Texas Team Monte Carlo Qualifying Notes

MIKE SKINNER (No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet Monte Carlo) "The car has been pretty good. We've struggled qualifying with this car. That's exactly what we ran in practice. We were hoping to do a little bit better. I think I was a little bit better in...

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

"The car has been pretty good. We've struggled qualifying with this car. That's exactly what we ran in practice. We were hoping to do a little bit better. I think I was a little bit better in three and four. I left a little on the table in one and two. All the fenders are still on it and we'll race 'em from there. That should make the top 10 or 15. This is the car we had at Atlanta. It was a heck of a good race car, and we can't wait until Sunday. The last two years I've left here with my head taped to a board in a helicopter. Goodyear has really done a lot of research and they've busted their tail to put us on a good tire. We came here and helped them test the tire. It's a good race track. I think we're on a good tire. If we can keep air in them all day I think we're going to have a good race car."

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

"That's all I could do. We picked up a little bit. It was just a tick faster than we'd practiced. I thought it was an awful good lap for us. That's nowhere near where the pole is going to be. We were 27th in practice with a .56, so maybe that will hold up for the top 25. It's an awful good race car. I ran an awful good lap, and I stayed right with the gas. I dang near flat-footed the car all the way around. I breathed it just a little bit. We did all we could. It's been a good year for us. I think we'll be good here. I feel good about our race car. I just wanted to run faster."

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

"The car has been real tight since we got here. I picked up a lot. I felt like that was a good time. I was just a little bit tight down in the middle of turn one. I couldn't get back in the gas as good as I wanted to. We need to be a little bit better, but that's all I had."

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

"That was a pretty bad lap for us. That's the slowest we've been all day. I was about two tenths slower than I ran in practice. The car didn't want to turn real good. It did some strange things getting into the corner. It actually felt like it was tight. I tried to turn it and it just kept going straight. I had to let off the gas. I was a lot more on throttle in practice. The track is good. I enjoy it here. It's challenging. You've got to be on your toes. We just really didn't have the lap we wanted."

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

"It was kind of a crazy day for us today. We tried to make a qualifying lap in practice, and Ward Burton had some trouble. That kind of messed us up. We never got to adjust the way we wanted. We went the conservative route and we're going to have a conservative lap. That's the best we've run all day. The car was pretty close. I don't know what we can do to go a lot faster than that. We're looking for some improvement coming into this weekend. We need to get some consistency. We need to get a finish here at Texas. This place hasn't been good to us at all. We've never really qualified excellent here, so I don't expect to today. We've run pretty good in the race, but we get caught somewhere along the way every time."

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

"That's about what we practiced. This car has got all the downforce in the world. We went from one motor to another motor that's got 40 more horsepower, and it's all run the same speed. The boys have worked their guts out, and that's as fast as it's going to go. That's as fast as I'm going to ride in it."

ADAM PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"We didn't slow down much. I just got real loose coming to get the green flag, and I wasn't really up to speed like I should have been. The car was just a little bit freer then than it was in practice. Hopefully that will get a top 36. It's supposed to rain all day tomorrow. If it don't, we'll load up and try again. We'll see where we go from here. I've been doing this since I was six years old. I've got all the bugs worked out, and this team is great. The Busch car is really good. It's good enough to win the race tomorrow. If I can get in the Cup car, I just want to ride around and make laps. Hopefully we'll be all right. You go out there and you've got a job to do. That's to run as fast as you can for one lap. Sometimes you pick up two tenths and sometimes you lose a little bit. We've run the same thing since we unloaded today. That's a credit to the team. All you focus on is going out there and doing that. That's what we did. We'll see where we end up. Even if I don't make this race, coming here and practicing and making qualifying runs has helped me so much in that Busch car it's unbelievable. It's tough bouncing back and forth. You can overdrive these cars (Cup cars) a lot, moreso than you can the Busch cars. The Busch cars are a whole lot of fun when you're racing, and so are these cars. I'm having a great time driving these things. We'll see where it ends up."

STEVE PARK (No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"These guys have been performing for me back at the shop. These motors are outstanding. These guys are building great race cars. To come here and run that fast, that's faster than we ran in practice. We thought we might have a little something for them. These guys made a change right before we went out. We thought it would help the car, and it did. We left a little bit in turns three and four. I think the driver had a little bit left more in him in three and four. I'm still trembling a little bit. This is a fast place. In order to go fast here, you feel the speed. Goodyear has brought a great tire. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo is performing well for us. We won the pole last week at Bristol and we're in the top 10 this week. Now we can concentrate on the race. They say they do everything big in Texas, and you see some of the biggest race fans in the world here. It's always a pleasure to come to Texas. You want to be able to thank Bruton Smith for building this race track. It's a premiere facility."

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

"I'm pretty well satisfied with our run. Our main concern was to get in the show. We made our qualifying run with our race motor because all of the pulleys came off our qualifying motor in practice. We had a good, solid run today. Overall, we were satisfied. It was important for us to get in a good qualifying run today because it looks like rain is in the forecast for Saturday."

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

"We went on scuffed tires. I'm still trying to catch my breath. I can't believe I went that fast. We were good in qualifying. We made a qualifying run in practice, and it was a good run. I didn't know if we could go that fast again. We backed it up, but I wasn't sure it was going to be good enough. We came here with our qualifying setup and actually put our race stuff back in it. I think we've got a pretty good race setup for Sunday. We'll work it out tomorrow, but that was a great run for us. I don't remember qualifying this high in sometime. We took our qualifying stuff off. I couldn't drive it. That's pretty close to our race setup. My car really stuck well. That was about all we had."

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

"That wasn't the best lap I ever did, but we'll take it. Hopefully it'll be a top 10. We'll go to race mode now and see how it works. We went out on one lap tires. We probably should have scuffed them a little bit more, but you just never know. Usually you go out on new tires and you're king of the hill. Here, it's so much different. It seems like seven or eight laps on your tires and you're pretty good. I think this is a better race car than it is a qualifying car. We made a lot of changes before qualifying. It seemed to help, but we just need more time."

MICHAEL WALTRIP (No. 7 NationsRent Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

"I didn't get through three and four like I needed to. If I could have got through three and four a little better, we could have been up in the top 10. I'm proud of the way the car ran. The engine was good and the way the car handled was good. I really can't put my finger on what happened to it in four. I knew I was off. I could feel it. If I tried to run in deep like I should, I ended up getting tight. We probably should have just freed it up a little bit. That's going to make the top 25 and we can start thinking about racing. The setup for racing is a lot different here than what you qualify with. We'll focus in on racing now. Last week was disappointing. We had the fourth fastest car in practice before qualifying and I wound 23rd. I've been doing this long enough. When I get a shot at a pole, I need to take advantage of it and I let one get away from me there. We've been consistently qualifying between 20th and 25th. We just need to pick that up a notch or two."

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

NOTE: Earnhardt Jr. is the only driver to qualify in the top 10 in six of seven races this season. He's qualified 12th or better in all seven events.

"I'm pretty happy with that. We didn't practice that fast. The car was pretty comfortable. I made a couple of mistakes. Maybe we could have run a little faster. We qualify well every week. We've got to get some good races under our belts the next couple of weeks. I think this might be a good race for us. I thought last week might have been, too. I'm looking forward to this race. It's where we won our first Busch race. That was big. It's a pretty special place. I'm excited. We might not be up front as much as we like in the races, but we start there. That's a beginning point. We've got something to build on. It was a fun lap. It wasn't quite as hairy as the past weeks."

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

"We seem to have a pretty good combination when we come to Texas. We came down here to test last week and that probably helped us a little bit. We unloaded off the truck and ran well. We made some changes and got a little quicker. We made some more changes and got a little bit quicker. We ran a pretty quick lap in practice, and I didn't know if I could back that up or not. It was a great run for us.

"Anything can happen anywhere on the race track. We have seen at this race track for whatever reason a couple of accidents happen at the start of the race. It's a lot different than it used to be since they paved the track last year. Turn four is really no different than Atlanta or Charlotte. You've got plenty of room now whereas before it was pretty tight over there. It's made it a lot different. You can race on it now and probably run side by side through there. The track has probably widened out a little bit. If it doesn't rain. Every time we come here it rains and washes all the rubber off. After this Busch race tomorrow if we don't get any rain, we'll probably see the groove widen out and everybody take a little different line.

"We've got a pretty new team. We've got Gary DeHart back, and he's the crew chief we had a few years ago. We've got a lot of good people. Gary has kind of sat out for a couple of years. We came back and struggled at Daytona but we got a top-10 finish out of it. Every week I feel like our team has gotten stronger. We went to Atlanta and didn't run well, but we got pretty close in the race. Every week I've felt like we've gotten a little better. I felt like the team has really stepped up and put in a lot of effort. All the guys work good together and that's what it takes. I'm happy with the progress our team has made. I feel like we've really come together. Last week we qualified seventh and had our first top five. To come here and win the pole... This is really the first track we've tested at. It didn't hurt us any.

"Some of those kids are pretty tough. I'm glad we won the pole. The 22 car was fast in practice and he lost his primary car. He qualified good with his backup car and it hadn't made a lap. That was pretty good. I really thought when we qualified we might win the pole but we wouldn't hold it for long. Scott Pruett was fast. They're either on or off.

"It takes the whole package to qualify good. It qualified good at Las Vegas and I told them I had to have it for Texas. It was strong, probably the best qualifying engine we've had all year. Whenever I'm qualifying good and win poles, I've always thought we had a pretty good qualifying package and good engines. Sometimes you're on a roll and qualify good and sometimes you're not.

"It's nice to win the pole and start up front, but it really doesn't make any difference. I've seen guys like Jeff Burton. It doesn't matter where he qualifies. You know he's going to be good in the race.

"I usually come to Texas once every five or six weeks. Texas is a pretty big place. I've got a ranch down in south Texas and I go down there. It's as far as Charlotte is to Dover where I live, but I can remember I won a pole at Texas World Speedway. I'm really proud of this race track. These fans for so long didn't have a track, and these guys did a great job building this race track. It's amazing what they've done here the past few years. These fans down here are big race fans. They love it."

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

"I'd rather come here than a couple of other places we go to during the year. Whether they get one (second date at Texas) I don't know. That's not a question for me. They're building some more new race tracks and they're going to make the schedule a little bit tighter. It's probably hard to see anybody getting an extra date, although I'd love to see this place or Las Vegas get one. That's for somebody else to decide.

"We missed the (Busch) race. We qualified yesterday and we weren't good enough. We borrowed an engine from Richard Childress today and put in it and ran the same speed. I really feel like our engine wasn't our problem. The Busch deal with those new cars this year, they don't have much power. They have a lot of drag and our cars have way too much drag. Our aero package is far off. We've got a bunch of good short track cars, and we're in the process of trying to build some intermediate size cars. We've got a good speedway program for Daytona and Talladega.

"I feel like this is a pretty good track for us. We've got a pretty good combination setup wise. It's worked well for us in the past. You always have to be a little bit better, because everybody catches up with you. When we came down here I figured we might qualify in the top 10. In practice we were the fastest. I didn't know if we could run that again or not.

"The track is faster. Goodyear has a new tire and that has a lot to do with it. It's a whole different deal. I walked in here and I said to myself, 'I don't think I made anyone mad last week at Bristol. That's good.' It's just whole different racing.

"Every place you go is different. It's a fast track. They had some problems with the water leaking through it (track). These cars don't run good in water. They knew they had some problems. They stepped up and got it fixed and they've got a great facility now."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Scott Pruett , Michael Ho