Friday, Aug. 20, 1999. Michigan Speedway. First-round qualifying Pepsi 400 Presented by Meijer. Chevrolet notes, quotes. TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It's been a struggle all day for us. We haven't really have much...
Friday, Aug. 20, 1999. Michigan Speedway. First-round qualifying Pepsi 400 Presented by Meijer. Chevrolet notes, quotes.
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It's been a struggle all day for us. We haven't really have much time on the track. That's not what we were looking for, but we'll just have to keep working on it and get ready for Sunday."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The car felt pretty good. It was free. I thought it would be quicker than that, but that's about where we ran this morning. We made a lot of changes there at the end. I think we'll be pretty good on Sunday. Hopefully we can stay in the top 25. We've run pretty good here in the past. This is one of my favorite cars, so I think we'll be in pretty good shape for the race."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had run quicker than that two or three times today, but this place is like a gambler's track. It depends on when the sun comes out or goes in. I guess you've just got to have all your ducks in a row the night before."
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The motor was good. We're still looking for a little downforce on the rear of that Monte Carlo. That's better than we practiced. We've been loose all day in the middle of the turns. We got it decent through the middle, but it was still a little too loose to qualify. We're pleased with that. Hopefully, we'll stay in the top 25."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It should have been worse. We were talking earlier. We've made first round about 10 weeks in a row and picked up in the first session. We didn't pick up today. I'm surprised I ran that. I had to let off off turn two. I thought I was going to hit the wall. It pushed and got up high and got in the white stuff. I'm proud of the team for that lap."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We're pretty pleased with that. Goodyear has come with a different tire, and it's a really great tire, but it changed our setup. The guys did a good job working around that. We went a tick faster than we did in practice, and that's what we need to do. We've been struggling a little bit qualifying. We've got a different car than we had here last time. Paul (crew chief Andrews) wanted to bring the car that ran so well at Charlotte. We finished sixth here last time, but it just shows you that these guys aren't going to settle for sixth. We're pretty happy with that run. Of course, we'd like to run faster, but with all the troubles we've been having in qualifying, we'll take it. At least we ran the same speed we ran in practice.
"I was ecstatic finishing sixth here last time, and not sixth ain't good enough. That's my mentality, and that's the mentality of the whole team. We've finished in the top 15 in the past six races. That's the consistency we've been looking to build. Now we're going to look for consistent top 10s and top fives and try to get our first win."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The guys worked hard on this Lowe's Chevrolet today. We pretty much backed up what we did in practice. I felt like I left a little bit on the table in one and two, but I don't know if it would have been enough to beat Ward. We got through three and four awfully good, came to the flag awfully good. We had a good run, and it was a good qualifying engine. The guys back at the shop did a great job. For Mike Skinner and this 31 car to qualify good at Michigan, that's a big accomplishment because we've never done that before. Any time you have good track position to start with, that's good. Now we can concentrate on our race stuff. It gives you an opportunity to take a little more time to get ready to race. We left a little on the table in one and two, but the Pontiac is awfully good on downforce, so I don't know if it would have been enough to beat Ward or not. This Chevrolet ran as good as we could get it today. We're proud to be in it and proud to start the race with it.
"First loser. That's the first thing that comes to mind. We had a great run. That's just all we had. Ward was better. We caught a perfect lap. We won practice and he won qualifying. We were just a little quicker than he was in practice. We thought we could run a little bit quicker, and I think I tried a little bit too hard down in one and two. Even if I would have gotten every piece of one and two, we may have been an .18 or .19. We might have been a tenth quicker. It still wouldn't have beaten Ward's lap. We did the best we could. Goodyear came up with this tire that seems to turn awfully good. I think it's going to be a great race tire. I think it's going to be a lot better here at Michigan. We've run pretty bad here in the past. For us to qualify up front in the Lowe's Chevrolet is definitely an improvement. We're just happy to be here.
"One awesome thing about making first-round qualifying and having a pretty good starting spot is we can come in here in the morning and work on race stuff. We've got a different car than we've ever run here before. It's got a different tire. We feel like we're a little bit closer to equal ground. We've got to work on getting the car tight enough to get in the corner and also turn good coming off behind cars. We've had a lot of trouble with our Monte Carlo turning behind other cars. This particular car likes to lead and when it's in front, it runs pretty good laps. When it's behind people, we have a pretty hard time getting the nose to stick under it. We're going to work on that some more. Hopefully we can improve that some more. This is the car we ran at Pocono and had an awfully good run going. The engine went south on us toward the end of the race. We got tangled up with a lapped car on a restart, but we still have a top-10 finish and a good run there. This is the same race car, so hopefully we can get hold of it and make it better and better and better until we get closer to the front.
"The cars that went out on the race track the first six, seven or eight laps here, it's so loose to get the car to come in later on a run. I think with this tire, you can start the car a little bit closer to being in control. The car won't go away. I don't know this for a fact, but from what we've heard about it, the tire should stay under the car and it should make for a better race and keep the cars under you a little better. It's hard to have a race car that's real good on brand new tires with air pressure down and then stay good. It seems like every week the guy that's able to do that has good runs, but in our case, we've been really good on long runs."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I think you'll see some cars that have usually struggled with the chassis have a little bit better luck with this tire. There is no comfortable way to go around the race track that fast I don't think. I got done with my qualifying lap. I felt like I had just qualified at Bristol. I was out of breath. I just don't know if I had 10 more tries if I could have gone any faster.
"I think fuel mileage is important at a lot of the longer tracks that we go to. It's important at every track we go to with the exception of a couple of tracks the tires won't make it. Somebody asked me if I had a choice of good fuel mileage, a good handling car or good horsepower which one I'd want,
I said all of the above. I think a good handling race car here will prevail. Fuel mileage turns into a situation when the cautions fall, when's the last time you came down pit road. A good handling race car keeps you in contention all day. I think a good handling race car is going to mean as much as good fuel mileage. Horsepower and handling seem to be probably better than fuel mileage, but you need it all."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "We just never got the car handling today."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We made the first round, and I was worried at the start of the year about just making the races. We made the first rounds the first three races, and that gives us something to work on next year. This is all about taking notes and getting experience. I wish we could have run better for Budweiser, but that's not a bad lap considering where we came from this morning and working with the Busch car and having a heavy load on ourselves."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It felt great. We just didn't go fast. I told these guys I think I've lost the feel. I used to know when I had a good lap going. This weekend, twice now, in the Busch car and in the Winston Cup car, I thought I had great laps. Here I am sitting eighth in the Busch car and ninth in the Cup car. We've got a good package for them. Some of those guys ran some unbelievable laps today, but we're going to get after them in the race. I feel good about this car and this tire and everything we've got. It should be a good combination for us in the race Sunday.
"If he (Dale Jarrett) fell out of the next four or five races, that'd be OK. It wouldn't be OK, but that's the only thing we're going to be able to do to catch him. They're strong right now. It's theirs right now. We're not going to give up. We're going to keep working, trying to gain points and see what we can do. I don't think our main focus is D.J. right now, other than if he's the guy to beat here on Sunday. That's our focus, how do we win races? How do we get the best finishes?
"I think it (Jarrett's performance here earlier in the year) is motivating for all of us. We want to come back and outrun him. If he's the guy that's going to set the pace. He was unbelievable the last time we were here. I don't know what it's going to be like here this weekend, but he's definitely one of the benchmarks when we come here to Michigan. He'll probably be the guy to beat."
"We left a little bit out there today because the car felt great. I thought it was a better lap than I'd run in practice, yet I slowed down a little bit. My guys have been working really, really hard to come back to Michigan and be competitive enough to win this race. D.J. was the benchmark the last time we were here. These tires are going to change things a little bit.
"The car is good. The motors are real, real good. We made some big gains today because we were way off earlier. I guess we'll just take a top 10."
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The Power Team needed a good run. This is a good one for us. More than that, we need a good race run. By starting toward the front, it certainly does help us have a better chance to have a good race run. We know we have a good car. This car ran really good at Indianapolis and it's run real good since we've been here. Qualifying is great. Starting up front is great. We hope Sunday goes just as well.
"Fuel mileage is a big thing here, but we need a good handling car and good pit stops. All those things (handling, horsepower and fuel mileage) can either put you in victory lane or keep you out of victory lane. We hope we have a good day Sunday. We know if that happens, we'll have a good run.
"I love it (new Goodyear tire at Michigan). It reminds me of the days of old. We used to come here and we were always loose and really free through the corners, and that's what this tire has done for the cars. That's why the speeds are faster. I don't see any problem with it. They grip. They stick good. They feel good. You just have to adjust the car a little bit to it, and your driving style. Our car suited what they brought and hopefully Sunday it'll be the same way.
"We worked on it today. We had a good car the first lap out, but we kept getting better. After I saw Ward go out there and run fast, I was listening and watching everyone else and nobody was complaining. Everybody said I didn't run hard enough, so I ran it hard enough. I wanted to go wide open around this place, but I couldn't do it. It was darn close. I drove into one really deep, deeper than I had driven in all day and it stuck. I got up a little higher than I thought I needed to be, but it didn't slow the car down any. I got back in the gas and it took off. I drove into three and it stuck. It was awesome. I can stand here now and say I didn't drive it hard enough. It would have taken more.
"Indy should have been our turnaround race. We have good cars from here on out. The first half of the year we couldn't always do that."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I was very happy with it. Maybe it'll be faster in the race. We worked hard. We've been behind the eight ball since we've been here. My car handled excellent. I don't know where the speed's at. Maybe when the track gets slippery or when we get in race mode we'll be a little bit better. It's real important for us to pull off a good lap like that and get in the top 25 so we can work on race setup tomorrow. This will give us more time to work on the race setup."