TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF THE NEWLY ANNOUNCED SCHEDULE CHANGE FOR '05? "Yeah, I've seen it and I think it looks just fine. I know a lot of people are going to be disappointed about Rockingham and...
TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF THE NEWLY ANNOUNCED SCHEDULE CHANGE FOR '05? "Yeah, I've seen it and I think it looks just fine. I know a lot of people are going to be disappointed about Rockingham and Darlington, but it's good for the sport. It's good for corporate sponsors and team sponsors and things like that because there was not a lot of involvement. It kind of tells the tale when you look out on the Midway and look at the corporate involvement. It was pretty obvious when you go to Rockingham when there was virtually and then not much at Darlington. I think I've had one hospitality thing to do at Rockingham in 25 years. And at Darlington, I've only had a couple over the years. It was almost like a weekend off for me. But our sponsors weren't the only one. There was just not a lot of sponsor involvement. It was primarily due to the location I guess. Neither of those were major market areas.
"It just makes good sense to go to California twice and to Phoenix twice and to Texas twice. You don't have to be very smart or even see very well to see and look around at Texas Motor Speedway and ask, 'Now should we be here or at Rockingham?' There are some other tracks that fall into that same category. Phoenix is a great location. It's not the best track (laughs). We've had some good runs out there. But it's a great area with some good corporate involvement. It's a good city to go to with a lot of fans.
"I think they did a great job on the schedule. I looked at it and I like it. We race Mother's Day weekend on Saturday night at Darlington and that's okay. The Darlington fans are close to Darlington and they'll still be able to go home for Mother's Day and the race teams are close to there."
RICKY CRAVEN, NO. 32 TIDE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
Note: Crashed on his 2nd qualifying lap - "I thought we had a shot (at the pole. We had a window getting into Turn 3 and probably should have aborted. It just bit me."
SINCE BEING NEWLY REPAVED, SOME OF THE GUYS ARE SAYING THIS TRACK IS WICKED FAST. IS THAT TRUE? "Yeah, it's fast. It doesn't have the grip right now that it had a few hours ago. We found that out the hard way. It's going to be exciting for the fans. It's going to be bottom-groove racing for a couple hundred laps I think, but before the night's over you'll probably see some side-by-side racing, which is typical of Richmond. The Tide team is battling back here. We're gaining a little momentum. I just want to have a good run for them."
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"The first lap was a medium lap, I guess. Well, almost. About 98 percent I guess. And in the second lap, it was 100 percent. We were just a tick snug. But you've just to be careful. That's the thing. You can still push it to the edge, but you've got to hit your marks."
DO YOU THINK THIS SPEED WILL HOLD UP? "Well, I hope so. It's really depending on the sun and the track right now. If it stays the way it is, I think we'll be okay. I think we did a good job and the car was good. If the track picks up, there is nothing we can do about it."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"This Goodwrench Chevrolet was pretty good. All in all, I don't think that'll be too bad."
WITH RICKY CRAVEN AND KASEY KAHNE HAVING PROBLEMS, HOW DOES THAT MENTALLY AFFECT YOU WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR RUN? "Well, you've got to pay attention and know that it's quick and just be ready for whatever comes. Basically you have one corner to feel it out and see what happens. It wasn't a bad lap. We'll take it and get on with it."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 US ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
ON HIS CHANCE FOR SATURDAY'S RACE:
"I think my chances here tomorrow night are pretty good. We just have to wait and see. There is new asphalt here and we're just trying to get as much speed as we can out of the car. It seems like the track has just sat there and cooked and a lot of oil has come up on it or something that has made a lot of the guys loose. I was just a little bit too cautious. I apologized to the crew. I felt like I just didn't get everything that was there. A couple of these guys crashed earlier and you're just trying to get as much out of is as you can. It's a fine line on making a mistake and ending up in the fence."
WHEN YOU SEE PEOPLE CRASH BEFORE YOU GO OUT, HOW DOES THAT PLAY ON YOUR MIND? "You try not to even think about it. This Chevy was driving very good in practice. I wish I had gotten after it just a little bit harder, but we'll take it."
HOW WILL TONIGHT'S BUSCH RACE AFFECT THE TRACK? "It's definitely going to get better. Any time you can get more rubber down.... Right now the track is faster so anytime you go fast you run right on the bottom. We'll get some more rubber moved up high. It'll be a good race."
WARD BURTON, NO. 0 NETZERO CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We've had a brake issue all day and we've really been struggling. That's by far the best we've run. I was just telling the guys that if we'd gotten it sorted our earlier, we would have run a lot faster than that. But this team has been working really hard to try and put out a good run tomorrow night. That's the most important thing.
"We are allowing some little things internally to bite us sometimes. That's what we've got to work on like that practice mess up today with the brakes. But we're talking about some longterm relationship with NetZero and we want to put on a good show for them tomorrow night."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
" The track slowed down quite a bit from practice and everybody is wondering why. The first lap I put in a smooth one. And then the next corner in Turns 1 and 2 I tried to get all I could and I nailed it. And then I went into Turns 3 and 4 and there wasn't much grip there at all and I slipped. I really felt our second lap was going to be a lot stronger. This track is really slick right now. It's an interesting track today."
ON RUNNING UNDER THE LIGHTS "I love it. Our first race here at Richmond had a great race and competed for the win. Since then we've struggled a little bit. Hopefully tomorrow night we can get our first short track win. I'm looking forward to good things."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"I was just trying to be real cautious with the track being as slick as it is. The car was a little bit tight in the middle of each corner and that's kind of how it was in practice."
YOU'VE WON HERE BEFORE, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE TOMORROW NIGHT? "Well the new pavement is going to make us all run on the bottom. That's just the way it is. Everybody is going to run where the grip is and that'll be on the bottom. The older asphalt is better for two and three-wide racing. This track will be there eventually, but it's going to take some time."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"We ran up front at both Richmond races last year. And to come here and qualify inside the top 10 for both races (Busch and Cup) is really good."
YOU LEAVE HERE TONIGHT TO QUALIFY FOR THE INDY 500 TOMORROW. WHAT HAS KEPT YOU GROUNDED IN PREPARING FOR THE DOUBLE? "The biggest thing is that our performances have been so good lately on and off the track with the Busch car the Cup car and the Indy car. If we can qualify the Indy car somewhere in between where the Busch car is and the front, I'd be really happy with that tomorrow as well."
ON THE NEW SCHEDULE CHANGES FOR 2005 "I'm pretty excited about it. The schedule is only better for sponsors and for fan population. NASCAR was a southeast sport for a long time. It has now grown to the west with two races in Texas, two races in California, two races in Phoenix, a race in Vegas, a race in Sonoma. I think it's just great. NASCAR continues to grow the sport and it will only be better for the fans and for the sponsors. With the cost of the economy going up to run a competitive Nextel Cup car you have to be racing in places that can support the programs."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO
YOUR QUALIFYING RUN WAS A LITTLE BIT OFF WHAT YOU RAN IN PRACTICE "We're not off as much as a lot of guys were. We were 17th at the end of practice so we've stepped it up a little bit. We've just had an average day. We haven't been spectacular. That was just a nice and consistent lap. It certainly wasn't our best. But we're going to keep working on it until we get that baby up front."
ON THE SCHEDULE CHANGE FOR 2005 "I haven't analyzed it a lot. I kind of had some ideas it was coming. For the most part it seems to look pretty good. There's some areas there that are going to make our team and truck drivers work exceptionally hard. We're probably going to have to transport cars and meet up with the truck in certain areas since they won't be able to travel to back to this hop and have enough time to travel back. If you have one type of car you are running at one track and you have to be on the west coast, if it's not the same car, you have to go back and pick up the right car. That's going to change things a little bit. The Mother's Day off weekend would have been nice to maintain that. I like having an off-week later in the season like in July."
ON GOING TO PHOENIX TWICE "I like that. It's giving me an extra opportunity. I think going there twice will definitely help me out. Some of it is sitting in the car but a lot of it is how you drive that track. I always liked the track but there's some things we can learn to step it up and get it on victory lane."
ON SATURDAY NIGHT'S RACE AT RICHMOND "We're certainly going to give it a heck of an effort. We're really proud of what's been going on with the race team and how things have been working in our favor. Richmond is a great track for us. We weren't as quick in practice as I would have liked to have been for qualifying. We did test here and I feel good about it."
Is this a better track for you with the new asphalt?
"I think that a lot of us are on equal ground with it as smooth and fast as it is. It's really hard to say. I think track position is going to be a lot more important than it's ever been here. A good qualifying effort is going to be really important."
ON LAST 10 RACES "It's definitely on our mind and a focus. Right now we are trying to give everything we can to be consistent and put ourselves in position to hopefully win races and maintain that top ten position in the points and hope that our momentum and our testing really falls into place as we go into those last ten races. The last ten are basically wide open as hard as you can run, all you can get and also hope you have some good luck on your side."
ON HIS WINNING STREAK "We're not doing anything different than we were doing last year. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don't. We made some good calls and put some good set up underneath the cars. The horsepower is really stepped up. We're just really happy with the program. I have been happy with it for a long time and haven't seen the results. Even if you go back to Texas and Martinsville and we had opportunities there to win races and it didn't work out. We finally put two nice ones together. One that probably we shouldn't have won and California was definitely our race to win."