Talladega II: Dodge teams qualifying quotes

CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) "We weren't very quick. We didn't have the speed in practice, but the car drove really good in the draft. That's the most important thing. You don't want to start back here. The only thing I'm...

CASEY MEARS (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)

"We weren't very quick. We didn't have the speed in practice, but the car drove really good in the draft. That's the most important thing. You don't want to start back here. The only thing I'm concerned about starting back here this time is I think it's going to be a little more difficult to pass. A good handling car just doesn't matter that much around here anymore. It never really did a whole lot, but at the end of a tire run you really felt the difference. Now the track is so good and smooth that you just don't see the falloff we typically see and it's going to be harder to pass than it has been. We just lost rpm with the plate change and lost speed. It's going to affect some engines differently. We ran better than we thought we might have run.

"Daytona and Talladega are totally different now. They used to be similar. Now it's not even in the same ballpark. With this new pavement and as smooth as it is now you can drive anywhere you want at all times. You're not really concerned about the handling of the car. You're just looking for all the speed you can get. It's going to make things react differently. Honestly the race, I'm a little worried about it because it's so easy to run side by side now. You're going to see guys running five wide and doing some crazy things just because it feels comfortable. It's still going to be tight. I hope I'm not in it and I hope it doesn't happen, but I think there's going to be a big one on Sunday.

"I've stayed in the back and got caught in the crash. I've stayed up front and got caught in the crash. I'm going to try to stay toward the front all day and hope we don't get in it. We're going to try to have the best day we can and not think about it. I think if you base your race around possibly being in a big crash you're not really learning anything. We're going to try to get to the front all day so we'll know how to get there when it counts at the end."

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DAVID STREMME (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)

"We knew we weren't going to be very good in qualifying trim. It drafted well, so that's what we've got to look forward to. We've got to work on some stuff in some areas of our speedway program. All the guys in the fab shop have done a wonderful job. We're a little disappointed, but we kind of knew it going in. The plate change actually slowed down everybody. It was fine like it was before, but they've got to do what they need to do. You can't tell the difference much from 190 to 210. I've run 230 and you can't tell the difference. Some guys must be scared or something."

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SCOTT RIGGS (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Charger)

"The lap was silky smooth. This place is really smooth now. We didn't do anything as far as qualifying trim. We worked on race trim. The car drives pretty good. It doesn't feel quite as good here as it did before, and I don't know why. It's the same car, and I didn't do any damage to it. Maybe the bumps helped keep our car down so we would be better in the draft. Everybody has the same issue, so we've just got to go out there and be careful. The smooth surface with more grip is going to promote guys racing even closer together, so I think you're going to see guys racing in a four-wide pack and nobody will be able to do anything. Whoever is out front when that four-wide gets together will stay out front, and whoever is in the middle will stay in the middle and whoever is in the back is going to stay in the back. No more lanes are going to be open out there to make any moves. I just hope everybody out there uses their heads and takes care of it.

"The plate change hurt everybody the same. I don't know what it actually took away from us. The biggest thing I see is it's going to slow us down even more in the pack. I don't know whose motor it affected the worse or how it affected ours. It's even across the board."

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RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)

"I don't think that was a big indicator of how everybody is going to perform on Sunday. We'll take it for what it is. We never did a run obviously with that restrictor plate change. Everybody's situation changed a little bit. We're looking forward to going out and racing tomorrow and having some fun. We'll try to keep the nose clean. I don't know what the race is going to be like. I guess we'll know more after the truck race today. I think we should be all right with the plate change."

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KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Petty Enterprises/Victory Junction Dodge Charger)

"I'm ecstatic with that lap. Obviously we were a little bit concerned because you don't know what anybody ran in practice. Everybody was doing race practice and only 15 of 20 of us were trying to make the race. When the 10 car went and didn't run as fast as I thought he would, that was even more cause for concern. The guys worked hard. Drivers don't mean anything down here when it comes to qualifying. It's all about the team and engines. The Evernham engines were great, and our guys did a great job. The plate change may have thrown the engine guys for a loop a little bit, but as far as we go it didn't change anything we were doing. We just had to go off what they said. On the other side of that, everybody had the same change. Everybody has backed up."

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BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger)

"We were slow, but that's the way we were at Daytona and we finished pretty good in the race. We had a little different gear than Kyle did, and that might have made a little difference in our qualifying speeds. We didn't make a qualifying run in practice yesterday and he did. It was more important for him. We were shooting in the dark, knowing that racing is where it's at. This is a different car than we had at Daytona. That car was more for handling. It had a little more drag on it, so we didn't want to bring it here."

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ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

"I'm very happy with that lap. The guys did a good job. We didn't know what the restrictor plate change was going to bring, so the guys made a good choice with the gear. I think we've got the right gear in it for the race tomorrow. It might have hurt us in qualifying a little bit, but the it's the right gear for the race. All-in-all the car is driving good, and I think we'll be fine tomorrow. We ran well in the draft yesterday. It sucks up good and it drives good. I'll be looking for the 9 and 10 tomorrow and see if we can make our way to the front."

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KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

"We really didn't know what to expect because of the change. I thought we might be a little slower than that. I think we're in the ballpark. I'm excited for tomorrow. The track feels really great. There's going to be a lot going on. It's going to be an exciting race. It's going to be crazy at times, so we'll just see what happens. I think we've got a good car. I'm looking forward to the new surface. I think they did a great job. I think you'll see a bigger pack, a wider pack -- three- and four-wide more. It'll be more intense racing. Hopefully we'll be right in the middle of it but toward the front half of it."

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KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

"We need to understand where some of the speed went from what we lost yesterday. We lost about six tenths. Some guys lost three tenths with the smaller plates. We'll be OK. Now it's just a matter of going racing. The smaller plate will create more equality. The new asphalt and smaller plate will bunch everybody up that much more. It won't be harder because the cars will be on top of each other more."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series NASCAR Cup