DAVID STREMME (No.40 Coors Light Dodge Charger) NOTE: Stremme wrecked during qualifying for the Nextel Open. "I got through three and four pretty good, and I got down there in one and two and got a little loose. I thought I could save it, but...
DAVID STREMME (No.40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Stremme wrecked during qualifying for the Nextel Open.
"I got through three and four pretty good, and I got down there in one and two and got a little loose. I thought I could save it, but I didn't. It's a shame. We had a car that could have sat on the pole. We've got some other really good Coors Light cars at the shop so we'll just have to go get another one."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 alltel Dodge Charger) 8th
"I didn't lose any speed. We were close to locking up the wheels in practice, but I was happy with that. The guys had a good, solid stop. They made their money Wednesday night, but we'll see if we can't pull it off again tomorrow night. The car is fast, and if we're lucky maybe we'll end up tonight in the top eight."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) 11th
"The car felt pretty good. We ran about a 28.90 which was a decent lap. It was a lot faster than what we ran earlier. It was just a little bit slow. I don't know if I didn't get in good or what. We'll see what we've got tomorrow night."
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger) 15th
"That wasn't a bad lap. We're OK. I know they've got the new 20-20-20-20 format. They've tried a little bit of everything, but I don't think that will really make any difference. You've got to go for it every lap anyway. That's just the nature of this race."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) -- 3rd
"It's cool to have a full team effort. Everybody feels like they're part of something special. The All-Star atmosphere just kicks it up a notch for everybody. That was a good run for us. It should put us toward the front. Then we've just got to play the strategy game on what we need to do for tires and fuel and everything else. There's no pattern. I think I've been doing this for six years now, and there's never been the same pattern for two years in a row for the all-star race. The car was nice and comfortable out on the track for a speed lap, so that's a good indication for the 600 next week."
"I thought everything worked out good for us. It was a third-place effort and it'll put us up toward the front in a relatively unknown type of format. We've got 20-lap segments throughout. Normally you would have a long 40-lap segment and then a mandatory pit stop and you look back on previous years to help you navigate through this segment. With so many unknowns, it's great to start up front. That'll hopefully carry us through most of the evening tomorrow night. It was a nice solid qualifying lap. Speedwise we were very fast. So that's promising for next week when we come back on Thursday for pole night. Then getting on pit road I think I did fair. I was beaten by some for sure. Then the pit stop it seemed like we were about a second off on the pit stop compared to the top two guys. Exiting pit road, that's always fun, being able to shift gears and slide the tires, that's a neat ride. I'm thankful that NASCAR allows us to do that and have fun and have it count toward something. That was very interesting and then to come back around and take the checkered. I thought we had a nice solid run, but I thought we could get beat. We ended up third, so that's not a bad start for us in the Miller Lite Dodge."
WOULD YOU LIKE THE SPECIAL QUALIFYING EVERY WEEK? "It's a unique format. To be able to do it throughout the season I think would be tough. It's something that needs to be recognized. We bring in the crew. We do three timed laps with a pit stop .It's unique. It reminds me that Indy is up there and they just finished up with their qualifying and they do an average speed of four laps, which is just for that special event, so I think that holds true. We should keep this just for a special event. Some of the crew guys don't come on Thursday's and Friday's when we do the qualifying. They're just Sunday guys, so logistically it probably wouldn't help us, but it's fun to do it for one weekend and for an all-star race where there's no points involved."
WHAT'S THE STRATEGY FOR LAST 20 LAPS? "I think that will be the race to watch, what happens between the third and forth segments, who does what on pit road. I'm going to poke some fun at an old teammate of mine -- Matt Kenseth. He seems to be the fastest thing on pit road legally every week and he proved it again tonight with the time that he posted. So we might try to invert ourselves to be right behind the 17 car when the break happens so we can find him, find his speed down pit road and pit and know exactly what he does, whether he does two tires or whether he does a stop and go. It reminds me of my first Daytona 500 when I got behind Dale Sr. running about 12th or 15th and the spotter said, 'all right, if he turns right and goes outside the racetrack to get a hot dog, you follow him" That's going to be the plan, to follow the 17 on pit road.
"For us right now with the 2 car that might be a smart idea. We've had some bad luck on pit road recently. That definitely will be the race. To get back to seriousness, if we watch The Open and what happens in The Open, If we've got two 20-lap segments in The Open they have the same characteristics. Do you come in for tires, fuel, do you stay out on the track? We're going to watch that and see how that unfolds to give us an indication on who came out on top in that deal."
COMMENT ON THE PENSKE CARS "I think the hard work is paying off, the commitment to test as often as we can and to do it with a quality effort. Quite a few teams out there have more cars than we do, so they get the information in quantity where we have to work on quality. It's myself and Ryan Newman gathering the information. I think it makes it easier to correlate between teammates and not hide anything. We haven't been doing that at all. We've been working together real well at trying to arrive at a certain point. We've had a stretch of COT races, so out Dodge Avenger has been doing well. I just hope we can keep building on this effort and make our team stronger. Right now we're seventh in points, but we can gain a spot. Then it's going to be tough to crack into the top five. We can lose just as easy with the top 12 being very close or 6-12. We've still got a lot of work to do. We're just now getting into the heart of our season. Once the summer months start we hope we're still on a roll and we'll keep building this team and making it stronger because we don't have to peak until September."
HOW CAN YOUR TEAM COMPARE TO AN 11.6-SECOND PIT STOP? "The pit crew is involved and they're amped up and excited to produce a fast pit stop. We just got beat. That's all there is to it. We've got to be a little better on pit road, but the guys, it's nothing to hang their heads low about. We had a very fast car out on the racetrack and as far as pit road speed, I'm sitting next to the master on pit road (Matt Kenseth). It's just fun to bring in the crew and have a pit stop format like this. Those guys will bounce back tomorrow when it counts. We've got the segments between one and two and then the hot dog break and then we've got the segments between three and four to decide what we're going to do on the car."
JIM ROCCO (Designated Team Owner Valvoline Evernham Racing)
DOES THE VALVOLINE DEAL CHANGE WITH EVERNHAM RACING?
"We just add Roush to our family of drivers. At the end of the day it just augments Valvoline's ability to have another sponsorship with a well-known team. As you know we know we sponsor all makes, all models in different forms of racing. It's just natural we do that on the NASCAR side. We've been with Roush for a number of years. I think the engine needs of the Ford and the engines needs of the Dodge are different. We won't be supplying the same product. They're put together differently. We're going to have a technical group that works with Roush and we're going to have a technical group that works with Evernham. We're not going to be sharing a lot of stuff. Valvoline is going to keep the knowledge for its consumer products. It'll be a custom blend for each team."
SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Charger)
"It doesn't really change anything with us. We've always known that Valvoline has a history in racing. I think a lot of teams out there have to buy their products to use them, and I think this is just a way to show those guys are always using it.
"We're still struggling with the cars, the same problem we've had with these intermediate cars. We've made another change with the bodies, another change with the nose and we're back again and we're all fighting the same sort of deal. We'll find out here in a little while, but we've made some wholesale changes. I think we've got a pretty good idea o f where we're missing it, but we need to get it fixed before the cars go away. We can't stand to have the rest of the year in these cars to be struggling. We've got to get these cars fixed. It takes a lot of emphasis that's really going to be wasted because next year we're going to start over with the COT stuff. It's something we've got to do to buckle down this year to get ourselves in position.
"Charlotte would be a good place to fix it. We can use this weekend here as a race weekend and make some wholesale changes on the car and come back next weekend to the same track with the same conditions with the same car just with specific changes made and know where we're at. It might be cut up in pieces and put back together, but it'll be the same piece."
-credit: dodge motorsports