Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, heads into Sunday's MBNA.com 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway trailing only Bobby Labonte in the NASCAR Winston Cup points standings. Burton led all 300 laps en route to winning at...
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, heads into Sunday's MBNA.com 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway trailing only Bobby Labonte in the NASCAR Winston Cup points standings. Burton led all 300 laps en route to winning at New Hampshire last week, his third victory of the year. Burton met with the media this morning and discussed, among other things, the points race.
JEFF BURTON -99-Exide Batteries Taurus - "Over the last three months or so we've been able to break even or gain a little bit on Bobby, we're about the only team that's been able to do that. We've not done anything extraordinary, we've been consistent, we've not had any terrible races. There's days that we haven't run as well as we wanted to, there's other days we ran better than we thought we would, but we never had really, really bad finishes. And, we've been able to knock off quite a few top fives and a lot of top 10s, and Bobby hasn't been extraordinary, either. So, nobody's really been extraordinary through that amount of time, being consistent has become more important - and we have been consistent."
HEADING INTO THE LATTER PARTS OF THE SCHEDULE, DO THE TRACKS FAVOR JEFF BURTON OR BOBBY LABONTE? "Certainly, if you had to look at statistics, Bobby's got here, Charlotte, Atlanta that stand out, we would have Martinsville, where do we go the rest of the year?
TALLADEGA... "Talladega, who the hell knows who has an advantage, you just don't know. Certainly, Bobby's been really good at Atlanta, we've been good at Atlanta, too; our record doesn't indicate it as much, but we've led a lot of laps there and we've been in the front. The places that I see that he's been quite a bit better than us is here and Charlotte. Those are his two shining points, but we've been better than them at Martinsville, and I think Homestead, he ran second and I ran third there in the first race, that's kind of a wash. So, I don't know. I think it boils down to the two teams - if you're just going to compare us two, I'm not saying we're the only two in the deal, but if you're just going to compare us two - I think it boils down to who adapts to things better. We have a new tire here, for example. Bobby didn't run very well yesterday. He's always a pole threat here, he wasn't able to do that yesterday, so they were a little bit behind in that. We qualified 21st, which was pretty damn good for us, so were were actually pretty happy with that. So, it all just depends on who's gonna adapt and who's gonna be ready for this stretch - and the stretch is coming at the end of a grueling year. Everybody's tired, everybody's wore out. I'm testing again Monday - if my wife's not having a baby - and that'll be seven straight weeks for me. So, I'm about ready to keel over."
THERE'S A NEW SPOILER RULE FOR TALLADEGA WHERE THE FORDS AND PONTIACS HAVE TO ADD TWO INCHES... "It's a little frustrating for the Fords, because when we brought the Taurus out we built a high-draft, high-downforce car, and we suffered through having a car that wasn't as fast at Daytona and Talladega as it could've been at Daytona and Talladega. We were never given any concessions for that. The Chevrolet, in three races, is getting a concession. So, from a Ford standpoint, we don't like that, we think that they shouldn't have done it, but if you looked at statistics, they would indicate that the Chevrolets weren't as fast as they needed to be at Daytona - you couldn't make that case at Talladega, but you surely could for Daytona. I'm not happy about it, but I'm not so upset about it that I'm going to make an issue of it. I wish they hadn't of done it, but they did do it, and we'll go to Talladega and that's what the rule will be."
ON THE NEW TALLADEGA RULES, BUT WITH WITHOUT RESTRICTOR PLATES, BEING TALKED ABOUT REGARDING CHARLOTTE AND ATLANTA. "Well, I'd hve to think about that for just a little bit. From what I've seen, it affected the Chevrolets and the Ford differently, I can't speak for the Pontiacs. I know that when we did the Daytona test, the Chevrolets, they all pulled their noses out, which meant that they needed more downforce. The Fords got looser. My car was in the wind tunnel and showed it, too, it made my car looser, the new rules. They seemed to make their car tighter. So, having said that, I don't know how it would affect the race at a place like this or Charlotte. They make a tremendous amount of more drag and they do make a little more downforce, but it changes the balance a great deal. If we did that, I can only imagine all the whining and moanin' and groanin' that would be going on if you went to Rockingham and didn't run as well as you thought you should run. I don't know what impact it would have on the racing, I really, truly don't know. The drag goes up by about 100 counts, which is a huge amount, the downforce changes some, too. I'd have to drive it to really make a comment on how that would affect the racing. I think that, sitting here thinking about it, I think that would it would do is, running nose to tail would be hard, because the more drag you have, the more turbulence there is, the harder it is to catch a guy. I would suspect that it would be hard to pull passes off, because when you get to them you would probably pick up an incredible push. That's my first thought. I could be 100 percent wrong, but that's my first thought."
WOULD YOU RUN THAT WAY AT CHARLOTTE? "This year?" YES. "Just for a test?" YES. "Yeah. If they gave us an open test, I'd go do it. I wouldn't do it and use up one of my tests, but anytime they have something they want to try, I'll do it."
THEY'RE SAYING IT'S 10 MILES AN HOUR TOO FAST AT ATLANTA... "I'd say we're 40 miles an hour too fast at Atlanta. Slowing it down would not be a bad thing as far as I'm concerned, for Atlanta especially. We had a big deal about New Hampshire last week, and maybe slowing it down is not the way to fix it - in my opinion it was the way to fix it for a short term. Atlanta, slowing it down, is a long-term fix, I believe. That's what I believe."
ON NINE WINS IN LAST 58 WINSTON CUP RACES AND HOW HE AND THE TEAM HAVE GROWN. "Well, as a driver, I've become more in tune with the feel of the car. I'm able to drive the car closer to the edge - I need to knock on some wood before I say this - and not wreck. I think that's been a benefit to us on some speed, is me being able to drive the car just a little bit closer to the edge. I kinda of crept up on that. I've watched some drivers and they find the edge by going over it, I was always a driver who found the edge by creeping up to it. And it's taken me longer than, perhaps, it's taken Jeff Gordon, than it's taken Tony Stewart to find that edge and feel comfortable with it, but I think I'm pretty close to that now. As a team, we've done a really good job of not creating problems for ourselves. There have been days where we've got a fifth-place car and finished 10th, which is disappointing, but there's also days we've had 10th-place cars and finished fifth. So, you know, it's worked both ways for us. This team has truly been together for two years now, every member of this team was with us last year, pretty much. I think that's a big deal for us. We just know each other, we know what we want to do, when we want to do it. It's working, it's just working. Frank doesn't have to tell everybody what to do every second. People know what to do. I think we've just matured as a team because we've been together for a certain amount of time. I think that's been the biggest difference."
ON THIS SEASON. "We weren't as fast in the middle part of the year as we needed to be. Leaving Darlington, I would say, that early in the year that if you looked at a team, who was the fastest team for the first five or six races, you had to look at the 99. We ran second at Daytona, we were running third at Rockingham and broke, we won Vegas, we were leading Atlanta when we ran over something and cut a tire, and we finished fifth at Darlington. We had a chance to win every one of those races. So, we felt really good about that. Then we kind of declined. We just weren't as fresh, we didn't as fast, and we just weren't doing the things we needed to do - and I contribute a lot of that to me. On the new tires, the new-generation tire, I just didn't have the feel that I needed. It confused me, the car didn't speak to me. I know that sounds kinda stupid, but, when you're really good, the car tells you what it wants.
"You can pinpoint left front, right rear, whatever it is on the car, you can pinpoint what you need to make better - and I couldn't do that. So, when I pulled into the garage area in practice, they would look at me, expecting to hear what they normally hear from me - 'We need to fix this" - and they weren't hearing it. So that was a lot of our problem. We just worked into it. I got better about this tire. I've started to feel it better. I'm to the point now to where I was early in the year and where I was last year where I can just tell them this is what the car's doing wrong. And, that's been why we're better now than we were in the mid to early part of the year."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE, GOING TO THE GARAGE AND NOT HAVING THOSE ANSWERS? "Really frustrating. Because, my theory on Winston Cup racing, to be successful, is that the driver is a computer. The driver doesn't necessarily have to tell the team that we need more right-rear spring or that we need less rebound in the left-front shock, but the driver does have to tell the team what the car is doing wrong, at the very least. And, I couldn't do that, so it was really frustrating to me because I knew that for us to be successful I had to do that. I don't have to make every call, I'm not saying that, but I've got to be able to tell the team what it's doing. I'm the only thing that we have, it's the only thing that any Winston Cup team has, is the driver to explain what's going on wrong, and I couldn't do it. It was really frustrating, but Frank, PK, and everybody, Jack, never once came to us and said, 'You gotta get your stuff together, you're not running.' He never, never even talked about it. He never called me. Nothing. They just all let me work through it and never put pressure on me, and we worked through it. So, they made it easier for me than they could've. They could've been, 'We need to win a championship, we need to run in the front, we haven't been winning races, we haven't been leading laps,' I never heard any of that. Everybody just kept working and working and working and I think that helped a lot."
Reigning Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, met with the media Saturday, and discussed, among other things, this year's points race. Jarrett is in third place, six points behind Jeff Burton and 174 points behind Bobby Labonte.
Dale Jarrett -- 88 -- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus - HOW ARE THINGS GOING THIS WEEKEND AT DOVER, AND WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS? "I think it went well yesterday. We got a top-10 starting spot, should've probably been in the top three or four. I thought that the problem that I had was just me. But I talked to a lot of people and it seems that everybody had a little more trouble negotiating turns three and four than one and two. I don't know if that was tire pressures or what, just trying to hard when you got there, but anyway, lost a little bit of time there. I feel like we've got a good car for the race. This is a new right-side tire that we have here that, obviously, is going to throw a kink in things because even though construction-wise its supposed to be pretty much the same, we do have more stagger this time than we had which makes the car turn better, so set-ups are gonna have to be a little bit different, based on what we've seen, and obviously, yesterday, I don't know of anyone that ran more than two laps at a time, so nobody's gonna really have a handle on what that does. If it happens to rain all day, the first part of the race will be a total crap shoot. You'll just have to guess at it and hope that you're close."
AS YOU PREPARE FOR THE LAST COUPLE OF RACES, WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE AND THAT OF THE TEAM'S? "The move back to the top is not gonna be totally dependant on what we do obviously. Hopefully, I feel last week was a step in the right direction for us even though it was a totally different race using restrictor plates on a short track. We had a much better line of communication and we did some things differently. And that's what it is going to take. We've been pretty slow to react to a lot of changes here this year, especially the tire. Every time I thought we were going in a direction, we never really made that whole move in that direction. But we had a good meeting after Richmond with the entire race time. I really feel good about what we are going to do now and what we can accomplish. Is that going to be enough to get another championship? It will be totally dependent on Bobby Labonte and what his team do. They are the one holding the ace right now. They are in a good position. If they do their job, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt and myself are racing for second. But that is still a lot to do there. We need to put ourselves in that position that if Bobby falters anywhere that we're right there to take advantage of it."
IT'S A LONG SEASON. TEMPERS FLARE. HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT? "It is very difficult and becomes even more difficult as it becomes this time of year, because there's probably only one guy out here right now that's really happy with the way things are, and that's Bobby Labonte. Everybody else is a little upset with somebody or something going wrong. But our sport is totally different. We see the same people week in and week out. It's not like Major League Baseball or the NFL. Baseball, they may play a four-game series and then not see that team again for a couple of months or something. If they have bad feelings toward each other, you know, they kind of simmer down. But we're out here 34 times a year with the exact same people. And if you have problems out here, you have to either talk to those people and put those things aside then or else get it your mind to understand that 99 percent of time, things that happen out here are just racing incidents. Nobody's trying to do anything to hurt your season or to hurt you or anything, so you have to learn to put it behind you. That's the good thing about having three or four days before we get to the next race. Most of the time, you can look at it and analyze and realize that what took place wasn't intentional and it was just a bad break for you. Sometimes it doesn't even take an incident with anybody else, it's just things not going you way. And I think that's a time that you see the good teams really step up. Those are times that I know that I take to make sure that I spend more time at the race shop with our guys. That's the only way to work through those types of situations, when they're not going exactly the way you want them to, it's a matter of digging down and working harder - and that's hard to imagine when we talk about how hard we work already - but you can get there and show the guys that support and be more involved and I think it does help. It's kind of funny, I was watching some of the Formula One stuff yesterday and I forget which driver was talking about their grueling schedule around the world - which I understand they do a lot of travelling, but they race 17 times. We're talking 34, and 36 with our two specialty events. I'd like for him to get in here and see what a grueling schedule is all about. But they drive cars that run a lot faster than us, too, so I'm sure that tough. It is tough, but I think that's one of the challenges that you get in Winston Cup racing is learning to handle all the different aspects of Winston Cup racing, from the long schedule to handling not being able to be the winner a whole lot. It's so different than other sports. I've said this many times, it's not like the NFL where there's 14 or 15 winners every Sunday. Here we have one winner out of 43, and you have to really be able to put things in perspective and understand that some days second, third, fourth and fifth, even 10th, might be like winning if you've had problems."
THERE IS A YOUNG GROUP OF DRIVERS IN WINSTON CUP NOW MAKING ADJUSTMENTS TO THE PRESSURES. WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU, AND DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THEM? "I don't know if I have any suggestions. The one thing that obviously has changed since 1987 when I got really involved in Winston Cup racing on a full-time level is the amount of intention that is paid to the sport. And everything that these young guys do now is done under a microscope, every move that they make. Certainly, all of that has brought them more opportunities. On the race track it's probably bringing them into better situations than what most of us came up in or were able to get into as far as good equipment because that's about all there is out here now. That's the good side of it. But they have to perform also. It's hard to say there's more pressure now, but there really is. These companies are spending so much money now on sponsorship that they expect results. So, the problem you get into is young guys having to get experience at these tracks and having to drive four- and 500-mile races. Most of these guys who come in, if they even come through the Busch series, 300 miles is the most that they run. It's hard to imagine that things change between three- and four- and 500 miles at a track, but they really do. There's a big adjustment there, obviously. Learning to manage their time between doing things for sponsors and doing what you need to do at the race track and with your team, that's a big commitment to make. You get these guys that are really young, that can make that difficult for them to handle that. Most of them that I see that are really good racers seem to have themselves in a good situation, they have a lot of experience, and they've been racing for a while, so they do understand what the sports is all about, what racing is all about. Winston Cup racing is just so totally different than anything than any other form of racing that you do coming along, and it takes quite a bit of adapting to. I think it's easy to see the ones that really adapt quickly, that really have that feel for the car and four running three-, four-, 500-mile races."
ON DALE'S SON, JASON, AND HIS UPS AND DOWNS IN THE BUSCH SERIES. "It's too much of what I can look back about myself, too, because I think it is more difficult now. I used to run my Busch Grand National operation, I had two other guys who worked with me and we went around the country and we ran almost 40 races a year, most of them were short track, but on a very, very limited budget we could go and I finished fourth, fifth and sixth about every year that I ran the series full time. We could do that. Now, we got a pretty good budget with our Busch team and even though Jason has limited experience he's a good race-car driver, but he's struggling right now. That's hard for me to sit and watch him, but I understand where he's coming from and what he's going through, but it's hard for me to sit and tell him, 'Hey, I went through the same thing and things didn't come until later for me.' Some people have to work a little harder at it and it takes a little bit more time. He grew up around the race track with Dale, Jr. and I'm sure that can be difficult for him, seeing that. It works differently for everyone, and you just have to adapt to the situation that you have. And because the Busch series is so difficult, we're actually looking at other opportunities to get Jason in cars, whether it be ARCA or truck or something like that - just to get him experience at some of these places. He'll run the ARCA race at Charlotte in a couple of weeks. He was down testing the other night, he did a good job there, so we're just looking to get him experience. The Busch series is so tough, I mean, we're seeing Winston Cup drivers go home on a regular basis because they can't qualify for these Busch series races. It's a real struggle and I can talk until I'm blue in the face in trying to tell Jason maybe what to do and how to handle these situations, but being in that situation is very, very difficult because he's a young man that wants to race more than anything and it's just trying to get that opportunity and us trying to get him the cars that he's capable of doing that are more difficult these days."
WHAT ABOUT THE SOFT WALLS AT CHARLOTTE? "It's only a step in the right direction. It's nice to see that they're taking the initiative to do things and learn things. Obviously, it's just on the inside there. You get down there and hit that inside wall; you have to do it to know how much it hurts. And Charlotte's really a place that the way it's designed right now a soft wall on the outside would really have to be a very thin piece because we race right against the wall. And I'm not saying that there's problems with race tracks. I think I read somewhere that Jeremy said yesterday that the problems not the track, it's the walls. If we can soften that blow and that's what we've got to figure out what to do, how to do that especially at places that we go where we are so far away from the way. And this is a really good example. It's not that this race track was designed wrong. It certainly wasn't. There's been great racing here for a lot of years. But where we race now in particular there are at least two grooves up there that we don't even use, so some type of soft wall up there would be beneficial because we are running at a high rate of speed here and when you hit, you hit really hard. There are places, here, Loudon and I can think of Phoenix as an example, there are just places that it would be beneficial. I know it's not as easy as sitting here and saying we have to put these barriers up because that can't just happen. You have to take everything into consideration. I know that NASCAR right now is looking at a program right now and have been for quite a while, but it takes a while to develop that."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT USING THE NEW TALLADEGA RULES, WITHOUT RESTRICTOR PLATES AT PLACES LIKE ATLANTA AND CHARLOTTE WHERE THE INCREASING SPEEDS ARE A CONCERN? "There's no idea that is dumb. I think everything should be looked at and explored with the restrictor plates being the last resort. We already run pretty much, except for qualifying, you're going to run a 70-degree spoiler at Charlotte and Atlanta anyway. The deals that we'll have on the roof are going to create some drag and slow the cars down some. I honestly think we have to speed the process up of the smaller cubic inch engines, getting the speeds down. To me we can't do enough things with the design of the cars these days to slow them down drag-wise. If you raise the air dams ups or put taller spoilers on them, that's going to make them drive some worse, but you're still not going to slow them down significantly, but I think we have to look at speeding that process up. Every team out here has the capability of making that change pretty quickly I believe. I think that's the direction you're going to have to go. But I think that it's certainly a viable option to look at what we can do right at this moment for the rest of this year if we need to slow the cars down if that's what NASCAR wants to do, especially at the high-speed race tracks, the things that we learned when we were at Daytona in the NASCAR test would certainly be things that could be used."
DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA ARE ALMOST TWO DIFFERENT ANIMALS ANYMORE. WHAT WOULD THE TALLADEGA CHANGES DO NEXT FEBRUARY AT DAYTONA? "It's almost hard to say. The testing that we did, obviously, we've done it at Daytona. What's gonna happen in a few weeks at Talladega, I'm not sure. I mean, if we can get better racing there than we've had the last couple, I can't imagine how that's going to be unless we go across the start-finish line five wide or something. That was pretty incredible racing. Daytona, even though they're similar, it's so totally different, really. It's about handling more than its about aerodynamics and horsepower. It's going to be interesting to see. I think that what we have to work with at Talladega we can probably tweak with this just a little bit, just to get something that ensures that whenever 2001 rolls around, our new TV package is in place, that we have a really good Daytona 500. And that's important to all of us. It's important to NASCAR, it's important to our sport that we start this off, you know, this has been sold as the most competitive sport that there is, and that's what needs to happen. I think that even though they're different that Talladega will give us an idea of the car being able to draft back up to make poasses without being totally dependent on another car, and if you can do that at Talladega that can certainly happen at Daytona. I think we've made a move in the right direction and I know that NASCAR'S wish is for the rules that we have at Talladega and what we leave with there is what we'll have for the Daytona 500 so everybody doesn't have to go home and be cutting their cars up or doing different things that we're ready to go for the 500 and we know what to expect."
Kurt Busch, who won Friday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series MBNA e-commerce 200, will make his Winston Cup debut Sunday, driving the No. 97 John Deere Taurus.
KURT BUSCH -- 97 -- John Deere Taurus - ONE DAY BEFORE YOUR FIRST WINSTON CUP RACE, WHAT ARE SOME OF THINGS THAT ARE RUNNING THROUGH YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW? "Well, I wish it would stop raining so we can get more practice time. It surely didn't hurt to have a test here a few weeks ago. We've very prepared for the Dover event. We're confident that we can put together a good race package so we can run and, hopefully stay on the lead lap - it's gonna be tough to stay on the lead lap here, first time - but, just trying to work with the drivers, get a repoire down, to where they know that I'm trying to hold our own and build this 97 team back to what it needs to be. And, for us, we need to go test at Charlotte and we need to go to Martinsville and we need to get through some of these tougher tracks before we really can start getting a solid program rolling. Track experience is going to be the biggest thing, so hopefully we can make 400 laps on Sunday."
YOU ARE VERY BUSINESS-LIKE IN YOUR APPROACH. IS THIS JUST ANOTHER RACE TO YOU? "That's the way I'm looking at it. I mean, this is the pinnacle of the sport, but I'm just a new guy in, and you've got to work your way on up the ladder. There's guys that have been here for 20, 25 years, there's guys that have been here for five years. Along that same level, for me, it's just keep racing and a race car's a race car, that's what I'm trying to keep it at, it's just that the media keeps multiplying and multiplying the closer and closer I get to the top, but who's to say what the top is?"
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TRUCKS AND THE CARS? "The biggest difference, of course, is the speed down the straightaway. The trucks just have a phenomenal amount of drag compared to the cars, and the cars have a little bit more horsepower. So it's getting on down into the corners, the crucial difference between the two, and that's something I had to work on yesterday, jumping into that Cup car, going down that straightaway 10, 15 miles an hour quicker and having to slow down just that much. And the comparisons are they weight about the same, the wheelbase is a little bit different, but just the whole feel of the car is starting to all jell together. The differences are starting to wear off between the two, the truck and the car, and it's really only the speed difference you carry into the corner with."
DO THE TRUCK DRIVERS APPROACH A RACE DIFFERENTLY THAN THE CUP DRIVERS? DO THEY APPROACH THE TRACK DIFFERENTLY? "It seems as if the Cup program in qualifying is really magnified. A lot of time is spent on qualifying, of course, getting into the show, and then you snap your fingers and it fades, completely changes, to race pace set-ups. Where in the truck series you just try to get a comfortable feel with the truck, throw some tape on it and go qualify. That's the way we do it over there. Where over here, it's two separate completely different set-ups, to go and qualify and then to go and race 400 miles."
WHAT ABOUT ONCE THE RACE STARTS? ARE THE CUP DRIVERS A LITTLE MORE PATIENT? "Oh yeah, these are the top dogs. That's why they're here. The top 40 drivers, top 50 drivers in the world, racing Winston Cup. Just to be part of this group, I'm still in awe about the whole deal. And it's something I've looked forward to, to race with 40 guys that have the same goals in mind. They all want to be the best, they're all gonna try to take an inch away from you when there's an inch on the race track. It's gonna be good racing. And yet, it's a lot of give and take out there because the races are so much longer, and that's something that I haven't experienced yet."
WITH ONLY TWO MORE TRUCK RACES, YOU WON'T HAVE MANY MORE WEEKENDS LIKE THIS. WILL YOU BE HAPPIER CONCENTRATING ON JUST ONE SERIES? "It'll be just one race a weekend, now. We've got seven Cup races and the two truck races left, and it's getting back more into the races I like to do. I mean, this year I was only going to do 24 truck races, where the year before that I did about 60 races with all the race cars that I raced. So this will get us back into the 36-race range, and that's what we'll have next year in Winston Cup."
SO YOU'RE NOT WORRIED ABOUT TOO MUCH RACING, YOU LIKE THE WORK. "I enjoy the racing, there's something different every weekend. Where we go to travel, with all these new tracks, it'll be great to come around a second time to some of these race tracks. I'm gonna go see Texas in a couple weeks for the second time, that'll be great. And, here at Dover we tested and then we were able to come back a week later and run the race and we were able to win. It helps me just by racing the race track and have it sink in and make a better effort at it the next time."
Carl Long used a provisional to make the field for Sunday's MBNA.com 400. It will be his first Winston Cup start. Earlier this year, Long qualified at Charlotte and sold his ride to Darrell Waltrip. Following a rain delay, Long finished that race.
CARL LONG -- 85 -- Taurus - ON MAKING THE FIELD. "Well, we kind of played our cards when we came up here. I didn't have a qualifying motor ready, but I had my race motor ready for Charlotte. I put the race motor in and we struggled. We had drive-shaft problems and only got four laps on the track, it felt good, before we qualified. It didn't really feel good, but I had four laps where it wasn't vibrating and shaking me out of the seat. So when I qualified, I qualified very conservative, not trying to wreck the car because I felt like today's qualifying at 11 o'clock would a little cooler than when I went out yesterday, to save everything I had for today, and it actually worked to my advantage. I've not had to change my motor, my race motor's already in. I think I've worked out a lot of the bugs, and I can be competitive and run at speed. We're trying to struggling to come up with a tire bill, but a lot of the other teams told me they'll have some five- and six-lap tires left over after Happy Hour and qualifying. Rusty's team said they would give me a set of their scuffs, Darrell's team and Barry Dodson, and as the race goes on and there's caution and they come in, put some tires on and run 10 laps, there's another caution and everybody comes in and puts tires on, then I'll be over there and what 60 laps they didn't get out them, I'll get the rest out of them."
YOU HAVE BEEN ON THE TRACK BEFORE. "We came up for the spring Dover race with the car I made Charlotte with and we had some problems and we were getting up to speed. It's just so hard when you have a volunteer crew to come here and hit this place wide open. But I made about six laps then, but I crashed out hard qualifying, trying to go more than I was comfortable with. So I didn't do it this time. I had one of my spots given away to me and now I've got one given back. In order for me to get a ride as a full-time driver, this is my resume. I can't carry my sponsor, I can't carry a lot of money, so all I've gotta do is prove to 'em that I can keep the car in one piece and run competitive."