RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus (Qualified 33rd) "We've just been off since we've been here.Â I really feel like it might race well, but I just can't hold the car down on the bottom of the race track.Â It wants to climb the race track ...
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus (Qualified 33rd)
"We've just been off since we've been here. I really feel like it might race well, but I just can't hold the car down on the bottom of the race track. It wants to climb the race track coming off the corner. It gets into the corner really, really good, which is the problem we had at Rockingham and Vegas. We couldn't get it to get into the corner. It gets in good, which is what you've got to do at Atlanta, but I can't get the car to come off the corner. It wants to climb the race track and we've got to figure out why."
MATT KENSETH - No. 17 DEWALT Tools Taurus (Qualified 30th)
WHAT IS IT LIKE QUALIFYING HERE? "Every track is different. Here the corners are real long and real high-banked. You just carry so much speed through the corner here, so it's definitely different than most tracks we qualify at. It's not a lot different than maybe Texas or a track like that. Here and Texas are probably the fastest tracks we qualify at and you have to carry the most corner speed. Momentum is very important, so if you get off just a little bit on your chassis here and you have to not be in the gas quite as early or lift just a little bit, it really hurts your speed because the momentum through the corners is what carries you down the straightaway. If you lose your momentum, it's a really big deal."
DO YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH? "It depends on the car. When the car is right on the money, it's not too bad qualifying here. But if your car gets loose or your car is a little off and you're trying to get all of that speed out of it, and you know you can't let off the gas very much or you're not gonna run fast, it gets a little hairy. It's a fun place to qualify when your car is running good, but if you're off a little bit, sometimes it can be a handful."
DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus (Qualified 6th)
"That's pretty good. We've got both cars up there within two-thousandths of a second, so that's pretty good. We certainly want to qualify to where we can be up there and not have to worry about working through traffic all the time. This makes it a lot easier at the beginning of the race. The car was fast from the very beginning. I left a little out there in turn four, but we're pretty happy with that. I said if we could get in the top 10 that would be good."
STARTING TOWARD THE FRONT HERE GIVES YOU A GOOD FRAME OF MIND FOR SUNDAY. "Yeah, I think it lets you gauge yourself a little bit better. Those guys that are up there are gonna be the ones you're gonna have to compete with most of the time. I realize that the 17 can start just about wherever he wants and be a factor, but these guys are the ones that you judge yourself off of at the beginning of the race to see what adjustments you need to make, how fast you need to go and how much you need to adjust on the car to get better. It's just a lot easier racing from there than it is when you find yourself in the middle of the pack and you're not only concerned with trying to move forward but all the stuff that goes on around you."
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Qualified 5th)
YOU BEAT DJ BY TWO-THOUSANDTHS OF A SECONDS? "Yeah, at least our stuff is about the same. I'm really proud of both of us to qualify that good. Qualifying is getting to be more and more important each and every week. We both said before we left that if we get somewhere in the top 10 that we would be very happy. We know both of our cars are gonna race good. That's my Vegas car that was so good and that's his Rockingham car that was so fast, so we know when we get here Sunday we're gonna work together good and hopefully feed off each other and try to keep both of these cars near the front."
WILL IT BE NICE TO BE NEAR THE LEADERS AT THE START? "That's exactly right. We learned a lot last week in Vegas as far as our track position and how much of an advantage it is to run in clean air. We definitely have one of the best pit crews on pit road and now we're gonna give those guys a great pit selection. Right now, we've got a lot of momentum on our race team. We're sitting here third in points and it looks like we're gonna have a great qualifying day. We're looking forward to Sunday. We finished sixth here in this race last year and we feel like we've got a lot better piece than what we had last year, so, hopefully, better things will come."
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus (Qualified 13th)
"That was a really good lap for the National Guard car today because we overcame some things today in practice. We didn't have any grip with the first set of tires today and that got us behind a little bit, but we back-tracked as far as we thought we could safely without going out and possibly spinning out and wrecking the car, and the car was just awesome. It was just a bit too tight and I had to get out of it coming off of four by a mile. That was at least four-tenths. I bet the lap-tracker had me leading going into the center of turn three, but we're still happy with that."
WERE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW FAST THE LAP WAS? "I was surprised with the lap time, but I thought I had a chance at a top five. These guys always have me a really good car for qualifying. We're trying to get better at racing right now, but I felt confident going out there that I had a good car. We all sat here in a meeting and talked about how much to free it up and we just didn't know."
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Taurus (Qualified 20th)
THAT WAS A SOLID LAP CONSIDERING IT'S YOUR BACKUP CAR. WHAT HAPPENED IN YOUR PRACTICE ACCIDENT? "We've always good cars at Atlanta, and I just made a mistake today. In turn two the car slipped out from underneath me. I had too much wheel input into it. I thought the car was gonna hold just fine because of how good it went through three and four to come to the green, so I thought that was gonna be a great practice qualifying lap for us where we could analyze our car and make a few adjustments for the real qualifying. I just slipped coming out of turn two."
BUT TO QUALIFY THIS CAR 20TH WITH SUCH LITTLE TIME MUST MAKE YOU HAPPY. "Yeah, this is a great team. I put my 100 percent trust in this crew and they gave me a good car to go out just for picking a pit stall. We'll have to start at the back because we had to change engines, but this is what a team effort is and when one guy slips, the other guys are there to pick that guy up. Today, I was the one that slipped."
YOU FOUND A LUCKY DIME JUST OUTSIDE YOUR CAR WHEN YOU PULLED IN. "Yeah, I think I know where it came from. My crew guys were on their back all day changing the car over, so, hopefully, it will work out. It's a 2002 dime and that was a good year for us, so, hopefully, that will help out."