Veteran sports car driver Scott Maxwell piloted the No. 49 Crown Royal Ford Multimatic to a 16th-place starting spot in qualifying for Saturday's Rolex 24 at Daytona. Maxwell, who is part of a four-member team that includes NASCAR NEXTEL...
Veteran sports car driver Scott Maxwell piloted the No. 49 Crown Royal Ford Multimatic to a 16th-place starting spot in qualifying for Saturday's Rolex 24 at Daytona. Maxwell, who is part of a four-member team that includes NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth, turned a fast lap of 1:49.458 seconds (117.086 mph) during the 15-minute qualifying session this afternoon.
SCOTT MAXWELL -49-Crown Royal Ford Multimatic (Qualified 16th)
"It's definitely the best that it's been, so the timing was good to make a leap forward. There's still a lot of room for improvement, especially in straight-line speed, so we're doing a motor change tonight, and that will probably make a big difference. We'll probably trim it out more. Other than that, it's the best that it's been, so my focus is more is trying to get it going down the straights quicker because that is clearly where I was losing time qualifying to all of the other guys. I just got onto the banking and they disappeared, so we've got to work on that."
MATT KENSETH AND GREG BIFFLE HAD LIMITED PRACTICE TIME IN THE CAR THIS AFTERNOON. HOW WOULD YOU RATE THEIR PERFORMANCE?
"They did really well considering I hadn't really driven until after they got out and the car wasn't as happy as they liked. They were dealing with a lot of oversteer, so I think they did a very good job because it wasn't an easy car to drive until we made these changes. Now it's jumped forward quite a bit, so I think they will do quite well in night practice."
COMMENT ON YOUR QUALIFYING STRATEGY, AND DID THE TIMING OF THE BLACK FLAG HURT YOU?
"We were a couple of minutes late getting out there and on soft tires like that, they have a really short peak, and I did more or less the whole infield before the black flag came out. I'm going to get them to bring up to the data, but, to me, I think it was a good lap; better than our best outright qualifying lap. There seems to be a black cloud over us, and as soon as I saw that car off to the side, I was just praying they wouldn't go black flag, and about two cars later they went black flag. It worked against us this time. Sometimes it works for you, and sometimes against you."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SOFTER TIRE COMPOUND?
"I think most of us for qualifying ran the softer tire, but I've never really had too much time on it, and I think the plan is if it gets quite cool at night we'll probably try it. Other than that we'll go most of the race with the harder compound and hopefully double-stint it if the rear tires last us."
ARE YOU MORE CONFIDENT IN RACE SETUP?
"It's a 24-hour race and everybody wants to get the pole. I'd like to be on the pole, but after the pole it doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter if you're 10th or 30th because it's a long race and it's such a completive field, and we're right in the middle of it. I'm not unhappy with qualifying. You always want to be higher, but it's not really a factor in the race."
WITH THE NUMBER OF PROTOTYPES ENTERED IN THE RACE THIS YEAR, DO YOU FORESEE TROUBLE AT THE START OF THE RACE?
"Hopefully not. Most of the guys, when I say most I mean 99 percent, use their heads and they know it's a 24-hour race and you don't tend to get too much dive-bombing in the first corner or the first lap because it doesn't matter, but there's always one guy who thinks that he needs to pass the guy in front of him at the start of the race. Usually it's pretty orderly, but it's such a competitive field that I wouldn't predict no trouble, but I'm not too concerned about it."
LARRY HOLT , Technical Director/Vice President of Engineering-49-Crown Royal Ford Multimatic
"We got burned by the black flag. Qualifying matters nothing, and to be honest with you, luckily we weren't going to be in the top five. We've got a very drivable car, and we can probably make it faster with more spring rate, but the two Cup guys that drove it today - Matt and Greg - said it's infinitely more comfortable than when we were here in the test. I think the car would have been quicker in the test configuration, but for a 24-hour race it's better that we find a setup that they're happy driving. I just made a change before the session. We took some rear bar out, I changed the motion ratio on the rear sway bar, and Scott said that's the best the car has been since we've been here this year as far as a drivability standpoint. I think we have a good car for the 24 hours and we have a history of being able to finish it."
DID YOU HAVE TO FIND MORE OF A HAPPY MEDIUM SETUP-WISE WITH THE DRIVER LINEUP YOU HAVE WITH THREE OVAL-TRACK DRIVERS AND ONE ROAD RACER?
"We softened the car up 40 percent since the test. We went out with a Scotty Maxwell setup in the test and they were all really tentative with that. We put the car back on four-post rig, shook it, came out with a bit more comfortable setup and both Matt and Greg today said that the car was way easier to drive. Saying that, we probably gave up a second a lap in ultimate speeds there for qualifying, plus we got burned with the black flag, but to be honest, were we going to be top five? No. We might have been able to sneak into the top 10, but we had a heat cycle on the tires by the time we got it going. With a really stiff setup and better luck we may have gotten into the top 10, but it doesn't mean anything in the race unless we were going for the pole to show off, which we didn't have a hope of doing. I think we did the right thing and we've gone for a race setup and got everybody comfortable in the car."
YOU WAITED A FEW MINUTES AFTER QUALIFYING STARTED TO MAKE YOUR FIRST RUN. COMMENT ON YOUR QUALIFYING STRATEGY.
"There's no reason to go out and burn it right away. We wanted to see where everybody settled in and wanted to find a gap. Two years ago, you'd go out there and there'd be six cars out there and now there are 28 cars running around and you have to find kind of a gap. Usually you try to send him with the fast guys or maybe even pull a draft, but I made a mistake because then we got a black flag on our first flyer. When you lose a fresh set of tires like that when it's going to be your fast lap, you have to settle with whatever you can get. You come in and put a heat cycle on them and go again, but you're a half of a second off."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SOFTER TIRE COMPOUND?
"It's great for qualifying, but you have a limited number. You have a 50 compound and a 60 compound, and the 60 compound is the accepted compound here and you get 20 of those. You get 10 sets of the softer compound tires, which will be good at night. I've got to hang on to those tires and not use them again. I used them for qualifying, but I'm putting them away and you won't see them again until 10 o'clock on Saturday night."
WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE TIRES HERE THIS WEEKEND?
"The tires are quite good. I'm actually impressed with Hoosier. I think we're a little bit slower on pole pace from last year, but our car is quicker than it was last year. Last we didn't run a Multimatic Motorsports entry, but we're a second faster than our customers were last year, so I would say that we probably found two seconds. We keep making progress, but everybody else keeps making progress. It just points to the fact that you have to keep racing these things and catch up to them."