Dodge Talladega II qualifying notes

Dodge Sweeps Restrictor-Plate Poles In 2001; Compton Wins Two, Sterling Marlin One And Bill Elliott One STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Levi Garrett Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Compton has qualified second, first, third and first in the ...

Dodge Sweeps Restrictor-Plate Poles In 2001; Compton Wins Two, Sterling Marlin One And Bill Elliott One

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Levi Garrett Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Compton has qualified second, first, third and first in the four restrictor-plate races this season.


"Chad (crew chief Knaus) and the guys made some great calls right after practice. That lap we ran this morning is the best we had. We sat down and talked about it and made some changes. We felt like we would be better, but you never know. These places are so fickled. You never know when you're going to be better or worse. The changes they made were the right ones. Earlier, I saw a lot of guys were slowing up as we went along. I thought it might have been the grease in the hubs or whatever, but we didn't slow down much.


"We made some significant changes right after practice, and we didn't know if it was going to help us or hurt us. Ernie Elliott and all the guys did a great job with the motor program. I knew we'd be decent, and I felt like we could come away with a top five, but the changes they made right after practice really helped. The first lap was a halfway throwaway and halfway down the track. When we took the green, I was all the way at the top and then we ran midway down the track. On the second lap, I ran on the bottom. The car turned great. We had the car set up free and everything worked good. Hopefully we won't go from first to worst like we did last time. We blew a motor last time, and had some shock problems. This team has really turned the corner. We've run a lot better lately. We haven't finished as well as we wanted to. We're working good together and hopefully you'll see that Levi Garrett Dodge somewhere close to the front at the end of the day Sunday."

BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 44 Georgia Pacific Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I'm happy that we qualified, but I'm not happy that we slowed up. That's just the way it goes. We didn't qualify good here last time, but we raced good. I think we're going to be the same way this time. It upsets me that we slowed up in qualifying. It was none of my guys' fault, and we don't know really what happened. It's really aggravating. We didn't have any problem going through the room of doom. I don't know what went wrong."

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"That's a little bit better than we practiced. We always seem to qualify a little bit better at Daytona than we do at Talladega, but the Caterpillar Dodge always races well at Talladega. I wish we could have qualified a little better, but that ought to be a top 20 start for us. Qualifying is no big deal here, that's for sure. You just try to stay out of the mess and hope everybody uses their heads. Maybe we can have a caution-free race. We've got two thirds in a row and it would be good if we could kick it up a couple of notches Sunday. We can do it. I just hope everybody uses their heads and races smart. It's all about where you're at and who helps you and who doesn't. We finished fourth at Daytona, and we could have finished 24th."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I did all I could do to hang on to it. It was pretty slow, but we thought we had a shot at the pole. We ran a 51.70 in practice or right at it. We just didn't pick up a lot. We lost 50 rpm's in qualifying, and that's about two tenths. We wound up third. I think we'll be OK. I heard a lot of guys talking about going to the back, so there may be 20 in the back and 20 in the front. We'll see what happens Sunday.


"I'm glad they did it (make HANS or Hutchens mandatory). Most of us have been wearing it. I started wearing it in June or July. It's something I looked for them to do earlier, but they didn't. I'm glad they finally did.


"It doesn't matter (where you start). If you get the pole you're in the Bud Shootout. We got a pole earlier in the year so it doesn't matter. You can start 43rd and be leading in 10 laps with the rules you've got. With the big wicker we've got on the Dodges, I just hope we don't get the rear wheels picked up off the ground.


"We had a good car here in the spring. We got loose early and had to go to the back. We were riding along at three-quarter throttle. You can look at the crowd up in the stands or whatever. It's pretty ridiculous. When you get ready to go you can go. We had to go to the back to fix our car. We were too loose. We got it fixed, and then we got boxed in. We couldn't go anywhere. You can't go below the line to pass. They were three deep and we were on the inside. I looked around and it was Dale Jarrett, myself and Gordon. All three of us were hung three across and couldn't go anywhere.


"The team works hard to set up the car to drive good. We've got good motors and that ought to be rewarded some way. If somebody goes with you or hangs you out to dry, that's when you win or lose the race.


"You've got 43 cars that can win. A lot of ifs can dictate what happens. You can take a 40th-place car and win the race if the right circumstances come about . Some of the guys are pretty wild up front. I've seen 'em bounce off people with 300 miles to go.


"It doesn't matter if it's a 10-lap or 180-lap shootout. Everybody is going to be all over everybody else all day. You're going to see a lot of good cars go to the rear. The lead pack will probably be going into one and another pack will be coming off four so they can dodge the bullet. Six or eight of you back there nose-to-tail, you can go to the front any time you want to. You're not going to lose the draft."


STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Levi Garrett Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: This is the first time since '99 a manufacturer has swept all four poles at restrictor-plate races. Chevy did it in '99 and Pontiac in '98.


"Poles here came by a lot of hard work from the team and Dodge, Ernie Elliott and all the guys in the motor shop. We came and tested in the spring. We didn't come back for this race. We made some changes and we felt like we were going to be a little bit better for qualifying. This morning in practice, that's pretty much all we had. We felt like we had a shot at a top five. Chad (crew chief Knaus) and the guys made some decisions to make some changes after practice. It paid off. We got a lucky draw, too. We got a late draw and it cooled down a little bit and maybe the motors made a little bit more horsepower. Everything sort of went in our favor today.


"We missed qualifying by two thousandths of a second with our backup car at Bristol. We just missed it at Michigan. We went back to Michigan the second time and were running in the top 10 when it started raining. We're still learning with the Dodge program, still learning as a team, jelling together. This was the first year with Chad and myself. If you look at the last eight weeks, we've run really good. We may not have finished, but we cut tires running in the top 15. We broke transmissions running in the top 15. All-in-all, we've come together as a team the last seven or eight weeks. It takes time for a new manufacturer to come out. For us being a single-car team, I think we've competed pretty well at times with the multi-car teams and sponsorship dollars that are out there.


"I've been running the Hutchens device all year. I think it's an intelligent decision. I still don't think it's up to NASCAR to have to make it mandatory. I think the drivers should have enough sense to run 'em. It's a proven fact, it decreases the forward. It's a proven fact, the Hutches and HANS works. I don't think it should be up to NASCAR. I think it's a smart decision. I don't think it's NASCAR's decision to say you've got to do this. They're not responsible for us. I think it's good. I think the open faced helmet should also be outlawed, but everybody's got opinions. Some people like the open face, some people don't. Somebody don't like the head and neck restraints. I personally do. I'm going to do everything in my power to make me as safe as possible. If it's something as simple as wearing a head and neck restraint system, we're certainly going to run it.


"I don't think any of us know at this point. We're in front of a lot of sponsors right now. We're meeting with people every week. I've got the best owner in the business. Mark (Melling) has told me if somebody else comes along and wants to talk, then you've got to listen. I'd like to stay with Melling Racing. They're a good organization. They gave me a chance when nobody else would. This certainly didn't hurt to come here and qualify like we did. Hopefully we can end the day on Sunday with a good finish and attract some more attention. Maybe some of these meetings we've had will turn out. Right now, we don't know where our future is. I know Melling Racing is going full bore ahead. We're building cars. We're doing everything in our power to get ready for next year and everything is on go for next year. We've got to have a sponsor to do that. At this point, I'm not sure."


DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T)


"It's about the same speed we ran this morning. We can't seem to get much more out of it. We'll have to take it and hopefully it'll make the show without having to take a provisional. This is the same car we've run in all the restrictor plate races this season. It's qualified pretty good in all of 'em. We were a little surprised we weren't good this morning, but it doesn't matter much here anyway. You just get in a big pack here and hang on and hope you're at the front near the end. You learn a little bit every time you go out in the draft, but a lot of times it depends on who's around you. You don't know what's going to happen here, but the next four races I feel real good about. We've run real good at all four of those places from the last race last year through the first race this year. I hope we can be competitive in all four and looking at a chance at getting to the front in a few of them."


STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)


"Sometimes you get a little help out there when you run in practice. I thought we had a pretty clean banzai lap, but we lost 50 rpm's somewhere. That's about two-tenths here, but I think it'll hold up for the top five or six. Dale Jr. and Michael and some of them guys are running good, and you can't ever tell what they're going to do when they tune 'em up. I think we'll be OK for the race. I tried to get it wound up and just ran the high line on the first lap. We threw it away and tried to run the second lap right on the bottom. I thought we could back up what we ran in practice, but you never know what to expect after you go back through inspection. We've got a lot of skid marks on the car, but we made it through. The Dodges qualify fast because we've got a bigger wicker than everybody else. It knocks the air off the spoiler. With that, you knock a bigger hole in the air and everybody can draft you good. You can either be first or 40th. It doesn't make any difference. When you start the race, everybody can pass you. It makes our cars real loose when somebody is up under you. We've really got to tighten our cars up to keep them from jumping out from under us."


"I did all I could do to hang on to it. It was pretty slow, but we thought we had a shot at the pole. We ran a 51.70 in practice or right at it. We just didn't pick up a lot. We lost 50 rpm's in qualifying, and that's about two tenths. We wound up third. I think we'll be OK. I heard a lot of guys talking about going to the back, so there may be 20 in the back and 20 in the front. We'll see what happens Sunday.


"I'm glad they did it (make HANS or Hutchens mandatory). Most of us have been wearing it. I started wearing it in June or July. It's something I looked for them to do earlier, but they didn't. I'm glad they finally did.


"It doesn't matter (where you start). If you get the pole you're in the Bud Shootout. We got a pole earlier in the year so it doesn't matter. You can start 43rd and be leading in 10 laps with the rules you've got. With the big wicker we've got on the Dodges, I just hope we don't get the rear wheels picked up off the ground.


"We had a good car here in the spring. We got loose early and had to go to the back. We were riding along at three-quarter throttle. You can look at the crowd up in the stands or whatever. It's pretty ridiculous. When you get ready to go you can go. We had to go to the back to fix our car. We were too loose. We got it fixed, and then we got boxed in. We couldn't go anywhere. You can't go below the line to pass. They were three deep and we were on the inside. I looked around and it was Dale Jarrett, myself and Gordon. All three of us were hung three across and couldn't go anywhere.


"The team works hard to set up the car to drive good. We've got good motors and that ought to be rewarded some way. If somebody goes with you or hangs you out to dry, that's when you win or lose the race.


"You've got 43 cars that can win. A lot of ifs can dictate what happens. You can take a 40th-place car and win the race if the right circumstances come about . Some of the guys are pretty wild up front. I've seen 'em bounce off people with 300 miles to go.


"It doesn't matter if it's a 10-lap or 180-lap shootout. Everybody is going to be all over everybody else all day. You're going to see a lot of good cars go to the rear. The lead pack will probably be going into one and another pack will be coming off four so they can dodge the bullet. Six or eight of you back there nose-to-tail, you can go to the front any time you want to. You're not going to lose the draft."


STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Levi Garrett Dodge Intrepid R/T)


NOTE: This is the first time since '99 a manufacturer has swept all four poles at restrictor-plate races. Chevy did it in '99 and Pontiac in '98.


"Poles here came by a lot of hard work from the team and Dodge, Ernie Elliott and all the guys in the motor shop. We came and tested in the spring. We didn't come back for this race. We made some changes and we felt like we were going to be a little bit better for qualifying. This morning in practice, that's pretty much all we had. We felt like we had a shot at a top five. Chad (crew chief Knaus) and the guys made some decisions to make some changes after practice. It paid off. We got a lucky draw, too. We got a late draw and it cooled down a little bit and maybe the motors made a little bit more horsepower. Everything sort of went in our favor today.


"We missed qualifying by two thousandths of a second with our backup car at Bristol. We just missed it at Michigan. We went back to Michigan the second time and were running in the top 10 when it started raining. We're still learning with the Dodge program, still learning as a team, jelling together. This was the first year with Chad and myself. If you look at the last eight weeks, we've run really good. We may not have finished, but we cut tires running in the top 15. We broke transmissions running in the top 15. All-in-all, we've come together as a team the last seven or eight weeks. It takes time for a new manufacturer to come out. For us being a single-car team, I think we've competed pretty well at times with the multi-car teams and sponsorship dollars that are out there.


"I've been running the Hutchens device all year. I think it's an intelligent decision. I still don't think it's up to NASCAR to have to make it mandatory. I think the drivers should have enough sense to run 'em. It's a proven fact, it decreases the forward. It's a proven fact, the Hutches and HANS works. I don't think it should be up to NASCAR. I think it's a smart decision. I don't think it's NASCAR's decision to say you've got to do this. They're not responsible for us. I think it's good. I think the open faced helmet should also be outlawed, but everybody's got opinions. Some people like the open face, some people don't. Somebody don't like the head and neck restraints. I personally do. I'm going to do everything in my power to make me as safe as possible. If it's something as simple as wearing a head and neck restraint system, we're certainly going to run it.


"I don't think any of us know at this point. We're in front of a lot of sponsors right now. We're meeting with people every week. I've got the best owner in the business. Mark (Melling) has told me if somebody else comes along and wants to talk, then you've got to listen. I'd like to stay with Melling Racing. They're a good organization. They gave me a chance when nobody else would. This certainly didn't hurt to come here and qualify like we did. Hopefully we can end the day on Sunday with a good finish and attract some more attention. Maybe some of these meetings we've had will turn out. Right now, we don't know where our future is. I know Melling Racing is going full bore ahead. We're building cars. We're doing everything in our power to get ready for next year and everything is on go for next year. We've got to have a sponsor to do that. At this point, I'm not sure."

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett