Dover International Speedway always presents a variety of challenges for drivers and teams, whether it's avoiding an accident on the nine-degree banked straightaway or stretching fuel mileage from run to run. Ford drivers Dale Jarrett, Todd Bodine...
Dover International Speedway always presents a variety of challenges for drivers and teams, whether it's avoiding an accident on the nine-degree banked straightaway or stretching fuel mileage from run to run. Ford drivers Dale Jarrett, Todd Bodine and Dave Blaney, who all qualified in the middle of the pack, spoke about the difficulties they will face in tomorrow's MBNA Armed Forces Family 400.
DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus (Starting 29th) - HOW IS IT TRYING TO AVOID STUFF STARTING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK HERE? "It's difficult at the beginning, but if you can get 25 or 30 green-flag laps where things get strung out, that makes it a lot easier. But as long as it stays bunched up and if we have any cautions early, obviously, trying to miss something here is hit and miss. You hope that you miss it, but things happen quickly here and there's very little room to take evasive action. You just hope you can get through it, but if you can get through those initial few laps, then it's not that bad." WHEN YOU HEAR THERE'S A WRECK ON THE TRACK, DO YOU JUST AUTOMATICALLY TRY TO GET TO THE OUTSIDE? "That's your first instinct because you know that's a better option, but that doesn't work all the time. Cars will get stuck up there or will go up to the top and it just depends on where you are and how quickly it happens in front of you. Going outside is your first instinct, but it isn't always the right one." IF YOU WERE SCRIPTING A GAMEPLAN FOR TOMORROW'S RACE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? "I think the objective at the start and for the first 200 miles will be to stay on the lead lap and get our car adjusted. I don't think two tires a good option at this race track, so you take a lot of that out of the equation. You may see some people do it, but I don't think they'll have much success at it. Making sure that you get good fuel mileage is important. It seems that we always have at least one race that comes down to that here and we've worked hard at that. Again, positioning ourselves in that first 200 miles and making sure we stay on the lead lap is important because then we can really start to run that last 200. By then you usually have a lot of cars a lap down and if you're on the lead lap, you've got a lot fewer cars to race."
TODD BODINE - No. 54 National Guard Taurus (Starting 21st) - HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO AVOID A WRECK AT THIS TRACK? "It's hard in that there are walls on both sides of the straightaway so you don't have any escape routes. At the same time, nine times out of 10 whatever car is wrecking is gonna slide to the bottom because of the banking. That's the good thing, but the bad thing is that there's no place to go if it doesn't. You're going so fast that if you see it and the guy behind you doesn't, you're in big trouble. That happens a lot here." IS THIS ONE OF THE TOUGHEST TRACKS TO AVOID A WRECK? "Yes and no. The corners are so wide that if you can determine where the car is gonna be when you get there, you can pretty much dodge it. I wouldn't say it's the hardest, but it can be difficult - more on the straightaway than in the corners." IS THIS A CREW CHIEF'S RACE BECAUSE OF ALL THE STRATEGY THAT GOES INTO IT? "Yeah, it can be. I don't think you're gonna see two tires at all, so that kind of goes out the window. But fuel mileage and when to pit or not to pit will be important. I think you're gonna see some guys staying out a little bit. If you get 20 laps on the tires, I don't think you'll see people pitting as much as you usually would because the tires seem to stay with you pretty decent. They get harsh and pressures build up, but they seem to stay pretty good."
DAVE BLANEY - No. 77 Jasper Engines Taurus (Starting 26th) - IS THE START OF SUNDAY'S RACE A LITTLE MORE TENSE THAN USUALLY BECAUSE THERE'S NOT A LOT OF ROOM OUT THERE, IS THERE? "Yeah, the start is a little more stressful because there's not much room for air around here if you're running the top side of the race track. Usually, though, by the time the Busch race is over there is a second groove and it's pretty nice. Unless the rain washes the rubber all away on Saturday night or Sunday morning, it's usually not that bad. If you wait a little while, then you can go. If your car stays handling well here, it's a great place to race and you can go to the front no matter where you start." DO YOU FAVOR THE OUTSIDE WHEN THERE'S A WRECK? "Yeah, for sure. If there's a wreck on the straightaway, it's getting out of your way in a hurry because it's going downhill and it's pretty much the same thing in the corner. In one way the track cleans itself fast, but you're going so fast that sometimes it's hard to avoid. Everything happens fast here." WHAT KIND OF STRATEGY DO YOU SEE IN THIS RACE? "It's all about handling here. If a guy can just keep cutting around the bottom and run good around the bottom all day, then you can go. There are a lot of guys that will move up and run high here, but every race here is won around the bottom. If you want to run to the front, you need to go fast around the bottom here during your entire fuel run."