Friday, March 26, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. First-round qualifying for PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes, qutes. GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We tested here and knew the track changed a lot. It's ...
Friday, March 26, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. First-round qualifying for PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes, qutes.
GEOFFREY BODINE (No. 60 Power Team Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We tested here and knew the track changed a lot. It's been changing a lot today as the day went on. We made some adjustments and thought we were keeping up with it in the third and fourth turns. One and two isn't near as bad as three and four. The sun is on that corner, kind of like Charlotte. Obviously we didn't keep up with it enough. I just went down in there and the front end took off. It wouldn't hook up. "The track is great, fantastic. There's no second groove right now. Everyone is running one groove, so I don't know yet where I'm going to be able to pass. The Busch cars practiced some today and they still haven't made a second groove there. They might have to put some cones up to run in a second groove, but right now, it's isn't there. Naturally as the race goes on, it'll move up a little bit. It has to. How good will it get? We don't know. "We tested good here and practiced good today. When it came time to do it, we failed. We flunked. We were about a second faster in practice. We ran a 28.40. I don't know what this track is going to do. If the sun stays on three and four, nobody will probably be able to run that. It might not get any better. Todd, in the Busch car, ran really fast. We thought the track was still good. It was good in one and two, but we missed it in three and four."
STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That lap almost compared to the best one we had in practice, and we were second fastest in practice. Texas is Pennzoil country and to get a good run here is real important to us. We really didn't find it this weekend. We've been working real hard since the beginning of the year. Being a new team, it just takes time to get these cars built. The guys in the motor shop have been doing an awesome job and picking up the horsepower in the qualifying motors and race motors. We're just starting to come into our own. It takes a year or two to build a Winston Cup team from the ground up. That's what Dale Earnhardt has done for us. He's given us the best equipment and best people. Now we've just got to take the ball and run with it. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. "It was better to go late than to go early. We've been keeping a close eye of the track temperature. When we were ready to go out, the track temperature was just about the same if not a tick cooler than it was when we ran our qualifying run in practice when we were second fastest. I had it all hung out in practice when we were second fastest. They ran a little faster than I did. I didn't know if we could pick up or not, but I thought the temperature might help us out a little bit. It did, but we still ran about the same time. Usually everyone else picks up and we drop off. This time we picked up a little bit and we're sitting in a good position. The track is great. I love Texas, and I'm looking forward to racing here on Sunday. "I'm healthier than I was before I got hurt. The only thing I lack right now is a little bit of confidence. To be able to go out and race with these guys week in and week out is pretty tough on myself. Coming off bad runs doesn't really build your confidence, but the runs like we had last weekend with a 12th-place run and to come here and qualify good builds my confidence and gives me the confidence to go out there and run with these guys. "It's probably 90 percent the driver and 10 percent the car (recent problems qualifying). I come out of different series where I've been a great qualifier. We've been struggling in the Winston Cup series with qualifying. We've been working on how these guys like Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin always go out and are on top of the speed charts. Then they pick up another three tenths in qualifying. I seem to run pretty consistent where we can run a certain speed and be 10th fastest in practice and go out and run the same speed in qualifying and be 28th or 30th and not know how these guys pick up all that speed. That's something we've been working on. We've been working on our engine combinations and trying to get the most horsepower out of 'em. We've been working on our car and working on the driver to figure out what I really need to go faster in qualifying. "You just need a lot of guts (to go fast in qualifying at Texas). It's one of those deals where confidence comes into play. You need a lot of guts and you need a lot of confidence in your car. Crew chiefs will stick their heads in the window and say 'I promise you this thing is going to stick.' It's just one of those situations where it goes back to having the confidence in the car and your abilities. The only way you get that is to go out and run good and prove to yourself that you can do it and the car will stick. "People have had problems in turn two. We came out here with a Busch car earlier and ran a bunch of laps on Thursday to get me used to the track. I haven't had a problem. I bounced off the wall a little bit in turn two in the Busch car, but it was more driver error than anything wrong with the race track. The only time I really remember the track was two years ago in the Busch Series. I missed last year and now I'm back again. The track is a lot better than it was. "We had a car last week at Darlington that was capable of running in the top five. We ran hard all day long. Unfortunately we didn't qualify well and pitted on the backstretch. We worked hard all day to try to get in the top 10. We had another car slated to come here, which was really a good race car. That car felt good to me, but it had a Darlington stripe. I had a lot of confidence in that car, so they worked hard to fix it and get it turned around so they could bring it here. These guys are really digging for me. Right out of the truck here it was good. I consider it one of my favorite race cars. It was a car we ran at Dover last year and finished 11th. Right now, the car has got a good track record. To come out here and qualify third is great. "The track is great. It's similar to Atlanta. The old configuration is probably more like Charlotte, but now it's kind of driving like Atlanta. There's a lot of grip in the race track and a lot of room right now. "The fastest way around right now is on the bottom. Atlanta was a one-groove track when we first started and halfway through the race we were able to move up to a second groove and even a third groove. With the new spoiler rules back the way they were a couple of years ago, the cars had a little more downforce and it's going to make for side-by-side racing. I think we're definitely going to see a second groove. "I don't think it's too fast. We're racing at speed and getting to the point where if you do get in trouble, how much can the human body really take. I don't think we need to be going any faster, but I think with the new spoiler rules the cars have more grip and it's making them safer. They don't squirm around in the corners anymore. That's what we need. If we're going to run 190 mph, we need the downforce to keep 'em on the race track."
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) NOTE: Nemechek finished fourth last year in the Winston Cup race at Texas, his best finish of the season. "For some reason it always seems to happen to me. The guy wrecked right in front of me. There was some oil and a little bit of trash up there in turn two, and it was a little slick when I went out. I started sliding and just tried to hang on, but I had to get out of the gas. It took a lot of time off my lap. I think the track is definitely better. Turns four and one are dramatically better. I think we're going to see an extra lane come in. Turn two has been the evil corner ever since we've been here. It seems like there's not quite enough banking or something there to hold the cars. We can get after it so hard back in one, I think that's why everybody is having a problem. I'm really excited about coming back. This is one of those high-speed tracks and you have to get in the corner and get off really good. That falls into my style. We went three or four tenths slower in qualifying, but right where he wrecked in turn two was really slick. I started sliding. I was fixing to hit the spot where he left oil, and I had to let off the gas. If I would have hit it wide open, it was going to slap the wall and I would have had no time. It was a decent lap for what we had. It was a hairy lap. The guy wrecked right there in front of me, and when you're the next one to go it Friday, March 26, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. First-round qualifying for PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes, quotes. Page 4.
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 42 BellSouth Chevrolet Monte Carlo) really plays with your mind. NASCAR took us out there and let us inspect the race track. He left some oil out there right up by the wall, but what's happened is everybody has been pushing off turn two. If you get too close to that oil, the car was just going to take off. It got wiggly off turn two and started scooting up toward that oil. I had to let off to keep from hitting. I gave up some time." DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Realtree Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We practiced a little better than that, but we developed a little miss in the car in late practice. We haven't been able to find out what it is. We changed batteries and everything. It's hurting us a little bit, but we ain't got too bad a lap. We're not looking too bad. I wish we could have been a tenth better."
MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That accident put the guys who are qualifying late in real good shape. It's going to get ugly. It was a terrible lap. We really thought we could run a lot faster. We were set up for the sun, and our car pushed off both corners of the track. It's probably two tenths worse than what we thought we could do. It's unfortunate for us. We thought we could make the top 10. I don't think that's going to work now. We've got a good race car. We haven't been that fast, but I think we'll be real good in the race."
KEN SCHRADER (No. 33 Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "It's intimidating. They've done a good job of fixing it, but it's still unique. You were ready to see the finish line, but we'll get to do that a whole bunch Sunday. We were hoping for better, but our main concern was to at least back up what we did in practice, and we did that. I figured we'd end up fifth, but we didn't turn out quite that good."
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) "I'm not happy with it, but it's better than we've run. Maybe we'll get in the show with it. I needed to go harder. We were good in three and four, but we were off in one and two."
MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 Philips Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I didn't do a good job. I got through one and two really good. I guess I got a little greedy and I shot in three too hard and it didn't stick. If you let off and get that thing aimed and get in it early, it's a lot better deal than if you try to run it down in there. We messed up a little bit. We had a fast enough car to overcome it. We know the track hurt us a little bit, but we had a good enough car to overcome it and I kind of let us down with what I did in three and four."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We haven't run good the whole time we've been here. We came and tested and ran good. We came back with 40 more horsepower and can't run any faster. I don't know what's wrong. We got real loose in qualifying. We changed a bunch of stuff before qualifying and got real loose. We were terrible to start with, so we might as well have changed something." Friday, March 26, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. First-round qualifying for PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes, quotes. Page 5.
DAVID GREEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "We haven't run that fast all day and then we slowed up a tenth. We were hoping to run what we did in practice, but we're still trying to figure it out. Turn four is better, but turn two is worse."
KENNY WALLACE (No. 55 Square D Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "That's the best we've run since we've been here. We got a little loose in the middle of one and two. The track stayed about the same. The track is 90 percent better than last year. It's still a little touchy off turn two. You can't get off the bottom. I'm real happy with three and four."
WALLY DALLENBACH (No. 25 Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "There's not too much paint left over there coming off turn two. The car came off and got pretty tight. We're happy with it. This is my kind of race track. We run good at these places. This is the car we had at Vegas and ran good with it there. Maybe we can get the monkey off our back. We've had good runs at the last couple of races but just bad luck. I think we're going to be pretty good here. I love these fast race tracks. These guys give me fast race cars and good horsepower and that's half of it. The team has come together real well over the winter, so that makes a big difference. I pushed pretty hard off turn two and almost hit the wall. We want a top 10 starting spot and that's what we ended up with. We're going to keep building on what we've got. We know we've got something here. The track is pretty good in three and four. One and two seems the same to me, but maybe there's a little more of a bump down there. Coming off four is a ton better. A bunch of guys would have been in the wall if they hadn't moved that back. My pit stops are going to be so good in the race, I'm going to take all my positions in the pits. I'm not worried about passing on the race track."
TERRY LABONTE (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "I was a little bit too tight everywhere. The speed was good, but we'd been fighting being too tight. I guess we didn't go quite far enough with it. You just have to guess at it, but it was a good lap for us. We'll work on the race setup now. We put a lot of effort into coming down here, and we really want to win this race and run good. I knew Bobby would be tough to beat in qualifying, but I knew we'd get in a good lap."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) "That qualifying lap was all right. The track has changed a little bit. We tried to free it up some but we didn't do it quite enough. I ran through one and two really great. I thought it was stuck good, so I drove it hard through three and four and it never turned. I had to either save the car or knock down the wall. I'm pretty fortunate to have the lap we had. I had to get all the way off the gas in three and four. The track is better because nothing is leaking out of it. I didn't really notice much of a difference. We're not having any problems with it. The complaints we had in the past was water seeping up through the cracks, things like that. Right now, it seems to be in good shape. I don't know if that means we're going to be able to run side-by- side, but the groove should be a little bit wider than what we had in the past. There's a slight change off turn four. It's not quite as narrow through there, but no major change. I think you might be able to pass out of Friday, March 26, 1999. Texas Motor Speedway. First-round qualifying for PRIMESTAR 500. Chevrolet notes, quotes. Page 6.
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Monte Carlo) turn four. I haven't been able to in the Busch car. You're carrying a lot of speed there, and the aerodynamics come into play. You can't turn and get underneath a car, but on the long runs, in the Cup car, you should be able to pass a guy and get underneath him off turn four. "There's a little bump over the tunnel which is no big deal. The turn gets tight. You hit that bump and it slides you up out of the groove a little bit and you have nowhere to go. It's not really a track problem. I think most of the guys who have experience and have good cars aren't having any problems in one and two. "I feel real good. We were much better than what we just qualified all through practice. I feel good about our efforts."