TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: "I was hoping we'd gain just a little bit. But we're not unhappy with it. It was a pretty good run for the limited amount of qualifying runs we made. I think we'll be all ...
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I was hoping we'd gain just a little bit. But we're not unhappy with it. It was a pretty good run for the limited amount of qualifying runs we made. I think we'll be all right."
(HANDLING IS OBVIOUSLY KEY AT THIS TRACK. DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH TURNS 1 AND 2 MORE THAN TURNS 3 AND 4 OR VICE VERSA?) "Actually the two ends are very different. They've got two totally different characteristics from each other, that's for sure. It's one of those tracks where you've just got to kind of figure out what you need to do in Turns 1 and 2 and then you've got to do something a little different in Turns 3 and 4 each time."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We were pretty good in practice this morning. We went out there and got real loose the first time out (in practice) and then we tightened it up and were pretty decent. We made a few qualifying runs there late and guys picked up but we didn't pick up as much. So we made a few more adjustments. The car looks great. We need to make it go as fast as it looks."
(HAS THIS TRACK CHANGED VERY MUCH SINCE THE BEGINNING AND HAS THE SECOND GROOVE COME IN SO YOU'LL HAVE THE ABILITY TO PASS?) "The track seems to get better and the groove seems to get wider every time we come back here. But it always changes each time. But we've been able to stay on top of it pretty good. It hasn't changed that much. The bumps are about the same. The grip level is about the same. But I love this track. The transitions are great. I think we're going to see a wider groove and more side by side racing this time around."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"It was a great lap for us. I touched the track a little bit in Turn 3 and I know it kept me from getting to the bottom like I needed to and I bound the car up a little bit off of Turn 4. But in Turns 1 and 2, I laced it. It was an awesome ride through Turns 1 and 2. But it should be a great starting spot for this Lowe's team. We need to get the momentum back for us. It's been a rough couple of months for us and today would be a good day to get back in the right direction."
(HOW WILL THE CLOUD COVER AFFECT THE QUALFIYING SESSION?) "Well, it's been a cool day overall so it shouldn't be as big of a swing as you'd expect. Going out early today won't hurt us as bad as a different day."
(HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR MORALE UP?) "All we can do is give 100 percent. That's all you can do. If luck isn't on your side and you have things take place on the race track that are out of your control, there isn't much you can do. My guys believe in me and I believe in them 100 percent."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"The car is pretty good. The guys did a really good job. We came out here and tested a couple of weeks ago and didn't make any qualifying runs. But we felt like we had a good car then and we backed it up with a good run so far here today. I don't know where it'll stack up here at the end of the day, but it was a good qualifying effort for us. We've been lacking a little bit on that too. We picked that up and hopefully we're making the curve a little bit and going uphill instead of downhill."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"The effort was over the top. Everybody tried really hard. We just didn't get the car handling right. I went down there in the turn and it didn't stick. We tried really hard. We gave it all we had. I couldn't breathe for about two minutes after the lap (because) you put so much into it. But we didn't get that much out of it. So we'll have to go back to work and get it ready for racing in the morning and hope for better results when we get in that mode."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AOL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I'm really excited about what we've got going on here and real excited about tomorrow and Sunday."
(WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO PASS ON THIS RACE TRACK?) "This track is like a lot of 1.5 mile tracks when they're fairly new. The second groove really hasn't come in yet. Really the best way to get somebody is off the corner and that's really all you can do.
"But track position is going to be real important - unless the groove widens out and it may widen out. The older this track gets, I think the more competitive and the more two and three-wide you're going to see."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
(DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BE THAT FAST?) "It's just a testament to this whole U.S. Army crew. These guys have been working so hard. Everybody back at the shop - Ryan Pemberton, the leader of this group. We're on a roll. We've been good all year but our finishes just haven't shown how good this team is. To be on the pole last week at Talladega and hopefully this one will hold up today. It's just a great run for this whole U.S. Army team. I'm so proud to be representing the U.S. Army and every one of those soldiers - whether it's overseas or here in the states. I'm just doing all I can to give them something good to pull for."
(DO YOU THINK IT WAS AN ADVANTAGE FOR YOU TO GO OUT LATER IN QUALIFYING?) "I definitely think so. The track had cooled off just a little bit. In my Busch car, I struggled a little bit because the track temp went way up from what it was this morning. And now the temperature is starting to come back down. There's lots of grip out there. Thank you to Goodyear tires and everything they do. It's just a great day."
"That's as close as you can be to out of control and still have control of a race car. The car stuck and went in the corner. We did a perfect job of getting the balance right with getting our tires and getting the right amount of laps on it and everything.
"It's really and honor to be on the pole when you're beating guys like Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne. I've got to thank the entire crew. They've been working hard to give me the best equipment they can on a weekly basis. I've got to thank Hendrick Motorsports for the great power. Everything's been right. To pull off a pole here - to pull off back-to-back poles, that's pretty cool."
(IS IT MORE SATISIFYING TO WIN A POLE HERE AT KANSAS?) "It is absolutely more satisfying. You take them as you can get them. For the crew guys, it's Daytona and Talladega. There's a lot of pride there. For here at Kansas, that car's got to drive right. It's about downforce and bodies and everything. You've got to have the whole package."
(IS THIS A GOOD INDICATION THAT THE TEAM IS TURNING AROUND?) "Right now we're just communicating well. There is a lot of chemistry there."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
(ON HIS QUALFIYING EFFORT) "It was great. We didn't do any qualifying runs when we tested here at the end of last month. We qualified here before real well. So we're just concentrating on the race car and getting it right for Sunday. I can't wait until practice starts in the morning and getting after it and getting it right.
(ON HIS NASCAR PENALTY - YOU GOT YOUR HAND SLAPPED, HOW DO YOU MOVE FORWARD?) "I'd say it was a little bit more than a slap. But I just learned to control myself better. It's kind of difficult in those situations. It's really hard, actually - especially when you win a race like that. But that's the rules and unfortunately we've got to play by every one of them, not just a few.
"I understand it was a mistake. It wasn't anything that I intentionally planned to say. I just think the punishment was a little bit more severe than the crime. But that's only my opinion. I don't think what I believe is always correct. Obviously if that was the case, I'd have never found myself in this situation. But I felt a little bit thrown under the bus. And now I'm getting a little bit dragged out and everybody wants to know how I feel about it and I don't know. It's really hard to have a one-sided opinion on it because number one, it's not correct - it's not right to do it, but the points thing is what bothers me the most. It's taking the points away. I feel like taking the points off the scoreboard is very tough to deal with and it's hard to understand. That's the only part that I have a problem with is just trying to understand where you can take points off the scoreboard after how hard we worked all day, we earned every one of them."
(ON THE PENALTY ITSELF) "I think everyone will decide that. I think popular opinion will decide that. There is no way you can justify saying anything like that and I expected to be penalized for it. And you would. But I feel like under the circumstances NASCAR didn't have any other route to take. They kind of pointed themselves in that direction by what they did with Sauter and Hornaday earlier this year. I told NASCAR that in my opinion - if not this time, but the next time for the next guy - change the penalty. $100,000, $200,000 - taking points off the scoreboard, whether it's fair or not, is not something I believe in."
(ON THE APPEAL) "We've got an appeal sent in that I feel real strongly about. I want to express firmly that I expected to be penalized. I believe what I did wasn't right. It wasn't correct. But I don't believe in taking points off the scoreboard. I think it's fair enough for me to appeal. So we'll see what the decision is with that. But aside from that, I don't disagree with the wrongness of it. I disagree with how the penalty was laid out. Again, I know it's consistent with what's happened in the past. But my opinion is that if they don't change it now, change it in the future for the next guy because points on the scoreboard belong on the scoreboard."
(HAS NASCAR GIVEN YOU ANY IDEA OF WHEN THEY WILL RULE ON THE APPEAL?) "No. We'll just see how that goes. We really want to concentrate obviously on the rest of the season. We have to race like we lost 25 points. We'll concentrate real hard and we want to do the best job we can for our fans. I want to apologize to my fans that they had to see me lose 25 points and we have to work harder. I'm sure it didn't make their day any easier when they went to work and their buddies pull for Jeff Gordon - they got to enjoy that a little bit (laughs). But that's the way it goes. That's why this sport is so great. It hasn't really changed anything. I've been penalized before. I hope this system changes a little bit - maybe not for me, but for the next guy."
(YOU'VE BEEN A CLASS ACT IN THE WAY YOU'VE BEEN HANDLING THIS) "Well, I appreciate that a lot. I'm not going to back off my level of honesty. When I say what I say right now, I mean it. I have a lot of respect for John (Darby). I worked with him in the Busch Series and he's been a true friend to me and helped me tremendously to understand the sport - especially with situations like this. He's been a huge help. I talked to him and I don't have to agree with it. But it's definitely how you handle yourself in that situation. But it's representative of me, my team, my sponsors, and I want to do what's right. I don't want to stand on a box and push my views really hard, but I feel like an appeal is an opportunity to make more sense out of it, even if it doesn't change anything maybe I'll be able to better understand the situation because there's still some questions in my mind.
"It's hard changing who you are. It's something that everybody should work on and I should as well. I've got a lot of friends who tell me all the time that I should clean it up a little bit. But being 30 years old, it's hard to change in the middle of the road here."
(HAVE ANY OF YOUR FANS CHIPPED IN ON THE FINE PART OF THE PENALTY?) "No. Nobody's chipped in. What I want my fans to do is just to speak for me toward NASCAR in a sensible manner - just try to show what their opinions are. Everybody needs to voice his opinion on things like this. And I hope my fans will speak up for me because my hands are tied up just a little bit with the situation."