Team Monte Carlo Loudon Saturday notes

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We just couldn't get any grip today on that qualifying lap. We ran a 29.50 on stickers in practice this morning and weren't hardly trying. We went out there and slowed up in ...

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We just couldn't get any grip today on that qualifying lap. We ran a 29.50 on stickers in practice this morning and weren't hardly trying. We went out there and slowed up in qualifying (29.743 seconds). We just couldn't get any grip."

STATEMENT ON SABCO TEAMMATE KENNY IRWIN "We're going through a hard time right now, and we're just doing whatever we can do to get through it. Sitting down for an interview right now just isn't something I want to do. If you've been through losing a friend, you know what I mean and how we feel. Our minds are with Kenny's family right now, and that's really all I've got to say."

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Nemechek led second-round time trials with a lap of 29.452 seconds. He'll start 30th in Sunday's race. Nemechek started 11th and won his first NASCAR Winston Cup race here last September in the Dura Lube/Kmart 400. "We were a heck of a lot faster yesterday. We made some mistakes and took those mistakes out. We didn't get to make a qualifying run in practice this morning, so we just threw the setup back under it and went out and made a lap. The track has changed a lot today. The track has really, really slowed down. It's gotten really slippery, and I just wanted to make it back without hitting anything. It was a real conservation. It's a whole different mode in race trim. We changed all four springs, all four shocks, the swaybar. We changed everything. To go out there and try making a hero lap is hard to do. I just wanted to make it back and not have a problem. It was a real conservative lap. There was a lot of speed left, but track conditions are real slick right now, and I think that's why everybody else slowed down. "We've got to get out there and get racing. It's how your car is set up. We've got to work on getting it to drive good. It's extremely hard to pass here. On the straightaways, everybody is about the same on motor. You get in the corner, and if they don't make a mistake in front of you, it's hard to go. You can root a little bit and move 'em out of the way, but it's really hard too pass. We can get to the front."

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "In the past, this track seems to get a little tight. It's a little bit loose in and a little bit tight in the middle. I think track position is very, very important. It seems like we've been real consistent here, and we've won races here. It seems like we always find our way to the front. We're already about there, and we're comfortable. We've had good cars and good setups in the past. We've got to keep improving, and I see some improvements this weekend. Robbie Loomis is pretty good at these flat tracks, and we've fared well at the flat tracks. Jeff Burton and those guys seem to be the class of the field. John Andretti has run extremely well here in the past, and he's running good now. A lot of guys are good on these flat tracks, and that's why track position is very important. My pit crew has been really strong here lately. We're going to be real patient and try to get that track position. If we can get it, I think we've got a fast enough car to win this race. Track position is very important because it's so hard to pass, but I think we'll be in good shape."

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Highlights of Friday's interview in NHIS media center. "We had quite a July The Fourth over at the house, and it put me out of commission there for about 12 hours. We just hung out at the pool and stuff. "We got some notes from the time we ran here last year. Hopefully that'll improve. I think we ran 11th or 12th before we had trouble. I'm looking forward to doing pretty good this weekend. I thought we had consistency there for a minute, but then we had some engine trouble and things like that. We've had good race cars and that's encouraging to go to the track and run well. Even though we might not be finishing well, if we can start making it to the finish line at some of these places, I think we're going to have some better stats at the end of the year. We had an awesome car at Daytona. The motor blew up with three laps to go. It was actually blowing up with 10 or 15 to go. I was holding everybody up as much as I could. We got up to about ninth or so, and we came all the way from the back, so I was pretty happy with that car. "He's (Dale Earnhardt) hot and cold, personality wise. Some days he's the coolest guy and then some days you can't stand to be around him. It's starting to get to him, the last half of the year. He's starting to realize.. He ain't been in a championship battle in quite some time, so it's starting to set in. That look, 'I'm in a position where I've got a chance at this. I've got to start thinking about that.' He's probably putting a lot of pressure on himself right now. "We just had some motor troubles. We went to Pocono and Sears Point, two tracks I've never been to. Three races in a row with things like that. We really didn't expect much more at Pocono and Sears Point. I was pretty happy just to be on the track at the end of that race at Sears Point. Things haven't been like detrimental. We're still positive. Those two tracks are tougher than I anticipated. Normally when we go to a new track, we don't have that many problems adapting to it, but at those two tracks we did. "I know Jeremy a little bit. Me and him have a mutual respect for each other. We have similar personalities. It didn't really bother me at all really. It would have been cool to see dad win the race (at Pocono), but the mere fact that he had an opportunity to win is pretty good considering what the past three or four or five years have been like for him. It's a win. I wouldn't do it if I had to wreck him to do it. I could see moving somebody over. It depends on who you're racing. If you're racing Mark Martin, you wouldn't do it. You wouldn't move him out of the way because he wouldn't do it to you. We've all seen my dad do it, move people out of the way to win races before. You race people how they race you. I wouldn't move Jeff Green out of the way to win a Busch race because he's had opportunity to do it to me, but I'd move Todd Bodine out of the way to win a Busch race, no problem. "I didn't really spend that much time around him. At that point in my life, I was racing a lot and he was racing a lot. He's been typically the same. He probably wants this one a lot more than in the past because it's been awhile. "I think I get a lot of questions because dad doesn't give that many opportunities for you guys to ask him. Maybe I'm kind of answering for him a little bit. I don't mind it just as long as they'll compare me to other guys every once in awhile, too. He's considered one of the best drivers in the past 10, 15 or 20 years. To be in that category or to be compared to him is good. As long as the comparisons stay on the positive side. "It was really big for Kerry (Earnhardt to win ARCA race at Pocono). I was really happy to see it because he had struggled for so long. To see him stick with it and stay with it and stay focused and not be intimidated and not let the failure get to him, that really shows how strong a person he is. Dad on the other hand is so proud and so happy for Kerry. Kerry tested (Thursday) at Michigan and ran a pretty decent lap that would have put him up in the top 20 in the Winston Cup ranks in an ARCA car. That's all he talked about all day long. It showed how proud he is of Kerry and how happy he is to see Kerry do good. I think this is definitely a new leaf turned over for Kerry. It's rejuvenated his career and give him a possibility of having a career in racing. He (Dale Earnhardt) has commented he didn't know if he could handle both of us out there racing against him. I think he's just being a little humorous about it. I think that's something he probably thinks about a lot. I think he thinks about where Kerry is going to fit into our vision on down the road. "Back when he was racing, it was tolerated. That was basically the norm. A lot of guys raced like that. It's not tolerated these days. I wouldn't be able to get away with some of the other stuff the drivers got away with back in the 80s. I knew that right away. I didn't have to learn that the hard way. I'm just real laid back in my approach with the car. If it's fast enough to do this or fast enough to do that, we'll do it. If it's not doing what I want it to do, we'll do whatever it takes to get by until we can improve it. I don't see any point running in the side of a guy when you're struggling. It just gives him plenty of opportunity to run back over you. Plus, I've got to race these guys every week. I can't start burning bridges this early in my career. "I think the team (3 team) itself improved. I noticed a different attitude with the team. Just being around those guys, they're a lot happier group. They have a lot more confidence in each other. Dad had some operations over the past year to fix some injuries, and he's a lot better and it a lot better mood. It's just a lot of different things."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Jeff Burton , Todd Bodine , Jeff Green , Robbie Loomis , Mark Martin