JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 EAGLE ONE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (8th): (ON QUALIFYING SO WELL ON HIS FIRST AND ONLY LAP) "I'm definitely going to take it because I was only going to run one lap. I screwed up in [turns] one and two a little bit, but we're...
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 EAGLE ONE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (8th):
(ON QUALIFYING SO WELL ON HIS FIRST AND ONLY LAP) "I'm definitely going to take it because I was only going to run one lap. I screwed up in [turns] one and two a little bit, but we're still really happy with that."
(YOU WERE COMMITTED TO ONLY RUNNING ONE LAP BEFORE YOU WENT OUT THERE?) "I committed to running one lap. That's all I can hold my breath for."
(WHY DID MOST DRIVERS RUN ONLY ONE LAP?) "The second one doesn't pay anything. The first one pays everything - at least that's what we could see was that the first lap was fast for everybody. So, we taped it up, warmed it up and said, 'Let's get everything we can out of the first one.'
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (4th):
(WHAT HAPPENED ON YOUR FIRST QUALIFYING LAP?) "I wrecked and just didn't hit anything. I went down into one and the car was really, really loose. I figured with the way the wind was blowing that was going to be the corner that I was going to be tightest on. It surprised me quite a bit. I'm just glad I gathered it up and glad we were able to run the second lap as fast as we did."
(WHAT CHANGES DID YOU MAKE AFTER PRACTICE?) "We made some pretty big changes. The guys on the team did a great job. Greg Zipadelli is probably my strongest guy. He knows what I need. I can tell him what the car is not doing that I need it to do, and he always knows how to make the right adjustments. You give that assignment to the right guys on the team, and they just do a great job for us. I've got to thank the team for this one."
(DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULD RUN THAT LAP KNOWING WHAT CHANGES YOU MADE BEFORE QUALIFYING?) "I still had the feeling that I didn't know what I had. We went out and ran the best lap that we could run. The changes that we made really showed up. I didn't think it was going to respond that well. But still, we needed to go more. The amount that we went, we needed to do that much again. We didn't get everything out of it that we needed, but we got enough to get the job done for today, at least."
(WHAT DO YOU THINK FOR SUNDAY?) "With this tire, I think having clean air is definitely going to be a benefit. If we can go out there, get a good start and get working on the balance early in the race and stay with the track conditions, I'm pretty optimistic we can have a pretty good day."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (1st):
(ON WINNING THE POLE AFTER BEING MID-PACK IN PRACTICE) "We didn't really make a banzai run in practice because there were a lot of cars on the racetrack and we didn't get everything done like we wanted to. We wished we could have gotten another couple of laps. But the decisions Jimmy [Makar] and I made after practice and the tune-up they put on the motor - which we didn't get to do before that in practice - definitely helped out."
"We tried a few things different. Hopefully we learned a lot through this track and this tire. Our qualifying hasn't been that good here, so this is quite a change.
"This is a great job by the guys back at the shop. They're the ones that put this car together so we could come out here, run six or eight laps and sit on the pole."
(IS IT TOUGH TO GET A GOOD LAP HERE?) "It usually is for me. I didn't think I had that good a lap, but the speed was there, so evidently it wasn't as bad as I thought. The wind blows pretty hard down the front straightaway and you blow it off into one and two hard, and it might cost you. It picks up as the day goes on.
"It's kind of tricky. The track temperature went up and then it went back down again. It's a real finesse racetrack and if you get your car a little bit out of shape, it is tough to go fast."
(CAN YOU WIN THIS RACE SUNDAY?) "I don't want to jinx myself, but man, it sure would be nice. We've finished third and second here two races in a row. It would be great to come out of here with a win. I love Michigan a lot and this track is shaped similar to it. It's a lot newer on the circuit, but I like coming out here. The people are great, the racetrack is great and it would be nice to leave here Sunday with a victory."
(ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR QUALIFYING SET-UP AND YOUR RACE SET-UP) "I'm not really sure yet. There might not be much difference. "It's not too far off. We'll change our normal stuff, but it's not too far off. The tire here for one lap is one thing, but for 30 laps tomorrow it might be different."
(WILL HEAT BE A PROBLEM SUNDAY?) "I don't know what the temperature is supposed to be, but I don't think it will be too bad. It's a 500-mile race compared to both races at Michigan, which are 400 miles, but it shouldn't be too bad. It's going to be warm, but it shouldn't be any worse than it was last weekend."
(ON WINNING THE POLE AFTER DEALING WITH THE RUMORS ABOUT YOUR DEATH THIS MORNING) "It was reported on a radio station in Nashville that I was killed earlier today, so all my family back home - that's all they heard. All my friends at home heard that and all the people at school and stuff like that. So I got a phone call about that pretty early this morning before practice started. It's been kind of rough. My wife is the maddest she has ever been, but she is also glad, too. It's the worst and the best day. It's kind of tough knowing that your family is back home - not here because of the travel and the schedule we've got. When you look back on it it's unfortunate that my parents, her parents, a lot of friends and family back there have had to deal with what somebody started. The first reaction that people have, of course, is that they believe what they here. Unfortunately, it happened. It makes me wonder when somebody tells me something. How much are you really going to believe? Well, unfortunately, if something really does happen to me is everybody going to believe it or not? It's very unfortunate that the code of ethics weren't taken a little bit better in finding out exactly what happened and how it started."
"I don't believe that it was started by somebody that just wanted to start something, other than just bad information that somebody had - got the wrong name or something. It affects me maybe different than other people, but it's been kind of tough because I know that my family is there and it bothers me that I'm not there with them in a case like that. But rebounding back full strength, full everything, I guess it's pretty good how it's turned out. But it kind of sucked earlier today, to put it bluntly."
(HOW DOES THAT KIND OF THING AFFECT YOU MENTALLY?) "It was more just the time element of taking care of it - trying to get it taken care of and put to bed before we started practice. As it turned out, it was like 30 minutes before practice started. That was the only thing. Once we got in the race car, I know where I'm at, my wife knows where I'm at, we all know that everything is OK. Once, you get in the car you put that out of your mind, I guess."
(ON GAS MILEAGE) "A lot of it is done at the shop - preparation of the race car at the shop. The setup of the race car makes a big difference, too. If your car is tight and you're plowing, you might use more gas. If you're off the gas a lot you're going to use less gas. The setup of the race car plays a big part of it. The driver plays some part in it, but not as big a part as you might think. If you've got everything right then the driver can be smoother, and that helps the situation out. But you've got to have everything right, too."
(ON THE FACT NASCAR HASN'T TOUCHED THE LATIN AMERICAN MARKET YET) "I'm trying to help you out. I was in Brazil earlier this year and we've got some new fans down there spreading. It was pretty interesting. The guy knew who I was, but he didn't know who Jeff Gordon was. That was pretty amazing in itself.
"I think it's great. We spent about a week down in Brazil this year. The Formula One drivers are big there. Those are their heroes. I think it's great for NASCAR Winston Cup racing because we went down there and went to a different area that we're not used to going to. We didn't see a Food Lion with all the racing stuff in it like you would see up here. It is pretty neat. You think that everybody kind of knows what is going on. But maybe there are some people that don't know much about NASCAR Winston Cup racing, so if we can spread the good word, I think it is great."