WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton will start fifth in Sunday's 43-car field. The 2002 Daytona 500 winner led only the last five laps in February at Daytona en route to his $1.4 million plus payday. Burton, crew chief Tommy Baldwin and car owner Bill Davis discuss Sunday's restrictor-plate race at Talladega,
"We didn't get a lot of practice in that first session, but there's nothing wrong. We're trying to take a little bit of the wander out of the nose. If we can keep the fenders on it during practice, that'd be good. A few of them weren't able to do that in the first practice. I was in drafting with a pretty gentle crowd. My brother Jeff and a couple of others were doing pretty well. We were moving around, seeing what our cars were doing in certain situations. It looked like that bigger pack was pretty wild. Unfortunately, we'll be stuck in that pack tomorrow.
"At this moment right now, I have no idea how good we are or what we need to work on. I haven't been in enough situations to be able to know where we're at, but I don't have any reason to believe that we won't be able to run with anybody. This race last year, we had an excellent car. I think the fall race we got our ride heights off a little bit. The car didn't suck up as good. We're paying a lot of attention to that this time. We want to get everything right aero wise.
"I called Jeff (brother Burton) late last. I actually didn't find out about it until late. I was eating crayfish with some of my friends from the Talladega safety crew. My prayers go out to Jack and his family. Hopefully he can have a fighting chance. He was awful lucky to have a Marine standing there. I understand he was actually a Marine trained in underwater techniques of some kind. I'd say Jack Roush is a lucky man.
"You're going to need a bunch of luck here Sunday. I can't begin to tell you how much of a crazy atmosphere it is out there. It's almost completely ludicrous. We stayed out of the mess at Daytona. At the same time we were very fortunate to miss one big wreck that could have put me over the fence. That's kind of the way everybody in this garage has got to face it tomorrow. I may wind up on the roof or I may win the race. Quite possibly it's going to be one way or the other tomorrow. The damn thing about it, there's nothing you can do about it.
"It's not hard to sleep the night before the race, but it's trouble when your family and crew members and friends are very concerned. There's been more than one time here when I'd leave the motorhome and family members would be crying. I'm not the only one.
"You've got to give and take. There were some comments made at Daytona by some of the guys that got in some of the wrecks. They'd say, 'if I hadn't blocked I would have gone back to 25th. That's just the nature of this racing. We qualified fifth and we're not going to stay in the top five all day. Nobody is I don't think. You've just got to accept that. Hopefully everybody will use their heads. At the same time, it's easy to make a mistake. I created a big wreck over there when I hit Earnhardt in the tri-oval one time. Certainly, I did not mean to do it. I touched the apron with the left front and it sent me up the track some. I triggered it. I've been in more wrecks that I haven't instigated. You just never know. It's a tough atmosphere. Running three abreast is tough to ask of everybody all day long and not have an accident. It's damn sure going to be two abreast. There may be a pack of two and I think we'll see a line or so get away maybe moreso than we did in the past. Let's hope so. This rule package doesn't promote the three abreast as much as the other one. The other one, when you ran in the middle between the two lines, you got a lot of cowl pressure. When we tested this package down here last year when they were trying to figure out what we should do, this similar package didn't have the cowl pressure in the middle groove. I hadn't been in a big pack yet. I saw them running three abreast out there."
BILL DAVIS (Car owner Bill Davis Racing Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)
"We had a good test and a good qualifying effort yesterday. You can't predict what's going to happen in these races. It's impossible. All you can do is be in position at the end. Hut's team has made tremendous strides in recent weeks. They had a good race last week at Martinsville and they were good at Texas but they kept getting caught in the pits with the caution coming out. It would be ideal if Ward and Hut could work together out there, and that's the plan, but things never work out like you plan in these races.
"Jack (Roush) and I came along at the same time, and Mark Martin drove for both of us. He helped us with our Busch program tremendously. Steve Hmiel and Robin Pemberton pitted our car and brought their Cup pit crew over. Jack built us some motors for plate races at Daytona. He supported us a lot. We're all concerned about Jack. He's a big part of the garage here. He's been around a long time."
TOMMY BALDWIN (Crew chief No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"The rule changes NASCAR has made should prevent the same type of racing we saw here last year, where you couldn't get away from each other. The handling should eventually come into play after awhile, and of course, the horsepower will also play into who can win the race. The CAT Dodge team definitely has the horsepower to win the race, so we'll concentrate on getting Ward a good handling race car."