Tony Stewart ...
Tony Stewart #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet
COMMENTS ON PRACTICE It's alright so far. We learned a lot from the test that's helping us. It's got good balance so far. It's just a matter of seeing what we have to do for the race. It's got potential to be a really good car for the weekend if we can just find one little thing. We don't know what that one little thing is going to be, but if we find that one little thing, it's going to be really good
Jeff Gordon #24 DuPont Chevrolet
COMMENTS ON THE MICHIGAN SPEEDWAY It's such a wide race track to begin with, but the fact that you can drive on all those lines is something that we really don't have at any other race track. And, they've really made very few changes to the track. The surface is great. You know, it doesn't mean that you're always going to have the best, most-exciting race. But I think from a driver's standpoint-going to a race track where you can pass, if you're faster than the guy in front of you, you know you can go to the inside or the outside. You can do certain things to make things happen. That's what we all want every single weekend is to be able to run two, three wide. And make passes.
TALK ABOUT THE RECENT RUN OF RACES FOR YOU AND IF THAT'S BEEN FRUSTRATING It's been frustrating, knowing that we were up in the points and solid with a top 5, and then three weeks and boom, you're outside the top 10. I know how strong our strong and good our team is to be able to recover and bounce back from that, but still, it just kind of puts it in the back of your mind that anything can happen at any time. Sometimes things are out of your control. Things can happen. You've just got to be prepared for it. I still think that we're one of the top teams and have a shot at this championship. It maybe just puts us in a different mindset to appreciate when you have those good runs and you do get up to the front.
DOES THAT EVER MAKE YOU THINK YOU COULD BE OUT OF IT? Well, if that continued, definitely. You can only get so far behind, you can only have so many bad things happen to you where those things can take you out of the championship. You know, right now I don't think we've felt that at all yet.
WHAT DO YOU DIFFERENT? Well, I mean, we're always working to make the cars better and faster and talking about the impound. Tracks, what we can do to qualify better as well as race better. Somebody runs in the back of you and there's not a lot you can do different except race. So, I don't think that it's really anything that we contribute to. Circumstantial things you can learn from to see if you can do something different. Biggest part is to just get up front and stay up front.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE UPCOMING RACE? Well, I'm really looking forward to the road course. It's a track that we've run really well at. I like the road courses so I'm excited about that. There are no guaratees, that's the thing. There are no guarantees at any track whether you run good or bad at that you're going to come out of there with a great finish. You've got to focus on each one, one at a time. Work very hard and hope that the results show what the effort (is).
COMMENTS REGARDING DIFFERENT APPROACH TO RACES AS A RESULT OF WHERE YOU ARE IN THE POINTS THAT WEEK I mean, all you can do is approach it the same way, whether there are things that can happen that are out of your control or not. You've just got to race hard, push hard and get the best finishes you can. I will say that when you go through three bad weeks like that, you realize that a top 10 is satisfactory. Just getting some momentum to get going, get back into things and you might be a little bit more cautious about taking risks and you might get yourself more comfortable until you're back up in the points.
COMMENTS ON WINNING IN NASCAR To win races and win championships, it's a combination of good cars, good team and good fortune. And it's never any one thing. But yet, one thing can take you out of it. You just go out there and put your best foot forward and hope that it's your day and your year.
COMMENTS ON IMPROVING Yeah, you have to stay on top of things and possibly put yourself in position to do better. Especially in areas where you're weaker. And we've been weaker in qualifying at the impound tracks. And, you know, in my opinion it's still pretty early in the season. It's all about getting prepared for those last ten. We wouldn't be doing anything drastic that's a huge change.
DOES A BAD WEEKEND BREAK MOMENTUM? Oh yeah, definitely. You don't want to start rhythm with bad things happening. You want to start rhythm with good things happening. When you have one bad weekend, the second one, and then the third one and you go, wow, you kind of go a little bit into panic mode and say, we better start putting some good races together. And you know the urgency of getting it together is important.
DO YOU HAVE THAT URGENCY THIS WEEK? Well, I think that ninth-place finish last week certainly was a step forward. This week is one of our favorite tracks. Next week is one of our favorite tracks. And I hope that we can get the results we know we're capable of. But I don't feel a sense of urgency quite yet.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES THIS WEEKEND AT MICHIGAN? I feel good. It's one of my favorite tracks. We're running good. The car feels very comfortable. I think that just the confidence that we bring coming into this track, from past runs, and success, gives us a good feel about this entire weekend.
THIS IS THE HOME OF THE U.S. AUTO INDUSTRY. THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE HERE THAT DRIVE CHEVYS. DOES THAT MEAN AN ADDED PRESSURE HERE AT THIS RACE? Yeah. I think that all of us have in the back of our mind that the manufacturers are in Detroit and that when we're here in Michigan that we've got a sense of pride on the line that we're trying to represent our manufacturer and bring it home for Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe's Chevrolet
COMMENTS ON PRACTICE Practice was good. The car is running good. The engines are really strong. I think the Lowe's Monte Carlo is going to be in good shape. It's driving almost too comfortable, so we're going to make it a little edgier and see if we can get some speed out of it.
COMMENTS ON TEMPERATURES Yeah, it's easier to go fast today. The sun comes out, the grip level goes away on the track, the engines don't run as good and you can't run those quick lap times. Everybody was really, really fast. It didn't seem like there was a lot of dropoff in the tire in this practice session. It's because the cloud cover. So, we're looking at past notes and trying to make smart decisions to adjust to a warm race track.
WHY IS MICHIGAN SPECIAL? They're all special. When you have so much money involved and it takes so many people to be successful at this level, whether we're at Charlotte which is our home race, or here in Michigan. It's very important for the manufacturers. This is their home track. That puts a lot of pressure on the teams to do well. We've got pressure every week and everyone wants to win all the time. But, if you do win here and leave with the trophy, you do feel good that you brought you manufacturer to victory lane.
DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE IN A GOOD SPOT RIGHT NOW? Definitely. We are in a great spot. Last year, we had a huge points lead in the first 26 and didn't end up as the champion. This year, to be where we are to be in those final ten races-first make the Chase-and then the final 10 races.
HOW DIFFICULT HAS IT BEEN FOR JEFF GORDON THESE PAST FEW RACES? You know, it has been difficult. If I'm remembering right, there really has only been about one race where he hasn't had a car capable of finishing in the top 5. And he still finished well-I think he finished tenth or ninth at Pocono. You know, if you're running bad, finishing bad is one thing. But, he's been running up front and has been caught up in different things. So, it helps a little bit and gives him and his team the confidence to just say, okay let's get this behind us. They'll be back. You can't count those guys out. Especially the way the points system is, it does help anybody that has some trouble or some bad luck. Because after 26 races, you only have 5 between each spot.
DOES IT BOTHER YOU ABOUT THE POINTS SYSTEM, THAT A BIG LEAD GOES AWAY IN THE FINAL TEN RACES? Not as much. I think years of experience have helped that. But, you know, the final ten is a long way away from here. So, we just need to be smart and readjust and play the game the way it is. If there was a chance that the points system was going to change back, there would be a reason to voice an opinion or have an opinion. But this is how it is.
HOW DO YOU VIEW YOUR MOMENTUM THIS SEASON The way we ended last season with all those victories, it would be hard to carry that momentum over. Starting the season we did-we won the Bud Shootout and then were in contention to win quite a few races in the year. Then it kind of slowed down a bit and we lost a bit of the speed and now we're in a building process. We're getting that back. I'm happy to see that through the slow times we've had, we've still been able to get top 10s. We won at Charlotte. We've been competitive and maintained the points lead. I'm excited to see this maturity in our team, at this point to build points and build back up. We're still competitive to where we need to be.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR ROAD RACE PROGRAM OR DO YOU FEEL THAT IS A STICKING POINT WITH YOU RIGHT NOW? No, our road course program has been way above the driver's ability. Now, I think, with running the 24 Hours of Daytona and the testing we've done, I'm comfortable to understand a Cup car on a road course. I think we're going to be real good. We had a great test at V.I.R. I'm actually really looking forward to it.
IS THERE MORE ROAD RAGE ON A ROAD COURSE? On a road course, every mistake you make is your own fault. Maybe somebody does get into you, but I worry about myself on a road course more than anything else.
DID YOU HAVE A LEFT-FRONT TIRE THAT WENT DOWN IN PRACTICE? Yeah, I came off of turn 2 and a left front tire went down. It was going to tear the car up, so I just stopped. They let us change the tire out, and I drove the car back in.
Michael Waltrip #15 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
We had a good car at first. It's what I like about my team-we changed it around three or four different ways and got a bunch of information on shocks and how they're affecting the car. We made it worse. We never did make it better. But, now we have a bunch of information to go into the next practice with. I think we'll be in good shape.
Kevin Harvick #29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
COMMENTS ON PRACTICE First practice it was really loose getting off the corner, but we've seemed to have fixed that. It was a little bit tight in the center of the corner, but stays real consistent with lap times. I think I'm going to race pretty good. I might not be that fast in qualifying. But, feel pretty good and we've been gaining on it all day.
Joe Nemechek #01 U.S. Army Chevrolet
COMMENTS ON PRACTICE Just worked really hard on our U.S. Army Chevy. Trying to get the max speed out of it. The crew did a lot of work to get it going around the corner pretty good, and I'm pretty happy with my car right now.
MANY DRIVERS SAY THEY LOVE THIS PLACE. DO YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY? Oh yeah. In practice, they don't get that line going up to the wall. But in the race, man, we'll be running right up to the wall.
YOU'VE HAD A GOOD RUN LATELY. HOW DOES THAT FEEL? It feels good. We've got a lot of confidence right now. My cars are driving the way I like them to feel. We're able to make adjustments through the race and make them that much better. So, things are going good right now. The whole team is on a roll. Everybody knows what has to happen to make this thing go. We've come close to winning a few races and we've had some problems. I know everybody gets disappointed. But we rebound pretty quick and figure out what we need to do to rebound. Once we figure it out, we're there. I think we're right there, right now.
Scott Riggs #10 Valvoline Chevrolet
COMMENTS ON PRACTICE Not bad. We made a lot of changes on the car. We unloaded the same way we were in California. We had a pretty good car there, and we just changed a ton of things trying to help that. Just didn't work here at all. We were really tight here in the center of the corner and made a lot of changes. Ended up going to the front end making a lot of geometry changes, seemed like we got it there at the end. Ran about five or six laps in the 38s, so it makes me feel like we're a lot better than we were. In the ballpark. Qualifying effort was good-I think we ended up fifth on the board. Feel good about that.
TEMPERATURES WILL BE HIGHER TOMORROW - SLOWER TIMES? Yeah, it will probably slow down a little bit and whatever problem you do have, it's just going to magnify that problem. I think we made some great gains right there at the end of practice. I feel good about it.