Dodge Dover Friday notes

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Burton, a 39-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., started ninth and finished ninth last week in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. He's finished ninth and 10th in the series...

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton, a 39-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., started ninth and finished ninth last week in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. He's finished ninth and 10th in the series standings the past two years and currently ranks 19th after 12 of 36 races in 2001.

In 14 career starts at Dover Downs, Burton has two top-10 finishes, including an eighth-place performance last June. Burton has qualified in the top 10 on seven occasions and has four top-five qualifying efforts. He was 36th fastest in Friday's practice session.

"We know we need some more gear, so we're going to put some more gear in the car. We got three sets of tires from Goodyear, and one of the staggers was three-sixteenths off from the other two. It looks like I can't get away from the tires. There's nothing we can do about the stagger most of the time. A lot of times two sets will match up and one won't.

"We're focusing on trying to get our car to handle in one part of the track. We've got to get the car more balanced so I'm not too loose coming off the corners. I've been upset all week over the deal at Charlotte (Coca-Cola 600). I think we had a car that could have won the race. When we had the right set of tires and had the car adjusted right, I don't think anybody could have touched us.

"We had some inconsistent pit stops, and it's something that's been going on for awhile. We need to get a little more depth and pay a little more attention to detail. Nobody in the garage has more talent that this team. We've just got to get things structured.

"We've had one motor that's run exceptional at California on Saturday and at Charlotte last Sunday. It's the only one I've had that felt like I had last year. Terry Elledge (head engine builder) is working hard to get those engines where they feel a little bit better and get the combination we need.

"All of what happened at Charlotte, none of it had anything to do with Dodge. The aero is still sometimes a problem. I don't know how we're going to fix that, but maybe if I was still in a Pontiac I'd be having the same problem. Everything we did or had happen at Charlotte had nothing to do with Dodge. That was a good thing. What separates the best teams from a good team is depth in their organization and attention to detail. I think there's some areas there that we've got to catch up on. There were still some things last year that showed that.

"Everything gets stepped up a notch. We've got the people, sponsor, team owner. We've got just about everything for the most part, but we just need to continue to build in some areas, and I think there's still some areas we need to address.

"I've adjusted and changed my driving style a lot for the new tires. I don't want to give it to somebody else, but it was something that Tommy Baldwin (crew chief) showed me on the computer that was making it difficult for them to see what the car needs and making it difficult for me to keep the right front tire under me or not heat up the right rear. Seeing the results of that helped. It helped, but it's not going to fix it completely.

"Everything has felt good on the tire. Even as many problems as I've had with the tires, they feel fine. We've just not been able to be consistent with them. I don't know what the problem is there. That's definitely something we've got to get hold of. Goodyear is willing to help, but in some cases they don't know how to help us.

"We got three sets today. We get 12 tires, six rear and six front. Four of the rear tires match up and the other two don't. What are we going to do? Are we going to run them first, second or third? We figured if we ran them second we wouldn't dial the car out the first set. We need to use a set that's consistent for the third set, so then we use them for the second set and don't pick up any time. That was the slowest lap we'd run on stickers all day. That's pretty frustrating.

"We'll just have to come back Saturday now and do the best we can for qualifying and then try to get ready to race."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Marlin was 14th fastest in Friday's practice session.

"I wish they had lined 'em up by points and we could have got ready for the race on Saturday and not have to worry about qualifying. That's what I would have preferred, but it really doesn't matter. Everybody is in the same boat, and it's a wet boat today. We've got new tires here and we really don't know what to expect with the tires. We'll do all we can to get ready for the race. If we qualify, we'll qualify. If not, that's fine with me, too. We'll practice and go to the house and get ready for Sunday."

JASON LEFFLER (No. 01 Cingular Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Leffler was 28th fastest in Friday practice.

"Considering where we are in points, I'd rather qualify. We've got a pretty good car, and I'm confident we could qualify better than 38th. I think that's where we would start if they line us up by points. I changed out of my driver's suit and thought the sun would come out for sure after I did that. That's the way it usually works, but it didn't work that way today.

"I missed the race at Bristol, so I haven't run too much on the concrete yet, but I don't think it'll be a problem. The car feels a little different and they say a lot of rubber will build up, but every place I go is different anyway, so I don't see it being a big problem.

"We're making improvements every week, but we haven't put a whole race together yet. We've run good in segments. Our best race so far has been California. I was running in the top 15 at the end and got loose in one corner and lost a bunch of spots and never recovered from that. It's just a tough business. As long as we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we're OK.

"I don't like these rain delays. I'd rather be in the car, but everybody has dealt with it their whole racing career. At least we can come back and do something tomorrow. In USAC, they'd usually just cancel the whole race and we'd go home."


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Series NASCAR Cup