Pontiac Talladega Qualifying Report

Talladega Superspeedway April 23, 1999 BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "Before we went out, I thought a (48).70 would be fine. We came down here and tested last week. This is not the same Pontiac we raced the...

Talladega Superspeedway April 23, 1999

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "Before we went out, I thought a (48).70 would be fine. We came down here and tested last week. This is not the same Pontiac we raced the last five restrictor plate races. This is the Grand Prix we actually raced at the Bud Shootout. It's never been raced 500 miles before, but we thought like it would qualify better than the other car. We brought it down for this race to try it out and see how it does. So far, so good. "That was a little quicker than I thought we'd run. This team did a great job. This car ran real good in the Shootout, we just didn't get all the bugs worked out of it over the winter in order to run it in the 500. We got it a lot more comfortable in last week's test down here. A spot in the top-five is a great starting spot for us. "We ran an .80 in practice and I really didn't think we had much more than a .75 in us. We were really surprised to pick up a couple of more tenths than we thought we had. We came down here and tested a couple of weeks ago and got our qualifying package a little bit better. We put two more things on it today to make it go a little quicker. We're awfully surprised to go that fast. We've got a good starting spot. We won this race from the pole last year and started second in the fall. We've got some guys that do a great job in restrictor plate racing, Mark Cronquist (engine builder) and Jimmy Makar and everybody in the body shop. This is a brand new race car and we're awfully tickled about that. "It all goes back to the race tracks we run well at. We've run well at Talladega the last five or six races. We've finished in the top-five of most of them. We just had a good car and were able to stay out of any incidents that might happen. We've been very fortunate we haven't been caught up in anything like that. Everybody has turned our restrictor program around in the last two or three years. When we come to a race track like this we do get awfully excited about it because we do have a good restrictor plate program. If we can stay out of everybody's way or stay out of trouble come Sunday, hopefully we can be in contention to do what we did last year. "I've started in the back and it's no fun anywhere. Starting in the front is a little bit better, I think. It's definitely a mental thing. When your day is over you're drained more mentally than physically."

TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix): "It was loose. It wasn't that free in practice. It was pretty much a handful. Hopefully, it will drive better in the race. I'm sure it will. I was pretty excited after hearing Bobby's lap. I thought maybe we had a shot at running fairly close to that. The car just jumped around a little more than I thought it would. We may have got a little too aggressive on shocks or something. I think we're solid in here. I think we've got a good base to start from as far as practice tomorrow. We'll get this rough riding stuff off of here and put the stuff that feels good back on it."

ERNIE IRVAN (No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix): "Obviously, you're at the mercy of all the guys at the shop to make that car fast. I think our Pontiac is pretty competitive. The Hendrick motor department has really stepped up. Somebody reminded me that I had five poles here. That just tells you that I've been with some pretty good teams.

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "That was what we sort of expected. Time-wise it was almost to within a hundredth of what we practiced at. We ran clean laps in practice and we had everything we could put in this Pontiac. Time-wise that's exactly what we thought we would be. We thought we might start up a little further, but all these guys started picking up. You always like to think if you don't qualify real well you have a really good race car. I think we do here. This was the car I was going to run at Daytona and didn't make it through the 125s. I think we'll be in good shape."

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix): "That wasn't too good. We've got some work to do when it comes to qualifying at these places. We're just missing it somewhere. I don't know what it is. It's probably the motor, body, a little bit of everything."

DERRIKE COPE (No. 30 Bryan Pontiac Grand Prix): "It wasn't eventful, so that's one good thing. Obviously, it wasn't very fast either. We'll see what we can do and come back tomorrow. Considering we had a grand total of four laps on the track in practice, that's not too bad a lap. It's actually about what you expect when you went through what we went through this morning. We had to rub some fenders down and then we sprung a leak in the radiator. By the time the crew was finished with all that, there was 35 minutes left in practice. You need more time than that to prepare."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup