Ford Darlington qualifying

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus "We've been off a little bit all day. Everytime I go out I gain, but we must not have gone out enough. Man, we're sliding all over the place. This place is always slick, it's so hot today and...

DARRELL WALTRIP --66-- Route 66/Big Kmart Taurus
"We've been off a little bit all day. Everytime I go out I gain, but we must not have gone out enough. Man, we're sliding all over the place. This place is always slick, it's so hot today and humid it's hard to get the car to grip and we had some problems early on and didn't get to work on the car enough. I guess we'll be OK. I don't know if that will make the top 36 or not, but we're in the show and I guess that's all that matters."

RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus
"I knew going into Darlington it was gonna be a struggle, it's been a tough time for me getting qualified the way I want to here, but that was a good run for us. A .37 would have put us in the top five in practice times this morning, so I hope it holds up to be a good time. We ran a .60 in practice and I was real loose when I ran that, so I said to the guys let's put a couple extra pounds of air pressure in the right-front to try to fix it. We did that and it made the car a lot, lot better, so it was the right move on the guy's part. I underestimated how good it was gonna be and, honestly, I was a little lazy on the throttle in one and two, but I tried to make it up in three and four. I had a really good three and four and left a little on the table in one and two, but that was better than what we've been practicing."

JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus
"That was a great lap. I'm just really proud of this team. We've been through a lot and just keep coming right back. It shows you how tough this team really is. The last two weeks haven't been what we wanted, but we all pulled together and fought hard this week and here we are." THIS TRACK IS SUPPOSED TO BE TOO TOUGH TO TAME? "Well, this team must be too tough to tame because this is a great race team. All the guys in the engine shop, I'm just really proud. We've been through a lot, especially the last four or five weeks -- all of us -- but we keep coming back and I'm proud of that." YOU ALWAYS SEEM TO PERFORM SO WELL HERE? "I don't know. Our qualifying efforts haven't been that good. We've been close, just kind of qualify 11th or 20th -- something like that -- but we always race good. This time we just came back and really paid attention to what we needed to do."

MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline Taurus
HOW WAS THAT FROM PRACTICE? "It was three-tenths and it looks like we needed to gain some more than that, but the car was awesome in practice, it was awesome on that lap. The Valvoline team has done a great job. This car, we tested with and tested well. The track is real fast right now. We're not gonna wind up there, but it'll probably be a top 10 though. I think we can contend for this thing Sunday, I really feel good about our race setup and I'm looking forward to this weekend. I thought we had a great run at Bristol -- qualifying and race -- and I think we're gonna have the same here."

NOT A BAD DAY WITH THE BUSCH POLE AND THIS RUN. "Well, that's just a fast car (the Busch car). I'd do it over here too, if I could get my car to go that fast. I don't know what that car is so fast, but it usually is and that makes it easy for me to drive. I'm pleased. We've had a good day -- a good day with the Busch car and a great day with the Winston Cup car. I really believe that we'll race good this weekend."

WAS IT A PERFECT LAP IN THE BUSCH CAR? "No, it was junk. I was not any good at all, but it was two-tenths faster than anybody. I don't know why. I really didn't think it would be anywhere close to the pole because the car has felt horrible the whole time here and it doesn't feel good in race setup either, but evidently it's probably gonna be as fast like that too. I need a faster steering box on there or something because it wore me out in practice."

SCOTT PRUETT --32-- Tide Taurus
"The Tide car ran really good. In fact, both the Tide Cup car and the McDonald's Busch car were fast off the truck. We qualified seventh in Busch and hopefully we can stay in the top 10. That was all I had for turns one and two, in three and four I left something on the table but the guys did a terrific job. My first race here, one, I didn't make the race and I ran last every session so we've made a huge step as a team."

IT'S LIKE NIGHT AND DAY FROM YOUR FIRST TRIP HERE. "It's just racing, just going out and racing. Everything is coming together. We're coming back here with a car we know, we're coming back here with a driver who is giving a little bit better feedback and knowing what he wants out of the car and what line to run. Everything is really starting to gel and come together. We're making good downforce with the car. The Taurus has shown good downforce with good drag numbers and it's showing when you come to these faster tracks, so we're just gonna keep doing what we're doing. I'm proud of the team. We have our hiccups, but generally as a rule our learning curve is still vertical. Every race we go to, every test we do, every mile I get is helping us out."

ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus
"I got loose in two. That's probably the worst lap I've ever drove in my life here at Darlington. I had a good race car and I had a good lap going until I got into two and just tried to cut it down the hill too quick and I'm smarter than that. Then I just messed up my concentration through three and four, so I took a fifth-place car and we'll probably qualify 25th or 26th with it, but we think this thing is gonna race good so we'll have to look forward to Sunday."

THE GOOD NEWS IS YOU'VE GOT 500 MILES TO GET TO THE FRONT. "Yeah, 500 miles here if you've got a good race car you can pass a lot of people so we're just gonna have to try to get through the first couple of laps. They've had some wrecks here in the past on the first couple of laps, so if we can get through that we'll be in good shape."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus
"We were fifth-quick in practice and we picked up a little bit, but everyone else picked up a bunch. Usually at Darlington what I have in practice is what I have, I don't hold nothing back. I think a lot of people sneak up on it here. We ran about what we ran in practice, a little bit quicker, but we needed to pick up another tenth or two." DOES A LATE DRAW HURT HERE WITH AS SLICK AS THE TRACK GETS? "I think the draw was pretty even for everybody. My car was really good in one and two, but for some reason it pushed really bad in three and four and lost all of our speed at that end of the track."

STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus
A TOUGH DAY TO SAY THE LEAST. "Well, that would have been a good lap. Hat's off to the guys with this Kodiak Melling team, they worked their butts off to get this car out there. The crew chief (Jerry Pitts) told me he said, 'You've got to stand on it. You've gotta go.' We smoked one and two and got to three and four and it just got loose. I decided I was gonna try not to hit anything this time, so luckily we didn't hit anything. We've got a car we can work on for tomorrow and we've got a good car. We've got to get in the show. They've worked awful hard to make sure we had a shot at it and we're just gonna try to get it in. We'll get it in tomorrow." WHAT HAPPENED IN PRACTICE? "I'm not sure. I'm not sure whether we cut a tire or I might have just got in there and lost it. We hadn't been loose all day and I got in three and it got out from under me and backed in and then turned around and slapped the front too. I hate it because I think we were pretty decent."

MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus
"It was better than we've been running. I mean, that isn't nearly good enough but it's better than we ran all morning. We picked up a little under three-tenths from what we practiced so I guess you've gotta be happy with that, but we needed seven (tenths)."

BRETT BODINE --11-- Ralphs Supermarkets Taurus
WHY ARE YOU GUYS LAUGHING SO HARD? "We're laughing because I've had my head up my butt all day. We unloaded really good and then we just did some stupid things and I lost confidence in the car and I got a bad attitude. This place aggravates you. I love this place, but we just made some bad decisions. We should be better than this, but we'll take it if we're first round." ALL OF THAT AGGRESSION DIDN'T WORK ITS WAY OUT AT BRISTOL? "It's not that, I guess there are times where we're overachieving and our expectations of ourselves get higher than we can probably fulfill and when that happens you set yourself up for disappointment and disappointment leads to aggression in the wrong area. That's what we're faced with. We want to do so good and sometimes we're not realistic about what our potential really is."

JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus
"That's probably as good as we've qualified at Darlington in a long time. When we unloaded we were pretty good. We made some adjustments. The tire is different and it's really, really loose. We adjusted it (the car) and adjusted it and we still didn't have it where we needed it. I could not get through three and four like I needed to, it was a little too free, and it cost us a bunch of speed. But, man, we're gonna be in the top 15 and that's incredible for us here at Darlington in the Kmart car."

HOW WAS YOUR LAP AND WHAT ABOUT THE WEEKEND? "To start with we were pretty fast off the truck, but never ran nothing like that. We ran a .40 or something like that and wasn't sure we could run that fast. We all got in trailer after the last practice and decided, 'hey, we're here to sit on the pole and try to do as good as we can,' because the last time we qualified here was like 22nd or something like that and got in a wreck early. We knew we had to get good track position, so we gambled a little bit and made some changes and, evidently, they matched up to the track conditions and had a good lap."

DO YOU FEEL THIS IS A TRACK YOU RUN WELL ENOUGH TO WIN? "Darlington has been a place that I probably run better at than any place on the circuit and I haven't got a win yet. Most of the time, everytime we've got a chance to win, the rain comes so maybe if the rain stays away we'll be all right. Pocono has been a place we always run good and, yeah, the wins have shown up, but this place here hasn't been tough on us. We've always been there in the top five, just haven't been able to capitalize on the win and hopefully we'll be able to do that this weekend."

WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN? "Maybe a rain dance or something. We fixed one problem -- when I pitted on the backstretch that one time. We had a shot to win with like 30 laps to go we're leading the race and, all of a sudden, we had to come in for a caution and that put us out behind. But we've eliminated that problem, now if we eliminate the rain we'll have a good shot at it."

WHAT'S IT LIKE PITTING ON THE BACKSTRETCH? "It's pretty tough and it feel like and unfair advantage. Winston Cup racing is so competitive and they've got it so equal in everything but when you pit on the backstretch that's probably the worst feeling in the world because it's not equal, it's not fair, and for Winston Cup racing to be like it is, it seems like every track should be able to let us pit on the frontstretch or whatever. But some of them aren't big enough so we have to deal with it, but that's definitely not a good feeling."

HOW WAS THE TRANSITION WITH PIT ROAD? "This is a great place and I always look forward going to Darlington more than anywhere. They changed pit road and I think it made it better for everybody and makes it to where you just want to come here even more because you don't have to worry about pitting on the backstretch. It took some of the pressure off the drivers anyway to where we don't have to try to make that one lap exactly perfect everytime."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TIRES? "Goodyear brought a different tire here this time and you know I'm gonna brag on it. It's an awesome tire. We did the tire test like a year-and-a-half ago for the tire that we've been running here and I thought that was an awesome tire and Jeff Burton got to do the test this time and I thought, 'Man, we're really gonna be in trouble because he runs good here.' We came here and our car and myself and the track kind of adapted to the tire, so I think it's definitely gonna be a little bit slower but the tire wear is gonna be a lot better. I think, hopefully, you'll see better racing."

WHAT ABOUT THE HIGHS AND LOWS THIS SEASON FOR YOU? "I wouldn't say a rollercoaster, but I don't think there's a rollercoaster out there like the steep angles we've been on. We've been up and down and straight up and straight back down to the bottom. We rode down the bottom for a while and back up top and way up top and back down. It's been everywhere, but here it is again. Three, four, five weeks ago, I can't remember what day it was, but I got hit in the race car with my head and stuff and that was a low point -- probably the lowest it's ever been in my career even though all the other stuff that went on. I came back to Michigan and couldn't wait to get there and thought we were gonna dominate that race because we about did the first race there and, well, we couldn't hit our butts there either, so we ran bad and there's another low. We went to Bristol last week, running decent, and cut a tire down. At the end of the race I was trying to stay out of trouble and I found trouble -- or it found me somehow and got in a wreck again. So it's been up and down. Then to come back to Darlington here waiting for something to happen and I'm sitting here talking to you guys on the pole. I can keep going all day on my story for highs and lows, but that's the way it's been. It's made us a better race team and I feel we're gonna be better in the future because of that and whenever you go through the hard times it's gonna make the good times even better for us."

WHAT'S THE MOTIVATION FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR? "The motivation is to win -- that's what we're here for. We'll let Earnhardt and Labonte and all them guys worry about the points, we're gonna worry about winning. It's certainly a lot less pressure, I can tell you that. When you're in a points race and you're trying to stay in the top 10 or top five, there's a lot of pressure and you have to start cutting back a little bit and be more conservative. Myself and my race team, we're not much on conservative and that's probably why we've got all the highs and lows. We like running hard and running to win and that's what we're gonna do. We'll let those guys run for the points and the motivation is to get ready for 2001 -- make a run for the championship and get our race team to the level we need to be to be a championship contender. I think the performance is there. We've all seen the 12 car is fast week-in and week-out, we've just gotta get it consistent and knock some of these lows out from under us."

TALK ABOUT RUNNING HERE ON LABOR DAY AND THE TRADITION. "I think Darlington speaks for itself. You look back and see who all has won races here, especially the Southern 500s and there are a lot of great race car drivers. Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt and the list goes on. I can remember driving for Cale and he helped me probably more than anyone here and he said, 'If you win the Southern 500, you can win anywhere.' He won a bunch of them and so did David Pearson, so that tradition alone speaks for itself and if I could win here it would mean more to me probably than any race I've ever won."

THOUGHTS WITH TWO OR THREE CARS TO GO IN QUALIFYING. "It's hard to realize how important it is here. This place is so tough and the reputation is too tough to tame. Drivers have pretty big egos, we like to walk around saying we tamed the one too tough to tame sometimes, but to win anything here is important and means a lot."

WAS THERE ANY TREPIDATION GETTING BACK IN THE CAR AFTER YOUR ACCIDENT? "I think it was. Like I said, that was probably the toughest part of my whole career. You think it's hard getting here and then when you get here it's even tougher and when you go through something like that knowing everything you've dreamed for and everything you've accomplished in your career and about the time we've got the 12 car where it needed to be -- running good week-in and week-out -- then I get hurt. I'm sitting out for two weeks. First of all, I never had a headache, never got dizzy or nothing so I think I'm OK and everything is fine. The doctor is saying, 'Man, you better not race,' and all this stuff and you start thinking about a lot of stuff. You hear Terry Labonte stories, you know Terry was getting dizzy and a lot of stuff was happening to him and it made me stop and realize and think about what was going on. That two weeks seemed like two years to me and when I did get back in the car at Michigan I wasn't sure what was gonna happen. It was probably the most nervous I've ever been in my career. I kind of takes your confidence and pushes it back down two or three levels and I felt like at that point, before I got hurt, my confidence was higher than it's ever been and then when I got back in the car at Michigan I felt like I was starting all over again. That's why it's important for me to come here and after qualifying well at Michigan and Bristol and to come here and sit on the pole, it's boosted my confidence back up where I think it needs to be, but it's definitely a scary moment for you."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Terry Labonte , Cale Yarborough , David Pearson