Fontana Qualifying Quotes

California 500 Presented by NAPA quotebook FONTANA, Calif. (May 2, 1998) Quotes from selected drivers following Bud Pole Qualifying for the California 500 Presented by NAPA at California Speedway: JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Refinishes...

California 500 Presented by NAPA quotebook FONTANA, Calif. (May 2, 1998) Quotes from selected drivers following Bud Pole Qualifying for the California 500 Presented by NAPA at California Speedway:

JEFF GORDON No. 24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet

"California has been good to me and California Speedway has been good to me. The guys did an awesome job getting this car ready back at the shop and the guys here tuned on it just right all day long. We kept working on it. Every time we went out we got a little bit faster. It was a good lap. The car stuck good. I knew it felt good. When I saw the time, I didn't know, but it looked like the track slowed down for everybody. Our lap was almost identical.

"When you go out to qualify, you put on a little more tape and drive it in a little deeper in the corners and run a harder lap. I felt like I ran about three-tenths faster, but I just ran about the same time. That's the way it was for everybody I suppose. I think the groove is a little bit wider. The track hasn't changed that much. It's real smooth like it was. It's still got a lot of grip. The race cars have probably changed more than the race track has. It should be a good race. Hopefully, you'll see a lot of action.

"I like this track. It's been good to me. Sometimes those things just kind of mentally get your team and yourself better prepared. I can't explain it. We have been able to do fairly well, but you can't throw Texas in that list. That's the only one we haven't been able to do well on. Experience is a big part of NASCAR Winston Cup racing. When you look at some of these tracks where guys have been around for a long time, guys have been taking notes and a lot of information on what they've been doing there through the years and it really pays off. These new tracks, they don't have that.

"I love the speeds we're running here. I think the speeds are perfect that we're running here. Nobody is comfortable with Atlanta. Nobody wants to run as fast as we're running at Atlanta. To me, the answer is yeah, I like the way they're going. It makes it trickier to get the cars set up just right, but I think it's much safer and you put on a better race.

"I love it. I raced as a kid all around the state of California. I've missed it because if you look at where my career took me, I've raced all around the Midwest and NASCAR has been going a lot of different places. We only came out to California in the Sonoma area, which is a great area, too, but I love coming to Southern California. It's been really well accepted. When I came out here to do the Pepsi commercial and saw a lot of people with NASCAR bumper stickers and things on their cars, things you see a lot back east that you don't see on the west coast. We love it. All we care about is a nice race track and no rain, so we've got that here.

"We haven't raced this car yet. I really don't think the track has changed much since last year. I'm really amazed at how well the track has held up. It's smooth. It's always been smooth, but you expect a few more dips and bumps to settle. Really, it's about the same as it was last year and the grip is still there."

JEREMY MAYFIELD No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford

"We're a little bit disappointed. We were a little bit faster than that in practice, but I think a lot of guys have slowed down a little bit and we did the same. It looks like speeds are going to slow down because the sun has come out and the track has gotten hotter."

MARK MARTIN

Valvoline Ford

"We were off today. We had some good lap times, but we also had a lot more that were off a little bit. It didn't look like we were struggling, but actually we were a little bit. That's a good lap for the heat and everything for us for what we were doing. We did have one lap faster than that in practice, but that was probably an accident. I was afraid we could have wound up back around 20th to 25th, but I think we'll do better than that with that kind of time."

RUSTY WALLACE No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus

"We're sitting here trying to figure out where all the speed went in all the cars that went out to qualify. I don't know, maybe it's the air or something. The track might have gotten hotter, but the track is in great condition. My car stuck good in one and two, and three and four."

JOHNNY BENSON No. 26 Cheerios Ford

"We ran pretty good. It always feels like you left a little something there, but that's about all she had. Seeing all of those guys wrecking, I surely didn't want to do that. That's about the best we've been. This car, everytime we've had it in a race, has led some laps. Other than Rockingham, it's always finished in the top-five, so we're excited about being here with this car."

JOE NEMECHEK No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet

"I'm confused like everybody else. We ran in the .60s in practice, and I thought I could run a 39.50 in qualifying. We ran a 40 flat. It's kind of a strange deal. We'll probably end up in the top-10, but it's just strange what happened to the race track. I couldn't figure out what was going on when Sterling Marlin went out. Then Jeff Gordon ran his lap. I said if he can do it, I can do it, but we just couldn't go. I don't know if it's the heat in the track or the heat is affecting the way the motor runs or what. It's done something that's really affected the car. Our last lap in practice was an .80. This is a different car than we had here last year. We had it in Texas and ran good with it. It's just like the car we had here last year. It ran good at Texas and Las Vegas, so we brought it out here. It's just confusing right now."

BOBBY LABONTE No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac

"I went down there and hit the apron in Turns 1 and 2. I messed up a little bit, but the track is a little different than it was in practice. I adjusted enough, I just think I screwed up more than anything. It's still a good run and we've got a good starting position."

WARD BURTON No. 22 MBNA Pontiac

"A little bit of us not getting closer to the pole was starting qualifying at one o'clock. After one o'clock it gets hotter. That just slowed down everybody. I'm not going to say we would have gotten the pole, but I think we would have had a better shot at it. This Pontiac drove really well, really no different from when we ran our fastest lap. I feel good about Sunday. I was disappointed I wasn't at least top-five. When you have the fastest time at the end of practice you only expect to do one thing.

"It just got hotter. I don't know if we would have gotten the pole, but we've got an awfully good car. We qualified in top-10 and we're going to try and get a good race setup under us for Sunday. This is a whole lot better. We took a provisional here last time and finished 28th. We were never competitive.

"We learned a lot at Vegas and we learned a lot out there. I think we'll be able to run good out here on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to it. The engine room at Bill Davis Racing has done a great job. This particular motor has qualified in the top-five three times. It should have had the pole once and now we're in the top-10. We need to get a couple of race motors like that and we'll be in great shape."

TERRY LABONTE No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet

"It got a little bit slicker. We adjusted our car and we adjusted it too much. That was slower than we practiced, but we got real loose at the end of practice. We made some adjustments on the car and it was pushing too much. I had to get out of the gas coming off the corner, but that was a good run for us. I think that'll get us a decent starting spot. This is the same car we finished second with here last year, so maybe we can improve on that."

MORGAN SHEPHERD No. 46 First Union Chevrolet

"We were a little too tight during practice. The guys freed the car up a little bit more and guys started spinning out over there in the three and four. I was a little bit concerned. We went through one and two pretty good, and I saved too much in three and four. I didn't know what was getting them down there. The car was a lot faster than what I qualified. I just had a safe lap. I drove this car at Bristol and everybody communicated well. I fit in, and I'm looking forward to it."

DARRELL WALTRIP No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet

"The car is really good. They made a couple of changes on it after practice. If I had got a run in like that before I qualified, I could have been better yet, but I'm really happy with the car. The car was excellent. I'm really looking forward to the race. We're going to win a race in this thing. I can just feel it.

"I could have picked up. My goal was not to slow down. I could have gone better. We made two changes to the car and they helped it so much. I didn't know they were going to help it because I didn't get to run it. I left some on the table, but I'm happy. Better to leave some on the table than take too many chances."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Sterling Marlin
Teams Bill Davis Racing