Daytona Shootout: Ford drivers meet the press

One of the topics at media day was Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout. Ford drivers Ricky Rudd, Dale Jarrett, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch spoke about that race. DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus "This kind of signals to us that it's time to go...

One of the topics at media day was Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout. Ford drivers Ricky Rudd, Dale Jarrett, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch spoke about that race.

DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus

"This kind of signals to us that it's time to go racing. We've worked all winter to get ourselves prepared for this race and these events in Daytona, so it's a pretty exciting time. If I wasn't under the weather, I'd be a little more excited about it, but all of that will pass and I'll get really excited. As I come here each year with the opportunity to try to win another Daytona 500 is a pretty exciting time."

YOU WON THE SHOOTOUT LAST YEAR. "Yeah, it should be exciting. I think I actually have the same chassis that I had last year in winning that race. We've reconfigured the body quite a bit and the car tested very well. It's an exciting race with 70 laps of fun and excitement. You kind of throw everything out the window because no points are involved, it's just a matter of who gets in Victory Lane and gets that trophy. We've been fortunate to do that three times, so it's a good start for you. It doesn't necessarily signify exactly what's gonna happen for the 500, but in two of the three years I've been fortunate to win it, I've gone on to win the 500. So I think it's a good morale boost for your team if you can go have a good Bud Shootout."

RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Genuine Parts Taurus

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT? "I'm anxious to get the season going. Let's find out if we're good or bad or let's go to work. Let's roll our sleeves up and see what we've got. We had a good test down here. We elected to spend most of our time in race setup. Our restrictor plate program qualifying was really good last year. We qualified first, second, and, I believe, third and fourth. The one car we ran never qualified worse than fourth last year, so we brought it. Obviously, it's a pretty fast car. We ran it more or less against the new car that was built. The new car was not as fast, so we made a decision. We probably forfeited our chance at the Daytona 500 pole by making the decision that the car we're gonna run for Speedweeks drives really good. We ran 500-plus miles of testing in race trim and identified that we've got one car that drives really, really good but it's not particularly fast by itself, so that's the car that's gonna go to the 500. Our Shootout car, I wouldn't say it's your worst car that you put in the Shootout, but I think in our case we have three cars built and the car we would probably identify as being the car that has not been tested yet. We don't know what it can do, so that will go to the Shootout. There's a big question mark there."

WHAT BENEFIT DO YOU GET OUT OF RUNNING THE SHOOTOUT? DOES IT GIVE THE PIT CREW A CHANCE TO KNOCK SOME RUST OFF AND MAYBE THE DRIVER TOO? "I think it's exactly that. It sort of accelerates. The Daytona 500 is what we're all here for and then you have the 150s now and then you have the Bud Shootout. Qualifying doesn't really mean a lot, but the tempo tends to build so being able to subject the pit crew and everyone to sort of a dress rehearsal for the Daytona 500 is good. The 150s are a final rehearsal for the 500, so I think it's a big plus to be able to come in and sort of get tuned up before the big race. Something that took place and it's the first time I've seen it in 30 years of racing that I really liked was back to our testing deal. NASCAR gave us a two-for-one test out at Vegas and California. We did that and I think we ran 1200-and-some miles of practice in four days and, not only for me to get tuned up or the pit crew, but for the mechanics working on the car. Each day you could see things get a little sharper. Guys that were maybe doing things one way, before the test was over they'd find a more efficient way to do that job. It just sort of started to flow. It wasn't that it was bad to begin with, but the final day at California it just really meshed and flowed and I said that it was a really good thing. I'm surprised no one has ever done this before like this, so I have to commend NASCAR for giving us that two-for-one deal."

GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus

THOUGHTS ON THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT. "I'm really excited about it. I'm curious to get a look at the race track and what it's like. How the race track is gonna react this year with this tire and all the things that could be different - our restrictor plate is a little bit different, so I'm really looking forward to it."

WILL IT BE A BENEFIT TO GET A RACE UNDER YOU BELT WITH THIS NEW PACKAGE? "I have to think so. This is my first Bud Shootout, but I have to think that it's gonna give us a little bit of a look at the race track prior to getting going."

IS THE SHOOTOUT JUST A BATTLE OF BACKUP CARS? "I would have to say yes, but one thing that I will say that's kind of neat is that my Bud Shootout car was fourth-quick testing and my 500 car was third-quick. So I never, ever have had two restrictor-plate cars that close together and I was real excited about that."

WHICH WAS A BIGGER THING FOR YOUR CAREER - WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 POLE OR YOUR FIRST WIN? "I think the first win because a win means you won the battle. Getting the pole for the 500 is a big prestigious deal and we'd be really excited to get it again. That's something I'll always remember as well, but I actually think my first Truck win in Memphis was probably the most special wins for me. And the probably next to that I'd have to say my win at Michigan in the Cup car was really big because of the manufacturers always butting heads in Michigan all the time and battling for who is the best. It was also our first non-restrictor plate win, where we proved we had the fastest race car and were capable as a team to win at a race track. Even though, quote, our first win was won on fuel mileage or whatever, even though we came back here and sat on the pole for the 500, that (Michigan) was a statement."

KURT BUSCH - No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus

CAN ROUSH RACING WITH THREE TITLES IN A ROW? "That's definitely the goal. We've got a long road to hoe ahead of us, but just being able to make the right decisions and now that our people have won those championships, they're more valuable. They're gonna be lured away by the other teams with the high-priced dollar, so it's a matter of just keeping everybody together and making sure we all pull the rope in the same direction."

HAS IT BEEN A WHIRLWIND FOR YOU LATELY? "It's been busy. We had Homestead, New York and went back to Vegas right after that for a big parade in my hometown. I had some time for a vacation, but it just seems like I should be doing something. Now it's caught up. Every day this week we're doing something. I met the President on Monday. On Tuesday I was in New York opening up the NASDAQ with the Checkers group, which is now the official drive-in with NASCAR. And then yesterday there was a full tilt photo shoot with one of our sponsors, Crown Royal, so it's been as busy as busy can be."

ARE YOU HAVING FUN? "Oh yeah. It's something that you want. It's something that you always think can happen and now every day the plate is full with something to do. I can't wait to get into the car because that's the stuff I'm most familiar with, but yet there is some stuff to do outside the track as well."

DID YOU TELL THE PRESIDENT THAT HE SPELLS HIS NAME WRONG? "We did talk about that for a while and we realized that neither one of us are from the right Busch family because the group in St. Louis is bigger than both of us."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE BUD SHOOTOUT AND IF IT HELPS FOR THE 500. "It can give you a good indication of who has done their homework and who has brought the best drafting style of car. The Shootout doesn't have anything to do with qualifying, so it gives you two or three extra practice sessions for the 500. Last year we weren't in that race. For me, it was a tough bullet to bite just because we weren't out there driving while the group of drivers - the all-star kind of guys - were out there. So this is a good chance to get ahead of the game. We've got our Crown Royal car that's gonna be all dressed up in purple for this race, so we can't wait to get into the drafting sessions."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Greg Biffle