DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing Starting Position: 11th How was your car in qualifying? "It was good -- we did mostly race runs in practice. We made really only one qualifying run -- the second one I kind of ...
DAVE BLANEY, No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota Camry, Bill Davis Racing
Starting Position: 11th
How was your car in qualifying? "It was good -- we did mostly race runs in practice. We made really only one qualifying run -- the second one I kind of aborted. We kind of stuck in race trim today. We went back to how we had the car last week when we qualified for the Showdown and we went three-tenths faster today. It felt good, I just had to check up a little off the corner because we were loose off, but I was pretty happy with the time."
Were you surprised with the time? "No because you get a different track here at night. When the sun gets off the track it picks up a bunch of speed and it's just a balance of how hard do you run it and not run it too hard. That was a pretty good lap if I just could have run off the exit of the corners a little harder it would have been really good. Overall for not really being happy with the qualifying run in practice, that was a good one when it counted."
Is this the same car you ran at Darlington? "I was happy with it in race trim today in practice as well. It was the same set up as Darlington, the same as we tested here. I'm happy with it in race trim and I was a little surprised it was that good in qualifying trim. We'll take it."
What is the key to finishing this race? "It is just so long that it is brutal. It's just like any other one -- 500 miles or 600 miles, you still have to survive it. The car has to survive and no mistakes. Same thing just a little longer."
TONY STEWART, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Starting Position: 31st
How much of a handful will these cars be for 600 miles on Sunday? "We got 150 miles in this past Saturday night so we've got an idea of what we have to deal with for this weekend. I'm excited about it -- we didn't want an early draw here because that is not normally a good thing here. We've got 600 miles, which is the positive side to getting it all back."
How much has 'Prelude to a Dream' grown this year? "It's a lot of fun. The biggest part of the gratification for me is just seeing the guys that come up there and how much fun they have driving these late models on a night where we get to race with guys we get to race with every week, but we get to do something a little different and that takes the edge off I think."
Do you think Sunday's race is going to resemble last week's All-Star race? "Whatever you saw Saturday is what you're going to see this weekend too. I don't see how it's going to change in a week. Nothing's changed, the rules haven't changed. Guys will get their cars a little better, having last week as a practice for this weekend. I don't think it's going to be a big difference."
Is that fun for the drivers? "It's still the same challenge you normally go through here. You're still trying to get your car driving good and it's the challenge of starting here in the day time and this track absorbs so much heat and changes so much from day time to night time - - that's always the challenge of this race. It's always been this way. Guys always got out and got away from each other and as the night went on it still continued and has always continued to be that way here. You're battling the race track more than you're battling everybody else."
Do you have any updates on your talks? "Not yet. I'm getting close, that's the good thing. I feel like I'm on the back side of the hill of getting everything done. We're a lot closer than we were."
Have you gotten your release from Joe Gibbs Racing and have you asked for it? "No, I have not asked for it."
Would it mean a lot for you to win this race? "Last year we should have won it and lost it on fuel mileage. I remember being so mad for the whole week because I lost the Coke 600. I didn't lost it because I got out-raced, I lost it on fuel mileage. That's the part to me and Casey Mears was a deserving winner -- he ran up front all day and it wasn't like he was a 25th place car that won the race. Just losing it in that fashion was hard to take."
What is it about this race? "It's a huge weekend in racing no matter where you're at. Coca-Cola is one of our partners and it's the 600 -- there's only one 600 a year and when you come that close and lose it because of drops of fuel -- that's the part that makes it disappointing."
How did you get over losing the race last year? "I had a race seven days later. That was the only way to get by it. You want to win so bad and everybody knows how big it is. It's Memorial Day weekend, it's the Coca-Cola 600 and this is all the teams home track basically. This is a place you want to win at -- this is bragging rights for all of us."
Is it frustrating to you that your teammates are having so much success? "We're still where we need to be in the points -- we're eighth right now. We should have won Bristol in the spring again and didn't. We were one of the best cars at the end of Martinsville, which was a lot better than we were at this point last year. We're running better than we were last year, but our teammates are too, which is great. Even if we were running this good and our teammates weren't running as good, I don't think I would feel as good about it. Knowing that they're running as good as they are -- it's a confidence booster for me knowing that our stuff is right where it needs to be and that we have that opportunity every week. I guess I've been part of a multi-car team long enough to know the value of it as a driver. When your teammates are running good and even if they're running better -- that's a good sign that you know your stuff is the same as theirs and you've got that same opportunity every week. It's just a matter of putting the day together and we just haven't been able to put that day together yet. We're not into our part of the season yet either."
-credit: toyota motorsports