surprise. I got back in the gas and the thing drove off hard. I said, 'all right, this thing is really hooked up.' It was one of those deals where it didn't feel like it was a pole type of lap. That's just how good that race car is and how good these guys are on that DuPont Chevrolet. "I was not expecting to run that type of lap. I was scratching my head, wondering how those guys had run those fast laps in practice. These guys are very focused and very determined to get us a good qualifying lap. I was a little leery. This is one of those tracks where if you push hard going for the pole, you end up about 30th. I've been there before. I tried to make it a good, clean lap without driving it too hard. The car was so good through the middle of the corners it allowed me to get back in the gas much quicker than I had all day long, which made for some great straightaway speed."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I really thought we'd pick up two tenths. I might have tried a little bit too hard. I thought we could run somewhere in the teens. It was just one of those things. Maybe we didn't get enough time on our tires, I don't know. The car was dead loose everywhere. I was steering it with the throttle all the way around the race track. If you don't get that good forward bite here at Loudon, you're not going to qualify good."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I thought we could run faster. I talked to Tony on the truck, and he said we had a good one and two, as fast as anybody. The driver drove wild going into turn three and went in too deep and got up a little bit and lost a little time. We'll work on our race setup now and see what happens."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I don't think I scuffed the tires enough. It's just a guessing game. The car is a lot better than that. It had run a lot faster on tires with two laps on 'em. We decided to go with tires that were close to stickers."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I'm proud of that lap. We've got a good setup underneath it, and we've got a good setup for the race. The track is more consistent this time. We'll get after it."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That surprised me a little bit. I didn't know if that time would end up making it in the first round or not. We came here and tested and thought we were in pretty good shape. We got the injury since then, but that shouldn't have any bearing on qualifying. We were just a tick off from where we want to be and we can't seem to get there yet. It'll probably be another week and a half before the shoulder is 100 percent. It doesn't bother me walking around right now, but when I have to use it a lot like driving through the garage area without the power steering working, it's difficult. There's a big lump back there, and we're trying to put some padding in the seat. I wish we could have run a little faster, but everybody here wishes that. The team did a great job. All these guys are working real hard to make the car competitive. Lack of experience on my part is probably keeping us out of the top 10. I've got a real good car and real good motors and I'm just real happy to have these opportunities. Budweiser has been great. We had the injury last week, and everybody has been conservative, going at my pace. I'm pretty happy with where we're standing right now."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That was a pretty good lap. I missed one and two. In qualifying, it's all about hitting two perfect turns. I'm a tenth of a second off the pole, and I just didn't get through one and two right. When you get to three and four, you've got yourself loaded up. You know you need to really hit a good turn or you're in trouble. Fortunately, I hit a good three and four. But a tenth of a second. I could have had the pole. When I heard what the early guys ran, I knew I could put it all out there and go for it. We just missed."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We're finally getting this time trial thing down a little bit. We ran pretty fast in practice, and we backed up our practice speed in qualifying. We're pretty happy. We felt we were a top 15 car in practice. In order to get better we needed to do a lot of work and we didn't have time to do it. These guys really worked hard to get us a decent lap. We're just trying to hold our own here. It's great to be back up here in New Hampshire. I've run a lot of laps here. My hat's off to these guys. They put a great car under me. We ended up 11th, and that's great. Now we can concentrate on the race setup."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "Getting in the race will be the bragging rights for him (Dale Jr.). I'll brag on him for that. I could have run a better lap. I think my turn one was off. I think it should have been in the .20s as good as the rest of my lap was. My turn one was off that much. I just missed it a little bit. I think the track is good. I just really got into turn one wrong, not bad, but my center wasn't good."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We'd been faster in practice. It got a little tight off turn two, and we just didn't go fast enough. Now we'll get ready for the race. At least we're close enough to the front to see the leaders. Now we're going to work hard to race with the leaders."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's faster than we had been. We were just a little bit loose. When I scuffed that set of tires in, I knew they were a little bit loose. We talked about it. We tried to tighten up the car to compensate for it, but we didn't quite go far enough. I think we'll be in good shape for the race. We qualified slower than we practiced, but it was still a lot better than last week at Daytona."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had the pole last week and I thought we might have a shot for another one here. I don't know what really happened. It seems like it's cooled down a little bit since we practiced. We ran faster in practice. Whether it was our setup with this set of tires and conditions or whatever, something was different and we could never get the front end to hook up like we did in practice. When it came time to get back on the gas to get off turn two, I was still going in the wrong direction. You know your lap is going to be slow when that happens. We've been running good. The pole last week gave us a big boost. We're looking forward to more. We've been up here just about every race. We're looking forward to running good here. I think we've got a good race car. We've been among the fastest all day. We'll just have to pull one out here in the race."
RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "If I had to do it all over again, we'd change it a little bit. This isn't an easy place to get around. It's really slick. I wasn't happy with turn two, from the middle of one and two off. I was pretty happy with three and four. That'll be first round, and we're going to work real hard to race good. I've been on the pole here twice and ran real bad in the race. I've not qualified so good and run real good in the race. I'll take not qualifying so good and run real good in the race. We did what we should have done, picked up a little bit from practice."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It was a little bit of a surprise. Those guys were putting up some low numbers toward the end of that last practice. Schrader and Andretti, and I didn't think we were going to be able to match those types of times. We drew a good number. Drawing late is really good here. Rusty went out first and set the pace and had a great lap, but I ran a 29.19 in practice twice and hoped I could pick it up a little bit, but to run a 29.12 was going to take some work. The guys did a great job working on the car. They freed it up just a little bit. It had been tight all day long. They did a lot more than I knew we could do. The car just rolled through the middle of the corner. At this track, it's important to be able to roll through the middle of the corners so you don't bind the cars up getting off the corners. I carry more straightaway speed than I had all day long. It turned 9200 rpm's, which you don't se very often. It was really strong. When they told me the number, I was really surprised. I knew it got through the corners good and through the straightaways good, but I still didn't think it was that kind of lap or that type of number, and I'm pretty proud of it. "The track is in great shape. This is the most grip I've seen at this race track, especially at this particular race in quite a while. It certainly helps to have the spoiler and air dam where we have them right now. It gives us a little more grip and downforce. Right now, I think we're all wondering what the track was going to be like this morning. Even though there were a few slips out there for the most part, I think everybody was pretty comfortable. You can't get out of the groove, right now, it's about a one or one and a half groove race track, but by Sunday that should definitely get better. For the most part, it was a pretty clean lap. When you get a lap that's a 29.03, there's not a whole lot of white knuckling. It must have stuck pretty good. That's what it did for me. "We put every race behind us. Once there's a race, good or bad, we've got to go on to the next one and try to win that race or get the best finish we can. Right now, we're being a little inconsistent. For the most part, we've had a pretty good season. We've won some big races and we're fifth in points. We can't complain too much with that, but there's been some disappointing finishes that have kept us out of being up there battling for the championship right now. Unless Jarrett and some of these other guys have some problems, I don't see anybody catching 'em. We're certainly going to give it our best shot and go to each and every race and put the other ones behind us. Hopefully the second half of the season, we'll get the consistency we're looking for because we're running good. We're running good enough to finish in the top five just about every week except maybe last weekend. I'm pretty disappointed in that, but hopefully that'll fire us up."