Dodges Qualify 1-3 Bill Elliott - Pole Casey Atwood - 2nd John Andretti - 3rd BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) "Everybody picked up in qualifying. It's the type of race track where the speeds will pick up in the afternoon.
Dodges Qualify 1-3
Bill Elliott - Pole
Casey Atwood - 2nd
John Andretti - 3rd
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"Everybody picked up in qualifying. It's the type of race track where the speeds will pick up in the afternoon. We hit it at a pretty good time. We tested here and were about two seconds slower. I felt like the track would be in the 36-second bracket for qualifying. The high 34s were pretty impressive.
"I don't know how to make a prediction of what Sunday is all about. You watch the races and you listen. Look at Joe Nemechek last week. You don't count him as one of the cars to win the race, but he wins the race. Some of the guys who could have won don't run very good. In this business, it's kind of a crap shoot. You throw your best guess at it. You make your best guess and throw it at it.
"Qualifying is one aspect of it. I came down here a couple of weeks ago and tested, and I was terrible. We came back and made some pretty good adjustments and got a whole lot better. I was kind of worried coming back down here where I'd end up. Mike (crew chief Ford) and all the guys really worked hard. That's what this business is all about. It isn't about me."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"For two years we didn't take provisionals. Last year the only provisionals we took were when we broke motors in qualifying. This year we struggled the first part of the year. It was difficult. Qualifying was not very good. Our race packages were pretty good. I feel like our qualifying has turned around but we've missed the race package a couple of times. I've said that at Phoenix and I'll say it again now. We've got to get it all together.
"I think in the last several weeks we've qualified in the top 10. That helps a lot. If you don't start off as good as you need to start off, you're not losing as much ground. It's coming around and all three cars are coming around. We're still using the same engine program we started the season with. We haven't started any new programs. They do come over and see what we're doing. It's hard to be a rookie in this series. It's hard to show everything you can do in this series as a rookie no matter what quality team you come to. Nobody usually has good rookie seasons. If you compare it off Tony Stewart's season, which was exceptional, then nobody matches up to it. There's a lot of good rookies that get in this sport and spit out quicker than they should be.
"I think people read too much into certain things. That kickout does nothing in qualifying. That's a race deal. We're not the first make to ever qualify up front. Should we thank God that Ricky Rudd wasn't in a Dodge? I don't ever get into that end of the politics. I think NASCAR does a real good job. If Dodge is the best car and they feel like it's that superior, then they should build Dodges. When we were struggling the first part of the year, I remember when Chevrolet came out with their car and within two races they got the kickout on their nose. After half the season we get a kickout and the Chevrolet guys complain. There's a lot of things that don't make a lot of sense. If you want to say we have a big advantage here, I hope it shows up on Sunday and I hope we just crush 'em and I hope I'm the guy who does it, and I hope they're all mad at me. It's ridiculous in my opinion. One day you're going to have an advantage and the next day you don't. The day you don't, you're going to sit and complain."
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"Two of the last three races have been on flat tracks, and flat tracks are my favorite tracks. I really like Phoenix. I ran good there in Busch cars, and I've qualified on the pole here in a Busch car before. We expected to run decent on two of the last three tracks. Rockingham we really didn't know. I didn't really have a good car in the race, but I don't know what's been happening. We've just had a strong car in qualifying.
"I feel like I've gotten a lot better through the year. I feel like I'm a lot better driver than I was the first half of the season. I'll just have to keep on proving that.
"Bill has helped me out quite a bit. A lot of tracks this year I've never been to and I struggled quite a bit. It gives me a good reliable source where I can ask questions.
"I'll be driving for Ray Evernham in some way, shape or form. I don't know exactly what's going on right now, but I'll be with him."
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It was a Dodge Day Afternoon.
"It's been a roller-coaster year. I look back on it, and I felt like we were really making some gains until the last three or four weeks. We've had a lot of things happen, motor problems to accident problems to a lot of odds and ends and we just can't see to get the monkey off our back. Maybe we can get things turned around and at least headed in the right direction for next year.
"From my standpoints, it's not been too bad. I can kind of walk away and catch a breath and come back into it. It makes it a whole lot easier from my standpoint.
"Rudd put up an awful good number in practice, and it gets around this place pretty well. It's all about getting everything right. If you hit every corner right you can post some pretty good numbers.
"You can't count anybody out in this business. Anybody has a chance to win the race. The tire has changed every time we've been here. I'm a little disappointed we haven't won yet, but if we keep going in the same direction, I think we can put some good things together. I don't know if this sport is all about winning. It's all about running good and being competitive on Sunday afternoon. I'd like to win a race. I'll do my best this week, next week and the week after."