Continued from part 1 GREG BIFFLE DO YOU FEEL ALL FIVE ROUSH CARS ARE UP TO THE SAME SPEED? "I really think it kind of speaks for itself today. I think almost all of our cars led a lap. It just says how strong our organization is and how...
Continued from part 1
DO YOU FEEL ALL FIVE ROUSH CARS ARE UP TO THE SAME SPEED?
"I really think it kind of speaks for itself today. I think almost all of our cars led a lap. It just says how strong our organization is and how well we share our information and how good our wind tunnel people are. I think it says a lot for our engine program. We saw a lot of engine failures today from different teams and our engines ran really good. This place is hard on engines - a lot of throttle-on time here, and I think it speaks for what is to come this season with our cars. I think Kurt is gonna be really tough. I think Kurt's looking good and he's concentrated on repeating his championship."
"First of all, Mark Martin's fingerprints are all over the 17 and the 99. Greg pretty much had his own aero package last year and has accentuated that going forward, but we have two kind of little bit different looks at our cars, but we had enough success with both ways of running the cars last year that we knew what we wanted to accentuate and what we wanted to minimize going forward. The cars that we took in testing to Las Vegas and the cars we tested here, both give us encouragement. The other thing that's really good about our program right now is that the drivers all seemingly approve of one another and they respect one another. When drivers don't want to work together, it doesn't matter how close the hardware is, it just works out bad.
"Anyway, the guys pull for one another, they support one another and give one another racing room. That probably is the most significant thing that we've got going - the fact that there is such camaraderie and such approval among the guys. The crew chiefs get along, but especially the drivers get along. So they're trying to help one another with their cars. Last year was our first year with the Taurus as it's now configured. We hadn't had a change in it since '97, so we didn't figure out last year until the end of the year what really was the best way to go on a number of things. We understood it by the end of the year and we incorporated it over the winter and I think we're good to go."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT CARL EDWARDS TODAY?
"Carl is a quick study of quick studies. Kurt Busch was a quick study and Greg Biffle has been a quick-study, but Carl has done a really nice job. For somebody with his limited experience and being the young guy in, he's probably the guy that had the toughest job in terms of earning the respect of the other guys and he's done that. As far as I know, there's no resistance of Carl being a rookie. When he's got the best car, the guys give him racing room and don't begrudge him racing room."
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR AS FAR AS CONFIDENCE?
"It means a lot to me. We're gonna have to be tough. I think our team is capable of making the chase. I'm gonna have to dig deep at Loudon and Martinsville and all the other places that we race that are in the chase. That's what's gonna determine my future is how hard we work and how focused I can stay on those race tracks and perform well. I don't know what to say. I know Jimmie and Kurt are gonna be very tough. There are gonna be some other guys that are gonna be tough - the 24 - all of our teammates, Mark and Matt and Carl. Shoot, he's got a limited amount of experience but he's shown a lot of promise. All of us have equal equipment, it's just about track position, who had a good pit stop, who didn't, whose engine didn't have any problems, got enough fuel mileage, can stay out. All of those things play a factor when you've got equal equipment. It's anybody's game."
FORDS WERE BETTER TODAY.
"One thing you've got to look at when you compare that is you've gotta compare how many Fords there are in percentage and how many teams are there? There are only two teams - it's Yates and us. If neither one of us hit on it, there aren't gonna be any Fords in the front, and restrictor plate racing is a funny thing. It's very tough to get your car to handle and to get your car to be fast - to have the right amount of downforce - to have friends on the race track. I was trying to win the Bud Shootout and I've got the 24 behind me and the 48 in front of me. I was dead in the water, but my car was OK at Daytona. There were some cars that were faster, but I don't know. We like to focus on this stuff more than Daytona and Talladega because there are 32 of them and only four of those. Whether you're gonna get caught up in a wreck or not is like rolling the dice as well at those places. Here, you stand a better chance of your own destiny by staying out of an accident or something. So that's the way it goes."
"I was trying to think if it was three or four that got significant damage during the race, so that basically took them out. At Daytona, I don't know what it's gonna be like at Talladega, but at Daytona if you had two cars on the inside to pass two cars on the outside you have to have three cars that were willing to work together and would stay together and wouldn't try to jink one another and juggle around. You can't expect the Chevrolets to work with the Fords or the Dodges to work with the Fords. The drivers on a one-on basis make deals with other drivers that will work with them for awhile, but the relationship with the manufacturers comes to bear.
"All the guys are lined up with one manufacturer or the other. Chrysler makes their deals and Chevrolet does and Ford and the guys respect that. So we didn't really have enough cars left that were in any shape to go help Kurt for instance. It was amazing he was able to finish where he did, but if Greg had been there and if Matt had been there or Carl or Mark with a good sound car that wasn't damaged, I think we could have looked much better. People look at the qualifying for these races and DEI has been really dominant in the restrictor plate racing and NASCAR has tightened up some things with what they do with the springs and their inspection process. Some of the advantage that they seemed to have had for qualifying doesn't appear to be there, but they still race really good. I think Hendrick has caught up. I think that we've done a pretty good job. Robert and his bunch have done a pretty good job.
"It all comes down that all the teams are well supported by engineering, they've got enough money to buy the tires and go do the testing and have competitive wages for their people. There isn't a lack of adequate money to do the deal. There isn't a lack of technology. It comes down to who runs over a piece of trash on the race track or who is close to somebody else when they make a mistake of judgment and collect them. The thing Greg referred to in terms of the broken parts, who is in the top 10 will be determined more by the parts that break and the mindless things that happen on the race track than they will who has blinding speed. There's gonna be plenty of speed out there."
ON THE RACE TRACKS.
"These are racers race tracks. The Daytona and Talladega tracks are momentum tracks. You go out there and you just hang out. It's easy for me to say because I'm not in the car, but you basically hang out and see what's gonna happen. But the racers come to the front at these mile and a half and two-mile race tracks. I mean, we're gonna get it on here in the next four or five races."
"Speaking of restrictor plate racing just for a second. The driver cannot make that race car go an ounce faster, ever. We can't do a dang thing to make that car go any faster. All we can do is position ourselves in a line or another and work on the chassis a little bit. That's all we can do. Last week at the 500 the 48 car moved up and wanted that center lane because Junior and I were going to the front and there wasn't room for him. He was gonna get turned into the fence in the wrong direction, like the 3 car did, and I got out of his way. I moved up the race track to avoid that accident, to avoid wrecking the 48 car, and got myself in a predicament because I was sideways trying to avoid turning him into the fence the wrong direction. Not everybody saw exactly what happened there, but then as I was trying to gather it back up, the 10 came down and hit me. But that's just the way it goes. We do all we can to watch out for one another on those race tracks like that and there just wasn't enough room for him right there."
ANY SYMBOLISM WITH 3 NATIVE SONS BATTLING IT OUT AT THE END ON THE WEST COAST?
"Yeah, that's kind of neat. I never paid attention to that, but it was kind of fun. I really wish a caution would have come out so all of us could have come in and got four tires and worked on our chassis a little bit. Then we could have had a little shootout because I had a pretty sporty race car and was real too loose there at the end there. I wanted a chance to race with those guys some more, but I was excited to see the checkered flag when it was. They were coming at me because I was a little handicapped there, but it's kind of neat that we were out there. It's too bad Kasey Kahne had trouble. He's got a lot of talent, but things aren't going his way, yet."