Report from Motorsport News International NASCAR Public Relations SONOMA, Calif. (May 2, 1997) Qualifier quotes for Sunday's SaveMart Supermarkets 300 at Sears Point Raceway: Mark Martin, No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Ford: ...
Report from Motorsport News International
NASCAR Public Relations
SONOMA, Calif. (May 2, 1997)
Qualifier quotes for Sunday's SaveMart Supermarkets 300 at Sears Point Raceway:
Mark Martin, No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Ford: "Unbelievable. We've got a great race car and a great race team. I just ran a good, straight lap. I ran it hard, but I didn't want to wreck. I was kind of sick of starting in the back, and we've been doing that lately. Some of that has been my fault and some of that has been the team's fault. We needed a good stating spot. I didn't think we would get the pole, but I thought that we might if we got a good lap. Obviously, we got one. "I feel really good. This race team is awesome. I don't know if we'll ever win another race or not, but it's looking more promising all the time. "I wouldn't say it was perfect, but they (the corners) were all acceptable. Some were slightly better than acceptable and some were just acceptable. But we had a good race car. I didn't have any corners that were really bad. I had somewhat were pretty good and some that were just average. "We had confidence anyway. We knew we were coming to Sears Point and we knew this was a good place for us, but starting up front is the best place. We started dead last last year and ran second. It probably won't help us any starting in the front, but it will sure make my job a lot easier.
Rusty Wallace, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford: "It ran really good. We were awful when we got here. I just couldn't do anything right. Every time I went out, I got behind a car, and I couldn't get right. I didn't know how fast the car was going to go. It wasn't turning right, it wouldn't do anything right. But all the guys got together and moved some lead around, and they brought it alive and it ran good. "I'm real happy with (today). This is the same car I won with last year and it's the same car I won Japan with. She's flying around the race track. It wasn't real good when we unloaded, but we changed a lot of shocks and springs and right before qualifying I ended up going back with everything identical. "We moved some lead around and changed some tire pressure and stuff and the guys did a good job. And we scuffed our tires, and I think that was a good thing to do. I think some of the cats didn't do that, it wasn't the best for them."
Jeff Gordon, No.24 DuPont Refinishes Chevrolet: "We never did get to make a qualifying run because I kind of messed up earlier in practice and went off the track and wasted a set of tires. I knew we could run a lot faster than what we ran. I think the track has got a little faster. It's a little cooler. "These guys on this DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet did an awesome job. Ray (crew chief Evernham) did a great job dialing this thing in. It was hooked up. It hadn't been hooked up like that all day. On these road courses, you've got to make up a little bit in each turn. That can make up a whole lot, and that's what we did. It sure was a lot of fun. "What they did to the hills doesn't affect the racing or the race track at all. I wish they had gone in and put an apron down in the one turn where we're kind of driving through the dirt, but the track is great. I really like it."
Terry Labonte, No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet: "I thought we could pick up more than we did, but that was a pretty good run for us. We're close. Going up through Turn 1 and Turn 2 may have hurt our lap a little. I didn't get enough heat in my tires coming around for the green, and I was slipping a little bit. I got kind of loose in turn two and lost some time there. "Bobby (brother Labonte) had some problems right before we went out, but he didn't drop anything on the track. It was in good shape. I just ran out of breath coming through the esses. I couldn't hold my breath any longer. I had to start breathing."
Brett Bodine, No. 11 Close Call Phone Card Ford: note: Bodine was suffering from flu symptoms all day "Maybe I need to be sick when I qualify. This is the worst I have ever felt having to drive a race car. The guys just did a great job--Jack Roush with the engines and the guys here at the race track, and the guys back at the shop. "Hopefully by Sunday I will be feeling better. This qualifying run is definitely going to make me sleep better tonight."
Michael Waltrip, No. 21 Citgo Ford: "We thought we had a good car. We were top-10 right off the bat in practice and never got a clean lap at the end of practice. We were just hoping to run in the .38s. Eddie (Wood) and the guys changed the car right before qualifying. We made a drastic change on the rear sway bar and the rear track car and on the front shocks, because I was complaining of a push, and it fixed it. "It didn't push and I was really able to get after it and I came back with a good lap. It stuck for me. I didn't know what to expect and I probably gave away a little bit of time in the first few corners because the thing was looser. Then all of a sudden, where I hadn't been able to get on the gas, I was able to get on it and it started to stick for me. We learned a lot with the changes that we made, and I feel real comfortable with the car for the race."
Geoff Bodine, No, 7 QVC Ford: "That was good. That's the best lap I've run there in a long while. It could have been a little quicker. I've got Dawn (Dawn Gillis, winner of a QVC Sweepstakes) on the hood and I promised her the hood after the race, so I didn't want to mess it up. We had a little trouble in practice but we overcame that. I'm real happy with the car. That was a good lap. I guess it's only great if you're on the pole. On the top side, I was really good. I was a little conservative down here. This is a different car than the one we won with at Watkins Glen last year. I'm not crazy. I'm saving that car for Watkins Glen. This is the car we ran here last year and we had a lot of trouble last year and didn't run all that well. But it's running good today."
Dale Jarrett, No. 88 Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford: "That was a good lap. If I just knew how I did it I'd be in good shape. We had a good car all day long. When we made a qualifying run in practice, we had a few cars get in the way, so we really didn't know how fast I could run. I'm pretty happy, but we're still a half-second slower off of Gordon. We'll just have to hope that he slows down more than I do on Sunday."
Wally Dallenbach, No. 46 First Union Chevrolet: "That's just about what we expected. We ran about that quick when we tested out here. We spent a lot of time on the race setup and didn't work too much on qualifying. That's about what I qualify here. And that was all I had today."
Ricky Rudd, No. 10 Tide Ford: "We debated about whether we should go out and put some corners on these tires. We're probably one of the only top teams that didn't scuff tires. The car just never did get its grip. I don't know if it was that or the driver tried too hard or what. We had run a 38.30 in practice and knew we had to run a flat. Maybe I stood on it too hard. It felt like a pretty good lap, I'm not real sure why we slowed up. We're not happy with it, but we're happy that we've got a good race car. It is going to race real well."
Kyle Petty, No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac: "I made the top-25 and I'm going to pit on the frontstretch. What more could a man ask for out of life? When you start your own team you start praying the first of November. I think I prayed all winter. I said 'I've got to make Daytona, and anywhere we pull more than 500 miles, I've got to make those races.' I didn't want to have to go home from here. It's a really good run. We came out with a brand new Pontiac."
Ted Musgrave, No. 16 Family Channel/Primestar Ford: "That was OK. I messed up a little bit getting into the carousel a little hot and locked up the left front tires. But these guys really did a good job. We had to change motors this morning, because I burned a piston on it, so we didn't get much practice time. "But the car is there. It's the same old car. It's been here for about seven years in a row, and it's been good for Wally (Dallenbach) and myself. We just scratched the paint off it."
Bill Elliott, No. 94 McDonald's Ford: "A year ago, I was sitting and watching this on television, so I feel like I'm in a lot better shape than I was a year ago. The car is real good. I missed both road races last year and I feel like that hurt me a lot. I'm just coming back out and kind of getting a feel for things again. "We ran good right of the truck. That was good. It was pretty uneventful, like I like it. I was laid up in the hospital with a broken leg this time last year, and that's not where you want to be if you drive a race car. I feel like missing both road races last year hurt our chances here today, but we're kind of getting back in the groove. I felt like we would be a little bit behind when we unloaded here but these guys really put a good car under me."
Ward Burton, No. 22 MBNA Pontiac: "I think I had a better car than I did a driver that time. I was pretty erratic. I was all over the place Chris (Hussey) and all the guys with the MBNA team worked real hard. We're coming on. We've got a few things we're working on constantly and we've just got a lot of optimistic things going on with this team. I'm real happy for everybody."
Ken Schrader, No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet: "The transmission was hung up. We couldn't get it out of neutral. There was a little heart failure there, but NASCAR gave us the five-minute clock and the guys got it fixed real quick. The lap was near as good as we had hoped it would be, but it was a lot better than we had run."
Sterling Marlin, No. 4 Kodak Film Chevrolet: "I'm not sure what happened. We practiced pretty well and thought we had a shot at really doing something. She just didn't seem to grip through the esses. We'll work it out and see what we can do Sunday."
John Andretti, No. 98 RCA Ford: "That was a good lap. I always play pretty conservatively here. I tried the corners a little bit harder in a couple of places and lost a little time. If I had played it conservative I might have picked up a little bit of time. This is the best I've run out here, so I'm tickled."
Robby Gordon, No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet: "I thought we could have run a 39 flat. We made a change before qualifying, and the car pushed a little bit."
Mike Skinner, No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet: "I really don't know what happened. We just didn't go fast enough. We were much faster in practice. I about wrecked this morning when I made that fast lap in practice, so I may have just left a little too much on the table."
Jeff Burton, No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford: "For me, right now, that's all I had. Last year we came here and took a provisional and I screwed up all day long on Friday. I just had a bad day. Today was a good, solid day for us, even though 21st is where we will be. That's not a great day, but that's a solid day. I don't have much experience here, so for that lap, that's about all we had."
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