ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "I tell you what, we lucked into this. That was the best lap we've run all day. We've been just terrible, but Ryan and all these guys have worked their tails off today. We have actually been one...
ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "I tell you what, we lucked into this. That was the best lap we've run all day. We've been just terrible, but Ryan and all these guys have worked their tails off today. We have actually been one of the worst cars here and they changed four springs and four shocks, track bar and sway bar, everything as far as qualifying so we went cold turkey. Evidently, he hit on something."
KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- FamilyClick.com Taurus -- "Actually we ran an .08 earlier in the day, which we thought would have been decent, but, maybe it's true what I told Pat Tryson. I said, 'These places are about three-quarters of a mile too short for Kevin Lepage.'"
ED BERRIER --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus -- "We've still got a lot of work to do. We were able to come out here and test and find out a few things. We hired a new crew chief this week and he's trying to turn some things around. Dean Johnson is working out good for us, but you can't do it overnight. It seems like we're making some gains, then you come here, think your decent and then everybody goes out there and pops those laps off. You start trying to figure out what you can do to get better. They got the car driving pretty good, the motor was running good, we're just missing a little something there. If you miss a little something over here you go home."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "That's the quickest we've been all day, but I had a really good lap going. I got in three a little bit hard and got up a little high. I actually got a little loose coming off if I hadn't turned the wheel, but this is a good race car. It's the same race car we won with here last year and, hopefully, we can get that started tomorrow night."
WAS IT A CHALLENGE AT THIS TIME OF DAY? "It does make it a challenge. The track's got a little different feel. It's the first time it really hasn't had a sealer on it and it's been hot all day, so that's what we're looking for tomorrow night. I hope it stays hot until then."
IS THE TRACK TIGHTER THAN NORMAL? "I think we're just not getting the grip we normally have and that's making the car slide through the corner a little bit more. That's the feeling we've had, but our car has been stuck pretty good. Hopefully, that will be somewhere in the top 20."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- "I certainly think that's gonna better than we've qualified here in a while. I'm sure that in my heart we could have done better than that, but I think you have to do better to even know what you can do. Usually, I don't even know what we could possibly do. We ran good enough today to know what we can try to help it now, so I feel good about that."
ROBBY GORDON --13-- Menards/Duracell Ultra Taurus -- "I'm pretty happy from where we were in practice. We picked up. We made a couple of changes and didn't know how it was gonna react. The car was a little bit tight, but we gained a lot so I'm pretty happy. We picked up seven-tenths from practice. Jerry (Baxter) made a good decision on the front. It was still a little bit too tight, but we didn't know how to anticipate the weather cooling off. We were a little bit on the conservative side because this is one of the better race cars we have in the camp right now."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "I'm real happy with it. The Mobil 1 team has been through a lot the last two or three weeks, but we just keep digging and working hard. I'm really proud of them and everybody at the shop. We've got a great race team and I'm excited about tomorrow night."
HOW WAS YOUR DAY? "We weren't as good as we wanted to be off the truck, but we kept working and got better every time out. I don't know where that will put us, but that will give us a good starting spot."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus -- "I messed up on the second lap. The first lap felt pretty good and I said, 'Man, I think I can go a little bit deeper than that,' but I messed up because usually the second lap is gonna be about a tenth or two-tenths quicker and that would have been a whole lot better. I think that'll get us in first round. The Kmart team has been running really well, so we're excited about Richmond. I love this place and, hopefully, we'll have a good night tomorrow night."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "We just pushed real bad in the middle and were real loose off. To be honest, it wasn't where it needed to be all day. We made a change there knowing where we needed to be better, but it didn't help it where we needed the help."
BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus -- "I'm happy because where we were in the afternoon, we were terrible. I mean, we just could not get the car to do anything right in that last practice. Greg (Ely) and I just tried making changes and it halfway worked. We really needed a little bit more of the same change, but we need to get in these races -- don't do anything stupid to get ourselves in trouble. I think that lap is gonna get us in here about midfield and that's OK. We'll take it and race 'em tomorrow night."
SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- "We're learning a lot. What I'm used to is to go out there and really hammer it for qualifying and what I've learned is, especially on these short tracks, is it's so easy to overdrive it. This is one of the first times I felt like I'm kind of getting to that balance of not overdriving it and getting enough out of the track. There's still more to come, but it's a fine balance."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "I don't know where it came from. It's these guys. They put it all together and just kept digging. We changed a bunch of stuff on the car. We really didn't get a fair assessment from the second practice because we went pretty early on that set of tires and we made quite a few changes because I wasn't really happy with the car. The track cooled down, which helped us. I'd been really loose on entry and they changed a lot of stuff and it helped the car."
SO THE CAR STUCK GOOD? "I wouldn't say it was perfect, but it was good enough that the car did what I wanted it to enough that we ran a good time. I still feel like I could have gotten a little bit lower, but still all in all, the car ran a good time and that's what it's all about."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We ran good in practice. We won practice, but of course that didn't help us for qualifying. It was a little bit tighter for me, I don't know why. I pushed the front end a little bit and had to wait a little bit longer and it didn't turn like I expected it to, I'm not really sure why. These guys at the shop have been working awful hard -- the motor shop. This is a tremendous motor under the hood. I've never had anything at Richmond like this, so, hopefully, we'll get the handle like it was today and handle good all night. Maybe we'll have a shot at it."
STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus -- "These guys right here made that qualifying lap happen. We had some motor problems and they hustled right after that last practice, changed the motor, and these guys are the ones that made that lap happen. That was a good lap for us. I think that's about two-tenths quicker than we've been all day. I'm pretty excited for the Cougar Melling Taurus, but we need to get some good finishes. This qualifying is pretty important now, but we sure would like to get some good finishes too."
CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus -- "We're pretty happy. Obviously starting 25th isn't anything to write home about, but as tough as qualifying is nowadays just getting in the top 25 means you've accomplished something so we feel pretty good about that. It's quite a bit better than we practiced, so we made some improvements there and everybody deserves a big attaboy for all the work that they did."
WALLY DALLENBACH --75-- Red Cell Batteries Taurus -- "The crew chief (Newt Moore) makes a big difference. We knew what we were lacking here and I knew what we were lacking here. Darwin (Oordt) has followed the lead and I knew we needed to do some things to make some changes. I just needed to get somebody here that knew what I was looking for and we could relate to each other. Newt came on board Sunday at Talladega and it's been on an upswing ever since then. We're not totally out of the woods. We've got a lot of things to fix on this race team yet, but I believe in this race team, I still do. I know that we're gonna have something here before the year is over, but like I've been saying all along it's just gonna take some time. We just want to quietly take our time and build a good race team."
HAS IT BEEN TOUGH? "Hey, I'm used to it. I've been bouncing around to so many teams and getting in situations where I had no points coming into the season -- I don't know any different. If I knew any different they'd probably spoil me. It seems like I'm in this situation a lot, which is fine. It doesn't bother me. I'm used to it. It would be nice to not have to worry about provisionals and points and things like that. Our big goal right now was to move our car from the right side of that screen to the left side of that screen and that's our goal for the rest of the year -- get in or get close to first round qualifying every weekend and go race. We know we can race good because we race good every week, it's just that we've gotta get through the breaks and the bad luck so we can just go race."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "I'm real happy with it. Tom Hoch, my shock guy, built us some really good shocks in the front that I thought really made the car better. It made it a little bit quicker in practice. We ran a .78 this morning and I thought with the cool temperatures and what we did with the shocks it should have gotten in the sixties and it did."
DID THE COOL WEATHER HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT? "I think that had something to do with it. This morning we ran a .78 and just then we ran a sixtysomething, but when Skinner ran that .68, right at our last practice session we put a set of front shocks on that Tom Hoch built for me. It picked the car up a little over a tenth of a second and I told the guys that with that .78 this morning and adding a little more than a tenth, this car should run about a .66 and it ran a .64, so we got pretty close."
ARE YOU PUMPED FOR THE RACE? "Yeah, I'm always pumped when I get to go to Richmond. Richmond is a cool joint. I love coming up here, it's one of my favorite tracks. I've won six times and I'd love to make it seven."
RUSTY WALLACE PRESS CONFERENCE
"There's no doubt the draw was good, but his morning we ran a 21.78 and we changed a set of front shock absorbers and the car picked up a little bit over a tenth of a second. I told Robin before the qualifying that the car, if it responds like it should, it should run a .68. It might run a little bit quicker because it was cooler and it ran a .64. We thought the .68 was there, I didn't know we could get anymore out of it, but, boy we're real fortunate. It was a great run."
YOU GOT THE POLE BY .042. "That's all you need. Qualifying here at Richmond is always super tight and looking at the sheet here it was no exception tonight."
DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT ATTITUDE COMING TO PLACES LIKE THIS? "Well, you go to those race tracks with more confidence than you do maybe at some other places, but the team has really been super strong all year long. We were talking the other day that we can't think of may one or two at the most that we didn't feel like we could have won the race and that was at Darlington and another time at Las Vegas. At Talladega a couple of weeks ago we left the pits leading and lost the motor. Last week at California we had a third-place car and the tire deal didn't work, but we won Bristol and Martinsville was great. It's been a super-strong car all year long. I came up here to try to test. I got on the race track about two hours and it started raining and we lost the whole day and all the next day, so we just loaded up and went home, so we didn't really test like we planned. We planned an extensive two-day test and it didn't work out for us, but we got the pole and that's good. So that's one step done and, I tell you what, looking back at it now, if the test session would have ever paid off because the track is so much different from when we attempted to come up and test. It's real black and real slick and way different."
IS IT A BIG ADVANTAGE TO BE UP FRONT ON A SHORT TRACK TO START? "I think track position is real important. It's gonna give us a pit selection that we want to get here, that's gonna be important, and starting up front and getting out of all the cars is good. Anybody will tell you now that track position is everything. Wherever you can get clean air to the front of that car and get that good downforce so it steers good, that's real important."
IS THIS A TRACK YOU HAVE TO CHASE AS THE RACE GOES ALONG? "Yeah, you really are. I'd like to get my car set up tomorrow where I've got enough wedge in it that the front end is still turning good and as the race goes on I can start taking some of that wedge out and chasing the race track with wedge...so you just kind of watch the temperatures. If we know it's cooling down and the guys can feel it, they'll tell me and I'll know that at the next pit stop, if I do nothing different, it's probably gonna get pretty tight. So, a little bit of track bar adjustment, a little bit or wedge adjustment and there might be one pound left in the tires that we can play with, but I've come here so many times now that the set up is so standard that you start with that and then tune to the track. Now the track is back like it was four or five years ago, it's got almost no sealer whatsoever on it, it's real greasy and slick and I'm feeling pretty good about that because I won most of my races on that kind of track."
WAS IT SURPRISING TO SEE GEOFFREY BODINE COME BACK AND RUN LIKE THAT? "I mean, he's a good driver and he was able to come up and test and get familiar with the car again, so I think everybody was happy to see him back and running as good as he did."
IS HOTTER BETTER FOR YOU? "I like it real hot. It seems like, if I look back on my career, it seems I always run a lot better when the track is real hot. When it's real cold outside the chassis is important, but it isn't as important -- a lot of cars seem to run closer. The slicker the track it starts to really separate the people who work on the chassis and get 'em good. The car seems to turn better in the heat and instead of trying to fix a car that's pushing the front end, you're able to work and tighten it up and tightening it up is a lot easier than freeing it up I can tell you."
IS THIS LIKE A SHORT LONG TRACK INSTEAD OF A LONG SHORT TRACK? "I think you're exactly right, it's not a one mile track and it's not a half-mile track, but it's got all half-mile and short track characteristics. The springs we run, the close-knit racing, a little bit of bumping and banging and some tire marks -- that tends to happen here at Richmond even though it's a bit bigger race track."
SO YOU PREPARE LIKE A SHORT TRACK? "Definitely. We set it up like a short track and race it like a short track. In fact, we'll probably have Martinsville shocks on it tomorrow."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TODAY? "Well, it was just fine-tuning. There were three races today. You had the first practice session, which was a race to be the best, then the second one and now qualifying is over -- the third event is over -- and tomorrow is the big one, the race. When Friday night is over I sleep good because it's a real hard effort getting that thing up front and qualifying like we did because we all know track position is very important. There will be guys putting two tires on just to get up front a little bit knowing the car is not gonna handle good because they just want to get up front and hope for another caution. Then they can maybe get in then and get four tires on. Everybody is chasing the track position all the time nowadays since the cars are running so close."
ARE THE THREE POLES INDICATIVE OF HOW WELL THE TEAM HAS COME TOGETHER? "I think so. I wouldn't trade the team right now for nothing. Like I said, I can go ahead and reminisce about everything. The Daytona 500 was fabulous for us. We went right on the very next week to Rockingham with the new track record and the pole and then on to Atlanta and ran strong. Everywhere we've gone we've been strong, except for the two races I told you about. Now, if you look at the finishes you'll say it doesn't show it, but during the race the cars have been strong. I've been real happy with the performance and it's been a top three car every week."