Saturday, May 15, 1999. Richmond International Raceway. Qualifying for Pontiac Excitement 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes. JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) NOTE: Gordon captured his 26th career pole,...
Saturday, May 15, 1999. Richmond International Raceway. Qualifying for Pontiac Excitement 400. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) NOTE: Gordon captured his 26th career pole, third of the season and his third at Richmond on Saturday with a track record lap of 126.499 mph. "The car was really good. I just needed to make sure I drove it hard, but not too hard. I put both ends (of the track) together and it was a great lap. I'm real happy with that. I think someone can beat it, but that's by far the best we've been since we've been here. "There's no bigger shocker for me than this one today. You look at the times yesterday and today and we were 15th or 20th. We really weren't up to par with the guys running in the .30s and .40s. I feel like I got half of the lap in practice and just need to put the other half of it together for qualifying. The guys did a great job. There's killer horsepower underneath the hood. The Rainbow Warriors had this thing set up perfect. I had to do my part. I didn't do my part in practice. I was able to finally get it together in qualifying and make that second lap really count. "Sometimes you've got to give up that first lap. My car would come in better on the second lap. I really just tried to get it balanced out and go for it on the second lap. I was thankful the car really stuck for me on the second lap. "The pole has its ups and downs. The last time I was on the pole here at Richmond, they started the race and I went into turn one. When I came back around to turn four I was about fourth. I'm hoping we can get out there and set a good pace and see what we've got for 'em. I'm really looking forward to the race. The last two times we were here we were in contention to win. We'd love to do well at Richmond and win here tonight."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The first lap felt good and the second lap I was just too loose. We're moving up. We're 23rd in the points, and we came from 38th. I've got to capitalize on these tracks that are good to me. "We ran a .47 in practice and we took half a pound out of the right front. We had a little bit of tape left on the nose. "We were 13th quickest before we went out and qualified. The first lap everything went good and the second lap the car got loose on me. I've won three Busch races here, '94, '95 and '96. I had a two-year hiatus and went to Cup, but I'm getting the hang of it. "Our team is up in the points now, so the pressure is less. I've been very relaxed since we climbed inside the top 25. The pressure right now is on the crew trying to get the qualifying motor out and the race setup in. That's what one round of qualifying on Saturday does to you. "I'm not going to make a big deal out of it, but all I can say is this is the way I was brought up (qualifying and racing on same day). When we ran the Busch Series all the time and ASA, all we had was one-day shows. If we went to South Boston or Hickory or Pulaski, you signed in at 12 and qualified at 6 and raced at 8. Whatever. If they add any more races on, then they need to start looking at two-day events. We could save ourselves 35 days and that's a month. They can very easily come in and even have two rounds. I don't know, though. Everything is fine the way it is."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It wasn't tough. I had a good car. It wasn't good enough for them. This is the car we finished sixth with here in the fall. It would have a really good run halfway through the run, then the tires would fall off. We were messing with air pressure quite a bit, so we might have hurt ourselves a little bit there, but the guys got me out of the pits good on all the pit stops. We fell back to 20th in the points the last couple of weeks, so we needed to get a top five. You've got a good driving race car and you take care of the tires, and Goodyear gives you the best you can get in the world. That's what it's all about. You've got to help them help you. A lot of these guys just abuse them with air pressure and stuff. We've got to get back up in the points. Fortunately we had a good run. Unfortunately some of the guys up in front of us had bad nights so that ought to help us a little bit. "They didn't even tell me anybody was having tire problems. I noticed we were having a lot of flats, but I figured people were just getting bumped up in traffic and cut some stuff down. This is probably the best tire we've had here at Richmond. I'm sure it was the same tire, but the track surface was excellent. The sealer got us going and then it wore off and left the track pretty equal up in the top groove and the bottom groove. It was a good night. "My air pressure was probably conservative. Goodyear builds these things and they know what you can do. We sort of listen to them. When you try to cheat their advise, it usually bites you. "We didn't get real aggressive with the air pressure, and I think that was what was biting some of those other guys. We would take off decent and take care of them and then in the middle part of the run we could run with them and run 'em down. I think they might have been a little lower on air, but Goodyear had an excellent tire here. My pit crew did the best job they did all year, and it was just a good night for the Kodak team. We fell back to 20th in the points the last couple of weeks. Fortunately, we had a top-five tonight. Unfortunately, some of these guys in front of us had problems tonight, so this will be a big boost for us. "The only thing Gary DeHart and our spotter and Larry McClure said get air built up in the tires under caution and don't take off on them real low. We would work 'em around and I'd take my time on the first couple of laps and get the air up and everything went fine. "These guys did an excellent job on the pit stops. They've been working their hearts out. They gave me great track position all night."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "About lap 30 I noticed the motor started slowing up. It didn't have the pickup it had. It finally just seized up and blew up. It's a shame. We were really better than we looked, but it blew up."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We battled the same problem all day long. We could never get the car to turn in the middle of the corner. No matter what we did, it never got any better. About all you can say is we salvaged a pretty decent finish for a car that was not that good. It was just one of those days where no matter what we did we could never get the problem solved. There was one stretch where I thought we were headed in the right direction, but again, in the end, the car was too tight in the middle and just wouldn't turn."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "A lapped car was racing hard and got into us, sending us into the wall. We had a good chance to win tonight. Our race car was awfully good. We knew we could push it when we needed to, but we were having to wait for 20 or 30 laps to go to force the issue. The guy who hit me is a friend of mine, and I know he did not do it on purpose. It was just an accident. When we got two laps down, we showed what muscle we had. We got back on the lead lap and just kept riding, taking our time because our car was so strong. The guys were confident that we could get it back because we knew what we had. We were good in Happy Hour and at the beginning of the race. We had a bad tire. I think we had the worst luck with tires. Richmond is a great track, and I can't wait to come back. I've won here in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I thought we were going to win here tonight, but we'll come back and do it next time. We're running awfully well but just can't get a break. We're not giving up and will continue pushing at Charlotte. We had great pit stops tonight. Our world champion pit crew was awesome all night. We only had one bad stop, but we went back out fourth. It says a lot when a bad pit stop drops you to fourth position on the track. The guys consistently gained positions during pit stops. They put me in first position."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "Right before that last caution, we had a short run there and I don't know if I got in some oil or got on the outside of the groove going into three up there but I almost lost it. I spun the tires or something and after that I just couldn't go. I was too loose. Before that I was good. I believe I had a top-five car, but it was a good night for us coming from where we did. We changed a few things before the race. We changed our brake balance for one thing. We put all new brakes on the car and went to an all new caliper on the front and rear and got the balance of the car better. That was definitely a plus for us. We just tuned on the chassis a little bit from there, but the guys did a great job after practice of getting the car changed over. I thought we had a top five car. We ended up eighth. Skinner was running good, so both Childress Chevys ran good tonight. That's a plus for Richard and the team. It makes us all feel better. "We didn't have any tire problems. I never did bind the car down on the bottom of the race track. I ran it in a little higher and a little easier than a lot of guys were. I was easy with the car all night. There at the end when I needed to go, I couldn't go. That's the way it goes. We're happy with what we got."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "When they gave the one to go, I was coming up through there and guys were swerving back and forth. I got all the way down to the apron and Geoff Bodine drove right into the side of me. That's what really ruined our night. I think we could have gotten our laps back. We probably still would have had tire problems that we would have had to deal with, but I think we could have worked with it. We'd just get a vibration and you could tell it was either getting ready to go down or you were getting ready to hit something. I didn't chance it. When I felt a vibration, I just came in."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I told the crew this was the happiest I'd been all year. Then all of a sudden something went wrong. We moved from 17th to third or fourth and things were great. I thought we could get to the front. We cut a tire and got into the 30 car and that's what caused us to wreck. I apologize to the 30 car, but it was something I couldn't prevent. I think we've kind of turned the corner. With Steve Hmiel aboard, everybody saw how we ran tonight."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That was a good run for the whole BellSouth team. Everybody has worked hard. This is my favorite car. It's finally back in action again. That car finished sixth here two years ago on its initial debut. It's run good at a lot of places, but we've been trying some different kind of cars at places this year. We haven't had a lot of success, so we're bring old faithful back out. We didn't have any tire problems tonight. Our tires looked beautiful. All of a sudden the tires go down and the cars shoot up and hit the wall. You wouldn't know what was going to happen. My guys kept telling my my tires looked great. I was trying to run a smooth line and not abuse the tires. My hat's off to these guys. We thrashed real hard today. We weren't that good in practice. At the end of practice, we made a change and it came alive. That car's got to get fixed, and it's going to Charlotte. One of the first wrecks at the beginning of the race, we got the nose mashed in and the hood pushed up. I'm just surprised it ran that good. We'll definitely bring it to the 600 if they get it fixed, and maybe we'll bring it to The Winston. We've had some good runs this year. We've wrecked six times and we've probably been running 12th or 15th every time we've wrecked. It's just good to finally finish one."
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We broke a camshaft. We were doing all right, but we broke one of those little parts and it sent us home early."