MARK MARTIN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion (Qualified 10th) WHAT DO YOU EXPECT IN THE RACE. WILL THERE BE JUST AS MUCH BUMP DRAFTING? "It'll be tamer, but the race won't be tamer. We're gonna figure out another way to be reckless and make smoke and...
MARK MARTIN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion (Qualified 10th)
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT IN THE RACE. WILL THERE BE JUST AS MUCH BUMP DRAFTING? "It'll be tamer, but the race won't be tamer. We're gonna figure out another way to be reckless and make smoke and have disaster. That's the nature of this Talladega business, but our AAA Fusion was better in practice yesterday than I've had probably in 10 years here, so with that I'm a little more optimistic of being ahead of the crash instead of in the middle of it, but we'll just have to wait and see."
HOW WAS THE LAP? "There are a lot of fast cars yet to go that are gonna knock us back, but it was a good run. Our AAA Fusion yesterday in practice was better than I've had here probably in 10 years, so wherever we qualify doesn't really matter. It definitely should race well if it races like it practiced on Friday."
DOES THE WIND PLAY A BIG ROLE? "It depends on who gets the best wind will get the best qualifying lap, but it was a good run for us. I'm real happy with my car so far and I'm cautiously optimistic about Sunday's race."
ELLIOTT SADLER -- No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st)
"This is the day where the crews shine. Everybody in the engine shop and the fab shop, the driver can't really make much of a difference today. I just think that these guys put a lot of effort in our restrictor plate program. We had a great week at Daytona. We need a good weekend here at Talladega, so to get a good top five starting position, I think we're gonna be in the top five pretty easily. That will be good. I think that would be great for the team. We need this right now and it's good to come in here and qualify good again."
YOU'VE GOT RICHMOND AND DARLINGTON COMING UP. "Yeah, we ran pretty good at Richmond last year and we had a great test there a couple weeks ago, so I'm looking forward to going there, and Darlington we've always run good. This last two weeks has gotten us a little frustrated and a little down because we've just had bad luck and not being at the right place at the right time, but we've got some good tracks coming up for us and we always run good when we get to Lowe's Motor Speedway too, so we've got a couple of good tracks coming up for us. But this is real special for us. Robert really loves coming down here to Talladega. He's got a lot of friends in this area and Davey was from here, so he always puts a lot of effort into coming down to this race and we want to do a good job for him, so hopefully the M&M's Fusion will be near the front and we'll go from there."
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (Qualified 12th)
"The car is OK. That should be in the top 20 hopefully and I was pretty happy with how the car was in the draft, so it should be OK. I don't think qualifying really matters. If you're on the pole, that's great and if you're in the top five, you get a good pit position. But, other than that, it doesn't really matter here. With the way the draft works you go from the front to the back and vice versa, so qualifying is probably least important here than any track we go to."
WHAT ABOUT IF THE WEATHER IS LIKE THIS TOMORROW WITH THE DRAFT? "In a big pack I don't think it matters much. If you're by yourself it will slow you up a little bit when it's blowing around, but I don't think it makes much difference when you're in a pack."
WILL THE SOFT BUMPER MAKE A DIFFERENCE? "I think it will be about the same. You can still do some bump drafting and help somebody pick some speed up and push them along a little bit, which is good. You just probably can't crash into somebody really hard, which is good too. I don't think it's gonna really affect the racing. You're still gonna be able to bump draft and do the things you used to be able to do."
DALE JARRETT -- No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion (Qualified 4th)
"I think Elliott's is pretty safe for sure. There could be some cars get in between Elliott's time and myself. He's distanced himself from the rest of the field right now. It's a great effort on their part, but we're up there and that just shows the effort Robert Yates Racing and Doug Yates and his people in the engine shop put forth in trying to get us good race cars and good engines here at Talladega. This is their adopted home track. A lot of the fans here remember back to the Davey Allison days and that's kind of what got things started and Elliott and I are fortunate to benefit from being a part of this organization. They do a great job everywhere that we go, but in particular at these restrictor plate tracks and give us an opportunity to win races like we did here last year."
IS A TOYOTA DEALERSHIP IN YOUR FUTURE? "I'll talk about Talladega right now."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE RUMORS? "Rumors don't concern me. What people have to say and speculate on doesn't bother me at all. My job is to drive this race car and try to make us better. We sit just outside the top 10 and we haven't performed yet like we're capable of, so we know that we've got an opportunity to get ourselves in the chase this year and we're gonna try to take advantage of that."
YOU WON LAST YEAR HERE. HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU? "I know that we have good equipment here, good engines, and we have the pieces here for us to challenge to win again. It's obviously a matter of getting myself in the right position at the right time as I did last year and I think we know how to do that, so it does give us confidence coming back."
WILL SOFT BUMPERS HELP? "Just a little bit. I think we know what we have there. I don't think it's gonna change the racing a whole lot. I think because everybody is aware of it, you may see the first half or three-quarters of this race people not hitting quite as hard, but when you get down to the end this is about winning and people are gonna do whatever they can to try to get themselves in that position and move forward."
DOES IT AGGRAVATE YOU THAT MICHAEL WALTRIP SAID YESTERDAY THAT HE HAD OFFERED YOU A RIDE? "No. I said a number of weeks ago that I've had quite a few people talking to me over the last five or six months and that's no secret. People know when the last year of your contract is, so they start talking and seeing what your interests are, especially in my case. Am I gonna continue to drive and, if so, how long? That's kind of why I made the statement that I was gonna drive through 2008 and everybody that I've talked with understands that. We'll see who it works out the best for in that scenario."
YOU'VE BEEN WITH FORD FOR SO LONG.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO FINISH YOUR CAREER THERE? "That would be great. Ford Motor Company and Robert Yates have been great to me, so that would be nice."
THE LAST TIME YOU MADE A TEAM CHANGE YOU SAID THAT YOUR LIFE AND EVERYBODY'S LIFE IS DAY TO DAY. IT'S STILL DAY TO DAY? "It's still day to day. Just like I think I said then too, I'm the person that has to look after what's best for my welfare and for my family and that's what I've been taking into consideration over the last five or six months in looking at what decision I'll make here probably in the next two or three weeks."
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF UPS? WOULD THEY GO WITH YOU? "I have no idea with that. That's Robert's sponsor. They came here because of what we accomplished at Robert Yates Racing and that hasn't been a factor in determining what I'm gonna do. The offers that I have had from everybody else aren't contingent upon bringing a sponsor. That doesn't have anything to do with it. That would be between Robert and UPS to decide what they're gonna do in the future."
KEVIN LEPAGE -- No. 61 State Water Heaters Ford (Qualified 23rd)
"I've got to thank Statewide Heaters for coming aboard this weekend. They were on the car at Martinsville. We missed the race and they were kind enough to come back and give us a second chance. Right ow I think that will be OK. We'll be in the show and that's the biggest thing. I've got to thank Doug Yates and Jack Roush and Robert Yates. All of the guys in the motor department worked real hard on this motor and Greg and the guys got this car together for this race. I like these restrictor plate races and hopefully on Sunday we can put the Statewide Heater Ford up front and see what it shows."
YOU'VE HAD A CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP. "I really hate it for Jeff (Stec) and his staff. He really wanted to be a Nextel Cup owner, but it's just a financial burden. Between the Fitness Centers (Peak Fitness) and everything that was going on, I'm not saying it was a big nut to crack, but I think it was a small nut for him to crack. I wish him the best in whatever he does, but now we've got a new owner in Bob Jenkins and he's really excited about the program. I think he's got some visions from being in the sport as long as he has. I think he's got some visions on what he wants this team to do and get this team back in the top 35. We're just looking forward to getting through this weekend. It's been a tough couple of weeks with who is gonna buy it? Who is not buying it? Where are we moving to? What's going on? All of a sudden everything has come together in the last couple of days and a lot of good people have put it together, so I'm looking forward to it."
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion (Qualified 3rd)
"I think the wind might be helping. It's just right. I think it helped me a little bit down the backstretch and it only hurt me in that one little spot there. I've just got to thank the guys and the whole Office Depot team. We didn't make a qualifying run and they said second, so that's pretty awesome for us at a restrictor plate track. I just want to say thanks to all the guys at the shop and everybody for working so hard."
HOW WAS YOUR RUN? "We didn't expect that. Our Office Depot team has worked real hard. As a driver you just get in the car and try not to move that wheel. The wind is picking up a little bit, but it was a good lap. It wasn't nice of Tony to knock us off the front row. That would have been nice, but I'm just happy to have a fast car here at Talladega."
JAMIE MCMURRAY -- No. 26 Irwin/Crown Royal Ford Fusion (Qualified 8th)
"All of the Roush cars are really strong right now and it looks like everybody with a Roush-Yates engine is strong, so I felt really good going out after seeing how fast all of my teammates went. They said all the cars are very similar in the wind tunnel and the chassis dyno, so I feel good about our car this weekend. This has been a pretty good race track for me and I'm obviously looking forward to working with Bob Osborne again. This is gonna be our second race together, so we're still learning each other a little bit. I really like Bob. We get along well and have had a pretty good time the last few weeks."
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 Subway/National Guard Ford Fusion (Qualified 7th)
"It was a pretty good lap. We didn't really know what to expect because we didn't make a qualifying lap. To get the Subway/National Guard car up there and be in the top 10 right now, I'm pretty excited about that. That will give us a good pit spot on pit road and we'll just see what we can do from there."
WHY ARE ALL THE ROUSH AND FORDS UP FRONT? "I was really nervous about how the wind is blowing right now. It's just good engines and good aerodynamics I guess. It's probably mostly the power underneath the hood. These cars run really, really strong and we're real fortunate to have the engine program that we do. That's probably one of the reasons why we're up near the front."