Continued from part 2 CASEY MEARS, NO. 5 POP-TARTS /CARQUEST IMPALA SS -- Qualified 2nd "I'm just real proud of the Pop-Tart's Carquest Chevrolet. All the guys on the team have done an excellent job. We haven't qualified that well on a ...
Continued from part 2
CASEY MEARS, NO. 5 POP-TARTS /CARQUEST IMPALA SS -- Qualified 2nd
"I'm just real proud of the Pop-Tart's Carquest Chevrolet. All the guys on the team have done an excellent job. We haven't qualified that well on a superspeedway this year and to come out here and qualify as well as we did, I'm very proud of the work that they've done. I'm proud of everybody at the shop and all the guys there plus the engine shop. I think everybody knows that when you run well here it's because your car is fast."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY / NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS -- Qualified 15th
"This is good. This was the 500 car. We did pretty good with it down in Daytona. It felt like it was the best car, but we wanted to see what that Shootout car had and unfortunately we tore it up yesterday. This was fine. I've got to thank my team and everybody at Hendrick for being so prepared and having the back-up car so ready. My guys worked really hard yesterday and it will be a decent memory here soon. The way this car is going to run and the way it runs now as good as it's prepared, you'd hardly believe we had to do what we had to yesterday."
HOW MUCH CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAR IN JUST TWO LAPS? "It's fine (laughs). It's ready to go. We came here yesterday really not looking to change much. It is what it is as far as how you unload. We tore that car up. It was the Shootout car for me in February and we just wanted to see how it would race 500 miles.
"But this is the (Daytona) 500 car and all our motors are great. We should be fine. I'm pretty happy with the way the guys have rebounded and I feel like we're really prepared going into the race even with the day we had yesterday."
AT MOST TRACKS, THE CHASE GUYS ARE UP FRONT. THIS PLACE HAS CHASE DRIVERS SPRINKLED ALL OVER THE FIELD. HOW MUCH DOES THAT CHANGE THINGS? "You can go from 20th to first to 20th in three laps. So, I don't think it matters. You just qualify and try to get a good pit selection. Pit selection is so important here; it's so hard to get on and off pit road. Depending on how the cautions fall, you may just come in and get a splash of gas and you'll be ready to pull out of your stall before the rest of the field has even come onto pit road and into their stalls and you have the guys bouncing into each other and knocking fenders off and it can be a tough day if you're not careful on pit road. That's really where qualifying is important; it's not so much for track position."
SINCE THE CHASE STARTED, ONE OF THE CHAMPIONS DID NOT HAVE A TOP-FIVE AT TALLADEGA. HOW IMPERATIVE IS IT TO GET OUT OF HERE CLEAN? "Well, if one of the stronger favorites like Jimmie (Johnson) and Carl (Edwards) and Greg (Biffle); anybody in the top five really comes out of here with a top five finish, man it's a feather in their cap, man. You know what I mean? It's a bonus because it's so tough to get those finishes here. It doesn't matter how good your car is. It doesn't matter how good of a plate racer you are at Talladega with the CoT, it just matters who makes the right move at the last minute. It's about as level as I've ever seen a playing field in all of sports when it comes to Talladega and racing here with these cars."
WILL THERE BE TEAMWORK BETWEEN THE HENDRICK CARS ON SUNDAY? "Well, me and Jeff (Gordon) are thinking about going up front and running hard. I think the No.5 (Mears) and the No. 48 (Johnson) are going to be patient and try to take care of their cars a little bit better in the back. Me and Jeff are going to try to go up there and try to learn how to work together (laughter)."
HOW'S THAT GOING TO WORK? "I think it'll work good. We gotta make it work."
GIVEN THE FACT THAT THE TWO OF YOU ARE TOP RESTRICTOR PLATE RACERS IN THE SPORT, ISN'T IT JUST RELYING ON EACH OTHER? "Well, we both think we're the best, so that's really where the conflict comes in (laughs) and who is supposed to be out front and who is supposed to be helping who, you know? When it's all said and done, we both know we're going to try to win the race. We do a pretty good job and we get better at it every time we do run at the plate tracks of working together in the majority of the race, the first 75 percent of the race.
"He knows what he's doing and he can be a great help to you. And you get what you give and sometimes maybe I'm not as giving as I should be in certain parts of the race. But that's how it works, you know. You tend to get help from the people that you helped earlier in the race, not just from somebody out of the blue."
DID YOU GUYS TALK ABOUT IT PRIOR TO THIS RACE? "We just said we'd try to go up there and run hard and learn how to work together and do a better job and enjoy working together instead of being so competitive."
MIKE WALLACE, NO. 33 REALTREE IMPALA SS -- Qualified 6th: "I'm just really happy and proud to be driving this race for Richard Childress Racing. This is referred to as the 'company car'. All the guys in Richard Childress Racing worked on this car. We all have a little something we want to prove all the time and it worked out really well. It's a great looking car and it's fast and it drives good. Hopefully, we're sitting sixth right now, but hopefully we can move it up five spots from here and be standing right here in victory lane."
LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT. WHAT ABOUT DRAFTING PRACTICE, HOW WAS IT? "We didn't do much drafting practice but the one thing about this race car, and that's the tribute to it, is that it's race ready. We don't have to come down pit road and put fan belts and alternator belts and power steering or anything; it's all go. One thing Richard said was that he wanted to run up front the whole race. We don't want to lose anytime getting on pit road and making changes. We're going to have a great time."
TONY RAINES, NO. 70 IQ DRIVE IMPALA SS -- Qualified 8th:
KNOWING THAT YOU HAD TO GET IN ON TIME, DID YOU GUYS DO ANY DRAFTING PRACTICE? "We didn't do any drafting practice and thanks to Dave Skog, our crew chief and all the guys on this No. 70 car, you know, this is their deal. They work on that car all week and the drivers just come out here for qualifying and just ride around like driving down the interstate. So pleased for them that the car qualified so strong because you never know what will happen on Sunday but at least we'll have a good shot at it to begin with."
JOE NEMECHEK, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING CHEVY IMPALA SS -- Qualified 7th
"The Furniture Row Chevy Impala SS drove great -- we were just a tick off of claiming a front row starting position. This is the car that we won the pole with back in the spring race here. But it had to be rebuilt after being involved in a big wreck on the final lap of the race. All-in-all I am real happy with the performance. We need to put it all together tomorrow and come away with a strong finish."
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS -- Qualified 10th:
"That was a great lap for us. Everyone at DEI has been working really hard getting ready for Talladega and my crew gave me a great car. We felt like when we unloaded we were going to be pretty good. We kept working on it in practice and kept getting it just a little better each time. You never know about qualifying here because how you race is what is important, but I think we are going to be good tomorrow in our Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. We had a great run going here in the spring until we got caught up in a wreck. We have a good enough car to get to the front and stay there."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS -- Qualified 17th:
"I am excited about Sunday. I think we have made a huge step forward in how fast our cars can be. We didn't qualify on the pole by any means, but I think we have a really competitive car and we can come close to setting the past of what we have been able to do in the past."
DO YOU HAVE A STRATEGY FOR TOMORROW? "It is a 500-mile race and 188 laps is a long time and a lot of stuff is going to happen. You have to know when to make a move and when not to make a move. This is one of those places it doesn't matter where you are running on lap 100, it only matters where you are running on lap 188. It is really a risk versus reward kind of a race. You really pay attention to what you are doing and you get to the end of the race you are almost willing to take any risk, but the middle portion and early portion, you have to be really careful of trying to do too much too soon.
"The last 10 laps here is pretty intense. I wish we had heart rate meters to measure us on lap 10 versus 10 to go. You can just feel the intensity build, people start to take more risks, all those things just build, build build. It is really obvious to the drivers how much more aggressive it is. A lot of give and take early and a lot more taking than giving late.
"If you have a fast car, you can think more right now. If you have a slow car, you have to think more about what is going to happen on the next lap. The fast cars set the pace. The fast impose their will on other cars. The slower cars are more waiting to see what the other cars do before they can do something. If you take a slow car and try to do to much with it, you find your way to the back. It really depends on how fast your car.
"Typically cars that qualify fast race well at Talladega, but I am telling you right now there is somebody that will qualify in the back and will have a really good race on Sunday. Qualifying matters, but as far as track position, it matters the least here than anywhere else."
-credit: gm racing