PAUL MENARD, NO. 15 MENARD'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS: "We picked up kind of what we expected to pick up. We didn't do a qualifying run yesterday but we figured we could get three or four tenths out of it. All week the car wasn't all that great...
PAUL MENARD, NO. 15 MENARD'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"We picked up kind of what we expected to pick up. We didn't do a qualifying run yesterday but we figured we could get three or four tenths out of it. All week the car wasn't all that great by itself, but in testing it was really good in drafting and racing. So hopefully we'll get a decent starting position for the Thursday 150's and race our way into it."
THE DEI CHEVYS ARE NOT TYPICALLY THAT GREAT IN QUALIFYING, BUT ALWAYS RACE WELL. HAS ANYTHING CHANGED FOR THIS SEASON? "No, that's what we found in testing. All three DEI cars were really strong in the draft. I don't know what it is about these DEI machines, but this Menard's Chevy is really good in the draft and so are the other teams."
ON HIS CUP PLANS FOR THE SEASON IN ADDITION TO HIS BUSCH SCHEDULE: "We're going to run the full Busch schedule and the plan right now is for seven Cup races -- the next one being the 600 in Charlotte, I believe. We're just going to try to learn as much as we can this year and gain the experience that we need to go full time next year."
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
NOW THAT YOU AND DALE JR. ARE RUNNING IN THE SAME SERIES, ARE YOU SHARING MORE INFORMATION AND TALKING MORE THAN YOU HAVE IN THE PAST? "Yeah, we absolutely are. But we'll know more this week when we get around to drafting and see how we work together. I know our cars are real similar. Everybody at DEI has done a great job over the off-season of building some great cars. We're getting that teamwork that we're looking for. We're getting closer each week and the closer we get, the better we'll run. So I'm looking forward to next week and I think we'll have a good Daytona 500."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINALLY BE IN CUP RACING? "It feels good. It's something I've thought about for a long time. It's something I've been looking forward to for the past couple of years. It's good to be here. I had a lot of fun in the Busch Series and learned a lot and had a lot of success. Hopefully we can take all that we learned and hopefully do the same thing over here. We've got a great team."
TRAVIS KVAPIL, NO. 32 TIDE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"I was really nervous coming in here for qualifying. Coming here without a guaranteed starting spot put a lot of pressure on all of us. But every one of the guys on the Tide team has worked endless hours to get us ready to come down here. We have put all of our focus on qualifying because it is so important to us. When I joined this team, we all sat down and talked about our goals and one was to get into the Daytona 500. Sure we would have liked to have been on the front row and secured a starting spot but of the cars that needed to qualify, we are in pretty good shape. I am really happy with our lap and how we did today. Now we have to race hard in the 150 and get a decent starting spot for the 500. I am so proud of this team and how hard they have worked."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"We did all right. We weren't quite expecting to be that slow, but we'll get it. We'll get after it in the race and that's what it's all about. Going through qualifying is to just kind of get a starting spot for the (Gatorade) Duels and when you finish out the Duels, of course that's your spot for the 500. I think we've got a really good drafting car here with the Kellogg's Chevrolet. Just basically being able to get a lap down here today doesn't mean much to us."
YOU WERE SO STRONG DURING THE LAST HALF OF THE YEAR AND THEN WON AT CALIFORNIA, HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS RACE TO CARRY THAT MOMENTUM OVER? "It's definitely important for us because we've never been able to be very strong in the restrictor plate races for whatever reason -- not being able to get drafting help and maybe having that yellow stripe on the bumper was a little part of that. But getting into this year with the new Monte Carlo SS and all, I'm thinking we have a pretty good car here and maybe we'll get a little bit of help and be able to get after it throughout the Duels and then of course into the 500."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
ARE YOU A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED? "Yeah, it's kind of like Kevin Harvick. We were expecting him to really click one off. I thought we'd run a little better than we did, but the wind has definitely changed. It's definitely slowing the cars down. It slowed me down out there and it's kind of disappointing. Our Army Chevy is very fast and the guys have been working hard. Bill Elliott is fast and I'm sure Sterling Marlin will be pretty quick here when he goes. But the cars are driving good and we're looking forward to this afternoon."
CLINT BOYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"I think that was a good run for us. It's a little bit off of the pole, but I'm happy with that and hopefully that will land us somewhere in the top 15. It think the car will drive a little bit different in the Duels, but it drove good in qualifying, so I'm happy with it.
ARE YOU GLAD TO GET QUALFIYING OUT OF THE WAY? "Yeah, finally. No more single car runs. None of that boring stuff. We're ready to get racing and learn from these guys. But the car was pretty fast, and it's just a testament to all the hard work they've put in it all winter long and I'm happy with that."
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL FOR THE 150'S? "Well, obviously we want to lean and gain some respect and finish good, obviously. But I think our Jack Daniels Chevrolet is good. It's fast. It's got the speed, so hopefully we can keep the fenders on it and if we can earn some respect out there I think they'll run with us."
ON BEING A ROOKIE AND GOING THROUGH CUP SPEEDWEEKS FOR THE FIRST TIME: "Obviously there have been a lot of single car runs and I'm ready to get out there and get to learning from these guys and see how they race these Cup cars."
HOW SPECIAL CAN THIS YEAR BE FOR THIS YEAR RUNNING WITH ALL THESE OTHER ROOKIES? "I'm really excited about this year. I think it's going to be a big year for all of us rookies. All of us know what we're getting into and the kind of talent we're up against. I think it's going to be a strong rookie class all year long and a race right down to the end."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"It's about what we probably expected. All the cars at DEI don't have a lot of speed on their own, but they've got good motors and good bodies on them for the race. So it's a little disappointing. We like to qualify better but obviously, we're not too concerned."
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO RACE IN THE 150? "To the front. Get the trophy. That's the plan."
HOW DO YOU DO THAT? "Just haul butt and pass people. We've got a fast car. The car is there, you know, we've just got to get some good pit stops and make no mistakes, we can pass them all on the race track. That's no problem."
DID THE WIND SLOW YOU DOWN OUT THERE? "It's hard to tell what it does from one car to the next and obviously blows harder at times. You can't tell when you're in the car. It just seems really windy out there. We kind of anticipated our speed and we'll be fine once they line them all up."
HOW IS YOUR CAR IN THE DRAFT? "We don't have any problem being good in the draft. We've always been good in the draft. We'll be fine. There have been some stronger cars here over the last couple of years, but we're still the best."
HOW DOES THIS CAR COMPARE TO THE ONES WHEN YOU WERE DOMINATING HERE? "It's as good. The competition has just gotten a little bit better. We're still as good as we were but the competition has gotten a little bit better."
HOW IMPORTANT WOULD IT BE TO HAVE MARTIN TRUEX JR. IN THE SAME 150 AS YOU? "It would be nice to have a teammate -- either Martin or Paul (Menard). Paul has a great car. I like both teams and both drivers. I can work with either one of them."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"I'm not disappointed. That's about what we should run. The No. 07 and No. 29 should be pretty close, and they are. So it is about what it should be."
HOW IMPORTANT WOULD IT BE TO HAVE BOTH OF YOUR TEAMMATES IN THE 150? "It would be important. It would be nice to just hopefully have a teammate that can do something besides just ride around."
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIS ROOKIE SEASON AND NOW "I have learned a lot. It's a deal where your learning curve just takes off for a year or so and then it levels off and continues to rise gradually. The advantage between your first year and the guys who have been here a long time is huge. The advantage between the guys who have been here three or four years versus the guys who have been here 15 isn't quite as much."
DO YOU LIKE THE DAYTONA 500? "I absolutely love restrictor plate racing. Some guys love it. Some guys hate it. It is a chess match at 200 mph and it's a lot of fun."
WHAT DO YOU FOCUS ON NOW? "The handling. Here, the car is very important and qualifying is important, but at Daytona you've really got to have a car that handles. So we're really going to focus on that and on the drafting. Hopefully we'll have a decent starting spot. I'm really proud of the whole GMAC team have done a good job of picking up from yesterday. We lost a bit compared to the test, but I think we got most of it back."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"I knew the car was running strong. I'm glad we had a good lap out of it. I'm very proud of all the guys at Hendrick Motorsports and how hard they've all been working -- especially this Lowe's team. We've got a lot of cars left including the No. 24 team. We'll just see how this turns out. I'm open for a Hendrick car front row."
WHAT IS YOUR FOCUS FOR THE REST OF SPEEDWEEKS IF YOU'RE NOT ON THE FRONT ROW TODAY? "Starting off the season, points are important but I think everybody shows up at Daytona really just looking at winning the Daytona 500. That's on my mind and I know my team's mind as well. I just want to go out and try to win the biggest race of the season and really start worrying about points after this event and the races following."
ANY CHANGES IN YOUR APPROACH FOR 2006? "No, we've looked back over each year and tried to make changes and address little things that we thought might have affected the championship run for us. And we've done that again. We're fresh and eager and have had a great off-season. We have some new members on the Lowe's No. 48 team and everybody is excited and geared up."
COULD YOU FEEL THE WIND ON THE BACKSTRETCH? "No, I didn't feel it bumping the car around, but I did notice the flags on Turn 3 were blowing pretty strong. I was hoping they were going to die down when I came through."
DOES IT FEEL GOOD TO GET QUALIYIFNG OVER? "Yeah, it does feel good to go out and post our best lap."
BILL ELLIOTT, NO. 36 GINN CLUBS AND RESORTS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
'Not bad. I think anytime you can back up what you run in your practice speeds is probably the most important thing. I think the wind probably helped a little bit yesterday, but once they go through all the inspections and to still come in and run at a 47 is a very important part of what we did today."
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL FOR THE 150'S? "We'll see once we get through all the qualifying today. If we're still pretty good, then you can go into the 150's as a test for the 500. I think a lot of these guys who are guaranteed a start -- you'll have two different groups. The ones that has to and the ones that are just using it for the 500. Hopefully we can use it as a test for the 500, but we'll know more after we leave here today."
J.J. YELEY, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"Going out early today was the key. The cooler track temperatures definitely helped some earlier cars, but we're locked into the show no matter what, on points."
TERRY LABONTE, NO. 96 DLP CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"I wish we'd have been a little bit faster, but I thought it was a good run for this team's first time out. It's a new team and they're doing a good job. We'll work on it in practice and try to get it to where it handles as good as it can for the qualifying race and that'll be a good test for us for the 500. I'm pretty happy with it. I wish it would have been in the top 10, but that's not bad."
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"I'm pretty happy with that. It was a pretty good effort for us. We picked up a couple of tenths from practice, so I can't be too disappointed. We're 8th right not and we'll probably end up somewhere between 10th and 12th. But it's a good run for the FedEx Chevrolet."
ON HIS FIRST CUP DAYTONA 500: "It's quite a bit different. There is a much higher experience level out here in Cup, but I've got a lot of guys out here that are rookies also. So hopefully we can get a lot of help. I'm looking forward to the Bud Shootout later on and getting a lot of experience and maybe build some friend for the Daytona 500."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
"It's nothing real impressive - just a lap to see how fast the car will go," said Stewart. "We were just riding around there."
STERLING MARLIN, NO. 14 WASTE MANAGEMENT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN? "We were hoping to be a little bit quicker.We had a major problem the first practice yesterday and we lost a bunch of time. We made a lot of changes but we didn't get back out there to see what we could do because it rained. I think if we worked on the car a little more, we could have gotten a couple more 10ths out of it."
WAS THE WIND A FACTOR DURING YOUR QUALIFYING RUN? "The wind changed but it wasn't as bad as I think some of these guys think it was, maybe their cars weren't as good as they needed them to be."
WHAT IS THE STRATEGY NOW? "We will go out Wednesday and continue working on our Waste Management Chevrolet in race trim. Our car is really good in race trim. It drives really good, it will go from the back to the front perfect. I am looking forward to the the qualifying race and then the 500 on Sunday. Our three MB2 cars are within a 10th of one another so that is pretty good for us I think.
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO WIN THIS DAYTONA 500? "It would mean a whole lot. I mean a whole lot. Since the '95 500 win I had, this sport has just really gotten big, with the media and the fans. So it would be really good for us, our organization and our sponsors."