Indianapolis: GM teams Saturday practice quotes

Jeff Gordon -- ...

Jeff Gordon -- #24 DuPont Chevrolet

HOW WAS PRACTICE? Pretty good. I was real happy with the car for the race. We've got to pick up some for qualifying, but I feel like we've got a really good race car for the weekend.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS ESSENTIALLY BEING AN IMPOUND RACE AT THIS POINT? Yeah, I think it's going to be an interesting qualifying session because there are going to be some guys focusing on qualifying. This is the Brickyard and I'm sure there are some people that would really love to be on the pole or be up front. And then there's those who focus heavily on the race setup, which is what we did, hoping that we could find the right combination to match up both. Some guys have been able to do that-we haven't been one of them this year. You know, we're going to keep working on it. All in all, it was a little bit of a surprise to me to see that thrown at us. You know, considering the excuses I've heard about why we can do impounding or why we can't, and that one really kind of caught us off guard. I'm happy to be qualifying later in the day because I drew a late number. Glad we got some laps on the track.

WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT THE ANNOUNCEMENT? Well, in the past when we question why we impound at some tracks and not at others, they said because it's the timing that went into the planning of the entry blank and the schedule. And yesterday showed us they can pretty much do whatever they want to do at any time. It's probably a group effort between Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NASCAR. Maybe if they get the approval of the track and NASCAR, they can make that decision last minute.

SHOULD THEY NOT? Well, it's just, you know, we're all coming here prepared to do it the way it says we're going to do it on the schedule. I don't think it's a major thing but I think it was definitely something that caught a lot of us off guard, automatically turned it into an impound race.

DO YOU HAVE CONIFIDENCE GOING INTO THE FINAL SIX RACES BEFORE THE CHASE? I'm confident that the statistics say that, but it doesn't matter what the statistics show, it's what we do from this weekend on. We recognize that. We've run out of time, the pressure's on and we've got to step up to the plate. Can't think of a better place to get that going than right here.

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BE THE FIRST FIVE TIME WINNER HERE? Well, you know, I think you guys are making way too big of a deal trying to compare the Formula 1, NASCAR and Indy 500 events. I don't think there's any comparison between the three. I think they are all totally different races. I don't think you can compare a four- or five-time winner in one category to another. I'm very, very proud to have the four and would be ecstatic to have five. I'm not going to compare that to what A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears or Al Under did, or Michael Schumacher.

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THIS RACE GIVEN THE PENDING CUTOFF FOR THE CHASE? Well, this is an important, big event no matter what. There's always something different about driving in the gate, tunnel. Just driving down 16th street coming here-there's just something about it that's special. And we realize that to begin with and throw on top of that that we're in the battle to get into the Chase and we're a ways off and we recognize this is a crucial weekend for us to put together a strong finish. We have to have a top 5, I think, out of here. If we get a top 10, then the competitors that we're chasing in 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and even 16th-they've got to have bad days. And I don't expect that to happen for all of those guys.

WHAT WENT RIGHT IN THOSE FOUR WINS YOU DO HAVE HERE? That's just it. Things have gone right. We've had good cars, good pit stops, good fortune. The cautions fell at the right time, we got track position at the right time and that's what it takes to win any races. It's just fortunate for us that those things have happened in one of the biggest races that we have.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE RACING WILL BE HERE? You know, Indianapolis is a historical place. It doesn't provide the best type of racing for our cars. I think you're going to see passing but you're not going to see a lot of it. And you're going to see a little bit of side-by-side racing, but you're not going to see a lot.

RYAN NEWMAN SAID YESTERDAY THAT YOU'RE NOT A NATIVE HOOSIER-YOU'RE JUST NOT PROUD OF BEING FROM SAN FRANCISCO (Laughs) Well, I'm not from San Francisco. The thing is when I moved to Indiana, and we started putting down where my home was, we started putting down Pittsboro, Indiana and everyone started to pick up on that and all of sudden I come from Indiana. And I recognize that I'm not. But I'm fortunate that I've somewhat been adopted by the people around Indiana. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a native Indiana person and that I'm a Californian. But my racing really kicked off here and the fans recognize that.

Brian Vickers -- #25 Garnier Fructis Chevrolet

HOW WAS PRACTICE? It was good. I was real happy with the car. It was good in race trim. Good in qualifying trim. I think we've still got a little left in qualifying trim-we were fifth on the board. We'll see what happens, you never can tell. The weather affects everything so much here. That early draw isn't great.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS ESSENTIALLY BEING AN IMPOUND RACE AT THIS POINT? I like it better, personally. Other than the draw. We had a really good draw when it was morning qualifying. We got a bad draw for late qualifying, but I like the impound because we didn't make any qualifying runs when we were here testing. I think it's better for us.

Tony Stewart -- #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet

"We have a full Busch day today. I've got Busch practice in an hour. I've got Cup qualifying and Busch qualifying. We've already covered all this sentimental stuff. I've got to get back to business now."

(HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES FOR THE POLE?) "We're probably not going to get the pole. There are some really, really fast cars in front of us from where we look on the sheet. If we can gain a tenth and a half right now, it takes us from 12th to third. We feel like there is a little bit more speed, but I just don't know if it's going to be enough to get us in the top two or three rows or not."

(THIS IS NOW AN IMPOUND WEEKEND, WHICH WASN'T ORIGINALLY PLANNED. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WILL CHANGE QUALIFYING?) "It's probably going to shake it up a little bit. But they're not giving the big trophy away for qualifying, they're giving it out for the race win. So I don't think anybody is going to be too devastated over qualifying today."

(IN ORDER TO WIN, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT DO DIFFERENT THIS WEEKEND?) "Nothing. I've been trying to win the race every year. I'm going to try to win the race this year. It's really no different. We just have to be good at the end of the race. It's nothing that I can do different. It's just a matter of whether we get the car good at the end of the race or not."

Jimmie Johnson -- #48 Lowe's Chevrolet

(DO YOU LIKE COMING TO IMS?) "I definitely love being at the Brickyard with all the history and what it means to win at this track. I definitely love being here and I want to run well here. We've run well at times during the race, but the strategy hasn't played out. It's gets pretty tricky towards the end for track position. And we just haven't had things work out. Last year we had some struggles and broke an engine. We want to run well here. Jeff (Gordon) runs really well here. Hopefully we can compile all of the information from testing and the stuff we learned today from all four teams and get everything under control and be ready for the race."

(WHAT KIND OF RACING WILL WE SEE HERE?) "The surface change has raised the grip level and made the track faster. But I really predict the racing to be a lot like what we typically see here. There is not a lot of banking and really not a second groove for two cars to run fast side by side, so it'll be slow to pass."

(NOT A LOT OF PASSING?) "It's tough. This place is really tough to pass. If you're smart and you're the lead car and you get down and cut off their air and get to the curbing, the guy behind you is going to be aero-tight and stuck behind you for a long time."

(ON THE BATTLE FOR THE CHASE, WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE NEXT FEW RACES?) "We're in a lucky situation where we don't have to count points every weekend to make the cut. But I think all teams are in the same position where you need to win races and need to be up front and competitive -- especially to compete for the championship. We've had a fair last month or so..nothing stellar. And we're really trying right now to figure everything out and get on the right track and have the speed that we need going into the final ten."

(HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES FOR THE POLE?) "Not bad. I ran a decent lap in practice. I went out the first lap on my sticker tires and we had a pretty bad rub so we had to come in. I went out the second time on those same tires and posted the 11th fastest. So I feel good about that. We all know how good the first lap will be, so I know we lost a little. And I look forward to qualifying. I'm not sure it's going to be the pole. Casey Mears has got a pretty nice cushion to work with right now. I'm hoping top 10 for sure -- hopefully a top five."

(SINCE THIS HAS BECOME AN IMPOUND RACE, HOW WILL THAT AFFECT QUALIFYING?) "It's like any other weekend. When you have those extra two hours to work on qualifying trim, it helps the team understand the track a little better. And now it's just a condensed schedule. Really the experienced teams and drivers that unload well are going to shine. It's going to be a little tougher for the guys who are struggling to catch up."

(THE SCHEDULE HAS CHANGED THIS WEEKEND BECAUSE OF THE WEATHER. DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR MINDSET?) "I'm pretty far out of the loop on who did well in the test. We didn't come up and test. We're probably one of the few teams that didn't. Our teammates were up here and learned some stuff. It worked out and carried over. I wasn't here to feel the buzz about who was fast and who wasn't. But looking at the sheets, the No. 9 car (Kasey Kahne) was unbelievably fast, so I'd say he's kind of a favorite going into it. With an impound race, I think it does favor the No. 9 car. I wouldn't leave the No. 20 our (Tony Stewart). There are a lot of good guys out there, but the No. 9 looks the best right now."

(ON THE CHANGE OF NAME FROM BRICKYARD 400 TO ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD) "We're still at the Brickyard, right? (laughs). It's all corporate dollars and we all have to do what we can to put food on the table."

(HAS YOUR STRATEGY CHANGED FROM WHAT IT WAS THIS TIME LAST YEAR?) "No, this season really reminds me of last season. We're still doing the same things and always trying to find the next trick over the competition. We've saved all of our tests like we did last year. Hopefully this year it all comes together and we get eight more points and we can be the champions. We're still doing all the same things we did last year and kind of have a similar track record at this point. Last year, things backfired on us and we really felt like we were doing the right things to make our cars faster and to win more races and to be stronger in the championship race, but it just didn't work out. One thing about this sport is you can't time your low spots or your high spots. We've watched the No. 24 go through it recently. We started out strong and have kind of slowed down a little bit right now. You just hope that cycle comes around right and it works right at the end of the year."

(HOW IMPORTANT IS THE PACING IN THE CHASE?) "I think it's really important. That's the biggest lesson we'll carry over from last year to this year is the mental pacing that you need to keep (by) not getting over-excited and not being too worried and keeping an even mental keel. You go to so many types of tracks that if you have a slow weekend, the next weekend you might be at a superspeedway or the following weekend at Martinsville. There is a wide range of tracks and opportunities for different teams and drivers to shine."

(FROM A MOMETNUM STANDPOINT, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO KEEP THE POINT LEAD?) "There's not doubt that there is an advantage to it. Hopefully we can hang onto it and keep it, but in the big picture, it's about making the Chase and there are only five points between each position. Every point counts. There is some mental stuff to it too."

(HAVING TRAVELED AROUND A LOT, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN YOU WALK DOWN GASOLINE ALLEY?) "When I walk through there and see the sign, I get the feeling of being at Indy. But what really gets me is turning off of Turn 4 and coming down the front stretch. I remember watching it on TV as a kid and the view that you see on television...I always wondered what that would look like. On race day, when you turn off of Turn 4 the first time and the grandstands are full and the flashbulbs are popping, there isn't a sight in our sport like that from our perspective inside the race cars."

(ARE THERE OTHER TRACKS THAT GIVE YOU THAT SPECIAL FEELING?) "I'd say at Daytona and here, for me. I've been to some F1 races. One was here and one was in Barcelona. One that comes to mind would maybe be Monaco with all the history it has. But Indianapolis Motor Speedway covers the Brickyard and the Indy 500 so you have the best of both worlds."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Michael Schumacher , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Rick Mears , Brian Vickers , A.J. Foyt