Dodge grabs top three starting spots; Lester fastest rookie JASON LEFFLER (No. 2 Team ASE/Car Quest Racing Dodge Ram) NOTE: Leffler won the pole with a record lap of 163.702 mph. "We had a great truck. I've got a great teammate here (Ted ...
Dodge grabs top three starting spots; Lester fastest rookie
JASON LEFFLER (No. 2 Team ASE/Car Quest Racing Dodge Ram)
NOTE: Leffler won the pole with a record lap of 163.702 mph.
"We had a great truck. I've got a great teammate here (Ted Musgrave) who helped me out. I picked up a couple of tenths between my practice lap and my qualifying lap thanks to him. It's nice to have a great team and to have all the support I do at Ultra Motorsports. I'm looking forward to the race. It was a good lap and it was a lot smoother than my lap in practice. I didn't know it would be that quick, but I owe it to my whole team and Ted.
"It's been easier because I went with an established team. We've got great equipment, and I've got a great teammate. That helps out. I'm stepping into a truck that won five races last year and contended for the championship. Confidence-wise, that obviously helps. Performance-wise it does, too. Ted is able to make up for my inexperience at places. That's what I enjoy about racing for Ultra Motorsports.
"Any time you have laps at a track, it certainly helps you, especially here at Darlington being so unique, getting used to running close to the fence. I haven't had a lot of success here in the past, but just getting laps and running the races, I think it's helped.
"I race as much as possible. I run open wheel series, midget races, I've run five races since Daytona. That's what I try to do. Keep racing keeps you in shape and keeps you mentally in the game. I know I have good equipment. I've got a lot of support. I love being in the truck series. It reminds you of more short track racing. Guys here have experience in a lot of types of cars. As long as Jimmy Smith wants me to drive his truck, I'll stay here as long as I can."
TED MUSGRAVE (No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge Ram)
NOTE: Musgrave qualified second fastest at 163.506 mph.
"This is the same old race track. It's Darlington. There's no way anybody can come here and say, 'wow, this race track is different,' except when they repaved it. From all my years of experience here, the trucks run the same way they do in the Busch cars and the Cup cars. Right now, we run the 390 cfm carburetor. Last year we had a bigger carburetor. Our horsepower is not there like we had, but it runs like a Busch car when the 390 carburetors were on you hold it wide open qualifying, never lift until you get back down in turn three. Then you just drive around as hard as you can and step back on the gas again. The race track just eats up tires so bad. It makes for an exciting race. I might be last by lap 12, who knows. A lot of things can happen here at Darlington. You might get overconfident and get your Darlington stripe early or wreck the truck or whatever, but I just love this place. You never know what's going to happen one lap to the next.
"Even though they cut the horsepower down, the trucks are better, the tires are better, the chassis are better. Trucks are getting faster and faster. That's what the series is all about, bringing up young guys and bringing back old guys to help the young guys and help them get going, bring that knowledge in and get the teams running better and better. It's going to be a very competitive race from what I've seen. The mixture of guys that are in here, Mr. Polesitter, it's going to be an exciting race.
ROBERT PRESSLEY (No. 18 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge Ram)
NOTE: Pressley qualified third fastest at 162.748 mph.
"That's about all I had. I don't know where Jason and Ted got that from. I was wide open, out of control and in the wall. That's all I had. I'm pretty excited coming back. I'm glad to come to Darlington. This is a fun track to race on. If your truck is running pretty good, it's a nice little afternoon. You enjoy yourself, but if you're not running real good, this is one of the longest days you can ever have. You can get in the Kyle Petty mode and say you wish they'd make a fish pond out of this place, but when you're good, it's a fun place to run.
BILL LESTER (No. 8 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Ram)
NOTE: Lester led all Raybestos rookies with a qualifying lap of 160.323 mph. He'll start 13th in the 36-truck field.
"I got my Darlington stripe in practice earlier today, so I got my initiation, my baptism by fire. We didn't get a chance to run after that, so I didn't know exactly what we were going to have. The guys at Bobby Hamilton Racing told me it was going to be just as good as it was initially. I went out there with a little trepidation and didn't quite stand on it as hard the first lap as I did the second lap. I kind of bucked the trend and went faster the second time around than I did the first time around, but it was good. I like this place. Ted says it's the same old Darlington. For me, it's like, 'my gosh. This place is Darlington.' It's a little bit different being here in person than it is on NASCAR 2002. That's the only experience I've had with it so far. So far, I'm in one piece and so is the truck. We have the race to look forward to tomorrow.
"The crew has been terrific. They've really boosted my confidence and stuck behind me. I was feeling kind of dejected that I let them down about the fact that I let them down, going out there and striping the truck. Their reaction was totally opposite. They were so pleased with how well I rung it out and how well it was running. It rewards them for all the hard work they put in it. They weren't down a bit about it. If anybody was hard on me, it was me. They were really pumped when we got our qualifying run in. I'm just glad to be the top qualifying Raybestos rookie.
"I must have worn out Bobby Hamilton and Robert Pressley in terms of asking them everything I could possibly squeeze out of them in terms of what to do to get around his place. It's so atypical from a standard race track. I asked them 'where are you guys going in turn one? How high are you carrying it up?'Beyond the fence is kind of the answer. 'Where are you in position coming off turn 2? How are you running around turn four? I asked Robert specifically in terms of qualifying about going out and how much to warm those tires up. He said, 'listen, as soon as you roll out there the newness is off the rubber, so you want to basically roll into it as easily and gently as you can. Then when you come off turn four be on it.' I've basically been wearing Bobby and Robert out. Ask Bobby Hamilton and he'll tell you I'm the most inquisitive person around. They can count on me to ask them all kinds of questions. Hopefully Robert won't say, 'Bill, get away. I'm tired of answering questions.'
"I hit right in the middle of three and four. Basically, I cranked the wheel and I guess road racing habits die hard. I didn't crank the wheel hard enough."