DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus HOW IS THE CAR FOR QUALIFYING AND WHAT DID THE RAIN DO AS FAR AS SCHEDULING? "It's unfortunate with the rain. What's unfortunate is that now our guys have been here all day and they're here half the night, and now...
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
HOW IS THE CAR FOR QUALIFYING AND WHAT DID THE RAIN DO AS FAR AS SCHEDULING? "It's unfortunate with the rain. What's unfortunate is that now our guys have been here all day and they're here half the night, and now they've got to be here at 7 o'clock tomorrow and be here all day until 10 o'clock tomorrow night. That's the unfortunate thing. Obviously, it's unfortunate for the fans, but I'm thinking more about my guys. They look at this as time where they might get a little bit of time with their family at the beach or something and now that's out the window. I'll quit complaining. Otherwise, the lap is deceiving. We have a fast race car. We have a very good race car and it should be a top-five car, but the lap is deceiving. I had lots of help from a car I was catching in front of me. I don't know what the lap times were, but I'm gonna guess two-and-a-half or three tenths of a second would have been about how much help I got and I don't even know how that stacks up against whoever was second. That still puts us in the ballpark. We were good in the first session before the rain. Todd has worked on the body of this car some since Talladega. Our engine guys have put in countless hours and it's really paid off. That's gonna be a big plus for us. It's gonna help us qualifying, but it's really gonna give us a chance on Saturday night."
HAS ANYBODY FOUND ANYTHING TO COMPETE WITH THE DEI CARS IN PLATE RACES? "I don't know about anybody else, but our guys have worked hard. We haven't been back to the wind tunnel, but we know that some things we did with our car should help it a little bit. This car, when we did have it in the wind tunnel before Talladega, made a lot of downforce, which is not exactly what you're looking for at one of these tracks, but it is something you can use here in the race to your advantage. We did a few things knowing we had a lot of downforce and drag to work around that area, that we could take away a little bit of that drag. Then, like I said, our engine guys have worked really hard. As Ricky and I would give them feedback from whenever we could hang around that 8 and 15 long enough to find out where they were beating us, we tried to give them feedback as to what we thought would help in the engine side of it. They've gone to work and I think they've improved our performance there quite a bit. They're always the catalyst of our performance and, once again, they've gone to work and helped us again. The short answer to your question is, yes, I think we're closer. I don't know about anybody else. That doesn't mean we can beat 'em, but we can at least see 'em now."
WHAT ABOUT PRACTICING AT NIGHT AND QUALIFYING DURING THE DAY? "I don't think, because of the way qualifying is, and we're gonna start at 10 -- obviously, the guys that drew the later numbers as it gets a little bit hotter, it's gonna be a little bit of a disadvantage. We drew an early number, so once again we have things kind of working for us. But I don't think it's gonna be that big of a deal. The biggest deal would be the jetting of the carburetors, I think. As far as chassis-wise, we're not gonna look to make any changes on our car because we were running tonight and then again in the sunshine of the morning. I just don't think it will make that much difference. At the speeds that we're running now, I don't think it's a situation that you say, 'OK, our car was neutral and we're gonna get really loose qualifying tomorrow.' If we were running 10 miles an hour faster that may be the case, but I don't see it at 185 or 186 -- that it makes that much different."
THIS IS THE SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR QUALIFYING HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO THE NEXT DAY. DOES THE SCHEDULE NEED TO BE CHANGED HERE? "We could sit and discuss all kinds of possibilities. It would be nice if the weather would just cooperate with us and we'd have this and it would work out good for all our guys and it makes for a nice, little time for 'em here. But that's always the chance we're gonna take here with this. I guess if there were only 43 cars here, it might not matter. We could just say, 'we'll line up the 43 and just go racing because you've got 400 miles in a restrictor plate race and you can be in any spot in there,' so it really wouldn't make that much difference. That happened in the middle of the afternoon and threw us late into the night. I don't know. Whatever I say is gonna be the wrong thing, so I don't know what to say."
EVERY OTHER TRACK WHEN QUALIFYING IS RAINED OUT, THEY LINE IT UP BY POINTS. THE LAST TIME QUALIFYING WAS HELD THE DAY AFTER WAS HERE ONE YEAR AGO. WHY IS IT DIFFERENT HERE? "That's a good question. Excellent. I'm with you. It shouldn't be. If people are gonna come here and take the chance of coming here and trying to qualify, then they take that chance of the weather interfering. I personally think that we should have said, 'OK, if we can't qualify tonight, then we line 'em up by points. Give the guys some time off tomorrow. They spend enough time here anyway and go about our regular schedule. We're sorry about you people that don't run all of our races.' I don't understand why we try to accommodate. I'm not against anybody coming in here trying to make these races, but if you're not with us all the time, then that's the consequences you should suffer sometimes. Those would have been my thoughts. Let's stick to the way we've been doing it. If we can't get qualifying in when it's supposed to be, then we go about our regular schedule. Honestly, it might not sound like a lot. We just came off a week off and our guys did have some time off, but this isn't the way to start a 20-week stretch. They're gonna be here at 7 and leave tomorrow night at 10. That's 15 hours and then it's not like they can take Saturday off or anything like that, they've got to be back here getting the car ready."
WHAT OTHER CARS WILL BE CONTENDERS SATURDAY? "I think you definitely have to look at the 48 and the 24 as the two guys. Those are Chevrolets and they're fast cars and they obviously know how to get around here. Of course, the 8 and 15 -- my teammate, Ricky Rudd. The Dodges, Bill Elliott has run well on these type tracks and I think you can look for him to be up there. Ward Burton won the 500, so you've got to look at him as being a possibility. As far as qualifying, I don't know about the 20 and the 18, but I would have to consider them two guys that when Saturday night rolls around that we'll have to beat if we want to win."
IS IT SURPRISING TO TALK ABOUT JIMMIE JOHNSON AS A FAVORITE HERE? "Yes and no. He has some experience with this from the Busch Series and he has a fast race car. Whether he gets himself in the right position at the end of the race remains to be seen. I don't know what troubles he had here in the 500, but he still ended up finishing OK with a fast car, but he learned a lot there. He finished in the top 10 at Talladega, so he's got a fast car and I'm sure that he's learning everytime out there. It's just a matter of if you have a fast car, can you position yourself right at the end of the race. I don't think that experience will matter that much. It's a matter of him learning enough to position himself right at the end."
WHAT ABOUT THE EIGHTH OF AN INCH OFF THE REAR SPOILER? "It didn't hurt anything. What we've seen in the tunnel is it's so very minute that it's not really that big of an issue. Again, it couldn't have hurt anything. With the other areas we worked on in the front of our car, maybe that helped and then maybe the eighth of an inch helped a little bit more. I don't know how the rest of the Fords stack up. I know Ricky ran a pretty good lap, but without seeing a rundown I don't really know. I think when it comes time to race, that's probably where it's gonna help us as much as anything. We needed a little help to go fast by ourselves, yeah, but we wanted to be competitive in the race and I think you'll see a number of the Fords be competitive in the race. We appreciate the concession that was given. It looks like everybody has gotten a little something at some time or another at different places and it's just NASCAR trying to make things as equal as they possibly can and that's a tough job to do to satisfy 43 people over there."
NOTE: Jarrett posted the fastest speed of the evening practice session at 48.598 seconds (185.193 mph).