Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, leads Bobby Labonte by two points in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Burton, however, will be starting on the backstretch for tomorrow's Food City 500. He spoke about what he...
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, leads Bobby Labonte by two points in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Burton, however, will be starting on the backstretch for tomorrow's Food City 500. He spoke about what he hopes to achieve and his thought process going into the race.
JEFF BURTON -99- Exide Batteries Taurus -- DO YOU THINK YOU CAN WIN FROM THE BACKSTRETCH? "We go into every race with aspirations to win. At the same time we go to every race with the aspirations of finishing in the top five. We will go into Sunday's race with the mentality to try and win it. As the race changes and as things evolve, we may find out that we can't win it because we can't run well enough, because the pits are gonna mess us up, because of a lot of reasons. We may find out we can't win or we may find out we can win it. I'm not gonna say we can't win the race from the back straightaway, but it's certainly a disadvantage. But, if you catch a green flag stop late in the race maybe you can win it or maybe you take two tires. There are things you can do to help yourself back there, but it'll be tough." WHAT'S THE SECRET TO PASSING ON THIS TRACK? "It requires patience. You can pass a lot of people in the pits. You can pass a lot of people in the wrecks. If you have good pit stops and you have a fast car and you're patient, you will pass people based on the fact they're gonna break motors, they're gonna be in wrecks, they're gonna be bottle-jams in front of you where you get by three cars. You just have to take advantage of every opportunity. Any opportunity that's there to pass, you've gotta take it, but you can't try to make the opportunity it's gotta be there for you. That's what you have to do at Bristol, you have to take the opportunity that opens. The minute you try to make the opportunity, that's why we have the wrecks."
Jimmy Spencer, driver of the No. 23 Team Winston Taurus, is still nursing some soreness after a late-race accident at Texas two weeks ago. Spencer spoke about his physical condition and what his plans are for competing in tomorrow's Food City 500.
JIMMY SPENCER -23- Team Winston Taurus -- HOW DO YOU FEEL? "Not bad right now. I feel like I might be able to do it. I'm gonna add a little bit more foam to the seat and change some braces and stuff in there. We ran about 60 laps this morning and I don't feel too bad, but that's also not 60 laps non-stop. Our car is running really good and I think that helps a lot. When your car is running decent, I think that has a tendency to put that out of your mind because you're thinking that you're probably gonna have a good day."
IS THERE A CERTAIN PART OF YOUR BODY THAT IS TAKING MORE STRESS AND CAUSING DISCOMFORT? "My wrists aren't too bad because you keep them in place on the wheel, but my ribs and my shoulders are together and it's not really good. There are a bunch of ligaments and bruises and stuff. I saw some stuff last night when I took a shower that I didn't like, but, oh well."
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus, will start fifth for tomorrow's Food City 500. This marks Rudd's second top-five starting effort of the season after he won the pole at North Carolina Speedway in February. Rudd spoke about his expectations for tomorrow.
RICKY RUDD -10- Tide Taurus -- YOU HAD A GREAT QUALIFYING RUN YESTERDAY. "Well, I tell you, the guys did a really great job. They've been working together. I know somebody made an announcement that we have a new crew chief in place, but really what we've got is our same group of guys that we've had that have been kind of working together as a group. Dan Stillman is calling the shots this weekend. He's one of the guys that has been with us a couple of years and all of them have done a heckuva job. They've put a good car under me this week and it's gonna be pretty good to race with also."
HAVE YOU ADDED JOE GARONE TO THE STAFF? "No, we're talking to Joe. We're talking to a couple of guys right now. We'd love to have Joe, but we've gotta make sure it's gonna work for everybody, but he'd be a big asset to the race team. We'd love to have him. You can't keep things quiet in this business, but we've been talking to Joe and, if we work things out, we'd love to have him come on board. But this weekend Dan Stillman and our regular group that has pulled together, I want to pat them on the back for the success we've had this week. For the future, we're talking to a couple of guys and Joe is definitely high on the list."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE RACE TOMORROW? "We're in pretty good shape. Everybody seems to be fighting a push on the exit of the corner and the guys that can get that worked out will be the guys that run good in a long run. A lot of guys seem to be quick with a short run, we stayed on one set of old tires just trying to get the car to stay consistent on old tires. We feel like we're pretty good. We have the car that, I think, if we didn't lead the most laps we led just about the most laps last time but we were good with the short run. We knew from that race that we needed to be better in the long run and that's what we're working on."
Robert Pressley, driver of the No. 77 Jasper Engines Taurus, is scheduled to start 11th in tomorrow's Food City 500. That marks his best starting position since he qualified eighth at Texas in 1998. He spoke about where he's starting and his hopes for Sunday.
ROBERT PRESSLEY -77- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "Qualifying has never been real good for me. We race a little bit better, but we've put a lot of emphasis on qualifying lately. At Atlanta and Vegas we missed the race because of some problems we had here and we just really sat down started adding on to our qualifying package. We knew we were getting better with our racing and starting 11th tomorrow is gonna be pretty good for us. We want to consistently be in this top 15 every week because it makes it a lot easier. The team itself, I can't say enough about it. We started about 18 months ago on this deal and I knew it was gonna be good once we got the right people in the right place. I think everything's starting to come together and I believe once July gets here we're gonna be pretty well set."
IS BRISTOL THE KIND OF TRACK WHERE, IF YOU AVOID THE ACCIDENTS, YOU HAVE A GOOD CHANCE AT WINNING COMPARED TO SOME OF THE OTHER SUPERSPEEDWAYS? "When you come to Bristol about 35 of these cars could win this race. I like these tight little race tracks like this, but luck is everything. The thing is we want to be able to get to the point where we're a top five team eventually. We're not there yet. We could sneak in and possibly win a race at one of these race tracks, but we want to win it when we beat everybody and not just because lady luck was on our side. I'd like to win any way you can do it, but we want to win flat-out one time, and then become consistent after that. I've always heard people say it takes a couple years to get a team together, but I never did understand that. I didn't see where it took that long, but if you don't have a group of people believing in each other, you aren't ever gonna make the team work no matter what happens. I feel like we've got a group of people here now that we're all wanting the same goal."
DO YOU CONSIDER YOU AND YOUR TEAM UNDERDOGS? "I've never really looked at it as being an underdog because you don't get to this series by being underdogs. Everybody who is in this series -- owners and drivers -- have won everything they could win in the other series. We are the underdogs sometimes and are treated like the stepchild or something, but that's gonna make it even greater when we win. I know we're turning heads right now, but everybody is still straddling the fence a little bit. I feel like whenever we break the ice, we aren't ever gonna have to ask for anything else."
Darrell Waltrip, driver of the No. 66 Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus, will start 12th in tomorrow's Food City 500. That marks his best starting effort since he was eighth at Loudon, N.H. last July. He spoke about his qualifying run and his hopes for the race.
DARRELL WALTRIP -66- Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus -- "I hate to keep hammering on it, but we came up here and tested last week and, boy, did it make a difference. We found so many little things that we could do to help the car. I got real comfortable here and then it really paid off for qualifying. We showed up here and were one of the fastest cars in the practice session, except the last one because we didn't go out, so we knew we were gonna qualify pretty good. Our goal was to be on the front straightaway and get a good lap in and we did that. It really bears out what I was saying at Texas. I said if we could get through that weekend, make the race, that would give us a little breathing room and we'd have a week off and this team needs that badly. It needs a little time to rebuild and repair. We've been building as fast as we can go, but you need a little time in there to catch your breath and look at what you've done and make some improvements. That weekend off gave us the opportunity to do that. We went to Talladega and got to test our Talladega car, which was great because we didn't think we were gonna have time to do that. So over the next few weeks we're finally being able to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. We're starting to feel that as behind as we've been, we're starting to catch up in a hurry." SOME GUYS WON'T SEE THE GREEN FLAG DROP TOMORROW, BUT YOU WILL. HOW DOES THAT FEEL? "I've been there. I know what it's like to start back 20 of the field. The leader comes off turn four to take the green and you're in the middle of the back straightaway, so you're a half-lap behind before they drop the green flag. Then at 20 laps the leader's hounding on your back door trying to lap you, so I've been there. I've fought that battle a number of times the last two or three years, so it's nice to be where we are. The biggest thing we're working real hard on is to be able to stay where we are. We don't want to back pedal. Boy, you've gotta have the right setup for the race here. You can go backwards in a hurry if you're not careful. We just want to be consistent. We want to run in the top 20 all day, stay out of trouble, and have all the fenders on it with 100 to go and see what we can do. That's always been my approach here."