Dodge Darlington qualifying notes

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We'll run the first practice with our qualifying engine, and then we'll put our race motor in for the second practice. We've got our race setup in the car now (in time for first...

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We'll run the first practice with our qualifying engine, and then we'll put our race motor in for the second practice. We've got our race setup in the car now (in time for first practice). It usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour and a half to change the qualifying package over to the race setup. Today, they probably did it in about 30 minutes. They did everything in the shop, so all we've got to do is swap some things around and double check, but you're always prepared for this. You're prepared for something to happen and you have a short time between qualifying and practice, so the guys are ready for it.

"We started 42nd and finished 29th here last year for this race, and that's been my only Winston Cup race at Darlington. This will probably help us more because we're going to get an extra hour's worth of practice this morning. I hate we didn't get a shot to qualify and start a little better, but the extra practice is probably going to help.

"Tires are always a big deal here, but Goodyear has come with better tires at every track this year. Hopefully we'll get that Kodiak Dodge up front and keep it out of trouble and come away from here with a good finish. You know what's going to happen at Darlington and Rockingham. The tires are going to go away fast. You walk up and down pit road and see how many extra sets of tires people have got. You know it's going to happen. You know you're going to need tires a long time before you're going to need fuel.

"I think I'm a patient driver. You just about have to be here. I think in the truck series we prided ourselves on patience. Here, you've got to be patient but you can't be patient. You've got to run or you're going to get lapped. You've got to save those tires. It's sort of a Catch 22 here. The practice this morning will help us figure out what we've got to do.

"I like the new tire. I think the tire they had last year hurt us a little bit. It hurt me as a driver. I like this tire. The car to be drives good.

"We've run good a lot this year. We've stumbled a time or two. I made some mistakes on pit road, but we've run good. Last year if we had a bad weekend, we'd run 40th. This year, we have a terrible weekend and we finish 24th. We've stepped up our program. Chad (crew chief Knaus) and the guys are really working hard. It's a much better program this year. We've still got a lot of work to do. We're basically a brand new team again. I think everybody is up for it.

"My hat's off to NASCAR. I think they need to do the two-day shows every week. I like the schedule. We've got a lot of wasted time sometimes when you come in on Thursday night and check in Friday morning. I like the schedule. I'd like to see them do this at just about every track. Some places we can do it and some places we can't.

"We came here in a qualifying frame of mind today, but everybody is in the same boat. We knew we were in good shape points wise. We may not start as close to the front as we were hoping, but something could have happened and we might be starting closer. We felt like we could come here with this car and get a good qualifying effort. We'll take it. We'll work on our race stuff and try to get ready for Sunday.

"Getting in the qualifying mode is usually a lot harder than getting out of the qualifying mode. When you get here on Friday or Saturday mornings, you're pretty much in the qualifying mode and you know what you've got to do. Getting out of it is just like a relief valve. You're letting the air out. It's easy to get out of that mode after qualifying is over with or when they call it off. It's pretty easy to get in race mode.

"I'm looking forward to the race now, and I'm looking forward to next week at Bristol. We've always run well there. We finished top five there about every time we've been there (in truck series). Last year we ran good there in the Cup car in the first race. The second race I was hurt and couldn't hurt. I like it. I like the people up there. They do a great job with it, and it's close to home. We do a lot of things with the track. We'll be up there from Wednesday on next week. It's about three hours from the house. We won't go back and forth, but it's still like my home track. It's a tough track and a tough race, but I know the fans love it. It always provides plenty of excitement, just like Darlington. I guess that finish last week at Atlanta was pretty exciting, too. I'd really like to be involved in one of those photo finishes soon."

CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
Note: Casey Atwood qualified 32nd, based on points. Atwood has not tested at Darlington Raceway in a Winston Cup car, although he did run four Busch races here.

"I really wanted to qualify on the track today. I think we had a good set up here. I think we were going to be fine. I get around this place OK, but I was really excited about the chance to qualify today and qualifying in the top 10. It takes a little off (having to qualify on points). Since we're starting 32nd, we've got to work hard on the race setup so we can move up to the front. The guys worked real hard all week in the shop on the Bristol car and we went and tested Bristol to get be ready for next week. It was a good week. It helped to get back on the race track and get back to work. We ran good, so that got everybody's spirits back up.

"Ray's helped me a lot here. He took me up to the top of the truck to show me some things that he's learned here. He knows what other drivers have said about the track and done here. I've had some races here, but I don't think I really drove this track right yet. I've got some things I want to try out in Happy Hour to try and hopefully get a little better.

"I've heard that he's (Bill Elliott) one of the most successful drivers here. I'm sure I'll learn a lot from Bill here. I'm sure I'll be talking to him, no doubt about that, especially if we aren't running great. I'll go see what I'm supposed to be doing with my line and everything. It's encouraging for me to have someone like that with that kind of success here. I can ask questions and it's going to help me a lot."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Casey Atwood