Martinsville Pontiac Qualifying Notes

NOTES AND QUOTES Bud Pole Qualifying Martinsville Speedway April 16, 1999 TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "A bunch of guys back in the race shop at Joe Gibbs Racing are doing their job. Greg Zipadelli and all the guys. ...

NOTES AND QUOTES Bud Pole Qualifying Martinsville Speedway April 16, 1999

TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "A bunch of guys back in the race shop at Joe Gibbs Racing are doing their job. Greg Zipadelli and all the guys. I'm speechless. I don't know what to say. The guys have done such a great job on this car. If I just backed up what I did in practice I was going to be happy. I'm elated with what we did. It will be nice when we go to Daytona next February and get to run the Bud Shootout. The car just stuck. We made one little change from practice and that was all it took. This Grand Prix has been great all day. We didn't test very well here actually. The 9 car and the 00 were here and they were killing us in qualifying runs and long runs. It's unbelievable what they've done to this Pontiac between now and then.

"I can't thank everybody enough. They did a great job. I've been telling everybody I felt like this was going to be our worst performance on the year. It may be on Sunday, but today we had a great lap. The test session we had here definitely paid off. I told Greg if we had a good first lap to let me know and then I'd go for it the second lap. He called off of turn two and said, 'You've got it on the pole. Just run us a solid lap on the second one.' The first lap felt good, I just didn't know what it was on the stopwatch. I wasn't sure that I could back up what we'd done in practice.

"Greg Zipadelli joked with me before I went out that if I ran an .80 I probably wouldn't have anything to worry about. We got pretty close to that. I knew we could probably back up what we ran in practice, but I didn't know we could go much faster than that. We made a couple of changes and we were hoping we could go quicker. You never know until you go out there. There were a lot of guys that were a little slower than they were in practice. We just kept our fingers crossed.

"I was pretty frustrated after testing here. I didn't think if I tested seven days here I would be comfortable enough to come back and race and get qualified. I thought for sure we were going to be a second round qualifier and we were going to have to fight just to get in the race. Now we've got the luxury of going out tomorrow morning and working on race setups. We were all pretty dejected when we left here. There was nothing I could tell the guys to make the car any better. For a day and a half I don't think we made but two changes on the car and I think that was because I couldn't go out and run two laps within two tenths of each other. Until I got consistent in a race car there wasn't any point in making any changes to the race car in order to get faster. The second day we spent doing long runs in the afternoon.

"This track is unique compared to everywhere we go to. If you can get both of your feet on the brake pad here your whole body is standing out of the seat because you're on the brake pedal so hard. That's uncharacteristic compared to the other tracks. That's one thing Bobby Labonte has tried to work with me on. When I got out of sprint cars and into stock cars last year I was running the brakes out at Rockingham. I don't even touch the brakes at Rockingham now. Bobby got me away from using so much brake. We came here and you use more brake here than anywhere else on the circuit. That's what makes it so hard, learning how to slow it down without wearing out the brakes and letting the car roll through. Finding that balance was the toughest part.

"I wasn't confident about qualifying today and it worked out all right. I'm hoping it's going to be the same with the race setup. We'll know a lot more tomorrow after having two practice sessions to work on it. We'll run with some of the veteran drivers that know how to be easy on the brakes and how to get in a rhythm that's safe for race day.

"I woke up this morning thinking, 'I really don't want to get out of bed today.' On the other hand, this is what I thought would be a true test for me this season. This was the first place here I really struggled at in testing. I was really dejected when I left. For myself and the team to come back here and perform the way we have so far this weekend we're real ly happy about it. We figured this was really going to be a big step for us to show what we're really made of. We've got a long way to go to be competitive in races and consistently be in the top-10, but this is a good step. This is what we need to make ourselves better.

"I guess I'm surprised with the amount of success I've had so far. The two goals we set before the season are the same ones we're going to carry throughout the whole year. That's just qualify in the first round and get in the top-25 each week and then try and finish as many laps as we can on race day. Anything more than that is a bonus. We've had a lot of bonuses at this point. This is a place where we thought we were really going to struggle and the weekend isn't over yet. I'm very happy with the way the season has started and if we can keep doing what we're doing I'm going to be very happy with the season.

"Leading laps at Bristol last week and the qualifying runs we've had so far this year has really helped our confidence. It keeps building. Theexcitement at the shop is where it's showing right now. The guys get there on Monday morning and you can tell with the way they work they never put their heads down. They go after every bit of it. That's what it takes to win poles, races and eventually championships. We've got the guys it take s to run up front. Last week at Bristol proved to us we can get there (up front) if we get the car right. If the driver does his part, it doesn't hurt anything either. We've all got a lot still to learn.

ERNIE IRVAN (No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix):  "This team is starting to
come into its own.  We've got a lot of potential.  Hopefully, we'll be
able to show it in my 300th start.  We're starting in the top-10 and
obviously, that's a lot better than we've been.  We've struggled in
qualifying.  Running the truck here helped.  It got me acquainted with the
race track a little bit.  We normally have a good qualifying effort here
at Martinsville.  That showed today."

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "It picked up from practice and that's good for me. This is probably one of the toughest places we go to for me to qualify. It's a good deal. Tony had a good test up here a few days ago and we learned from that. We're happy. I feel fine. We made one adjustment. We were a little too tight in the center of the turns so we loosened it up a little bit. That seemed like it did the job. It will be interesting to watch the truck race here tomorrow and see what happens with the new pit road deal. If you have to pit under green it could be a little tough."

KYLE PETTY (No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac Grand Prix): "That's the fastest we've run. We ran a 20.05 on my first lap on the race track and then struggled to get back to an .05 by my last lap. It's one of the rare instance s where Kyle picks up, I guess. The car is really good. A lot of times I'll overdrive the car qualifying. You could probably hear it hit the rev limiter. They asked me if I wanted to take it out and I said, 'No, I'll overdrive it if you take it out.' We running these new Brembo brakes and

they've got a lot of stopping power, so they make up for my mistakes."

RICH BICKLE (No. 45 Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix): "The car just didn't feel good. We felt really good in practice and we ran a .17 and the car felt good and felt like it stuck. It didn't feel like it stuck very good in qualifying. The first lap I was all over the race track and the second lap I knew I had to get it in there and do good. I got in the corner easy and it kind of slid around, but it really got off of three and four good. I really didn't think it was that good of a lap. Last year we qualified fourth and 11th here. I get around here really good. I got around here good in my All-Pro car and the truck. We needed this. We needed it bad. We made a change this week (new crew chief Bill Ingle) and we just needed to have a good day."

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "Considering what we've been through today, we got the pole. That's a lot faster than we've run. I about wrecked there at the end of practice. The guys did just a heck of a job. The way this new wall is around the race track, it's going to be a tough deal. The biggest thing is we used to miss wrecks in the grass. Last year I got spun out within the grass and finished 11th. Now if the same scenario happened I'd be out. It's going to be a tough, tough deal and I don't like it at all."

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "The car was probably a little quicker than that. I'm a little disappointed in myself because I think I could have gone a little bit quicker. I like coming to a race track where qualifying isn't going to make much of a difference for us. We qualified eighth in both races last year and we went right up to the front. I think we've got a really good car and hopefully, we'll be good again."

BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 00 Crown Fiber Pontiac Grand Prix):  "We picked it up
a good bit over practice.  We had a problem with the gear in practice and
changed a few things.  We tested here and changed a few things hoping to
get better.  It didn't work out."

DERRIKE COPE (No. 30 Jimmy Dean Pontiac Grand Prix): "We're really scratching our heads. The car actually feels pretty good out there. Somewhere we've got to find some speed. Qualifying has just boiled down to a precise science right now and right now we're struggling when it's test time."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing