Long Pond II: Chevy qualifying quotes

Michael Waltrip qualifies third in NAPA Parts Chevy Monte Carlo. Two Chevrolet Monte Carlos qualified in the top 10 today, with Michael Waltrip grabbing the highest qualifying spot for Chevrolet, third, in his No. 15 NAPA Parts Chevy Monte Carlo.

Michael Waltrip qualifies third in NAPA Parts Chevy Monte Carlo.

Two Chevrolet Monte Carlos qualified in the top 10 today, with Michael Waltrip grabbing the highest qualifying spot for Chevrolet, third, in his No. 15 NAPA Parts Chevy Monte Carlo. Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Jimmie Johnson, in the No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo, qualified seventh as highest rookie qualifier.


"I was happy with the lap. The car handled perfect. Slugger and the guys I want to thank them all. They had to put it back together after I swung a little wide off the tunnel and narrowed her up some (in practice). But we got her beat out, she handles good and I did everything I wanted to do. We just didn't match up with those other cats."

ON CONSISTENCY OF CAR: "It just got a little tight, when I hit the wall over there; it just pushed a little bit. We made adjustments to qualify. The car drove good, I ran it hard, we just got beat. So that's a good feeling to know you did all you could do and come up just a little bit short."

ON RUNNING WITH DALE JR.: "We work so well together; we kind of compare notes and if my car's a little faster then I can't wait to show Junior and those guys what I did, and they're the same way. No egos at DEI; we're just all working for one cause, and that is for the team to be successful."

ON THE INCIDENT IN PRACTICE: "It looks like now I just brushed it; I guess the definition of what I did was ^ÌI hit it.' We had to fix it pretty much. I knew they would fix it right. That was a good lap. That's the fastest I've ever run here, I think, but it's definitely the best qualifying I had here in quite some time."


"That's great; that's the fastest lap I've ever turned here, so I'm very happy with that. The time we were here before we had to start second, but we had to start by points, so my first time qualifying here I'm very proud of what we've been able to do with the Lowe's Monte Carlo. We struggled a little bit in practice there at the end and Chad (Knaus, crew chief) went to work and thought about some stuff and got the car back together. I also want to give a special thanks to Lowe's for letting me run a sticker on the side of the car in memory of Blaise Alexander. A big thanks to them for opening up the space. We're going to have fun on Sunday; we finished third here last time."

WHAT DID YOU KEEP IN MIND MOST DURING THE LAST 500 MILES HERE? "The straights are so long and you've got to worry about upshifts and downshifts and all your points change on the track during the race. So it's hard to stay mentally into it; stay on top of it to keep the speed of the car up. When I left here I was beat; I was drained mentally so I think I learned a lot."


"Got down into turn 1 really good, got back on the gas early, the car was feeling great, got a big push up off 1 and my run was over after that."

ONLY ONE LAP: "We had so much tape on it and stuff, there was no reason to push it and build up too much heat in the motor; for us to run this thing the whole weekend, it wasn't worth it. The car has been really good; the car is capable of a lot. You're just putting it all out there on the edge; if it sticks it sticks, if it doesn't it doesn't. That was a horrible lap."

DID THE BRIEF SPRINKLE HAVE ANY EFFECT? "The sprinkling and the rain messed us up a little bit; we barely got to make a qualifying run (in practice). We didn't get to scuff our qualifying set (of tires); I would have liked to have done that. The car, everything was really capable, even early draw didn't hurt us. It just wasn't a good lap. We always run good here; we still will run good here. I just wanted a good starting position, and we're not going to have that."


A FLAT ON THAT RUN? "It was kind of strange. That's the first time I've been loose since we've been here in practice this morning. I couldn't figure out what was going on. Both laps, the left rear tire was flat. It was a good lap for the whole UAW-DELPHI Chevy guys. All the guys back at Hendrick Motorsports (worked hard), the guys who build the motors, the chassis's good. This is the actual car that we had here that I ended up wrecking the first race. I have to say thanks to all the guys back home building these cars."

DID YOU FEEL THE TIRE GOING FLAT? "It never vibrated; it just kept turning sideways in the corners; I couldn't figure out what was going on. That's typical."


"I think that was a little bit quicker than we practiced here. We thought we would pick up a little more than we did. We had made some pretty good gains on it and I really thought we had a little more in it there; we just didn't get it out of it; it bottomed out a little bit down therein the corner. Anytime we can pick from practice, that's usually pretty good for us."

ON LAST RACE HERE: "Well, last time we were here we blew up. We had a pretty good car; we had an engine problem there. This is a different car; we think this car is a little bit better than the one we had here before; so hopefully it's going to race better; we have to be really careful and not have an engine problem this trip."

YOU HAVE TO BE PATIENT WITH YOUR EQUIPMENT HERE? "This is an easy place to really abuse your car. Especially today when you're shifting gears and it's easy to say let's leave it in third gear it ain't going to hurt it, and sure enough it will. You got to take care of your equipment here. It's about one of the longest races that we run, really. Timewise it probably is the longest race, so you see a lot of guys have transmission failures (here)."


"We've got a great race team. This Pennzoil team has struggled in the past. We're looking real hard to turn it around. We still have a ways to go, but this is a sign that the car is driving good, and hopefully it's a sign of things to come. We have to still run good on Sunday; we're not out of the woods just yet, but this is a step forward. The team needs the motivation and qualifying good motivates the team and Steve Hmiel has worked hard to try to organize this team and get back to the team that's capable of winning a race again. (The crew) is working relentlessly day and night to get this team turned around. There are times it throws us a curve ball but we're not done just yet. We're working hard to try to win a race again. A top 10 finish would be great. We would be ecstatic about it. This team has struggled so much in the past, that a top 15 would satisfy us. Just to take a step in the right direction would be key for us. They're not going to quit working."


DO YOU USE A DIFFERENT LINE HERE BECAUSE IT'S A DIFFERENT CONFIGURATION? "(At) this track the corners are all so different. You really got to pay attention to what your car is doing in each corner, and a change here might help you in 3 and 4 but hurt you in another corner. It's really difficult for a rookie. It takes many years of coming and coming to really feel like you've got a lot of confidence and you can really go after the race track. I have a lot of respect for it."

DO YOU WORK WITH THREE TEAMS? "The one thing that we have been able to help each other mainly is with the setup. Michael's car came here and it was really good off the trailer. We used that setup, the 1 car used that setup, we all had great laps. To get in a comfortable car here is really key, because the track is so difficult; it's such a challenge. To have a real comfortable car really helps. We had some good cars here in the past, but we finished 12th, 15th, 16th, stuff like that; we just hadn't been able to work it out. We've run up front here; hopefully we'll have a good car. We'll probably use what we learned from the 15 car in qualifying and see if we can't kind of jump the hurdle. Things are really going good for us right now; everybody's really pumped up. Michael's team really got a good competitive string, good competitive spirit. We were kind of in dire straits there for a while. We're really getting ourselves better; hopefully we can work things out. It's different; it's really hard. When you work on the weak spots, the strong spots -- if you don't focus on them all the time -- they get weak. It's like you're always trying to lift something up."

HAPPY WITH DEI? "Yeah, nothing's perfect; nothing's ever the greatest. But there's not a better situation out there. There's always something; or something that might not be perfection or not be the way you want it about the company or the way things might be going for the team itself, but there's not a better situation as far as I'm concerned for me with DEI."

USA TODAY LABELED YOU AS A BIG DISPAPPOINTMENT: "I never one time in my life told anybody I was going to be as good as my Daddy. I just want to drive race cars and make a living doing it."


"I thought we were going to be a little bit better than that, actually. We didn't get to run in some sticker tires in practice because of the rain. It was kind of a little bit of a gamble, but Kevin Hamlin and everybody on the Cingular Wireless team did a great job getting adjustments right. The first lap going down into turn 1 it turned sideways on me pretty big; I thought it was going to spin out there, but I was able to pick up a little bit on my second lap; so that's good."

YOU'VE HAD A FEW RACES HERE, IS IT A MATTER OF WHERE TO PUT THIS CAR? "It's a matter of figuring it out; but it's a matter of what feel you want too. Being here with Kevin Hamlin, he has a lot of experience. We were here at the beginning of the year with him, we were running inside the top 10 and got a flat with a few laps to go, so our goal here is to come out of here with another top 10 finish and every week we've been trying to do that and score some points."


"It felt pretty good; the weather helped us."

A LOT OF TEAMS HAVE CHANGED A LOT OF THINGS, WHERE ARE YOU? "We changed a little bit, but not a lot and we're not really changing a lot for the race mode, so this car's really driving good. This is a different car, and a brand new car than we had here in the first race this year, so we're looking very forward to the race now."

-team monte carlo-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Jimmie Johnson , Blaise Alexander , Kevin Hamlin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports