Team Monte Carlo Martinsville qualifying

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) Park will drive a brand new, untested Monte Carlo at Martinsville. The 32-year-old Islip, N.Y., native finished 19th last week at Texas Motor Speedway and ranks 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup...

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Park will drive a brand new, untested Monte Carlo at Martinsville. The 32-year-old Islip, N.Y., native finished 19th last week at Texas Motor Speedway and ranks 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings (NWCS).

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)

Earnhardt will race the same Monte Carlo chassis that finished second at Martinsville last October. The seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion also ran the same chassis last year at Phoenix and New Hampshire. This will be the car's first race as a 2000 Monte Carlo. Earnhardt finished seventh last week at Texas and ranks fourth in the NWCS.

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Hamilton and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team tested the Martinsville Monte Carlo at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway earlier this week. It's the same chassis that finished fourth and seventh last year at Richmond. Hamilton finished 16th last week at Texas and ranks 24th in the NWCS.

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Labonte will make his 644th consecutive start on Sunday at Martinsville in a Monte Carlo that he has driven at Las Vegas and Darlington already this season. Labonte won the pole and finished eighth last week at Texas. He's ranked ninth in the NWCS.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

This is the Monte Carlo Waltrip raced at Martinsville last fall. It broke a gear with 40 laps to go. Waltrip finished 29th last week at Texas and is ranked 29th in the NWCS.

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Last week's winner at Texas in only his 12th NASCAR Winston Cup start, will drive a new 2000 Monte Carlo on Sunday at Martinsville. It's chassis No. 003 and is nicknamed step daddy. Earnhardt Jr. drove the chassis last year at New Hampshire. Earnhardt Jr. took the rookie of the year lead with last week's win and moved to 18th in the NWCS. In seven races this season, Earnhardt Jr. leads the circuit in qualifying with six top 10s. He hasn't qualified lower than 12th.

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)

Gordon won last October's race at Martinsville with the same Monte Carlo chassis he'll use Sunday. In fact, in the last three starts at Martinsville, the chassis has finished first, second and third. It's car No. 2439. Gordon finished 25th last week at Texas and ranks 12 in the NWCS.

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Nadeau will be racing a brand new 2000 Monte Carlo at Martinsville. The team tested it at Martinsville, and Nadeau said the test went well. "Tony Furr (crew chief) has had a lot of success in the past at Martinsville, and I think we're going to have a good race Sunday," Nadeau said. Nadeau qualified eighth last week at Texas and finished 43rd after an accident sidelined his Chevy after 110 of 334 laps. Nadeau is ranked 36th in the NWCS.

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Skinner will race a Mike Laughlin low snout chassis at Martinsville. The chassis competed twice last season and it was tested twice in '99. It raced at Richmond and New Hampshire and won the pole at Richmond in the fall race. The chassis tested at St. Louis and Indianapolis and was used as the benchmark for the 2000 Monte Carlo. Skinner qualified 11th and finished 12th last week at Texas. He's ranked 16th in the NWCS.

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Nemechek will drive a 2000 Monte Carlo that qualified sixth, 13th and fourth at Martinsville, Richmond and New Hampshire, respectively, last season. Nemechek started 12th and finished 37th last week at Texas. He's 28th in the NWCS.

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Marlin will drive chassis No. 4032 on Sunday at Martinsville. It's a brand new 2000 Monte Carlo. Marlin started 39th and finished 34th last week at Texas. He's ranked 17th in the NWCS.

GARY BRADBERRY (No. 41 Big Daddy's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Bradberry will be making his second start of the season for car owner Larry Hedrick on Sunday. He qualified 29th and finished 41st last week at Texas. This is the same Monte Carlo the team used at Las Vegas.

KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Irwin will race a brand new 2000 Monte Carlo at Martinsville. Irwin started 27th and finished 17th last week at Texas. He's ranked 26th in the NWCS.

RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Craven qualified 29th and finished 40th in the same 2000 Monte Carlo earlier this season at Las Vegas.

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Crew chief Jimmy Elledge says this is THE Martinsville Monte Carlo. Wallace finished fifth and sixth last year at Martinsville with the same chassis. Sunday will mark its first appearance with 2000 Monte Carlo sheetmetal. Wallace finished 21st last week at Texas and is ranked 30th in the NWCS.

RICH BICKLE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Bickle will be making his first start of the season for the Power Team on Sunday at Martinsville. He'll be driving the same Monte Carlo that Geoffrey Bodine drove to a third-place finish here last October.

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Marcis attempted to qualify the same Monte Carlo at Las Vegas earlier this season. Marcis has competed in only two of seven races this season.

TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We were fourth out of four cars, so I knew we were in trouble. We picked up from practice, but I don't know where that will put us."

JERRY NADEAU (No. 25 Michael Holigan.com Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"Sometimes you've got to slow down to qualify, and that's what we did. We've got a good race car. It's just a tricky little race track. That was probably the easiest laps I've ever run here. This place is like the most non-intimidating race track I've ever been on. You can overdrive this place so easily. In practice I was just driving way over my head. We practiced here a couple of weeks ago, and the car was really fast. The guys gave me a great car. You've just got to slow down to go fast here."

JOE NEMECHEK (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We couldn't really find any grip. We've been struggling with our Oakwood Chevy since we've been here. I'm glad my teammate is running good. It makes me feel better. We'll get it figured out before it's all over."

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"Every time Rusty goes to Bristol, he gets excited. Every time I go to Bristol, I get excited. We're at Martinsville now, and this is another good track for me. The car did what I wanted it to do. I didn't leave anything out there. That was a good lap for me, so we'll see what happens."

RICKY CRAVEN (No. 50 Midwest Transit Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We were top 15 in practice last week and it got away from us. It didn't get away from us today. We just went back to work. I'm really proud of the guys. They worked hard all week. I'm hoping for a top 15 out of this."

DALE EARNHARDT Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We came here and tested pretty good. I was expecting to run a little bit better than that, but it's a little warmer. This place demands a lot of experience, and I think the more I run here the better I'll get. I've got about 700 or 800 laps here in late model cars. The week has been pretty typical. It was just like winning my first Busch race. We did all the basic things we normally do media wise. We had plenty of time to chill and relax."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We were a little bit too loose. We were tight in practice. With the trucks going out and qualifying, we probably should have just left it alone. I got real loose the first lap and kind of eased into it the second lap and got a little loose. I felt like a dirt track driver there a little bit. I just drove as hard as I could, and hopefully that'll be good enough for a top 25. That's not what I was looking for, but after that first lap it was a good recovery. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed. I'm going to hope the things that have been happening haven't been bad luck. I don't know who to change bad luck, so we're going to just keep preparing the cars like we have been. The guys in the engine shop are working hard. I hope all the bad luck is behind us and we can have some sunshine down on us. We're so close to getting our first win, and with Junior getting his first win, it shows that DEI is a team capable of winning races."

KENNY IRWIN (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We had problems on the first lap out on the track today. We pulled out another car, and I think it was better than the one we had. The BellSouth guys did an excellent job, and hopefully we'll all do a better job tomorrow."

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo)

"These tires have good grip and we have been fighting being tight in the middle all day. We finally got it to turn in the middle and then lost a little bit of the drive off. It wasn't bad, but it was certainly not what I was hoping for. We'd been off a little bit all day. That was the best the car had been all day. I thought it was going to be a little bit better than it was, but I slipped the tires a little bit off four and I'm really disappointed about that. You've got to get everything you can out of it. It takes a perfect lap to be in the top five. I might have got after it a little too hard."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"The guys did a great job with this car. We've got a good race car. We think it's going to be real good on long runs. We've had a little bit of trouble trying to get a qualifying lap out of it. We went in there after practice and rolled the dice. It worked out good for us. I'm usually not happy if it's not a pole deal. That was a good lap for us today, and we'll take it.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"The car worked good. I spun the tires off the turn. I tried to be aggressive and hoped it would stick, but it didn't. It just spun 'em a little bit and it hurt me. I don't know if I got the car in too hard or what, but I just spun the wheels."

DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo)

"That wasn't 31st was it? We picked up a tenth and that's what I needed. I feel good about it. We've been right there all day. We tweaked it a little bit more, and that's basically our race setup right there. It's the same chassis we had here last fall, and we're ready. The guys just keep working harder and harder, and our qualifying effort has been a lot better this year. We ran second here in the fall starting 30th or somewhere back there. This is a little better starting position."

BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Kodak MAX film Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I wish we could have been better. We were a little loose. We were afraid to tighten it up any because we had been fighting tight all day. We went after it on the first lap. The lap was about a 9.9 (out of 10) because here, three one hundredths of a second can be a big jump. It was a pretty good lap."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"That was a pretty good lap. We picked up just a little bit from practice. We were hoping for more, but we're starting eighth and I think we'll be able to race 'em from there. We've had some good races here at Martinsville, and we're looking for another good one on Sunday."

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

NOTE: Third-place qualifying interview.

"It's really a fine line because you have the normal springs and shocks and swaybars, the style of braking, there's a lot of things you do with air pressure in the tires, but what the fine line is, you have a choice. You have to have it good for long runs or good on short, you're going to take it good on long. You're going to run on old tires more than you're going to run on new tires here. You've got to have it one way or the other, and you're going to take the car like it was last year. We got so far behind the first 20 laps of each run that it took us the rest of the run to get caught back up. What we're going to try to do is work with air pressures and shocks and different things to hopefully make the car a little stronger on short runs without giving up a lot on long runs.

"The Lowe's car usually qualifies well, but we've struggled some this year qualifying. We're having a hard time finding the balance for the 2000 (Monte Carlo) for a qualifying lap. I think it's a lot easier once you get it untaped in race trim than it is for a qualifying lap. I heard Bobby Hamilton say one time when he won the race up there (two years ago at Martinsville) that he knocked the right front fender in a little bit and still had an aero push behind cars. Even here at Martinsville this day and time, it's gotten to where aero is pretty important. You see people at Bristol win the race with the nose knocked off the car. I'd like to see them qualify with the nose knocked off. If you tear the front fenders off and you've got the nose knocked off during the race, it's keeping the front tires cool. That allows you to drive harder and do a lot of things. For qualifying you need the downforce. You need everything you can get. I can speak for the Chevys on that.

"My son Jamie came up here and never had seen the place and never sat in a Craftman Truck before and qualified ninth. I remember Stacy and I raced side by side for maybe 20 or 30 laps at a time here in the truck series. We've had a lot of success here. I think Martinsville is a great race track. There's not a guy in the garage here that probably didn't start out on short tracks in bull rings. This is what Martinsville is. It's a short track. It's the roots of racing. I love this place. When I give people advise here, I say run smooth. My son came up this morning and said Jeremy (Mayfield) had the fastest car out there and he looks real smooth. He said, 'you look like you're up on the wheel with both hands and feet. Why don't you just calm down and maybe you'll drive better?' In the Winston Cup garage, it's hard to be as smooth as silk and be fast.

"I think whether you're at Martinsville or Talladega it's the gel between the driver and team. The driver has to give the team the right feedback. We've had brake problems on our car all day and it's been locking the brakes up all day getting into the corner. We don't have time to fix it, don't drive in the corner so hard and maybe it won't lock up. That worked for us. It's the gel between the team and driver I think."

KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

NOTE: Second-place qualifying interview.

"I knew somebody was going to beat it, but that's all I had. That was two really good laps. It was a little disheartening. It's a good story. The Wallaces are on the front row and Mike is on the pole in the truck race. I'm very thankful to start second.

"It starts with the guy right outside the door there, my father. He was the guy who won all the short track races back in Missouri. I watched my dad and my brother Rusty and my brother Mike. We grew up racing on little quarter-mile asphalt and dirt tracks. Me and Rusty came up through ASA and we learned a lot about short tracks. I think that really helps us on some of these shorter tracks.

"I'm a lot like my big brother. We have had a slow start this year. We lost two motors in a row at Atlanta and Darlington. We qualified second at Bristol a couple of weeks ago and qualified second here. We show up every week trying to make good, and that's what we're doing this week, too.

"He's (Rusty's) very intimidated by my skills. You can see how little he beat me today. We came to the race track this morning in a helicopter together. We do a lot of things together, but sharing information is none. You come to Martinsville and he's a lot of fun to be around and we're close, but he's not going to share anything with me.

"I'm not really enjoying right now, just how good I did. I'm happy, but I can't believe it. He was 15th quickest. I told him for qualifying he had the best looking car in turn four. I could see everybody's car coming off that corner, and his looked the best. He said he wasn't going anywhere. I knew he was going to qualify really good, and I knew I ran a great lap. It means a lot for today, but I guess the footnote in the bottom of the paper is going to be, 'they got off to a great start, but...' Now that's in the back of my head. I just hope we can all capitalize on it. I'm really happy, but I really wanted that pole. Two years I got beat at Richmond by Gordon. I got beat at Bristol a couple of weeks ago and I got beat here.

"We've got a lot of families in this sport, and it's such a weird life that we live. We want each other to do good, but we don't want to get beat by each other. Christmas time is the only time we get together for about five hours at mom and dad's. It ain't much of a family deal."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Michael Ho