First-round qualifying at Darlington Raceway began shortly after 3:30 p.m. EDT with temperatures in the 80s and a humidity index to match, and all five Roush Racing drivers circled the 1.366-mile oval with two cars locking into the top 25, ...
First-round qualifying at Darlington Raceway began shortly after 3:30 p.m. EDT with temperatures in the 80s and a humidity index to match, and all five Roush Racing drivers circled the 1.366-mile oval with two cars locking into the top 25, guaranteed of a starting spot in Sunday's 500-mile race. Kevin Lepage was the seventh of 44 entries to qualify, Jeff Burton 10th, Mark Martin 15th, Matt Kenseth 35th, and Chad Little was the 37th competitor to make his one lap of qualifying.
Kevin Lepage, No. 16 FamilyClick.com/TV Guide Ford Taurus (30th quickest, 29.531 seconds): "That was a good lap for the FamilyClick.com/TV Guide Taurus. We struggled early in practice trying to figure out this new tire compound, but we put something under the car after practice that helped us. We're a still a little loose off the corners, but we can work on race setup tomorrow. This is the same car we took here earlier in the year, so we know that once we get this tire figured out, we'll be alright."
Jeff Burton, No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford Taurus (35th quickest, 29.608 seconds): "I'm obviously no happy at all with that lap. That won't even be fast enough to lock into the top 25. We need to make some changes before the race, and depending on how things end up this afternoon and how practice goes tomorrow, we'll decide if we need to re-qualify."
Mark Martin, No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Ford Taurus (5th quickest, 29.078 seconds): "That was a pretty good lap. The track got quite a bit quicker and I'm sure it will continue to pick up since there is cloud cover now. We had a good test here a few weeks ago, and I think we should be good for the race."
Matt Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Tools Ford Taurus (24th quickest, 29.489 seconds): "We'll take that. That's a little better than we practiced and that allows us to begin working on the car for the race. This DEWALT EMAZING team has done a great job with this car. This makes tomorrow a lot easier knowing that we're locked in, and now we can concentrate on getting this car dialed in on long runs."
Chad Little, No. 97 John Deere Ford Taurus (26th quickest, 29.506 seconds): "That wasn't too bad of a lap. If we were a little tighter, we would have been better. The John Deere Ford was loose in (Turn) 2 and it washed up the track, but we'll take it. That time won't keep us in the top 25, but it should be good enough to allow us to stand tomorrow and avoid taking a spot. Now it's time to put the race setup under the car, and work on some long runs with this new tire compound."