STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus -- "I tell you what, that lap was accomplished about two months ago when those guys put a new body on this Ford Taurus. We've been pretty decent on the speedways and when we came here in the spring we ...
STACY COMPTON --9-- Kodiak/Cougar Taurus -- "I tell you what, that lap was accomplished about two months ago when those guys put a new body on this Ford Taurus. We've been pretty decent on the speedways and when we came here in the spring we weren't quite where we needed to be so we cut the body off and made some pretty significant changes. It looks like it paid off." WHERE DID YOU PICK UP THE HALF-SECOND FROM PRACTICE? "The driver doesn't do anything here, it's all crew, it's all body, it's all motor and when you've got all three of those it's an awful good combination."
MARK MARTIN --6-- Valvoline/Cummins Taurus -- "We never made a qualifying run during practice. The Valvoline/Cummins guys have done a super job with this car. This is the same car we had here in February and the same car we had at Talladega. That's kind of unusual for us. We're used to wrecking one and having to bring out another one that doesn't run as good, so this is one we've been working on since the winter and it's the quickest car we've got. These guys have put me in a great plate car and it's kind of fun to come to the race track when you can run good."
ED BERRIER --90-- Hills Brothers Taurus -- "We went to Talladega and had a pretty good qualifying run there and then got in that wreck and kind of tore the car up. The guys back at the shop had to rebuild the whole thing, but it turned out pretty good. We only got two runs during practice with the rain coming and all, but we're real happy with that. The guys have been working real hard and it paid off. We had an awesome motor in that thing too (a Penske motor), and we're tickled to death for Hills Brothers Coffee and all our sponsors. It's been a tough year, so hopefully we're gonna turn it around here."
CHAD LITTLE --97-- John Deere Taurus -- "Everyone at the shop and Roush Racing deserves to have a good run here. That's where we practiced at. We would have liked to pick up from our practice time, but that's exactly where we practiced. We're pleased from that respect, although right now we're just hoping with this position that we can sit back and get in the top 25."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus -- "These guys have done a heck of a job. They worked really late this week and put in a great effort here tonight. That's what it's all about. We'll continue to work. We've got another day to get ready for the 400 Saturday night, so we'll just see what happens. They've done a great job this season. This is a brand new race car, so to come here with a brand new race car and do this tonight means they've done a heck of a job."
IS THIS A NEW AND IMPROVED MCDONALD'S FORD?
"I wouldn't say it's new and improved, but they've put some awful good race cars under me this season. You come to Daytona and all you do is sit in the seat and drive it. They've really worked hard. Just like last week at Sears Point we broke a trailing arm and that was a really disheartening race, but one thing about it is we'll keep gettin' up and keep comin' back."
ROBBY GORDON --13-- Menards/Duracell Ultra Taurus -- NOTE: Robby Gordon has decided not to make a qualifying attempt tonight. He will go out tomorrow. "We had some problems in practice and we think we've isolated the problems, but there was no way we could get them sorted out before qualifying. We've got guys at the shop working on some things right now that they're going to bring down for tomorrow. You hate to have to burn the midnight oil and have to truck stuff down from the shop, but this is racing and you do whatever it takes. Hopefully, tomorrow is a good day. We're giving it everything we've got."
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- "We knew that Dale was gonna be the guy to beat tonight. We were fastest in practice, but they didn't get real serious, I don't think, until it was time to go. We had a really good test down here a couple of weeks ago, it went really well. I don't know if the front row will hold up, but it would be pretty neat to see both of those Yates cars up front again."
DID YOU WORK ON RACE SETUP DOING THE TEST?
"A little bit, not much. We didn't do any drafting, so we just put a race setup under it to make sure it drove OK and it did. We spent most of the time just making sure we got all of the new car bugs out of it. We spent most of the time trying to get it to go fast because it wasn't as fast as we wanted when we got here, but the Texaco Havoline team worked hard to get it up to speed and it ran pretty good tonight."
YOUR TEAMMATE DID IT TO YOU AGAIN.
"Well, he's got seniority over here in this camp, so that's worth a little bit right there. I couldn't be happier to have both of those Yates cars up front right now. I'm not sure where we're both gonna shake out here, somebody could still win the pole, but it looks like it's gonna be up front anyway. I couldn't be happier. This Texaco Havoline team has done a great job. I'm really happy, we signed UPS which has come on board with us for the rest of the season so that's a good way to start off that relationship."
THE CAR REALLY LOOKS FAST AND IT IS.
"It's a fast race car, I'm just really lucky to be sitting in it. It's made my trips around Daytona a lot easier than I've had in years past. You've still gotta race hard, but it's a little easier to race when you've got something that strong."
JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "We're real happy with that lap. The Exide Ford was faster than what we've run today and that's all you can ask for. We actually picked up about four-tenths from what we ran today and anytime you can pick up you need to do that. It appeared the norm tonight was to pick up two-and-a-half to three-tenths and we did a little better than that, so we're gonna be happy."
MATT KENSETH --17-- DeWalt Tools Taurus -- "That's awesome. Everybody back at the shop worked real hard to build a brand new car to come here and, frankly, we've been real disappointed with it since we've been here. It's been real slow, we were way back there in practice. I don't know what those guys did, but they gave it a good tuneup and the motor ran real good and we got a real good lap there."
RUSTY WALLACE --2-- Miller Lite Taurus -- "I'm disappointed with that, it should have been faster than that I thought, but it happens. Tenth is OK, I can win the race from 10th, so we'll see what happens. We ran a .37 in practice dead legal. I went out there while it was raining and I don't know if I should have done that. They gave me an opportunity to wait and I didn't. Maybe the air was just a little too thick or something, but it should have run at least two-tenths faster than that."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "I'd like to take the credit, but my job was to get it into high gear. Todd Parrott and our guys in the fab shop did a great job with this car. We came down here and had a good test a couple of weeks ago. All of our guys contributed to this and it just makes it nice. This is the easiest car I've ever had to drive, so I hope it's that way Saturday night too."
DID THE TEST MAKE THE DIFFERENCE?
"It helped a lot. We saw what we wanted to see in the wind tunnel. If the fans go and look at that car over in Daytona USA they can almost see a copy of this car right here. We did everything that we could to just try to make it a little bit better than what we saw in the wind tunnel. We came here and backed it up on the race track, so we're really pleased right now and looking forward to get three in a row here on Saturday night. It should be a great race."
JEREMY MAYFIELD --12-- Mobil 1 Taurus -- "We went out and it just really didn't come up to speed that good. I'm not sure what happened. We felt like it made a smooth lap and everything, but the speed wasn't there. What do you do? You just get ready to race and go from here."
ANYTHING WITH THE ENGINE?
"The weather has changed all day and the air is pretty thick right now, so who knows. When that happens you get a lot of drag on the car and just a lot of things happen, so we'll take that and get the Mobil 1 Ford ready to race here."
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Citgo Taurus -- "Man this is awesome. I tell you what this old Citgo Ford has been good all day. I've gotta thank Jack Roush, this is the first car that we've started our alliance with for next year and this is the first car. It's a Roush body, Roush chassis just like Mark and Jeff's and everybody over there. We qualified 10th after not making the race at Talladega. This Tiny Lund paint scheme from 1963 is doing us a good job so far and we're looking forward to Saturday night." DO YOU REMEMBER THAT PAINT SCHEME? "No, I saw a picture of it one time, but that's about 12 years before I was born so I have to just go off pictures."
JIMMY SPENCER --26-- Big Kmart Taurus -- "That's the fastest lap we ran. It's the same thing at Talladega, where we were 25th or 26th. That's the same thing we were today, 25th or 26th. The guys did their oil deal and the tires and a lot of odds and ends with the motor and we picked up about 35-hundreths. A lot of guys picked up more than that, but being in the top 25 is important. That's locked us in. It's the same car we had at Talladega, we ran really well with it. The Kmart guys have worked hard and they built Darrell a sister car to it and I think Darrell should make the race also with it. I hope we get out tomorrow in the draft, him and I, and we get our Kmart Fords up front."
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE
RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus --
DID THE TEST HELP A LOT?
"I think it definitely helped us. We didn't really think we were gonna be that great. We thought we were gonna be good, but not front row material. We were just basing it off of how slow the speeds were compared to when we were here in February, but as it turned out I guess we were in better shape than we thought. But having a chance to work on the car, tweak on the car, we spent two days just cutting, sawing, trying springs, trying shocks so I think we finally got something that helped a little bit."
WHAT WERE TRACK CONDITIONS TONIGHT?
"I didn't notice it at all (the rain). You'd see it hit the windshield every now and then, but it wasn't an issue at all."
ARE YOU CONFIDENT FOR SATURDAY?
"Qualifying is one effort and racing is another, but I felt pretty good when we were here before. We untaped the grille and sort of put it in race trim and it ran quicker than I expected it to in race trim, but I think it has something to do with the new restrictor-plate rules and the shock rules being what they are I just think that everyone's gonna find when they put their car in race trim they don't slow down as much as they normally slow down. The cars seem to stay faster when you get them in race trim. With that being said, I think you'll see more cars running closer together. You saw it at Talladega, when they went to that smaller restrictor-plate it bunched everybody up even more. Guys that were spread out in qualifying, when they got in race trim everyone was just about at the same speed and I think you're gonna see that just based off what we saw at the test the other day."
YOU WERE ON THE FRONT ROW FOR THE DAYTONA 500 TOO.
"For a short while anyway. I'm real happy with it. These guys put a lot of effort into the speedway program and there's a lot of depth in that organization. While we're off working and testing shorter tracks, they've got cars in the windtunnel and stuff, so they go after it pretty hard. They're pretty aggressive with the program and I'm just fortunate that I've got a chance to drive this car. We've come a long way. At the beginning of the year we looked like we really knew what we were doing when the season started because we came out with such a bang at Daytona, but then we went to the race track the next week and the week after that and a lot of people said, 'well gosh we expected a lot more out of you,' and I think a lot of that was just because we did run well at Daytona and everybody expected more. We really have been pretty much a new team that is developing as the year has gone on and we're getting to the point now where we're running good week-in and week-out, so I'm just real pleased with the performance the team has made. Then to come to Daytona and start the second half, I feel good about what we've got going."
WHAT ABOUT HAVING A YATES ENGINE?
"It definitely makes things awful nice. There's no doubt they're really good at building what I think are the best engines at Daytona, but they're really smart too. They know how to make you go to work on the race cars too. A lot of it goes into the race car to make for a nice slippery race car and you never know where you are when you're testing. They never tell you if you've got the best engine in the car, I think they purposely keep us held back a little bit to make us work on the cars and get the cars going faster. But they're really smart at this race track, Doug, Robert and the whole group -- the whole Yates organization -- but their motor program is really aggressive and they spend lots of money, time and effort to try to get a motor to run good here and they've accomplished that."
BILL ELLIOTT --94-- McDonald's Taurus --
YOU WON THE PEPSI 400 FROM 38TH PLACE, DO YOU FEEL YOU SHOULD BE FURTHER BACK ON SATURDAY?
"If it means finishing better at the end of the day, yeah. I don't think it matters. If you've got a good race car, regardless of where you start, you're gonna run well. Sometimes in restrictor-plate races you can start in the back. Jeff Gordon started toward the middle of the pack at Talladega and ended up winning the race and just like Ricky pointed out, at Talladega it seemed to put the cars more under a blanket with the smaller restrictor-plate and I see the same thing happening here Saturday night."
DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus --
YOU SEEMED CONFIDENT DURING YOUR TEST HERE, HAVING ONLY ONE CAR.
"The reason we only brought one car is this is a brand new car and the other car that we have as the backup is the one we ran in the Bud Shootout, so we knew how it performed. We just needed to spend time with this car and we felt pretty confident that what we saw from the windtunnel that this was the car we needed to run and that all played out on the race track. That's where all the credit goes. Todd and the guys in the fab shop did a great job and the engine department always does a good job, so that's what this is about. My job was to get it in high gear without doing anything wrong and then just guide it around. It's the easiest driving car I've ever had, it really is. If we can get anything that's better than that car sitting over in Daytona USA, we came close to making this car a little bit better."
ARE YOU WONDERING WHAT IT'S GOING TO TAKE TO GET ON THE FRONT ROW AT DAYTONA?
"A little bit harder work. I mean, go back and keep digging at it. It's a never-ending deal. I think Dale and Ricky will both say that you just can't give up, keep going back and work a little harder. There's a race at Loudon next weekend and keep digging harder and harder."
IS THIS A GOOD TRENDSETTER FOR BOTH YATES TEAMS TO START THE SECOND HALF?
"Yeah, I think this is a good way to get it started. We both have been performing really well, better than the first part of the season. We were both kind of up and down the first part, we had our good moments and not-so-good moments, but I think the last six or seven races for both teams -- I'm sure everybody who had two-car operations say how well they work together, but this is really the best that I've seen the two-car situation work. Todd and Michael McSwain work well together. Ricky and I have conversations at times, but those guys work it out between them and we get that from them. It seems it's benefited both greatly and this is a good way to start. We're both still in the championship hunt and Saturday night could be an important night for us and, hopefully, one of these Yates cars will end up in victory lane." THREE CHEVROLETS IN THE TOP 25, WHAT DO YOU THINK? "We went through kind of the same thing in '98 when we had the Taurus at first. Qualifying was a struggle at Daytona and Talladega for us, but we finally worked and worked and by the end of the year we won with a Taurus at Talladega. They didn't even have to wait -- Gordon won at Talladega already so, obviously, their cars are very good in the draft. For the guys that really know how to use the draft, that's beneficial. Apparently, they make downforce which creates some drag, but here Saturday night handling is gonna be the key just as it was in the Daytona 500 but they've got better cars now than they had then, so I think if they can win at Talladega they can certainly win here. They're not gonna agree with anything we say here, but I think they have every chance to win. We said a lot of the same things then, but we knew when it came race time we had a good chance."