Buckshot Jones Las Vegas Saturday Report

Note: Pontiac Grand Prix driver Buckshot Jones anxiously watched second round qualifying from his rig in the garage area. He eased into Sunday's show after standing on his 35th-fastest qualifying time. Jones, a rookie, failed to make the ...

Note: Pontiac Grand Prix driver Buckshot Jones anxiously watched second round qualifying from his rig in the garage area. He eased into Sunday's show after standing on his 35th-fastest qualifying time. Jones, a rookie, failed to make the starting fields at Daytona, Fla., and Rockingham, N.C. Jones talks about the relief of making his first race of the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup season.

BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 00 Crown Fiber Pontiac Grand Prix): "I guess we were fortunate enough that the race they ran last night, the rubber they put down on the track made the track real slick and the track was a little bit warmer today. Nobody really was running fast. The times we were running in practice we knew there was no way we could run even close to what we ran in qualifying. In the beginning of second round qualifying nobody was running as fast. But then the 44, 77 and 1 cars started picking it up. We just had to take a gamble. It looks like today it paid off for us. It feels good not having to go home. We're in the show. We knew what we had to do. It just feels good to make the race. It's terrible going home from a race."

HOW BIG A RELIEF? "Huge. It's bad for the guys, too, when you go home. Morale gets down. We're learning. Everybody we have on this team is mostly from the Busch Series and it's going to take awhile for us to learn some of this stuff. There may be other rookie drivers out here, but they're with teams composed of veterans that have been in Winston Cup. We've been learning a whole lot. We've been behind a little bit. Yesterday we were good enough to get us in the show."

WHAT'S YOUR GOAL SUNDAY? "My goal is to run every lap and finish the race. The first thing you have to do is make the race and then after you make it you've got to run all the laps to get the experience. It's not going to pay to go out there and try to go to the front right off the bat. There's going to be some good cars back there with me. I'll be doing a lot of learning tomorrow. I'll have a lot of good people around me, so it will be a learning day all day tomorrow. We've just been able to run with the qualifying setup in it so far. You know, even in the Busch Series we didn't seem to be great at qualifying. I'm not the best qualifier there is out there. But when it was time to race, we got the car comfortable. I'd love to get a top-20 finish. If we can do that I'll be pleased with the weekend."

WHERE DID YOU WATCH SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING? "I missed the first four or five cars because I knew the quicker cars were going out last. I sat in the trailer and watched and I saw one of the cars ran about the same time he ran in practice. I was 90 percent sure we were in the race, but you never know."

YOU'VE MADE CUP RACES IN ATLANTA. DOES THIS GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE HEADING TO YOUR HOMETOWN TRACK? "Making this race isn't the really big step we need to make. There are a lot of little things you learn in Winston Cup. We've learned things about brakes, things about the front end and you need to make one big step in having all that knowledge and then you can apply it. That's what kind of sets us back. We knew that was going to be kind of a problem for us this year. There's learning to be done for me, Ricky (Pearson, crew chief) and all the guys. Once we learn all this stuff we ought to be all right. We need to make one big step and then go from there. It's a great feeling to make the race. My dad is all pumped up. Even the guys and their wives and kids. You miss the first two races and you come down hard. I wouldn't care if I was starting dead last. It doesn't matter where you start, you're in the show. It means a lot."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Buckshot Jones