Daytona 500: Ford Racing qualifying notes

GEOFFREY BODINE --09-- Miccosukee Indian Gaming Taurus (Qualified 29th) "That's a little quicker than what we practiced with this car and everybody did a great job. James Finch as the owner and Marc Reno as the crew chief do all the work and I...

GEOFFREY BODINE --09-- Miccosukee Indian Gaming Taurus (Qualified 29th)
"That's a little quicker than what we practiced with this car and everybody did a great job. James Finch as the owner and Marc Reno as the crew chief do all the work and I just get in there and push the pedals. It's a really good car. The Bud Shootout car is running good and we appreciate the Miccosukee Indian Tribe for sponsoring us and we hope everything goes good this next week-and-a-half here at Daytona. A couple of years ago it didn't go too well for me, but we're looking for better things this time."

WHAT ABOUT THIS SEASON? "Right now we're planning on running five races. We're looking for some more sponsorship and, hopefully, we'll run Indianapolis and maybe Richmond, a California -- some flat tracks. I'd like to run all the races, but right now we're just doing what we can and I'm so thankful to be back here."

RICK MAST --90-- Duke's Mayonnaise Taurus (Qualified 41st)
"The good news is that's almost identical at what we unloaded at yesterday morning. The bad news is I'm afraid we're not as quick as we need to be yet. Again, we were here testing and went to Talladega testing and were real slow. We came back and the guys worked on it and we picked up probably three-quarters of a second from where we were here three or four weeks ago, and that's a good thing. The bad thing is we need another half-second. If we can continue working on the car while we're here and getting it better and get this baby to where I can race it on Thursday to get in this race, that's gonna be the key."

DO YOU REQUALIFY MONDAY? "We've done so much to this car trying to get speed out of it for a lap that I don't think there's anything else we can do here at the race track short of cutting the body off and re-doing the body. It's all aero right now, so what we do now is work on being able to hold that thing wide open on Thursday. The rules are such now like three years ago, so handling is gonna be a big key. If you've got a fast car, you'll be good, but if you can hold that thing wide open for 125 miles here on Thursday, you're gonna be in good shape."

DAVE BLANEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus (Qualified 36th)
"We're pretty disappointed in that. We couldn't even back up the practice speed from yesterday. We had a hard time getting temperature in the car right there and it just didn't run very fast. We'll have to be fast on Thursday. We'll see what these Fords do in race trim and get after it as hard as we can."

KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus (Qualified 43rd)
"I'm glad I was able to pick it up for the team. We tried just as hard as we posssibly could -- building this car back at the shop and working as hard as they could polishing up every end of it. It's the best piece that we've got, we're gonna run it and see where we end up."

RYAN NEWMAN --12-- ALLTEL Taurus (Qualified 35th)
"The difference between the first lap and the second lap was pretty big and didn't really expect it to be as good as it was based off our first lap. I'm really happy. The ALLTEL guys did a great job and it's just great to be here in Daytona. Trying to get the back end of the car down is big here. We thought about some things overnight and it worked today, but we're still a little ways off of where we need to be."

GREG BIFFLE --16-- Roush Racing Taurus (Qualified 38th)
"We were thinking we were gonna maybe be a little better than that. I was being optimistic because the guys have really worked hard since testing, so we're happy to qualify the Roush Ford where we did. I would have liked a little bit better, but I'm sure satisfied with how hard everybody's worked. As long as we get a good run in the 125, I think we may be okay."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus (Qualified 15th)
"I think in the inspection line, we sat over there a real long time and when you do that all of the fluids and temperatures cool down. That probably knocked a tenth or so out of it, but we didn't have anything for the GM cars or the Dodges for that matter. I don't think NASCAR deserves too much of a pat on the back for evening up the competition for the Daytona 500. It looks pretty lopsided to me."

WILL THE CAR BE OKAY IN RACE TRIM? "I don't know. You get out there and you've got a bunch of cars out there moving around and they punch a bigger hole in the air. That's the trouble with the current rules structure. The Ford has too much drag in it according to the rules. You get out there and it gets better when you get in a dirty air situation, so things will even out a little bit. But this is a group that prides themselves on coming to this race and going for poles and wins and, obviously, that's not gonna happen this week. We're racing for fastest in class today."

DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus (Qualified 13th)
"The lap was good. The guys have done a fantastic job on our car. The engine department is just incredible in getting us around here. We thought we could have gone a little bit quicker, but getting through that room always slows you down a little bit."

YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE JANUARY TESTING. "Yeah, we weren't very good, but it just shows the type of team that we have. They went back and they've worked awfully hard. We used a test a Talladega to try to make sure that when we came here we were at least gonna give ourselves a chance to win this race."

YOU'RE A HALF-SECOND OFF THE POLE SPEED. "Everybody is gonna start saying that we're complaining again, but I've found it amazing that everybody started hollering when they cut a quarter-of-an-inch off of our spoiler, but nobody ever said the first word when they cut a quarter-inch off the Chevrolet spoiler before testing ever started. It looks like they really needed it."

WHAT ABOUT YOUR LAP? "That's about the same that we practiced at, but in looking at the speeds, when you're a half-second off the pole speed that's not very encouraging. But we'll do the best with what we have and see what we can do whenever it comes time to race."

WHAT WOULD THE FORD NEED? "Obviously, we've showed the rear spoiler is not where it's at, it's in the greenhouse of our car. That's where our drag comes from. More than doing something for us, it looks like that in the interest of everybody that they would put the quarter-of-an-inch back on the Chevrolet. Obviously, it did something for them, but we'll see what they do."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO NASCAR? "I've already talked to them. I've been talking to them for a long time. It didn't start yesterday and it certainly wasn't just today that I went in there. I've talked to them on the phone many times about my concerns over this, but they'll do what's right and what they can do to make things as fair as they possibly can. We have a race tomorrow and that will give them a little bit of an idea of what's gonna happen in the draft. The race is what they're concerned with. Sure, it would be nice to have a chance at the pole, but we knew we didn't have that coming in. But, we've got that, we've got practice sessions, we've got the 125s, so there is a lot of time that they can wait and make this decision. This is a decision that they can make on Saturday or even possibly Sunday morning if they had to. They've got a lot of time to work with this and evaluate everything that they can get."

DO YOU WANT SOMETHING DONE? "I'm gonna race whether they do anything or not, so it doesn't matter to me. I'll leave that to NASCAR. If they see fit that we need something, otherwise, I'm just gonna make my car as good as I possibly can, be as smart as I can next Sunday and, hopefully, put myself in some kind of position to do well."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus (Qualified 32nd)
"I think there was a lot of draft going on out there yesterday. The air was all stirred up and it really makes 'em look a little quicker than they really are, so today is the real day. We've done everything we can do and that's what we've got, so we'll have to go with it."

YOU'VE TURNED IT AROUND HERE. "I think we've got a great shot at it. I'm looking forward to winning my first Daytona 500 and I'm gonna give it hell."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus (Qualified 33rd)
"I'm elated for this team. A 50-flat was the best we had run and I didn't expect to do better than that. They lost a lot of sleep last night. They put together a whole mix of things that was worth a few hundreths and each one added up to a lot. I'm happy for them because that's a shot in their arm. I told them that maybe next week I'll be the one losing the sleep. This week they pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Maybe sometime when they need it, I'll do it at a downforce track."

TODD BODINE --66-- Kmart Taurus (Qualified 34th)
"That's about three tenths faster than I expected. We've been struggling real bad, but that is a really good effort. The guys did a great job getting the car ready. We'll just have to get the Kmart Ford ready for the 125s and try to make it through there."

HAS THE KMART SITUATION BEEN A DISTRACTION? "Not really. These guys have been concentrating and focussing on what we had to do. They've got a job to do and they've been doing a great job with it. We understand the situation we're in and we're gonna be looking for sponsorship. Hopefully, somebody out there will be willing to sponsor us."

ROBERT YATES, Car Owner --28 and 88 Ford Tauruses
YOUR TWO CARS ARE THE ONLY FORDS IN THE TOP 20. YOUR THOUGHTS? "We have won this race three times the past few years, but you don't come here and win without being good. We've never won this race when we've had a half-second deficit. I would like to think that some of the differences in qualifying may not be there in the race. We've certainly practiced a lot better than we did the last four superspeedway races, so I'm not down-and-out, I'm just down a little bit. I think we've got some hope. We've worked extremely hard and have made up about a half-a-second, but the other guys just jumped another half-a-second on us, so I guess it's there. I don't feel as bad as when we had the roof deflector. I think we're gonna be better, but we'll see how it plays out."

RICKY CRAVEN --32-- Tide Taurus (Qualified 45th)
IF YOU GOT SOME HELP WOULD IT MATTER WHEN? "Well, it would be nice tomorrow morning. We're gonna be in the Bud Shootout and I'm excited about that. The Tide car is gonna run good. We've done quite a bit of practice in race mode and we still don't have what the Chevrolets and the Pontiacs have. I don't know where the Dodges are at, but in the draft they can do things at will that I can't do, and Mark Martin told me he can't do, and Dale Jarrett told me he can't do, so there is some consistency there."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Wells Fargo Financial/Timberland PRO Taurus (Qualified 21st)
"That's our goal is top 20. If we're in the top 20, I'll feel pretty good about it. I know we were top 20 last year and didn't get in on speed, but I just think last year had a lot of extenuating circumstances. I think anything in the top 20 is pretty safe."

YOU WERE ONE OF THE BEST FORDS IN TESTING AND YOU'RE THE THIRD-BEST TODAY. "Yeah, I think there are two Fords ahead of us and that's Dale and Ricky and our motors all come from the same place. My hat's off to Robert and Doug for obviously showing no partiality there. They gave us a good piece and the boys built a great race car. That's just the best we can do with a Ford today."

JOE NEMECHEK --26-- Kmart Taurus (Qualified 27th)
"All I can say is when it comes to qualifying here it's out of the driver's hands. You know where you've got to be on the race track, but Robert Yates gave us some good power and the guys at the shop have been working real hard to try and get the bodies right. That's a big part of how these things go and that's all we had. I'm just happy for that time."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus (Qualified 39th)
"That's about what we ran in practice. We were hoping to pick up a little bit today, but it just didn't happen. We made a mock-up qualifying run yesterday and that's not where we wanted to be, but I think we're gonna draft pretty good. We didn't start here good last July either, but this car always drafts good here. It's very comfortable and was good down here in testing like that, so, hopefully, we'll have a good day in the 125s. I really like that race. It's fun for us and it's fun for the fans. Hopefully, we can get that Motorcraft Ford Taurus up front for that."

YOU FOLLOWED A CHEVROLET TO A THIRD-PLACE FINISH HERE IN JULY. THE FORDS ARE FOLLOWING THE CHEVROLETS AGAIN IN QUALIFYING. "We kind of expected that from testing. Everybody kept saying that we were sandbagging and all, but we knew that nobody was sandbagging. That's all that we had. We've got to do the best we can with what we've got. We're nowhere near the quickest Ford here, so we've still got a lot of work to do as far as Fords go, but I think we'll be okay. We usually draft pretty good, so I'll probably have to hook on to those Chevrolets again. I'm not ashamed to say that. We have to do what we have to do to run good here. We were able to finish good in July here doing that and we may have to do that again for the Daytona 500."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo Taurus (Qualified 26th)
"That's a great lap for us. We've really struggled here and to be where we are right there, that's a great lap. That's better than we ran in practice and better than we ran all day yesterday. They tuned on the engine quite a bit this morning and made some other changes on the car and all that stuff worked, so I'm real proud of my guys. It's been a real uphill battle, but nobody quit. That's respectable. We weren't very respectable because after the first practice we were like 45th yesterday and to get a top 21 or 22 out of it, that's pretty good."

A LOT OF FORD DRIVERS ARE UPSET TODAY. "Yeah, it's just frustrating. No one has sabotaged us. No one has done anything on purpose to get us slow, it's just the way the rules have worked out and it's worked against us some. It is what it is. You come down here and do the best you can, just work real hard, and that's really what your focus has to be on is figuring out how to make your car what it needs to do. We've got to have speed to have a chance at winning the Daytona 500 or any race, but what we have is what we have."

WILL THE CARS BE BETTER IN THE DRAFT? "Speed is speed at Daytona and Talladega. At some race tracks your car may not qualify well, but it will race well. Here, if you qualify well that means your fast. Handling doesn't mean as much here as say at Charlotte, so we're still in a little bit of trouble. We had a great lap and we're gonna be 25th. That's not where you need to be."

IF FORDS STRUGGLE IN THE SHOOTOUT, DO YOU FORESEE A RULES CHANGE? "They haven't made a history of changing rules at the race track on a race event, although this is a different situation with the new rules coming here. You never know what's gonna happen. NASCAR is real suspect, and I don't blame them, that people aren't showing everything they had. I don't blame them for that because given the opportunity you will, but when it comes time to qualify and time to race, we are racers and we don't lay down. We go get all we can get, so I don't expect we'll get a change. I hope we get a change, but I wouldn't hold my breath."

GREG SPECHT, North American Operations Manager, Ford Racing Technology --
DO YOU FEEL JANUARY TESTING AND QUALIFYING KIND OF MIRRORED EACH OTHER? "Yeah, I think it's pretty obvious at this point in time that the difference we saw between the best Ford in testing and the best competitor was the same as here in qualifying. I think that certainly addresses any issue relative to anybody sandbagging or doing a better job of sandbagging than somebody else."

YOU OBVIOUSLY CAN'T BE HAPPY WITH ONLY TWO CARS IN THE TOP 20. "We're not happy with where we qualified. Certainly when you put these cars in race trim it's a very different situation and when you put them in the draft it's an even bigger situation. But coming from the 12th to 15th or 20th spot as our guys do, you're gonna have to pass somebody in order to win the race and when you pull out to pass, again, drag becomes a big issue. If we're a half-second behind in qualifying, clearly we have more drag than the competition and that's gonna put us at a disadvantage when we go to race. We've got very good teams and very good drivers and I'm sure they'll make the best of what they've got. I'm optimistic that the race finish will be better than qualifying, but in terms of winning the race, it's gonna be difficult unless there are some changes made between now and when the green flag drops for the Daytona 500."

WILL YOU GO TO NASCAR? "Yes, we're going to go talk to NASCAR. I talked to them before qualifying and had a good conversation. They felt they wanted to wait and see what everybody showed in qualifying because that's when everybody lays their cards on the table. We've done that. The data supports what we've been saying all along, so I certainly would like to see something done in order to give us a better chance of winning the race."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Robert Yates , Mark Martin