Talladega: GM Racing teams qualifying quotes

TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: "The guys have been working awfully hard to make our speedway program better. It's a brand new car. ON THE DIFFICULTY OF GETTING ON AND OFF PIT ROAD AT TIMES AND HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS AT ...


"The guys have been working awfully hard to make our speedway program better. It's a brand new car.

ON THE DIFFICULTY OF GETTING ON AND OFF PIT ROAD AT TIMES AND HOW IMPORTANT THAT IS AT TALLADEGA "It's pretty difficult because we have a lot of green flag pit stops here. Sometimes it's hard to be in the right position and really come into the pits like you want to. So if you can stay up towards the front, your chances of getting in and off of pit road like you want to are probably a little bit better."


"Normally we do run better when we come to qualify. They pull the brakes back and do stuff like that. But we picked up four-tenths. It should get us in the show somewhere from first to 28th. If we can just get in there in a good position and work on the car tomorrow during practice and hopefully we'll have a good race car on Sunday."

WHAT ROLE DOES YOUR SPOTTER PLAY IN THIS RACE ON SUNDAY? "The spotter plays a big role because there are a lot of blind spots on these cars. When you get a guy tucked up underneath the left rear corner, you can't see him down there. And that's where a lot of the action happens. So that guy (spotter) lets you know who is down there and when you're clear to move down. I think if we didn't have spotters at race tracks like this, it would be lucky."

HOW DO YOU GET THROUGH A LONG WEEKEND OF RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING IN BOTH THE BUSCH AND CUP SERIES? "The key is having good teams on both sides. We have Richard Childress Racing on the one side and the Fruit of the Loom sponsorship on the Busch side. It's been a lot of fun. Good people back and forth have helped my schedule go from the Busch car to the Cup car and be on time and things like that. It's been fun so far. I've learned a lot. Hopefully we can position ourselves to win races in both."


"Morgan-McClure cars always run well at superspeedways. I ran finished here once in the Kodak car here. I'm excited about being on board with them. I think the later you go out (for qualifying) the faster it is. But then again, sometimes you're shocked. I think a lot of it is the engine combination. It's opposite of a track where the temperature on the track makes a big difference. The temperature in the air makes more difference to a restrictor plate track compared to a race track like California. If the track is 20 degrees cooler, it's going to be a lot faster. It's the opposite here. It the track is 20 degrees hotter, I don't think you'll notice it on a sticker run but you will notice the temperature in the air on the motor will make a big difference."


"It was a good run for us. The guys have worked really hard. We had a great run at Daytona and finished 6th there. We didn't get the car tore up so we've been able to tweak on it since then. We qualified really well in Daytona and we're expecting the same thing here. Hendrick Motorsports does our engines. We have lots of power. You've got to have the whole package: handling, aerodynamics, and power. We've got a pretty good deal right now. We've been on the pole here a couple of times in the Cup car and the Busch car. We've come close to winning a Cup race here, but never won one. You never know. You've got to put yourself in the right position at the end of the race. If you can do that, you can win it. Right now, I think we've got a really good shot here at Talladega."


"We've put a lot of hard work and effort into our restrictor plate program. It's paying off. So far we're very excited. We've got the Dupont/Pepsi program this weekend and that's exciting. We're looking forward to keeping it up front all day."

WHEN YOU MAKE GAINS IN THE ENGINE PROGRAM, IS THAT THE WHOLE PICTURE AT TALLADEGA OR IS THERE MORE TO IT? "You've got to massage every area possible - every area of the body, any area to get that spoiler out of the air, anything you can do to make more power and possibly continue to increase power with rpm. Anything you can do like that is going to be an increase in speed on the track. I don't think it is just one area. We have two or three different departments working on their areas all the time."


"Really, all I try to do is stay above the yellow line and see what I can do with the Lowe's Chevy. It was a pretty good run for us. The guys have been working hard."

WHAT ROLE DOES THE SPOTTER PLAY AT TALLADEGA? "We rely on them more here than anywhere. At other tracks you have a sense of where cars are around you and you almost know if you're clear. But here, you can't tell where cars are if you're three wide, four wide and you really rely on them here more than anywhere else."


"Slugger and all the boys have done their job. They've given us a car that can compete for the pole. We just missed it by a few hundredths so far. I don't see many people going much faster than that. We should be right up towards the front and having a fast car is the most supporting factor to winning at Talladega. We know how to do the job on pit road. We know how to draft and get that job done. The team has given me that car that can do the job."

AS GOOD AS YOU ARE ON PLATE TRACKS, DOES THIS WEEKEND GIVE YOU AN OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? "Definitely. We're heading in a good direction with the way the car is running. If fate is on our side again this weekend, we could be victorious."


"I've just got to take my hat off to everybody at Morgan-McClure Motorsports who has helped us. We brought our Late Model team down here to work on the car. We're really thankful to be here and hope we can get this 77 Sports.com Chevrolet into the show. We just sort of jumped in headfirst. That's the way we do things."


ON RACING HIS WAY INTO THE FIELD "I really want to thank Michael Waltrip - not just because he's a good friend to me. He believed in me. We're going to run five Cup races in the Aaron's dream machine and everybody knows this is an Aaron's dream weekend. We had to make sure we put the car in the field solidly and we're looking good. The last time we raced here we ran fifth, but they penalized me for going underneath the yellow line. We're going to try to do the same thing this race except don't go below the yellow line."

ON THE CHARACTERISTICS OF PLATE RACING: "One of the reasons the car runs so well is that Richie Gilmore stop by here. He's the motor builder at DEI and has won the Daytona 500 with five different drivers. If you have him on your side, you get a lot of confidence when you go to Daytona or Talladega."


HOW MANY CHANGES WILL YOU MAKE ON THE CAR BETWEEN NOW AND SUNDAY? "Between today and tomorrow morning the race practice is a lot - the transmission, rear-end gear, power steering pump, power steering box, water tanks, oil thermostats - there's just a lot of stuff - hubs, brakes - a lot of stuff that you do. But I'm just sitting here fumbled. We actually kind of slowed down and don't really know why. That's more frustrating than anything. You come here and lose a tenth or so and it's a big deal.

"We started up about two-tenths of what we think we should have run anyway. I don't really know. We're just trying to figure it out. What could we have done wrong? They give you a restrictor plate when you go through the room. You put it on. They give you rear shocks. There could be a little bit of difference there but not normally enough to show that kind of speed. Our oil temperature was nowhere near as hot as it needed to be and it left hotter than it ever has. So we just need to do a little more work in that area, I guess. We missed it on horsepower a little bit today."

SOME DRIVERS AND TEAMS LOVE COMING TO TALLADEGA AND SOME HATE IT. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THAT? "It's so much time, effort, and expense to come here and nobody has any idea. It's phenomenal. If you can stay out of the big crash - if we don't wreck, we usually finish well. So if on Sunday we can stay out of the wreck - if there is one - and this Home Depot Monte Carlo can come back with a good top five finish or maybe a win, that would be great. We've got an awfully lot of second and third-place finishes here at Talladega. But we've never won. We'd sure like to. I think this car will drive really good. It was a good car in the wind tunnel. We just missed something here today when it came to qualifying.

"We'll pay for it by starting in the back. But you can start last in this thing and in 15 or 20 laps be in the top ten if your lane goes and the people you're with just happen to go the way you needed to. So we'll just keep working like we need to do to get the car driving really good and suck up the best it can for him (Tony Stewart). Come race day on the last 20 laps, there aren't many people that are better than Tony as far as getting to the front and doing things that maybe you shouldn't do with one of these cars to get you up there. So we'll just see what Sunday brings us."


"It's a nice job for all the guys on the Valvoline Chevrolet. The guys back in the fab shop have given us a great car. It's the team, not the driver that's for sure. That's a good qualifying effort on our part. It's great to have a good car. It makes me feel good at a place like this where the car is so important."

ON HIS SEASON TO DATE "We definitely haven't had the kind year we've expected so far. It's definitely been a struggle. We've had a lot of curve balls. There have been a lot of tough situations for me and the entire newly-assembled team to overcome. When you can qualify good here at Talladega you can usually run pretty good in the draft. I hope that's the case.

"We've been learning by leaps and bounds every single week - not only me as a driver in the seat learning the new feel of the tires -- but also learning what I need to feel to be competitive every week. You never can underestimate just how tough the competition level is in the Cup series until you're here running in it. I'm proud of the way the team has pulled together.

"They all have faith not only in me, but in each other. It's a good working environment working there. When you get out of the car no matter what, everybody is still 110 percent behind each other. There are a lot of people that don't see how this team is growing. I think we're going to turn around and give everybody something to talk about before it's finished.

We thought by this point in the year, we'd have a couple of top 10's and maybe a top five under our belt by now. It's easy to get frustrated. But our team is behind each other and that keeps everybody's spirit charging into the future.

"When Pontiac made the unannounced withdrawal from the sport, it put all of us at MBV and MB2 behind. We've been working on building cars. Every week the fab shop has been cranking out a new car and each one is better than the last. There is no favoritism. There is one team and we share. That effort is showing today when you have two cars that come out of the stable that can be so close on speed (Joe Nemechek qualified 4th). We're just going to continue to get better.

"In the past, the 01 team and the 10 team have used different chassis combinations and you really couldn't compare apples to apples. Now we've got it down to the same car combinations for both sides."

HOW DOES A ROOKIE PREPARE FOR THE BIG ONE? "The first way is to qualify pretty far to the front so you're hopefully in front of the big one. Hopefully we've done that so far. I need to be patient. Hopefully we'll have a good enough car that can stay up front the whole race."


"I'm really happy with the team. I'm really happy with the car. That was a good lap. You know we've got our best car over at the museum in Daytona. This is the one we weren't too sure about, but it seems to be running real good this weekend."

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO KNOW THAT ALL THE OTHER TEAMS LOOK AT YOU AND YOUR DEI TEAMMATE, MICHAEL WALTRIP, AS A THREAT COMING IN THERE? "Well, everybody is saying this is the house that Earnhardt built. I'd like to keep it that way."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Joe Nemechek
Teams Hendrick Motorsports