Friday, March 17, 2000 Darlington Raceway Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's Mall.com 400 Chevrolet notes and quotes JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "You just need to put it all together for one lap. That wind ...
Friday, March 17, 2000
Bud Pole Qualifying for Sunday's
Chevrolet notes and quotes
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"You just need to put it all together for one lap. That wind started kicking up there and I knew I was going to have to go for it and get a lot out of it. The car was awesome. It wasn't pretty. I had to drive the heck out of it, but that's what you've got to do here at Darlington. If I could have a pole and then say, 'OK do you guys mind if I start third or fifth, I'd do it.' Leading here is cool when it's coming to the checkered, but when you're leading that thing at the start of the race, you can really eat your tires up. It's hard to pace yourself when you're setting the deal at Darlington, but we needed a pole and I'm glad to have it.
"I used up a lot of race track, but it was a great lap. I knew it was a fast lap, but it was on the edge. The wind kicked up and I went down into three and four to come to the green and it started pushing. I knew it was going to be tight, so I had to drive it around the tightness and try to free it up. I did it almost too much down in the middle of one and two. We needed this bad.
"That's the first time anybody has wanted to talk to me this year about anything good. These guys deserve it. We've got a great team. We've got good people, and we've got good engines. We showed that today. That new Monte Carlo was awesome. It was great all day. Those guys started running some great laps, and it was on all our shoulders. The pressure was on, that's for sure. It feels great. This team needed it, and I needed it. We gained a little bit of momentum last weekend, and this is just going to continue to keep that ball rolling.
"The car had been running great all day long and we were going for it. I left pit road with the intention of running that thing as hard as I possibly could. It pushed on me a little bit coming to the line, and that made me a little bit nervous. I went down into one and got that thing in there good and got back in the gas hard. It wiggled a little bit on me, but it kept the momentum. Through three and four, the car was excellent.
"It's great for Robbie (crew chief Loomis). We're so proud to have him and enjoy what he's doing for this team. And Brian Whitsell, Rick Hendrick is here and John Hendrick and everybody on this team -- it was a great day for us. When you look at the way the race came down (last week at Atlanta) I think we had a shot. It doesn't matter if you're not there. Unfortunately, that's what this team has done. We've been there (in the past) when it counted and that's at the end of the race. I think if we can do that, stay on the lead lap, we might have a shot at it this weekend. I love Darlington. It's been good to me, and it's been pretty good to Jeff Burton here lately, so we've got our work cut out for us.
"When you're the last car out and you ran as well as we did all day and those guys ran those laps, the pressure is really on you. It's nice to be able to step up to that and bust off a good lap. I knew it was fast. I didn't know if it was going to be fast enough. I did put it on the edge a couple of times. It seemed to keep the momentum and that's what counts here at Darlington. This is one of my favorite races to qualify for because you really let it hang out. You run extremely hard. All these guys worked their guts out and it's nice to be able to put it on the track and make it happen like we did today. We've got a good setup for this track, and you've got to save those tires, just like Darlington always is. That's what we're going to go to work on now. We're hoping we have something for 'em on Sunday."
KENNY IRWIN Jr. (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's about two and a half tenths better than we had in practice, so I'm pretty happy about that. The last couple of weeks I haven't been picking up in qualifying. Hopefully that will keep us in the top 25."
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That was a pretty good lap. We picked up about two tenths from practice. That's what we needed to do and that's what we didn't do at Atlanta. Our corners speeds were pretty good on both ends of the track. It's tough, but I think this will do it."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's terrible. We didn't pick up our couple of tenths in qualifying. I got really loose over there. I was going to hit the wall, so I let off the gas. I was really surprised we made the top 25 with that. We'll get ready to race now and race hard on Sunday. I've really struggled at Darlington. We qualified fourth the last time we were here and weren't running bad but we got taken out by a car that blew a tire. Hopefully we can get the race setup under this thing and race hard."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)
"Turns one and two felt good. It was a good effort for this team. They gave me a good race car. It's a real drivable race car, and I feel good about it. We'll keep tuning on it and and keep working on it. We'll give it our best shot Sunday, and I think we're going to give them a run for their money in the championship. I didn't think that would be the pole. I thought it was good enough for the top five and it was. I knew several cars would run well in qualifying that didn't show what they had in practice. This is a one-lap race track. If you get that perfect lap in, you'll really be good. I felt like one and two was good, and they said three and four was better. I felt like three and four was off some, but we'll see."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"This car doesn't qualify good, but the 10th lap is as fast as the first lap, and that's a big key here. I was hoping to run a 28.85, but it bottomed out more than it had been. We'll get it driving a little bit better, and we'll be OK for the race."
JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That's not bad. We're 19th, and qualifying in the first round always helps. Now we can work on the race setup tomorrow, but the car's just not right where we need it right now. We've been struggling a little bit with being tight, but we know what we need to do. Hopefully, it's going to be a better race car than qualifying car. I think it will be."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"This is our Atlanta car, and that two inches out on the front really helped our car turn. We've been slow at tightened the car up. It's been turning really good. I left a little bit in turn two. We made a slight adjustment for qualifying, and the car took it. I should have never let up off turn two, but we're in and now we'll get ready for the race."
DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were expecting a good enough lap to make the top 10. Our qualifying stuff has been good, and my cars have been comfortable. Even prior to the nose change, we had good qualifying packages at every race. I hope we can continue it. It gives me a lot of confidence that we can since we've done it this early in the season. I'm pretty happy with this lap. I got off the apron a little bit in turn two and it might have cost us a little time. I didn't get out of the throttle any, but you never know. I'm pretty happy with what we've got. We practiced about a 28.98, and I felt like that was a good lap. We picked up just about right for qualifying. The first thing I said to the guys this morning is, 'this is just about right here. I'm around Rudd and Mayfield and Marlin.' I feel that's where our team is. It was discouraging the first few weeks being last in line for tech and Happy Hour. I think it's going to give our team a little more incentive. We're getting credit for what we did this year by having a better spot in the garage and going out in Happy Hour with the faster cars.
"I think they (3 team) did a lot of work this winter. He's done a lot of work getting himself prepared for this year. I think he feels a lot better. He's in better spirit and he's not aggravated by the neck like he was all last year. He's real excited. To talk to him during practice, he's really focused on doing better. I like to qualify, as long as we're doing well.
"I expected with the changes they made on the car today to pick up a couple of tenths. I kept my foot in it on the lap and it felt pretty good."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"That wasn't bad. I don't know why it wasn't faster. The field is just really close. That's about what we ran in practice. I thought we could run faster than that, but we just didn't. I don't know where my speed is. I love this place in race mode. We hit on some things last year and ran real good in race mode. We'll have to do it again this time."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"The car has been handling good all day, but we got a little loose qualifying. The temperature is going down a little bit. I think we had a top 10 car. We got through one and two really good. The team is growing. We struggled some the last two years, but we feel we've got a competitive team week in and week out now."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We've been having a little trouble with the car. I haven't been able to tell them what to do to it. We've been tight exiting turn four and loose in one and two. We've been on both sides of it. Bobby (crew chief Kennedy) and his guys have worked on it. We got it better. I believe if we had one more try at it, we'd be all right. It was closer that time. I need to give them better information. I couldn't put my finger on it today."