Pontiac Racing Michigan qualifying notes

WARD BURTON, NO. 22 CATERPILLAR PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "That just wasn't a real good time for us. It was a decent time, but we were real loose. The track temperature got us a lot. We changed an awful lot of stuff on the Caterpillar Pontiac. We...

WARD BURTON, NO. 22 CATERPILLAR PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "That just wasn't a real good time for us. It was a decent time, but we were real loose. The track temperature got us a lot. We changed an awful lot of stuff on the Caterpillar Pontiac. We were just too dog gone loose right there. I had to make the track real big because I was trying to keep the back end under me. We'll just work real hard on the chassis tomorrow to try to get the best handling car and go after it Sunday."

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "That was a good run there for us. The track temperature kind of heated up there. It was kind of cooler earlier and got warmer it went. But, hey, that's the way it goes. We've got a good car. It was a good run. The car ran good and it feels good. It was a little too loose to go fast, but good enough. We're real happy with that. Hopefully we'll have a good car for Sunday." (ON HIS CHANCES OF WINNING SUNDAY) "You don't know until you get out there."

TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "I think the track got us a little bit. It freed up just a little bit, but we were loose to begin with so I'm not sure if we just didn't catch up all the way to it or not. But we ran a little faster (in qualifying), so we're happy with that. "I've just never qualified well at this place, but we always race fairly decent here. It's just good to get through first round here and then we can go worry about racing tomorrow." (ON HIS CONFIDENCE NOW COMPARED TO HOW HE FELT HERE IN JUNE) "I'm in a little better mood than I was at this point in the weekend during the spring. I guess I just think that we started 28th and won last time here. I don't know why I can't qualify good here, but we always have good race cars when we come here. I just don't qualify well. It's just one of those places that once we get through qualifying, I'm always in a lot better mood after the morning practice and then a real good mood after 'Happy Hour,' and then we race good. We'll just see what happens the next two days."

DAVE BLANEY, NO. 93 AMOCO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "That wasn't bad. I just messed up turn four, coming to the green and on my lap, so I didn't get through there very good. I was just trying to run both pedals a little bit. I should have just lifted, got it turned and went. The car was a little better than the driver on that lap."

JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 AARON'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "That's way disappointing. We missed our spot going out and that's where I wanted to go out. We're just having a few little problems, I guess. But it will race good. I'm not worried about it." (WAS THERE A LOT DIFFERENT BETWEEN HIS PRACTICE RUN AND HIS QUALIFYING RUN?) "About 20 spots. But, what do you do?"

KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: (ON EQUALING HIS SECOND BEST QUALIFYING EFFORT OF THE YEAR) "I've struggled a bunch here in the past. I just can never find quite what I want. But this whole team - especially the guys back in the shop - they have been cutting and grinding a bunch on these things the last couple weeks. They built us a good little hot rod for up here this week. It was good when we unloaded, so I'm ready to get it in race trim now."

RICK MAST, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: * Mast's qualifying run is his best ever at Michigan in 21 attempts and his best this season in 17 attempts. (ON HIS LAP) "It was a pretty uneventful lap. It was all I had. Our car was a top five or six car when we first unloaded speed-wise. We tried some different things chassis-wise and we kept getting off. We kept slowing down. So finally right towards the end of practice we put it back the way we unloaded, tweaked on it a little bit and I said, 'Well, we'll see what we've got guys.' And it was a good lap. "But the good part about it is this is our first effort with the Coyote or A.J. Foyt engine - it's a David Evans (built) engine. As you all know, we have been using Peter Guild's motors this year for a good while. David Evans has been in our shop for the last three or four months putting together our engine program and this is the first effort with our own engine. That's got me pleased big-time. We don't have all the engines for every week, racing and qualifying. But this is the start. We're going to be using Peter's motors some, our motors some and working into using ours exclusively, so that was good. "The other part about it is that this car is a car that aerodynamic-wise was really junk not too long ago. In the wind tunnel, it didn't blow good. Philippe (Lopez), my crew chief and our fab guys re-did this car aero-wise, and at least for a couple laps, it's run good. "Just everything we're doing is getting in a lot better shape." (ON THE TEAM'S OVERALL IMPROVEMENT) "I took this job back in March knowing that it (the team) was in dire straits at the time or felt like it had its problems. But I also know A.J. well enough to know - I've known A.J. since '91 as a friend - and I know that if his name is attached to it, at the end of the day it's going to be successful. I knew he would do whatever he had to do to make it successful. "We had 10 brand new race cars when I got there. Every one of them had to have snouts put on them - front frame snouts. The geometry was wrong. Every one of them, the bodies have had to have been re-done. We've had to go outside to get engines. Through all this, the only thing that A.J. has ever done with me, Philippe, Tommy (Lamance) - any of us - is basically set down in the lounge and we've talked about it: 'OK, what's wrong? What do we got to do to fix it? What do you guys need?' That's the way it's been from the very beginning. He's taken a real racer's mentality approach to this. "You've heard us talk about this. The guys that are successful up here are the racers - I'm talking about the owners. It's not the businessmen, but the racers. It's a little different mentality. A.J. has that. He's given us what we need to do to get this thing fixed." (continued, p. 3) "The geometry and the chassis are better than they were. The bodies are better -- we're not anywhere close to where we need to be, yet - but they're a lot better than where they were. The engines, of course, we're a lot better off there than where we were. We still have room to improve on all that. The thing we're fighting right now is we don't have baselines to go off of with a good, sound race car, with a good aerodynamic package from one racetrack to the next. We ran Pocono for the second time this year with the same car, or with the same basic body, and we ran in the top 10 at Pocono. Coming here to Michigan, we don't really have a baseline. We ran here the last race, but our car was so far out in left field that nothing we did during that race will translate to this race. Nothing we learned in that race can we use here. What we've got to do here is really just throw stuff against the wall and see if it works. We can get lucky and come up with a good race package that will work. If it does, then that's great. If not, we'll take this race and use this race as a baseline for next year or later on in one of the races this year at a track that is similar to this. As I've told everybody that would listen - Philippe knows it, A.J. knows it, Conseco knows it -- we've just got to have more time." (WHICH ENGINE WILL HE RACE WITH ON SUNDAY?) "Actually the engine that we're going to race with is an A.J. Foyt engine, but Peter Guild built it. What it is, is a unique situation with Peter Guild of Pro Motor. He and David Evans, our engine builder, have been working in unison the last three months. Peter has been helping David and David has been helping Peter. It has been kind of a joint effort between the two parties. This particular race engine we'll start using tomorrow is kind of a joint effort. It's not a sole Coyote engine or a David Evans engine. It is leaning towards being our engine." (HOW LONG DID HE THINK IT WOULD TAKE TO TURN THE TEAM AROUND?) "I knew when I took the job with A.J. that it was going to be awhile. I knew we were going to have bumpy roads. I knew it was going to take a while to fix it. I didn't know how deep the problems were, but I knew there were problems there. I knew what kind of mindset I had to have going in. I was going to parallel what Dale (Jarrett) did a few years ago when he left the '18' (car) and was going to the '28' (car). He knew he was going to an opportunity where he felt like he had a chance to win the championship. He left a very good situation. Well, I had other opportunities when I went to A.J.'s. There were a couple of other opportunities out there that for the next month, I think I could have run better - for the first three or four races. But I knew at the end of the day, the end results at the end of this year, next year, whatever, that I would be better off with A.J.'s team. I went in with that mindset. I went in knowing it was going to take awhile. But I also knew without any doubt in my mind what the end result would be. We're not there yet, but we will be. Believe me."

"It wasn't that bad because I didn't have Dale Earnhardt, Inc., calling me to drive his car, I didn't have Richard Childress calling me to drive one of his cars. This was the best opportunity, I felt, at the time. So I didn't even have a choice in it. It didn't matter to me. I don't let stuff like that affect me. If I don't have any control over it, then there is nothing I can do. I did have control over which team I went to back in March and I knew this team would get there."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , A.J. Foyt