JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO: ON JEFF GORDON AND THE RECENT TRAGEDY - HOW WILL THAT FACTOR INTO THINGS? "I definitely think that it's going to make Jeff Gordon and all the other Hendrick drivers more motivated. As Jeff said in...
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO:
ON JEFF GORDON AND THE RECENT TRAGEDY - HOW WILL THAT FACTOR INTO THINGS?
"I definitely think that it's going to make Jeff Gordon and all the other Hendrick drivers more motivated. As Jeff said in his interview, he's probably more motivated now than he ever has been in his life. He has a right to be. There is some energy inside of him. When something happens like that, it hurts inside. For him, he wants to do something for those people who were lost. They were his best friends too. It's just incredible. I think it's definitely going to make a difference.
"A lot of people boo and the fans realize what happened this week. I think it's good that they didn't boo. I think that shows a lot of professionalism and support among the fans. That's pretty cool. That's impressive."
ABOUT GETTING BEAT FOR THE POLE
"I feel bad about getting beat just a little bit. Ryan Newman had a great lap. I left a little bit on the table but when you go out early like that, that the price you pay. I didn't know how much grip was going to be on the track and we kinda set the pace there. It was a good lap for us and I just have to thank my whole team, Ryan Pemberton and all the guys. They have really stepped it up. They have a lot of confidence in me right now and I have a lot of confidence in them and it is making us run well. We have been qualifying great. Last week at Martinsville we kind of messed up a little bit and that was my fault. But we have been on a roll for the last few weeks.
"I feel like we have a good chance for the race here on Sunday but qualifying here is one thing and racing is a whole other thing at Atlanta. It seems like the track has been pretty slick here today. We were loose, tight, loose, tight. It was hard to predict what the track was going to do all day. We just need to have two good practices tomorrow in race trim tomorrow and if we have two good practices, just past results of my running very good here in the past. I haven't won a race here yet, I should have won a race here in '02 but the rain came just a little too quick. I have had some really fast racecars. I think anything is possible. I think you have to stay on the lead lap until 50 laps to go; you are going to have a chance at winning.
ON JOHN HUNTER BEING IN MEDIA CENTER WITH HIM
"John Hunter is here with me. They got to the motorhome lot about the time I was going out to qualify. I do want to say that this has been a tough week. I know my chest has hurt all week. Just the pain. All those guys were my friends. I miss them dearly. It hits awfully close to home for me losing my brother in '97, which was one of the toughest things I have ever had to go through. I just can't imagine what Rick Hendrick is having to go through and all those other families; There is a lot of kids and others who are affected by it. We do take for granted a lot of things we do and we shouldn't but we are a fast paced sport and we do a lot of things and we don't think about it. But I think it has given the whole sport a reality check. I know it has made me look at my own kids and give them a hug every time I see them. It has been a tough week and it feels good to be back here at Atlanta.
ON THE CHASE
"We are trying to run as hard as we can run. I feel like our Army team is a good enough team to be in the top 10 or 12 in points but we have had just all kind of crazy things happen to us this year. But we have run good this year. This is definitely is the best this Army car has run for a long time. It seems like every time something weird would happen, we had a top-five car. Every time. We would be running in the top five and something would happen to us. We are 19th or whatever in the points right now so we don't have anything to lose. You know the guys in the top ten, they are the ones that have to be defensive and all the guys outside the top ten don't have anything to lose so we can let it all hang out.
"It isn't like we haven't done that all year. No matter whose team it is, we run as hard as we can all the time. It just depends on the setup, the pit stops, the adjustments, circumstances, a little bit of luck. All that plays in to your race is going to turn out. This is one of the only sports you can go from being a hero one week to a zero the next week and you are graded on it 36 times or 38 times a year. It is a tough, tough sport. The competition is tough now.
"I hate to see it happen that my teammate goes home. I really hate that for him, he has had a lot of tough things happen this year. You have a lot of teams bringing their test teams or new teams for next year trying different things and then there were a lot of teams down here testing so they have advantage."