WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Burton won the pole with a record lap of 127.389 mph. He broke Jeff Gordon's record of 126.499 mph set on May 13, 1999. This is Burton seventh pole in 261 career starts. "It was a great...
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton won the pole with a record lap of 127.389 mph. He broke Jeff Gordon's record of 126.499 mph set on May 13, 1999. This is Burton seventh pole in 261 career starts.
"It was a great effort on behalf of the Cat team. This is the first short track in-house chassis that we've built. We can win here. We've just got to take one moment at a time and not get too rushed with our decisions. I've got to keep the car out of trouble and be there at the end. It's fun to be able to wake up at home this morning and be able to drive to the race track. I've got a lot of friends and family in my home state.
"We're usually not a very good qualifying team. We usually see how many cars we can pass on Sunday. I'm pretty happy with this team effort. It's a brand new car. When the Busch cars practiced, the race track changed for all of us. I don't think it changed as much for us as it did for some of the others. I think it's going to work out good, and I think the groove will move up higher after the Busch race tonight.
"The track changed a lot from our practice to when we qualified. It lost a little grip, but it was good enough to get the job done. This is a brand new car. It's the first in-house short track car that we've built from bottom to top. It's their effort and the car they gave me that allowed me to get the pole.
"The track definitely lost some grip. If your car was balanced to the front, you lost front grip. If it was balanced to the rear, you lost rear grip. I think everybody out there lost some grip.
"I've been fortunate that we have made very minor adjustments since we got here. I haven't been able to tell any difference in the tire from when we were here last time. When you're that close chassis-wise, little things don't make as much difference.
"Sitting next to Matt Yocum, with 18-20 cars left to qualify, he was telling me green-red, green-red on the screen where it said they were going to win the pole or not win the pole. I don't know if I'm going to have Matt with me in that situation again. I really didn't expect to get the pole. I was just trying to run what I was capable of running, a good, clean lap. I knew that if I got everything right, it was possible we could get the pole. I was just really trying to get a good starting spot for our team.
"We felt like in-house we could have better quality control, and we can develop more in-house than have someone else develop for us. Why it's taken this long, there were times with our organization that we didn't have the people with the know-how to make those kind of steps. If we had, it would have taken away from the overall program. Now, we've got a good indepth R&D program. With Caterpillar's support and other support the race team gets, it allows Bill Davis to be able to do those kind of things for us.
"There's really no big changes, but to keep up with this sport, you've got to change and be innovative and do some R&D work. That's something that's increased a lot. I'd say the reason that it's increased the most the last year or so is because of Dodge's support.
"There's no question about that. What we need to do as a team and what we continue to do is question where we can be better and where we can better ourselves. What we may be trying to do this month, in bringing this type of car, we might run all these cars down the road. We'll be doing a lot of stuff by this time next year and the months to come to improve our performance.
"We're going to start the (race) setup not far from where it's at right now. One thing about Richmond, the qualifying setup here is not night and day to the race setup like it is at a lot of tracks. We're not going to change a great deal, but I'll be able to tell you a lot more about that in an hour and a half.
"It feels great. I've got some work to do in about 15 minutes. That's fine right now, and I'm excited about it, but I'm starting to already focus on getting in that car and tomorrow night is obviously more important than today. This is something that's fabulous for myself, my family and my race team to be able to do it here where my family and friends and a lot of fans come from and where my roots are that I hold very dear. It's very special.
"I imagine it's going to happen. I hope I'm not one of the ones involved. There's no perfect race car driver out there and every driver makes mistakes. It's interesting sometimes when tempers flare. It seems like sometimes it's all the same people who are blaming somebody else. All of us have something to do with it. My philosophy is to try to drive everybody the way I want to be driven, but at the same time I'm not perfect, either. Hopefully, we'll have a good, clean race for the race fans and a hard one as well. You know that's going to happen with the bunch of guys that are driving these race cars tomorrow night."