FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pepsi 400 July 1, 1999 Daytona International Speedway 98 CALE YARBOROUGH, Car Owner -- Universal Studios Taurus -- "This isn't a brand new story, but we wanted to have a real big ...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Pepsi 400 July 1, 1999 Daytona International Speedway
98 CALE YARBOROUGH, Car Owner -- Universal Studios Taurus -- "This isn't a brand new story, but we wanted to have a real big official kickoff about Universal Studios coming on board with Cale Yarborough Motorsports. The most famous woodpecker, Woody Woodpecker, is gonna be around for the next three-and-a-half years that we know of and that feels good in this sport at this day and time. I believe that if I get a sponsor that can stick with me for three-and-a-half years all the way through, I believe they're gonna stay a while. I haven't had that lately, they usually drop out before the time is up, but I'm looking forward to our association with this sponsor. Woody is gonna be our main character and he's gonna bring on board some of his friends throughout the years. This is just a great deal for us and we're looking forward to a long association with Universal Studios and Woody Woodpecker." HAVE YOU EVER HAD AS SECURE AS POSITION WITH A SPONSOR LIKE THIS ONE? "I don't think so. As I said before, we've had some pretty good sponsors that we thought were good sponsors. It hasn't always been the sponsor's fault. RCA, for instance, the people in the United States were tickled to death with what was going on, but RCA is owned by the French government and the French government pulled the plug on us. It's just been one unlucky situation that has happened to me. Thorn Apple Valley we had last year and they went broke before the year was out and we had to finish out the year with nobody. It's been tough, but this makes me feel awful good knowing we've got a company as strong as Universal Studios to be behind us for the next three-and-a-half years." DID YOU LOSE SOME OF YOUR FIRE FOR THE SPORT WHEN ALL THIS WAS GOING ON? "No, I've never lost any of my fire for the sport. I was caught in some circumstances that were beyond my control. There was nothing I could do about it. I don't have to tell you people what kind of money it takes to operate these teams. If you've got a sponsor that quits paying you during the year and you've gotta foot the bill yourself to keep going, that'll take a little steam out of you. We went to the end of the year and didn't know what was gonna happen. We shut it (the operation) down hoping that something would happen and, thank goodness, the key people there (at the shop) wouldn't leave. When you shut the door and the people still won't leave, then it makes you take another look at it, so we did that. We got back in and said we'll hang in here as long as we can. Then a group came by and wanted to get involved with it, purchased some of it and it ended up they wanted to purchase all of it and I had no choice at the time but to go along with it. They didn't have a sponsor. They had good intentions, but I'm gonna tell you what, you cannot run a Winston Cup race team with good intentions. It takes a little bit more than that and that's what happened to them. They tried. No doubt about it, they tried as hard as anybody I ever saw to try and put a sponsorship deal together and to be able to meet their obligations with me. It didn't happen and I had no choice but to come back in and hit the ground running. Universal and Rick and all the other boys are with us and stayed with us, and I guess maybe it was just meant to be." BUT YOU HAVEN'T LOST YOUR DESIRE TO BE A CAR OWNER? "Absolutely not. If I have to fund it out of my pocket, of which my pocket is nowhere near that big, I would lose my desire in a hurry."
98 RICK MAST - Universal Studios Taurus - "This is just a pleasure for me and my team. We're like a diamond in the rough, a bunch of overachievers who have stuck with this whole thing through thick and thin this year. They all had very good lucrative offers to go to very good race teams, but they stuck it out and hoped and prayed like me. We all fought for this to happen and it finally happened. We've got a little hole we've gotta dig out of, but once we do I think the overachieving part is gonna start kicking in. We've seen little flickers of that this year, but I truly believe this might be the team for Rick Mast down the road." WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS SPONSORSHIP? "For me personally, I've had really good sponsors since I've been in Winston Cup, but this is the first one...like my wife has been telling me for three or four years, 'Rick, get yourself a sponsor where we can do stuff with the kids.' And this is the first one that's happened for me, so for me and my family we couldn't be more thrilled, honestly."
Ricky Rudd, driver of the No. 10 Tide Taurus, held a press conference to discuss his sponsorship situation with Tide. On Wednesday, June 30, Procter and Gamble announced that they would be leaving Rudd in favor of a new team owned by Cal Welles.
10 RICKY RUDD -- Tide Taurus -- "I found out at two o'clock yesterday (June 30) afternoon that basically P&G was not gonna renew their contract with us, that they were gonna go with a new team -- PPI, which is Cal Welles' Indy car team. They did offer me a position to drive the car, but it's hard to drive for somebody that doesn't have a shop, that doesn't have a crew chief, that doesn't have an engine program. Plus, that's not my goal. My goal is to continue to build Rudd Motorsports into something that will hopefully be able to challenge for a championship one day. I guess all I can say is that it's been a good relationship with P&G. There are no hard feelings. I feel like in their minds they feel they're making the right decision. It's a business decision for them and I'm sure it probably wasn't an easy one. They're moving forward as we are. It's not all doom and gloom. We've got two good options on the table and we're trying to weigh out what the best thing is for us to do in the long-term future. Sponsorships, one of the programs comes with a sponsor and one of them does not, so we have to weigh these things out and try to stay up with the ever-changing Winston Cup garage area, which is changing rapidly. Being able to stay competitive and not just get caught up for next year, but how do you stay on the leading edge and that's probably gonna help dictate a lot of our stategy and what we decide to do." "The only thing I'll add to the comment about the P&G situation is that I really don't quite understand it. Again, we haven't been competitive this year like we needed to be, but we've been able to win a race every year since we've had the association going back into the nineties. I don't quite understand it. I don't quite understand the patience level, but, again, I don't want to beat up on them. I'm sure they're gonna have a fine program next year." WHAT'S YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE SPONSORSHIP SITUATION IS? "I don't know. Anybody that's been around it a while, it doesn't really make sense. I don't understand it myself. Had they said we're going with Robert Yates or Rick Hendrick or something that is established and outperforming us this year -- and I even told them, I said, 'Hey guys, if you've got a chance to go with Mark Martin, Jack Roush or Jeff Burton, that's the place to go right now. They've got a hot team right now. It's working and it's clicking.' But I don't understand this. I found out not much sooner than you did. I think the teams that were in the running was our team, Jack Roush and this new Cal Welles deal. Again, I'm not qualified to speak on their behalf of why they decided to go that route. It doesn't make sense to me." DOES IT MAKE YOU BITTER KNOWING THERE ARE GUYS IN THE GARAGE AREA TRYING TO TAKE AWAY YOUR SPONSOR? "This is really the first time I've ever experienced anything like this. I guess racing is growing and it's changing, and, hopefully, it's all for the better. But some of the growing pains that come along the way...I see a lot of outsiders wanting to get in right now because it appears to be very glamourous and there appears to be a lot of money involved in the sport. I think the sport, unfortunately, a lot of the guys who paid their dues and helped create it are tending to get run over. I'm trying to figure out how I got myself in this position. I'm probably guilty of working way too many hours and worrying way too much about this race team, instead of going up to Cincinnati with a fancy briefcase and a nice powerpoint presentation. I'm guilty of one thing -- trying to build this race team and get it back on the right track. Whereas you've got these guys, obviously they must have a lot of time their hands to be flighting around and basically trying to steal everybody's sponsors."
DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT WITH YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TIDE THAT THEY DIDN'T STAY? "They're a very big powerful company. They make a lot of business decisions and sit emotions on the shelf and I'm sure this is a business decision for them. The hard thing to take is when you go do your appearances and you put so much extra effort into really making it beneficial for that sponsor -- making sure that if you go somewhere and sign autographs that you go out of your way to really be interested in their business. That's sort of the hard thing. I feel like I've taken it probably more serious than I should have as far as their objective to be in this sport is to sell extra soap and any way I could do that to help them increase their sales I would do that. That was my job. I was paid to do that, but the loyalty factor, it's all about instant results I guess." HOW MUCH OF AN ORDEAL HAS THIS BEEN FOR YOU? "I think all these race teams sort of operate under the pressure. Nobody has security in this deal. I guess I'm pretty proud of the record we've got. Someone told me the other day that we right up there as far as the timeline for continuous relationships, so that surprised me." HAS IT WORN YOU DOWN? "My main focus has been trying to get this race team back on track. I feel like we're making progress. We're good here, we were good last week. We're not where we need to be but we're getting better. I think 120 percent of my attention goes to that and I sort of see that other stuff as maybe being trivial, but I guess it's not trivial because here we are without a sponsorship because somebody else made a fancy presentation. Yeah, that bothers me. Does it do permanent harm? I'm a fighter. It just makes me mad and I want to come back and stick in their face and say, 'Hey, you made a mistake.' I'd like to go out and win the championship next year." WHAT COMMENTARY DOES THIS SAY ABOUT NEWCOMERS WANTING TO GET INVOLVED IN THIS SPORT? "I think it all gets back to where the future of the sport is headed. When you've got a person like a Junie Dunlavey, that helped grow this sport from nothing to where it is today, and he's floundering around just trying to hang on and get to the race track the next week so he can see his buddies and there's no reward for that for him, I think something is wrong. Bud Moore is a good example and the list can go on. As it becomes now the trendy thing to become a part of, some of the negative fallout is all of a sudden no one really pays attention. Hey the 90 car is not here this week. But he's been here for every race for the last how many thousands of races when they needed cars in the field. I guess where I'm headed is a franchise situation or something. A Ford or Chrysler dealership is hot right now in dealership industry. If anybody in this room had a pocketful of money, they can't go and buy a piece of property, put up a building and say, 'I'm gonna order Fords and I'm gonna order Chryslers and I'm gonna have a dealership here.' It doesn't work that way. I think that's one of the things NASCAR is gonna have to get a handle on and I don't know if they're taking it serious enough to be honest with you. I think something is wrong when you allow somebody who is not a part of the sport to walk in and now he walks out with no record at all in the sport and he walks away with some of the biggest sponsors in racing -- McDonald's and now Tide -- with no proof. Prove to us that you can do the job. Prove to us that it's not gonna be another Tabasco fiasco and once you do that and you've got credibility, then you should be allowed to start tapping on some of the sponsors. But it's too easy for somebody to walk in off the street right now with a good line and win a sponsorship." WHAT'S YOUR PLAN AS FAR AS A SECOND TEAM? "We're 30 days behind schedule where we wanted to be. The original plan was to keep the Tide program and keep everything on the 10 car exactly the same. Hopefully, renew the sponsorship and the partner coming in would bring a sponsor for the second team. Those plans can still be active, but what would happen most likely is that sponsor for the second team would probably move over and be a sponsor on the primary team."
WOULD THERE BE A SECOND TEAM NEXT YEAR? "I'm not ruling out those possibilities, but I would say we're getting late in the game. Can you come out of the box with a first-class second team? I think you're starting to push the timeline, unless you buy an existing team. I think our number one priority would be to get the 10 team up where it needs to be and then maybe run a limited schedule next year and work into the program the following year. Just to have a second team for the sake of saying that's where the industry is going and we'll have a second team out there, I think would be a mistake unless it was a properly built properly funded team." DO YOU THINK THE CART AND OPEN WHEEL OWNERS KNOW HOW HARD NASCAR WINSTON CUP IS? "I don't think you can put all those guys in that same category. I know some of those guys. I've got some good friends over in that series, but I think it's really a matter of proper edicacy, proper manners or whatever you want to call it. There's a way to come into this sport and there's a way not to come into it. I think you've got some really good guys over there that are looking at getting into this sport that can probably handle it. Again, I'm not gonna speak negatively about this other team because I don't know anything about them. Are they gonna be in for a rude awakening, I can't answer that. I think some of them would be prepared and some would not be. You've got Carl Haas who has been dabbling in this for a while now. It's not his first time here, but he knows enough about it that he doesn't try to do it himself. He works with Travis Carter and formed a close alliance and lets Travis run his team. Then you've got some guys that are gonna come in and try to do it by themselves. If they don't align themselves with proper managers and the people who know how to go stock car racing, they could struggle." DO YOU FEEL THE TIDE NEGOTIATION WAS DONE IN GOOD FAITH OR DO YOU FEEL YOU WERE STRUNG ALONG? "Let's say there was an honest misinterpretation of our timelines." WHO OFFERED YOU A RIDE? "The sponsor offered me a ride. In the same conversation when they're telling me the sponsorship is not gonna be with us anymore, it's gonna be with this Cal Welles team -- 'We would like to offer you a job to drive for the new team.'" WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED WITH YOUR SHOP? "Who knows, sell it, whatever. I don't know what the plan was. It didn't go very far. Here's a guy that walks off with my sponsor -- 'Do you want to drive for him?' That conversation didn't last very long." THEY WEREN'T TRYING TO BUY YOUR TEAM. "No. I don't really know what they were talking about. They asked would I be interested in driving the team and I basically told them. When I was just a driver I worked very hard to place myself in great equipment. Who was working on the car. The questions I'd have was -- Who's building the motors for the car. Not anybody can build motors for these things. Who is gonna be wrenching on the car. Where is the shop gonna be located. I'm asking these questions that they're sort of thinking, 'Why is this very important?' Well, these are all the ingredients that go into a good caliber race team and I'm asking these questions. If I'm gonna drive for this team, I want to know these things. I certainly hoped you asked those questions before you signed on the dotted line, but, again, I'm not trying to tell them how to run their business. That was their call. To answer your question, there was an offer for me to drive the car, but we didn't discuss very far about the details." HAVE YOU EVER MET CAL WELLES? "No." WHEN YOU DO MEET HIM WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY TO HIM? "I was taught a long time ago that if you can't say anything nice about somebody just don't say anything at all, so that's probably the strategy I would take."
16 KEVIN LEPAGE - TV Guide Taurus - "It's the first time in a long time I've been on the pole. I can't say enough for the TV Guide Taurus. This is what we ran in practice. We didn't pick up anything, we've been running about the same speed. Hopefully, we'll be in the top 25 and we'll get ready for the 400."
11 BRETT BODINE - Paychex Taurus - "We've got a lot of work to do. It's a brand new race car for us and we had higher hopes than this for it certainly. Hopefully we can come onto something that is gonna get us some speed here before tomorrow's second-round qualifying. We're gonna be struggling to make this race and we're gonna have to buckle down and try to find some speed."
90 STANTON BARRETT - Suburban Lodge Taurus - "We were struggling off the truck. It wasn't quite driveable. We made a lot of changes because we weren't very fast in practice, but we thought we made some changes that would help it a lot but it didn't help it any. We've got our work cut out for ourselves tomorrow. The Donlavey Racing team is a great group of guys and we'll just go hard at it tomorrow and try to get the car in the show."
94 BILL ELLIOTT - McDonald's Taurus - "It's bad when the guy beats you on the first lap (Nemechek), but still we picked up from practice. The biggest thing about this type of racing is once qualifying is over and we throw all this stuff out, it'll be a whole different ballgame tomorrow afternoon. The main thing for us is just to get a good start on the grid. It doesn't matter where you start as long as nothing happens the first part of the race, and you get to the end of the day."
6 MARK MARTIN - Valvoline/Cummins Taurus - "I really feel like we've got the best shot at a race at Daytona that we've ever had. We've got great horsepower. This is a great car, it's the car that won the Bud Shootout. The difference between now and February is that we've got more power and we've got a good package. I'm just proud of Jimmy (Fennig, crew chief) and everybody on this team. I'd like to have sat on the pole, but we'll get there. We've made big gains on this program and this restrictor-plate deal and we'll be OK." "I'm proud of this race team. The Eagle One crew, actually everybody at Roush Racing, the engine department has got a gob of horsepower for me this weekend. I think I've got enough under the hood to go out and win a race here, if we do the right things behind the wheel. If we get her set up right, I think we'll be OK. I'm looking forward to this weekend. This is the most I've had on any restrictor-plate that I can ever remember."
66 DARRELL WALTRIP - Big Kmart/Route 66 Taurus - "We picked up a little bit, but we started off way behind today. We've made great gains, but the problem is everyone else has too so we're still behind. The Kmart crew is doing a great job and we'll get the car a little bit better yet. I don't know if that will make the top 25 or not, it would be nice if it would and then we wouldn't have to worry about tomorrow, but we can get a little more speed out of the car. We just need a little more time to work on it."
98 RICK MAST - Universal Studios Taurus -- "This is a brand new race car and, boy, have we struggled all day. I think we were the slowest or next to slowest car in final practice. I could never hold the thing wide open. The guys changed a bunch of stuff right before qualifying and I was at least able to hold it wide open. We found what our problem was we were fighting in practice, but the thing of it is when I went to qualify we weren't aggressive enough with the shock package. I didn't have the car low enough, but we've been getting off of that because I couldn't drive the car all day. That's the first lap I've made around here all day wide open. That's the first time I've been wide open with this race car."
97 CHAD LITTLE - John Deere Taurus - "I'm glad we just have to do it once. It's a real handful. Everyone did a really good job, all the employees back at the shop who put the body on the car and set the car up to everyone here from the 26 and 16 helped with the shocks and the engineering department with the 99 and the 6 gave us a lot of help too, but we put the body on this car so I'm real proud of that. I'm real proud of everybody on our team, but I'm glad we only have to do it once. It's a real handful."
21 ELLIOTT SADLER - Citgo Taurus - "We wanted to run a little bit faster than that, but the car drives great. The Citgo Ford has been pretty good since we've been here as far as driving. We've struggled a little bit this year on our speedway stuff. We had to take a provisional here in February and had to take a provisional at Talladega, so I think we're definitely headed in the right direction. I think this is the best car we've had at a speedway this year. We're making improvements each and every week, we just want to try to get in the top 25, 26, 27 tonight so we can work on race setup. This is my first time under the lights here, so I've got a lot to learn. I love this race track and just want to get a good spot for everybody involved and hope we have a good run Saturday night."
28 KENNY IRWIN - Texaco Havoline Taurus - "We hadn't been in the 46 bracket all year, in February or practice today. You go in goals and that was one of them to get in the 46 seconds. Hopefully, that puts us in the top 25, but I think we've shown that it doesn't matter where you start, hopefully you can get to the front. We think we've got a good race car here."
9 JERRY NADEAU - Cartoon Network Taurus - "That's pretty good, a lot better than we thought it was gonna be. We struggled a little bit in practice, but this car always seems to qualify somewhere around 20th or 18th. It's a better race car than qualifying car. The guys did an awesome job. We've got a new paint scheme with Goldberg on the hood, so we're looking to march up to the front this weekend."
2 RUSTY WALLACE - Miller Lite Taurus - "The second lap it got a little sideways on me coming off turns three and four in that area and slowed my second lap down a little. I picked up about a tenth and a half and really, I thought I picked up more than that, but I'm happy with it. The guys did a great job with the engine, the handling is pretty good under these circumstances. Robin and his whole crew did a great job and this car was completely rebuilt after the big wreck at Talladega, but it's the same car I had here in Daytona for the 500. We expect to run good on Saturday night."
99 JEFF BURTON - Exide Batteries Taurus -- "We didn't have the car fast enough to sit on the pole, but we were sixth in practice and felt pretty good about a chance of at least being decent. I don't know, when I left going down the back straightaway I had kind of a strange vibration, I thought it might have been a wheel or something so I just ignored it, but going into three it shook real bad and something came loose. Something broke in the engine maybe. It's a tough deal because I know we've worked really hard in our engine department to make better power and better reliability, especially for these places and I believe we've done that. This is probably just a fluke deal." YOU HAVE TO GO FROM THE BACK TO THE FRONT AGAIN. "We are. The smart bet for us, because there are so many things you have to change from practice to qualifying at Daytona, is to just get it ready to race and go take your provisional. That's why I went ahead and took the green because no matter what happens, I've attempted a qualifying lap. We took the green so now if it rains, we can easily take our provisional and move on. That's what we'll have to do. We'll start 37th and just try to take the Exide Ford to the front."
88 DALE JARRETT - Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus - "We knew we had help in practice so that makes a big difference (as far as practice speed). The car bottomed out maybe a little bit more and might have cut off a little bit more speed there, but this is a race car and not a qualifying car. We saw that at Talladega, we qualified like 23rd and finished second there, so we hope the same thing will come true Saturday night."
23 JIMMY SPENCER - Team Winston Taurus - "You don't want to do everything you have to to qualify here because you've just gotta get real, real aggressive. None of the drivers really want to make more than one lap. We threw away our first lap and we really anticipated we could run about an 80-something. We're still not getting the car down low enough. I came to a race and a rodeo broke out. That's all I've got to say."
10 RICKY RUDD - Tide Taurus - "I probably did half the driving and Andy Hillenburg did the other half today. I only ran half the practice and Andy ran the other half." WHY DID YOU DO THAT? "I like Andy's opinion. I don't have a two-car team, so we've got one team with two drivers. That's our strategy." DID YOU FEEL YOU HAD SPEED TO GET THE POLE? "I was busy. I knew it was gonna be fast, I didn't quite know how fast. They told me on the first lap that it was a .40, so I knew I had a heckuva good shot at it. I knew we had a good lap going and as much as some of the guys were picking up I thought we had a shot at it. It just felt great to have a car run this good. The guys at the shop worked awful hard on this car. Mike McSwain, Penske Motors and Andy Hillenburg, he's been a big help down here this week, so the combination came together. These guys definitely earned an A for effort. We didn't quite get the pole, but the way our season is going it's the next best thing." HOW ABOUT YOUR FINISHES. YOU'VE STRUGGLED THE LAST THREE RACES HERE. "A lot of that is where you start here. If you don't get a good starting spot somewhere up in the front you're gonna be in a wreck. You can just about guarantee that, so starting up front here, if you can keep track position all day -- we've been working on our pit stops -- if we hold track position all day the chances of being in a wreck are a whole lot slimmer than they are if you're in the back."
12 JEREMY MAYFIELD - Mobil 1 Taurus - "That's all you can ask for (getting in first round). We worked hard today but just didn't get what we really wanted out of the car. That's just about what we ran in practice. It moved around a little bit. We changed some things right before qualifying and it moved around a little bit, but, other than that, it was pretty good."
MARK MARTIN PRESS CONFERENCE SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE TO DRIVE. "Yeah I am. I'm just so grateful for the people who have sweated blood to make that extra 10-15 horsepower and get that last count or two of drag off, and to get all the little pieces that it takes to move from latter 30th place qualifier to a top 10 and then from a top 10 to third and a pole contender. We were a top 10 in February and we were a top 10 last year part of the time, but we slipped into being a pole contender for this particular race."
RICKY RUDD PRESS CONFERENCE HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL AFTER THE SPONSORSHIP DEAL? "What I'm proud about that is I took a pretty big slap in the face, I felt like, for the team effort. The guys we've got are good, they just need some time to mature. There are a lot of young guys on the team. They just need some time. We've been doing this with no wind tunnel time. We did get our downforce car in the wind tunnel last week, so I can't say we don't have any time, but this car was not in the wind tunnel. It went to Talladega and qualified seventh. We did not really want to bring this car here, we wanted to save it for Talladega. We built another car, but we couldn't run it or test it. We knew this car would go good, but we didn't want to tear it up." TAKE US AROUND THE LAP. "I was pretty busy in the car. I happened to be standing there by the monitor and I watched Kenny Wallace. I guess that was the car that they had not practiced because it was his backup. To describe a ride, that would be the ride I'd want to hear him describe because I sat there and watched it. He's my hero right now after he made it back around without hitting anything. My ride was nothing like that, it was a lot calmer than that. It's all about shocks and springs and getting the car to ride and squat and all that stuff. I wouldn't say it was uneventful, but I've been a lot busier before. It didn't shake the fillings out of my teeth or anything like that, but it was violent." HOW DIFFERENT IS YOUR EMOTION FROM EARLIER IN REGARDS TO THE SPONSORSHIP? "I really am not that low, believe it or not. When I got the news on the telephone I was probably the lowest then, but this sport is filled with highs and lows and you've just gotta learn how to deal with them and brush them off and move forward. I know no other way to do that than to go out there and get mad about it and try to run harder and try to run better. I've done it all my career and I've bounced back from lows in my career before. I'm a firm believer that if you do well something will work out. We've got a couple opportunities on the table (sponsorships), but getting them painted up on the race car are two different things. We feel like we've got some things that are pretty close and a good run here Saturday night won't hurt things any." DID YOU THINK JOE'S TIME WOULD BE BEATABLE? "I tell you, I thought that was awful fast. I didn't think anybody would really get that close to it. I figured we'd run in the 30s or the 20s. I felt like we had an honest 40 in the car and anything better than that was a welcome surprise and we did run a 25. We'll take it and move on." CAN YOU ELABORATE ON STARTING UP FRONT AND NOT GETTING IN A WRECK? "Just look at the history here. The wrecks are gonna happen. No matter how hard everyone tries for it not to happen, no one goes into the race saying let's wreck tonight, but you get a lot of guys who are driving awful hard and sometimes you slip just a little bit and it starts that chain reaction. The chances of missing those the closer you are to the front, at least in the first half of the race, the better off you're gonna be. I can't think of how many times here in the last four or five races we've wrecked out of this race and usually it's because of a poor qualifying position."