Hideo Fukuyama, driver of the No. 66 World Berries Taurus, will attempt to qualify for a NASCAR Winston Cup Series event for the first time later today. Fukayama, from Owase, Japan, met with the media in the infield center prior to his qualifying...
Hideo Fukuyama, driver of the No. 66 World Berries Taurus, will attempt to qualify for a NASCAR Winston Cup Series event for the first time later today. Fukayama, from Owase, Japan, met with the media in the infield center prior to his qualifying attempt. He competed in three NASCAR exhibition races in Japan and two NASCAR Winston west races between 1996 and 1999. (Fukuyama needed a provisional to make the race.)
HIDEO FUKUYAMA-66-World Berries Taurus (through an interpreter)
HOW DID TESTING GO AT DOVER LAST WEEK AS OPPOSED TO THE CONDITIONS DURING PRACTICE THIS MORNING?
"He did really good during the testing, better than today. In the test, he went maybe point two seconds later. For the session that he just finished, temperature difference made a big difference, and he's sorry for not going so well as the test."
THERE'S BEEN MUCH ATTENTION GIVEN TO THIS EFFORT, AND WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN TO WINSTON CUP RACING. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS EFFORT?
"There's lots of things to tell, but there are two major points that I'd like to point out. The first thing, he's been striving for 25 years in motorsports in Japan. He really wants to learn about NASCAR system and NASCAR environment. That's why he's here. The second point is the late Dale Earnhardt. When he first met him in 1996 when this NASCAR exhibition race was held in Japan at Suzaka Circuit. So, he's just here to make his promise to the late Mr. Dale Earnhardt."
TRAVIS CARTER, co-owner-66-World Berries Taurus
"First of all, we're honored and proud to be associated with Hideo and his Japanese supporters. Since the exhibition race, I guess that was '96, he's been back and forth and visited some Winston Cup races and has shown some desire to participate here, so we've continued to talk about it on and off for four or five years. And I think through the course of this year, I think he and his group had gotten really in a position and serious enough to the point that they could race, and financing to support his effort, and that's when he came late spring, I guess, and we started discussing the possibilities and the practicalities and how we could go about trying to get this done. So, at Dover, here we are. I know everybody says, 'Why Dover?' When they petitioned NASCAR to issue a license, they request that new drivers or drivers that have not participated to try to stay on a track a mile or under in length. And with the schedule that Hideo had in Japan, he had several events that he was committed to do, and working through the schedule with the size of the track and so forth, Dover was one of the tracks that he would be able to run and would fit the criteria set forth by NASCAR, and so we elected to try to participate here in Dover and Martinsville, Virginia, and then Rockingham."
HOW DO YOU LIKE THE MONSTER MILE?
HIDEO FUKUYAMA: "It will take him about one hour before he actually likes the track."
ANY OTHER OPINIONS ABOUT HOW TO RUN ON THE MONSTER MILE?
"It is a very, very difficult track he never had experienced in the past in his racing career. He will try his best this afternoon, and then he promised that he will drive for everybody's safety."
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR?
"First of all, he has to qualify this afternoon, then he can talk about the possibilities. He's been talking with several sponsors now, and the talk itself is very positive."
HAVE YOU RACED ON AN OVAL BEFORE?
"Twice at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, that's 1.5-mile, and once at Pikes Peak in Colorado."
PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR?
TRAVIS CARTER: "I don't know exactly what next year holds. I think some depends how well it goes, these three events. We'd like to try to do something if funding can be raised for that. I think this guy can do the job. We all have to realize, he's taking on a real task, trying to qualifying for this race at Dover. There's no shame to be had if it doesn't happen. Back to an earlier comment about the testing. He's actually run faster today than he tested. But the track conditions probably weren't as good then as they were. It's much hotter, probably a little not as grippy. But everybody's just turned up the wick. It's really, really fast-paced today. And I know he didn't do as well as testing, but in my mind it's probably better, because we're going faster than we actually tested. If we can squeeze another couple of tenths out of it, we still have a chance here."