Bristol Ford Racing Qualifying Report

RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "It's a brand new car that Team Penske built me and it's running great. When I made that run of 15.33 earlier in practice today, the front end stuck really good. I tightened the car up a little bit for ...

RUSTY WALLACE -2- Miller Lite Taurus -- "It's a brand new car that Team Penske built me and it's running great. When I made that run of 15.33 earlier in practice today, the front end stuck really good. I tightened the car up a little bit for qualifying and I actually thought I pushed too much and still ran a .33, so it was a good lap."

HOW ABOUT HAVING TO WAIT NOW WHILE EVERYONE ELSE QUALIFIES? "That's the bad thing about going out early, you get to stand on top of the truck and watch everybody in agony. Then if you do win it, it's pretty thrilling."

DARRELL WALTRIP -66- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- THE SUN IS SHINING AND IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY, ESPECIALLY AFTER THAT LAP RIGHT? "Yeah, and we're not dead last. That's really exciting. Coming here and testing, I knew all along that if we could get some testing done, get some good race cars...we've got a pretty good motor program, Peter Guild and the Pro guys are doing a pretty good job there for us. I've got a great team. We've just gotta get some luck going."

YOU DIDN'T PRACTICE MUCH DURING THE SECOND SESSION, WERE YOU THAT HAPPY WITH THE FIRST SESSION THAT YOU DIDN'T WANT TO MESS ANYTHING UP? "That's kind of what we were thinking. We didn't want to chase the track or the weather. We tested, we knew what we could do, so we stuck to our game plan and it worked out real good."

STANTON BARRETT -90- Triple Edge/Suburban Lodge Taurus -- "We'd qualified pretty decent in the Busch car, and I was hoping that would transfer over to the Winston Cup car. I guess not. All we can do is keep plugging and see what we can do. You don't want to even have to rely on second-round qualifying, but especially not here."

MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- "We had to get on the frontstretch to be in position to win this race and it was in my hands because the car wasn't working and the times weren't there to be up front. I'm real happy that lap and the Valvoline Taurus will be ready for the race. We just did not get it right and get enough time to get it right for qualifying, but we'll have it right. We've got enough time tomorrow to get it like we want it."

DALE JARRETT -88- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "That's a lot better than we've run all day. We've just struggled. We've struggled all year in qualifying, so we'll just have to see what we can do for the race. We usually have a good setup, but, hopefully, that might get us on the frontstretch. That was the main objective here, getting on the frontstretch pitting."

KENNY IRWIN -28- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "I'm surprised we ran that fast. We weren't near that good earlier. We just cut a lap and that's all we had to do, so, hopefully, that will get us on the front straightaway. That was my goal coming here was just qualifying so we'd get on the front straightaway and not just start so far down like you can do at these tracks. Hopefully, this will hold up.

JERRY NADEAU -9- Cartoon Network Taurus -- "That's the biggest thing on the first day of qualifying (getting a frontstretch pit) because there are only 21 spots and everyone's fighting to get these top 21 places. So far we look pretty good, we'll see how it turns out. That's the best we could run. We unloaded doing a .60 and we ran a .53 just now. Everything is determined by how you unload and that's the best we could do."

RICK MAST -98- Yarborough/Burdette Motorsports Taurus -- YOUR SECOND LAP WAS FASTER THAN YOUR FIRST. WHAT HAPPENED? "I all but wrecked on the first lap. We had a pole speed going through one and two and I carried a little bit too much speed into three and I lost the back of the car. It came around on me and, if I would have backed up a little bit, we would have had a real good lap. The second lap was still decent, better than most second laps, but that's what happens when you go for it a little too hard."

TED MUSGRAVE -75- Polaris Taurus -- "I'm fairly happy with it. I got a little loose off two. I didn't think we were gonna get a pole, but right now what I've gotta do here is get a frontstretch pit here, lock the car in, and get a good race setup because it's a real good car. Sometimes if you try too hard here you can make yourself go slower, so I'm happy with it. Naturally, you always want to do better, but right now I'd rather be safe than sorry."

ELLIOTT SADLER -21- Citgo Taurus -- "This is my favorite place by far. We struggled a little bit in practice and made a lot of changes. This Citgo team is awesome. I'm enjoying so much just racing with these guys. I'm just having so much fun. Mike Beam is the most incredible guy I think I've ever met. He just gives you everything you want and makes you feel so comfortable. Eddie and Len Wood, everybody at the shop, they just make you feel so much right at home. That's so much faster than we ran in practice. We were struggling a little bit, but we've got it going in the right direction. We're gonna have us a great race car come Sunday."

DID TEXAS GIVE YOU AND THE WHOLE TEAM A LOT OF CONFIDENCE? "It did because we've been qualifying great, making first round, and that's a big part of it. We're gonna get us a pole before this year's over with. We had a great run at Texas and we haven't even tested at any of these tracks yet, we haven't been to any tracks and tested yet, just Talladega and Daytona. This is great fun. We're just as happy as we can be right now. I just want to miss all the bad luck on Sunday and bring this Citgo Ford home with a good top 10 finish."

RICKY CRAVEN -58- Hollywood Video Taurus -- "Second-round qualifying is pretty tough at a lot of these places. You can almost guarantee you won't speed up. We made some various changed before qualifying in an effort to tighten up the Hollywood Video Ford and it all worked. We had been loose from the middle on out of the corner and it was a perfect job by Mike (Hillman) and the crew because the car drove good in one and two. I gave up some in three and four, but we're happy and this thing is definitely expanding."

JEREMY MAYFIELD -12- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "At least we were consistent, we pushed at both ends of the track. That's the thing about this place, you miss it a hair and it's a lot. I don't know how qualifying will end up, but that last practice there was about six-tenths difference from first to 46th. You don't want to pit on the back, but we did in this race a couple of years ago and finished ninth."

RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- "We did win a pole earlier in the year, but since then we've had kind of a drought. This car will race good. This is the one that led the most laps here the last time we were here. We'll do a little tweaking on it, but it should be a good race car and not only a good qualifying car."

DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF CONFIDENCE NOW THAT YOU'RE ON THE FRONTSTRETCH? "Well, it's kind of a relief. Our points situation is not all that great, so not only do we have a frontstretch pit, but we can also see the flag drop on Sunday. We're up front. You need to be there at Bristol. You need to start up front."

THIS IS SOMETHING THE TEAM NEEDED RIGHT? "We've been operating, basically, without a crew chief the last two or three weeks and it's really been good. These guys are pulling together really strong and we're using everybody's ideas. I think it's showing that there is some light at the end of the tunnel."

ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "The ol' race car ran good again. This Jasper team is really coming together. That qualifying lap, we knew we only had one lap to try it in. I wasn't happy with the first one because I got a little bit loose. On the second one, just about the time I was ready to crash they told me not to worry about it, that we were in the show, so we lucked out I guess."

RUSTY WALLACE POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE WHAT ABOUT THIS TRACK SUITS YOU SO WELL THAT YOU ALWAYS QUALIFY WELL? "I've told everybody that Bristol has always been my favorite race track. I think all drivers gotta have a favorite track. I like the shape of it. I've always gotten around this race track real good. I've got a lot of friends up here. My car dealerships are about 30 miles down the road. I've still got a lot of friends up here and I enjoy it. It seems everytime I come to this place, if I'm behind or in trouble in the points or something, I always feel like I can make something up here. How, why have I sat on four of the last five poles, I don't know. The setup has been different every single time. I just keep trying to adjust the car to the race track for what it needs. I was concerned coming into this race because for the first time we brought a short track car with the new rear spoiler and lower air dam, I knew there was gonna be a chassis change."

BASED ON THE LAST TWO RACES HERE, IS CONFIDENCE AN ISSUE AT ALL? "Well, you've gotta be confident. The first race here last year I led a ton of laps and then lost a cylinder. I was lugging around with seven cylinders and then Ricky Rudd said a piece of lead fell out (of his car) and I hit that and went into the wall and destroyed the car, but I had a real strong car that day. So, when I came back the second race I led a ton of laps and finished third, so that was a good run for me. I've just gotta improve on that and hopefully win my first one here."

WHAT DID HAVE YOU FOUND WITH THE NEW RULES THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW AT THE START OF THE YEAR? "From the problems we had in the past with trying to figure out the air dam and spoiler rule, we noticed a trend of what's been going on with the new rules. We just applied them from what we've learned on those tracks to this car. We unloaded with same exact setup that I won the pole with here last time. It was pretty good, but then we started adapting this new trend that we learned and the car got better yet, so it's just all understanding what you're dealing with."

CAN YOU TAKE WHAT HAPPENS AT BIGGER TRACKS AND RELATE TO HERE? "Yeah. That's where engineering guys come in. They can actually calculate the speed your running, the aerodynamic downforce, and give you a suggestion of what they think you should have in the car and what should change. We got that suggestion from our guys. They said, 'This is what you should expect when you get there.' Whether it was gonna hold true, we knew some of them will, and they were pretty right."

HAVE THEY BEEN WRONG IN THE PAST? "No, it was developing what we needed to do. Everything was so different. Like I say, we noticed some things the first three or four races, and a lot of stuff we learned came from our disasters -- our disaster at Atlanta and our disaster at Darlington. At Atlanta when I got the laps down, we just missed the setup early and as we kept changing the car and the race went on the car was really strong. Then at Darlington, I slipped through the pit road, got two laps down, so I couldn't show what I had. But we did learn some things to make it better."

BOBBY LABONTE AND GORDON ARE NURSING SHOULDER INJURIES. WILL THAT BE A FACTOR IN THIS RACE AND HOW MUCH DOES PHYSICAL CONDITIONING COME INTO PLAY HERE? "I think being in good physical shape is a factor, no doubt about it. I've always had problems with my neck at this race track. The g-forces are so strong that your neck gives out before anything. So, if I were those guys, I'd probably be worrying about my neck than anything else, but they've proven at some of the race tracks that if you're real excited about what you're doing, you can overcome a lot of those injuries. They look like they've done good in qualifying. They're walking around good, so I don't think they're gonna have any problems."

YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN INVOLVED IN YOUR SETUPS, DO MORE ENGINEERS TAKE THE DRIVER OUT OF THAT PART OF IT? "No, not at all. What it does is it aids me in some of the stuff I'm trying to do. If I'm in a situation where I'm stumped, then I can talk to the 12 car, we can all sit around the table and have a discussion so me and Robin don't have to dream it all up. If I come up with something that sounds unreasonable, but the computer says it should be that way, then I'll have confidence in it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE NEXT FEW RACES WITH SO MANY NEW RACE CARS? "It should be nothing except better because we've got all brand new cars. We've got no used cars. Our Daytona 500 car was a brand new car. Our short track car is a brand new car. I tested at Greenville, South Carolina a couple days shaking it out for Martinsville and it ran faster there than I've ever run around that little place, so that feels good. This one is a brand new car. The Charlotte car is brand new. We'll be out at California Speedway testing a couple new cars, so I'm loving all this new stuff I've got right now."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET BACK IN VICTORY LANE HERE GIVEN THE PROBLEMS YOU'VE HAD IN RACES HERE? "I'm really misunderstanding what you're talking about because the first race I led a ton of laps and the second race I finished third. While I was leading the race I made a pit stop and the brake bleeder screw came loose and I had to go tailback, in fact one lap down. I got the lap back, made it back up, and got up there and got to third. So, I really had a great second race. I felt I could have run 600 miles the second race and still finished third, so the track's been pretty kind to me. The people that run it are great. The track's awesome and it's just my favorite. That's gotta account for something when you come into a race, having a lot of enjoyment coming to the race."

AT WHAT POINT IN THE SEASON DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO TURN THINGS AROUND FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP RUN? "Well, you've gotta do it right now. We couldn't afford what happened at Atlanta and Darlington. The only thing that saved me there is that both Mark and Gordon have had two DNF's and that's helped me a ton. We're all within 75 points or something. I'm 11th, four points out of 10th and they're not too far away."

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Series NASCAR Cup