California qualifying quotes

Report from Motorsport News International NASCAR Public Relations California Friday quotebook FONTANA, Calif. (June 20, 1997) Quotes from the top-10 qualifiers for the California 500 presented by NAPA at California Speedway: Joe...

Report from Motorsport News International

NASCAR Public Relations

California Friday quotebook

FONTANA, Calif. (June 20, 1997) Quotes from the top-10 qualifiers for the California 500 presented by NAPA at California Speedway:

Joe Nemechek, No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet: "We've been awesome in practice. Our Monte Carlo ran awesome today, and BellSouth stuck with us. We finally got our first pole. There's so many people to thank. I had to go out and do what I did in practice. I got through (Turns) 1 and 2 great and Tony told me to bring it back and we'd be all right. I let off a little bit early going into 3 and gave up a little bit, but we're in the No. 1 spot. The car drove just like it did this morning. We thought we could run in the teens. We didn't do that, but it was good enough. I wish my wife and John Hunter (new son) were here. "The weather didn't change much today. It didn't cool off. We were hoping it would cool off and we'd get a run on Jarrett or Ernie or one of those guys. It just kind of stayed the same, but we've been on the top of the leaderboard since we've been here. I hope we're going to have a good car Sunday. "As a driver, Wally (Dallenbach, teammate) told me the tendencies of what the race track does. It's good to have input like that. I talked to Mark Martin and all the guys out here testing, and tried to figure out in my mind how I was supposed to get around the race track. It goes back to experience again. Mark Martin is going to be tough, Wally is going to be tough. Some of these guys have run 500 miles out here already and know some of the characteristics of the race track. When you first get here, I feel I adapt pretty quick to any situation I'm put in.; Usually when we get on race tracks that are new to everybody, usually, I can excel."

Ernie Irvan, No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford: "It's a tribute to the team. I slipped up in Turn 1; I went in real high and Doug (Yates) got me a lot of motor, and it really helped. It was a good lap. I did everything I could to mess it up. The guys gave me a great car. The team keeps working really hard. We got a good victory last week, but this is another week, and we've got to prove ourselves again here. Doug Yates, the motor builder, did tell me that he would shave his head if I got the pole."

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Automotive Refinishes Chevrolet: "We tried to pick it up for qualifying. I looked at my tach and I turned 8900 after going into Turn 1. That's the most I'd turned all week. I just overdrove it. I had to correct the car and get it back to the bottom. That cost us a couple of tenths. I think we could have run what we did in practice and that was somewhere around a 39.15. I'm disappointed, but that was still a good lap. I wanted to start on the inside, so I was really pulling for Joe Nemechek. I just got into Turn 1 too hard and that cost me a bunch of time. You've got a big tail wind that we didn't have in practice. I just drove it in there too deep and it cost us."

Wally Dallenbach, No. 46 First Union Chevrolet: "This is my favorite car. Hopefully it'll run up front the entire race. The other car was fast for a while, but we lost it during the race. The wind hurt us. We thought we had a shot at the pole. It's real windy and the track is slippery. We didn't run as hard as we could that last practice. We just felt the wind hurt the car down the backstretch. We got a little loose. That's the first time we ever got loose here, even in testing. I hope it holds up for the top-5. I think we've got a much better race car than we've had. "Our qualifying effort has been great, and I'm the world's worst qualifier. I'm having fun qualifying right now. That just goes to show you the kind of cars this First Union team is giving me to drive. We thought we could have been a little faster. I'm a little disappointed because I thought we had a shot for the pole, but I think we can have a good run Sunday. Old Front Row Joe (Nemechek) did it again. He keeps picking these good qualifying numbers. I don't know how he's doing it, but congratulations to him for winning the pole. This is great for Felix Sabates. We hope we can win some races for him."

Ken Schrader, No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet: "I don't think the track slowed up. That lap didn't feel as good as practice, but it was close. I'll be able to see who starts up front. We had run faster in practice but so had plenty of other cars. That wasn't a bad qualifying time. I figured we'd end up about fifth. We wanted to be up front. The guys have worked hard this week, and we've been good since we've been here."

Geoff Bodine, No. 7 QVC Ford: "I'd like to run faster, naturally. We'd all like the pole. I've had plenty of them, so I'd like to get back up there and get a pole before this year is up. But that's a good effort. This whole team has worked really hard, and things went really good today. We had a plan. We stuck to it, and it worked. We even got Bob Glidden, that famous drag racer, here working on the engine. And the engine ran great. We turned about 8700 and that's the most we turned all day. He tuned it up just right. "This whole team is working really hard. We're working under really tight conditions. We're maybe gonna sell this team we really don't know what's gonna happen. Whatever happens, it's gonna make the team better. That's why I'm not sad. I'm happy. But this is a good effort."

Jeff Green, No. 29 Cartoon network Chevrolet: "That was a good lap. We were really good this morning and off a little bit in the afternoon practice. I was worried. We changed some things and it came back around. We're looking forward to getting a good race setup for Sunday. Hopefully we can race good."

Darrell Waltrip, No. 17 Parts America Chevrolet: "The car has been really good all week. I guess that extra practice yesterday helped out. I got a decent lap in. It ain't no track record I don't guess, but on the other hand it might be. It was for a minute anyway. That's right where I've been. What you worry about is slowing down. The track's a little bit slower. That's my best lap since I've been here by just a little bit, but I'm happy with it. I knew this was going to be a good track for me. I'm happy with it all."

Dale Jarrett, No. 88 Ford Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford: "It was exciting. I got loose. I really got into Turn 1 like I wanted, but a little hard and just got loose in the center and just about busted my tail. We're pretty lucky to get out of it what we did. I thought I had a shot at Ernie, but, I tried a little too hard maybe. "I think we've got a good race car for Sunday. I'm sure the wind had a little something to do with (the lap). I'd been getting down in there like that before and hadn't had any problems. It had been pretty tight and we left it that way. Unfortunately, we got a little loose."

Terry Labonte, No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet: "That was a fair lap, but it wasn't as good as it needed to be. The groove is wider than it was, and the race tomorrow will help it a lot. It's about a groove and a half now. I think when we start racing tomorrow, it'll be okay, and maybe it'll get wider on Sunday during our race. We went close with our Michigan setup, but we had a new car so we had to adjust some. "I'm pretty happy with that time. The car felt good, but the speed just wasn't there.

I don't know if the track slowed down a little bit or not. I was really surprised when Mark Martin ran that lap because he was going to be a good car to judge off of."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Ken Schrader , Joe Nemechek , Jeff Green , Bob Glidden , Mark Martin