JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (16th) "We picked up quite a bit. I'm real happy with that. We changed some things around to find some speed and that ought to put us in the top 15 or top 10 if everything works out right....
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (16th)
"We picked up quite a bit. I'm real happy with that. We changed some things around to find some speed and that ought to put us in the top 15 or top 10 if everything works out right. I'm happy to see that for Chad (Knaus) and all the guys who have worked really hard to build this race car. We know it's a good car, we've just got to find exactly what it needed to get the qualifying speed out of it. But I think it's going to be a really good race car for us."
A CAR THAT'S REALLY GOOD IN THE DRAFT WILL BE KEY ON SUNDAY "Yeah, that's the thing with our car. It's driving too well. And in qualifying you need to have all the air off the car and really trim it out to run a fast lap - especially here at Talladega. The car has almost been driving too good in qualifying trim and that usually means good things on Sunday." RICKY CRAVEN, NO. 11 OLD SPICE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (20th)
"I thought it was really good. I've come here enough that I don't take anything for granted. Sometimes you go out and you don't pick up and you're puzzled as to why. And today the guys did a fabulous job and we gained over three-tenths from our last practice run. They did a great job." DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (10th)
"The guys made some changes (after practice) that hopefully made it a lot better. I'd be real happy if we qualify in the top 10 or somewhere real close to it. I'm pretty happy. I didn't really expect to pick up a whole lot. The car ran a little better and I've got to thank Tony (Eury) Jr. and all the guys that scrambled to get us a little more time there and a few extra tenths on the car. That'll get us a good starting spot for Sunday and hopefully it won't take us long to get to the front."
HOW IMPORTANT IS QUALFIYING? "There is only one thing that's seriously important to me and the team today and that's getting a good pit stall for the race. You don't want a bad pit stall. It's so hard to get on and off pit road here. It's important to qualify well so you can get that good pit stall."
IN THE OVERALL CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP, HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS RACE? "We come into here hoping to get a good run. It's been a great race track for us. We'd just like to keep on being successful and being consistent here. You concentrate on the tracks you think you're going to struggle at and hopefully everything else takes care of itself. Hopefully this will be one of those weekends where it takes care of itself." KERRY EARNHARDT, NO. 33 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (22nd) "You're always pleased when you pick up (from your practice time). Usually it means that here at Talladega you'll pick up. We'd like to run a little bit better than that, but the car is awesome. All the guys at RCR really put a good car together. I'm just really looking forward to racing. This car raced good here last time, and I'm looking forward to coming back and maybe getting up to the front and maybe racing Dale Jr. a little bit more."
ON RACING WITH RCR AND BEING COMPETITIVE IN THE FEW RACES HE'S RUN "It's kind of hard not being in the seat every week. These guys are in it every week. Being in and out, you kind of lose a little bit of rhythm. But you try to stay up with that. We've run some Winston West races out west with Bill McAnally Racing and NAPA and it helps me to keep focused as far as driving the car and everything. But this is where I love to be - right here driving the No. 33 Bass Pro car and RCR."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (1st)
"I think my teammate, Scott Riggs, and also this U. S. Army car have a good shot at it (the pole). We have the same car that we ran here last time. I think we qualified fourth. We've been right on top of our game. I'm really proud of our whole team. They've worked hard to get the car the best they can get it, and also Hendrick Motorsports has gotten us more power out of the engine. That's what it takes."
HOW MUCH DO YOU FOCUS ON QUALIFYING? "You know, it's about the car. The car has got to be right and the engine has got to be right. You've got to have the right package underneath. You've got to put it where it needs to be, but it's about the race car itself. When the race comes, that's when the driver makes a difference.
"Our run was just a testament to this entire crew. We have a great group of guys back at the shop hanging bodies. We're kind of a small group, but we're one team with two cars. Scott Riggs is running very well. We just try and do everything we can to make sure every week we have the best equipment we can have. I've got to thank Hendrick Motorsports for all the power. They're getting us better engines every week. You've got to have horsepower and aerodynamics and handling. The driver has very little to do with qualifying, but what an awesome day. I'm so proud of this whole team."
HOW DO YOU PASS THE TIME WAITING TO SEE IF YOU HAVE THE POLE? "Oh, I'm good. If anybody can run faster right now, that's pretty good. I knew we were going to be close. I thought we could run a little faster than Ricky Rudd. But everybody has to go through the room of doom here and get equalized out before you go out on the track. NASCAR has changed some rules and a lot of us worked on our cars a little bit and I think we've got it a little bit better."
SCOTT RIGGS, NO. 10 VALVOLINE CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (4th)
"We pretty much did all we could do in practice there. You never know what you're going to find that you have to do going through that room of doom for the last time. Everything was still okay and we were able to pick up a little bit from our practice time. So it was good for us. It's going to be maybe a top five - at least a top 10 starting position for us. Hopefully we'll have that kind of finish here too."
DO YOU LIKE COMING TO RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES? "When you come to the different speedways and you have a good car, it's always fun. When you have a car that won't go, that's never fun and you don't look forward to it. Having Hendrick under the hood helps a lot and all the guys at MBV and MB2 giving us great cars makes it always fun to come here."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - (27th)
"That wasn't the pick-up that we wanted (from practice). We would have liked to pick up a little bit more. But we'll get out and practice tomorrow and see what we've got. That's more important than qualifying is right now."
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PIT SELECTION AND GETTING ON AND OFF PIT ROAD IN GREEN FLAG CONDITIONS
"I hope it's better than it was for me last weekend at Dover. I hope I won't have that problem again. The pit selection here is important. But we're not going to have that. So, we'll have to pick a pit and we might get fortunate with a pit stall that's not too bad. They're pretty tight here. But you know, sometimes you pit under yellow and sometimes under green. And either way, sometimes you can get in trouble. You could come in the pits under green, you might come in too fast, or under yellow you might get behind a car or something like that where you can't pull out. But you're dealt the car that you've got and you've got to do the best you can."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 GM GOODWRENCH CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO- (15th)
"Todd Berrier and the entire crew did a great job of pulling out all their little tricks of the trade and making our GM Goodwrench Chevrolet a little faster. That's where it all came from."
HOW MUCH DOES PIT STRATEGY PLAY INTO SUNDAY'S RACE?
"You've just got to be cautious and make sure you don't tear your car up getting in and out of the pits. Getting into your pit stall is probably the most important thing and making sure you don't slide through the stall. You can't make any mistakes because most likely you're going to pit under green."
BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 25 GMAC CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - 21st)
"I've learned so much this year - especially on restrictor plate races - I think more so here than anywhere. Whether I've been racing for 13 years or not, I've only been racing these types of tracks for two years. There is no place else you can go to race on these tracks expect NASCAR at this level. The experience isn't the same here. I've learned a lot about these race tracks but I fell in love with them too. There's nothing like running inches apart, bumping each other at 200 mph going four-wide."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 30 AOL CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO- (13th)
"It was an awesome lap. The AOL guys really worked hard today. We found a little problem with one of the brake calipers. It was dragging and we didn't realize it was dragging and we fixed that. I'm sure that was a little bit. Those guys just tuned it up and put the big time and energy in it and I'm sure that's where the speed was. This is such an aggressive race - a heart pounding race - you come out of here with a decent finish you feel relieved. But I've come out of here with a good finish, but a lot of times all tore up. I'm hoping for the first of those two options."
TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO- (38th)
"I know it's not very good because I know we weren't very good in practice. That must mean it's not very good. Talladega hasn't changed much over the years. The rules are a little bit different from time to time, but the racing hasn't changed much. Everyone is in a big group and you try to get in the right place in the end, but it hasn't changed a lot."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO- (5th)
"The guys have done a great job to get us up on the board there in practice. But I'm not sure how much we have left. We pretty much gave it everything we had there. I think we'll have a good run but I'm not sure if we've got enough for the pole."
IS THIS RACE A PIVOTAL ONE IN THE CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think they're all pivotal. I think every weekend is important for these last 10 races. In the next eight, I think every position is going to count and every lap is going to count. I think everybody says this race is pivotal because there's usually a big wreck here. And it can change the chances for the guys who get caught up it. And it might increase the chances for the guys who get through it. I'm going to approach it like we do every other weekend and like we do for every other Talladega race and just get out there and race as hard as we can and try to get up front and stay there and if we get shuffled to the back, we'll try to work our way back to the front. "We're pretty pleased with that lap. We backed up what we ran in practice and got a little bit more out of it. That's what we were hoping for. Hopefully we can keep it in the top five."
HOW MUCH STRATEGY GOES INTO THE RACE ON SUNDAY? "We'll just get the car out there in the draft tomorrow. There's not a whole lot more we can do with these cars anymore. You put the cars through the wind tunnel. The guys work so hard in the body shop and they fine-tune the engines and all the little details that you can possibly do. But once you get out there in the race or even in the race practice, there are very few things you can do except draft the best you can and have good pit stops.
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO- (14th)
"The car is basically the same as it was in the spring. Slugger and the guys have really worked hard on it trying to improve it and make it faster. I have a lot of confidence in my crew. What a great bunch of guys. They've built me a great car."
WHEN YOU UNLOAD OFF THE TRUCK, DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE MANY CHANGES TO THE CAR? "You always try things and try to make an educated guess on what it would take to speed the car up. They do such a good job of testing our equipment at DEI. When they get to the race track, they have a really good idea of what it's going to take. So we don't change much. We changed a gear here because we drew a late number and felt like we'd get a little more speed because it would be cooler. So Slugger put a higher gear in it. I've got a great car. I can win on Sunday no matter where it starts."
"But to be quite honest with you, there are so many rules now, I'm not sure what you can really change or not change. The car has been tested to the ninth-degree over and over with wind tunnel and race track testing. We are pretty well convinced that the set-up that's under it is the fastest one. So we'll leave that in there as far as springs go. We'll just maybe make some minor adjustments."
YOU ARE SO GOOD HERE, HOW MUCH DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THIS TYPE OF RACING? "Oh, very much. We come here as the defending champion of this event and we plan on winning it again. We have a great team at DEI. We also know we have a very talented and very great gifted race car driver in Dale Jr. that we can play with and we also understand a little bit about the draft ourselves. We just feel like everything is in our favor when we come here."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO- (30th)
"I don't think we have a magic second in our pocket, but this is the best we've been in practice for a couple of years here. So hopefully what we do gain is going to help us here."
IS THERE ADDITIONAL STRESS RACING HERE AND ALSO BEING IN THE CHASE? "Jeremy (Mayfield) and I were just talking about that. We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. So if anything, it kind of makes it less stressful for Jeremy and I. We're in the back of the Chase right now and we've just got to go out and win races, which is exactly my favorite way of point racing anyway. If you can just go out and win races, the points will take care of themselves."