FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES COCA-COLA 600 QUALIFYING, May 26, 1999 Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.
RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "We were a little on the tight side. We're a little confused right now as to why it didn't run quicker. It ran a .38 in practice and I thought it would run in the 20s easy, but it didn't do it. I don't know what the deal is."
JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "Off of turn three it got pretty interesting. We've struggled qualifying and generally it's because I drive it in too deep and then get messed up. Tonight I worked real hard on not driving in too deep and getting on the gas quick and I did that. It got pretty interesting off of four, but never had to lift. If somebody can beat it, they'll beat it. I'll sleep real well tonight after that lap because I know I got everything that was there. It was a great lap for us. We beat some really fast cars right off the bat, so we've put ourselves in a good position. We'll get a great starting spot anyway."
DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "That's gonna be way down the line. We haven't been that good all day. We thought we could improve it and we did pick up a little bit, but just not nearly enough."
TED MUSGRAVE -75- Remington Arms Taurus -- "We could have run a little bit better. It handled real well and I think everybody made the right decisions on the springs, the bars and shocks. We might have an ignition problem. That's twice the car backfired on a bonzai run in the center of the corner. It made the car engine stumble a while. It did it once in practice and once in qualifying. We've gotta look for the problem and if we find that, this thing will be a rocket. It's really good. It's a nice car and one of the better ones I've ever had. If we can fix that problem, we're gonna be in good shape."
RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- WHAT HAPPENED AT THE START OF YOUR LAP? "There's a wire just over the gearshift and when I grabbed third gear to put it in fourth, my finger hooked that wire, which is the main master cutoff, and I pulled it out and turned the motor off. I was wondering what in the world is happening here and by the time I figured it out I was down here in this corner, so I had no choice but to come back in and start over. I've never had that happen before." HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "I was really impressed. This car seems to have a lot of drag built into it, but I think it's gonna race really good. I wasn't wide-open in the corner, but it's the most throttle I've ever carried through the corners here, so gauging from that I think it's gonna race really well."
HUT STRICKLIN -90- Donlavey Racing Taurus -- "That was pretty wild. We haven't been that fast since we've been here. We made a few calculated guesses before qualifying on the car with some shocks and different things like that. With the shortage of practice today we didn't really get to do all our bonzai runs like we needed to, but this is a deal where we made some good guesses and it looks like it's gonna pay off for us."
KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "It's the same thing we've run every time we've gone out on new tires. You hope you're gonna get better, but that's all we had right there."
RICK MAST -98- Hobas Pipe Taurus -- "We had some problems in practice. We unloaded and the car ran a decent speed, but when we did our qualifying thing it slowed down. Then it rained and when we did our qualifying deal again it slowed down just like before. We kept scratching our heads and we thought the motor was blowing up or something, but the car felt awesome through the corners. When we jacked it up both front wheels were locked up. We had a master cylinder that went bad. We fixed that, but my car was just too tight to qualify. This car had more speed in it. It was a little tight in the middle of one and two and it pushed bad off of four, so we were fortunate to run as quick as we did."
ELLIOTT SADLER -21- Citgo Taurus -- "These guys have built me a great race car here at Charlotte. We tested fast here. We bottomed out a little bit in one and two, I tried to run through there wide open, bottomed out and pushed up. I went through three and four just as awesome as we could and I think that should get us in the top seven or eight I hope. These guys have really worked hard and been patient with me all year and I'm gonna try to repay them back as much as I can." ANY SCARY SPOTS? "No, the car is pretty comfortable. The old Ford Taurus has got a lot of downforce on it and Citgo has been behind us a lot. We just hope we can get us a good run this weekend."
BRETT BODINE -11- Paychex Taurus -- "That's better than we ran in practice and I guess that's the key thing. You always want to be better, but it was a good solid run for us and from what we learned over here testing I think we've got a good race car. We'll get in there first round and race them hard on Sunday night."
ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "Man, they are so fast here right now it's unreal. This Jasper team, we're halfway happy with it and halfway not. I think that's good enough to get us in the race and now we can concentrate on the race deal. We've been a little behind on qualifying and it's getting progressively better. I'm happy and happy with everything. The motor ran great today, so if we can get a couple more things worked out we're gonna be in good shape."
JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "It was real good. We're happy with it. That'll get us in the top 10 or top 12 somewhere. We've got a good race car and I feel good about it." HOW WAS THE LAP? "It felt perfect through the corners and it felt good down the straightaways. Sometimes you're just off a little bit. We weren't off but about seven-hundredths or something, so that's all you can ask for. As long as you're the same tenth as the pole that's all you can do."
JERRY NADEAU -9- Cartoon Network Taurus -- "That was a pretty good lap. The best we ran was a .55 in practice and we just ran a .40. Of course, the night time helps out a lot and give a little more grip. If anything we might have been a little bit on the loose side, but the guys did a good job. We've got a good race car here. I think we've got a better race car than it is a qualifying car. Last week we had a better qualifying car than a race car, so I'm pretty excited."
MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- IT LOOKED LIKE A POSSIBLE DRAMATIC FINISH WITH YOU BEING THE LAST ONE OUT AND WINNING THE POLE, BUT IT WASN'T MEANT TO BE. "Sometimes that happens, but we couldn't run it. We had a real good lap there. The Valvoline team gives me a great Taurus to work here with and I'm encouraged. I'm encouraged because we wrecked our very best car and to have a shot at the pole was something that I wouldn't have expected with our very best car. I wouldn't really have expected to do much better than that. We were a contender at Burton's time, but not a contender at the 18's time. I tried to get competitive with a .15 and couldn't do it. It probably cost us a little bit, but it was a real good lap. The car was quick in practice and it felt real good. I'm real optimistic about the race."
JEFF BURTON PRESS CONFERENCE DID YOU THINK IT MIGHT STAND UP OR DID THE TRACK CHANGE A LOT? "Sometimes it changes a lot and sometimes it doesn't. If the track was ever not gonna change a whole lot today was the day. There was a little bit of sun on the track when we went, not a lot, but a little, and I thought that would hurt us some. It probably didn't hurt us as much as I thought it did. It's not unusual that Bobby Labonte goes fast at Charlotte, so I don't think the track changed a whole lot." HAVE YOU WORKED HARD ON QUALIFYING? "We have improved, but we still have a ways to go. There have been some races that we haven't qualified as well as we wanted to, but, overall, we've been pretty happy with it this year. We haven't really changed a whole lot. I've said all along that the only problem with qualifying was the driver because I was sitting in the same stuff that Mark Martin was and he could go sit on the pole or qualify in the top five and I was taking provisionals. I had to look at myself and I talked to Mark a lot. I was just trying to do some of the wrong things with the car as far as what I was feeling. I was thinking I was feeling one thing and I was feeling another. If I went and ran five laps I would know what I was feeling, but when I was running one lap I was getting confused. We made some adjustments and whenever I think the car is doing something, I kind of look at tire sheets and look at air pressures rather than listening to the driver. We'll do the opposite when we get ready to race, but when we get ready to qualify we look at the data rather than listening to the driver and that's helped us some." WHAT DO YOU TAKE OUT OF QUALIFYING TONIGHT? "I don't take a whole lot out of it, to be honest. To win the 600, you don't have to start in the front row, you don't have to start in the top 10, you can win this race from anywhere. What today means is we did a good job qualifying and when today's over it's over. It means that they're gonna introduce you toward the end of the line on Sunday and that's about it, to be honest. I don't mean to downplay it any more than I do, but when we qualify poorly I always talk about how it really doesn't matter. So I can't dare say, 'Well I qualified great so now you've gotta qualify good.' You can win from anywhere. If your car drives well in the race, you can get to the front. It's not that big of a deal. It's important to improve our qualifying effort, but that's not the biggest emphasis we've put on trying to improve this program. We have other things that we think we need to improve on more. I'm proud that we qualified well, we take a lot of pride in that. But, at the same time, qualifying second doesn't mean we're gonna have a good 600." HOW ABOUT THE LUCK FACTOR OF STARTING UP FRONT AND MAYBE AVOIDING AN EARLY WRECK? "I've been in as many wrecks running in the front as I have in the back. That's just the way I see it. Obviously, the more cars you're behind the more wrecks that are in front of you, but if you're behind a bunch of cars and then the wreck could happen way ahead of you and it has no bearing on you whatsoever. Once the race gets going you can be the leader and it's like running 10th because there are lapped cars and everybody's on the same race track. It really doesn't matter once the race gets going."