Friday, June 11, 1999. Michigan Speedway. First-round Kmart 400 qualifying. Chevrolet notes and quotes. JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "We were pretty good all day long, and the guys made all the...
Friday, June 11, 1999. Michigan Speedway. First-round Kmart 400 qualifying. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "We were pretty good all day long, and the guys made all the right adjustments to make that DuPont Chevrolet go faster in qualifying. I felt good when I took the green. We went down in turn one real, real hard and it didn't stick too good. I slid the nose a little bit and came off two pretty good. We made up for all of that in three and four. We flew through three and four. It was a great lap for us. We pretty much did what we typically do here. We went out on stickers and it didn't slide around as much as I thought it would in the heat of the day like this. With all the racing that had been going on here, I would have thought it would have been a lot slicker, but it was pretty good. "Some things happened to me down in one and two that I wasn't expecting. I thought we lost a little time compared to what we'd done in practice, but I felt we made up for it in three and four. I went through three and four real well. I knew it was going to be a pretty good lap. I'm real happy with that lap, but I still think it can be beat. I picked up not quite a tenth from practice. I'm happy I picked up, but some things just happened in one and two that I wasn't expecting and that cost me some time. "I think any lap can be beat. Some really good cars are left to go. We put in a really good effort. The car has been great all day long. I'm happy with that lap, but knowing I left a little bit down there in one and two, well, I think we could have gone a little bit faster. All day long I had been perfect in one and two and was having some trouble in three and four. We turned that around for qualifying, but I'm happy with the lap. "Rusty, you can never count out the 18, Steve Park a lot of cars could still beat it. That was probably an A-minus lap for me. It was a good lap, but I feel like I could have gotten a little more out of it. You never know what the car is going to do when you drive it down in the first corner. I thought it was going to stick a little more than it did. It didn't and we lost a little bit of time, but we made up for it in three and four. "It's really close out here now, very competitive. It's good to see. It's exciting racing right now, a lot of different names going to victory lane. It's just good for the sport to see that. I think with the spoiler and air dam rules we have right now, it's contributing to good racing. I would say it's pretty good parity, give and take. Some places the Pontiac is good, some places the Chevrolets are strong and some places the Fords are strong. It's a good mixture everywhere we go. "I was thinking that last year (13 wins), but especially this year after some of the trouble we've had. We've won three big races, and we're happy about that. We've run well enough to win more races, but when you have trouble like we have, you count your blessings and you're pretty thankful for what you did with a year like we had last year. The plan is to just get momentum, get some things building and get it going and put out the effort like we did at Dover and see how the results turn out. That's what we've been doing all year long. The results haven't always been there. We just hope we can get some consistency with those results."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were 10th quickest this morning and the car was really good. We just concentrated on getting our act together ready for qualifying. We weren't sure what to go on tires, but the guys did a good job. This is our favorite car. We've got a good motor and we're going to be really good on Sunday, so I'm excited about it. We didn't have a really good draw, so we fired the guy who picked the number for qualifying (said in jest). The track does get quicker later on, but hopefully we'll stay in the top 10 and have a good race car. We've run strong with this car everywhere we've run it this year. We knew it would be good here. It was a perfect lap. It was a little bit loose in the middle, but it wasn't anything I had to wait on. If I could get it like that every week, this would be a blast. I like these fast race tracks. It's a fun place to race. I love it."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's a little quicker than we'd practiced. We picked it up a little bit, but we still can't go fast. I really don't know what's wrong."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We usually slow down qualifying, but my hat's off to the motor room. They really worked hard, and all the guys at the shop did some good body work this week. We had to go to work. We were getting our butt kicked. We went to work and it's showing. Michigan is one of my favorite tracks and it would be good to pull off a win here. This is probably our best qualifying effort of the year. This is where we need to be. The car stuck real good. We changed some things in the last practice and it picked us up three or four tenths. We found something that worked. Maybe it'll work again Sunday."
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We were about like we were in practice. The car kind of stayed the way it was in practice, and that's a good sign. We didn't end up being as fast as we wanted to be in practice. We picked up a tick. It's something we can work with now."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We pushed real bad coming to the green in our Lowe's Chevrolet. We really thought we could get in the top 25. It ran pretty good at the end of practice. We just wanted to repeat that. We tried to buy a little bit coming to the green and the car pushed. I had to let off after I was off the corner and that kills the corner, the straightaway, the next corner, it pretty much messes up your rhythm for the whole lap. We just tried a little too hard I guess."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The Pennzoil guys have been working hard. This is what we've been looking for. Paul Andrews and I communicate well. The guys at the shop have been doing a good job. This was another good qualifying motor like we had in Charlotte. Hopefully things have turned around for the Pennzoil team. We're excited and looking forward to Sunday."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "I've had a good day. The car has been right there all day. I just needed to bear down on it for qualifying and we did. We kept working with the car and making it more neutral. It was right there. I left a little on the table in three and four getting back in the gas, but other than that we were in good shape. We got a little cloud or two and the tires have been consistent. I don't know if there was any benefit in it or not, but it felt better. I'm going to go to the motor home and take a shower and relax and have a good time. I felt good about it. We didn't run that fast in practice. I had the confidence that I could bear down on the car and it would do what we needed. I went out there with that in mind and the car was good. We're really happy about it. This is the car we raced at California and Charlotte. We're looking forward to good things out of it. We've just got to get it in race trim now. It's been a good day racing Dale Jr. and winning the IROC race. Now qualifying is behind us, so I'm going to relax."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We'll take that. We're a little disappointed that we broke our streak. We qualified second, third and fourth (last three races), but the first thing I want to do is thank Gary Rogers and all the guys back at Andy Petree Racing. All the guys in the fab shop, this was the car I wrecked last week, and I like this car. We've got a lot of great race cars, but we didn't want it sitting around wrecked, so they fixed it. I want to thank everybody for that. We're not happy, but we're racing for a living here."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That was a pretty good lap. We ran pretty good this morning and then in the second practice we got off a little bit and didn't know why. We made some changes and it picked up. We ran our fastest lap of the day in qualifying. We unloaded good and practiced good. That was the fastest lap of the day, so I'll take it."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I'm a little disappointed it wasn't quicker because it felt really good."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "This has historically been a fuel mileage race. You need to be able to run 50 laps. We were 13th in practice today. I told the guys I could pick up, but I didn't know how much. I'm pleasantly surprised to ran what we did. It was good. I knew we hit it in one and two. We had some trouble in three and four in practice, but I picked up through three and four in qualifying. We were looking for a solid top 10, but we wound up a little bit. We made a big change right before qualifying and it worked out for us."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "We ran a 38.60 in practice and saw some guys pick it up. I didn't know if we were going to be able to pick it up. We ran a pretty good lap in practice. Those guys always seem to find a way to find more speed for qualifying. I went down into one and pushed the nose a little bit. I got off the corner good, but I was a little worried with that. I got up and three and four and the car went through there awesome. This is the same package we had in California and we were pretty quick with it out there. We've got a real fast race car here this weekend. I don't know if we're going to have the same results, but we've got the same package and that's comforting to know. "We've had a lot of success the past few years. When you have that time of success you want to live up to those expectations. There's a lot of pressure on you to live up to those expectations. We came out of the box at Daytona with an awesome win in the 500. I thought we were going to start off where we left off. That quickly turned around. We've been having crazy things. We had a blown motor, we've had cut tires, we've had this power steering pump seal go out, things that rarely happen to us the past few years that are happening to us this year. That's just the way racing goes. When you have the type of year like we had last year when it seemed like we couldn't do anything wrong, you know that those times are going to come back. They certainly have. The neat thing about is the effort of the race team hasn't stopped. It's stronger than it's ever been. We're just waiting for things to come around our way a little more. Last week they did, even though we didn't win, we like second a whole lot more than we like 38th. We were pretty happy with the whole effort and it's good to see it going well so far this weekend, too. "Fuel mileage has been the topic this week. Actually, we're getting as good fuel mileage as anybody. What got us beat last week is Bobby (Labonte) stopped two laps later than we did under that caution. He was able to go the two laps we couldn't go. This race can come down to a lot of things, certainly. We've only won one race here and we won it with a two-tire stop. That was sort of the beginning of the two-tire stop. Ray makes those calls and it can come down to anything here at the end of the run. We just hope if it comes down to fuel mileage that we're all on an even deal. We feel like we can stretch it as far as anybody out here and get as good fuel mileage as anybody. This race does typically come down it to. It's such a wide race track with so many racing grooves you don't see a whole lot of cautions. That's usually when you see races come down to fuel mileage. "I think that's what I mean when I say it's a trying year. There's so many expectations on us to live up to the type of success we've had the last three or four years. We put pressure on ourselves to try to live up to that, too. We know we've won three really big races this year, and we've had great race cars and performed extremely well. We've also had things happen to us that are not only out of the ordinary for us but we're also kind of scratching our heads about them. I definitely say the wreck at Texas, that's the first time I've really been injured in a Winston Cup car. We were really fortunate to make it through the next couple of weeks after that. Bristol was one of the toughest weekends I've had in my career because I was feeling pain from that wreck. We've had some different things happen to us that's making it a trying year for us. It doesn't matter where you're at in the points or how many races you've won. If you've got four DNFs, it's not good. Friday, June 11, 1999. Michigan Speedway. First-round Kmart 400 qualifying. Chevrolet notes and quotes. Page 5.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "We look at where we're finishing. It says a lot for us to be sixth in the points and have that many DNFs. I think it shows just how well we are performing when we do finish. "The speeds are probably greater than we anticipated with the new spoiler and air dam rules. These teams constantly are making more downforce, less drag and more horsepower. Even if we had the same rules we had last year, we'd still be going faster. Then if you throw in the spoiler and air dam, which I'm for, the racing is better. The competition is closer. You've seen a lot of different guys go to victory lane and I think that has a lot to contribute to that, but so do the tire problems we've had. We're just not able to do the same things we've done in the past. We don't feel like we're down on pressures a lot. We don't feel like we're crazy on camber or anything like that. The same things we've been running the last two or three years don't seem to be working for us this year. We'll have to be more conservative in some areas and make sure we finish races. We certainly don't want to see what happened to us in Texas happen to us again. We still don't feel like what we did is what caused it. We'd like to be able to see a tire that stands up to that pressure and heat and things, but I'm sure Goodyear is working on it. I wasn't crazy about the tire at Charlotte in practice but during the race I had no problems. I thought it was a great tire, and it's the same tire we have here. "We need do what we've been doing all year long. It's funny how last weekend at Dover like all of a sudden we're back on track, everything is clicking. We didn't do anything different. We did the same things. We got up in the mornings, put our pants on, went to the race track and worked real hard. Yet things just happened to go our way other than the fuel deal. We just need to keep doing that. I believe that things happen for a reason. If it's our year to win the championship, then things will start going our way. We've got a lot of work left to do to make up the ground we've lost. It's going to be tough. We have no more opportunities left to have problems and the other guys will have to have problems. "I think there's a lot of pressure when you're leading the points and then when you're the champion the previous two years and you're not up there in the top three or four, there's some pressure there. I'm pretty comfortable with where we're at right now. I feel like we've just got to work hard and finish races and if we do we'll move up in the points. "The race speeds are usually lower than the qualifying speeds. When Atlanta first paved the track and reconfigured it, I certainly wanted to see the speeds go down there. I still would. It's a very fast race track. Last year with the five and five rule and new pavement, it was real fast. This year with the new air dam and spoiler rule it was real fast. That pavement is going to wear out a little bit but Atlanta is probably borderline, but not this track. I feel like once we get in the race pace and setup, those speeds will drop and we'll be in the low to mid 180 range."