Ford drivers Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd and Dave Blaney talk about Thursday's Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying races. KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus -- YOU PRETTY MUCH KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO THURSDAY. "It's the same...
Ford drivers Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd and Dave Blaney talk about Thursday's Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying races.
KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus --
YOU PRETTY MUCH KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO THURSDAY. "It's the same as last year and we're actually in the same starting position again. We're starting 22nd and we've got to get to 15th. That's the only goal in mind. For me, the handling issue came to the forefront in the Bud Shootout so we learned from that and what we have to work towards. That quarter-of-an-inch really helped us. Yesterday, we didn't get a good feel for it because the engine had some issues before we got enough laps on the tires, so that's what our focus is today. We need to make sure we can run strong at lap 40 for that 50-lap race.
WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET FOR THAT TYPE OF SPRINT? "We're gonna take the conservative route and make sure that our tires last the full 50 laps. A lot of guys are gonna struggle from lap 35 on because it seems like a switch gets flipped at that point and the tires go bad. If you save your tires and work with your car and not force it into any positions where you use those tires up, then you'll be able to move around come late in the race.
IS THAT THE MAIN THING YOU LEARNED LAST YEAR? "Yes, and I think when we do that we also gain positions because we benefit off of other people's mistakes, so we got two positive things out of taking a conservative role.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE PRESSURE OF AN EVENT LIKE THESE QUALIFYING RACES? "It's just how I eat. It's what I live off of. I love the pressure. I love to be the guy that the pressure is on and to have it on my shoulders so I can pull through and do it for the team. We know we're in a little bit of a hole right now. Whether it's Fords in general or Roush in general, we're gonna work on it to make it better.
YOU TALK ABOUT BEING CONSERVATIVE, BUT YOU CAN'T BE AFRAID OF MIXING IT UP CAN YOU? "Yeah, you have to go for it and you have to be strong in each and every decision you make. I believe that the decision I'm making by going conservative and understanding what the tires can do, and just the way the draft has taught me to race in the five races I have under my belt, I think these are the right decisions that I need to make and that we'll benefit the best from so we can race on Sunday."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus --
HOW IS DRAFTING GOING? "It's tough. I don't know how it looks from where you're at, but it's pretty hairy out there to us. There was a lot of three and four wide going on today, so I can't wait to see what's gonna happen tomorrow when it gets down to those last 15 or 20 laps. It's tough. With these cars and less downforce than what we had last year, it's just a handful. There are a lot of guys bouncing around a lot more than what we're used to and it's pretty wide out there, so I want to get my car good and comfortable and I think if I can get it like that, we'll be fine.
ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR PROGRESS? "Yeah, I am because when we first started at the beginning of the week I was not good at all. These guys have worked pretty hard and it seems like we've been in the top 15 in speeds every single practice, so we're pretty happy. Maybe we'll have something for tomorrow.
WHAT ABOUT THE SPOILER CHANGE? "We talked about that a lot and I really didn't see as much difference as I thought I would. Maybe it doesn't affect the bodies on our race car as much as maybe some of the other Fords, but it's not as big of a help as I thought it would. I was a little disappointed, but it might be something in our body that we don't have.
DO YOU CONCENTRATE ON THE TRANSFER SPOT TOMORROW OR GETTING AS MUCH AS YOU CAN? "It depends on what everybody else is doing. I'm probably gonna be conservative the first 15-20 laps of the race and save my right-front tire and, if everybody's handling goes away like I think it will, we're gonna try to win this doggone thing. I almost tried to win it last year and got in a wreck with 10 laps to go when we were running third, so we're gonna try it again."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Havoline Taurus --
ANY STRATEGY FOR THE 125? "It sounds simple, really -- try to pass four or five cars and stay there and don't let anybody pass me. That's a little easier said than done. It's gonna be a good race. It looks like the Ford is a little racier than they were the other day in the Shootout, so we'll have to wait and see if it's good enough.
WHAT ABOUT THE CHANGE ON THE SPOILER? "On the stopwatch, that quarter-inch is good for about a tenth-and-a-half. If you go back to qualifying trim, that means we would be off maybe four-tenths of a second, but let's go out there and run a race. NASCAR was nice enough to see that we had trouble and made an adjustment, so we'll see how the 125s go. Hopefully, it's good enough and if Pontiac, Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge run 1-2-3-4, then I think it's pretty much over with. I think all anybody wants to see is these cars run evenly on the race track. Let the teams tune these race cars so that the better drivers and better teams that adjust their cars best win the race.
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT GUYS TAKING MAJOR CHANCES TRYING TO MAKE THE 500? "It's pretty scary if you get back in the back. I've been there before and it's not a pretty place. There's a lot of hard racing going on and there's a lot on the line for a lot of teams that don't have provisional spots or maybe didn't qualify well on the stopwatch. It's do or die for them and they drive that way. I mean, they're doing what they need to do. They really hang it all out and if they don't do that and get their car in the Daytona 500, there won't be a Sunday for them. As far away as we can be from mid-pack or that 15th place transfer spot we can be, the better off we're gonna be."
DAVE BLANEY --77-- Jasper Engines Taurus --
YOU WERE 4TH IN THE LAST PRACTICE. "Well, those speeds don't matter, it's just what you can do in the pack, but I feel like we're gaining a little bit. We're trying to get the thing handling a little better. We're a little tighter than we want to be after 10 or 20 laps, so we're working on that. I feel fairly confident. I think we can run well tomorrow.
IS THERE ONE GOAL FOR TOMORROW? "Get to the front, that's the only thing that's gonna be on my mind. If you can try to get to the front quick, it's gonna be a lot easier to stay there than it is late in the race.
WILL YOU JUST CONCENTRATE ON THE TRANSFER SPOT? "It depends where you're at. If you're laying in the top five at the end, you're gonna try to do something with that. Depending on what you've got and how good your car is, that will have a lot to do with it. You kind of just see how it goes as you're doing it."