Daytona Ford Qualifying Notes

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "The Citgo Ford is gonna be alright come race weekend. We've been struggling a little bit with qualifying on this speedway stuff, but last year we had some great race cars near the end of the season on the ...

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "The Citgo Ford is gonna be alright come race weekend. We've been struggling a little bit with qualifying on this speedway stuff, but last year we had some great race cars near the end of the season on the speedways like Daytona here in July and Talladega, so we're looking forward to Thursday and Sunday. We feel like we can race our way in and that's what we're looking forward to."

CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus -- "That's certainly not the time that we think it's gonna take to get in on your speed if something was to happen in the twins, but we lost a little bit from practice and we'll have to figure out why. Nonetheless, we've always been good down here in the race and I think the John Deere team will still be just as good come the Twin 125s."

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus -- "You're never pleased. I'm pleased with the new sponsor and the new colors of the car and stuff, but when we tested here we ran pretty good and we thought we were gonna be in pretty good shape. We're not as good as we want to be. I can't say enough about Robert Yates taking us on with the motors, they're very good motors, I think we've gotta do some work on our car to qualify better but I think we'll be good in the 500 and we'll be good in Thursday's race. We've just gotta do some work there. Donnie's (Wingo, crew chief) done a great job this winter and we're excited about having Kmart and the new Ford Taurus. I think we're gonna do really well this year."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We were a little bit faster than that in practice, so I don't know what happened. I think everybody is fighting it a little bit right now. The wind has changed a little bit, but we're happy with that. We knew we weren't gonna sit on the pole or our chances weren't really good today, but we know we've got a good race car and a good setup and we'll just get ready to go."

ED BERRIER --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus -- "We've been kind of throwing the first lap away trying to get up some speed in the Hills Brother Ford and we're pretty pleased with that. That's about the quickest we've been since we've been here. We ran a quick lap this morning; we got hooked up in the draft. I was hoping to get in the 47's, but we didn't quite make it. I hope that will be good, but we'll just have to wait and see."

DERRIKE COPE --15-- Fenley-Moore Motorsports Taurus -- "We put our other engine in from Ernie Elliott and we didn't really get a chance to do much. We had a little problem with an oil tank fitting and we didn't really get a chance to see what we had this morning. I knew we had a little left and the guys did a great job. It's a good effort today. We're excited. We'll see how this all shakes out and get ready for the 125."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus -- "We needed to run a little quicker than that, but you never know about conditions and the situation that you're in out there practicing. Hopefully, we can get this Ralphs Supermarkets Ford up to speed and it looks like we're gonna have to do it on Thursday. We're gonna have to get in the 500 the old fashioned way -- race our way in. We've got plenty of horsepower. Ernie Elliott has just done a great job for us on the motors, but we just did not give ourselves a good race car. The body on this car is not very good and we've got a lot of work to do in that area, but Ernie's group is doing a great job for us. It's gonna race really well and, hopefully, have a great finish on Thursday."

ROBERT PRESSLEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus -- "There are still a lot of good cars to go, but this will give us a good starting position in the 125. I don't think this will stand up for the pole, but it's a lot better than what we went through last year. Ryan Pemberton has come on board and really straightened this team out. He's got some guys behind him that believe in him, I believe in him and we're just sitting there ready to go racing." YOU WERE FAST IN WINTER TESTING? "Yeah, if we can get in that top 10 we're gonna be happy because we know we've got a good little race car here. We're just gonna get ready to put this thing out there and have fun."

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "We knew we had some left and we really had no idea what we could run because we haven't blocked this car off and how much it would pick up. It just shows the effort these guys have put forth. Todd Parrott is just the best at aerodynamics and whenever they did the shock deal, that put it back in the hands of the guys in aero and fab shop and engine room and I've got the best in both worlds there." CAN ANYONE BEAT YOU? "Definitely Ricky (Rudd) has a shot at beating it and I think he can very easily, especially if the wind dies down later on and he goes out later, so I think he's got an excellent chance. Scott Pruett has been awful fast and there are a couple of Pontiacs that are fast that haven't run yet, so conditions are pretty good here and I'd look for some guys to get pretty close and maybe even beat that. As Todd told our guys after the lap was over, "effort equals results." And the they put a lot of effort into these cars for Daytona. That's the way Todd Parrott goes about it. We knew when they changed the shock rule it was going to be somewhat of a help to us because we didn't go all out with the other shocks. We looked more toward the race. Now it's back to aerodynamics and horsepower, and I've got the best at both. Todd is the best aero guy out here. You talk about Dale Earnhardt seeing air. I think Todd Parrott does too, and he doesn't drive the racecar. He knows what the air needs to do on the car. And then I have Robert and Doug Yates and all the other guys so horsepower and aero are right up our alley." YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN THE RACE NOW. YOU CAN PUT THAT CAR IN RACE TRIM NOW, AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE. "Yeah, we know we're in the race, and we know we've got a car capable of running up front, and now it's our job to work on it with the new shock package and make sure we can get it to where it can run up front and stay wide open all the time. That's the key to winning the Daytona 500. You have to get the car to handle where you can stay wide open and then stay patient." HOW MUCH OF THAT RUN WAS DALE JARRETT AND HOW MUCH OF IT WAS THE CAR? "Dale Jarrett was nothing. Anybody who doesn't mind going close to 200 miles an hour can get in that car. You have to know exactly the spots to hit on the race track, but I can go out there and show you. I'd like to take some credit, but I can't take any credit. This is all the crew that did this." THE CHEVY GUYS ARE COMPLAINING RIGHT NOW. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT? "It's nice they get to every once in a while. We've had to the last couple of years. So it's nice they get an opportunity, and we can see how they go about it, and maybe we can learn something about it for the next time." WHAT ABOUT THE BUD SHOOTOUT FOR TOMORROW? "I'm in the qualifier so I have to make my way into the shootout. It's still an opportunity for us to see what our car is going to do in race type conditions to where somebody is not pulling out on the track and you're not getting to the front. I've got to win that race to get into the shootout, but it gives an opportunity to see what the cars are going to do in the draft and how much movement we're gonna see with the new shocks." DOUG YATES SAID THE NEW RULES HELPED YOU GUYS BECAUSE ONE OF THE THINGS YOU STRUGGLED WITH IN THE PAST WAS GETTING THE CAR SUCKED DOWN OUT OF THE AIR. IS THAT PRETTY ACCURATE? "We knew when they were talking about this it would be to our advantage because then you have to go back to work on the aero side and the engine and horsepower. When you go to that side of it we're in pretty good shape. We didn't take some of the chances like some of the others or maybe we didn't find the right combination with the other shocks that allowed us to go really fast. We were great in the races, but we never could get that combination for qualifying. So I think this did work to our advantage somewhat, but by the time we get in the race the guy with the best handling racecar is still going to win and the guy who knows how to use the draft and work the draft because it is going to be very important on Sunday." WITH AS MANY FORDS RUNNING UP FRONT AND THE POSSIBILITY OF NASCAR DOING SOMETHING, DOES DOMINANCE SOMETIMES HAVE A HOLLOW PART TO IT? "You've got to understand you don't know what is going to happen. They could make a rule change while we are here, and it could equal things up. But when we get into race type conditions I don't think you will see a disparity in the speeds then. From what I've seen in shootout practice, the Chevrolets are every bit as good, if not a little bit better through the corners. I think when we are ready to race you will hear a lot of that calm down."

ROBBY GORDON --13-- Duracell Ultra/Turtle Wax Taurus -- "Actually, I didn't expect that to be honest. I figured we'd run a 48-flat because that what we seemed to go out and do every run, but the guys did a great job. We're very happy with what we've found in the car. Obviously, we're not towards the very sharp end of the grid, but we're comfortable and we can race our way into the Daytona 500 from here and, hopefully, have a decent week the rest of it." HOW DID IT FEEL TO BE BACK AT DAYTONA AND QUALIFYING FOR THE 500? "That's one thing about Fred Graves, my crew chief. He's pretty conservative and the whole time during practice he was telling me not to worry about it and that we were a little bit better than I thought and we were, so I'm very happy about that and very happy with the whole crew. Everybody is doing a great job."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "That's the same as we practiced today. We actually didn't run good at all yesterday, so I'm happy with that lap. Robbie (Reiser) and the guys on the whole DeWalt team did a really good job of getting a car that was really, really slow yesterday to be competitive enough today for, hopefully, a top 20 or top 25. We're worried about our speed by ourselves, but from what we saw when we tested I think our cars are gonna draft really well and run pretty competitively once everybody gets in the race."

BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "I tell you what, it wasn't me, it was the guys on the team. They've worked all winter long and worked really hard. Here, you just sit there and hold it wide open and that's all you can do, but I'll tell you what, those guys put together a heck of an effort and I'm proud of every one of them. We went to Talladega and we were the worst car there the first part of January and they built this car over the month of January and came back down here at the end of that month for the second Ford test and we were among the best cars here. I tell you, they've worked even that much harder on the car." ARE YOU SURPRISED? "I am shocked. Tony (Santanacola, engine) has come aboard with Ernie to do the motors and with them together and the combination I believe we can put together, I think we'll be in pretty good shape. We've got some real good aerodynamic guys on the team and they've really worked hard on what they've put together."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus -- "We had a good, fast car and I knew I didn't have to worry about the first lap, so we had a strategy there for our deal. All I can say is that's all car. I've had a lot of cars at Daytona, I've never had one probably for the Daytona 500 that's this good. I had nothing to do with it. I had nothing to do with the preparation or testing. Greg Biffle did the driving and this Valvoline/Cummins team did an awesome job with the new Taurus design. I'm optimistic about this whole year. Daytona, I've always said is just one race, but at least we're gonna be competitive and we're up there where we probably feel like we should be, rather than back in the middle of the pack wondering how we could ever get there. We've got a faster car and that's a tribute to Jimmy Fennig and these guys."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- "I was surprised, I thought we had a little bit more out of the Tide Taurus than there was. Again, this team has done a tremendous job. We started this team in September and we've had a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time and it looks like going into qualifying we still have a lot to learn. The Yates cars ran real good, we've had good engines. For here we wanted to come down here and put it in the top 10 and, hopefully, with a little bit of luck we can keep it in the top 10 and have a good run in the 125 and then Sunday. I'm cautiously optimistic. We'll wait and see. A lot of things can change. I've been around in racing long enough to see things change in racing rather quickly."

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus -- "The guys said this car will not run under 48-flat and I said, 'Now look, you guys have been frowning for two days. If I get it under 48 will you be happy?' They said they would be, but I don't know, they don't look very happy but I am. It's not great, but we're gaining on it. That's the best we've done, the best we've run and we've got a little bit more work to do. I feel real good about tomorrow and feel real good about the whole week, so I'm optimistic."

KEVIN LEPAGE --16-- Mac Tools Taurus -- "That's what we practiced earlier. We thought we had a little bit left, but the clouds have been playing havoc with the track conditions so we'll just get ready for the 125. We started in the back here last year and ended up qualifying, I think, eighth, in the 125. We'll see what we can do. Pat Tryson will put our heads together this afternoon. We've got another shootout run and we'll see if we can learn something for the 125."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "I ran the high groove for the first lap hoping there might be something there. I don't know, sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't. I don't know if there's anything there, but that's a good effort for the Exide team. We would have liked to have been a little bit better than that, but that's all we've got. That's the best we've run since we've been here and, really, if you leave pit road on qualifying day and come back and say that's the best we've run, that's all you can ask for -- especially here, and that's what we did."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "I'm real happy with the run. I thought the car ran great out there. The engine came up to rpm nice, it drove real nice. I tried a little bit different line in qualifying and it seemed like it paid off for me, so I'm real happy. I'd like to thank Buddy Baker for all the help he gave us in pre-season testing and he really helped me a lot. Now it's time to get the thing ready to race. This two months of testing is finally over and we can get down to serious business."

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak Taurus -- "I tell you what, we'll take it for the Kodiak Melling car. We had some problems this morning in practice and didn't really know where we were at and Ernie Elliott and the guys came over and stuck another motor in and we had a good run. We ran a little bit quicker in practice, but today has been a little bit different. We've seen some fast times and we've seen some slow times, so we'll take it. It was a good run for us. I was ready to get on with it. Sitting around waiting for as long as we had to wait, I was ready to get going."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We thought we had a flat in there. I'm not really sure, it seemed like it slowed down a little bit. I thought we'd give Dale a little closer run, but what can I say? These guys at the Yates organization work so hard. This Texaco Havoline Taurus ran awfully well. We were the quickest in practice. We lost a little bit in qualifying, I'm not sure, but it looks like a possibility for a front row spot and I couldn't be happier just to have the opportunity to sit in this rocket ship."

WALLY DALLENBACH --75-- Cartoon Network Taurus -- "That's about where we've been practicing. We were right about 20th and we thought we'd be a little bit better than that, but considering the first time this car turned a wheel was when we came here yesterday, the guys did a great job. That's a good, solid time and I think we'll be safe with that. I think the car is gonna drive great in the race and now that this is all over we get to go have some fun."


BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "To me, it was pretty much uneventful from my standpoint, versus the way the cars the used to be with the soft springs and stiff shocks and the way we had to qualify them last year. I've gotta hand it to the guys I've got right now. They've really worked hard and put in a lot of effort. I've said that over and over again this week, but they've put together a lot of hard nights and that's a lot of dedication to what's transpired this week. We unloaded off the truck and have been in the top 10 just about every practice. I knew they tuned the car up. Tony Santanacola came over from the 98 car and is helping Ernie with the engines and his superspeedway stuff seems to be awful good and it showed here today. A lot of the stuff we put together and worked through throughout the winter has really paid off here today and the main thing we've gotta do is get through what we've done here today and then worry about the 125s come Thursday." DID YOU THINK THAT WOULD STICK ON THE OUTSIDE POLE? "I knew it'd be close. I knew what he had run earlier today and knew it would be good. I had a feeling I'd be third-fourth-fifth along in there depending on what a couple of cars ran. Rusty ran a little bit slower than what I thought he'd run, but he was pretty much in the ballpark. Skinner came up and ran good there at the end and that was a little bit of a surprise, but, still, until everything gets done and gives their best stab at it, it's hard to tell where you're gonna end up at the end of the day." IS IT HEARTBREAKING TO MISS OUT ON THE OUTSIDE POLE? "It is in one aspect, but at least it gives you a good start come Thursday. Regardless of what happens you'll be in the race and that's one thing we've gotta look at. You come down here and you put a lot of effort into it, you know you'll have a good start to start the 125 and that's really, other than if you've got the pole or the outside pole, if you run well in the 125 you're gonna have a good starting spot for Sunday anyway." YOU RAN 210 HERE AT ONE TIME. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES NOW? "I think of all the accomplishments I've had throughout the years, I think running 210 here was among the greatest highlights, especially qualifying. I can remember when Cale ran just over 200 here and then the second lap he crashed up off turn four. I can remember leaving pit road "that day wondering if I was gonna make it back because back then you do anything you wanted to with the spoilers and we would lay them down to whatever you could stand. You would get to the corner and hold your breath and hope it made it through because back then we did it on bias-ply tires, which, if you ran that today on radial tires, the radial tires seem to roll the corner quite a bit freer than the bias-ply, so there's no telling what we'd run today." HOW MUCH DOES QUALIFYING TRANSFER TO THE RACE? "It says a lot because I believe this is one of the best cars I've had coming down here in a long time. Probably the next best was '97 and I'm not saying where we'll end up compared to '97 because we ran strong throughout the whole time we were down here then, but I think we'll learn more when we see come Monday and Tuesday when we draft. I haven't had any drafting time at all with this 2000 Taurus. I'm not in anything tomorrow, so I'll have to kind of watch it closely to see where the cars are." ARE THE SHOCKS AND SPRINGS NOW CLOSER TO THE LATE EIGHTIES OR EARLY NINETIES? "It was so much different than back then anyway because you had to run enough spring then to hold the car up because you were running so fast through the corner. You had to run a lot of spring in the car and a lot of shock to control the spring back then just because the g-load in the corner made the car bottom out real bad, so you had to put a lot of spring in it to hold the car up." HOW FAR BEHIND WERE YOU WHEN THE NEW GUYS CAME ABOARD? "Light years and I think that's an understatement. Really, as we came into Atlanta in the fall of last year I was kind of at a crossroads where I was gonna end up. Eddie (D'Hondt), my general manager went to work on putting some things together and we started putting some real good people together that came in and it's really turned the program around. Then Ernie got Tony to come in and help him on the motor side, which Ernie has done an excellent job throughout the years, but, still, having different ideas helps in a lot of different areas. Between all of that, it's really turned my program around. Those guys have really busted their rear ends and I'm sure all the guys have, but I'm just saying that's a part of what this business has come to. We did it in the eighties and it'll continue to happen on down the road." ARE YOU GOING TO DRIVE A DODGE NEXT YEAR? "Right now I've got a long way to go before I ever cross that bridge."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus -- "It was interesting beforehand because the guys were asking what line I was gonna run -- high on the first lap or what. We watched some of the guys and just tried to do the same thing and I was actually a little surprised. I thought we'd run quicker than that. I think the car had it in it, but we haven't learned all the tricks to get that last little bit in qualifying." DOES YOUR IROC EXPERIENCE OR ANYTHING HELP GETTING AROUND THIS TRACK? "No, nothing besides knowing where it goes. Here, this isn't a track from a qualifying standpoint it's not the driver. It's the engine, it's the car. Ford has done a good job with the Taurus this year. Yates, we have a Yates powerplant which has shown to be strong, and we're just out there pushing it down. From the time you leave the pits you never even think about lifting until after the checkered flag. Qualifying, a lot of it is up to the preparation before you got here. The race on the other hand, going into the 125, I have a little bit of experience from the draft with IROC and that's it. I have a lot to learn in a pretty short time." HOW NERVOUS WERE YOU TODAY? "I was pretty nervous, not as nervous as I was going into qualifying at Fontana, but certainly it was exciting. Being a rookie takes a little bit of pressure off because you're given the opportunity to make a few mistakes, which I'm sure I'm gonna make during this season, but, overall, I think I was just anxious to get out there. There was a lot of waiting around before we went just because there are so many cars here and we picked 40th to go out. With that waiting around comes some butterflies in your stomach." HOW BIG IS THIS FOR YOU? "It's big. It's a new team. Tide moved over to this program in September, they made the announcement in August, so the team really "started putting things together. Everything is new. New cars, new equipment, everything you see is new and they've been burning the midnight oil every day seven days a week and to get here to Daytona and run as well as we have, my hat's off to those guys." DID YOU MAKE IT A POINT OF EMPHASIS TO BE THE FASTEST ROOKIE HERE? "Actually, we made it a point of emphasis trying to be the fastest car here. Yeah, we achieved our goal. Our goal was to start in the top 10. We came down here, we unloaded. Yesterday we were third and today we were second. We got greedy. We really felt that we had a shot to be on the front row. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out, but we did achieve our goal so we're starting ninth for the 125 on Thursday and we'll go out there and get in a few lessons during the day." DESCRIBE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WEIGHT OF AN INDY CAR AND CUP CAR? "Yeah, it's interesing -- 2000 pounds less and one I think we ran 235.5 average speed. It's significantly different, needless to say, but both have their own means as to how to get the most speed out of them. Because I've been in CART for 10 years I really understood how to get that last little bit out of the car going into qualifying and I think surprised everybody in Fontana. Unfortunately, I don't have that experience here, so going into qualifying I think we left some on the table that we will learn." WHAT'S BEEN THE KEY TO GETTING TO THIS POINT SO FAST? "Staying with the basics of going racing. Putting the emphasis in the right places. Blending good experienced Winston Cup personnel with technology-based Indy car personnel. Putting the right personalities together. We've been very fortunate where the guys have been working together great. My whole family, we've moved to Hickory. I'm going in the shop everyday and I'm with the guys everyday just trying to get this thing off the ground as fast as we could, so I think we've been able to mature with the Tide team as quickly as anyone could have. These guys are working hard. We're building cars. We have plenty of back-up, but we don't have a lot sitting there on the sidelines that we can pull out for the races four, five or six races down the road. They're building those right now, so all of those pieces together, I think they've done a tremendous job."


DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "Ricky and I are fortunate to be the ones sitting in these cars. The effort that's put forth at Robert Yates Racing and the last couple of years when we've come here we haven't been as strong as what Robert and his team are used to in terms of the way they're used to performing at this race track, especially in qualifying. We've run good in the races, but it's been because of a huge effort in getting the cars driving really good. Now we have two fast race cars. There was a lot of effort put forth, a lot of talking back and forth between the two teams and it's paid off. It just shows as it always is that there is not an engine or anything better that goes into one. The cars are equal and that was proven today how close they are."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "Just to have the chance to drive for the Yates organization and all the hard effort and work that goes into these things. These boys worked awful hard and they deserve everything they got today. Coming from where I was about a year ago this time, this is an awful nice place to be sitting."

ROBERT YATES, Car Owner --28 and 88 Ford Tauruses -- "Certainly, the Daytona 500 only have two spots that are given out today and we got to capture both of those. There's nothing like this. It's awesome, plus we can really focus and concentrate on our cars and our chassis, we don't have to worry about the other races so much because we're locked in the field. It's a wonderful feeling."

RICKY RUDD CONTINUED -- HOW MUCH HAS THIS REJUVENATED YOU? "For the first time in six years, however many years I was an owner, I've got a positive bank balance. (laughing) I think probably the key is trying to run a race team. I mean, I gave it a 100 percent effort that I could and after getting a chance to come over to Robert's organization and see how they do things and walk through their facilities, it makes me wonder how we could really do the job we did. They've got so many talented people and that comes at a big expense. I know, I was trying to make the payroll and they've got a lot of depth in that organization so I've gotta hand it to Robert. You can see that whatever comes in the door gets spent on those race teams and I think that's probably the key is not only money, but knowing what to do with it. I told some guys before, it's different driving for a race team than it is driving for a race team that's owned and controlled by racers. It's competition first and money second." CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE EMOTIONS YOU FEEL NOW AS TO WHEN YOUR TEAM DISSOLVED? "At the time it seemed like it was the end of the world. I mean, you didn't understand. You had such tunnel vision, you were focusing on one thing trying to build that race team into something that amounted to something and something that would be here for awhile and all the hours you're awake, because you don't sleep a whole lot, you think a whole lot about what it takes to make the team more competitive. All I saw at the time was sort of doom and gloom if we didn't come up with a sponsor. I was almost stupid to the fact that I didn't realize the opportunity I had in front of me because I was still trying to put together a sponsorship deal. I sat down and looked at it and said, 'What I really wanted out of this deal was just a chance and a place to go that had the equipment and the people where you could go win races and try to win a championship.' Once I looked at it that way, it wasn't a real hard decision at all and, like I said, I'm just really fortunate that the opportunity was there for me. There's no way I could have been smart enough to try to plan this scenario out, the way the events unfolded it just sort of fell in my lap. I'm just glad I was able to capitalize." ANY MIXED FEELINGS? "It's just nice to sit in a car that goes fast. I mean, that's all I really wanted was a car that goes fast and has a chance to win races. All the rest of the stuff I had to sit there and weigh it out. I'm sort of like the way Robert runs the race team, I just want to win races. Money will follow, I'm not worried about the money because if you go out and win races the money will follow you. Just to have this opportunity because there were some opportunities out there, but nothing like this one."

DALE JARRETT CONTINUED -- HOW DIFFERENT IS TO HAVE A POLE ALREADY THIS YEAR AFTER NOT HAVING ONE LAST SEASON? "It's nice to get that out of the way. We didn't concern ourselves last year that we didn't have a pole. You always want to give it every effort and we do that week-in and week-out to qualify up front as far as we possibly can and now we've got that. We'll still continue to try to win other poles and start up front as much as we possibly can. It's just much easier racing from that position and this is nice. We know what race we'll be in. I know where I'll have to be next year on Thursday when Speedweeks start and which room I'll need to go in. I won't have to run that 25-lap qualifying race that I've gotta be in tomorrow, so I guess that's nice. If I can win that, then I can get plenty of practice tomorrow." IS IT FAIR TO SAY THIS POLE FOR THIS RACE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OTHER? "You benefit more from this pole in a lot of ways. It gives our guys an immediate reward for the efforts they've put forth for the last two months in getting these cars prepared. Todd's had them building the cars, tearing the sides off them, and doing something different and that's a lot of work. The engine shop runs almost like 24 hours a day. Now they have a reward for that, they have their two cars on the front row. Plus, the sponsor gets a lot of mentions for a whole week so they're happy and we've got things started off right. There are a lot more benefits. If you're gonna win a pole, this is definitely the one to do it. I just hope I do a little bit better. The last time I won the pole here I never led a lap, so I'm gonna try to do a little better than that."

RICKY RUDD CONTINUED -- HOW DOES IT FEEL KNOWING YOU DON'T HAVE TO SLUG IT OUT IN THE QUALIFYING RACE? "For some reason I could never come to Daytona and qualify good. I could come here in July and do pretty good, but it seemed like the 500 we always came here and I'd find Dave Marcis or I'd find someone in the garage area and ask how the provisionals were shaking out or how the speeds were looking. It wasn't a very nice place to be. I'm telling you, it was a lot of sleepless nights just wondering are you gonna make this race? These 125s, they're son of a guns. If you make one little wrong mistake and catch yourself going to the end of the draft, sometimes you don't have time to come back up through there again. It just takes pressure off. You can truly work on your race setup and just do the things you know how to do and that's just take the time to adjust the car properly without any pressure on you in the 125. I feel I run my best races when I'm just laid back and relaxed and it's been a pretty laid back week so far."

ROBERT YATES CONTINUED -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE EMPHASIS YOU PUT ON THIS RACE? "Our engine room always works hard. We were on the pole here in '95 and now that we all have equal shocks I think we're back where we're supposed to be with the effort we put into it. We do spend a tremendous amount of our budget getting ready for the Daytona 500 and certainly qualifying, along with other teams. I think our guys probably worked more all-nighters. In fact the last two nights, I called the guys yesterday afternoon because we've had planes running back and forth to Charlotte and I said, 'Would you just work one more night all night.' They said, "This is bull. You've gotta go in there and tell NASCAR this is a bunch of bull, we're not working again all night.' They called me back about 30 minutes later and said, 'We're sorry we said that. We'll work again all night tonight,' and it paid off today. We know how tough this business is and every year it gets tougher and tougher. Next year we've got Dodge coming in which is a great player. This is the greatest racing in the world and we just want to put all of our efforts we've gotten out of a lot of other series, as far as doing engines that focus on this, and we just happened to pick up teams. Certainly, we want teams that can help prove our engines and that will be a benefit to our engine program and that's really all it is."

DALE JARRETT CONTINUED -- CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE LAP WITH THE NEW SHOCK RULE? "It's like being in your Ford Taurus out on the highway. It's a nice, smooth ride. It's much better. What we were doing before was totally ridiculous. We were spending a lot of money and a lot efforts that didn't need to be spent and now it's back to the things this is about, it's about aero and it's about horsepower. That's good for us, especially. Todd works awful hard. I don't think there's anybody in the garage area that knows anymore about aerodynamics than Todd Parrott does and that benefits our organization greatly. Robert talked about the engines and that's what it's supposed to be. Our job then was to get it into high gear and get it to the right spots on the race track. The race track is still rough with the shocks. The car moves around some as you hit those places, but it's a much better ride. You look forward to it. Before, you didn't even look forward to even just two laps of qualifying. There wasn't anybody here that looked forward to doing that because just landing from one of those bumps the wrong way and you realize you can tear your race car up in a short amount of time." TOUCH ON THE MENTALITY OF COMING INTO THE SEASON AS THE CHAMPION? "I don't know that it's a lot different. We came here with the same attitude and a lot of that is the attitude that Todd Parrott, Robert Yates and myself have -- that we're gonna give it everything we possibly can and that's the way this all started in '95 when I started driving for them. But then when Todd came on in '96 that's the way we viewed it. We want to be as well prepared as we possibly can. Right now, as far as quantity of cars we're a little shy there, quality of cars because of how Todd goes about his business, I know they're of top-notch quality. I know when I go on the race track with the cars I have that they're very, very good. I just have to be careful with the ones that I have because we don't have a lot of them right now, but we are in better shape than we were a month ago. It looked like we wouldn't have much ready, but we have two very good cars here and we've got some cars ready for Rockingham and Vegas, so we're excited about this. Coming in as the champion, it's great. We know that everybody is paying attention to what we're doing, but I think that we've shown we're gonna work hard and continue to work hard because we know the effort the other teams are putting forth to try to make sure we don't win the championship. We're trying to show them that we're gonna be right there battling to the end." IS YOUR CONFIDENCE HIGHER THAN ITS EVER BEEN GOING INTO A SEASON? "I'm very, very confident in my race team. I'm confident that the cars they give me are gonna be capable of winning and then it's up to me to go out and get the job done."

RICKY RUDD CONTINUED -- DID YOU THINK YOU COULD BEAT DALE? "I didn't know if we could beat Dale. I thought we were gonna run a zero-area to a 10 on the watch. As it turned out we ran a 20-something. I thought we should have run somewhere like a 47.1--something. So, from that side a little disappointment. But just based off our morning practice speed we tried to get a clean lap this morning. We ran a 47.39 and we thought we were by ourselves, but, again, I could have been getting a little bit of help, so I guess I was basing it on practice speed earlier in the day. That's probably all we had with the air that we had to deal with. I'm just happy to be second right now."

ROBERT YATES CONTINUED -- IF NASCAR KEEPS THE SAME BODY STYLES ARE THERE OTHER TRACKS WHERE YOU WILL FACE DISADVANTAGES? "I'm surely sitting here right now knowing that the guys at Chevrolet know what they were doing when they built this Monte Carlo. I'll say it again, it's gonna be like, for them, having a new set of tires every lap because they do have a lot of rear downforce. We came here two years ago really taken out of the qualifying deal after putting a lot of effort in to get the cars down just to get there, so it's turned around. We knew what we were doing, but we got to Vegas and they took some spoiler off, so NASCAR does a good job. They do have an awfully tough job. We certainly need the manufacturers involved and we don't need to be running three different make cars and that's a race within itself. They have an awfully tough job to do, but if you look at the last two years it finally became our turn to get something out of qualifying. I tell you what, if we hadn't of made good use of it, we would have really been disappointed because we reduced the drag a little bit on these cars. But the Chevrolets have a tremendous amount of rear downforce, which I think is gonna show up at a lot of races."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Jarrett , Greg Biffle , Dave Marcis , Robert Yates , Buddy Baker
Teams Yates Racing