GATORADE 125-MILE QUALIFIER NOTES FIRST QUALIFYING RACE DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet) -- I figured I'd better get out front and do some, you know, some evasive driving to keep the draft off 'em. It was fortunate we...
GATORADE 125-MILE QUALIFIER NOTES
FIRST QUALIFYING RACE
DALE EARNHARDT (No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet) -- I figured I'd better get out front and do some, you know, some evasive driving to keep the draft off 'em. It was fortunate we did that. Sterling had the car to beat but our car was awfully good. It's the same engine we ran in the Busch Clash and we got all the bugs out of it and tuned it up. I've got to hand it to all the guys who worked hard on this car. It's a great race car, a better one than we had last week. I wish we'd have had another one just like it that we could have run in the Busch Clash. It was a good race. The Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifiers are a pretty neat thing. To win seven times in a row is really great. I'm excited for (crew chief) David Smith and all the guys that put the thing together. I think we're going to have a great year. (DID THE CAR CHANGE DURING THE 50 LAPS?) No, it stayed perfect. Goodyear did a great job with the tires. The chassis stayed great. I just can't say enough for the guys.
ROBERT PRESSLEY (No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet) -- There was a lot of beatin' and bangin' 'cause we were running so slow. It's ridiculous. I was just holding on, that's what it was. You just don't have the power to do anything. You've got to have as many other cars helping you as are helping the other guy. You just grab onto the longest line of cars and go from there.
DAVE MARCIS (No. 71 Prodigy Chevrolet) -- Hey! That's 29 straight (starts in the Daytona 500 -- Marcis is the record holder for consecutive Daytona 500 starts)! It was a good race. The car was working good. I can't thank Mark Martin enough. Mark stayed with me early and we moved up. When we got going again there at the end Mark ran up high and I stayed with him. Jimmy Spencer jumped in between us on the very last lap -- which he shouldn't have. But I let him off the hook. I'm thrilled that we're going to start our 29th Daytona 500 in a row and to have Prodigy aboard with us. The start of the '96 season right now is great for us.
DARRELL WALTRIP (No. 17 Parts America Chevrolet) -- What do we do next? That's a good question. I don't know. We've got to think it over. We're totally confused right now. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. The only thing we know to do now is burn down the haystack. (On accident.) Before that last caution, I could see what was happening ahead of me -- and I've seen that movie before. There's no sense in wrecking your primary car, which has been improving, to bring out a back-up car and start from scratch. It was a matter of playing it smart with the competition.
KENNY WALLACE (No. 81 Square D/T.I.C. Ford) -- I'm fine -- my pride's hurt, that's all. We had a good run going up on the top side and were in it for the transfer spot. (Brett) Bodine was shaking his fist at somebody going down the frontstretch and he got into Bobby Hillin coming off (turn) two. I ran over something, I don't know what.
STEVE HMIEL (Crew Chief No. 6 Valvoline Ford) -- We're happy. We're not wrecked and we're in the 500. The track was getting slick, and Mark made a great call to come in for four tires. After that, we had a lot better control over our own destiny.
DELMA COWART (No. 0 Master's Inn Economy Ford) -- I was uncontested for last place. I ran her wide open the whole time. It's a little disheartening when you've got your foot pegged to the floor and they come rumbling past you twice in a 125. We never got our engines for the 500, so we tried to make do with our ARCA motors. We had to drop the compression from 15:1 to 14:1 and without the right tools and gauges we grinded her down to 13.2:1. With everything perfect I gotta get a break, but when I start out at a disadvantage I'm cooked. We go home with a clean race car, I had a good time and got a great view of the race.
MIKE WALLACE (No. 90 Heilig-Meyers Ford) -- I could drive it where I wanted. Patience was the key today. We weren't that great at the start, but we were on the radio telling ourselves not to panic, to keep calm and catch up to them. The only concern we had was to finish in the top 15, and we did that comfortably. I was very glad to see the finish, because we were really heating up the water temperature. I'm happy for Junie and the guys, now we get ready for Sunday.
GEOFF BODINE (No. 7 QVC Ford) -- I saw a wreck and I couldn't get away from it.
HUT STRICKLIN (No. 8 Circuit City Ford) -- Not that good. We were OK, but then we had overheating trouble. It started running hot, and we just couldn't seem to get it cooled down. On that last restart, we made a banzai move to try to get through there and pick up some spots. We were able to get up where we needed to be, but then it got hot again and the engine started slowing way down. We were real close to the big wreck and I got to see everything there, and luckily we made it through those guys.
WARD BURTON (No. 22 MBNA Pontiac) -- We're in the race. We're in the race. That's all that matters. I'm happy -- I'm tickled to death. I'm going to sleep tonight!
SECOND QUALIFYING RACE
ERNIE IRVAN (No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford) -- There was no doubt that they (Schrader and Gordon) were teaming up. But I talked with Schrader before the race, and it doesn't really matter. All he was wanting to do was win the race. All I was trying to do was win the race. It didn't matter if he had a teammate. I know if we were there with the No. 88 car (teammate Dale Jarrett), I'm going to be concerned with what it's going to take to win with the 28 car. (What about the contact on the last lap?) It couldn't have hurt. I don't know if it slowed me down a little, or slowed him down a little. I hated to get some scratches on this car, but to get to victory lane is the important thing. (Is this victory the final hurdle to prove that Ernie Irvan is back?) I don't think that's going to be settled until August, when we can look at it. The day I got hurt, we were racing Earnhardt for the championship, and there's nothing more than I'd like to be (than) racing Earnhardt for the championship again. That's when it's going to be complete. We had a great race car today. I held it wide open all day. I got it a little bit loose. If we can do that on Sunday, I think we're going to be pretty decent.
STEVE GRISSOM (No. 29 Cartoon Network Chevrolet) -- We finished about where we started. I lost a couple of spots, but we got them back. When the sun came out, the car definitely started pushing. We've got less horsepower and that makes the draft more critical.
JIM BOWN (No. 57 Matco Tools/West Rents Chevrolet) -- We gave it our best effort. Realistically, our only way to get in was for some guys to have an accident. I didn't want to wish that on anybody; that isn't the way we race, but you have to be there to capitalize on it if it does happen. The track got pretty slick when the sun came out and that played into the hands of the people with good handling. I want to thank Matco Tools and (crew chief) Jimmy Wilson for giving me a chance to try to make the race.
TRACY LESLIE (No. 73 Barkdoll Racing/X-1R Chevrolet) -- It wasn't a hard race. The problem was that when the No. 72 broke a motor or something I had to check up and got out of the draft. I was history after that.
JOE NEMECHEK (No. 87 Burger King Chevrolet) -- The car got really, really loose. It's never done that before. Maybe it was the set of tires, maybe something else. It was loose the whole time. A real strange deal. It made being in the draft real interesting a couple of times.
RICKY CRAVEN (No. 41 Kodiak Chevrolet) -- We had a carburetor problem.
DERRIKE COPE (No. 12 Mane 'n Tail Ford) -- (Confronting Jeff Purvis in the postrace inspection area.) Stupidity, that's what that was (after Purvis blocked him during the late laps).
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Ford) -- I almost lost it. We would have lost a good race car. They slid down in front of me and I about spun it. I was already aimed down pit road, so I just drove it down there. It could have been bad. The 87 (Joe Nemechek) got loose and the 80 (Joe Ruttman) got broadsided and came down in front of me. We saved a car, but lost the draft, and if you lose the draft and one of these races go green all the way you're done.
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 98 RCA Ford) -- This was great experience for me. It's as good as I've ever run in a race, and I learned a lot today. The car drove great, but once it got hot the motor just wouldn't run any more. We'll work on it and get ready for Sunday.
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 37 Kmart/Little Caesars Ford) -- We had enough to run up front, but not enough to win today. I had some good runs at them, but then we'd drop back. We expect the weather to be cooler for Sunday, with hopefully less wind. I almost lost it right in front of Jeff (Burton) and he almost lost it in front of me.
DICK TRICKLE (No. 63 Purina Hi-Pro Ford) -- I don't know if the driver is an underdog, but the team is for sure. It's kind of miraculous we're even here, because two weeks ago we were waiting on the decision to bring a car down here. We bought somebody's third car, one they didn't need, and it wasn't even detailed out. We came up with an engine. We had no parts, no people, no nothing. Kenny Allen, who has an ARCA and (NASCAR Craftsman) Truck team, let us use his shop and his people, and there are parts from his shop on this car. I'm really proud of the boys. They've worked hard. Driving is the easy part. We got two days to get it better -- that's like all winter considering what we've had to do in the past couple weeks.
THE FOLLOWING CARS failed to qualify for the Daytona 500: No. 57/Jim Bown, No. 72/Jim Sauter, No. 73/Tracy Leslie-Phil Barkdoll, No. 80/Joe Ruttman, No. 95/Chuck Bown, No. 77/Bobby Hillin, No. 65/Steve Seligman and No. 0/Delma Cowart.
BUD MOORE (Car Owner #15 Hayes Modem Ford) -- (Prospects are looking up for veteran car owner Moore in his search for sponsorship support. On Wednesday Moore and driver Wally Dallenbach announced primary sponsorship for the Gatorade 125's and the Daytona 500 would come from Hayes Modem. On Thursday, the team announced that CompUSA, America's largest computer superstore and one of Hayes Modem's largest customers, will appear as an associate sponsor for the two events.
The National Anthem will be sung by Claire Lynch. Ms. Lynch is a Grammy nominee in the Bluegrass Female Vocalist of the Year category. She will be performing in concert Feb. 16-17 at Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium.
CHUCK BOWN (No. 95 Shoney's Inns Ford) -- (Sadler Racing announced before the Gatorade 125's that the team had received backing from Shoney's Restaurants.)