Sears Point Team Monte Carlo Sunday Quotes

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) “We struggled all day just to stay up and keep up and do the best I could. It was just an all day struggle. I guess Labonte gained 10 points on us, but we did pretty good for...

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) “We struggled all day just to stay up and keep up and do the best I could. It was just an all day struggle. I guess Labonte gained 10 points on us, but we did pretty good for where we started. That was a tough sixth-place run, but we’ve got six straight top 10s I think, and these guys right here (crew) deserve the credit. They did a good job today in the pits. We weren’t worried about going all the way. They told me we could make it on fuel, so I wasn’t worried about it. I’m tired. I really had to mash the brakes today to get it stopped, so we might try something a little different when we come back next time. We’ll shift gears now and get ready to go to Daytona and see if we can’t do a little better down there this time than we did in February. Maybe we can get a top five down there and gain those points back we lost here today.”

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “Robbie Gordon drilled me in the door on the last lap. We were going in seven and braking on the high side to get in. He had newer tires, and he just shot up the middle. He never turned. He just ran straight into my door and knocked me up into the gravel. I lost a couple of spots, but it was a good run for the team. We’ll take it. We were upside down in the ditch here last year. We’d been good. We had a flat tire there at first and got lucky and the caution came out. We rebounded. Ron Fellows did a good job in my Busch car today at Watkins Glen. He’s going to race in the Cup race for me, too. Hopefully, I can kick his butt.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I had two guys on fresh tires catch me on the same lap and drop me back to 12th. the 20 and 13 had better tires than me and were outrunning me at the end. They caught us from behind. We were catching the people in front of us, but unfortunately we ran out of time. We were looking at about a 10th or 12th place run and ended up with a 12th. That ain’t too bad. We’ve had problems getting to the checkered flag, and today we made it to the finish. You can’t complain too much I don’t guess.”

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “That was a blast, but I’m worn out. We ran great in the middle of the race, but the last set of tires felt hard and I was skipping across the track when I was braking and couldn’t get inside anybody, but it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I can’t wait to get back here next season.”

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We were real good about three quarters through the race. We were even with about everybody. I guess that was the most laps we had run on tires, and we got where we couldn’t do nothing. We were just slipping and sliding everywhere. We tried to get track position and it just didn’t work out for us. I wish we could have finished better, but at least we finished one. We had a good day and didn’t tear up anything.”

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We had a couple of top fives going here and probably should have finished in the top five two or three times. We had a good shot to win the race a couple of years ago and got out of synch on cautions. I’ve always enjoyed running here. I’ve had several opportunities to finish in the top five, but everything worked out good for us today. Mark (Martin) is one of the class acts in NASCAR. Me and Mark have always run well together. We never had any problems. My tires were worn out down there and I slid up and he got under me. I don’t think we ever touched going to the line and I beat him by six or eight inches. We were going to run in the top five out here in Junior’s car (Johnson) one time and something happened to us. Ernie won in the 4 car (at Sears Point), and I never had any luck in the 4 car. We got in the 40 and ran well on the road course. We had a chance to win here a couple of years ago. I think we wound up seventh last year and came in second this year, so that’s all we got. I seem to run better here than Watkins Glen. We stopped (with Gordon) at the same time. I thought he might not have got his car full. We pitted beside him. I was hoping something would happen. Jeff is awful tough on these road courses. Our car was good on long runs. It was loose on short runs. You hardly ever see Jeff out of control on a road course. It looked like with 10 to go I started closing up on him a little bit. For a couple of laps we were closing, but my car got to pushing in turn one like the front tires were worn out. I just couldn’t get any grip up off the corners. The only hope I had was that he’d run out of gas. I knew we were in pretty good shape. We were battling Jeff there early. He was really pressing me there early on new tires. When the tires got old, it seemed like we could pull away from him a little bit. It looked like they made an adjustment on their car and got their car a little better. “He (Gordon) really runs good and he’s really good on slick tracks. He knows how to mash the accelerator and not get the tires lit up and burn the tires off and 10 laps later you’re going back. You hardly ever see him out of shape. He’s tough to beat on these things. We were a little better than him early, but it looks like they adjusted on his car and got better. Our stuff was worn out at the end. I’ve always run good out here. It’s aggravating. You get caught back up and you’ve got to come from 25th. It’s real hard to pass. We ran second today and probably didn’t pass five cars all day. The deal was good pit stops and we stayed up front and we never had to come back in the pits and do stuff. It’s tough to pass. I’d rather me on an oval, but you’ve got to do it. There’s a whole lot of excitement. Chip’s (Ganassi) a racer. We’ve got Andy Graves back at the shop now, and he’s trying to get things lined up and get things going. I look for the second half of the year to be good for us. Chip’s going to bring some elements to the game and a lot of ideas. It’s going to be better. I love Felix (Sabates) to death, but he wasn’t at the shop all the time and it’s hard when you’ve got another business. He has fun with it, but like I said, Felix is a businessman and Chip’s a racer. Felix will still own part of it, but Chip will be making all the calls, and Andy will, too. Andy was with Terry (Labonte) when he won the championship, so he’ll bring something to the team. We’ve talked a couple of times, and I’m looking forward to working with him. “Our front tires were really worn out on the car. I couldn’t get through turn 11 for nothing. I was just trying to hold it on the bottom through the last corner, and it just slid up. He got under me. It was a dead heat drag race back to the start/finish line. I guess I beat him by six or eight inches. They drove it around the shop to make sure it didn’t have any leaks and it would turn. We qualified sixth. That’s the best qualifying I’ve ever had out here, but the guys did a real good job with the car. It’s fun if you run up front, but if you get hung in the back and have to come up through the field, it’s aggravating.”

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We didn’t start off great, but I just drove the wheels off that thing and got what we could with it. We weren’t a first-place car, but we’re happy we got a top 10 out of it. This was a hard-fought race. The car took a lot to get used to today. I couldn’t drive it like I wanted to. I drive real hard in the turns, and the car just wouldn’t turn, so I had to change my driving style. We really struggled all week. We didn’t have a good qualifying spot. We had a terrible Happy Hour, and we had to make a lot of changes to the car. I just couldn’t drive the car at the first of the race because it was too hard to handle. But I never give up no matter what situation I’m in. You’ve just got to go for it. You never know what could happen during the day and everything went our way at the end of the race today. This was the team’s first road course race together, and I think that the more and more time we spend with each other, the more and more we will learn about each other.”

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “I can’t believe we finished where we did. Jimmy and the guys did a great job to get us to our best finish of the year. It was nice to lead a few laps. This was a good finish, one that puts us back on track. We had a strong race car and great pit stops. Unfortunately, fuel mileage came into play. I noticed the car sputtered like it was about to run out of gas after long runs. The fuel pressure gauge was fluctuating in the high left and right turns. It started about 25 laps after refueling, so I knew we had a fuel mileage problem. Our Chevy should have been able to go about 35 laps without any trouble. Turns out, we had a defective flapper valve in the overflow tube. It wouldn’t shut all the way, and fuel was splashing out. We were only getting 18 gallons per stop, and somehow four gallons was splashing out during the race. Our spotter (Bart Creaseman) said he could see gas spewing out up to two laps after each pit stop.”

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We had a good race car today. I’ve got to take my hat off the Pennzoil team, fixing the leak in the power steering without losing a lap was something else. It would have been almost impossible to get around this track without it.”

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo) “We fought forward bite all day. We couldn’t get the car to hook up in the gas. Then on top of everything else, we didn’t have enough gas mileage to pit with other cars. We had a great strategy and got up to second by pitting early, but we didn’t get the caution we needed. We had to come in and pit after everybody else did and that put us back in the middle of the pack. I’m looking forward to Daytona next week. I’d like to run good at home.”

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) “It’s a lot to talk about. Something God does amazing things, and timing worked out perfect for us. We’ve certainly been through a lot this year, and it’s nice to come out here to what I call home or definitely where I was born and to come out here with all the fans and the family and to do it out here is really special. Plus, (team manager) Brian Whitesell’s grandmother passed away on Friday, so I know it’s real special to him. That’s why it’s amazing what God does and the timing he does it in. It couldn’t have worked out better for us. Plus, it’s the midway part of the season, and I think today showed a lot about this race team and their character. I think there was a lot of pressure on them coming into this event. I think everybody said if they don’t win at the road course there must be something wrong with them. We were able to pull that off. That reminds me of what this team has done time and time again over the years. It’s awesome. Robbie (crew chief Loomis) did a great job all weekend long tuning the car up for me and made the right calls. The pit crew was phenomenal in the pits today. It was just a total team effort. If you don’t have that kind of performance these days and do it in all different areas, then you’re not going to win. It certainly wasn’t a give me win today. We had to work hard for it. It’s nice to be able to do it. “It was a battle out there today. I think because it was so hard to pass and you had one area to pass in. I actually tried finding a couple of other areas to pass in. Guys were bumping and banging. I got into a couple of guys. It’s such hard racing. You’re going for it in every corner. Robbie was doing a good job keeping me calmed down. Early on I knew that my car was good and I wanted to make some passes early. I stuck my nose in there a couple of times. Me and Sterling touched I think on the second lap. It just shows how competitive it is these days. It was quite a battle out there. There was a lot of great racing going on, even though there toward the end we were able to get in clean air. I still saw quite a bit of clean racing going on behind me. I didn’t want to make a mistake, and we had fuel mileage going on there. I didn’t know what the situation was there. A lot of different factors. The last 20 or 25 laps, that’s a long way around this place. It seemed like every lap took forever, and it was nice to be able to get to that final lap and come off that last corner and see the checkered flag. “I ran hard all day long. To me, I get into a rhythm on a road course, and if I start to back off that rhythm to start saving fuel, it causes some problems for me and some inconsistency. I tried short shifting, not carrying as much rpm’s up through the gears. Certainly the last couple of laps, I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I knew I had some room behind me. Certainly I was taking it a little bit easier the last few laps, but prior to that, I was running hard all day long. Thank goodness for that one caution. I know a lot of us were really beat. It was hot out there and the road courses are just so demanding. It takes a lot out of you. I wasn’t about to let any of those guys get up to me. I was really more afraid the caution was going to come out more than anything else. “A lot of crazy things went on right there in that segment. It looked like Tony Stewart made a move on him (Scott Pruett). Somehow, Scott kept locking up the front tires. There was just a big cloud of smoke, so we went down into the esses and I guess Jeff Burton had just got by us. We went down in there and he locked up the tires. I was going to the outside of him, and I couldn’t really see when the smoke came off of him. I touched him. There’s no doubt about it. I touched him, but he was probably a little too defensive at that time. There were some guys faster than him, but certainly not anything intentional I wanted to have happen. “There were a couple of close calls out there. The worst one that happened to me was when Tony Stewart got by me. I was coming down the front straightaway and Jeff Burton went to the inside of Pruett and I was right beside him and I don’t think he knew I was there. He came right into me and got into my right front pretty hard. It sent me sideways, and I was right in the middle of changing gears. I had my hands full, or at least one hand full, and then Tony got by me. He was trying to make a move on Pruett and it didn’t stick. I got on the outside of him, and he just came right into me. That was pretty close, but there were a few close calls. There was some hard racing. It was hard to out brake a guy. I meant to get inside of them, and they wouldn’t give up the spot easy. You get in there and start bumping and banging a little bit. I went down in there and someone spun in front of Robert Pressley and he checked up and I hit him and he spun. There were definitely close calls, and I felt like every lap I had to drive the wheels off the thing to get it out front and to keep the track position. “Scott was on old tires and he was fading, but Tony was going to be tough. I tell you, he was pretty strong. He made some passes on some guys in front of me that I couldn’t make, so you never know until you go long runs on old tires, but here track position is so important. When he got in front of me I wasn’t real happy about it. I was certainly going to try to keep the pressure on him, but when he had those problems, it definitely changed the race. Getting behind anybody would have been a handful, but getting behind him certainly would have been. He’s a great driver, and very diversified on all types of tracks. I see him really coming into his own on road courses.”

ROBBIE LOOMIS (Crew chief No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) “It was really close. We had it figured we probably could have run one more lap at the end, but on a road course you never know how much he’s using, how much the car’s using and the big thing is on the fuel cell, you never know how much it’s going to pick up. A lot of times out here in practice, you’ll see a guy running out of gas so he can tell. About halfway through that run, I said, ‘man, we should have tried that yesterday.’ “I’m always nervous, but when you’ve got Jeff driving it makes it look a little bit easier. The biggest thing that was nerve-racking at the end of the day was the fuel deal, but when he’s driving, he’s pretty much got it under control if I can keep him out front. He doesn’t like being behind. “It’s the easiest job in the world, man. I said when we were standing up there getting our pictures taken, when we go to Watkins Glen they’re going to be saying can they win seven in a row. The pressure is there. The pressure has been there since December when I walked into Hendrick Motorsports, but like I said the one thing I knew coming into it, I knew I had the greatest driver out there. When I walk into every race track, if I can give him the car, I know we can get the job done. That takes a lot of the pressure off of you. From one side it’s pressure. From the outside, but from the inside it makes it a lot easier.”

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Tony Stewart , Robert Pressley , Ron Fellows , Scott Pruett , Michael Ho