KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus (Qualified 41st) "That was a terrible lap. That's three motors in one week. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. There's something obviously wrong because we're not putting the power to the ground. ...
KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus (Qualified 41st)
"That was a terrible lap. That's three motors in one week. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. There's something obviously wrong because we're not putting the power to the ground. It's tough trying to learn exactly what we need to do at these places. It just didn't pull like we needed it to on that first lap. That was about four-tenths slower than what we ran in practice. The engine must have been heading south on that first lap. It's tough. We've had three engine failures this week and it's something we've got to work on and try to get better at because I thought we had a shot of at least a top 15."
HUT STRICKLIN --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus (Qualified 24th)
"I think there was a little bit more there, but with where we're at in point right now we can't be too greedy. We've got to take what we can get, but it was a good job. Everybody who worked on this Hills Brothers Coffee Ford did a great job and, once again, I've got to thank Robert Yates for those good engines."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE KEY TO YOUR TURNAROUND?
"It's been a combination of things. I think our whole team is starting to gel and really click good together. Philippe Lopez has really helped us lot, along with Bobby King, and just the whole group of guys are starting to come together and it's been a real good feeling for me."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus (Qualified 9th)
"That was good. I'm really proud of the guys. They worked hard today and the Mobil 1 Ford is running pretty good. It's probably one of the best qualifying efforts we've had here. We usually start back further than this, but we run good here and that's the good thing about it."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOU AND POCONO?
"I don't know. We've got a good race team and good motors. Pocono is one of my favorite places, so that's what it's all about -- going where you've got a lot of confidence and this place here we have a lot of confidence."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 16th)
"I was real loose in practice and we got it a little bit tighter and got it feeling pretty good right before we qualifying. We tightened it up more yet and, boy, it got way too tight then. It pushed real hard off the tunnel turn and hard off turn three and that just killed my time."
YOU WON HERE THE LAST TIME, CAN YOU DO IT AGAIN?
"Well, everytime you win you think you can do it again, so we're sure gonna try hard."
TODD BODINE --66-- Route 66/Kmart Taurus (Qualified 12th)
"We're real pleased. You've just got to get on the wheel and do it. We didn't have a lot of practice time and didn't get a really good mock-up qualifying run because a couple of cars got in the way. We just made some guesses. We've been pretty lucky at making guesses the last few weeks and we made the right ones. The car was a lot better, a lot more driveable. I could get after the throttle and here at Pocono you have to get after the throttle to get down these long straightaways and that's why we got a better lap."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Kmart Taurus (Qualified 27th)
"That's the fastest lap we made today, but that's still not good at all. We finally got the car where it's pretty free, but it got too free over here in the tunnel turn. Luckily, we didn't hit anything and we still got a decent lap in. That lap is not all that great, but it should make the top 36."
WHAT ABOUT THIS RACE?
"It's too long of a race. It really needs to be 400 miles. You can race here, but you have to be really patient because it's just so hard on the motors here, it's so hard on everything. This is a handling race track and you have to handle well. We haven't had the handle on the Kmart car yet today, but we've got tomorrow. Hopefully, the rain holds off tomorrow and we can get it dialed in. It's a great race car. It's the car we ran at Charlotte and California, so we know it will run good. We're just a little off right now."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets/RedCell Batteries Taurus
ARE YOU SURPRISED?
"No, I really felt like we could run that but the idea is to go out there and do it. The car has run good all day. We monkeyed around with some wrong stuff on the car and then we got it right. I'd really like to have another shot at it because I think we could improve from this, but, hey, that's a good run for us and we're gonna be in there solid. What about Ricky Rudd? That's just awesome. If anybody has any idea what he just did, he just pulled off one whale of a lap."
THIS IS YOUR ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY WITH MIKE HILLMAN AS CREWW CHIEF. HOW MUCH DOES THAT HELP COMING BACK TO THESE TRACKS A SECOND AND THIRD TIME?
"We're hoping it's a big help and we feel like it should be. We want to make sure that we do take advantage of the fact that this is the second time around for us at a lot of these places. Hopefully, we can show it in our performance on Sunday."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 1st)
"This Texaco Havoline Taurus and all these guys have worked so hard on this car. The motor shop worked a lot of late hours. They know this is where they can shine like Michigan, which looked awful good last week. We came up a little short, but we'll see if this holds up or not. That was a lap I didn't think anybody could do today, let alone us. We were really fast in practice and I was just hoping I could get back to the speed that I turned in my practice lap."
ANY TURN YOU PICKED UP ON FROM PRACTICE?
"I think I made a good lap through turn one and, to be honest with you, I didn't think it was that good of a lap. I thought I had slowed up a little bit from the lap that I ran in practice. I had no idea we beat that lap by about three tenths because I was slipping and sliding a little bit. I don't know if it was the heat of the day or what, but it didn't feel like that great of a lap. I'm glad it turned out the way it did though."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus (Qualified 5th)
"That was as good as I could expect. We ran quicker than we did in practice and a lot of guys are slowing up. We picked up a little bit from practice, so I'll take that. It was a good effort for us. The car ran well and we've always run well here. I'd like to be stronger than that, but we'll go out here and give 'em everything we've got."
WHAT ABOUT THE TURNS WITH THE NEW TIRE?
"To be honest with you, my car is working better here feel-wise than last year. I don't know if that means we'll run even better in race trim or not, but my car feels real good. I've been real pleased with it and I look forward to getting it in race trim tomorrow."
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus (Qualified 10th)
"That's the fastest we've run. We just never got it exactly right, but the corner I've been hitting pretty good I didn't hit. I mean I hit it, but the car didn't stick on the bottom and that cost me a little bit of time off of one and, ultimately, hurt me down the backstretch. That's decent, though, and now we'll get ready to race."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Qualified 8th)
THE SECOND LAP WAS STRONG.
"Yeah, it was a good lap. The engine didn't really need that. It got hot. We planned on only running one lap, but I just didn't hit the first lap so I dove into one and it stuck really nice. That's when I said, 'Oh well, let's just see what can happen.' I went into the tunnel turn and that went nice, but I looked at the water and it was too hot. I said, 'Well, we've only got about 15 seconds left to run,' so I ran it. I guess that's what qualifying engines are for. I hate to do that because it's really expensive stuff and we try to take care of our stuff, but we needed a good starting spot and that got us one."
YOU GAINED 10 SPOTS FROM THE FIRST LAP TO THE SECOND.
"Yeah, that was worth doing."
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- SUBWAY/Jasper Taurus (Qualified 37th)
"That's what we ran in practice today. We unloaded and were pretty quick. We were in the top 10 and stayed there until about halfway and then we fell off since then. I don't know what's wrong. I thought I hit everything just right."
TED MUSGRAVE --7-- NationsRent Taurus (Qualified 15th)
"The car was in a safe location as far as speed and handling and the speeds were adequate. We could have done some things to pick it up. Nobody was gonna catch Ricky, but we probably could have squeezed another two-tenths out of it by doing some things, but Jim Long said, 'We're in a situation now where we can't gamble.' He said, 'If you think you can comfortably keep running speeds like that we'll be fine.' I said, 'Yeah, I can do that, but if you want to run faster there are some things we can gamble on.' He decided that this wasn't the time, but maybe next time."
I'M SURE YOU'RE LOOKING FORWARD TO RUNNING IN A CUP RACE ON SUNDAY.
"Oh yeah, especially Pocono. Everybody knows I love this place. I haven't been in a Cup car for almost half-a-year now. Running in the Trucks is good too. I'm having a heck of a lot of fun over there and I'm not giving that up, I'm gonna be there. Don't get me wrong, the Winston Cup thing felt pretty good and it's nice to come back and prove that there's still something in this old horse."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Qualified 39th)
"I don't know what's going on with my qualifying, just not getting it. We picked up a little bit of speed, but just not used to qualifying like this. I never qualified like this my whole life. I think we've taken nine provisionals already this year out of the 15 races and it's just very frustrating when you can't even make a race. We got a lot of work to do. We'll just try to get it better for the race, but it's hard racing qualifying that far back. So, we just got a lot of homework to do."
RICKY RUDD PRESS CONFERENCE
"Kenny and I had a little friendly back and forth session in the garage area today. We'd go out there and run pretty fast and then we'd come back and sit there a little bit and Kenny and his guys would work on his car and they'd go out and beat us. We see-sawed two or three times. We've had a lot of fun today. All of these guys have done an excellent job. We'll see what happens and see if we can't have things go our way on race day."
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LAST WEEK QUALIFYING AND THIS WEEK?
"Man, I wish I had an answer. We were fast off the truck. We were fast at Michigan. I'm not really sure. I don't have an answer for it. Two one-thousandths last week, that was sort of tough to take, but we really ran faster than I thought we were gonna run. It's not too bad when you can do that. This week, though, it was one of those rare, rare, rare weekends that it just seems to fall in your lap. The guys worked a lot to try to make it happen. I don't really see all that going on behind the scenes, but I know a lot went into this car and this motor program. Anyway, I don't have any other answers except I'm the benefactor who gets to enjoy it."
IS IT EASY TO BE OPTIMISTIC OR IS IT FRUSTRATING?
"It's not the end of the world. I heard Sterling talking about it not being that terrible of a day. We'd would be sitting here talking with the winner from last week had that last caution not come out. Sterling is sitting here third in the points and you can ask him when he's gonna win all you want to, but it hasn't been a bad year. That team has some major rebuilding going on. I'm impressed."
IS HORSEPOWER THE DIFFERENCE HERE?
"I can just say from my side, I can walk into that motor shop and see a lot of sparks flying. They're working hard. I don't go back in the dyno area too much. It's not that I'm not welcome, but Yates and those guys -- I wouldn't say it's a closely kept secret but, then again, it is -- it's kind of one of those deals, I don't ask and they don't tell so I don't wear my welcome out. I just know we go to the race track and we go down the straightaway. Yet, we go to some places and, like last week, Sterling went down the straightaway pretty doggone steamy. It's not like we were better than everybody else. It's a constant leap-frog battle. I think the engine builders in these shops, they probably know exactly what Sterling's got and they know what we've got and I think that's their motivation to work harder and harder. At Pocono, we've always known that you've got to go down the straightaway here. That's a big key element, but you've also got to turn when you get to turn one. You've got to go through that corner back there in that tunnel turn and you've got to go through the corner coming on the front straightaway. If you lose anything there, I don't care how much motor you have, you're playing catch-up all the way down. From our situation, our guys in our car shop have been working hard. They've been learning a little bit more each week. The motor shop continues to improve things and I think it's a combination. You hear it all the time, but I really think it's the combination. I don't think that if I had all horsepower that I would have sat on the pole. I think it's a combination of going through the corner and running down the straightaway."
WHAT ABOUT SHIFTING.
"There are two options on the shift deal. When you go into turn one, you put it where third gear would be and we just leave it in that gear and we shift on the start-finish line. Some guys will leave it in that third gear, but actually pull it back into high gear before you go into the tunnel. There are two different thought processes. Both of those combinations have won races here. As far as what we're gonna go with, we'll probably do what we've always done and just shift it once, but some guys will shift twice and that will be good too. I think the Penske cars shift twice and they were pretty dominant here last time."
WILL YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR FOR THE 24 CAR?
"I'm sure that won't last long (the 24 being in the back). Those guys have got it together right now. They go down the straightaway and they go through the corners. They'll be tough here. That Chevrolet nose on that thing, I think the nose will get to me about 10 minutes before the rest of the car gets there."
ONCE YOU GET THAT FIRST WIN DO YOU THINK IT WILL COME EASIER?
"I don't know. I struggled. It was like 160-some career starts before I won my first Winston Cup race and then after that it just seemed like they fell in your lap. We didn't have a whole lot of them, but when it was your day it sort of worked out. Now, it seems like you can have everything going your way and if it's not meant to be, it's just not meant to be. A lot of times it's not because you were not the best car, it's just circumstances prevented you from winning that day. As far as will it get any easier, I don't know. It's been a couple years since we went to Victory Lane. Again, you just can't make a win happen. You've got to go work for it. The team has got to work for it, they've got to want it. The driver's gotta want it, he's got to work for it. So, I think I look at the team success on the race track week-in and week-out. You can't take a guy who is running 40th every week and say, 'Okay, this is gonna be my week.' I think you've got to sort of look at the guys who are running up front and leading some laps and, if anyone of these guys win (Schrader, Marlin, Atwood), it doesn't surprise me if they're having a good day. Anybody can win in this day and time."
WHAT ABOUT PIT STRATEGY THIS YEAR. HAS THAT BECOME HARDER?
"You don't want to make mistakes. I guess probably what stands out is in The Winston Open. It looked like we made some major mistakes on pit strategy. I'd say I'd probably agree with you somewhat, but on another side I'd have to say that some of that might have been dictated. Maybe our crew chief though pit road was closed at the time, I'm not really sure. "Fatback" McSwain, he's come a long way. He was a crew chief before he came along with us, but now when you start running up front week-in and week-out, you can't say, 'Well, key off of what this guys does,' especially if you're leading the race.
"I was with Richard Childress many, many years ago, and the big deal with Richard was, 'Do what the 11 does. When the 11 comes in, you pit.' Well, that worked great but, all of a sudden, we started outrunning the 11 and even Richard Childress was stumped. He didn't know what to do. He didn't know whether to stay out or come in or what, so it takes a little experience to be able to make that call. I think that's what we're going through is some experience. I can't really say I think we've had good calls all year. That hasn't kept us out of Victory Lane. Like at Martinsville, Virginia. We ran second, but I can't fault the call we made there. We ended up staying on tires a long time as everyone else did. Our teammate beats us, but the only reason he beat us was that he had a foul-up that took place. He had a flat or something and had to pit in one of those caution sequences and he didn't have a choice. He thought he was gonna finish the last one on the lead lap, but with the way the cautions ended up falling in the race, here he is sitting there with fresh tires and blows us away at the end of the race. I don't think anybody can predict that. Even Todd Parrott, who is one of the best on pit strategy, he thought that was the wrong thing for them to do, but they had no choice. They had to come in. The new Goodyear tire construction that we have today, you almost have to throw out a lot of that experience of calling races. It's different this year than it has been in the past. I guess you learn from your mistakes and go on, but I'm not really upset. I think we've made some good calls and we've made some bad calls, but most of the time they're pretty good."