Chevrolet Racing Talladega qualifying notes

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I'm thrill with that. To be able to pick up a little bit from practice is really good. We had a real good test here and learned a lot and put a lot of that into our effort here this...

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"I'm thrill with that. To be able to pick up a little bit from practice is really good. We had a real good test here and learned a lot and put a lot of that into our effort here this weekend. What a turnaround from 36th fastest the last time we were here to hopefully a top-10 effort. I think that big hoop in the back of our spoiler has been causing a lot of drag in these race cars. That roof rail seems to be just turbulating the air enough to where we need to be. I think we're a lot closer to all the competition as far as where we've been in the past. I think today there's a Chevrolet that's capable of winning the pole, and that's Joe Nemechek. He's been real strong. "I think any time you pick up after you've gone through NASCAR's room over there it's always good. We're real happy. It's a good solid run for us. What a turnaround for this team. I take my hat off to these guys. They've worked their tails off to get it where it is. We were 36th fastest the last time we were here. We've got a lot on the line with that Winston Million. We came and had a real good test. Everybody took the knowledge and what we learned from that test and put into this race car and this race team for this weekend, and already it's showing up on the race track. It was a great effort. "We did a lot of work back at the shop and learned a lot from the test about the attitude of the car and what the restrictor plate was going to do to the engine and power and where we needed to be gearing wise. I think that helped us unload close today and we could fine tune from there. "This is an equalizer. They (other makes) need to get a little taste of their own medicine. They've been whipping our tails all year long. Now we're running with them and doing what they've been doing to us all year. Now they start crying about it."

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"Everybody has been working hard, especially the motor shop. With all the new rules, everybody had a new starting point. I know the aero guys worked real hard and the motor guys. That's what it takes. You've got to have good horsepower. The car is driving real good, and I'm looking forward to getting in race mode. Everything is the same. You've got to be right on the bottom. Your second lap is normally the fastest. Hopefully we're going to be back up there in the front. "The cars are different. They definitely drive different than where we were last year at this point. Last year I was on the pole here right at 199 mph. We're nine mph slower, but the cars drive really good. Last year the cars were really sucked down to the race track. It's kind of hairy making your qualifying runs. The mode we're in now, I think they're going to race great. I think the draft is probably going to make it one of the best races you've seen. The only thing that I'm not sure of is we used to do all the bump drafting and it was hard to get to some of these back bumpers. Now, you've going to see 'em called hit and runs. When they come at you they're going to be going 20 mph faster. It's going to spin you out or something is going to happen. That's the one thing we've got to see how everybody is going to deal with. I thought we were going to run faster than that. They do their tuneup on the motor and we thought we would be faster. It's got a little warmer since practice, but it's equal for everybody. That was a good lap. If we stay on the pole, that's fine. That's all we had."

BLAISE ALEXANDER (No. 91 Ericsson Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's the fastest we've run so far, but we just need a little more time to work on it. It's getting faster and faster, but you come down here with no points and you're the last through tech and we need some more time on the track. I think we'll get it going better."

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That was a good lap. The guys did a good job. Tony (crew chief Furr) and the guys did a good job with these new rules. They got things turned around pretty quick in the shop. We should be good on Sunday. I know this track has produced a lot of first-time winners, so we're looking forward to the race."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That wasn't a good lap. We'd run a flat in practice. It bottomed out. It drug a lot. I thought we could have qualified about 15th, but we didn't make it. The speeds should pick up a little bit. It got kind of shady. We tried to soften the car up a little more, and it bottomed out a lot and cut some speed off."

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That lap we had this morning was in the draft, so that was illegal. Our quickest time in practice was a 51.14, so we picked up about three tenths. I'm thrilled to death with that. I thought everybody realized we were drafting in practice. The 1 car went over to NASCAR and had his time disallowed when he ran that 50.10. We ran a 50.35 (in practice in the draft) and we didn't take time to go over to NASCAR and ask them to disallow that quick time. I think it's pretty cool when you're sixth and people ask you what happened."

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"It looks like we're going to have a good starting spot on Sunday. Hopefully we can stick around all day. It's a new car. We haven't tested with it, and we've got new rules. Hopefully this will raise the team morale, and we'll be pumped up for Sunday. They wore these (do rags) on the sand course back in the 50s. This is a throw back to those days. Elliott ran a great lap. I didn't expect him to beat us, but a few more may beat us before it's all said and done. I wore these do rags when I was a little kid. I've always liked 'em. It'll keep the sun out of your eyes."

TED MUSGRAVE (No. 01 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"As long as it stays in the top 25 or so or top 30 we'll be all right. A lot of guys had some fast speeds in practice this morning, but when you're out there by yourself there ain't nobody to help you. You get what you can."@!

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I figured if I could run a 51.30 I'd be happy. I think we were a little quicker than that, so that ought to get us in good enough shape to get ready for the race. We didn't run many laps in practice. We didn't test for the new rule. We had to work on the attitude of the car. We unloaded and the motor ran good and the car drove good. We're pretty happy with it."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We've kind of struggled today a little bit. We've had some engine problems with the RCR cars. I think this car will race really good. Basically I wanted to get in the top 25 today. We've got a backup engine in the car and hopefully we'll make a couple of laps without breaking something so those guys back at the engine shop don't pull their hair completely out. We're pulling for both these car to get in today and work on the race package tomorrow. The car drives really, really good. We didn't get an opportunity to try much and see how far down we could really get it. We were very, very conservative right there. We really didn't know what to do. This is one place you can start back and the track position doesn't hurt you as much as a lot of other places. If we can get in the race today, we'll be happy."

RICH BICKLE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We had it taped up all the way for qualifying and it got a little warm. You could feel the motor start to give up a little bit in turn four. She was getting a little hot. These guys have been struggling on their restrictor plate deal. This is the best they've been in awhile. I'm glad I got an opportunity to give it a try. I had a good run in the 45 car here last year. I had a shot at the top five and got screwed up on the last lap by a lapped car and finished 14th. I started 42nd and took it all the way to the front. It felt pretty cool. Hopefully Joe (car owner Bessey) and the guys are happy with this. Once this thing gets in the show, I think it's going to be pretty decent."

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"We didn't get much practice today. We blew an engine up, so we got a lap and a half. This is a bunch of good guys. They work hard and we make the first round. We've always been able to race here pretty good, so we'll see if we can get the car tuned in tomorrow morning for racing. We hadn't run here with these rules. We'll just have to see what's going on. I'm real happy for Park and Dale Jr. and Marcis. He got a good lap in, and I'm real excited about seeing that happen."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"These guys have been working hard on this Pennzoil Chevrolet to try to pick up our restrictor plate program. I think the best we've qualified here in the past was 30th, so they've done a good job picking it up. We're proud of that effort. The engine shop and the fab shop have been working real hard to give us good race cars and good motors. Hopefully that'll be good enough for the top 15, top 25 and then we can go get 'em Sunday for that million bucks. We had a short amount of time with the rule changes, but the rule changes they gave us didn't affect the cars as dramatically as we thought. We had our work cut out for us, but this whole Pennzoil team did a good job getting us dialed in as fast as possible."

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's great. I'm happy with that. Richard Childress came down. That's a Childress engine in the car. He came down just before we went out to qualify and asked what gear we had in the car. I told him. He said we had to make a gear change. We did, and it picked the car up considerably. I'm really, really happy about that. We're in the first day. That's great. I'm so proud for everybody at Realtree. They've been hanging in there with us. This is a great boost for our team. We've just got nine guys, and they've been working hard on this car. This car has been worked on since the Fourth of July when we missed the race in Daytona. Richard's had a few of his guys give us a hand on it. I'm tickled to death. I didn't think we'd do that could. We would have been tickled to death to be in the top 25. "We threw the first lap away. You've got to do that. I told the guys to watch Dale when he qualifies. I tried to duplicate the line he took. Richard told us to change the gear and it's great. The car is driving great. "I think we had some body problems with the car in the last race. We've been working hard on it. I can't tell you how many hours have been put into it."

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The car has been good. We knew we'd be in the top 20. It's a Richard Childress engine and we worked real hard on the car. We used a provisional at Daytona and we wanted to make sure we came here and qualified well. We know when the race starts where we'll be headed. We think we'll be at the front of the pack. It's important to qualify good. I appreciate the work the boys do on the car. We're ready to race now. We were leading here last fall when we broke. That's a good sign. We've just got to make sure we're leading here Sunday when it comes time for them to throw the checkered flag. That would be a big bonus for our team. We haven't given up. We're still all on the same page and working for the same goals. It's a good feeling being around these guys. I'm enjoying myself."

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The guys in front of me stopped at the start of the race, and unfortunately it was my father in front of me. I probably shouldn't have anticipated the start like I did, but we're back with a brand new race car. We really put a lot of work on this car. We've got the new rules and a lot of other things going for us, a great motor from Dale Earnhardt, Inc. That seems to be what it's all about, having a good car aerodynamically and a good motor, especially with the new aero package. We're real excited. This is really a good confidence boost for the guys on the team. The guys are real excited about how well the car has run today, and hopefully for the rest of the weekend. "We've had a real good year. We did well with wins and poles and all that stuff, winning The Winston and things like that. People are tired of talking about it, but that's one of the proudest moments of my career and always will be until we do something else just as exciting. The mid point of the season has been the toughest time of my life, I'd say. We had it pretty easy up until then, and that's been pretty difficult to deal with. It's been difficult on my team and it's been hard to go home at night and worry about who might leave tomorrow or who might do something to better themselves that has nothing to do with your program, and you worry about that all the time when you're not running good. People expect you to run good all the time, and when you don't they question why. We had a really good race car last week at Charlotte. We had some trouble on pit stops that got us a couple of laps down. Other than that, we had the fastest car there at the end of the race aside from the 18 the last 10 laps. Up until then, we had the fastest car. When you can go to a place like that and run like that and take it home in one piece, you're happy. That satisfies me. Winning a race is really fun, but being competitive is more important. You can fall into a win here and there like we did at Richmond, but to be competitive the whole entire race, no matter where you finish, I'm happy about that. We're running good this weekend, so hopefully we're going to finish the season on some good notes. Hopefully we'll run good here Sunday and maybe a couple more good runs coming at Atlanta and some other places. I think we can go ahead and throw out Rockingham. We might go to Atlanta and Homestead and run well. "I have no idea. I haven't been around anybody this morning in practice to know whether the draft is helping us or not. It's obvious that the cars are punching some big holes in the air. Guys are going to be able to pull up and bump draft a lot. We weren't able to do as much of that as we wanted to in the past. I think you're going to see cars get gigantic runs on each other. A lot of cars that were probably considered inadequate in the past are going to be able to pass and either be able to take the lead at times. It's going to be fun and interesting. Hopefully everybody enjoys it enough where we all can be patient and wait for our turn at bat so to speak. Hopefully the last 40 or 50 laps doesn't get too far out of control and everybody maintains some sort of sense to themselves where they know doing anything crazy or stupid could cause a lot of people a lot of trouble. I don't think you can avoid that no matter what kind of body you put on these cars, but we're certainly trying to improve things. NASCAR has done a good job I think. "It's been several months since that qualifying lap here last time. Sometimes you think it's faster, but it just depends. There's no way to tell when you're working with that type of speed. "You look at the past and it doesn't really matter where you start or what kind of car you've got. The guys with the most common sense are going to be the majority of the top 10 at the end of the race anyway. Some guys are going to complain about it and some guys are going to be happy with it. Hopefully, I'm happy."

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"It feels good. We've had a hard time qualifying this year. We haven't been able to put our finger on what's really happened. Last year we had four or five poles coming into here. To finally get back to having a pole just means so much for the whole Andy Petree organization and for Oakwood Homes. "Actually the cars drive really good. That's kind of a scary thing. You're not getting bounced around and you're not chattering your teeth. All the things we had to do to run 198 was pretty amazing. Now the cars drive good. We have more power and we still have some decent speed. That's pretty much what we're going to race, too. There's not much difference any more. "It's hard to speculate right now. After morning practice tomorrow I could probably answer that a little better, but we haven't drafted. I know on the race track, even today, if there was a car on the race track you could see in front of you, it was helping your speed. That is more than it's been in the past. What that tells me is the car that's in the front is really helping the car behind them. The cars want to suck up better. They want to draft up easier now. I think that's going to be a good thing for the race. "Just hearing everybody talk about what happened in the test in Daytona when they were coming up with the rules... Before when you were out there drafting and you had your three rows of 10 cars, you could always go up and try to give the guy a little push in front of you. You weren't going to kill your car. That was called bump drafting. Now, I think the guy behind, if he gets a run, he's going to be going 20 mph faster when he gets to your back bumper. It's going to be like a hit and run now. If they hit you hard, it's going to tear some cars up, but if you're going that much faster, I don't know, is it going to allow you to get out and slingshot by and get back in line? That's the stuff we don't know, but I think the cars drafting up to each other is definitely going to be better. "We came here with a certain gear and changed the gear once went back to it and then changed it again for qualifying. It's really close. We're kind of splitting hairs, but we knew we were going to run faster qualifying so we tried to anticipate that. "Mike Dillon helped me out two weeks ago. I was actually testing in Charlotte with my Busch team, and they had Mike Dillon come up here and drive the car. He did a good job for 'em, and they learned a lot, which was good. They spent some time in the wind tunnel with the RAD program between Earnhardt's and Childress, we've all been in the wind tunnel and we all have some good cars. "I don't think it's a big of a deal as people are leading it to believe. We're still all going to run around here wide open, and you've got to get your cars to handle wide open. That's going to be the key. It's the same as before. If you can get a bunch of cars lined up that can run fast, they're still going to run fast. I think when you get side by side, it's going to make it easier for the guy behind to pull out and make it three wide and get b y. We've seen that here with plate races before. After morning practice, we'll know a lot more. "It's probably going to be a good event. I'd tell ya'll to be here early tomorrow. With all these cars going out, no one really knows what's going to happen. Twenty or 25 cars lined up out there. Everybody wants to be together. It could be really big."

"We changed some stuff. They'll change some suspension parts. NASCAR mandates the rear spring rate, so everybody will run the minimum spring rate. That's about it. They give you your rear shocks so whatever you can do to make it go fast for one lap will most likely work for a long run also. "With the qualifying motors, we used to make 400 horsepower. Now we make 500 horsepower. When you made 400 horsepower you could have lighter connecting rods and lighter cranks, all the stuff. Now we're making 500 horsepower, it's the same as Loudon. What ever you ran at Loudon is pretty much what you can run here. You're still making 500 horsepower, but you've got to have a little more durable parts. It's kind of like a Busch motor that you can run in the race. A lot of times that's what a lot of Cup teams have for qualifying motors, but it's a 500-horsepower motor. That's what it is and it's built that way. We've raced qualifiers in the past. No big difference between. "I'm trying to think. Where were we? Daytona 500 and Mike Skinner was the only Chevy in the top 15 and he was second or third or something like that. I don't think it's any big deal."

Team Monte Carlo Tidbits

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park will drive a brand new Monte Carlo in Sunday's Winston 500. He finished 32nd at Talladega Superspeedway in April. Park led the way for Team Monte Carlo with a seventh-place finish last week at Charlotte. He stands 11th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings (NWCS) with five races remaining.

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) Earnhardt will drive the same Monte Carlo that finished third here in April. Earnhardt finished 11th last week at Charlotte and dropped to third in the NWCS, 258 points behind leader Bobby Labonte with five to go.

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Hamilton started 28th and finished 43rd at Talladega in April because of engine problems. He'll pilot the same Monte Carlo in Sunday's race. Hamilton finished 24th last week at Charlotte and ranks 31st in the NWCS.

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Labonte finished seventh at Talladega in April. He'll drive the same Monte Carlo chassis that finished seventh in the Daytona 500. Labonte finished 27th last week at Charlotte and ranks 19th in the NWCS.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Waltrip will drive a brand new Monte Carlo at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. Waltrip finished 31st at Talladega in April, 22nd last week at Charlotte and ranks 28th in the NWCS.

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Earnhardt Jr. will drive a brand new Monte Carlo on Sunday. He finished 42nd here in April, 19th last week at Charlotte and ranks 16th in the NWCS. Earnhardt Jr. trails Matt Kenseth by 26 points (263-237) in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year race.

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Skinner will race the same Monte Carlo that finished second at Talladega in April. It also finished ninth at Daytona in July. Skinner finished 20th last week at Charlotte and ranks 12th in the NWCS.

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) Gordon will drive car No. 2445 at Talladega. It's the Monte Carlo that competed in the Daytona 500, and he tested it last week at Talladega. Gordon won the DieHard 500 in April at Talladega Superspeedway, finished 39th last week at Charlotte and ranks 10th in the NWCS.

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Micheal Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nadeau will drive the same Monte Carlo that has competed in all three restrictor plate races this season. Nadeau finished 19th in April at Talladega, 36th last week at Charlotte and ranks 23rd in the NWCS.

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Nemechek will drive a brand new Monte Carlo on Sunday at Talladega with a Charlie Daniels paint scheme. Nemechek finished 22nd here in April, 14th last week in Charlotte and ranks 17th in the NWCS.

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marlin finished eighth at Talladega in April and will drive the same Monte Carlo here on Sunday. He also drove it at Daytona in the Pepsi 400 and finished 25th. Marlin finished 31st last week at Charlotte and ranks 18th in the NWCS.

TED MUSGRAVE (No. 01 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Musgrave will drive the Monte Carlo that Kenny Irwin finished fourth with here in April. Musgrave finished 29th last week at Charlotte and ranks 39th in the NWCS.

RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Craven will drive the same Monte Carlo he finished 29th with here in April. Craven did not start last week at Charlotte and ranks 45th in the NWCS.

RICH BICKLE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Bickle will drive a brand new Monte Carlo for the Power Team in Sunday's race.

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Marcis will drive the same Monte Carlo he qualified 27th and finished 38th with here in April. Marcis failed to qualify last week at Charlotte and ranks 47th in the NWCS.

KENNY WALLace (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Wallace will drive the same car he competed with here in April. He qualified 26th and finished 40th in that race. Wallace finished 37th last week at Charlotte and ranks 29th in the NWCS.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Mike Skinner , Andy Petree , Michael Ho