Team Monte Carlo Pocono Friday notes

JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "We're not on the pole, so I can't be too happy, but it was a top five, and I've got to be happy with that. We picked up a couple of tenths from practice, and any time you can...

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

"We're not on the pole, so I can't be too happy, but it was a top five, and I've got to be happy with that. We picked up a couple of tenths from practice, and any time you can do that you're doing OK. We were in the top five most of the day in practice. I'm pleased with that. If you're not going to be on the pole, then fifth is fine, but to pick up three tenths to get where Rusty is at, I don't know where we could have found that. Under the circumstances, that's pretty much all we could ask for. We improved the car from practice. We've been tight all day. I was still a little bit tight, but not as tight. It was a pretty clean lap for the most part. I think last weekend was a big step for us to be able to qualify up front and stay up front. We had some problems in the pits and it got us behind, but we're running good. I can go out there and finish 10th because I was just there. I'm not going to leave satisfied. But if I go out there and run real well all day long and come away 14th, I know if we can get cars capable of running up front that we're going to get those finishes up front. That's what we saw last weekend, and that's what we're seeing this weekend, too. This is our short track chassis. I don't know if you can call the body on it a short track body, but we're trying a lot of different things right now, mainly in the bodies. These things we've hit on the last two weeks have been working for us, so we're going to stick with it."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

NOTE: Park wrecked his primary Monte Carlo just minutes before practice ended Friday afternoon. The Pennzoil team brought out the backup car and qualified 27th fastest.

"I might have just stepped over the line a little bit in practice and we had to go to a backup. It was a setback, but it wasn't something we couldn't overcome. We'd been struggling all day. We were somewhere around 20th fastest. We were making a last-ditch effort to get the car freed up. We made a bunch of changes and rushed out there to get what we needed to get. We didn't take our time around some cars that were scuffing in tires. We got ourselves in trouble rushing. I'm fine. I'm just disappointed. We've been beating our heads against the wall trying to get it right today. Once you get rushing, sometimes you make some mistakes. At least we got a late draw and had some time to get it ready for qualifying. "These guys never give up. This run was for them. It wasn't me. They took the backup car and got it changed around. That was about as fast as we had gone in practice, so it wasn't too bad for never turning a lap with this car. We've got a great bunch of guys here. We've just got to get a little luck on our side or something. We'll be all right."

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

"Our goal was a 52.80, so we'll take it (a lap of 52.748 seconds). That's just about all this car had in it. I might could have got through three just a little bit, got back in the throttle just a tick sooner. That might have been half a tenth. This is the same car we had at Michigan last week. We just got a better qualifying lap in today. The Lowe's Chevy needs a good run. We'd like to do our part for Chevrolet. That would be good for everybody."

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We've been off all day and can't seem to figure out what to do to make it go. We're going to keep working hard and try to figure this thing out. Hopefully we will before Sunday. I love this track. You've got to have the right stuff here to go fast. We tested here with a different car and different tires and thought we had a good handle on it, but that car got wrecked at Michigan. These tires are different than the ones we tested here. We had to rebuild this car this morning to make it work, but it's still not working good enough. My wrists are sore all the time. It's going to take time for them to heal. We'll grit our teeth and bear it. That doesn't slow me down on the track at all. We just haven't found the right setup here for this car to make it go fast. Hopefully we will."

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

"We've run this car three times this year and it's run like crap every time. This is pretty much par for the course. Last year's car was a three-quarter drop car and we've been trying to run a standard snout all year. This car just hasn't drove good all day. We slowed down and got loose in qualifying. We're just not where we need to be."

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

"We were pretty good off the truck. The guys have worked real hard. Toward the end of practice we got real tight and didn't get to make another run. We made some changes and adjustments on the car, and it drove real good in qualifying. I've got to thank the motor shop guys. They've been giving me some awesome power, and that's what it takes. You've got to have power and a good handling car to get around this track. I think overall our performance as the year goes has been very good on the race track. Our finishes haven't been there. We've been in some situations, that I've helped get in, and you've got to finish races. That's the key, and I think we're on a roll right now."

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I tried really hard. I ran in deep and I was happy with my lap. We just came up a little short. I'm proud of my team. We've been qualifying better and having a good time racing. I thought I would end up ninth, but I missed that a little bit."

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

"I'm very happy with that lap. That's half a second faster than we practiced. If that's a 15th or 20th, I've never missed a first round since I've been in Winston Cup, so it's pretty good. I'm feeling a lot better this week. Pocono is a hard track. It's tough on the rookies. We worked hard in practice to get the car comfortable. We put our heads together and picked up half a second. I've got to thank my dad for helping us out a little bit. This is a tough place here man. It's tough to get around, and it's going to take a lot of laps here before I feel really comfortable. I'm just going to listen to all my superiors. They're telling me to ease into it and take my time, so that's what I'm going to do. We came here and tested and tore up a car, so we don't want to do that again."

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

NOTE: Labonte qualified 14th, his best qualifying effort since winning the pole at Texas earlier this season.

"That was a good run for us. We're happy with that. This is the same car we had last week at Michigan, and we didn't qualify well there. We put a lot of effort into qualifying at Pocono, and it's really paid off. That was a pretty good lap. I don't think I messed up anywhere. It was a good lap for us. I was hoping we'd start a little closer to the front, but it's better than taking a provisional like we've had to do the past three weeks."

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

"That wasn't too bad. We were a little loose. We made an adjustment on the right rear before qualifying, but we ended up in pretty good shape. We were pretty good in practice. If we had taken that rubber out of the right rear, I think it would have been a little better. I'm looking forward to the race. I'm battling a little cold, but we'll have a good run on Sunday and we'll be all right."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

This is the first time Park has raced this Monte Carlo in 2000. The chassis competed here last season and at Michigan. Park finished 29th last week at Michigan and is ranked 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings (NWCS).

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

Earnhardt drove his Pocono Monte Carlo at Richmond earlier this season and finished 10th with it there. Beginning with the Richmond race on May 6, Earnhardt has recorded four straight top 10 finishes and has moved from fifth to second in the NWCS. Earnhardt finished second last week at Michigan and trails points leader Bobby Labonte by 98 points entering Sunday's Pocono 500.

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

Hamilton will race a brand new Monte Carlo at Pocono. The Morgan-McClure Motorsports team recently tested it at the 2.5-mile triangle. Hamilton finished 43rd last week at Michigan. He's ranked 29th in the NWCS.

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

Labonte will race the same Monte Carlo he drove last week at Michigan. Labonte started 37th and finished 26th last week. "We made a lot of changes to the car after last week," crew chief Gary DeHart said. "Hopefully, the car will be better. We really need to concentrate on qualifying today and get a good starting spot for Sunday." Labonte, a two-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion, is ranked 12th in the NWCS.

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Waltrip will drive the same Monte Carlo at Pocono that he raced at Las Vegas, California and Michigan. Waltrip finished 22nd last week at Michigan and is ranked 27th in the NWCS.

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

Earnhardt Jr. will race the same Monte Carlo he won with on May 6 at Richmond. "We tested it here and wrecked it, but it's been fixed and is as good as new," crew chief Tony Eury said. Earnhardt Jr. finished 13th last week at Michigan, and the 25-year-old rookie is ranked 15th in the NWCS.

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

Gordon will race the same Monte Carlo at Pocono that he drove earlier this season at Martinsville and Richmond. Gordon finished 14th last week at Michigan and is ranked 10th in the NWCS.

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

Nadeau drove his Pocono Monte Carlo earlier this season at California and Las Vegas. Nadeau finished 23rd last week at Michigan and is ranked 30th in the NWCS.

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

Skinner will drive the same Monte Carlo he finished 20th with last week at Michigan. The car dominated at Atlanta earlier this season and won the pole at California. "It ran like a dog last week," crew chief Larry McReynolds said. "We made a lot of changes to the body and hope it's going to be a lot better at Pocono." Skinner is ranked 13th in the NWCS.

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

Nemechek will race the same Monte Carlo at Pocono that finished seventh on June 4 at Dover. "We hope it's going to be as good here as it was at Dover," Nemechek said. "We started 10th with it at Dover and it was one of the fastest cars in practice. We've got big plans for it at Pocono." Nemechek finished 18th last week at Michigan and is ranked 24th in the NWCS.

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

Marlin will run the same Monte Carlo at Pocono that he drove earlier this season at Texas and Las Vegas. Marlin won the pole for the Pocono 500 in 1999 and finished fourth in the race. He started 39th last week at Michigan and finished 10th. Marlin is ranked 20th in the NWCS.

KENNY IRWIN Jr. (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Irwin will race the same Monte Carlo at Pocono that he drove last week at Michigan. He started 18th and finished 35th last week at Michigan. Irwin is ranked 28th in the NWCS.

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

Wallace drove his Pocono Monte Carlo earlier this season at Darlington, Atlanta and Charlotte. Wallace started 34th last week at Michigan and finished 31st. He's ranked 31st in the NWCS.

GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Bodine will race the same Monte Carlo the team used at Bristol earlier this season. "We're out of speedway cars," crew chief Jim Long said. "We've wrecked a lot of cars lately, so we're going to try our Bristol car for Pocono." Bodine started 36th and finished 38th last week at Michigan.

DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Real Tree Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Marcis will drive the same Monte Carlo that he had at Michigan last week. Marcis failed to qualify at Michigan.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Michael Ho