JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Crashed his primary car in practice and will go to a back-up car. "It was the first lap and I ended up crashing the car unfortunately. The front end of the car was dragging the track ...
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Crashed his primary car in practice and will go to a back-up car.
"It was the first lap and I ended up crashing the car unfortunately. The front end of the car was dragging the track really bad and literally the front wheels were off the ground. So I kept turning the steering wheel because I needed to make the corner and finally the car got off the track - I had way too much steering wheel put into it - and it rotated the car around into the fence.
"But after that, we worked on the back-up. We just have a really free set-up to start with and we finally made some ground there at the end (of practice). We're trying to figure out what it really needs to make it right. Hopefully with a top 25 qualifying effort - we were 29th at the end of practice - we'll be okay. We learned a little bit more. We'll put the good motor back in and we'll have a lot more speed and hopefully we'll have a lot better run.
"Our primary car was our Las Vegas car (started 12th, finished 16th) and the back-up car is our Darlington car (started 11th, won the race). So we've got a great back-up. It's just a matter of trying to find out what stuff works. We made some big changes and it hasn't addressed the problem. The good thing is that we're about out of areas to look, so it's got to be one of the few that are left. We'll get there."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 US ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I've got to thank this whole US Army team. These guys have given me an outstanding race car. This is the car we had at Texas. We led a good part of that race. I don't know if that'll hold up for the pole, but I got to show off what these guys gave me. It's an awesome race car. My teammate, Scott Riggs, is running good. So there are a lot of good things going. What we need is just a little bit of good luck during the race. If we can have that, we're going to have a great run." More to follow
WHEN YOU GET IN A SLUMP, HOW DO YOU STAY MENTALLY FOCUSED? "You've just got to keep digging. Nothing really changes. You can't really change how you drive the race car. You've just got to drive it as hard as you can all the time. It will eventually take. The last three weeks have really killed us. We've had good cars for the last three weeks and it's just a shame we're back there in points right now. But we can make it up. We're going to have a great run on Sunday."
HERMIE SADLER, NO. 02 FANZCAR CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"Our practice time was a little bit limited. But we're looking for improvement every time we go on the race track. We've done that. Hopefully we can get the car nice and balanced and try to stay out of trouble to get ourselves a decent finish on Sunday. This is one of those race tracks that takes everything. It takes a lot of downforce, a car that drives good, and that has lots of power. We're lacking a little bit of all of that right now, but we're going to keep working on it and hopefully by Sunday afternoon we'll be competitive."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We have a similar set up in the two cars (Busch and Cup) and we've learned a lot about air pressure and so forth when we qualified our Busch car and picked up a lot over practice. We're pretty optimistic. At this track you can run high and run low and try to find a place where your car is happy. That's what I like about California Speedway."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I wish we could have picked up a little bit more. But we've got the car working really well through the corners. For some reason, the overall speed's not there but I think we're going to have a real good race car and we'll see where we end up here with the Dupont Chevrolet. It's been a great week-- a busy week. We've certainly had a smile from ear to ear all week long (after winning at Talladega last week). Hopefully we'll carry that momentum through this week."
DO YOU ENJOY THE CALIFORNIA MARKET? "I do. It's been great. I think it's going to be exciting to come back and race under the lights. I love California since I was born here and grew up here. It wasn't Southern California, but it's always a pleasure to come back here. I've got a lot of fans that really love NASCAR racing. Coming off that win in Talladega, it's hard not to have a fun week even though it's been really busy."
JOHNNY SAUTER, NO. 30 AMERICA ONLINE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"It wasn't very good. This AOL Chevy has kind of a new package this weekend that we thought we'd try. There's still some promise there. We picked up a little bit from where we practiced this morning. But it looks like we're still not fast enough and we need to keep working on it. Nevertheless we'll keep digging and hope that we figure it out."
ON RUNNING IN THE BUSCH RACE TOMORROW "That helps us every week more than it hurts us. The Busch car picked up a lot from where we qualified earlier so hopefully we'll have the same luck with this car. We'll just keep digging on it."
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note - Vickers becomes the youngest driver to start at California Speedway in a NEXTEL Cup race:
"The car pushed on me quite a bit on me down there in Turn 1 and 2. I don't know if the front tires didn't have quite enough heat in them or what. And to be honest, I thought it was going to be worse than that. We have a great car. The GMAC crew did a great job. We started. We got behind the eight ball a little bit there at the end of practice. That definitely hurt us. But we just keep coming so close to these poles. I guess when the time is right it'll come. But it just gets frustrating."
ARE YOU PLEASED WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING THIS YEAR? "It's gone good. We've had our ups and downs and growing pains. We're building chemistry with this team but for the last couple of weeks we've been doing really well. I'm proud of the guys. We've had some awesome tests and I'm looking forward to the race here on Sunday."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINCULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"This will probably be our best effort in a while - probably since 2000. But I think we're sitting here in 13th and I think that'll probably going to fall to 20th. We were eighth in the Busch car. We'll be able to race from there. The car has been handling very good. We didn't do anything wrong, it just wasn't fast enough."
ON DOING BOTH THE INDY 500 AND THE COCA-COLA 600 "We're going to handle everything the same way we have for the past couple of years. We have great people and great sponsors. Citation Jets is going to take care of us on airplanes and helicopters back and forth. We're real excited about our Indy 500 effort. We were at Indy Wednesday and Thursday this week and we were third quick."
WARD BURTON, NO. 0 NETZERO CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"Last time in practice, we picked up from a .90 to a .40. So we picked up a half a second. This time we got our heads together and picked up four-tenths. So we're going in the right direction just a little bit too late. We're whistling Dixie most of practice and going to the wrong area of the car. But we made some good changes right there and the NetZero Chevrolet picked up where it needed to."
WHAT'S YOUR STRATEGY FOR SUNDAY'S RACE IF YOU QUALFIY IN THE TOP 10? "The main thing is like always. We've got to get our car to handle well so that we're good not only for the first 10 laps, but for 40-50 laps into the run. It's been a good track for me but it's easy to run good and it's easy to run bad. We've got to get this car handling more to my liking and that's what we'll be working on to stay out of trouble."
SCOTT RIGGS, NO. 10 VALVOLINE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"This team has been coming together by leaps and bounds. We've been learning a lot and the guys are building great cars. Every one keeps getting better and better. I'm learning a lot each week. One of these days we're going to have some finishes that show how good we're getting. Last week we qualified well but got hit in the back and unfortunately didn't get a good finish. Today we qualified good again and hopefully we'll have a good solid finish here on Sunday."
DOES IT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE TO COME BACK TO A PLACE WHERE YOU'VE WON BEFORE IN THE BUSCH SERIES IN 2002 "We'll a lot of times you'd like to think it gives you confidence and you come here with that thought in your mind. But at the same time it's all about how your car feels right off the truck. We're unloading better so I feel better about the cars. They're making better downforce. We're just going to keep working hard and hopefully get better every week."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We thought we would have a much better qualifying effort than what we just showed. I went down there into Turn 1 and the car just bottomed out the front valance and wouldn't really turn too good. But it was still a good lap. It was a good run. It was a good effort by us. This hasn't been one of our good race tracks even though we got a sixth place finish here last year. We haven't really gotten the good top five run we think we should get. Hopefully with a good starting spot it will begin a good day on Sunday and we can keep it up."
ON BEING ONE OF PEOPLE MAGAZINE'S MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE "It makes you feel great. I don't know who is voting, but I've got to give them a thumb's up. I don't know how I made the list. They must not be just looking at looks alone. Maybe I got in on personality. But we have a lot of fun. My team obviously had a good laugh over it - picking on me, and everything. But that's great. It really means a lot to my mom, I'll tell you that. She was really thrilled over it."