JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: ON REPORTING TO HIS CREW THAT HE ALMOST WRECKED ON HIS FIRST LAP "We definitely made some improvements to the car. I hadn't been able to get back to the gas that early all day. I got back into...
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
ON REPORTING TO HIS CREW THAT HE ALMOST WRECKED ON HIS FIRST LAP "We definitely made some improvements to the car. I hadn't been able to get back to the gas that early all day. I got back into it early and then it pushed really bad late off. I got out of the groove off of two, so I had to give up the first lap. So, I just tried to come off of four and get as much momentum back to the line to make the second lap good. Then, the same thing happened to me up off of four on the second lap, so to be in the 38-second bracket is definitely an improvement over practice."
JERRY NADEAU, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"I didn't go as fast as I thought I was going to go. The guys did an awesome job - I screwed up. I lost in turns three and four on the first lap and it killed me going to the start-finish line. I lost almost 500 rpms coming off of turn four. I just got too excited. I had an awesome lap going and I got into three and I just buried it in there and it wouldn't turn. It was my fault."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I'm pretty happy. That was a pretty decent lap. We probably could have gotten a little better, but the driver over-drove the corner just a little bit. But, the guys did a good job getting the car fast. We got it comfortable in practice and I'm pretty happy with the lap."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN RUN UP FRONT EACH WEEK NOW? "To us, as a team, we've always been that good and it's been a case of getting the finishes to prove it to everybody else. We're starting to get that now. I feel like we've got an opportunity this year of having some great runs and some great finishes and a great end in the points championship. Hopefully, it all works out for us."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 25 UAW-DELPHI CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I thought that was a very good lap. We unloaded here and our UAW/Delphi Chevy has just been pretty strong. When you can unload good and you kind of stay right there in the front it gives you high expectations."
HAS THIS TRACK CHANGED MUCH SINCE YOU WON THE POLE HERE IN '97? "It has changed a lot. The asphalt has actually lost grip. But, due to all the aerodynamic changes we've made to the bodies, we gained so much more downforce on the cars and that adds grip back. Plus, the motor shops are making so much more power. We probably have 100 more horsepower than we had here in '97 - or probably even more than that. So, there are things that slow down, but the technology just seems to keep speeding up."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We're making progress. We tried a really 'off-the-wall' setup getting started and aborted late in practice on it and went back to something more conventional, but didn't really have time to fine-tune it. We're going to put it back like we were for the race last year. Obviously, we won here, so we're going to go back to that. It's just hard to know where to come back. Technology changes so much every four months. We went out on a limb here and we really didn't get it 'scienced out' right. But, I'm sure we'll get it figured out by the time we get to Michigan and use this stuff there."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
HOW MANY GROOVES DOES THIS RACETRACK HAVE? "Every year it seems like it widens out more and more, just like every other racetrack we go to. It seems like the newer racetracks, it takes time for the bottom groove to wear out to where as tire wear comes into play it slows down enough to where you have to move to a different groove. It's hard to say. In the past, it seems to have moved up to where it's three or four lanes wide. Now, you don't necessarily race three or four lanes wide, but it seems like it's always moved that direction."
ARE YOU AT A COMPETITIVE DISADVANTAGE HERE BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT RUNNING THE BUSCH RACE? "I don't think so. I don't think that is going to have a lot to do with our race, to be honest. If we need track time by now, we're in the wrong business. The guys that have gotten to the Winston Cup Series have gotten here because they've already supposedly figured things out. If I have to have the Busch race to figure some things out, then I am in big trouble. It's two different cars. You have to drive them a little bit different because of the horsepower difference and the weight difference, so I really don't think it makes a lot of difference, in all reality."
STEVE PARK, NO. 1 PENNZOIL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"All year long, we haven't really qualified good at all. I think the press sometimes thinks that we don't know that. They have to remind us that we're not qualifying good. We worked extremely hard to make sure we qualified good. If you don't qualify good at Martinsville you're not going to have a good day on Sunday.
"I think people get tired of hearing, 'I want to thank the guys back at the shop.' But, we have 250 employees. So, if you don't think this is a team sport, it truly is. These guys, when they were asked to work 20 hours a day to make a car that is capable of qualifying better, they were up to the task. That just shows me that they have the confidence - not only in this race team, but in my ability, too, to put this car up front. Today we proved that. All the hard work the guys did back home, that the guys did in the engine shop, and even the truck driver did just getting the car to the west coast - it showed today that all their effort is not wasted effort."