KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia Pacific/Brawny Dodge) NOTE: Petty posted the fifth fastest speed in afternoon practice for tomorrow's Daytona 500 qualifying. Petty's lap of 188.403 mph was only one one-thousandth of a second slower than fourth-place...
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Georgia Pacific/Brawny Dodge)
NOTE: Petty posted the fifth fastest speed in afternoon practice for tomorrow's Daytona 500 qualifying. Petty's lap of 188.403 mph was only one one-thousandth of a second slower than fourth-place Jimmie Johnson.
"Yeah, it looks a lot like Martinsville qualifying. It's going to be close, but it's that way everywhere now. We got in a good, clean practice lap. We came down here and were 13th or 14th over the winter. We just wanted to come down and back that up. We struggled the first part and then we backed it up. We got a lot from the 43 team. We stuck to our plan and it's worked out pretty good so far. We'll come back tomorrow and try again. The 43 car is off a little bit, but I think they were a little higher than they anticipated and that slowed 'em down a little bit. These cars should run close to the same speed. We built two new Dodges and they're exactly the same. They shouldn't be this far apart right now. They've been within half a tenth of each other all the way through the winter. They'll get closer. We're going out 27th and 29th tomorrow. We're right in the middle, so that's a decent draw. We're not going to be the best or worst."
DO YOU HAVE A SHOT FOR THE POLE? "No, not with the Yates' cars running as fast as they're running. I don't think the DEI cars have unleashed their madness yet. There are some spot cars around that are pretty good. The 21 car is pretty good, the 48. I think what Yates showed today and what Ricky Rudd showed in testing, they're going to be tough. DEI is at Daytona, so you've got to look at that. Some of those cars are going to be up in there. I don't think we've got a shot at the pole, but we were 10th last year on speed. If we can come back this year and put two cars in the top 15, that would be good. We thought the 43 car had a good shot at the pole over the winter, but some of these guys came back down here a little better than they anticipated. We came back a lot better. I still think some of these other guys had more laying on the table, too, so once again I underestimated him, but we've got a good shot at putting the 43 in the top 10."
IS THE ENGINE PROGRAM BETTER? "Yes, tons better, but I think the whole program is a lot better. The engines got a lot better. You've got to look at yourself, too. When you point a finger at somebody you've got three pointing back at you. We had to go back to Petty Enterprises and look at ourselves, too. The whole time I was pointing a finger at Mike Ege saying this or that, I had to look back at the cars and the personnel and see what we were doing. I think it was a wake-up call for all of us. Mike's guys have worked hard and their stuff has really improved. Our fab guys have worked hard and their stuff has improved. The way the cars are assembled and set up, we started a couple of different processes, and that's gotten better over the winter. It's been a really good winter for us."
WHAT'S DALE INMAN DOING AT PETTY ENTERPRISES? "It's a good example and it couldn't have worked out any better. Dale coming back for us is kind of like Gibbs going back to the Redskins. It's as much motivational as anything. To have Joe Gibbs back in Washington, the city itself is ecstatic and everybody is pumped up. They think they're a winner again. To have Dale Inman walk back through the door at Petty Enterprises and be a part of it, even though maybe not on a technical basis, to have him talking to the guys and patting them on the back and stuff like that is more of a motivational thing and I think it gives the guys a winning attitude. It's been a good winter. If you're not motivated, he'll just beat you to death and then you'll be motivated (said in jest). He's always been good at motivating. You can ask Robbie Loomis or any of the other guys who have worked for him. That's the main thing they learned from him. The mechanical side and race strategy side is a strong suit for him, too. He's as old as The King, one or two years one way or the other. His official title is Dale Inman. Need I say more? You've got The King, and you've got Dale Inman. You don't need any other titles. The King and Dale are motivating each other and then they're chasing us. You've got to feel good about it. Why not? It's the dawn of a new season. You've got to feel good about it."