TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I let Jeff Burton get around me. I thought maybe we could run down the leader with Jeff in front. I was hoping Jeff might be a little quicker than I was, but I think it was a little slower...
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I let Jeff Burton get around me. I thought maybe we could run down the leader with Jeff in front. I was hoping Jeff might be a little quicker than I was, but I think it was a little slower really. We've got some work to do. Our car won't draft up good, and it doesn't matter who I'm behind. We can't pull up good on anybody. How we're going to fix that I've got no idea, but that's what we've got to work on. The cars handle good. That 88 is pretty good. I wouldn't be surprised to see the 88 win the Bud Shootout, too. It'll either be him or the 28.
"We left the pits behind him (Jarrett) and I was hoping I could run him down, but he kept creeping away. Jeff and I teamed up, but we couldn't do nothing with Jarrett. He was awfully strong. We've got a different car for the Twins and the 500. Our biggest problem is our car won't draft up on anybody, and it doesn't matter what kind of car it is. We don't have the best Chevy out there. We've got a little work to do.
"My car feels like it's got a lot of drag, and we don't have the best Chevy out there. We didn't qualify very well. That kind of shows up when you can't pull up on somebody. Our car seems to have a lot of drag on it. We've got to work on that. Some Chevys that are better than we are can pull up on people better than we can. We've got some work to do. How we're going to fix it, I don't know. We're just going to have to try some different things to get it better by Thursday.
"I figured the only way I could get to that 88 was if I beat him on pit road. I tried driving in as far as I could and getting on the brakes hard. It worked, but they still beat us out of the pits. It was probably about the most exciting thing about the race.
"The 88 is awfully strong. There's no question about that. He ran awfully strong yesterday. The 28 is fast. They're going to be tough on Thursday and Sunday. A lot of guys have a lot of work to do. We've got new cars. We've never raced these cars before. We've got a way to go. We're not as good as a lot of other Chevy teams out there. We've got a lot of work to do. With the guys on my team, they're going to be trying a lot of different things between now and Thursday."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"Bobby (Labonte) was on the outside and my car just took off pushing. I was trying to turn it and it was like the wind got up under the front end. I thought for a split second I was going to miss him, but it was my fault. I got into him, and the car wouldn't turn. It was the last lap. I knew if I lifted I was probably going to run 10th. I thought I could make it, but I didn't. The front end just took off and barely clipped Bobby and turned him around.
"We just kept getting tighter and tighter. We were good on the bottom. Jeff got be worked up on the high side and that's where I didn't need to be. It just kept pushing. Bobby got up on the outside and I'm sorry. It was my fault. I just couldn't get it turned. It was too tight.
"The Chevy seems to drive good, but it's just a little bit too tight. We've got to fix that.
"We had him (Jarrett) beat until the end there. Jeff Gordon got by us and me and him got to racing. It let the 88 drive by on the outside.
"The 88 and 28 were just playing (when I was ahead of them). Then Gordon and I got to racing. We were in good shape until Jeff passed us, but he was trying to win, too. We've got to work on the car for the long runs. If we can get it looser, I think we'll be all right."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"We were running real good with the Lowe's Chevy, but the motor broke. I don't know what happened. Something broke in the bottom end, I think. We got up to speed there after the pit stop and the thing popped out of gear when I left pit road and it (the engine) turned about 8700 and it probably didn't do it any good. It mighta broke a spring or something and created some kind of problem in the bottom end. But the bottom end's broke. You can see dents in the oil pan so the bottom end's broke."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)
"I've got a good handling race car and it was fun battling those guys. It was one of those situations where if you get the momentum and get the right line, and you're up front, you're going to win. I took a chance and made a move on Sterling and got to the lead, but D.J. had more momentum going on the outside.
"I knew that D.J. or somebody was going to be coming on the outside because we slowed ourselves down a bunch when we went down to the grass like that. I knew when I went down there, I looked in my mirror and no one was coming with me. That didn't surprise me. That hurt us more than anything.
"The car is racy, and I'm racy and this team is ready to go. We're pumped up and ready to go. That was a good way to get the momentum going. My car started to get tight and it looked like Sterling's car got tight. I'm not sure if the Fords got tight or not. Now it's going to come down to handling. We've got to get to working on the handling. They've still got us a little bit by speed, but I think the 500 is won by handling and strategy and who can have good pit stops and who can get out front. When I was out front I could stay out front until they got a lot of momentum. Me and Skinner came out of the pits together, and things were looking pretty good. When Skinner had his problem, I was left out there all by myself. If you don't have any help, you're in big trouble."
"We've got a very strong team and very good equipment with this Hendrick Motorsports team. We're going to be strong. We're going to put good people in place and give a lot of effort and work hard.
"I didn't know what to expect, and I still think they've got us beat a little bit on raw power and speed, but we can draft with them and we can handle with them. We can make an interesting race when it comes to the draft.
"They (pit crew) didn't crack under the pressure. They went out there and busted off a pit stop.
"Everybody that gets to run in the Bud Shootout and these first events, they're all kind of anxious. We were the same way, especially with some new faces. We have a new attitude. We're excited about the way things have gone over the winter, but we had to put it in place today, especially the pit crew, and I was excited that it all came together the way it did. We made a great effort at it. We finished second, but we showed them we were there. We had a lot of fun, had a great pit stop, so that's definitely going to give us a little bit of confidence, and I think that's great for the changes that have gone on over the winter for us to go into the 125s and into the 500.
"I was sitting back there just holding it wide open and waiting. Sterling said his car was tight and my car started getting tight. I was just hanging on for fifth, hoping they would start shuffling up. Sure enough, it looked like the 28 car went to try to make a move on Sterling. The 88 got a run and got to the outside of him. When they shuffled up, Schrader was trying to pick which car he was going to go with. It looked like he was going with the 28. I had some momentum, so I went with the 88. Schrader got in behind me and gave me a heck of a run coming to the start-finish line. I guess that was with two or three to go. The 88 and 28 were sitting there side by side and I just stayed on the outside and shot down to the bottom. I didn't think it would work, but I got inside of him. I said, 'what am I doing sitting here in second all of a sudden?' It was a fun move. I got behind Sterling, and I didn't think there was anything I could do. I thought the race was over when I got one to go. When I got into second, I thought that was the white flag. Luckily I stayed on the floor. I didn't lift. I got some momentum coming off two and I got under Sterling. When he and I got side by side like that, it slowed us down. The 88 had a ton of momentum and was able to get by us.
"The air does amazing things when you're out there drafting. It's a little bit of an equalizer. I still feel like horsepower and aerodynamics are very important. If you're able to recognize when you've got momentum or when two cars stall out together if you're running side by side, you've got to take advantage of that. I think whether we're a second off in qualifying or not, you're able to make some moves like that. I still feel like that move I made there on that last lap Jarrett motored on by us on the outside pretty good there. That's going to make it tough, but we were able to hold off those guys pretty good there in the first part of the race. I feel good about the way the cars were drafting. Now it's going to come down to handling and on the longer runs, our cars are too tight. We've got to work on that.
"It all comes down to are we equal. Are we as fast as them speed wise? The down side to that is that in the draft we all look about the same speed. When it comes down to it, we're off a little bit. I don't know where Skinner came up with that lap yesterday, but other than that all the Chevrolets are pretty much out to lunch. They're trying to equalize the speed of the cars, that (spoilers) is a pretty good way to do it. I wouldn't mind doing that. I think that would be a good idea. Whatever they give me, I'm going to make the best of it and I'm going to try to win the race with 45 degrees if that's what I've got.
"That's a little bit of a problem we have with this spring and shock rule that we have. Before we were able to make adjustments and we could put some more spring split in it or do something to really get the cars to turn better. Now we can't do that. We could do it with shocks before and springs. Now we can't do that. Now we've got to do it with aerodynamics. Anything we do to help that car turn is going to slow it down. Our options are limited, but we're going to try."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
"I guess the 28 made a run and got to the 88. That gave the 24 a run to shoot by them. I was probably in pretty good shape then when he got behind me. We got a little ahead going into one and Jeff got a real good run off turn two. I tried to pinch him down, but he got up enough under me that I knew if I had turned left he was going to wreck us both. It kind of bogged us down and the 88 drove by. It was a pretty wild race.
"He's won both races. We've got to get our cars to drive good. This old track hasn't been paved since '79 and we've got to make it drive good all day long. I think we've got a good chance, but the car gets tight and that's what we're fighting with the Monte Carlo, a tight race car. It'll be a long day.
"We were terrible yesterday morning. They worked on it and got it a lot better in the last practice last night. It was real good. We were better. We were probably a 15th-place car, but they made it a top-five car. It's encouraging. Our 500 car is a little better than this car, so hopefully it'll work out.
"They're good cars. Yates with his power, he's always been known here for a lot of horsepower. Check the straightaway speeds in qualifying and see how fast they are. We've got to get our Chevrolet Monte Carlos to drive good so we can hold them wide open all day we'll be in good shape. If we have to start lifting, we're in trouble.
"I'm not the man to beat here. We've still got a lot of work to do. When you're leading like that, with everybody up on you, you can pretty much hold them off. You fall back two or three car lengths and here they come. When they get there it's like they're running 10 mph faster than you are. You can either turn left or turn right and block 'em. Sometimes you can and sometimes you can't. That's what happened to Jeff. He got up under me coming off two and there was nothing I could do.
"We used to run 40-degree spoilers in '94 and '95 and maybe we went to 45 in '96. I'll take the 40-degree spoiler. I love it.
"My car was really tight when I came up off the bottom and I got hung in the middle. Bobby Labonte was going by me right off the corner and it was like the front end of my car picked up and got into him. I had the wheel turned as far as it would turn, and I just took off and hit him. It was my fault. I just couldn't get the car to turn. I hate it happened. I hate it got those guys cars torn up, but that's what happens."