Dodge drivers grab four of top five qualifying spots at Bristol - Ryan Newman wins pole; Ken Schrader, third; Rusty Wallace, fourth; Bill Elliott, fifth. RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) - Pole Man "Everything happened just right. I...
Dodge drivers grab four of top five qualifying spots at Bristol - Ryan Newman wins pole; Ken Schrader, third; Rusty Wallace, fourth; Bill Elliott, fifth.
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge Intrepid) - Pole Man
"Everything happened just right. I was so surprised with that lap. I knew we had a fast car in practice, but I didn't think we were capable of going that fast, let alone beating Jeff (Gordon). It was just a great team effort. We came back and worked on the car a little bit after practice, but to come back and be that fast is really awesome.
"That's the most amazed I've ever been after a qualifying run to go that fast and not anticipate it. We picked up over a quarter of a second from where we practiced, and that's just unheard of at Bristol. It was a great team effort for the ALLTEL Dodge, and that's really all I can say. I told the guys on the team we all did it today because we had struggled a little bit.
"We learned a little bit today for sure what we messed up on in the fall race here (last year). We had a pretty decent car, but I don't think a winning car at the time.
"I made a mistake and Tony got into the back of me coming down the front straight. It ended our chances for the win. In the fall, we got a lap down and tried to get it back and got caught up in a couple of wrecks. Both races here last year we came away with broken radiators. I'd never hit anybody in the front and I got hit from behind so obviously we weren't fast enough. Hopefully this year it will change.
"It's bumpy, so when your car is off it gets off in the bumps. That's kind of what happened in one and two there. It just started to come around. Luckily it came around the way it did and I stayed in the middle of the race track. You've got to have confidence to go back out and go after it. You can't go back out there and say I don't want to go fast because I just spun out. It's all about giving everybody on the team a fair shot.
"It's important here to start up front, but I think it's more important actually to get a good chance at a good pit stall for the race. Obviously we'll take one of the advantageous pit stops. There's a lot of disadvantageous pit stalls, and we got caught up in some of that last year, too, and not being able to make up any spots in the pits. If we can make the best out of every good situation, then we should be able to be pretty good on Sunday.
"The bottom line is you're in control as a driver until somebody else is out of control. Then you're at their mercy if you're in their territory. Whether it's an accident that happens in front of you or behind you or somebody tries to get underneath you and gets loose and slides up into you. You've got as much control here as anywhere else, but at the same time it's the kind of control that can be taken away sooner and faster. This type of racing is similar to restrictor-plate racing in that you're going to get caught up in something if you're in the wrong spot at the wrong time.
"I like the history of the sport. I think it's neat to see where the sport is today and to know where it came from. It makes it that much sweeter to know that people used to come here and all there was was a hill to sit on. That's kind of amazing. To come here now and see how things have changed and see how the financial part of the world takes care of the sport... Listening to Buddy's (Baker's) stories, you hear some of those stories, and it's like wow, you guys were that crazy back then. Everybody looks at me and asks, 'are you that crazy running around here in 14 seconds?' It's a different way of looking at two different worlds, but they're both close to the same."