Friday, June 25, 1999. Sears Point Raceway. First-round qualifying Save Mart/Kragen 350. Chevrolet notes and quotes. JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It was fun. Usually when it's fast it's a ...
Friday, June 25, 1999. Sears Point Raceway. First-round qualifying Save Mart/Kragen 350. Chevrolet notes and quotes.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It was fun. Usually when it's fast it's a handful, but it was really good today. I knew there were some places I could pick up from practice. I knew the new tires were going to allow me to be a little more aggressive with it, especially under braking. All the adjustments Ray (crew chief Evernham) and all these Rainbow Warriors made on this car made it perfect. I messed up a little bit over in seven, that new part of the course. I just over drove it a tiny bit in there, but I don't think it hurt me a lot. I'm proud of that lap. That was a great lap. "You only have one lap for qualifying, so it's tough to establish a rhythm. You've got to get it right away. For the race, you can get into a rhythm. Each lap you get used to doing the same thing over and over. It's a real mental game. Every time you come out of a corner you're thinking, 'OK, the next corner is a right-hander, I've got to brake here and the last time I drove in there I drove in too deep or I shifted too early.' You're constantly thinking about the next corner and how to approach it. There's a lot of mental work that goes into a road course, so it's hard to get a rhythm. You can get it. "It's like anything else. You come out of a corner and you say, 'I blew that corner.' You will try to force yourself sometimes to try to make up for it in the next two corners. You've got to tell yourself not to do that and just give up that corner. It's probably more important on the road course to be smooth and patient than anywhere else we go. "I do like the changes they made. The changes have not given the track what we're all looking for yet. If they'd just ask us, I think we could save them some money and some trouble. They need to have a straightaway going into that turn seven. I think they're eager to want to do some things. That section of the track is so fast and you're turning as you're going through that area. You're really not on the brakes that hard. There's no way you can make a pass there. If they actually elevated that area of the track some more and then made a straight shot off of six and made it a straight shot to seven, made it straight where we could drive in there and out brake a guy, then I think we've got something to work with. "This is a slick race track. You've got no drive up off the corners. You're slipping and sliding and that's why you've got to be smooth. You can't abuse the equipment, especially the tires. "You're going to pass now coming into turn 11. That's a great passing area. The only problem is you've got to wait a whole lap to get there again if you don't make it."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We've been having a problem with the carburetor since we got here. For some reason, I just can't get back in the gas quick enough or use all the gas quick enough. The car is actually pretty good. We've just got to get the problem under the hood solved. It's hard to explain, but when I get back on the throttle, it just isn't responding fast enough. I'm losing too much time while the gas gets to the carburetor. I still think we're going to be good in the race. We just need to be able to use all the power as soon as I get back on the throttle."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It's a new car, and we got to go play with it a couple of weeks ago in Kershaw, S.C. We struggled a little bit today. I gave Sammy (crew chief Johns) some bad information and we kind of chased it the wrong way and then we went back the other way. Usually he knows which way to go by whatever I tell him. He goes the other way, and it seems to work good. That's what we did toward the end of practice and we got a lot better. You have to have a mindset that you like road course racing, otherwise you're in trouble twice a year. I don't prefer it, but I look forward to coming out here and Watkins Glen."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We'd been having a little trouble locking the rears brakes up. It's not bad once they're hot. All day, you've had almost the whole track to get some heat in them. It's really my first time going out down the drag strip and out and not having time to get some heat in them. Going into the first corner, I wheel hopped with the rear brakes and spun around. It didn't hurt the car. We're looking at the rear brakes and the rear axle because it wheel hopped just to make sure we're not going to break anything on Saturday. The car has been pretty good. We thought we'd be in the top 20. It's a brand new car, and I haven't driven out here before. We're just trying to get the driver used to the place and the car used to it. We were 12th fastest in practice, and I think we could have been in the top 20 if we'd finished our qualifying lap. Now all we've got to shoot for is 26th."
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We broke a transmission. We were working on stuff all morning, changing shocks and trying to get R.K. (substitute driver Smith) settled down. We thought we could make it today, but something broke so we're not in the field yet. We've got to get to work on transmissions here. I don't have another one of those with me, so I'll have to find Tex Powell and see what Tex can get geared up for us. I'm just sore. I don't really need to get in the car this week. I need to be in good shape next week for Daytona. We've got a Richard Childress engine for that race. We have a good speedway car. I need to be in good shape for Daytona. I will be. There ain't no thinking about it."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "I was two tenths off from practice. I wanted to be two tenths faster. That's what you're supposed to do when you qualify. I just didn't get up the hill like I needed to, and I was really off up top there. That's going to hurt. I ran a .51, and I think that's going to be on the edge where a lot of guys run. I wanted to be in the top 10. You can race better there than you can 20th. These guys deserved to run better. It's a brand new race car. It's doing everything it's supposed to do. The driver just needs to put it on the marks. Sunday is a different story. We'll be consistent."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We thought we'd pick up from practice, but we didn't. That's just the way it goes. It's going to take some time to get used to the changes they've made here. I just hope I can get used to it by Sunday. At last we made the top 25. Now we can work on getting ready to race."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We had a really good run going until I ran into a bunch of straw getting through the esses. I carried a good bunch of speed through the top half of the track. I just laid on the chip until I couldn't stand it any more. Then it really got through the chute real good. We got through that first ess awesome. As I was driving through the first ess, I saw there there was straw covering the race track. I just let off the gas and coasted through it. I knew I had had a good run up to that, so I didn't want to wreck and throw the whole thing away. I still slipped, but I wasn't going to wreck. When there's straw all over the race track, I have enough sense to slow down. I can guarantee that I lost two tenths. That was a nice improvement from where we had been practicing, though."
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I just need something to chase, but we're pretty happy. That's faster than we've been all day. We really thought we could run faster. I'm always real good in the chute. I take advantage of that concrete thing up there. I always run across it, and it feels cool as hell to do it. I know it's slower, but it feels good to do it. I just need something to chase. I need a rabbit. I think that's worth half a second. We're running good. We unloaded good. We just need something to chase. This is the same car we had here last year. I was hoping we could start in the top 15, but we're 17th, so we'll be all right."
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's better than we ran in practice. I saw a lot of guys slow up. We haven't been that fantastic. I haven't been here since '97. It's a tough place, but we're gaining on it. It's the toughest road course. Picking up three tenths in qualifying is a plus, and we didn't hit anything, so that's another plus."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I got in turn 10 a little bit too hard and smoked the tires. That was coming to get the green, so I felt it bouncing a little bit the whole lap. We must have flat-spotted the tire pretty good. It was a good lap. It's a second faster than we ran in practice. We'd struggled in practice. I ran in the sand box over there one time. We've had a good day. The car is good. I thought we were going to get the pole. I was trying to run a nice, smooth easy line and I did that. We're in front. This course is very unforgiving. Usually if a tire gets off course you're going to loop it around or end up in the kitty litter. I flat-spotted a tire on the get-go lap and filled the car up with smoke. If you try jerking on the car it'll jump around. "It's like any race track. You've got to figure out how to overcome the tough sections. The new part they put in there, the chute, is very unforgiving right now. Last year you could run wide open through there. Now, it's really close to being on the edge being able to do that. I did it once today, and I about hit the wall. It's really on edge of just losing traction. You get right up to that wall, and you've got to get on the brakes real hard. That's what happened to me in practice. It was loose and I had to put the brakes on to make the next corner and it started wheel hopping. I ended up out in the dirt. It's really tough."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That was a pretty good lap. It could have been better. I had a couple of problems. I was mainly loose. We've been fighting loose. We thought about making a major change and taking the rear sway bar off. I'm not sure that wouldn't have been a good idea. We decided just to adjust what we had. I thought I could run faster, but I'm not disappointed. I wouldn't go out there and try again, I don't think."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We made some adjustments on the car and we were too tight. I can run that on 15-lap tires. I think we'll be good for the race. This car doesn't seem to slow down much. It's the same car we had here last year, so we know it's going to race pretty good."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It was a good lap. Obviously, I wish I had been more aggressive with a couple of things. You want to make sure you get a good, solid run and get a good solid starting position. You don't want to be over there in Gilligan's Island. I felt like I got everything out of it that I could get. I might should have driven deeper in a couple of areas, but it seems like at this track if you don't attack the corners that's the way to go. I'm thrilled with the whole car. This is the first time I've been out here with a different team, and we've got some different shifting characteristics to the car that I had to learn. We'll be all right."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "On the road courses you run the cars real soft, and when you bounce them off the curbs, the cars bounce around quite a bit. It's just the way the cars are to run left and right-hand turns. This track is really slick and you lose a lot of curbs and the cars bounce around. "I used to look at road courses as an area where we could gain on guys except maybe Mark Martin. Now guys are running good in a lot of places that you wouldn't think they would, especially road courses. Jarrett did have a little trouble, but that team is good enough and he's smooth enough that they're going to come up through there and still have a good finish. Everywhere you go, you'd better run good and you'd better finish good or you're not going to win the championship. It doesn't matter if it's a road course. You look at the top guys, Bobby (Labonte) ran good and qualified good. Jeff Burton ran good and qualified good, Mark Martin -- all those guys are in the top 15. Tony (Stewart) is busting them off. Jarrett is the only guy to make a little bobble today in qualifying, but I believe he'll come up through there. "It's no different than it was before other than they put a nice curb down there for us. We used to have to go through the dirt with the right sides. I do like it. I think it's nice. It's got some good grip. It's real narrow coming off there, so you've got to get the car turned and come across there. We're braking and downshifting down there. It's not a straight shot. In order for it to be a passing zone, they've got to make a straightaway that goes into that. Right now we're arching to the right, carrying a lot of speed. There's no way anybody can make an out braking move getting in there or there's going to be a wreck."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "It's the same thing as last year. I've talked to some guys at the track, and I think they know what it's going to take. If they want to do that, they certainly could. "It didn't slow down as much as I thought because the cars have gotten faster, but it did slow us down a little bit. "Jerry had me beat (on start last year) by about four car lengths before we got to turn one. The problem was he just didn't slow down enough once we got there. I took the outside, so I'm going to take the inside this year."