Darlington Thursday notes

DARLINGTON SET TO OPEN FOR TRANSOUTH FINANCIAL 400 WEEKEND DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 21) -- Full fields of NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series, Grand National Division race cars are set to open practice Friday morning in preparation for ...

DARLINGTON SET TO OPEN FOR TRANSOUTH FINANCIAL 400 WEEKEND

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 21) -- Full fields of NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series, Grand National Division race cars are set to open practice Friday morning in preparation for Busch Pole Award Qualifying at 2 p.m. Friday. Fifty-seven NASCAR Busch Series cars are entered for Saturday's DURA-LUBE 200 Presented by Pep Boys. They will practice from 9-11 a.m. and 12:30-1 p.m. in preparation for their 2 p.m. Busch Pole session that will set positions 1-38 in the starting field of up to 43 cars for Saturday's 1 p.m. start of the 17th DURA-LUBE 200. Forty-four NASCAR Winston Cup Series cars are entered for Sunday's 40th TranSouth Financial 400. They will practice from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 1-2 p.m. in preparation for their Busch Pole session that will start immediately following NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying and lock-in positions 1-25 for Sunday's race. Tim Fedewa is the NASCAR Busch Series qualifying record holder at Darlington with a lap of the 3.66-mile oval at an average speed of 162.904 mph set last year in a Ford Thunderbird. Jeff Gordon is the NASCAR Winston Cup Series qualifying record holder at Darlington with a lap at 170.833 mph, which was set last year in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. No less than 10 NASCAR Winston Cup haulers participated in a "Big Rig Show" that was held as a fund-raiser at the Florence Civic Center on Thursday evening. NASCAR Winston Cup drivers Ricky Rudd and Derrike Cope also participated in the event. NASCAR will hold a press conference on Friday at 12:30 p.m. to "serve up" an update on the progress of the "NASCAR Cafe" project.

TRANSOUTH FINANCIAL 400 NOTES

RICKY RUDD (No. 10 Tide Ford) -- So far it's been a good, consistent season. We sat back in the winter and had a regrouping with our new crew chief (Richard Broome). Our goals were to not kill ourselves in the points while we're learning to work with each other. We've been fortunate to have four top 10s and one top five. We know we're going to get better as a team. We very well could win this weekend (Rudd won 1991 TranSouth event). We didn't come here and test so I don't know what kind of shape we'll be in but we've traditionally run well at Darlington. Right now we've been a sixth or seventh place car everywhere we've been, but that's not to say this couldn't be a winning weekend. (SPEEDS ARE LOOKING TO BE UP THIS SPRING -- IS IT A NATURAL PROGRESSION?) I think the race track surface is the best by far that it's ever been since I've been at Darlington (since 1977). Goodyear's tire development has continued and they're working pretty good. Everyone's tested near the track record so Goodyear's done their homework. It's gonna be an interesting, fast field. (HOW HAS RICHARD BROOME FIT IN AS CREW CHIEF?) Broome is a real good, solid crew chief. He really hasn't seen much glory since the last races Kenny Schrader was able to win (in 1991). It's a pleasure to work with Richard -- he's still really hungry and wants to win really badly. He's got the credentials. He's got to catch up as far as working with me on what I want a race car to do and we're working through that pretty quickly. He's a real good people person and knowledgeable way back in the sport. He knows where it's been and where it's headed. He's open-minded on the new technology which is really a good asset. What I like about Richard is he's not happy at all (to have run as well as they have) to be third in the points and about 50 out of first (actually 72). This is something to be proud of, with basically a new team, but we haven't dominated any races. He wants to win and be up front in every race and I like the fact that he's not content to run up front and finish second. (HOW MUCH EMPHASIS IS HE PUTTING ON THE BUSCH POLE?) You really don't know if you're going to be a factor for the pole or to just make the race until you run the first couple practice sessions. It's THAT competitive. Sometimes three tenths (of a second) will separate a field. We sat on the outside of the front row in the last race here but until we got here we didn't know how good we were going to be.

DERRIKE COPE (No. 12 Mane 'N Tail Ford) -- The car's been better than the results show! That's part of the sport. If we can get the monkey off our back -- the car's capable of winning races. We can turn it around here. Darlington's always been a good race track for us -- our finishes show it. If we can qualify up front I think we can finish up there and carry it on. (ON QUICK TEST SPEEDS.) It's a natural progression of things. Goodyear has got a good, solid tire. They keep stimulating the minds of these teams and they keep finding more avenues to find speed. It's a progressive sport and that's why you keep seeing the speeds escalating.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Derrike Cope , Jeff Gordon