California Ford qualifying notes

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus (Qualified 8th) -- "That was a good lap, but I think the Cougar Melling Taurus is a little bit better. I got a little aggressive over in two and that sun came out and got the track a little slick. I got...

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus (Qualified 8th) -- "That was a good lap, but I think the Cougar Melling Taurus is a little bit better. I got a little aggressive over in two and that sun came out and got the track a little slick. I got out and just touched that stay-dry from this morning and the car wiggled a little bit and I had to check up, but it was a good lap for us. We had a good car. We brought a new car here and the guys have done an awful good job with it. We're pretty excited. The car has been quick since we got here and we're looking forward to Sunday."

"I think we've been here four times and had three top fives, so this place traditionally has been pretty good to us. This is a nice track. These are nice facilities, it's smooth and there's room to race and it's been pretty good to us."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 16th) -- "The starter engaged and we couldn't get it unhooked. We couldn't crank the motor up to circulate the oil through there. We got the oil hot in the tank, but never could get the oil temperature right out on the race track. It ran like 140 degrees and I just couldn't pull it around through there, but we know we've got a good race car and on Sunday we'll be good."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus (Qualified 3rd) -- "We were pretty decent in practice and the sun has come out, which changes this race track quite a bit. It didn't change it as much as I thought it might. It seemed like it's effected some of the other cars, but didn't seem to effect us that much. It's better than we had run in practice and it seems like the trend has been everybody slowing down, so it was one of those deals I drove in there pretty deep and the Texaco Havoline Taurus stuck pretty good. It wasn't good enough for the pole, but it's gonna be a good starting spot. These guys worked really hard to put this car together, it's a new car and it's looking good."

CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus (Qualified 45th) -- "We didn't have a good qualifying lap at all. The car got away from me in turn two and the John Deere Ford was heading up toward the wall so I had to get out of the gas and gather it back up. It wasn't a good lap, but that happens every now and then. We needed some time and I was trying to get it, but it wasn't there at that particular moment. We'll just have to get ready for the race and start in the back."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 11th) -- "I had a good lap I just missed my line in one and two a little bit -- it was really me and not the car. I got in a little too deep and touched the brake a little bit more than I should have, I shouldn't have even touched the brake but I did, and then I did that again down in turn three and it just hurt my time. I thought the car would run down in the 70's and it just didn't do it."

WALLY DALLENBACH --75-- Cartoon Network Taurus (Qualified 22nd) -- "I'm not happy with that. We got a little bit loose down there in one and two. The car turned down so good that I think I hit the apron and the car got way out of shape there or it would have been a heck of a lot better than that. We're going in the right direction it's just that we thought we had a top 10 car. The car was real good testing and everything...just screwed up basically that's all I can say."

YOU MADE A GOOD RECOVERY THOUGH. "Yeah. I don't like the second round stuff, so I figured I've got to stay in this thing and get something. The car was excellent in three and four, but I left probably two or three-tenths laying down there in one and two on that deal."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- Taurus (Qualified 35th) -- "That was a pretty disappointing run. We thought we were gonna be much better than that. We got off into turn one and the car hit pretty hard and lost the front end. I don't know if it lost the cross-member or not, but it's the first time it did it all day. Three and four were pretty good, but we lost all of our speed in one and two so we'll see what happens."

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus (Qualified 7th) -- "First of all I love this race track. I've had a good time here everytime I've been here mainly because of the people out here. You know, I drove an 'ol IROC car here, it was a pink IROC car, and I had more fun that day. I got lapped, but they were doing the wave as I went by. The people out here love me. I've been coming out here for 30 years -- Riverside, Ontario and now here -- I'm just tickled to death to be here. I knew I was gonna have a good weekend. I told Stevie before we ever came out here, I said, 'This car is gonna run really good and we're gonna have a good time.'"

YOU'VE RUN WELL AT THIS TRACK. "I've got to put the 'v' in victory somehow."

MAYBE WE JUST NEED TO PUT PRESSURE ON YOU EVERY WEEK? "They give me those provisionals and it seems as soon as we use them up we go to work. That was a great run for us. I think this team is coming around. We went to Charlotte for a couple of days and tested on our off weekend with this same car and had a really good test, so I felt confident coming here that we were gonna run pretty good. I like this place, it's always been a fun place for me. The people love me out here, that's what's fun. I got a t-shirt they gave me last night that says 'California Loves DW,' well DW loves California."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus (Qualified 5th) -- YOU GUYS STEPPED IT UP FROM PRACTICE. "We did. We ran 15 runs without making any gains and the last three runs we picked up three or three-and-a-half tenths, so that put us in the game. I knew we weren't a contender for the pole, but we're in the game now. This will give us a good spot here and now we can go try to win this thing on Sunday." HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "Spectacular. The car has been working well the whole time. I'm tickled to death with the whole thing -- I love this race track and I love my car. It wasn't fast enough in practice for qualifying, but I think in race setup it'll be good."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 6th) -- "The Tide car ran well. We were not real happy with it this morning in practice, so we made a lot of changes leading up to qualifying. We weren't sure if we were headed in the right direction, but as it turned out it looks like everything worked out all right."

HOW WAS THE LAP? "It scared me down in three and four. I mean, I used up every bit of race track down there."

HOW ABOUT THIS BEING YOUR HOME TRACK? "My ultimate dream would have been to have the pole. We had back-to-back poles here with the Indy car in '98 and '99, and we thought we might have a shot at it. This morning, when we got here, we just worked on the car trying to make it better because we just want to get in the top 25 and go racing."

IS THERE A COMFORT LEVEL HERE SINCE YOU DO HAVE SOME INDY CAR RACES UNDER YOUR BELT AT THIS TRACK? "There's a comfort level of being here and knowing the place. It's a great facility and the comfort level of being out here in California where I was born and raised, but as far as the track itself everything is different. Your line is different, your speed is different, the conditions are a bit different. What you do with the car is totally different, so the only thing that's comfortable is that I've been to Fontana and I've raced here and I know where a lot of things are."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus (Qualified 30th) -- "We really thought we'd run quicker than that. We just couldn't get a hold of the race track. I went in the first turn and pushed out real bad and then I got to three and four and the thing turned sideways on me, so I really don't know what happened. I just couldn't get a hold of the race track like I had earlier."

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus (Qualified 2nd) -- "It was a great run. About a month ago we just started to go to work on our race cars. All the guys in the shop, I got down on all of them and I told them they weren't doing the job I thought they needed to do and I've gotta tip my hat to them because they have finally done some good work and built some really good race cars. I'll take it now because if they keep doing what they're doing, there's no doubt that the Kmart team can win some races. Our qualifying effort just goes to show you. We unloaded really, really fast and I think the car will be fast on Sunday also. We did it at Talladega. We had a really good car, we qualified well and ran well all day long and that's what we've got to do to perform on Sunday. We need to get top 10 finishes and, hopefully, that hard work is gonna pay off for them."

WAS TALLADEGA A BOOST? "I've been down on myself and saying, 'What in the heck am I doing wrong?' I haven't run any Busch races this year and it's just a lot of things. I didn't have any confidence in the tires. I was just pointing fingers at everything and finally realized in talking with Travis is that I think the problem is that Jimmy Spencer does not have the confidence in the team and the team is not building race cars they way they need to be and it's worked out. Travis, I tip my hat to him, he didn't fire anybody or anything, he just said, 'Boys, we need to go to work.' I love Talladega and I really feel that was a big boost for everybody and me personally too. It shows you we can run with them again and that's what we want to do. We want to win with the Kmart car and I think we can."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus (Qualified 32nd) -- "We just haven't run very good all day. We just haven't got a handle on it. We tried to make some changes there to make it better, but they just didn't do that."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus (Qualified 19th) -- "We're happy with that. Actually, the Citgo Ford is probably a whole lot faster than that, but being what I did at Texas and we needed to get in this weekend first round, I just kind of rode around and made sure I got a good, safe lap and that's what we got. This Citgo Ford is gonna be awesome on Sunday. It's the same one we had everybody covered with at Texas, so we're looking forward to Sunday."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus (Qualified 13th) -- IS IT A LUCKY 13? "Anything first day is lucky (laughing). That was a good lap. That was a little slower than we ran in practice, but most people did slow down. We were 20th in practice and we were like seventh early in the day and we lost a little bit. We kept getting tighter and tighter and tighter and saw other people getting faster while we didn't, so we're happy with 13th."

"We're not on the pole because I lifted in the corners quite a bit. The track is in really good shape. Goodyear did a good job with the tire, I think this is a new tire for us out here. I'm not sure if these are record speeds or not, but the cars are all going through the corners pretty fast and I think a lot of that is mainly Goodyear's good job on the tires. It's been another year since we've been out here and the teams, they all get a little bit sharper on the chassis setup and stuff, but I think that's why you see the fast speeds, mainly because Goodyear has done the work on the tire construction."

HOW MANY YEARS DOES IT TAKE TO GET COMFORTABLE AT A TRACK? "What happens is we come out to these race tracks for the first time and the asphalt is real aggressive and the car sticks good in the corner. That really presents problems for Goodyear to get the tire to work on the race track, they have to have a harder tire. I guess where I'm headed at is you come back the second time and you have a different tire and you come back the third time and you have a different tire. A lot of times when the tires change like that your old setup books sort of go out the window. Maybe you refer back to them, but you still pretty much start with a brand new ballgame when they do change the tire construction like they did here. You really relate back to tracks where we ran these tires at, tracks like Atlanta. You start thinking about what you did at Atlanta and sometimes that relates to here better than the setups from here last time."

DO YOU FORECAST THIS RACE TO BE A LOT LIKE MICHIGAN WHERE DRIVERS CAN RUN AWAY FROM THE FIELD IF THEY HIT THE SETUP RIGHT? "I think it's a possibility. You want to sit here and talk about how exciting it's gonna be and it very well could be the greatest race we've ever seen here at California, but this type of race track has that potential where if you hit a really good chassis setup you can check out on the competition. As time goes on I don't think we've seen that too much this year. We haven't really seen somebody set sail I don't think and check out on each other because what happens is that knowledge spreads through the garage area pretty quickly. If you notice, we've had nine races and nine different winners so far and I think a lot of that is because there aren't really any secrets in this garage area. You might end up with something that works to be a little advantage, but if you can keep that advantage for seven days you're lucky just because of the way the word spreads now."

JIMMY SPENCER PRESS CONFERENCE "When you get that close (to the pole) you're a little upset because, naturally, you want to be on the pole. We got a little bit too loose in three and four and that happened on our qualifying attempt before (in practice) so that hurt us a little bit. That little bit probably cost us the pole, but, man, this year we've been worrying about if we were gonna make the races so to start second is a pretty big accomplishment for the Kmart team. Our goals were to try to be in the top 25, that's very important for practice and for race trim so being second is pretty special."

TALK ABOUT YOUR NEW CARS? "It's new generation for Darrell and me, but it's not for Ricky Rudd and Jack Roushes bunch. We've just been noticing that our cars don't look like other Tauruses. We worked hard and built a brand new car for Talladega and, boy, what a plus it was. Now we're building a new one for Darrell and these two cars are the same thing. We've just learned a lot about the bodies and Ford has been a big help for us because they gave us a lot of wind tunnel time. You need the wind tunnel time to progress in this sport, there's no question, and our guys have utilized it really well. They've worked hard and the new version of the car is just better bodies."

RICKY RUDD CONTINUED -- CAN YOU BE THE 10TH DIFFERENT WINNER? "I guess I have to look at it, I mean it's great that we came here and we're up front and starting third. That's great. Everybody comes here, like Jimmy says, everyone would like to come here and sit on the pole, but if you're not running that good in practice, then you're next goal is to finish in the top 25 because then you can work on your race setup. But, really, qualifying setup is one distinct setup and then the race trim is another complete package. In other words, there is no guarantee that because you qualify well you're gonna race well. I wish that was the case everywhere we go and it was that way maybe five or six years ago or even three years ago, but now the setups have become so unique just to qualify. But, what I will say about this, like Jimmy mentioned their body work they did on their cars, that won't change so he'll still have a good race car and the same here. If you tune it correctly, you will be a factor in the race and a lot of that is directly related to how much practice time you get and being able to work on race trim setup. I'm confident that we've got a car that's capable of winning, if we make the right adjustments to the car we have. I'm sure Jimmy's gonna sit here and tell you the same thing. We obviously have good race cars and you could probably go back through the top 10 and say that, and there's probably somebody that's sitting in 40th that can come through there if maybe he slipped up and about spun out and didn't cut a good, fast lap. There are other people back there in the back that can still come up and win this race, but I will have to say we've got a very good race car, but that doesn't guarantee a race-winning car unless we do our work in happy hour correctly."

JIMMY SPENCER CONTINUED -- ARE THERE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE CARS YOU AND DARRELL RUN? "Darrell had his normal setup here when he started practice and he wasn't happy with it. My guys came up with this setup that we learned at Las Vegas that helped us and we were running pretty good, so Darrell came over and we talked a little bit and Darrell said, 'Well heck, I've got to try it.' He only got like three or four laps, but he said, 'What a difference.' I did the same thing with Darrell last year. When he was at Michigan he ran really well and I didn't and I went over and talked to him with about 30 minutes to go in practice and qualified good because of his setup. I think the multi-car team helps us. I think you have to make it work. If you don't help one another, there's no sense for the car owners to be involved with having two teams. Today, it did work for Darrell and myself and, hopefully, we can find something tomorrow in race trim that will help both of us have a good day on Sunday."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GETTING DOWN ON YOU AND YOUR TEAM? "It's something I felt like when we started the year at Daytona we had made some plans and thought we had some good race cars. After about three or four races I felt like we didn't have good race cars and I told the guys that. They felt like they did and it sort of got almost in a little bit of an argument between the crew and me. I told Travis and Carl (Haas) that if they don't do something, then I might as well leave because I feel like the motors are really good but our cars are just turtles. It verified that with wind tunnel data. We took some cars to the race track that Ford said was 150-180 pounds of downforce off and that's very upsetting to the guys in the shop. They worked hard and they worked long hours putting that body on it and thought they did the right thing and they didn't. They were man enough to admit it and I'm man enough to admit when I made a mistake, and it worked out for us. About three weeks ago Travis sat us all down and told us what he expected out of us and those guys said they were gonna give 100 percent like I was giving 100 percent. I wasn't giving 100 percent probably a couple of weeks ago because I felt like, 'Why should I drive any harder. I know I can't be any more competitive.' This has helped. We ran decent at Martinsville. We got in an accident with Ricky. I forget who spun out in front of Ricky, but, man, it tore us all up. Then we went to Talladega and those guys worked. I tip my hat to them. They worked many, many hours. They worked late nights in shifts to get that car done and I walking in the shop Monday morning after Talladega and I said,

JIMMY SPENCER CONTINUED -- 'Thanks guys, I really, really appreciate it.' And they said, 'Thank you.' That goes to show you that my car and Darrell's car are the same and we've got a brand new one being built for Charlotte and they're working hard on that. It's just the pressure of Winston Cup racing. It used to be that you could predict the winner. You could probably take five cars and say one of those teams are gonna win. Junior Johnson at the time, Bud Moore, one of those guys. Now, I would not be a betting man on Sunday to who could win the race. That's the competition level we have in Winston Cup racing and it is getting tougher every week to run good, to run in the top 10. It goes all the way back to the guys in the shop building the cars. If they don't do their job, then the guys at the track can't do their jobs and the best engine and best pit crew in the world is not gonna win the race for you."

RICKY RUDD CONTINUED -- IS THIS A BORING RACE TRACK AND A BORING RACE? "I think every race is different. As the rules change the cars are different and it's hard to make a prediction. There are good races and there are races that aren't so good, but I don't think we'll know until the race starts. Usually, you can get an indication in happy hour. A lot of things dictate that -- the current rules, the tires that we have at this race track, how wide can you run in the corner -- I don't think you'll really know. I think you'll get an indication in happy hour, but I think each race you just have to take it as it is. If it's a great race, then write about it and if it's not, then tell it like it is."

JIMMY SPENCER CONTINUED -- IS THIS A BORING RACE TRACK AND A BORING RACE? "I've watched basketball games and they were pretty boring and I've watched baseball games, I still can't watch a baseball game. But Winston Cup racing, every race is different, every race has something different to predict the winner, to predict 10th place. But some races aren't quite as exciting as others because somebody gets hooked up really good, but, yet, if you watch back in the pack -- 10th, 12th, maybe racing for fifth. I remember one time last year Ricky Rudd and I raced as hard as the guy who won the race at Rockingham. We raced for 20th place and we put on a hell of a race and we finished in 20th place, but we race each other side-by-side. You beat me, Ricky. But it was exciting and you should have been in the seat with us. Really, I think the thing the media has to realize is that, yeah, if you concentrate when we do have a race that's probably not as good as it needs to be, you're just thinking about maybe the top five cars. But if you look back at the guys like myself. I'm struggling to be in the top 25 in points and now all at once I have a great run at Talladega I'm 20th and now I'm not that far out of 15th. There are a lot of storylines, there are a lot of stories in Winston Cup racing and there are a lot of exciting races. So, just because maybe the leaders get a sleeper once in a while doesn't mean we're not racing back there further in the pack. Sometimes we're racing harder than those guys up front are because their cars are handling perfect and we're struggling back there getting blisters on our hands trying to figure out what the heck to do to make our car run better. Winston Cup racing, we do get some sleepers once in a while, but 80 or 90 percent of the time they're pretty exciting races."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Junior Johnson , Jack Roush