Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger, qualified 4th) TELL US ABOUT THAT FAST LAP "First of all, I have to say 'hello' to Paul Andrews at home. He's not here this weekend. Obviously we made a change in crew chiefs and...
Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger, qualified 4th)
TELL US ABOUT THAT FAST LAP "First of all, I have to say 'hello' to Paul Andrews at home. He's not here this weekend. Obviously we made a change in crew chiefs and got Doug on which is great. Paul hurt himself this past week changing light bulbs at his shop and he and his wife are at the hospital and we're thinking about him for sure.
"But the lap was a great lap. We picked up a little bit from practice. Doug made a good call on air pressure and I just hammered down in turn one and was good off of turn two; three and four were pretty uneventful. So it was a good lap, a comfortable lap. We've got a lot of confidence when we can do that."
DID YOU THINK A LAP LIKE THAT WAS ATTAINABLE "Well, in practice we were going in the right direction so I thought that was good."
HOW DO YOU TURN A LAP LIKE THAT INTO A SUCCESSFUL RUN ON SUNDAY "That's what I told Doug, we have to do this tomorrow. We have to make sure we do the right things tomorrow. I believe we can. He's brought a lot of different things here that has helped us out. Hopefully we can capitalize on it tomorrow.
Elliott Sadler (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger, qualified 5th)
ABOUT HIS QUALIFYING LAP "We're definitely getting our program better. It's going to take a while, but we've definitely made some steps in the right direction. At Indy, we felt really good with the old nose. We got a little better for Pocono. We've come to Michigan a little better. We're making very small gains, but were definitely making gains. It's good to have Ray (Evernham) back in there to focus on the cars and the direction of our motorsports program, not as a funding tool, but as a competition tool. He's definitely doing a good job with that. That's a good qualifying effort for us. To come back in here where we qualified second last year and hopefully get us a top-five for Sunday, that would be great."
HOW DO YOU CONVERT THIS INTO A SUCCESSFUL RUN ON SUNDAY "That's a good question. First, you have to start out with having a driver comfortable and liking his car. We've been pretty comfortable today. That's step one. Two is to make the car comfortable for the long run. We got the car comfortable for one lap which is light years from where we've been. But now we have to make it better for the long run."
A FRONT STARTING SPOT IS VERY CRITICAL TO SUNDAY "80 percent of the winners come from the top-10 here. So that's a good start. We know we're going to be in the top-10. Definitely light years gained from where we were two months ago. So I have to thank all the guys at the shop, they're working their butts off. I know we say that all the time, but a lot of changes have been going through Gillett Evernham Motorsports the last month or two, so it's cool to see us up front."
Scott Riggs (No. 10 Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Dodge Charger, qualified 43rd)
ON QUALIFYING LAP "We changed everything on the car between practice and qualifying. We had to because we wouldn't have gotten in the way we ran in practice. It's tough to go out there and not have any laps on the setup you run, but we had just enough and now we will focus our attention on the race."
David Stremme (No. 40 TUMS Dodge Charger, qualified 20th)
WAS IT A PRETTY GOOD LAP FOR YOU GUYS? "It was okay. I think I screwed up a little bit in turn three, but I think we have a good race car. If we can qualify in the top 15, I would be happy with that. The track here changes so much and is so sensitive. We unloaded and were fast with a 40, but we could never back it up until the track got hotter. Now it's cooling down a little. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I think we have a pretty good, balanced car for the race.
I BELIEVE YOU ARE UNDER CONTRACT FOR ANOTHER YEAR. WHAT IS YOUR STATUS THERE? "Well, it all depends if Chip picks it up or not. I guess there's people interested in me. I haven't talked to anybody. Right now, I just need to concentrate on going out and picking our season up to what it was earlier this year and I feel we can do that. Until I'm notified otherwise, I guess I'll just keep running hard."
DO YOU PLAN ON BEING THERE FOR ANOTHER YEAR? "I guess now the ball is just in Chip's court."
Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger, qualified 33rd)
HOW WAS THE LAP? "Not good. The car is not handling well. It got a little loose and we haven't had this car out in awhile and we haven't really fixed it. This car has never really qualified that good, but it always does well during a race. I think it always qualifies about 30th."
WHAT KIND OF ISSUES IS THE CAR HAVING? "It just rubbers up more and loses a lot of front grip. Tomorrow we're going to try race trim. We stayed in race trim for about 40 minutes this morning and tried to get a little bit of a head-start on tomorrow. It was just loose in race trim and we have to get that fixed. It really gets faster if your car is good and can go all the way to the white line or all the way to the top of the track. We're going to start at the back of the pack and see what we can do."
John Andretti (No. 49 Paralyzed Veterans of America Dodge Charger, qualified 16th)
WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN MIND FOR SUNDAY? "Well, Friday is our big day. In practice we worked on one thing and then on another and then for qualifying we just sat down and talked about things. It was the first time we really worked together and all those guys on this team have done such a great job. What I asked for, I got for qualifying and I gave it everything I had. It didn't spin out so that was good."
Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger, qualified 34th)
HOW DID IT GO? "I wish we would have had a little bit better of a qualifying run. Going out second, it makes it a little difficult, but it's a fun race track. It's a fun area. I enjoy the outdoors the fishing and everything else. It's a good place for all that. Hopefully it's a good place for us come Sunday."
Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Doge Charger, qualified 15th)
ON THE QUALIFYING LAP "I feel like we got the most out of our Miller Lite Dodge. Qualifying is always tough in one and two and then you can predict what you are going to get in three and four. I felt like there was a little bit of time lost in one and two. I feel like we could have gotten the pole. It was a good run for the No. 2 car."
IF YOU WERE GOING TO PIN YOURSELF SOMEWHERE, WHERE WOULD YOU PIN YOURSELF IN FOR SUNDAY'S RACE? "We're looking for a nice, solid, consistent run. This racetrack here, the race fans should be proud of it. You can race in the middle or you can race low. You can race in the low groove or you can race in the high groove; you just go where the other cars aren't. That's what makes Michigan International Speedway so exciting. I'm looking forward to a good run. You have to have a fast car to win here and I hope my Dodge is fast."
ANYTHING ELSE YOU HAVE LEFT? "Qualifying, I wanted to be a little conservative in one and two because you can loose a lot of time and when I rolled through there, I felt a little bit of snugness, a little looseness and now its back in the gas. I didn't waste much time. It felt like three and four made up for that little bit of lost time. I was hoping I would hear that we ran a 54, not a 59 because that's telling me there's going to be tougher guys to beat after the two laps Truex and myself laid down. We'll see. The top-five is what we need. Top 10 is cool, but we're just looking for the big picture on Sunday."
Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger, qualified 26th)
ON CONFRONTATION WITH HARVICK LAST WEEK "Things will happen like that, it's racing and we understand, so it's a shame he [Kevin Harvick] didn't. But other than that I'm good. I had a great week. I played golf and everything."
ARE YOU SURPRISED YOU'RE GETTING MOST OF THE BLAME AND MARTIN TRUEX JR. IS NOT? "I'm a better story I guess."
DID YOU MAKE ANY ATTEMPT TO CALL KEVIN HARVICK THIS WEEK? "No. If I would have done something wrong I would. But in myself and in my team I don't think we did anything wrong. I would have screwed up on the brakes and spun by myself and taken him out, I'd say 'Hey, you're completely right' but it wasn't."
WHAT ARE YOU FINDING WITH THE CULTURE OF THIS SPORT? SOME MAY FEEL THAT AT TIMES YOU MAY BE OVER AGGRESSIVE. "If you see what everybody else has done when they spin people off and things happen. I think actually here is more aggressive than anything else I've done in my life. In Formula One if you don't like somebody or you're racing with somebody and they get in the way you can't punt him out because you have a front wing and you have to be careful. Over my career in open wheel you have to be careful and here people here race a lot more aggressive than I've done in my life. I've been really careful this year in trying not to pick any fights and I think we race really smart all year and made a lot of friends. I've been very conscious about the give and take in the racetrack and stuff so I'm pretty comfortable."
WHAT DOES IS MATTER THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE FRIENDS? "I think the respect, the way it works really good, it's early in the races if you have a fast racecar people will let you by and if you have a fast racecar you let them by. It just makes racing a lot easier at the beginning. You know at the end of the race everybody is going for it and there's not going to be any give and take. You can see for example with Kevin a lap before at Watkins Glen the first three or four laps it was very fast. So when he came behind me I thought if I let him by now I'm sure he's going to let me by afterwards. So halfway down the straight I short-shifted and got out of the gas, made sure he had a good enough run to go by so afterwards I could get by him again. I guess he didn't see that."
DO YOU THINK THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND HIM CAN BE REPAIRED? "It's a shame. You know, I think he's a great guy, he's a great racer and it's a shame the position he's in. I think we're mature enough and big enough being in the sport, I haven't been in this sport long enough but I've been racing all my life and I learned to get over things like this because we're going to meet again and again and again in the racetrack and it's a lot nicer and better when you have a good relationship."
IS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU CAN TURN UP THE AGGRESSIVENESS ONCE YOU GET MORE COMFORTABLE? "I'm very conscious about the giving away because being myself a Raybestos Rookie I want people to know that if they're faster than me I'll give the space. Funny enough one of the guys I had most problems with at the beginning of the year was Ryan Newman since he spun me in Miami the year before. And now with Ryan, he's coming and I even get out of the race line to give him a way and he'll do the same for me and that's amazing. That shows the maturity of both of us and where we're going and what you need to do in the sport."
JIMMIE JOHNSON SAID YOU'RE NOT REAL POPULAR AROUND HERE. DOES THAT BOTHER YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULD SAY THAT? "No, I think I'm a lot more popular here than I was in F1 so I'm okay [laughter]."
-credit: dodge motorsports