BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 44 Georgia Pacific Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Jones will be making his fourth NASCAR Winston Cup start at Talladega. His previous best starting spot was 11th in Oct. 1998. "We made a couple of adjustments when we...
BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 44 Georgia Pacific Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Jones will be making his fourth NASCAR Winston Cup start at Talladega. His previous best starting spot was 11th in Oct. 1998.
"We made a couple of adjustments when we went through tech. I don't know if that hurt it a little bit or not. The track might have changed a little bit, but we were almost a tenth slower than we were in practice. You always want to run at least what you ran in practice. This is better than what we had. It was a pretty good lap. Everybody at Petty Enterprises has been working hard, and we're improving."
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"Considering all that went on today, it was a pretty decent lap. We had a hard day. We had to change a motor and didn't have much time to practice. We know if we had had our other motor in there it would have been a lot better. We blew our qualifying engine on the first lap and had to put our race engine in to qualify. It was a big difference in the motors, so all things considered, we did pretty good."
KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We just didn't run fast enough. I doubt if that will be good enough to make the race. If it does, I'll really be surprised."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Andretti won the pole for the 1997 spring race at Talladega.
"I wasn't impressed with that lap. That was about as good as we could expect. It's a brand new car and with that we have a lot of things to work out. We were OK at Daytona, but we probably need to work on our restrictor-plate program a little more, and that's pretty hard to do because you've got so many things going on. Any time they do something to add drag to the car, it's going to slow you down, so we weren't the best Dodge in Daytona and this put us a little more behind."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Marlin is a three-time pole winner at Talladega and won the race from the pole in July 1995.
"We tested and a lot of guys have a lot of different gears, and our car really ran good with this particular gear. We knew we needed all the race track we could use to get it wound up for the qualifying lap. The wind kind of laid down a little bit from testing. Watching the rpm's, it didn't go down the back straightaway quite as fast as it did. The front might have been a little better. I thought we might could have run about a .60, but when everything sits and gets cold, it takes a little off of it. I figured we'd end up second or third. We did all we could do. I wish all was fair in love and war, but it ain't."
STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Compton will make his third career start at Talladega. Prior to Friday, his best qualifying effort at Talladega was 13th in last October's race as a rookie.
"I'm happy with it. The guys have worked awful hard. They went to work after the rule change and worked really hard trying to get this car better. Ernie Elliott has really worked hard to give us some good horsepower. It was a really good lap for us. We didn't know where we were going to stack up. This morning the car was pretty decent. We knew we could run decent, but some pretty heavy hitters came up after we qualified. It would be nice to get another top 10 here like we did at Daytona. This team is on a roll right now. We've had three consecutive top 15s. We've got a lot of momentum going. If we can have a little luck, we've got an awful good race car, and I think we can come away with another top 10 here. "I feel like the rule change did hurt us about three tenths, but the guys went to work and worked hard to try to overcome the rule change. I feel like with what the guys did in the shop, body dynamics done, motor work, I feel like we overcame a lot of it. You always do things different in qualifying. You run a little different line in qualifying and you sort of hang it all out and hope you get a good lap and we did. "It's the same car we had at Daytona. We made a few modifications on it, changed the side on it a little bit and changed the nose and changed the A, B and C pillars a little bit, but it's still basically the same car."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We broke a transmission leaving pit road. The guys worked real hard on this car getting it fixed from the Daytona accident, but we'll be fine come Sunday. I expect if we can keep it out of trouble we'll have a good run. We're cutting through the air pretty good here, but some other places the Dodges need some help. I've got to be on my toes and be alert starting that far back Sunday, but you have to be that way every week. Starting back there just makes you hold your head up a little higher."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Elliott won six straight poles at Talladega from May 5, 1985 to July 26, 1987.
"We're really surprised with the way we ran today. This is just one day of many here, so we'll see what tomorrow brings and keep hammering on it. A couple of tenths can be gained here if the weather conditions are right. Mike Ford (crew chief) and all the guys do a heck of a job on this Dodge. It's a team effort. That's what it's all about. You can't get excited about this place because you don't go fast. You're just on cruise control."
JASON LEFFLER (No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It was my sixth lap of the day. We only got two runs in practice. We're so far back in points, it was kind of hard getting through tech. We kind of ran out of time. It looks like it's going to get us in, and that's the main thing. We had the same problem at Daytona where our car didn't qualify that good. It was really good in the race, so we're looking forward to Sunday. It's a brand new car. We tried to make it as identical as we could to Sterling's but it still wasn't the same in the wind tunnel. That shows you how mysterious this air is. We're looking forward to Sunday and all this close racing. You've got to have your elbows up the whole time. It's like a short track racing where you're just battling it out all race long. You don't have time to take a break. You're always on your toes here."
DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We haven't been picking up much all day. I don't run the first lap high and the second low. We run pretty much the same on both laps. It doesn't gain that much, and I hate to give away that first lap in case something happens the second. We're happy with that. I didn't figure we'd run that fast. I didn't know what we had after practice. We didn't seem to make many gains in practice. I didn't think we changed a whole lot. I don't know where we got that three tenths, but we'll take it. We're pleased with that."
TIM CULBERTSON (Program Manager, Dodge NASCAR Winston Cup Engineering)
"Our people went to work. We got this penalty or whatever you want to call this, a change in the rules and our Dodge approach is to see what we can do about it. We've been working hard in the wind tunnel and so far it looks like things are working pretty good. We probably would have worked more on our downforce program, but because of what's going on here, we had to focus on our speedway program, and it looks like we've done the job. "It looked like the penalty was going to slow us down about two tenths of a second. We just put our heads down and worked hard. The race will have a way of equalizing everything out, but if you had your choice, you'd rather go into the race with the fastest cars. It'll be a whole different deal once they start drafting. "That's our David and Goliath story (Stacy Compton team). That's our only single-car team, and those guys work as hard as anybody in this program. Congratulations to a hard effort by (crew chief) Chad Knaus and Mark Melling and Stacy. They worked very, very hard. They were very strong at Daytona, and they're still strong. It's not like they came out of nowhere. They sat on the front row at Daytona. They're known to have a good speedway program."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We ran about the same in practice as we did in qualifying. I thought maybe we could run a .70 or .75, but that's about all we had. The wind was blowing a little more in practice, but we had a real good tail speed down the back straightaway in practice and it seems like it went away in qualifying. That's about all we had. "NASCAR changed the rules and put more wicker on the top. We weren't going to come here and test before this race, but we felt like we had to come back and try to work on the car and find some more things. We knew the rule change was going to hurt us about two tenths and it did. We done it back to back and it made us two tenths slower. We came down here, the motor guys and fab guys for the test and really worked real hard on the car. We found about four tenths with it, getting back the two we lost. We gained about two tenths on the test. All the credit goes to the guys on the crew. "We've been close all year. This is the same car we had in Daytona. We felt like we had a real good car there. This race is going to be a deal if you've got the fastest car you might finish 15th. If they line up and go by you there's nothing you can do about it with this aero package they've got. Hopefully you can just play your cards right and we can get 186 laps in the race and try to get in position to win the race. "Maybe we should (complain more). The squeaky wheel gets the grease it seems like. We take what NASCAR gives us, do out best, work hard and try to make the best out of it. "We had a one-inch plate here last fall and a 15/16-inch plate this time. "Tomorrow is going to be packs and packs of cars on top of each other (in practice), clear high, clear low. It'll be a mad house. "We've been close to winning a race, but we haven't been dominating. Chevrolets won the first four races and Fords have been good here lately. I can't see them doing anything to us. We've got to win three or four races and they may do something, but we haven't won a race yet. Why penalize us? "You give a guy a break, but when it comes down to eight to go and you have to lift and go back 20 spots, it's hard to do. Guys take a lot of chances they won't take the first hundred laps of the race. You try to squeeze in. You say I bluffed this guy last time, I'm going to try to bluff him this time. It might not work. "There's no advantage starting up front. We started third at Daytona and looked up the first 10 laps and guys that started 40th were up there beating and banging. It doesn't make any difference here where you start. That's what's aggravating here. You can have a good car and if you don't get help you're sunk."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"If you took the rules today and ran in the '80s, you'd have a different outcome than you would today because of technology and the amount of what these guys are doing here today. From our standpoint it's a little more difficult, the way we raced here last fall and the way we raced (at Daytona) in February to overcome adversity. Before if you went to Atlanta, Darlington or Texas, if you started 43rd you've got an opportunity to race and pass cars all the way to the front. Here it depends on how you get cut off or how you get help. It's going to dictate your day. It's hard for me to grasp that kind of racing. I've never been a guy who likes to cut people off or whatever. You've got to do what you've got to do here. We went faster then, but it seemed safer. I knew we were running the speeds, but it never crossed my mind when I came in this place like it does today -- in a different way. It's just a different atmosphere. The way I see it, you're going to come in here and hope and pray that nothing happens during the race. You take 43 cars and put 'em together for 500 miles and somebody has a flat tire or blown engine or whatever, it can cause a problem. You can't run that many laps without somebody making a mistake. You just hope you're not part of that mistake. "I think we're all (apprehensive). Any time you walk in this place, we know there's risks in everything we do. We realize that at any race track we go to. I think it brings reality out from what happened to the last four drivers over the last year. That's reality. That's reality to everyone. We've got to learn from the mistakes that have happened in the past. We've got to get through that. What I see, you come here and it puts you in that box. The first hundred laps you can give a guy that six inches or that foot to get in. The later it gets in the race, that six inches or two inches or one inch is not going to be there in the last 10 laps. That's where you start putting yourself in a box and you can't get out. You've got to race. Looking back at the circumstances at Daytona, we lost 20 something cars on the back straightaway and you went down to the end of the race and there was still 15 or 20 cars fighting for the race win. I know when we went down the back straightaway on the last lap, it was a heck of a deal, I'm telling you.