Martinsville Chevy qualifying notes

Jeff Gordon, No 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (pole-sitter): "You know we came here and tested with this Dupont Chevrolet and we had a great test. This car just seemed to feel real good. We only made one qualifying run when we tested here and...

Jeff Gordon, No 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (pole-sitter): "You know we came here and tested with this Dupont Chevrolet and we had a great test. This car just seemed to feel real good. We only made one qualifying run when we tested here and it felt so good. We came back here today and worked a little bit on race runs and made maybe two or three qualifying runs. We weren't the fastest in practice, but the car just had the feel. I knew if I just didn't get over aggressive, with it on the tires, I felt we'd have a great shot at the pole. It was a great run for us.

"It was jut a real smooth, great lap. The car came in quicker than it had in practice. I think the temperature's coming up. We went out on stickers and I think that was the way to go. That first lap felt so good that I was like okay, all I have to do now on the second lap is not overdrive it. And I almost did going into (turn) three. I got a straight shot off of (turn) two and got into (turn) three a little bit hot. The car turned in the middle so good that even though I overshot it a little bit, it didn't slow my momentum down.

"To me, what wins races and championships is the preparation prior to the race, and week-to-week. These guys are unloading with great racecars and making my job a whole lot easier and a lot of fun right now. We're just fine-tuning on the little things and that's the only way you can do it these days. I'm just so proud of these guys. We came here and practiced and it paid off.

"I had no idea we were going to pull that one off today. There's no better place to start here at Martinsville than that number one spot because that number one place on pit road is very important."

(Have you acclimated yourself to the new tire a lot faster than other people?) "To me, it just take away a little bit of grip and allows us to do some different things to the car. I don't know if it's that my driving style works well with this tire or (if it's) our set-ups. It's one of the two. But we have hit on some great combinations that have been a lot of fun."

(Comment on the fact that some cars went out on scuffs): "Well, I knew the temperatures would keep going up. We tested here and we did it on stickers. In practice, we did it on stickers. I know it still wasn't great, but I thought it would just get better. When you've got three laps out there to do it, I feel like it was the good way to go."

Bobby Hamilton, No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 9th): "We've got a really good racecar and I'm happy with the Square D Chevrolet. I think Goodyear has just done an excellent job. What it's going to do in the long-term deal is that we can cut our notes in half and we don't have to stay on top of it quite as much as we used to."

Mike Skinner, No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 19th): "That wasn't too bad for the Lowe's Chevy when you consider the hand we were dealt. Martinsville is a terrible place to have an early draw - and the sun was beating on the track. It'll get a lot faster as it cools off during this session. I got loose on the first lap, so I couldn't afford to gamble. I just went for a solid, safe lap on the 2nd lap. The Lowe's Chevy had more in it, but we couldn't risk it."

Jerry Nadeau, No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 7th): "I just got real loose. I got on the gas too early. The car didn't stick. We've got a good car. We'll just see what we can do in the race. It means a lot to get a good qualifying run here. The tires are just a little harder. The speeds are a little slower. In the race mode, the tires are actually better. We've been fighting brake problems all day long. It would have been nice to start further up front."

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Gm Goodwrench Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 15th): "It wasn't a bad lap. I didn't hit the curb, that's the main thing. We didn't go as fast as I thought we would go. Our car got a little bit tighter, but I think the racetrack should be close to the way it was in practice. I was hoping we'd be in the top ten."

Joe Nemechek, No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 8th): "That was a pretty good lap for this Oakwood Homes Chevy. I've got to thank all the guys back at the shop and my road crew. This is a brand new racecar. We built it specially for coming here. The thing's running awesome. I thought we had a shot at the pole. It's just so close. In practice, you're brakes are hot, shocks are hot, and everything's hot. And now I guess going out there cold turkey we just missed it a tick. But we didn't miss it by much."

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 10th): "I'm real happy with that (lap) actually. We found a bent sway bar arm on the car during practice, but we got the car back comfortable and quick again. It's pretty amazing how tight qualifying is here. The times are so close, it's pretty impressive."

Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet Monte Carlo (qualified 35th) "I think we would have been really good in qualifying, but I just missed turn one. I got in there on my second lap too hard. I don't know how much I left behind out there. I'm disappointed in my effort."

More comments from pole-sitter, Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet Monte Carlo:

"I knew we had a good car all day, but I had no idea it would be that good for qualifying. It really stuck good. I thought it was a good enough run for us but you never know at Martinsville. You have to be patient and yet aggressive at the same time, and those things don't mix too well. I just wanted to make sure I didn't overdrive it on the second lap. Got through one and two great - carried more speed in (turn) two than I did all day. That test we had here a couple weeks ago really helped us."

(What about the difference in the tires?): "Like I said, the only thing I've really noticed is getting into the corner. They just don't seem to have as much grip getting into the corner. A lot of guys were locking up tires and were having a little trouble there. We actually made one 30-35 lap today during practice. We made two qualifying laps, but we wanted to make a long run because this car, when we tested here, we wanted to improve on here. It's almost like you can run so fast for so long that eventually the pressure builds up in the tires and the car does start getting a little sideways on you. I don't think we're going to see quite what we've seen at Bristol, but you will see some of that where guys can stay out a lot longer and track position is going to be important, but not quite as important I think as Bristol is."

(Why were you so excited after this pole when you've had so much pole success in the past?): "Well, not at Martinsville. I think I've only won one (pole) here. This is a very difficult place to win poles at. And as far as I'm concerned, it's the most important place to win the pole because of that No. 1 pit stall over there. There's just nothing like having the No. 1 pit stall at Martinsville. They did a great job widening pit road and all those things, but still, those pit boxes are awful tight. If you can get one where you can get just angle in there and just drive straight out, it's a huge thing. And, also because we had such a good test here and we had high hopes coming back. We were 11th after practice and it was great to pick up as much as we did. I know how excited they (the team) are when they see that lap (time) up there and I think they know how excited I am. It's just really a lot of fun. We're doing it together. It's not just any one of us that's making the difference, it's all of us."

- Team Monte Carlo

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Jerry Nadeau