JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Finished 7th) -- "It was frustrating for us. We've got a fast car we've just gotta get it to drive a little better. It was a good learning experience for us. We were trying some stuff today that we...
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Finished 7th) -- "It was frustrating for us. We've got a fast car we've just gotta get it to drive a little better. It was a good learning experience for us. We were trying some stuff today that we hoped we could get by with, we were questioning it, and we found out we couldn't get by with it. But, we've never really had this fast of a race car, so we're trying to take advantage of it. We need to pay a little more attention to the handling. As you saw today, you can run with the 88 and the 28. What you saw last week was a little different than what we're gonna have now. We just didn't have the handle on the car good enough, I was fast enough to run with anybody, but I didn't have the handle on the car good enough." WHAT CAN YOU DO TO ADJUST THE CAR? "There's a whole lot to do. We didn't use to change shocks at all. I mean, years ago we didn't know how to change shocks, we just put shocks on the car. You put on whoever told you what to build and that's what you built. Now you have to think like you used to maybe 15 years ago. There's plenty to adjust on, you've just gotta find what's sensitive to your car. The 28 didn't have any problem running wide open, it didn't look like, and other people did so you've just gotta get the handle right."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Finished 1st) -- "It looked a little easier than maybe what it was inside the car. It was given us a fit. The track seemed be pretty greasy and we're trying to get used to these new shock rules. These guys didn't hit this combination until late yesterday afternoon. When they hit I said I think we've got it, but we would have like to run a long run. We never got a chance in practice to run a long run. This was our 500 car and I didn't have a backup car because I destroyed the other one in that wreck in the Bud Shootout, so we've only been going out in four-car drafts and been real careful with who we drafted with. Man, I don't know what to say to this whole group but thank you. We got some good information and good advice from Dale Jarrett our teammate. We knew we needed to get off to a pretty good start, so we went to work on it and maybe stuck a little extra tape on the grill and let's go for broke. It was real important that they felt I get a hole shot out of there and, as it turned out, that was the key."
DERRIKE COPE --15-- Fenley-Moore Motorsports Taurus (Finished 6th) -- DID YOU KNOW THE FIRST COUPLE OF LAPS YOU WERE GOING TO BE ABLE TO RACE LIKE THAT? "I knew we could run like that for awhile, but I didn't know what it would bring late in the race. After about 35 laps I was worried we'd be tight in the wheel there and that's why I pedaled the car and was real careful early just hoping I'd have a little bit left to race those guys in the end." HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET BUD MOORE BACK IN THE DAYTONA 500? "I don't know, maybe it's about Bud Moore getting me back in the Daytona 500 and to maybe win one again. It's nice to be back. I know they struggled last year and they didn't get in because of a wreck but they were good enough to be in. It means a lot to Spartanburg (S.C.). I know I have a lot of friends there. I grew up in Campobello and Inman there and there are a lot of people who support me there and Bud as well. It's nice to get them back on the map. Now, we just need a little something on this car now. If we get us a little color or a little flash, maybe we'd be a little more exciting."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus (Finished 12th) -- "At least we made it. I was hoping it wasn't gonna be that close, I thought we'd run a little better than that. At the beginning I got quite a ways up there and got stuck in the wrong line. Everytime I run one of these restrictor plate races I do that at the beginning of the race, so I got way far behind and then I was lucky enough to hook up with Jimmy Spencer and he kept me with him the whole time and never hung me out to dry and really helped me advance back up through there." HOW VALUABLE IS THIS EXPERIENCE? "It's real important because no matter how much you practice you can't really simulate a race. You don't know what everybody's on for tires and how many laps they ran on them and pressures and stuff like there. Where here, you know everybody's on the same tires and kind of on equal terms, so I think it's real important for learning on Sunday." HOW ABOUT SUNDAY? "At least we're in the race. I couldn't sleep last night. It's the most nervous I've ever been for a race before, so I'll be able to get some rest tonight. I'll look forward to Sunday. We need to tune this thing up a little better and get this DeWalt Taurus to turn just a little bit better, but I think we'll be halfway competitive."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus (Finished 11th) -- "NASCAR came up with a pretty good rule for qualifying. I think they're gonna evaluate this deal. We didn't have any accidents, but everybody is complaining because we want perfect race cars. I'm not different, I was pushing just like everybody else and I think that some of those cars aren't as bad as others and others are worse than other. I think you have three cars, A, B, and C. Right now I think we're a B, but we want to be an A. I think we can fix it. We've got another two hours of practice before the race on Sunday, so, hopefully, we can do some things to make it better. But for NASCAR to make a major change I think it's a mistake, in my eyes. They shouldn't change anything. We need to live with what we've got. It's been a good rule qualifying and maybe evaluate it for the race at a future date." HOW WAS YOUR RACE? "I dropped back there because I got wedged in some traffic and some slower cars and I don't even know where I was. I was pretty far back and then we started hauling going up through there and got to 11th. It just got to pushing. I'm sure everybody is complaining, but it really took the wind out of our sails. We were catching Ricky and that pack, about two-three tenths a lap, and I felt like the Kmart Taurus had an opportunity to make some noise, but with 20 laps to go it just started heaving the nose and we finished 11th. We were lucky."
ED BERRIER --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus (Finished 13th) -- "It's time to get down and see what that first 500 is like. Most of the time I've been home watching it on TV, so we'll get a first-hand view this year." HOW NERVOUS WILL YOU BE ON SUNDAY? "I don't know. It wasn't too bad today. It'll probably be more come Sunday with a lot of people here and a lot of excitement. Being able to get Junie in the 500 is a good deal. We're tickled to death for Hills Brothers, Suburban Lodge and all the folks who helped us out and helped us get here." HOW ABOUT YOUR RACE TODAY? "I believe handling played a big part in it. The car stayed real good the whole race and I was able to pretty much run wide open. A bunch of those guys had to lift. The closer we got to them my car got tighter, but I found a way to get around there. We freed the car up off the corner a little bit and it really helped. Hey, we were by ourselves at one point trying to run a four or five-car draft down. I didn't think it was gonna happen, but we made it to them and was able to get around them. Things went well." WILL THERE BE A BIG PARTY TONIGHT? "I don't know. I'm just gonna catch my breath now and try to breathe."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- THIS IS A GREAT WAY TO START A SEASON? "Yeah, especially after last week. We didn't have too good of a start, so to come back this week and win. I don't know what to say except thanks to the whole Yates organization, Texaco and Havoline and everybody giving me the chance...a down and out washed up race car driver a chance again. It's pretty neat...a pretty neat day." DID YOU GET ANY HELP FROM JARRETT AFTER THE FIRST RACE? "As far as Dale, his car ran pretty good the first segment, he just couldn't do anything with Bill, but he didn't have any real problems. There wasn't a whole lot of information right there. We knew the race track looked like it was gonna be tight and the cars were gonna push. It didn't matter whether you were a Chevy, a Ford or whatever, it just looked like the cars were gonna lose the front end, so it was real important, we felt like, to get a good start." IS THERE ANY WAY YOU COULD HAVE DREAMED THIS SCENARIO? "No. There's no way I could have planned for my team to shut down...July, when everything sort of started coming to a halt as far as sponsorship deal, there's no way I could have planned that thing to end. I didn't want it to end. For that to happen and 30 days later Robert Yates is calling wanting to know if I'd be interested in driving for his race team, and stupid me saying, 'Well, give me 30 more days to think about it.' Everything the way it unfolded, and then last week with the shootout, I'm just riding it out. I have no control, but it seems to be headed in the right direction. I'm just along for the ride." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE IRONY OF YOU AND BILL ENDING UP IN VICTORY LANE TODAY AFTER BOTH OF YOU LOST SPONSORS LAST YEAR? "It definitely seems kind of strange the way it all turned out. Bill and I have known each other for many, many years. None of the guys are what I would consider really close in the garage area. They're friendly, they spend time together, but any time you've got you spend it with your families. But Bill and I, I guess, we sort of had some sort of little bond going that...I don't know if misery loves company or whatever you want to say, but we were able to bounce stuff off each other. Our teams actually worked a little bit together after the midway point in the season. I know his crew chief and my crew chief, Mike McSwain, would sit down after practice and talk a lot about chassis and so on, and I got to feeling for Bill. We talked and Ernie and I talked and I know the job they've got in front of them, the task in front of them. I think a lot of that credit goes to Bill, but also goes to Ernie. I never saw a spark in Ernie like I saw when I got to know those guys good last year. We were talking about maybe Ernie doing engines for us and he's committed to this program. This is a good shot in the arm for them and I couldn't be happier for Bill. He needs to go out and run good and win races. Everyone says can a single car team do it. Yes, it's not the easy way to do, but can you do it, I still say you can do it but you're gonna need that 10-12 million dollar sponsor to do it. A run like Bill had today is great for him. It helps him show that it can be done." HOW COULD YOU HAVE A LOT OF PASSING IN THE SHOOTOUT AND NONE TODAY? "I think the key to it. You've gotta look at that race we ran maybe 10 laps, came in, and got fresh tires. So, it's no different than any other track we go to how the racing is intense after you have a restart. Guys had fresh rubber on the car, they could be aggressive with the car. They only had to worry about a 10-lap sprint and later on a 15-lap finish. So that was the biggest difference. Now, we're stuck out there and we've gotta run 50 laps on a set of tires. Handling was critical. A lot of guys saw that in practice. There were a lot of guys chasing their cars in practice, I know we were. The reason, new rubber, better grip, be more aggressive. If you notice, one reason we piled up at the end of that race the other day was some guys got to pushing the front end. I think it probably was not a real eventful race to watch, but I think Rusty saved a lot of guys from having torn up race cars and kind of put the focus on what this race is all about. This race is to get you into the Daytona 500. Sure, everybody wants to win it, but let's let the racing get settled down before we go crazy out here and try to make it "three-wide. The complexion of the race today, I don't necessarily think you're gonna see the same thing in the 500. I think a lot of people today just wanted to get this race in there and get it behind them." WILL WE SEE MORE PASSING ON PIT ROAD THAN THE TRACK ON SUNDAY? "I think what you're gonna see is that guys got a race under their belt today, they got 50 laps of green flag racing. That probably did everybody a world of good, instead of running like you had in the shootout where you run 10 laps and have a caution because new tires will sort of cure all chassis problems. Now, guys have got 50 laps under their belt. They know whether their car got loose, their car started to push. Now, they've got Friday and Saturday to work on it and try to fix something. I know in practice probably 50 percent of the field of guys were happy with the way their cars were driving and the other 50 percent were not happy. It didn't seem to matter whether it was Chevy, Ford or Pontiac. The new rules have got the cars maybe not down into the ground, not pulling into the race track like we used to, and maybe guys depended on shock absorbers a little bit too much over the years and it's put the race back in the complexion of the guys that are good chassis people and good aerodynamic people." WOULD YOU BE OPPOSED TO ANY CHANGES NASCAR WOULD MAKE TO THE SHOCKS? "I'd have to think about that a little bit, but I would probably oppose it because we knew what we were gonna be getting. We tested, everybody tested. We didn't personally draft, but we watched what happened in the draft and we knew what we were gonna be up against. I think the teams that thought that through a little bit prepared for that and they built their cars for that. If, all of a sudden, you start changing the rules on the eve of the Daytona 500, to me, the guys that did their research the best will be penalized. It's not all doom and gloom for these guys. You can change springs, you can change swaybars, you can change a lot of things. We changed a lot of things on our car from the Bud Shootout until race time. We made a lot of changes on that chassis and really we didn't hit it until the very last three or four minutes of practice. Anyway, I'd have to talk to Mike McSwain and find out what they think, but I think the cards oughta be dealt and the teams that did the work oughta reap some benefits." IF BURTON AND SKINNER HAD GOTTEN IN FRONT OF YOU, WOULD IT HAVE BEEN HARD FOR YOU TO PASS THEM? "I for sure didn't want to try to find out, that's why I was doing my darndest to keep them behind me. I can't answer that. I'm not gonna dispute it, I'm not gonna agree with it because I don't know, but I was afraid to find out to be honest with you. I was doing everything I could based on the first race to keep track position, so they might have a point, but I hate to disagree with them also." DOES IT TAKE THREE DIFFERENT MINDSETS TO RACE IN THE SHOOTOUT, 125 AND 500? "It takes three different type of strategies for sure. In the Bud Shootout you run it a lot like qualifying. You'll put a qualifying motor in the car and go for broke on the horsepower. You're not worried about reliability. You'll run more tape on the grill than you ever thought you could get by with to pin the nose of the car and make it run faster down the straightaway. You obviously can't get by with that for the 125-mile qualifying race. The race is too long, it's gotten hotter during the week, so the 125 mindset...you don't go into the 125 maybe with the same strategy as you do the 500. It depends on how you get out of the 125s for the mindset you'll take on for the 500. Guys that were pushing the front end, obviously, they know what to work on. If I looked up in my mirror there with about six to go there was about 10 cars on the lead lap. Yeah, there wasn't a lot of dicing, but there were 10 cars right there on my back bumper. Pit stops play a factor. You come in and get four tires and a chassis adjustment and you're gonna see the guys that were maybe in that pack of 10, all of a sudden you're gonna see that shift around a little bit. I think you need to see 500 miles under your belt before you jump to any conclusions, I think." WILL SUNDAY BE A BETTER RACE? "It's the Daytona 500 and I think you'll see an exciting race. I hope so. I mean, the fans didn't pay a lot of money to come and see us run single file, I think." HOW IS YOUR CONFIDENCE NOW? "Probably the biggest thing is that after 23 years I learned how to drive the race track, so automatically I'm a great driver from last year to this year. I'm kind of picking fun at myself a little bit, but the biggest thing is I'm sitting in that Robert Yates race car. That alone just kind of tends to give you a big boost of confidence. The thing goes down the straightaway, it goes through the corner, but, for sure, I've never been close to a victory. I finished third here in 1981 and never been that close to winning anything here in the past. To come here this week and not only run here, but we ran good in the shootout, it gives me a shot of confidence that, hey, it's not the 500 but yet it's a competitive race and we did win something. I haven't won anything in the last year, so it's a good self-confidence booster for me and the team. You've gotta look at the 28 team. I don't think they've won anything since about 1997, I think. There are a lot of the same people over there. They're winners and they want to win, so, if anything, it just kind of gives everyone a mental lift." DOES THIS PROVE THAT WHAT YOU AND MICHAEL MCSWAIN WERE TRYING TO DO LAST YEAR WAS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? "We were trying to do it. We had some really good people working for us, but we didn't have enough people. I think we had 25 guys working on the shop and the team and some of those were parts people, parts runners, but actually we had a pretty thin crew. We just didn't have the complete package. We obviously didn't have the Yates motor package, we didn't have the Yates aerodynamic program and we didn't have the Yates personnel. We had good personnel, but not enough of them. It was gonna be pretty tough the way we were headed, but I still say we could have had moments of glory if things would have continued. We finished the season on a high note and I'm just glad that Robert Yates trusted in Michael McSwain to give him a chance as a crew chief. I think he's probably the biggest story of all. Here's a guys who has never won a pole before, he's never won a race, but everywhere he went his cars ran fast and they did it without any money. He's used to doing things without any money and now you give him the tools -- money, wind tunnel time and you give him the people -- and all of a sudden you kind of gotta step back and where did this guy come from. He's been around the garage area and respected by just about any crew chief in the business and I couldn't be happier for him, but he's got the tools to work with. It was pretty tough before." WAS IT A TOUGH SELL TO GET ROBERT TO OK MICHAEL? "I tried to stay out of that whole loop. You had Doug Richert over there and he was busting his butt trying to do well over there, but it seemed things just didn't click. I can't really blame it all on Doug, but I knew the chemistry Michael and I were developing, even though we didn't start off great together, as time went on he learned me and I learned him. I didn't think you could throw away six months of a driver and crew chief learning each other, so I was real high on him. Robert is a talent scout. What can you say? To be able to put together a championship team like he did with the 88, so he knows talent. I didn't have to push too hard. I think Robert definitely recognized the talent that was there."