Talladega Chevrolet Racing Qualifying Notes

Talladega Chevrolet Racing Qualifying Notes
Oct 15, 1999, 11:45 PM

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "I'm pretty happy with that lap. We picked up from practice and that's always good. We've been pretty decent since we've been here. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the rest ...

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)

"I'm pretty happy with that lap. We picked up from practice and that's always good. We've been pretty decent since we've been here. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the rest of the guys. We had to go out early. We did everything we possibly could. We picked up eight hundredths of a second. I was hoping to get in the .80s. I would like to have got 48.80. I thought that would have been a good lap for us. We missed that a little bit, but all-in-all, a great lap. I wasn't expecting two in a row, so I guess anything is possible. Talladega is a tough place, and I think it's important for us to qualify good. We didn't qualify as good as we would have liked the last time we were here. This should be better for us.

"I'm fairly pleased. I've been pleased since we've been here. The car has been running well. The guys in the fab shop have done an excellent job getting this car prepared, and the engines have been running awesome. That's all we could get out of it. We'll go to work for the race. I think we're going to be a little bit better than we were here last time. We qualified further back and got caught up in the wreck. Hopefully, we'll get further toward the front and we can stay there.

"You would hope you could get up front and stay there, but you get shuffled back here and there. If you could get up front and stay there, it would certainly help, but the biggest thing is to be very lucky and to be away from it when it happens. We had to go out early, so we don't know exactly what it's going to take to make the top 10 today. The weather has been beautiful. You can't ask for better conditions."

ANDY HILLENBURG (No. 91 Little Joe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I'm really excited to be here with Joe Faulk (car owner). I'm glad he asked me to come back. I got to do this race for him last year. I told the guys I was pretty sure I could run a .37, but I'm going to hope for a .27, and that's exactly what I ran. I'm feeling pretty good about it. We're just concerned about being in that top 36 and being here Sunday. We picked up four tenths from practice. We threw a lot of things at it and we've been working really hard. We just ran out of time this morning. Mike Hillman (crew chief) made a couple of good calls for me, and it worked out just fine."

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"That was a pretty good run for us. It was a little faster than we practiced. That should get us a good starting spot. It's the same car we had here last time. I think we started 27th last time, so we went back and worked on it a little bit. I know it's going to race good, so we just worked on the qualifying. I figured we'd end up in the top eight."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"That was good for us. That's the fastest we've run here ever. We're gaining on it. We still need a little bit more. We tested better than that, but conditions were a little bit cooler. We'll keep working on it. We got a little drafting help in practice, but we were hoping we could repeat that time and we did. We'll just keep at it."

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak Max Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I'll be glad when they get away from this qualifying stuff. We ran a 49 flat in practice, but this is just terrible. It's a wonder somebody doesn't get hurt in this qualifying stuff. It beats up the cars and I'll just be glad when they get it straightened out. I think they're going to make a change next year, and I know everybody will be happy about that."

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"That wasn't bad. It was a rough ride like always. We picked up from practice, so that's good. This is the same car we had here last time. It's a good car, and we were good with it at Daytona. We'll be all right."

WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"The car is driving good. We thought we'd get a little bit more than that out of it, but we'll take that and get ready to race. It was two tough laps, and I'm glad that's over with. Now we'll get ready to go racing. I think that will keep us close to the top 10. I thought we had a shot for the pole. We normally pick up two or three tenths in qualifying, but the car is driving well. It was a good car here last time, so we're excited about Sunday. We qualified good, so maybe we've got a good opportunity to stay in front of any trouble that might happen. That's always a problem here. One little mistake can take out a lot of guys here. You don't worry about it. You put that out of your mind and hope everybody else does, too."

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I was in awe of how fast Ricky Rudd went, but I'm real proud of my guys. I guess the rules are going to change (for qualifying) next year, so I guess this will be the last time we're running low to the ground. The guys did a great job, so we're ready to go racing now. I've had good runs here. I ran seventh the last two times at Talladega and missed the big wreck. We're concerned about making our car handle and staying out of that big wreck. I'm excited. I'm ready to go."

KEN SCHRADER (No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"That's what we had. I could care less about being on the pole down here. We just need to run good on Sunday. We knew we'd have a good starting spot. We knew the car would be good. We didn't have anything for Ricky, but the heck with the pole. We've got a couple of poles. We need to win. We're looking forward to Sunday."

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We thought we might get in the 48s, but we just missed it. We're two tenths better than practice, so we're pretty happy. We're using a Richard Childress engine. We use his engines in all our restrictor-plate races. We're pretty happy with that lap. We were hoping for a little bit more."

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"It was a bad, bumpy ride out there, but this whole BellSouth crew, especially Keith Simmons and all the motor shop, those guys have worked hard since Daytona. We've found a little bit more power. This is the same car we had. It got in a crash during the last caution at Daytona and we had to put a nose and side on it. Everybody did a good job. They gave me the stuff to go, and I held it wide open. We thought we could get in the teens, and it didn't rpm like I thought it would when we got in qualifying. If we would have got in the teens, that would really have been something. If anybody can beat me, they can have it.

"These guys at Team SABCO just keep working hard, and they've found more power. That's what it's all about. This is the same car we sat on the pole with at Daytona (in July). We missed the race setup on it there with our shock absorbers. We won't miss it here. It's a bumpy ride, but it wasn't too hairy in qualifying. It's the most we could do to make the car go as fast as we could chassis-wise. That was all I had. That was a legitimate lap we had in practice. We picked up another tenth and a half in qualifying, so that was cool. Everybody wasn't showing what they had in practice. I wanted to see what we had. We're not doing anything different. I'm still driving my tail off. I think the biggest thing is we're getting our cars better where I can drive 'em better.

"I knew Ricky Rudd put up a good lap, so I had to do something to beat him. I've got to thank the whole motor shop and all the guys at Team SABCO. They fixed this car after Daytona. We had to put a nose and a side on it. To come back here, the guys found a little more power, and that's what it's all about. They gave me a good driving race car, but I'm kind of glad it's over. If anybody can beat it, they can have it."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We ran just a little quicker in practice. We couldn't outrun the pace car here last time. I think we might can outrun it this time. The guys worked real hard. I thought we had something for 'em today, but it just didn't pick up as much as we needed for qualifying."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We blew up. We haven't had a lot of problems with qualifying motors all year. The guys back at the shop have done a great job. This was a great engine. I don't know if we had anything for Joe or Ricky, but we knew we were going to have a good lap. We were good right off the trailer today. We were good all through practice. We really hadn't shown what we had. Coming off two, it just blew up. I hate it, but that's OK. We've got another one, and we'll try again on Saturday. We've got a great race car here. The only thing this is going to do is cost us some practice time on Saturday morning. I hate to take focus away from the race. Track position is important, but it isn't as important here as it is in some places. You just want to be in front of the wreck here. Hopefully there won't be a wreck until we get back to the front. We had a good run at Lowe's Motor Speedway, and I'm really looking forward to a good run here. We'll have a good hotrod before it's all over. These guys do a great job with these qualifiers, and as far as I know, this is the first one we've lost. I don't want them to start getting conservative."

STEVE GRISSOM (No. 01 TracPhone Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"That's about what we figured we'd run. My hat's off to this entire SABCO team. They've got awesome motors and good cars. This was just about our third time out in the car, so that's pretty good for us. That was a little quicker that we practiced, but we never got to make a qualifying run. We figured we could run a flat."

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)

"We're leaning on these motors too hard. They cut the oil pressure back trying to get all they could get and they're just going too far. It's nothing that the guys did wrong, other than just try too hard. I'd rather have a good safe, solid two laps other than blowing it up. It tightened up on the second lap. We just couldn't do it that way."

RICHARD CHILDRESS (Car owner RCR Chevrolet Monte Carlos)

"Both of our cars were real good in practice. These guys in our engine department really lean on it for qualifying. You've got to, and I support them 100 percent. They were leaning on it real hard, and it cost us today. We know what happened to both of them (Skinner's and Earnhardt's engines). If you're going to be up front and be in the top 10, you've got to push the envelop and we pushed it a little too far for both cars today. We've got backup engines for both cars. We just gave our ARCA car (driven by Kevin Harvick) a backup qualifier that we wanted to race tomorrow. We wanted to get some miles on the qualifying motor, so we've got to get that one back."

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"Joe Nemechek ran a 48.30 and that shows how much potential we have with this package of Keith Simmons' engines and Body Dynamics cars. They (42 team) were able to get theirs a little better than we were. Bobby Kennedy and the guys came a long way today. We qualified in May with this same car at 48.87, so we knew it had it in it. We ran an .81. If we could have a couple more laps in practice, we could have got on down there. The rpm's were good. We just didn't have it low enough. I never touched the track. You need to scrape it every now and then. I know I can win this race, and we come here planning to win it. We qualified well. Now we can look forward to the racing part."

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I don't know what it is, but it seems like the cars were riding a lot rougher this time. I don't know if the track is getting rougher, but it seemed to be a lot rougher ride this time than last time. It was not an enjoyable lap, that's for sure. I'm really excited. They haven't announced it, but it's pretty much known throughout the garage area. This is the last time you'll see the cars running low like that. We're staying over Monday and Tuesday for a Chevrolet NASCAR test with our 2000 Monte Carlo. We'll evaluate our car against the new car on the first day. Then we're going to put the Daytona 500 new rules in, too. They've already pretty much told us what they are. It'll be more like the Busch Grand National rules.

"It's not so bad here at Talladega, but especially when we get to Daytona where it's a much (smaller) track, the radiuses are tighter, and basically it becomes a handful. When you have some of the great ones complaining about it, like Earnhardt, they tend to listen pretty good."

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"It's cost so much money to get these cars down low for four qualifying laps for the year, both Daytona races, both Talladega races, that basically the money aspect of it is so... The rules are going to be more like the Busch Grand National Series.

"I think horsepower is always a situation, but we have found out the higher the frame rails are, the better the car runs. So basically what we'll do is lower the rocker panels or something, but we'll continue to build our cars with the frame rails high to let the air get out from underneath of it, but we won't rebuild our cars because of the new ruling. When they elaborate on it and give us details is when we'll be able to detail the car a little bit more.

"The only time I think I've ever been in the top five was back in '89 when I got the pole for the Busch Series, but basically I think I've been 10th to 15th or something like that. It was a nice qualifying run. That's for sure.

"I've always said I'm more of an overachiever than anybody. I've always had to study things harder than most people. I've very fortunate to get hooked up with a professional team. I've always been with independent teams. Filmar Racing was a great team, but I spent a long time with them. They were trying to make it on the Winston Cup level. We've had a good time this year. We're like any race team. We're not where we want to be yet, but I'm happy to be competing as well as I've been.

"I think the reason they changed the rule now is we're up to 198 mph. Changing the chassis rules, this is going to keep the car up in the air. This is going to give NASCAR an opportunity to slow down the car with just a spring change. We're up to 198. That's getting a little too close for the insurance companies. By making us run stiffer springs, I think they're going to reduce speeds by five mph, at least. When we're done qualifying from now on, we'll probably race what we qualify. That's what we do over in the Busch Series, and it's pretty much, I think, what we'll do here. We might change shocks, but I don't know. I think the cars will be so comfortable during qualifying that you'll be able to use them in the race setup, too. In qualifying, the rear spoiler is probably going to ride five inches higher than you see it on TV right now. The cars are going to run pretty much like they look in the race. That'll bring the spoiler, the roof, everything way up in the air, easily slow these cars down five mph or more.

"I couldn't hit a lick at Charlotte, and I was the fastest Chevrolet in both races there. That's all due to the aero package. RAD has really developed a lot earlier for the 2000 (Monte Carlo), and that should help our team out a lot."

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We've worked really hard on our speedway program the last two years. This is the same car we qualified fourth with here. We didn't hurt the body, so we were able to go back and tune to just work on the car to make it better. We went to Daytona, and they found a little bit more power. We sat on the pole, but the car drove good there. I think if Ricky had been able to drive his car might have got us at Daytona, but our car drove good and that gave us the pole. That car got in a wreck at Daytona with two laps to go and they had to put a new nose, hood, front fenders, whole new front end on it. We really didn't know how fast it was going to run. We had to try to duplicate what we had before, and they did a pretty good job. The motor shop went to work and found just a little bit more power. It doesn't take but two or three horsepower and it makes a big difference. I think the biggest thing right now, the motor shop at Team SABCO has definitely some power.

"I'm glad it's over. The car didn't really drive too bad. Some guys do a lot of crazy things to their cars and they don't drive good at all. They're actually scary to get in. Our cars drive pretty good for the conditions. The things bounce a little bit just because we have them so low to the track. That was all we had. We did everything we knew how to do to go fast. That was it. If anybody was going to go faster, they definitely could have it. I know if they were going faster than I was, the car was going to drive worse than mine. It was going to be tough.

"I think if they change the rules, it'll make the cars drive a lot better, but it takes a lot of the fun trying to figure out how to get the car a perfect attitude, how to get the nose down, to get the tail down, how to do all the right things to go fast. If they do away with that, it changes the whole circumstances. They've done a lot of the same things to the Busch cars. We figured out how to make the cars go faster again. It's going to be a whole new set of rules and if they do it, you'll just have to figure it out.

"I definitely have some confidence. We have four races, five including this one left, and I want to win another race this year. I think we're going to be capable of winning another race this year. You just have to have everything together, all at the right time. Moving on to Andy Petree next year, hopefully I can bring something to make the team gel together. I know they've got some good equipment up there, and I think we're going to run well. I think Andy is probably looking over here and saying 'man, they're doing pretty good right now. We're going to have to step up.' Hopefully he'll step his program up.

"We sat on the pole at Martinsville and we had the pole at one of the biggest tracks, and then we went to the shortest track and won the pole again. Qualifying is really, really tough. You've got to have a good driving race car, lots of power and then the driver's got to do his job. Tony Glover and myself and Jay Smith have been communicating. Keith Simmons is giving us good engines. Kind of the whole package is falling together. Last week at Charlotte, I thought we were going to get the pole there, and I didn't make it off turn four. If we would have made it, it would have been close. We're definitely on a roll qualifying, and I think in race mode we've been really good these past five or six races. Hopefully in the next four or five we're going to be right up there in the front."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Andy Petree , Bobby Kennedy