JOE NEMECHEK , NO. 01 US ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: (Qualified 2nd) "Whenever you go out early, you kind of think it's a bad draw. But today, it didn't seem to be. We were fast in practice. I knew I was going out early. You just work hard at...
JOE NEMECHEK , NO. 01 US ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: (Qualified 2nd)
"Whenever you go out early, you kind of think it's a bad draw. But today, it didn't seem to be. We were fast in practice. I knew I was going out early. You just work hard at making your car drive good. Today the US Army Chevy did the same thing it did in practice. It just stepped up the time. In our qualifying run in practice, I didn't quite hit Turns 1 and 2 quite right and I knew there was some time left. So it was a good run. I knew I hit the corners pretty good but not quite good enough."
YOUR TEAM SEEMS TO BE PULLING THINGS TOGETHER PRETTY GOOD
"Ryan Pemberton leads this group of guys for the Army. They're building new cars all the time. This is the same car we had for Texas. It qualified well there and led part of that race. It ran very good. We had an issue with a spark plug or something happened where we finished the race on seven cylinders. We had a top five run
and it was disheartening to have that happen. This car drives really good. But the team has really stepped up. I'm just glad they're giving me good stuff."
DID THE WIND HAVE ANY AFFECT ON QUALFIYING?
"It definitely changed. The first thing this morning, it was blowing really hard down the backstretch. And then it changed directions by the end of practice and was blowing down the front stretch. You just have to pay attention to which way it's blowing. Your miles per hour are definitely going to pick up whatever way that wind is blowing. You've got to take that into account on how far you drive down the corner. It played a factor. It seemed like Turns 1 and 2 were harder getting through later this afternoon than it was first thing this morning. When the wind changes direction, it makes Turns 3 and 4 harder."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE THAT YOU LIKE?
"I don't really know. Back in '97, sitting on the pole here was one of those deals where we'd been qualifying in the top three every week and we came here and I got my first pole. We got three or four more in the same year. The biggest thing is having the equipment. You've got to have a good motor, good downforce, and the thing has got to drive good. You've got to have the whole package. If you don't have that, it's hard. There are times when everybody thinks all of a sudden you forgot how to drive. But that's not it. It's competitive out here. This is the most competitive thing I've ever done. If you're off just a little bit, it's like sharks out here. You're going to get eaten up. It tough. It's cool for me because the guys come up with some new things on the bodies. And I'll ask them how much more downforce is it going to be. And they'll tell me and then I'll say okay that car is going to run good. You pretty much know right away what's going to happen. It's pretty amazing."
WHY HAVE THE ROOKIES QUALIFIED SO WELL HERE?
"Back when I was getting into Cup racing, you just didn't have good guys getting into those cars. Jeff Gordon hopped in with Hendrick Motorsports and it was a different deal. He struggled his first year. But in the 10 years that I've been here, it's incredible how many dollars you spend and engineers you have working and all the resources you have. It's incredible. For a new guy coming in now, he gets hooked up with a team that has common sense and the dollars it takes to be competitive, and they're going to run good."
DO THE TIRES FEEL SOFTER AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY'RE GOING TO DO ON SUNDAY IN TERMS OF FALLOFF?
"I think you need to ask that tomorrow. It's hard to tell. I know we made one run and came in and they still had the little nubs sticking up on the right front and right rear."
ON PIT CREW STRATEGY
"The pit stops are getting to be so crucial because it's so hard to pass on the track. If you can pass somebody on pit road, it makes it much easier. On the Army team, these guys practice every day. We know where our weak spots are. And in the last four races, our pit stops have gotten a lot better. That's good. That's what it takes. We haven't been losing spots on pit road. When you do that, it's tough for a driver. You've got to pass those guys again. But when you've got a good handling race car, you can do it. You've just got to make sure it's driving good."