Las Vegas Friday Pontiac Qualifying Notes

NOTES AND QUOTES Bud Pole Qualifying Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 5, 1999 BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "The car worked flawlessly all day. We came here and tested in January and we didn't make any...

NOTES AND QUOTES Bud Pole Qualifying Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 5, 1999

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix):  "The car
worked flawlessly all day.  We came here and tested in January and we
didn't make any qualifying runs back then.  We didn't think we needed to.  
We still didn't think we'd come out here and be this good off t he truck.  
We weren't expecting this.  We figured we would be good, we just didn't
figure we'd be on the pole.  We're pretty tickled with that."

DID THE WEATHER THROW YOU OFF? "It really didn't seem like it affected our car. When I went to the car to qualify it felt like to me with the sun and all it was getting hotter and I thought we'd slow down some. When they didn't slow down I wasn't sure what the deal was. Our car stuck real good. We had a real comfortable setup and that allowed us to go fast. As fast as it got, I guess we had a little cloud cover there toward the end of the qualifying run."

WITH THE NEW SPOILER RULES, IS IT ALMOST LIKE RUNNING LAS VEGAS FOR THE FIRST TIME? "I think it is in certain ways. During the race I think we'll be able to tell a lot on a long run on gas. It is a little bit. We're different from where we were last year. What we had last year wasn't going to work anyway. We had to change something, whether it was the spoiler or not."

PERFECT LAP? "I couldn't believe it was better (than Michael Waltrip and Joe Nemechek). The car has handled so smoothly so far. That helps out. The lap I ran today for qualifying, the car stuck really good and I was able to pick up the throttle really quick and it didn't push up or slide and I thought, 'This could be good.' I didn't know if it would be that good or not. When it stuck so good I thought it should be good, but I didn't know if it would beat whatever Michael ran. We picked up a little bit."

WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND WAITING TO QUALIFY AFTER WALTRIP'S LAP? "Nothing really. I was just hanging out there watching a lot of cars go qualify. I didn't know if the clouds were going to affect us and we'd be better or worse. It looked like the sun was starting to pop out towards the end. I thought the sun would be out when I was ready to go and I thought picking last for qualifying might not be as good. I think the cloud cover held off a little bit. I didn't know how good a lap we could get. When you think you can pick up a tenth over what you did in practice you lose it, so I really didn't think about it. I knew (Michael) had run a good lap and I just hoped we could repeat what we did in practice because then we could be in the top-10. That was going to satisfy me a lot. I felt like when I went through turns one and two I thought it was definitely on the right path to being better than I anticipated."

ANY CONVERSATION WITH TONY STEWART AFTER HIS LAP? "I haven't talked to him all day. Greg (Zippadeli, Stewart's crew chief) was looking for me earlier, but I was busy with the Busch car. I did know that Tony told the guys on the radio that the car stuck better than he thought it would, too. I had indication from him that the grip was really good."

HAS THIS TRACK GOTTEN MORE ABRASIVE? "Yeah, it's definitely not Darlington or Rockingham abrasive, but it does have some wear to it now more than it did than last year. It's a lot whiter looking at it. I'm sure it is with the sand blowing on it over the summer and the heat and everything. I'm sure lapped times will be giving up over long runs more so than they did last year."

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "I'm real proud of the STP team because when we unloaded we were about 40th. We worked all day and got better and better and better. We were eight tenths better in qualifying than we were in practice. I'm not going to complain about that at all. Last year I qualified 30th here and I had a great race car, so hopefully we'll be OK for the race."

TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "That's the best lap we've run here. I was honestly concerned. I didn't know we could run two tenths slower than this, let alone what we ran. We want to concentrate on the race setups because we felt like we had a good race package here when we tested. We feel like we're going to be all right. I don't know what happened between the test and now as far as qualifying, but obviously Bobby learned a lot from the test. We both felt like we had a good test here and have good race setups. The big thing for me is getting in because I don't have any provisionals."

RICH BICKLE (No. 45 Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix): "We only picked up six tenths from practice (laughing). We threw four new shocks on it, two springs and a sway bar. We just hoped for hope. We started out good this morning, in the top 15 all morning and then all of a sudden everyone put on new tires and they picked up a bunch and we lost a tenth. I'm just happy after that deal at Rockingham where we were so good and then didn't make the show. That was the most disheartening thing that could ha ve happened. We'll make it here."

DERRIKE COPE (No. 30 State Fair Pontiac Grand Prix): "We're just lucky to have a race car really. The car turned sideways going into turn three. I lucked out. I turned back to the right and it caught and it did it again and I got back into the throttle and caught it just right and saved it and still ran a .12, so the car was probably capable of running a 31.80. It was that good. We're just lucky to have a race car and still run that fast. I'm pumped up. It was pretty good in practice. It ran a .90 something. I knew I had a little left for qualifying. I got through one really good, but it didn't have enough grip and I knew turn three was going to be edgy. Sure enough, there was like nothing there. But we're in and now we can go to work on our race setup. This is huge."

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "That qualifying lap was about four tenths faster than we ran all day. The car is handling really good, but it's not going anywhere. We are disappointed. If it handles that good in the race we'll make up for it in the race."

BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 00 Crown Fiber Pontiac Grand Prix): "We've talked to some other teams to see what they run and it's taken me a while to get comfortable with the car. They've gotten the car better. We're getting better each day. They say if you're not shaking after you've qualified you haven't driven the car, well, I can honestly say I'm still shaking. We'll probably go again tomorrow. I'm not sleeping too bad, but if Winston Cup racing were easy everybody would be doing it. We're getting there. We need to make a big jump and then progress a little like we've been doing."

KYLE PETTY (No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix): "We've struggled since we got here. Andretti picked up and we just haven't. That was a lot faster than we'd run in practice, but we haven't picked up much. I don't know why. I don't know what the problem is. I don't know what to tell them to change to get us going in another direction."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Joe Nemechek