Pontiac Racing Pocono qualifying notes

KYLE PETTY, NO. 44 HOT WHEELS PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "We made a couple of changes during the week, to be honest with you. Doug Hewitt is back with us for a couple of races (as crew chief). But we've come here and we've run really good. "That set...

"We made a couple of changes during the week, to be honest with you. Doug Hewitt is back with us for a couple of races (as crew chief). But we've come here and we've run really good.

"That set of tires was a little bit snugger than the ones that we were using in practice. Any time I don't lose anything qualifying and can run close to the same, then we're OK."

"That's a good run for the M&M's car. We just need a starting position and that is a decent one."

(IS POCONO EASIER FOR YOU THAN OTHERS?) "It's tough for me, too. But I an hold my breath for a lap."

(ON THE QUALIFYING IMPROVEMENT) "We've had a better grip on things. If you look at my qualifying stuff at Michigan, it's the bottom of my list. It's really been bad there, so we're starting to make some gains besides this being a good track for us."

(ON THE LAP) "It was a great lap for us. We worked to try to get it freed up some from earlier, and kept working on it and working on it. I loosened it up a little bit, which we needed to. But we probably went just a little bit too far in turn one. Turns two and three were pretty much the same. I guess all in all it was pretty good. We picked up some."

(COMPARING LAST YEAR'S CAR TO THIS YEAR'S RIGHT NOW) "It's not bad. Hopefully we've got something to work with. We're not really 100 percent perfect yet. But we weren't (at this time) last year either. If we can get up on the right stuff we can get a little bit better than we are right now."

(ON BEING ABLE TO RUN THIS CAR THIS WEEK) "It's pretty phenomenal. This car was tore up at Dover. I mean it was wiped out at Dover. We took our other car to Michigan and then Philippe (Lopez) and the guys took it to the wind tunnel Tuesday. It worked out that it wasn't going to work at Pocono, so the guys started (working on this car) Tuesday. I think finally last night all the guys got to bed. They worked Tuesday night, Wednesday night and Thursday night. It was phenomenal. I used to be able to do that when I was 20. I could stay up until five o'clock in the morning, but not two or three nights in a row. But all the guys did that and we got a good qualifying effort out of it. We hoped it would go a little quicker, but with what the guys had to go through this week, to me it's just phenomenal."

"That's a little bit disappointing. We usually pick up a tenth or two, and we were really hoping for that. We were ninth quick in practice and were hoping we could end up in the top 10. But we just didn't pick up what we thought and actually, we lost some.

 "But I think we've got a pretty good set-up for the race.  The car is
actually decent.  We just hurt ourselves a little bit there in qualifying."

(ON THE DEER IN TURN ONE DURING HIS RUN) "Oh deer - literally - the one standing out there in turn one. The last thing we need to do is hit something like that. I'm just glad we stayed away from it."

(ON HIS RUN)  "The Home Depot Pontiac was a lot better than I thought we
were going to be.  That was a pretty good lap for us."

(ON POCONO) "This place is really a technical track. With it being as big as it is and with the straightaways as big as they are, if you make a little bit of a gain in any corner it shows up big on the stopwatch because of the length of the straightaways. You can either gain a lot of time or lose a lot of time with a little mistake or a little bit of a gain."

(ON TRYING TO BEAT BOBBY LABONTE ON SUNDAY) "I'm going to go with the fact that until last year, Bobby struggled here and he had a lot of bad luck. Maybe he shed a little bit on me because he doesn't need all that good luck now. He's leading the points so he can afford to give up a little bit. He's got Ward (Burton) right there, so a couple of Pontiacs are covering the front. It's about time a different Pontiac comes through. Hopefully we can the '43' to do what he and the '20' (Tony Stewart) and the '22' (Burton) have been doing all year, and that's win a race."

(TIGHT QUALIFYING SESSION) "It's Winston Cup. That's just the way things go. We're awful happy to be up there. At Pocono we've qualified pretty good in the past. We've can hopefully get to the finish line. We've had some bad luck here and had some things happen to us.

"I knew the time wasn't going to be good enough to hold up to Rusty (Wallace). With he and Ricky, I thought if I beat one of them, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'd beat them both. It wouldn't have been a surprise if they were on the front row. I'd have to say that I'd be the surprise of the front row. We were pretty good in practice, but we hit it pretty right in qualifying. We made some changes and it ran pretty good."

(ON STARTING UP FRONT AT POCONO) "It's always good to start up front, especially at Pocono, because if you start in the middle at Pocono it's always a six-abreast race to the tunnel turn and who can crash first when you're in the middle. Hopefully, I'll be in front of it and not starting it. But I think we're in pretty good shape. If we drop back a little bit at the beginning - it's pretty hard to get lapped here at Pocono and even harder if you're starting at the front, so hopefully we can get a good set-up.

(WILL THIS BE AN ANDRETTI WEEKEND, WITH UNCLE MARIO AT LEMANS, COUSIN MICHAEL IN DETROIT AND HIM HERE?) "I always root for an Andretti weekend. There haven't been very many. Hopefully Mario can get that LeMans win that has eluded him. That's the only thing left in his book that he needs to put in there. Obviously Michael is in Detroit and I've got money on him, so I would like him to do good. And The King (car owner Richard Petty) has got money on me here, so I hope I do good here."

(DID HE FEEL LIKE AN UNDERDOG TODAY?) "With guys like (Rusty and Ricky), you always feel a little bit like an underdog, I think.

"But the thing about Winston Cup is that if you get everything just right and you hit everything just right you can pick up, especially at a place like Pocono. We ran a (53) 'flat' in practice and we ended up running a (52) '55' in qualifying. I knew I ran better in qualifying because I hit all my marks. In my practice qualifying run, I didn't. Plus I had made my 'sticker' (tire) run and I knew what the stickers were going to do, and they did the exact same thing. Our adjustments helped that, too. I didn't think it was going to be good enough for the pole at that time. But I knew it was good enough to make that top 25.

"I get a sigh of relief in the race car when I know I hit all those marks because then I know I can think about the race, which, I think they pay more for the race than qualifying. I haven't looked at the thing. But I haven't gotten paid much for either because I haven't done well at either this year."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Richard Petty