Darlington: Team Monte Carlo qualifying notes

Robby Gordon, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo: "We were just a little bit loose the whole way around. We were a little tight in practice and tried to free it up to go quicker, but ended up staying about where we were in practice.

Robby Gordon, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"We were just a little bit loose the whole way around. We were a little tight in practice and tried to free it up to go quicker, but ended up staying about where we were in practice. Darlington changes so much. When I was out there, there wasn't a cloud. Now there are clouds. A tenth is a big difference here. I'm pleased with it. We're obviously in the field and we'll keep working on it for Sunday."

Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"It was a good lap. I was a little bit loose and I feel like if I hadn't been, I would have jumped on the throttle harder and maybe picked up some speed in this NAPA Chevy. But it was a good lap for us, and the boys did a good job getting the car. Our little hot rod was good. This Chevy was much better in (turns) one and two than it was in (turns) three and four all day. I'm happy with how much we were able to pick-up from practice."

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"We were a couple tenths faster than we were in practice and that's a good start for this GM Goodwrench team. We're looking forward to Sunday."

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"I think in the race, this track will favor the veterans. But in qualifying, you've got to hang it out. I learned a little bit from watching Ryan Newman in practice today. I just got a little greedy and clipped the apron into (turn) one. I turned the car sideways and I didn't turn left the rest of turns one and two. I was driving it off the right rear with the throttle. I just happened to come through there with a solid effort. I'm just having a lot of fun. I feel very fortunate that I've been here in the past in the Busch car and have learned a lot about the race track. We still came back here and tested so I could get used to a Winston Cup car here. The motor difference is huge at the end of a run. In the race, the veterans will be up there and they'll be beating up on us rookies."

Did you know right away that it was a great lap?

"I thought that it was but Chad (Knaus, crew chief) didn't say anything on the radio. So I ran the second lap. I made him promise me before qualifying that if I had a good first lap, that he wouldn't make me run the second lap. So he didn't live up to his end of the bargain."

How do you keep an eye on the wall and not tap it?

"It's pretty weird. There's a peripheral vision that lets you recognize where you are. If you looked at the wall, you'd probably drive straight into it. After a while, you get used to how close you are to it. And then when you run around guys like Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton - they're right up against the wall - and you get a visual of where they are and how they use the throttle to stay along the wall."

Jeff Green, No. 30 AOL Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"It was pretty good. We were just tight all day. When you try to get all you can, everybody picks up more on this side (Winston Cup) than they do on the Busch side when they go to qualify. So, I had to get a little bit more out of my Chevy. It didn't react quite as much as I needed to, but it kept us up there and we've got a good starting spot."

Steve Park, No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"It's really good to be back. It was nerve-wracking. I think the hard part is behind us. The car was good in practice and it was good in qualifying trim and we tested with it. I feel good. The Pennzoil team has done a great job.

"I had hoped to qualify in the top five. I mean I've had six months off. I just didn't sit around and relax. I worked hard to be able to come back and race this car. And when they throw the checkered flag on Sunday, I want to say, 'The race is over already?' That will be the biggest accomplishment to have the stamina. Qualifying is one lap were you have to king of hold your breath and drive the wheels off it. We passed that test, and the next test is going 400 or 500 miles. At the end of that, I might be so happy I might jog home from Darlington.

"This whole racing thing is all about pressure. The team did a great job of giving me a great racecar - one that was capable of qualifying in the front row. I didn't let them down, but I didn't put the car in the front row and that's where I want to be."

(Does this feel like a victory in itself?) "It does. It's like a big weight taken off my shoulders. It inspires me to be able to come back and run as well as we did. We tested here and ran good and I feel good. We're not on the pole, but we're solidly in the top five."

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"It was a great lap and a great day for us. We just kept making gains on it all day. This is Darlington, a place where I run well. So I had a little bit of confidence coming in here. It was great to have that kind of lap.

"Me and my buddy, Ricky Craven, will be on the front row and that's awesome. We've struggled a little bit here recently and some of it started on Friday - on qualifying day. I knew we needed to get better qualifying runs. Today was a great effort by the entire DuPont Chevrolet team. Hopefully this will start our weekend out right as we go into Sunday and have a Darlington race like we've seen in the past."

Have you been un-Gordon like lately?

"Yeah. Part of our strength is qualifying and it just hasn't been the case here lately. Last week (Atlanta) was my fault. The car was certainly there but I got turned into (turn) three a little bit too early. Today I felt like I got everything out of the car that I possibly could. Hopefully this will get us headed in the right direction this weekend and give us some momentum going into Bristol."

Is this a veteran's track or a young buck's track?

"Qualifying has become so important that a lot of times the young guys are pretty brave. If the car sticks for them, they're going to cut a great lap and they're going to start up front. When that happens, it's hard for the guys that start further in the back - whether they're veterans or not - to work their way forward. We've just been starting too deep in the field. Hey, I'm really looking forward to having a great starting position and hopefully we can take advantage of that."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Michael Waltrip , Steve Park , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Robby Gordon , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Ricky Craven