Jiffy Lube Miami 300 Saturday Quotebook By Dave Rodman
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 14, 1998) Selected quotes following Bud Pole Award Qualifying for Sunday's Jiffy Lube Miami 300 at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex and leading up to the race:
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 66 Phillips 66 Chevrolet) "This Phillips 66 Chevrolet Monte Carlo has been awesome all day. It's been fast since we took it off the truck. The car was a little tight during qualifying and this wasn't our quickest lap of the day, but it was good enough for the front row. This feels really great since this is my last race with Phillips 66 and Diamond Ridge Motorsports. We'll run them again here next year and I feel like we'll have a little heads up on most of the Winston Cup regulars because when I leave here this weekend, I'll have three starts under my belt."
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 63 Lysol Chevrolet) "We were really excited about coming into this race. I seem to do pretty good on tracks I've never been to. This track kind of fits my style. It's a flat track and they're not really my favorite tracks. But I seem to run good on all the flat tracks. We really unloaded off the truck fast. I was a little worried seeing all the cars getting loose during qualifying. My car's beat up a little bit. Actually, I scrubbed the wall on the first lap. But we came back, and ran a good lap on the second lap. I'm really happy for everyone on the team. They needed a pole and I needed it, so it's been good for all of us.
"I was coming off the corner and I had it going pretty good, and I was going to get close anyway. Right when I got up there the rear end came around and (although) it looks like it hit pretty hard, it didn't really feel that close to me. It didn't hurt the second lap that much and I was really worried about it. Actually the car just worked better on the second lap. On the first lap it was a little greasy and I got on it a little quicker than I had in practice. We just kind of got up there a little close and got a little loose into it. I didn't really do anything different during the second lap.
"It's really been a learning year for me. Going from track to track - places that I've never been to before - has been difficult for me. But that's really what we've tried to accomplish this year, just getting me ready for my future. There are all kinds of tracks - flat tracks, superspeedways - we've just tried to get a variety of them for me. Everywhere we go I'm learning. Going from track to track is tough. You try to go around and learn the lines. A lot of the guys in the Busch Series have been real good to me; taking me around in the car and showing me the lines. They've been real good about giving me advice about the tracks and the cars."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet) (Crashed in second practice and went to a backup car.) "We had been freeing-up the car to get a little more speed out of it because we have a great car. We thought we had the opportunity of sitting on the pole and winning the race this weekend. That's what we came here to shoot for. We just got a little loose off of the corner (four). But the car we've got out as a backup car if just as good. It's won at Richmond and ran second at Richmond as well. So it's just about identical as what we had out there.
"It definitely would make it a whole lot sweeter if we could win the race and the championship in the same day. That's what we want to do. But more than that, these are the last laps we're going to race for a while until we go to Daytona, and winning it would be really nice."
(On the advice given to him by his father.) "Well, obviously he didn't give me enough since I'm sitting here with no more race car. He just wants us to be cool and get in the race and do what we have to do. We're excited about our chances of doing well this weekend."
MIKE McLAUGHLIN (No. 34 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet) "Yeah, we're looking forward to this race. We've run good here and qualified good, but raced terrible last year. We're looking to race good this year. We've never finished the season on the note I'd like. I think our best finish here is 20th, so I'd like to come out of here with a good finish to make the off season a little more enjoyable.
"It's (Homestead) more of a race track now. Before, it was just really hard to pass through the ends. Now, as the race goes on and the groove moves up, you can see some side-by-side racing. The way it was before, you were never going to see that.
"We tested out here last month, and I thought we were decent. We never made qualifying runs, but as far as the race goes, we thought we had something that would be there all day. That was the problem last year. We were fast for a lap, but in the race we were terrible. It was fairly hot that (test) day, but you can test on any given day and when you come back, things aren't going to be the same because of all the rubber that's built up on the track. We really won't know what to expect until the day of the race. With three different divisions here, we'll have to see what they put down and what we put down, and adjust from there.
"The Dash and All Pro guys use bias-ply tires, while we use radials. It doesn't mix well. We saw that at Atlanta (Motor Speedway) last week. Man, we went out for that last practice (after the ARCA race, which uses a different brand of radial tire) and they had really made the track slick. That's when you find out how good your setup is.
"We go through the same thing at New Hampshire (where the Busch North Series, NASCAR Touring, uses bias-ply tires). There are some things we've learned from that race we can apply here, but at the same time you have to make your car work when the track gets slick. If you can do that, then you'll be in for a lot better day."
MATT KENSETH (No. 17 LYCOS.COM Chevrolet) "We tested pretty well here, and we ran pretty decent here last year, so I'm looking forward to this weekend. The test went pretty well. We didn't do any qualifying runs, just worked on race stuff. We brought two cars and they were both about the same, but the one I thought was a little quicker got wrecked at Rockingham (North Carolina Speedway during practice). The second car runs all right, so we should be okay. Our race stuff will stay the same, but the car will probably start off a little tighter because of all the other rubber (from the Dash and All Pro cars) on the track. The race package will stay the same. We probably ran 250 miles or so during the test, just trying to work out what the tire wear will be like for the race, make sure the car will stay the same. I'm glad it's the last week. The championship was decided last week, so now we can go out and try to win the race. Then we can get started on next year.
"I'm looking forward to next year, because we've got some things happening. I don't look forward to the time off; I'd race every weekend if I could. But I'm looking forward to building a few new cars and getting regrouped, and starting off for next year."
BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 00 Bayer/Alka-Seltzer Pontiac) "It's the last race of the year, but I haven't run very good here at Homestead. I've always really liked the track, and they keep making changes to it to improve the place. It's a pretty good track to race on, but being the end of the year ... you really want to run well. It's the type of race where you can lay back, not push yourself for the first half or so. You're looking to avoid wrecks, not pass anybody. Just let things sort themselves out for the first half, then you can go race in the second half. It's a long race and I'm not saying you can't get lapped here, but it's a mile-and-a-half track and it'd be pretty hard to get lapped unless you're really, really bad. You can just sit back unless you don't qualify well.
"I didn't get to test here, but in talking to guys like Mike McLaughlin, they said it was like it was last year, no real big changes. You just have to keep your car on the bottom (of the turns), because if you get up high and get in the sand, then you're definitely going for a ride. I don't think it (the tire-rubber difference) will be a huge."
TONY STEWART (No. 44 Shell Oil Pontiac) "Yeah, I'm looking forward to this. Even though the last three finishes don't reflect it, we've ran well the last three races and we've been able to roll the car on the trailer in the last four races. The last four races have been good to us. I'm happy with the way we're running right now, and I'd like to have a good run and finish off the season on a good note. I ran the race last year, but it's been so long ago that I'm basically be like going back to scratch. It's not like going to Rockingham, Darlington or Charlotte. Homestead is its own deal. I did some testing with a Winston Cup car here earlier in the year, but that's like apples and oranges compared to a Busch car. But I got a laps around here, so it oughta come back to me pretty quick."
Source: NASCAR Online