Note: At 2:40 p.m., 11 cars remain to make qualifying laps for the Pepsi 400. Currently under a rain delay, Dodge Intrepid R/T drivers hold the top three spots with Sterling Marlin, Ward Burton and rookie Casey Atwood. DAVE BLANEY (No. 93...
Note: At 2:40 p.m., 11 cars remain to make qualifying laps for the Pepsi 400. Currently under a rain delay, Dodge Intrepid R/T drivers hold the top three spots with Sterling Marlin, Ward Burton and rookie Casey Atwood.
DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I'm not sure how that's going to stack up. Last night that would have been a decent time. I don't know what conditions are going to do to everybody today. We picked up a couple tenths on the second lap. It's about the same for everybody. It really just depends on where you run that first lap, top, middle or bottom. Everybody is going to pick up a little. We might be in a little trouble, but it's hard to tell right now. I was hoping we could back up what we did last night, but we didn't quite do that. The Dodges have been running good as a group. Last night in practice about half of the top 15 were Dodges."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We came down here with a new race car, and you've got to keep sorting through this stuff. You've just got to keep working through it. All-in-all, the guys did a good job. We came down here last night and unloaded this car for the first time. We've never tested it. The other car had a lot of testing on it, and we knew pretty much how it needed to be set up. When you build a new race car, it always takes a couple of times to get things sorted out. We felt like we made some changes that will make this car better, and we think it'll race good. It's always kind of a chess match here in the race, so we'll see what happens."
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) "The car felt real good. We had a good car in practice last night. This car has got a history of being fast around here. I didn't think it would stick for the pole, but we've got a good starting spot for the race and hopefully we'll have a good race. I'm pretty comfortable with it (restrictor-plate racing). We had a good run at Talladega but it didn't work out for us, and we had a good run here in February. We're just going to try to stay out of trouble all night and be there at the end and have a chance to win it. That's the main goal. You've got to stay out of trouble and be there. The car has got a great history. It sat on the pole here in February. It would be nice to keep this Dodge up front. We want to start out fresh. We've struggled the first half of the season. If we could start it off here with a good run it would give us a lot of momentum. It's been as tough as I thought it would be, and I thought it was going to be pretty tough. We struggled more than I thought we would. We've just got to get it turned around for the second half of the season. This is a good team, and it'll be a winning team in the future."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T) "Everybody on the Coors Light team has worked hard. We've been real close all year. We kind of went all out for the pole here. Hopefully we can hang on to it. Ward Burton has still got to run. He ran good last night, so we'll just wait and see. We had a good car here in February. I guess Talladega is the one that kind of got away from us. We got boxed in with thenew rules, and we couldn't go anywhere. A lot of the good cars got trapped in the back and couldn't go. This is Daytona, and hopefully handling will come into play and the best handling cars will come to the front. Our car drove super in February and we're going to go with the same package we had and see what happens. "That was a good lap for us. The guys did a great job. We came off the truck pretty fast. This is the same car we had here in February and at Talladega. We've started third and second so far, so hopefully we can start first today. All the guys at the shop worked hard and if this holds up for the pole, they really deserve the credit. We led a lot of laps here in February (11 times for 39 laps) and we led a lot of laps at Talladega (four times for 51 laps) with this car. Hopefully we can lead the right one Saturday night. "We've just got to try not to get boxed in. We got boxed in at Talladega and couldn't go anywhere. Hopefully we can get in the right position to win Saturday night. We picked up about a tenth from last night. It's a little hotter today, but the guys made the right calls and everything went right for us. We won the qualifying race in February, and if we can get the car driving right, maybe we'll be in victory lane again Saturday night. Hopefully we can be leading with a couple of laps to go and hold them off. "I'm happy with our program. We've got a lot of good people working on the car. Dodge is giving us a lot of help, too. We kind of went through a little slump the last couple of years. We're really concentrating on our speedway efforts. We were off when we left here testing in January, and the guys went home and built us a new car in five and a half days. It paid off for us. Our guys work hard. They never give up, and I love them to death."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We've got to be happy. After missing Talladega, you definitely have to be happy. We came back with a little bit different car and a little bit different motor. We ran twice yesterday. We ran a .60 the first time and a .68 the second time. To come back in the heat of the day like this and be able to run just a tick faster is a tribute to the guys in the fab shop who worked hard on all three of our race cars. Keith Almond and those guys in the engine room did an awesome job, too. We felt like we worked ourselves into a hole the last couple of years and as a group we've got to work ourselves out of that hole. Sterling is doing a marvelous job for Dodge. Ray Evernham is doing a great job, and Bill Davis and his group are, too. Stacy Compton sits on poles. All the teams have contributed. John (Andretti) finished second at Bristol. He contributed a little bit to the hoopla, but the 44 and 45 need to step it up a little bit. We're just trying to build a good solid foundation now. We think (Larry McReynolds) will help Buckshot a lot confidence wise. Bryant Frazier (No. 44 crew chief) is doing a phenomenal job for us. We stepped in after the season started, and Buckshot and Bryant have a great relationship. Hopefully Larry will enhance that relationship. Hopefully Larry can help the 43 and 45 and our entire group at Petty Enterprises. Being a multi-car group like we are, by Larry being with Childress and Yates and working in multi-car team situations, if we can get a little of that expertise there and then send him back to the TV booth, I think we'll all be winners, not only us with these cars but the fans that watch the races."
JASON LEFFLER (No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge Intrepid R/T) "It gets us in the show, so I guess that's satisfying. You always want to run faster. The guys are working hard. It's not lack of trying we're not faster. It really doesn't matter where you start. I'm looking forward to getting some laps and trying to go to the front. We kind of know what to expect in the race now. You're just wide open in qualifying, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow night."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Hamburger Helper Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I'm a little surprised with that lap, but all the guys back at the shop have really been working hard. The engine department and body shop and everybody at Petty Enterprises. We got a black cloud today (on qualifying lap) and black clouds belong over me, but it helped me today. I own black clouds. It was a good thing today, but I got it here for everybody. I don't know how to get rid of it. If I knew how to get rid of it, I would have got rid of it here in February. We didn't change a lot of things from practice. We just got the engine ready for qualifying. I was hoping I could just repeat what I ran last night and then everybody started going quicker. I got worried, but we picked up, too, so I'm happy with that. We've got a better car and better motor than we had here in February. We're in better shape. We've learned a lot about the Dodge and keep learning more every time we go to the wind tunnel. You can't beat horsepower and better bodies.
"With the Dodge, we've struggled, especially at the plate races where other Dodge teams have excelled. We've picked up the program, and I think the guys have done a good job with it."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I thought we had a good shot at the pole, but we just didn't pick up as much from practice as Sterling did. That was all we had. We had everything sitting there just right for us. It'll be a good starting spot, and it was a good day for Dodge. We'll see what we can do Saturday night. We picked up about a tenth from what we ran in practice last night. Sterling picked up about four tenths. It's still a little too early to tell how we're going to stack up for the race. I'm just glad the Dodges are running as good as we did down here before after NASCAR took some stuff away from us. We've got some advantages at some race tracks with the Dodge and we've got some disadvantages at other tracks. Maybe we've got an advantage here, I don't know, but at the end of the day it all kind of equals out. We've got some other areas, particular short track areas, we've got to get stronger on. "The guys on the team really worked hard on the car. Anybody can drive the car around the track. It's a credit to the team and all their dedication. It's an identical race car to the one we had here in February. It might not look like the same one, but it is. We've been to the wind tunnel a lot and we've done our homework. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble Saturday night and have a shot at it."