Thursday, July 1, 1999. Daytona International Speedway. Pepsi 400 first-round Bud Pole qualifying. Chevrolet notes, quotes. JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We went through tech and had to go back in the ...
Thursday, July 1, 1999. Daytona International Speedway. Pepsi 400 first-round Bud Pole qualifying. Chevrolet notes, quotes.
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We went through tech and had to go back in the garage. The oil got cold, everything got cold, but I can't think Team Sabco and all these guys enough. They found more power, and that's what it's all about here. I think it's going to be close, but if they beat me, that's all I had. That's faster than I thought we could run. When the night comes, it's going to get cooler, so maybe the guys in the back have an advantage. We'll take it. It was an awesome lap. "We've had such a tough year, but this whole group has worked real hard. The motor shop found more power in these restrictor plate motors. That's what it's all about with the plate racing. I was out of control coming off turn four, and I didn't think I was going to make it the first lap. I just kept her on the bottom and kept it digging. "If it does hold up, it'll be great. I think we'll be close to the front row. Some guys are going to be fast. Everybody did their job today, and we're going fast. "It was sideways coming off turn four the first lap. I didn't know if I was going to make it back my second lap or not. We got the cars held down so hard. We had to do some things to make it not drive so evil today. It was really slippery in practice today. I think it's going to hold up. If you can hold it wide open around here, you're going to go somewhere. I did all I could do, but that's what you've got to do to go fast. "Restrictor plate racing is totally different than anything else. This car qualified fourth at Talladega last year. We ran in the top five for a long time in the top five most of the day and then we had a motor failure. We knew it was going to be fast. We worked on it a little bit more and came down here and it was real fast. We expected to be in the top three, and I think we've got a good shot at it. "I never dreamed we'd be back in 36th in the points. It's terrible. We've had some awesome race cars this year. We qualified good at Vegas. We've had some good qualifying runs, and had some real good cars in the race. We've been caught up in six or seven accidents. It's been a crazy, crazy year. "Lights don't make a difference here in qualifying. The difference is going to be when that temperature starts cooling down. If qualifying goes long enough, and it gets cool enough, the temperature makes more power when it gets cooler. "Qualifying and racing are two separate deals here at Daytona and Talladega. You go fast with a qualifying package for basically two laps. For racing, you've got to get a package where you can hold the pedal down for a whole run on tires. We were fast in practice and when we made our second run, we knew we were going to have a shot at the pole tonight. It's just one of those things. You hit all the right combinations and everything is perfect you can go. "I had as perfect a lap as I could drive. That was all I could do to keep the car from going sideways and keep it headed as straight as I could. If the wind changes direction it'll either slow people up or make 'em faster. We'll just have to take what we did and make the best of it. Some guys are really going to have to go to beat it."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We've had a very, very rough day. I'm proud of the way the guys worked today. They worked their butts off. I just hope we're in the top 25. We know the car is going to race good. It's raced good before. We had this car at Talladega last year. Hopefully we'll get in the show and work on our race setup. On our get-go lap we hit so hard we just about tore the oil pan off the motor. We lost a lot of time in practice and really scrambled getting the car to drive. It drove pretty good those last two laps. At least it was the first time today I could drive flat out without having to lift. If we can be in the top 25, I'll be happy. We rose above it today, and I know we'll have a good car Saturday."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The motor is excellent and if we get it driving good, we'll be in good shape. We'll forget about qualifying. The guys worked hard on this car today. I couldn't even steer it when we first got here. I'm real excited about the motor, and I think we'll be good in the race. We just need the race setup now."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We've been behind the 8 ball a little bit. We really couldn't run wide open. The car was bouncing all around. We went with a halfway conservative setup to get a lap in. I think we'll be real good in the race. This is the car we had at Talladega. We're looking for a good night Saturday night. The guys have been working hard the past month or so. We'll keep working and try to get us a win here. We're going to try to put the Coors Light Chevrolet in victory lane. I love this place. We had a good run at Pocono. We sat on the pole and ran fourth. We had a real good run going last week at Sears Point and got turned around the last lap. We just rolled up our sleeves and went to work after Charlotte. We had some problems and fixed them."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had a bad engine the Lowe's Chevrolet today. We blew up making a practice run. The motor tightened up coming off four. I just put the clutch in and got it before any fluids went down. They changed the engines, so this is a backup qualifier. I'm pretty pleased with that really. I think we've got
a good race car. I'm really a little disappointed in the speed, but how can you be when you break right at the end of practice. These guys worked their tails off to get that car done, get it through. We just didn't get the car down on the ground good. We made the best lap we could, and I think that'll make the top 25. We'll put on a good show for these fans Saturday night and try to get this Chevrolet in victory lane. It's always a handful here at Daytona, especially in July. We just needed to touch the ground a little more to go fast."
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I'm pretty happy with that lap. We ran two laps off the truck and then broke a piston in the motor. We put another motor in, and those were our third and fourth laps on the track today, so I'm tickled to death. The motor ran great. We'll get it in race trim, and we'll be OK."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "That was one of the wildest qualifying rides I've done in a long time. It was worse when we qualified than it was in practice. It was terrible. You just can't drive the car on the bottom of the race track like you could down here in February. We had a good race car in February qualifying. I wish we could have run a little faster. It's a little rougher ride, a little tougher to drive it than it was here in February. We should have tuned on the bumpers or the rubbers or the springs or something a little more. It sure wasn't a good ride. I know hitting as hard as it was or bouncing as hard as it was probably losing speed. We ran a .40 down here in February, and it's the same car and same setup. We didn't adjust right. We need to adjust more."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I was just trying to build up as much speed as I could on that first lap. We weren't real fast in practice, and I wanted to pick up. We certainly did. The guys did a great job and found some speed for me out there. The car drove perfect and the engine ran good. I knew on the first lap it was going to be better than we'd been all day, so I was pretty happy with that. I'm about 90 percent. I'm definitely a lot better. I've got some good doctors that fixed me right up, so by Saturday night I'll be 100 percent. We drew a late number for qualifying and found some speed in the car. We struggled in practice today. I'm happy with that run. We should be in good shape for the race. I like the night racing here. You can probably see better at night here than you can in the daytime. We've got a really good race car, and we'll see if we can't win it again. We're just focusing on one race at a time. We've had some ups and downs this year. We're not thinking about what we've done in the past at Daytona. We're just thinking about the next race, and this is the next race. I didn't have a whole lot of drafting partners here in February. I was probably one of the most surprised guys out there that we won. I'm going to work with my teammates or at least find someone I can work with out there. You need help to win. We're just going to try to finish races the rest of the season. When we finish, we usually finish up front. This isn't the position I'd like to be in in the points, but I think our team is definitely in the position it needs to be to gain as many points as we can in the second half of the season."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I wrecked in practice at Pocono, and I was more scared qualifying out there tonight than I was at Pocono. I didn't know if we were going to make it back around or not, but we did, so I suppose I'm pretty happy with it."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's not what we wanted. We've been struggling since we got here. I wish I could put my finger on it. We've been working with the car and working with the motor. I wish I could say I could drive it a little harder, but you drive it around here wide open like all the race fans out there know. We're at a lack for speed and don't know where to look right now. We're disappointed, but we're not going to give up. We're going to take a look at the motor and see what happens."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That was by far the most scary lap I've ever had around here besides spinning out earlier today. I can't thank the guys enough for all their hard work, getting that backup car ready to go. That was the first lap on that car right there. I was talking on the radio to Andy Petree and I told him I didn't know if I could make it back around on that second lap. I couldn't believe I did make it. It was pretty awesome to run that lap. We're happy. We're going to get ready for the race now."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We've been struggling since we've been down here. To run that lap was awesome. We really worked hard and put it all together. That was a decent time, and that'll get us in the race. Saturday night is what really counts. We know we're going to race good here. We had a good car here in February. We just got involved in a wreck. If we get the car to go that good again, we'll be up there racing and we'll have some fun out there."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We've been fast all day. The lap was all I wanted. That was all I could do as far as hanging on, and we just came out on top. The guys have worked hard getting this car set up, and we did it. I really couldn't keep it on the bottom on the first lap, and we got sideways coming up off four. It kind of scared me because I didn't know what was going to happen the next time I came around. I almost hit the wall on the first lap. The second lap it stuck on the bottom. It got a little loose coming off, but I never checked up out of the gas and that's what's important here. "Hopefully we'll get to lead a lap. I've got some pretty heavy hitters there behind me. Those guys are going to want to lead the race, but I think we'll have our car ready in race mode. It's a whole different setup. Qualifying is made for two laps. You can just barely hang on it. Race mode, you've got to hang on and hold that throttle open all day. Tony Glover is one of the best. I've got to give him credit. The guys at the motor shop make it happen. "We definitely had the toughest season I've ever had. We had high expectations coming in. Our '99 season has just been tough. We've had some really good race cars. The whole team has worked hard all year. Where we are in the points does not show what kind of team we have. We should be in the top 15 in the points. We've been involved in seven accidents. We've had all kind of crazy things happen to us. To sit on the pole here in Florida, close to where I call home, to get the pole is definitely special. "It came as a surprise. Felix Sabates called me that morning and said he was going to make some big changes. I really didn't know what they were. We had a meeting at the shop and all of a sudden we're swapping crew chiefs around. My old crew chief, Scott Eggleston, and myself and my BellSouth team, this is the same car we ran in the Daytona 500 and we also ran at Talladega. We've had time to fine tune it. To get hooked back up with Tony.... At the end of '97, we ran real strong. Tony and I started really clicking. The change kind of caught me by surprise, but I think at the end, Felix had two teams that were struggling just a little bit. He wanted to see if he could make something happen. Since the change, now we have two poles and we've been running definitely a lot better.
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Actually, when I was growing up, I never dreamed of winning a pole or winning a race here. I've always concentrated on whatever series I was running. In the Busch Series, we've been very fortunate here. I'm not sure if we have a pole or not, but we very definitely have a win. We've run very, very well in a lot of races here in the Busch Series. The Winston Cup Series has been a difference experience for me. I think we've missed the 500 two times and we've just really struggled. The last few races we've run here at Daytona have been really good. "Qualifying lap definitely got exciting. Turns one and two wasn't bad. That was pretty smooth down there and that's kind of uncharacteristic of this race track. Turn two usually gets kind of exciting, but turns one and two was pretty smooth. Getting into turns three and four on my first lap, the car on the exit of turn four jumped sideways. It wasn't what I thought it was going to do. It kind of took my breath away. Then I was thinking what was going to happen the next time I come through here because I didn't think I was going to make it the first time. Usually the second time around is worse. We hooked the thing right down to the bottom and it stayed right down on that white line. The thing gripped really good. It got a little sideways coming off, but not quite as bad as the first lap. I told the guys I was glad it was over. "It's definitely a big boost, especially for our BellSouth team. We have a new paint job here for Daytona. It's a new purple paint scheme. I put on a purple shirt today and didn't even think about it when I woke up this morning. It's been neat. It's cost Felix a little bit now. He's had to give away a couple of Rolex watches the past couple of weeks. It's good. It's really good for the team. The teams are pumped up. I know Sterling was struggling a little bit in practice today, so myself and Tony Glover went down to his car trying to help him get the same package and balance in his car. He definitely picked up, so that was good. "As soon as the last car ran, I talked to Felix on the cell phone. He's not here, but he was coming. Now he's got to come. "He (Tony Glover) knows and has been through so much here on what goes on and how to call the race. The other neat thing about Tony Glover is he's my spotter. He kind of does everything for me now. It's neat because he can get up on top and he can see what's going on. That's been one of the good things as far as working with Tony in the past. He's been able to tell me some different things. We communicate real good. He can say something and I know what he says. I can say a different word back to him and he knows how far the car is off. We've been able to capitalize on that in the past, and hopefully we will Saturday night. "I have very high expectations (on race day). At Talladega, I thought we had a top five car and we developed something inside the motor halfway through the race and struggled and finally the thing quit. We ran up there in the top five for a long time. Qualifying on the pole here is a different kind of race. It's more of a handling track than Talladega. You have to have all the right springs and shocks to be able to go fast and hold it wide open. I think Tony and myself and the team will get that down pat, and we'll have some input from Sterling, too. That's what's important. "It's definitely important to start in the front. We've all heard about the big wreck. Hopefully it won't happen here at Daytona. When anything does happen, it's pretty spectacular. You've just got to be in front of it."