NASCAR Winston Cup Series NAPA 500: Post Qualifying Quotes (Chevy Drivers)
16 November 1997
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Chevrolet Qualifying Quotes NAPA 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway November 15, 1997 HAMPTON, GA - The following provided by Chevrolet Motor Division, General Motors Corporation Public Relations: JOE NEMECHEK (#24 BellSouth Monte Carlo) - Qualified 5th - "No one is going to touch Geoff Bodine for the pole. That's the best lap we've run since we've been here. We've been good all day. We've been right there in the top five since we've been here. I thought I had a little bit left. We did really good through one and two, but we gave a little bit up in three and four. I didn't hold it all the way wide open in three. I had to check up just a little bit. We gave up a little bit there. We're in the top five, and that's a good starting spot here in Atlanta. This is faster than I ever imagined, but the cool temperatures and everything is playing into these speeds. To see a pole speed of 197.4 is amazing. That's a heck of a pole speed. At least we got in the 195 mph bracket and that was our goal. Now you've just got to have what I call a lot of pucker power. That's what it's going to take in the race. If it's cool like this, I betcha we run 193 or 194 mph all day long in the race." JEFF GORDON (#24 DuPont Automotive Refinishes Monte Carlo) - Qualified 37th - "There was something on the race track (on qualifying lap), when you get rushed like this. We have a car capable of qualifying pretty darn good. It's unfortunate we didn't get to show it today. That's what happens when you make mistakes. We'll react and fight back from it. I think we'll be all right. The car is good. We've come from behind with this car (Backdraft) before. We're not going to give up until it's over on Sunday. This is not the way we were wanting to start out on the first day of the final race. I have a crew chief that tells me everytime something like this happens that it could be worse. I have to laugh at him when he says that. I guess he's right. It can always be worse. Rick Mast was the first guy to come up to me and say, 'You're all set now. You've got all the bad luck out of the way.' Hopefully we can get all the bad luck out of the way today and go on and race. That thing that happened on pit road this morning shouldn't have happened. When a mistake like that happens, it puts you behind. I hate it happened. I blame myself, but this team has done an awesome job getting the car back out there. Unfortunately we caught up in some oil or something down there in turn one. I don't know if it came from our car or what, but it forced us not to have a good lap like we were looking for. This car is really good. The motor is really good. We had a shot at getting in the top 10, unfortunately we didn't get to show that. If anything, when we get down, we get stronger. Maybe this is just a wakeup call for us. We need to get with the program now and hope that the rest of the weekend goes our way." TERRY LABONTE (#5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo) - Qualified 4th - "We were pretty close to Geoff in the morning practice session, but he picked up a little bit and I didn't know if we could pick up that much or not. As it turns out, we didn't, but that's still a pretty good starting spot. That's about all we had. We'll just do the best we can and see where we stack up. "We usually slow down more than that in qualifying. It was a pretty good lap for us. We really only ran a couple of times quicker than that, so it was a good time for us. We got a good starting spot. The Kellogg's Chevy is going to be good in the race. Geoff and I were pretty close in practice, but I really didn't think we could pick up that much after we qualified. I felt like if we could repeat what we did in practice it would be good enough. We couldn't quite do that, but it was good enough. We're building momentum. We've got a great team. The win at Talladega was a big boost for us. To come down here and have a good run would mean a lot for us. We've got a good starting spot, now we need a good race. We need that momentum going into next year to make a run for that championship. "The race is going to be fast. I think the groove is going to widen out a little bit, but it's still going to be hard to pass. The race pace is going to slow down, but it's still going to be fast. I'd say it's going to be 192 or 193 mph. The track has got a lot of grip in it. The tires are sticking real good. It's going to be a fast race. It's comfortable out there. I don't know why I slowed down. I didn't want to mess up. I hope we get a good, clean start in the race and go into a single-file deal. There's a lot of unknowns. We've never raced here. We don't know what the tires are going to do. The cold weather, if anything, will help the tires. More rubber on the track will help after the ARCA race. We made some long runs testing down here. We made a 25-lap run. After we looked at the tires, the next run was going to be 15 laps." DALE EARNHARDT (#3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo) - Qualified 6th - "That was a better lap than we practiced. The car is really great. Larry and the guys had a good test down here. The car is dialed in pretty good. I would have liked to sit on the pole, but that's pretty fast for us. We picked up three or four-tenths from practice. I feel pretty confident. It's time to win. It's the last race of the season. A lot of people out here need to win. Hopefully we can get it done. We practiced pretty good down here, but we were still a little off. I wish we could have run a little faster. Geoff Bodine put a heck of a lap in. I knew nobody was going to beat that. It's time for us to win if we want to keep our streak alive (at least one win each season since 1982). That ain't the only thing left in life. Another championship would be great." STERLING MARLIN (#4 Kodak Gold Film Monte Carlo) - Qualified 27th - "It's a brand new place, and I guess we're still doing some figuring on the track. It's not Charlotte, but it's sure not Atlanta, either. This is a brand new creature here. Shoot, it feels like Bruton (Smith) already has that track in New Jersey as cold as it is. We'll figure it out. We'll be ready when they drop the green flag on Sunday." JEFF GREEN (#29 Cartoon Network Monte Carlo) - Qualified 7th - "We picked up a tenth from practice, and that's always what you want to do. That's a good starting spot. Now we need to work on the car and get it ready for the race and try to get a good finish." KEN SCHRADER (#33 Skoal Bandit Monte Carlo) - Qualified 13th - "That's the second-fastest lap we've run since we've been here. I really thought it would it would be a little better. I don't know how Bodine ran a flat (28.074-second lap). I would need mirrors to do that. My seat feels the same. The seat is pretty comfortable. The car is OK. Everything is fine. Everything is wonderful until you lose control. Then you're just going to hit harder. The tires are going to wear out -- quick." STEVE PARK (#14 Burger King Monte Carlo) - Qualified 25th - "We lost some speed. We were in the .70s in practice. We thought we would be able to go a little faster in qualifying. The car felt good. It seems like we just lost some speed somewhere. That concerned us at first, but everybody looks like they're losing a little bit of speed. I think the cold is taking a toll on everybody. This is faster than Daytona. We wiggled a little bit off turn four. They thought I touched the wall, but I didn't." STEVE GRISSOM (#41 Kodiak Monte Carlo) - Qualified 15th - "The car felt good. We slowed up a little bit. Maybe we just tried a little too hard and tried to be too perfect. At that speed, you're traveling so much distance in such a short period of time in the corners, I guess I was a little slow on my reaction. We're in the show. From where we tested to where we qualified, I'm tickled to death. It's comfortable or you wouldn't go that fast. At these speeds, if the car doesn't feel good to you, you're not going to keep holding it down. I guess Sunday will tell. Right now, nobody has been around anyone else in practice. You get the cars out there and as far as I'm concerned it's one lane or a lane-and-a-half at the most, but it takes that to get around the race track. I'm sure I'm getting up to speed better. The more the cars run on the track, the better the track will get. Hopefully things will sort out in the race and it won't be too bad. There's only one groove out there, but it's a lane-and-a-half wide. I don't think anyone is going to pull out at the start-finish line and pass going into turn one. It can't happen right now. Everybody was saying the same thing before the Texas race. Unfortunately, they dropped the green flag and half the field is taken out by the time we get to turn one. As the race went on, you could pass on the outside, but they had to sort of let you. You had to get position on 'em and it was kind of a give-and-take deal. That's what this thing is going to have to be -- a give-and-take deal. I'd say after 100 miles, things will sort out. Track position will mean a lot. It's kind of like a big Bristol. You don't have much time to react and if you miss a wreck and get slowed down, you're still moving on when you pass it. The bottom line is if your car is handling good and the other guy's isn't, you'll be able to pass."