Saturday, March 27, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes. The three Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlos qualified in the top 10 for Sunday's PRIMESTAR 500. Texan Terry Labonte qualified fourth,...
Saturday, March 27, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
The three Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlos qualified in the top 10 for Sunday's PRIMESTAR 500. Texan Terry Labonte qualified fourth, his best start of the season, Jeff Gordon qualified eighth and Wally Dallenbach will start 10th in the 43-car field.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "Starting up front, hopefully we can stay there this time and finish a race at Texas. That's been our biggest problem. We just haven't been able to finish. We've run decent here at times. We just keep getting caught up in trouble or cause our own trouble, one of the two. Really, no two tracks are alike. You've got to treat this as a totally separate facility and race track. Right now, it's good other than it's just one groove. The outside groove is very dirty. It's very, very difficult to pass. You can be half a second faster and it's going to take you four or five laps to pass the guy. That's unfortunate. We want to be able to get side by side, but for the most part, the track is in good condition. "We've seen no wetness or any water seeping up through the track. It's got good grip. It's fast. For the Winston Cup side, everything has gone pretty well for us. We hope maybe we learn a little bit over there (Busch Series) that can help us on the Winston Cup side, but I don't know if it really translates that much. It's a totally different deal. I tell you, you almost have to drive harder in the Busch cars to get a good qualifying spot than you do in Winston Cup. Everything has to be just right, and you have to be very aggressive. "I'm starting on the outside in both cars, Busch and Winston Cup, and that's definitely not a good thing. There's got to be a lot of give and take here early on because there is no outside groove. Everybody is going to be searching to get to the bottom. You've got to make sure those guys on the bottom aren't going to get in too big of a hurry. We're running really well with our Winston Cup car. I think we're as good as anybody out there. I'm pretty excited about Sunday."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I think we're running pretty good. We've got to get a little bit better in the last practice, but I think we're in pretty good shape. It's a one-groove track right now, but I think it'll get to a groove and a half. I don't know if it'll get to two grooves. If it doesn't rain and they run the Busch race, that will be a big help for us. It'll be a one-groove deal for most of the race on Sunday if it does rain. "Atlanta is pretty much a one-groove track, but you can still pass. You pass coming off the corners. You've just got to get better than somebody coming off the corners to pass. "It's pretty exciting coming back to Texas and run. I've got a lot of my family in Texas, but they're about as far from here as Dover is from Charlotte. It's about 400 miles to Corpus Christi, but a bunch of relatives and friends will come up to see me. "Our qualifying effort yesterday was good. That's the best we've qualified all year. We had a decent finish at Darlington, but we should have been better. We were a lot better in practice on Saturday afternoon than we were in the race on Sunday. I think the rain changed the track a lot and we were just too tight all day. Some of the stuff we had in the car, we couldn't adjust back out of it. I don't like it when it rains. I like it when it rains during the week but not on the weekends. "The 24 car is always good, and I think our team is going to get better as we go. All three Hendrick Chevrolets qualified in the top 10 this week, and that's the first time that's happened in awhile. We've just got to get better, and I think we will. We've got some good people. When Fred Graves (crew chief Andy Graves' father) is around these cars a little bit more, he'll be a bigger help to us. He's already been a big help. He helps with the chassis setups. Andy and Fred really work good together. They don't try to boss each other around or anything like that."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The car is good. It's better than the driver, but I say that every week. The car would be on the pole if they had a better driver. I'm just kidding, but some of these guys around here take themselves too seriously. I want to have a good time doing this, and when you've got a good car, you can have a good time. I'm going to have a good time Sunday. I haven't had a lot of fun the last few years, so when you've got a good race car, it's fun again. The car is really good. I think we've got a top-five race car. "This is the same car we had at Vegas, but it's better here. I like the car. The car seems like it's better when it's overcast. We chase the car when it gets hot and sunny. Yesterday morning we were really fast. Yesterday afternoon it got hot and sunny and we kind of lost the handle on it. In qualifying, it cooled down and we were fast again. I don't know why, but the car was excellent this morning. We made three or four adjustments and we're real happy with the way it's driving. "This track is not like Darlington where it's so abrasive and you put rubber down and the rubber fills the cracks and grooves. This place is really not affected by the rain like so many other tracks are. The track will probably be a little bit different for the first 15 or 20 laps if we start on a green track. "I think they've made the track a lot better. It's definitely still one groove, but if you can get underneath somebody, to me it's almost like a Darlington. If you can get up underneath somebody coming off the corner, it's yours going into the next corner. It's going to take awhile for guys to use the high groove and pass the high groove. There will be a second groove eventually. If you can get your car to work on the bottom, I think you'll be good. "I didn't hit the wall in turn two in qualifying, but I came close. I had one eye closed and I had the right side of my teeth clinched, but I didn't hit it. I was real proud of myself that I didn't get off the gas. I did that at New Hampshire last year, too, and I just about wound up in the grandstands. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. "I got to spend some time on my ranch (a 500-acre spread near San Antonio) before I came here. I went out and fed my fish. They were real hungry. They were like piranha. Maybe within two years I'll be living there."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It was raining, so I took it easy. It was still a good lap, but those raindrops were hitting my windshield coming off turn two. I didn't really know what I was going to run into going into turn three, so I took it pretty easy down there. We ran a 28.34 this morning in practice, so unofficially we broke the track record. If it had been dry, I would have gone for it in qualifying. We're third fastest overall now, and we're starting 26th. We couldn't have done any better than that. We're happy with that. To draw first yesterday and to be last today in the rain, we just haven't had a good draw for qualifying at Texas. I hope my luck changes for Sunday. That's what we're counting on. "It was the same car, the same tires, everything as yesterday. The rain may make the track faster. We haven't had one lap of race setup yet, but we did test here and we tested the race setup. If it rains out everything else today, I think we'll be all right. We think we know what to do to the car to get it ready to race, but we haven't tested it here in a race setup this weekend. We'd like to get some time this afternoon to do that. "The car was real comfortable. I have no idea how fast it will go. It's so good. I made a conservative lap this morning with that 28.34. Today is a perfect day for speed. It's cool, overcast. You can't ask for much better conditions for qualifying. "The way this track looks and acts in practice, it's still one lane. It's pretty hard to pass out there. I haven't seen any at all in practice. It's been single file. Starting positions are important. We'll eventually work in another lane on Sunday or whenever we race. When you get that many cars on the track, that's what happens."