DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Finished 37th) "I just cut a right-front tire going into turn three. I had just touched the wall about four laps earlier and everything seemed to be pretty good. We still had some good speed in our Ford,...
DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Finished 37th)
"I just cut a right-front tire going into turn three. I had just touched the wall about four laps earlier and everything seemed to be pretty good. We still had some good speed in our Ford, and was just thinking about what to do on the next pit stop and drove in on the bottom of turn three and felt it let go. I don't even think I had time to jump on the brakes real hard, but it's certainly disappointing. Our car had pretty good speed. It was pretty fast and we'll just have to learn from the good things that happened and try to get back out and make some points."
ROBBY GORDON HAD A TIRE ISSUE AS WELL. IS THIS A BIGGER PROBLEM OR DID YOU JUST CUT A TIRE? "I think we just cut a tire. I don't think there's a tire issue. This track is always a lot of fun once the tires do wear down, and I think Goodyear brought a pretty good tire here, so we'll see what the rest of the race favors. Unfortunately, it's not a good start for the Atlanta race for us."
THE FACT THIS IS YOUR HOME MAKES IT HARDER, RIGHT? "Yeah, and we had a good car. This is probably one of the better cars we've had in the last couple of years here at Atlanta. I'm proud of what our UPS team has been able to accomplish in just a few short weeks. It's a new team with a new crew chief, and we just have to learn from it. We've got some good tracks coming up on the schedule, so we'll be ready for Bristol."
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Scotts Ford Fusion (Finished 39th)
"We were on the restart and I was going for the bottom. I knew Brad was peeking inside, but I thought he'd give me just a little bit of room and he didn't and we ended up overlapping. I had it saved and I guess I got into the 20 car at the very top of the race track. I didn't see that part of it, but it's so frustrating for a number of reasons, most of which is that I love racing here. I love this race track and I want to be out there driving right now. I know Brad has made his career on being super-aggressive. We both had a part in it and it's not his fault, but it's just a little too aggressive overall, I think, for that early in the race and caused us to wreck."
WHAT ABOUT THE TRACK WARMING UP? "That's as good as it gets. This track surface is great. The Goodyear tires are good. It's just too bad we're not out there racing."
AFTER SECOND ACCIDENT WITH BRAD KESELOWSKI -- DID YOU INTENTIONALLY WRECK HIM? "Brad knows the deal between him and I. The scary part was his car went airborne, which was not at all what I expected. At the end of the day, we're out here to race and people have to have respect for one another and I have a lot of respect for people's safety. I wish it wouldn't have gone like it did, but I'm glad he's okay and we'll just go on and race some more and maybe him and I won't get in anymore incidents together. That would be the best thing."
WHAT HAPPENED? "I just spoke to Fox and I think at the end of the day the best thing would be Brad and I just not getting together anymore and we probably won't now. I'm just glad everybody is alright."
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 U.S. Census Ford Fusion (Finished 8th)
"We had a really good day. I don't know what it is, but we keep getting screwed on these restarts. Everytime we're at the end of the race -- green-white-checkered or three to go -- the guy in my lane spins his tires and we get all jacked up. It happened the restart before that and then it happened for the final restart. I don't understand."
STILL, THAT'S FOUR STRAIGHT TOP 10 FINISHES TO START THE YEAR. "Yeah, I'm really happy about that. We feel really good about it, but now is the time to get all you can get and when you have a chance to finish fifth and you finish eighth it still hurts."
ELLIOTT SADLER -- No. 19 Hunt Brother's Pizza Ford Fusion (Finished 19th)
"It was a frustrating day. We took a shim out of the left-front and that hurt us a lot. The front end of the car kept hitting off the race track and then we put a rubber in the right-rear and that kind of made it worse. Low and behold, that was the longest green-flag run of the day, so that put us way behind. We got our qualifying effort better on Friday, we just have to work on our communication and adjustments during the race."
ANY TIRE ISSUES FOR YOU? "No tire issues for us. I don't think any of our cars had tire issues."
WHAT ABOUT THE RESTARTS AT THE END? "That's wild. They're double-file restarts and everybody is trying to get all they can get."
BILL ELLIOTT -- No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion (Finished 16th)
"I was tickled to death after what we went through. We had penalties on pit road and then it was just one thing after another. The car was pretty tight and we fought that, and then we probably stayed out a little bit too long under that green. It was just one of those days, but it turned out. We didn't put tires on at the end and I told Hyder we were probably toast, but I hung on good. When they got bottled up I got a good run on the outside and it really helped me go."
YOU WERE DOWN ON FRIDAY. DOES THIS MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER? "No doubt. We've just got to get our qualifying effort better, but when you don't do this stuff week in and week out it's just hard to do. I understand where Len and Eddie are at and Motorcraft's position and Quick Lane, and I just wish we could get a little better shot at it. But we'll take what we've got and get out of here and go on down the road."
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion (Finished 2nd)
"That is the best finish we have had here ever, so I am really proud of my team. They did a great job today. We qualified really well and it translated to the race today.
HOW TOUGH WAS IT GOING TO BE TO GET TO THE FRONT ON THE RESTART? "It was easy to spin the tires today, but there were some guys up there with two and you knew they were going to have a much rougher time on four, so it was interesting. You watch everyone lay back behind you and you know that it is going to be three of four wide when you got to turn one. I tried not to lay back too much. I just got it rolling real good and got it through the gears a little better than Paul.
HOW NICE ARE THE FOUR STRAIGHT TOP TEN FINISHES? "It is awesome. I couldn't be happier with the way the season has started. It feels good to be competitive and it feels like we are headed in the right direction, so it feels good."
PAUL MENARD -- No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion (Finished 5th)
"It felt really good. The car was fast and a top five is a great way to start the year. The guys did their homework in the offseason and improved these cars so much.
WHAT ABOUT TAKING TWO TIRES ON THE FINAL PIT STOP? "Slugger made a helluva call there taking two tires at the end and get some clean track and we knew we probably weren't going to hold off four tires, but it at least got us in front of the excitement and I guess there was some at the end. We dodged a bullet there at the end with all the action out there.
HOW BIG A DAY WAS THIS IS FOR RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS? "These guys work their tails off all during the offseason, and it was a lot of fun out there today. All of our cars were fast this weekend. We got three of the top six finishers, so I think Richard Petty Motorsports is back."
AJ ALLMENDINGER -- No. 43 Insignia Best Buy Ford Fusion (Finished 6th)
"It was a good run out there. The Insignia Best Buy Ford was good all day. I am really proud because we were a top-10 car all day and we kept fine-tuning it and got it right. I am really proud of the guys. I feel like we could have probably had a fourth of fifth out of it, but I am still really proud of the team.
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN QUALIFYING AND PRACTICE ROUNDS AND TODAY? "I am not very good qualifying here, but I love racing here. We got a solid baseline to start the race with today and I think that really helped us. That was a big difference.
ON HAVING RICHARD PETTY CONGRATULATE HIM ON PIT ROAD. "He is why I am here. We are learning. There are still some things we have to get better at but all in all, for the pit crew and myself, it was a really good day. Hopefully this is something we can build on the rest of the way."
KASEY KAHNE -- No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion (Finished 4th)
"We had a good run out there today. We had a really fast car and it was great most of the day. The track changed quite a bit the last 50 laps and we just didn't keep up quite like we needed to to win the race. I thought we had a third or fourth-place car at that time and that is where we finished, so it all worked out fine."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE SO MANY FORD'S IN THE TOP FIVE TODAY? "It is great for the Ford family, the RPM Ford's and Roush Ford's. It is nice to see the success and it is definitely something that we can build on."
DAVID GILLILAND -- No. 38 Taco Bell Ford Fusion (Finished 26th)
"Today was a huge step forward. Last week we were four laps down. All the guys in the shop worked really hard this week and made some front-end geometry changes with spindles and stuff like that and it was a different race car. I told them the first lap on the track, I said, 'Man, it feels like we're at the right race track now.' It's exciting. I told everybody from Day 1 it's gonna take time with this deal. We've run a car that's new for us each week, so the guys have been working really hard. I knew it would take time and I had to keep telling myself that, but I'm real excited about where this team is at three weeks in and how competitive we were today. I think our shop needs that right now, so I'm real excited. Bob Jenkins gave me the opportunity to come over here and do this deal with Taco Bell and Ford and it's exciting. It felt good to be competitive."
YOU GOT CAUGHT UP IN THAT LAST WRECK. OTHERWISE WOULD IT HAVE BEEN A NEAR-PERFECT DAY FOR YOU? "Yeah, it would have been a great day otherwise. We're not gonna hang our heads low, though. We ran good and that's first and foremost. We were competitive and we haven't really been as competitive as we'd like the last couple of weeks. It looked like Jamie got sideways. I don't know if somebody got into him, but we were down low and somebody was on the outside of us and they came down and got into us. I got into Jamie when he slid back down the track, so it was an unfortunate ending to a really good day, but we're gonna keep our heads up and build some momentum off this."
DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion
THE TEAM WAS ABLE TO GET YOU BACK OUT ON THE TRACK AND YOU MADE UP SOME SPOTS. "Yes, in the summer and certainly around Richmond and the chase, those extra spots are going to mean a lot. It's hard to get out there and run with a damaged car and race, but I'm very proud of our UPS team. Through qualifying and practice we had a fast car and at the start of the race, we were moving towards the front. We were able to come back out and finish the race, and that was very important. We just have to be perfect over the next month to make up for today."
-source: ford racing