BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Square D Dodge Ram) -- You usually don't seem concerned about qualifying runs anyhow... "We never even made a qualifying run during the first practice. I just don't care. Actually, at a bunch of racetracks where it's...
BOBBY HAMILTON (No. 4 Square D Dodge Ram) --
You usually don't seem concerned about qualifying runs anyhow...
"We never even made a qualifying run during the first practice. I just don't care. Actually, at a bunch of racetracks where it's real hectic with (media), we try not to even qualify in the top-three so we can keep working on the truck. It's not a big deal at all.
"I think we're better than we've been anywhere all year long, hands down. This thing drives like it's going 20 miles per hour. You can just do anything you want to with it, so it's pretty cool. We're completely satisfied. I'm probably two times better than I've been at any race this year. I never even attempted to make a qualifying run, so we'll be fine.
"This is a big racetrack. There isn't a lot of side-by-side racing, because it's so big. If we're side-by-side then it's because one of the other guys is too spooked to get up on the racetrack. I don't want to be side-by-side with anybody in the corners here -- you've got too much racetrack to use. We try to keep the fenders on first and foremost, and then see what you have at the end. I don't think you'll see many green-white-checkered flag runs here, because it's hard to really wreck here.
"We don't worry about finishing races. I'm driving on an owner this year. I'm an owner who's got to sign a sponsorship for next year, and I need TV time to keep that sponsorship. To get TV time we've got to win races. We're not just riding around and being too spooked to do several things because of points. We're just not going to do it. It's too easy right now. We're a few races out. We're going to wait about six or seven races out, and then we're going to look at the points."
CHAD CHAFFIN (No. 18 Dickies Racing Dodge Ram) --
"Today the Dickies Dodge hasn't really been as potent as it's been in recent weeks. So, I've been thinking about things I can do differently on the track -- different lines, different driving stuff. Apparently, I feel like our truck has been loose all day. We've tried to fix it, and we haven't really fixed it. All we've done is slowed it down. We're going to have to go back that way, and I'm going to have to learn how to drive it the way we unloaded it. That's kind of got me in deep thought, I guess you could say.
"This second practice is huge for us. We were sixth or seventh fastest right off the trailer. In the end, though, we couldn't get back up to where we were, and a lot of these other guys went even faster. We've got to find something. We're going to race fine. I've got a fast truck. I know it's got a potent Dodge motor in it. But, I would like to go into tomorrow's race with a little more confidence that I could run up front. It's tough to start up front knowing that you've got a truck you're going to struggle with. I really want to get it worked out before the race starts.
"Our season has been really good. This is a really strong organization with Dodge, and we've got a great sponsor with Dickies. All the pieces are here, and we've just got to keep working hard. We can't get caught up in how great we're doing. Every week is a different week. You hear everybody say that, but that's really the truth. These last six or seven weeks, we've been saying, 'What do we have to do right now to get good for tomorrow.' We've just really got to think about what we're doing.
"I loved Michigan last year. I got my best finish of the year here last year. But that doesn't mean anything. Everybody was saying, 'Oh, you'll go to Michigan and win. You ran so good there last year, and you're doing better this year.' But that really doesn't have anything to do with it. Every time you go to a racetrack it's a whole new ballgame."
TED MUSGRAVE (No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram) --
"There may be a truck out here that can run away with this race. But, I think there was three of us, Mike Skinner, Bobby Hamilton and I kind of running in a pack, and sometimes when you run by side-by-side you don't put air on each other and you hold each other back. Then the group behind you catches up. Michigan is a mixed bag. You can have a truck that kind of gets clean air and gets going, and it will run away. But then again, if you're back in the pack it takes a long time to get through because of that. It's neat though, that you can have two or three different lanes out here. There are a lot of grooves you can run, so it's not like you can blame it on a somebody blocking you or waiting for somebody to slip. There's a lot of places to race out here at Michigan.
"We had a slow start this year. We're hoping to have a really good ending. It looks like the guys that are running for the championship this year are going to need a good year all the way through. Sure, you're going to have a bad race here or there. That's going to happen. But a guy that's consistent each and every week running up front, that's what you're going to need. We didn't start that way. We didn't win a race. We didn't lead some laps. We are getting better, but hopefully the second half of the season we get a lot of that out of the way and start running more consistently. We're hoping that guys that had a good first part of the year maybe run into some bad luck then.
On the number of crew chief changes in the NCTS this year...
"I think what you're seeing with a lot of crew chief changes and a lot of personnel changes is that all of the teams on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series have gotten better. The equipment has gotten better. The competition has gotten so close, where all of a sudden everybody has to be 100 percent on the ball with no mistakes. Things have to be right, and any little miscue or lack of communication or chemistry has to be changed now. I think what you're seeing is that the changes are happening sooner than before because there's no time for any margin of error now."
STEVE PARK (No. 62 Orleans Racing Dodge Ram) --
"It's been a rebuilding process with the people, personnel and all of the changes that were made coming into this year. We're halfway through the season, and we feel like we're just getting a handle on things. We had a hard time getting our arms wrapped around things and ready to go at the beginning of the year, and we struggled all through the year to this halfway point to get things close to where we need to be. We're still in a building process that, I think, is going to continue until the end of the year. But, we feel we're in a position now to run up front and win some races. That's our next focus -- to win races. We've qualified up front, and run up front. Now we need to win races.
"Mr. Gaughan owns this team, and he's a hands-on type of guy. When the axe falls, it falls from him. He's hired numerous people onboard, and has acquired new people to replace those who have left. He's definitely a hands-on car owner, and he's the guy that I feel is responsible for bringing me here and also for making the changes on the team to continue to help us improve. If people don't work out, he brings the hammer down and brings in new people. We saw that at the beginning of the year with a sponsor supposedly coming onboard that never materialized. He brought the hammer down, took control of his race team again, and it's continued to help us grow and put us back on the map again to win races. That's commendable on his part.
"You've got to remember where we started. It almost feels good to be mad with a fifth place finish, where we would have jumped for joy at a top-five finish. But, it's like anything else. Once you achieve a certain goal you want to push for more. That's what this team is all about. We started off in the 20s. We pushed hard to get top 10s. Then when we did we pushed again to get top fives. Once we did that, now we're pushing for a win and knocking on the door. When you're in the top five, pushing for a win, and something happens in the pits or whatever, it kind of brings everybody down. You finish sixth, and yet in the beginning of the year you would've jumped for joy at sixth. We're still getting the team where it needs to be. But, with the people we have, we have the confidence that we can run up front and win."