TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "It was a pretty good lap, especially considering how late we went out, along with the rise in track temperature. I'm not too disappointed to be honest. I felt like I was a little bit tight on...
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"It was a pretty good lap, especially considering how late we went out, along with the rise in track temperature. I'm not too disappointed to be honest. I felt like I was a little bit tight on the entry into one and I was a little bit free in the center of three and four, but it was a pretty balanced lap for the most part. The car came off the corners really strong, which makes me excited for tomorrow."
KENNY WALLACE, NO. 27 EEL RIVER RACING PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
(ANY BIG DIFFERENCE WITH QUALIFYING IN THE MORNNING HERE?)
"Not really. Basically, it just feels like another Friday and that's what it's all about. It's just Friday all over again and we're just doing our best right away. That's what Winston Cup is all about. You've got to get it done right away. You've got to unload good. "Second round is OK, at times, on tracks that you can get faster. But, I'm happy. It's just time to go racing right now."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"That was a great qualifying run on our part. The guys did a great job. This morning the car was a little better than that - a little faster and had a little more grip. But then the track temperature goes up and the grip goes away. "We qualified third. It seems like we've been stuck on that number. But it's not a bad number to be stuck on right now."
(WAS THIS QUALIFYING RUN A GOOD STEP FOR THE TEAM AFTER YOUR WRECK LAST
"Yeah. After last weekend's wreck we definitely want to get back to racing and that's what it's all about. That's what we're going to do here this weekend, hopefully. "Definitely third place is a great place to start. I'm looking forward to a competitive race, hopefully, on our part tomorrow. Hopefully we can linger around the front, see what happens, wait until the end and see if we're competitive or not."
(ANY CONCERNS WITH REGARD TO GOING TO TALLADEGA LATER THIS SEASON?)
"You just hate to be in a pack of cars like that. When something happens, somebody could land on your hood or roof or whatever and that's not what you want to do. It's just like here. You run pretty fast and anything can happen here, too. But at least, I've got control of it. "Concerns? Personally is one thing. Professionally is a little different, I guess." (HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GETTING BACK TO RACING THIS WEEKEND?)
"You just look at it day-by-day. I'm glad we didn't have to race Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and we're here. It's not the same. You don't feel the same. But at the same time, our race car is like whatever makes other people feels good. That's what makes us feel good. We've got heavy hearts, but you definitely want to go racing."
(HAVE YOU HAD DISCUSSIONS WITH YOUR FAMILY THIS WEEK FOLLOWING LAST
"Definitely. Everybody's got to do a little check on themselves. That's the most important thing. We all have to answer questions and ask questions. "With your family, I kind of look at it as, when I get home late and I told my wife that I'd be home early, you've got have a reason to say why you were late - 'Something happened. There is a reason why and I'll tell you why.' You try to explain things as best you can. I'm not very good at it, but you definitely go through questions and answers and just try to bond together. That's what we did this week. It's just tough. You have children and a family. I look at it like they're a lot more important than I am. I don't want to see them suffer."
(HOW DO YOU AND THE OTHER DRIVERS DEAL WITH THIS KIND OF TRAGEDY?)
"You definitely talk to a few guys and just try to give each other support. We definitely wanted to know earlier in the week what happened and later in the week we found out. "They don't pat you on the back and tell you, 'Good luck.' They pat you on the back and tell you, 'Be careful.'"
(WHAT CONVERSATION DID YOU HAVE WITH STERLING MARLIN AFTER QUALIFYING?)
"When he stopped (after qualifying), I didn't realize he was going to stop right there, but he just did. I called him earlier in the week and left a message on his answering machine - just a quick note and told him to give me a call. I asked him if he got my message and he said, 'Yeah, I tried to call you back.' My phone has been screwed up all week. He said, 'It just rang and rang and rang.' I said, 'Yeah, I know.' He said he appreciated my calling. I said, 'OK, I just wanted to make sure you got (my message).' I told him the same thing I told him then."
(ON LOOKING FORWARD TO RACING HERE AFTER YOUR ACCIDENT LAST WEEK)
"Last weekend's wreck, it was unfortunate that we got involved in it. We almost missed it, but we were in it. We definitely want to get back on track like we were last year. Anything can happen anywhere, anytime on a racetrack. But you definitely feel like you've got more control here. I might be involved in a wreck tomorrow, but at least I don't feel like it will be the fifth-place car landing on top of the 26th place car's hood. It will be more of a control thing instead of an uncontrollable thing."
(ANY FEELING ON WHAT DIRECTION THE SPORT SHOULD TAKE AFTER LAST WEEK'S
"We all want to know what we can do to make our wives and children happier. That's obviously on everybody's minds right now. "NASCAR has done a lot of stuff, but at the same time, everybody is kind of pulling in a lot of different ways. Everybody, of course, is going in the right direction. It's just, do we need everybody to put their heads together and go faster in that direction or farther in that direction? Obviously, safety is on our mind. Obviously it's a concern and we definitely want to go in the right direction. We don't want to take a right when somebody is taking a left. It's a deal where - it might sound 'sissy' - but we all need to hold hands and go forward, instead of going backwards, or something. "We all need to work on it and go forward. We're all family here. When we pulled in through this gate, I might not know everybody's names, but I know your faces and you're all family. We all need to go forward because we're still a family."
(ON THE HANS DEVICE)
"I tried one (last year), but it wouldn't work (for me). I need to get it custom fit. But right now, I haven't talked to them. I'm sure they're pretty busy right now. "I would definitely like to try it and see if it's what we want. We'll just have to try it. I tested it one time, but I just couldn't make it feel comfortable for me to drive."
(ON THE LOSS OF DALE EARNHARDT)
"We're all here and we've all got to keep going. But at the same time, there is no way that he'll ever be replaced."
(ON THE CLOSE BATTLES HE HAD WITH EARNHARDT HERE AND AT ATLANTA LAST YEAR)
"I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know. It was already established who he was. He had his own driving style and driving talent. But it was definitely a thrill. Those memories are what you've got to have to go by right now, and that's the deal."
(ON HIS SAFETY EQUIPMENT)
"We're using the same seat harness that we've had for years now. We did add the six-point harness to it. That's something different. But we kind of knew about that before Daytona. We just didn't apply it. That's kind of the way it works. But now, we've applied that and that's what we'll try to make work. Hopefully, if it works for us, we'll keep doing it. "Safety is at the forefront of Winston Cup and all of racing - stock car racing, in general. It's obvious that it's the most important thing. This is 'priority one.'"
KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"The past seven days have felt like three weeks. It's actually good to be at the race track and get back in the car. If you took a poll in the garage, I bet everyone wished we could have been here yesterday. We are racers -- it is what we do. People ask us whey we do what we do, but I wonder if those same people ask an offensive lineman why they line up against a defense they know is going to run over them. It is competition, no matter what the playing field -- only we aren't out there to run over each other. We are out there with the greatest respect for each other doing what it is we do best -- drive race cars. "This weekend at Rockingham will definitely be different without the '3' car on the track. For me to make it through Rockingham without Dale banging on me a little bit will definitely be a change. "As for the car this weekend, I think we are going to be really good. We were solid last weekend and we're solid today. Sixteenth isn't bad because I felt like I left a lot of time out on the race track."
-GM Racing Communications